Of course we eat out from time to time, but I know it’s a much better use of resources (both personally and environmentally) to eat our home-cooked meals. To quote the book The Food Revolution by John Robbins, “The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health says that two-thirds of U.S. mortality is diet-related.” He then states that the majority of Americans use advertising as their source of information about food followed by this juxtapositional statistic:
“Amount spent annually by McDonald’s on advertising its products: $800 million
Amount spent annually by the National Cancer Institute promoting fruits and vegetables: $1 million.”
Jane Goodall’s book, Harvest for Hope, also points to the tremendous waste of water that occurs in most restaurants. She says, “Next time you go to a restaurant in America, for example, notice how many glasses, partially or even completely filled with undrunk water, are left on the tables when guests leave. Notice how waiters patrol endlessly to refill glasses, even after one has taken but a few sips.” Next she asks, “What will happen to the water if I do not drink it? It will probably be thrown out – without a thought.”
I still go out to eat from time to time, but when I do I use these favorite Healthy/Green Dining tips:
Choose restaurants that provide vegan or organic options – hopefully they’ll share the same passion for protecting the earth’s resources as you do.
Tell your waiter that you’ll let him or her know if you need your water refilled, but be on the look-out because sometimes they’ll refill your glass out of habit.
Don’t leave with another restaurant-supplied styrofoam container to carry home your leftovers only to be thrown away immediately after you use it. Bring your own container to cart out any leftovers. This idea was inspired by my friend, Elle, who always brings a sealable container in her bag. I’ve asked and most restaurants don’t mind at all!
Choose your entrees wisely. As Michael Pollan advocates, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
And if you find yourself at home on a Saturday and no plans for going out, you might enjoy our favorite Saturday Night Date Night meal, Mexican Lasagna. Just be sure not to let your significant other fill your water glass without your permission.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 package fajita seasoning
- 1 package soy crumbles
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup corn meal
- 1 package tofu, firm or extra firm
- 1 medium avocado, chopped
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 – 3 cups salsa
- 18 corn tortillas (6″)
- 1 package vegan “cheese”, shredded
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. In cook-speak that means, heat your oven to 350 F.
1. ”Meat Sauce”
Sauté onion and garlic in a skillet with the oil until tender. Add soy crumbles* and fajita seasoning. Next, add 1/2 water and corn meal to the mixture, stir to combine and cook on low for 3 – 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
* You can use vegan soy crumbles from a package or sometimes I will use 2 – 3 Boca burger patties that I break apart using a spatula. If you’d like a non-soy (or gluten-free) ingredient 2 cups of cooked lentils can be used to replace the soy crumbles and will work perfectly!
2. ”Guac Sauce”
Add tofu, avocado, chickpeas, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt to your food processor and mix until well-combined. You may need to add a little bit of water to the food processor to get the Guac Sauce to a desired consistency.
- Layer One: Spoon some of the salsa into the bottom of a 9 X 12 baking pan. Place 6 corn tortillas over the enchilada sauce. Spoon half of the “Meat Sauce” over the tortillas, followed by half of the “Guac Sauce.”
- Layer Two: Add another layer of corn tortillas followed by half of the grated vegan cheese and a layer of salsa. Follow that by spreading the remaining “Meat Sauce” followed by the remaining “Guac Sauce.”
- Topping: Finally, top with one more layer of corn tortillas. Cover with remaining salsa and add remaining shredded vegan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese melts.
Serve with vegan sour cream, chopped green onions, brown rice and tortilla chips.