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Earth Day is coming up this Saturday, April 22. You may be asking, what exactly does Earth Day have to do with food and nutrition? Well, it takes precious resources to produce food. Helping to reduce the amount of wasted food is one way we can all do our part to build a sustainable food system. Reducing food waste means less food would find its way into landfills, where it would have been contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are three things you can do to minimize food waste:
- Use measuring cups and spoons: Measuring your foods and managing portion sizes can help you eat only the amount you need. Following proper portion sizes lessens unnecessary waste, but also assists with weight management and overall wellness.
- Shop your fridge first: Look through you fridge each week and try to use what you have on hand to plan meals. Many soup and casserole recipes can be altered to include various vegetables, proteins, and grains, so get creative (see Fridge-Clearing Soup recipe below)! Planning meals for the week and sticking to your grocery list means you buy only what you need, rather than excess food that could end up in the trash.
- Utilize leftovers: If you cook too much, try to eat or use the leftover food within 4 days after cooking. If you know you won’t eat it, freeze leftovers instead. Remember to use freezer bags or freezer appropriate containers. You can even freeze meals in individual portion sizes for convenient reheating.
Make every day Earth Day by doing your best to use resources wisely and avoid food waste.
Source: National Dairy Council at www.dairygood.org
Serves 8 (1 ¼ cup per serving)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 cups chopped vegetables (such as 1 medium onion, 3-4 carrots, 3 ribs celery, squash, zucchini etc.)
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ tsp salt
- Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Sauté both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until the onions are tender. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more.
- Drain the can of black beans and add it to the pot along with the diced tomatoes (with juices), dry lentils, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and some freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Finally, add the vegetable broth, and stir to combine.
- Increase the heat to medium high and allow the pot to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, place a lid on top, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, test the lentils to make sure they are tender. If not, continue to simmer until they are tender.**
- Taste the soup and add salt as needed (I added ½ tsp). Serve hot.