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In this series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, animal rights, food safety, public health, frugal living, global food security and the immense contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion.

UNEP Global Environmental Alert (pdf)

Agriculture, through meat production, is one of the main contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and thus has a potential impact on climate change. Estimates of the total emissions from agriculture differ according to the system boundaries used for calculations. Most studies attribute 10-35 per cent of all global GHG emissions to agriculture (Denman et al. 2007, EPA 2006, McMichael 2007, Stern 2006). Large differences are mainly based on the exclusion or inclusion of emissions due to deforestation and land use change.

Recent estimates concerning animal agriculture's share of total global GHG emissions range mainly between 10-25 per cent (Steinfeld et al. 2006, Fiala 2008, UNEP 2009, Gill et al. 2010, Barclay 2012), where again the higher figure includes the effects of deforestation and other land use changes and the lower one does not. According to Steinfeld et al. (2006) and McMichael et al. (2007), emissions from livestock constitute nearly 80 per cent of all agricultural emissions.

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet; we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

Kudos to Los Angeles for being the largest city in the US to sign a Meatless Monday resolution!

Today we're celebrating the historic reelection of President Obama and the many newly elected Democrats who will help make a better life for all of us.  For a celebration gotta have some music, right?   Paul McCartney shows us how to combine the great vibes of an election celebration with the healthy message of Meat Free Monday.  And since Paul endorsed President Obama I thought he would appreciate this.

All together now!  Just substitute the word Mitt for meat and sing along!

H/T to my vitual friend Ollie..  I just couldn't resist.

Finally the election is over and with a very successful finish.  Here in the swing state of Florida it was non stop stress.  I worked with OFA and can attest to it's almost super human efficiency and thoroughness.  So I'm spending some down time and enjoying getting my life back.  This involves drinking a good amount of wine and just relaxing with some quieter times and easy to prepare casual meals.  Really, it's all that I can manage right now.

Today I'll share some of my easy, fast and perfect for de-stressing comfort recipes.
     Mexican Tortilla Casserole
This dish speaks comfort.  It serves 8 but make the whole thing and store in fridge or freeze and nuke slices as needed.


    1 tablespoon 0live oil
    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 green chiles, chopped, with seeds
    1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
    2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stalks
    2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, plus 1 2/3 cups water to rinse out empty cans
    1 tablespoon ketchup


    2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    3 1/4 cups drained canned corn, from about 1 1/2 (15-ounce cans) (I use frozen)
    2 1/2 cups grated mature goats Cheddar, or cheese of your choice(I use Daiya vegan cheddar)
    8 soft flour tortillas (approximately 10-inch diameter)
    1 round ovenproof dish, approximately 10 inches diameter and 2 1/4 inches deep
    Avocado Salsa, for serving, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, slipping in a cookie sheet at the same time.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a saucepan on the stove and fry the onion, bell pepper and chiles. Add the salt and cook gently for 15 minutes, and once soft, add the chopped cilantro stalks.

Add the canned tomatoes then rinse the cans out with water and add this too. Spoon in the ketchup and let things come to a simmer, leaving the sauce (or salsa in keeping with the Mexican mojo) to cook while you get on with preparing the filling- about 10 minutes.

For the filling: Mix the drained beans and canned corn in a bowl. Add most of the grated cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on the top at the end, and mix together.

Start to assemble the lasagne by spooning about a third of the salsa into the bottom of your ovenproof dish and smear it about, then layer on 2 tortillas so that they cover the sauce overlapping slightly, like a Venn diagram.

Add a third of the beans and cheese mixture covering the tortillas, and then about a quarter of the remaining salsa and another 2 tortillas.

Repeat with another third of beans and cheese, and more salsa before layering on another 2 tortillas.

Finally, add the last layer of beans and cheese, nearly all of the remaining salsa and cover with the last 2 tortillas. Spread the very last bit of salsa over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, and let it rest for a good 10 to 15 minutes before slicing like a pizza, and eat with the avocado salsa.

Make Ahead Note: The lasagne can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cool the tomato salsa before assembling. Cover dish tightly with plastic and refrigerate until needed. Bake as directed in recipe, allowing an extra 5 to 10 minutes baking time and checking the lasagne is piping hot in center before removing from oven.

Freeze Note: The assembled but uncooked lasagne can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap dish tightly in double layer of plastic and a layer of aluminium foil. Thaw overnight in fridge and cook as above.

Avocado Salsa

    2 avocados
    1 scallion, thinly sliced
    3 tablespoons chopped green jalepenos from a jar or can or use fresh to taste
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Halve the avocados, remove the pits, and then, using the tip of a sharp knife, cut lines down the flesh of each half, about a 1/4-inch apart and then the same across. Turn the avocado halves inside out, or otherwise release the pale green cubes into a bowl, then tumble in the scallion, chopped jalepenos, salt to taste, lime juice and most of the cilantro and toss gently to mix. Taste to see if any more salt is needed before scattering with the remaining cilantro and taking to the table.
       eggplant parm pizza
It doesn't get better than this. Two of my faves together.  This with beer or wine and I'm in comfort nirvana.

    1 small eggplant, (about 12 ounces)
    Yellow cornmeal, for dusting
    1 pound Easy Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough, or other prepared dough
    3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    1 medium clove garlic, minced medium clove garlic, minced
    3/4 cup thinly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I use vegan cheese)
    sliced tomato (optional)

Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Grill or saute, turning once, until marked and softened, Do not over cook as eggplant will cook further in oven . Let cool slightly.

Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack; preheat oven to 450°F for at least 20 minutes. Roll out the dough and place on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or inverted baking sheet, using enough cornmeal so that the dough slides easily. Slide the dough onto the preheated stone and cook until the bottom begins to crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven using a large spatula and place it uncooked-side down on the peel or baking sheet, making sure the underside of the crust is completely coated with cornmeal. Quickly add the toppings and slide the pizza back onto the stone. Continue baking until the toppings are hot and the bottom of the crust has browned, 12 to 15 minutes.
      Three Bean Chili
Finally it's cool enough for some chili around here.  Great for football watching too.

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup onion(s), Chopped
1/2 cup green pepper(s), Chopped
2 clove garlic clove(s), Minced
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp canned tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp  Ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
15 1/2 oz canned kidney beans, Red Kidney Beans
15 1/2 oz canned black beans
1 can Cannellini (white kidney) Beans
14 1/2 oz vegetable broth
14 1/2 oz  Diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp whole-grain yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup cilantro, Chopped
6 Tbsp  sour cream (optional or use vegan)

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high
heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; saute
3 minutes. Drain & Rinse 3 cans of beans. Stir in 3/4
cup of water, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin,
pepper, 3 cans of drained, rinsed beans, vegetable
broth, and diced tomatoes (undrained). Bring to a
boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in
cornmeal, cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in
Cilantro. Serve w/ sour cream.
       Healthy Spinach and Brown Rice Casserole
Healthy and economical pure comfort.

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium sized onion, diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomato
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces of soft tofu
2 cups of cooked brown rice
10 ounces of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (I use Daiya cheese)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil until hot. Add the onion and garlic, and cook in the hot oil until tender. Add tomato and liquid and oregano and cook for until boiling. Reduce heat to low.

Meanwhile, add the tofu to a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Add the tofu to the tomato mixture over a low heat. Add the brown rice, spinach, and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese, and then add pepper and salt. Mix until well blended over low heat.

Spoon mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.
      Redcurrant Corn Pancake
Sometimes only breakfast for dinner will do especially when you want to have dinner in your jammies.  This is also great with Blueberries

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, divided
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1 1/3 cups soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
1/2 cup apple juice or water
10 oz. fresh or frozen blueberries or Redcurrants
safflower oil

Place 2 T. of the whole wheat pastry flour in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, place the remaining whole wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir well to combine. In a small bowl, place the soy milk and apple juice, and whisk well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Place the blueberries in the medium bowl with the reserved whole wheat pastry flour and gently toss to thoroughly coat the blueberries with the flour. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

Using a little safflower oil, lightly oil a large non-stick skillet (or griddle), and place it over medium heat. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, portion the batter into the hot skillet, and cook until the corncakes have bubbles on top and the edges are slightly dry, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip over the corncakes and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the corncakes to a non-stick cookie sheet and place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm while continuing with the remaining batter. Lightly oil the skillet again with a little safflower oil and repeat the cooking procedure for the remaining batter. Serve the corncakes with your choice of jams, preserves, syrups, or fresh fruit.

"It's Getting Better All The Time"  The Beatles

"Get Back"  The Beatles rooftop concert

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!


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