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


slash and burn deforestation in Amazon for cattle ranching

"Just one hog farm in Utah, for example, produces more sewage than the city of Los Angeles. These megafarms are proliferating, and in populous areas their waste is tainting drinking water. In more pristine regions, from Indonesia to the Amazon, tropical rain forest is being burned down to make room for more and more cattle. Agriculture is the world's biggest cause of deforestation, and increasing demand for meat is the biggest force in the expansion of agriculture."

"...hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces, rising rates of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses, and spreading destruction of the forests on which much of our planet's life depends."

"Much as we have awakened to the full economic and social costs of cigarettes, we will find we can no longer subsidize or ignore the costs of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and fish to feed our growing population. These costs include hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces, rising rates of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses, and spreading destruction of the forests on which much of our planet's life depends."

"As forests are cleared to create new pastures, livestock is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where some 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing." UN report

According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed every minute, much of it to create more room for farmed animals.

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!

This time of year especially here in Florida when it's just too darn hot, it seems that kitchens are used for the most simple-to-prepare salads; those that are either no-cook or just require cooking or grilling of one ingredient. Today I'm sharing some of my new favorite hot weather salads.

Maggie Hoffman,creative commons, flickr

For salad
3 ears corn, husked or use 1 and 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can black beans, rinsed
3-4 medium ripe tomatoes
3-4 tomatillos
1 cucumber
1/2 red or yellow onion
4 ounces queso cheese, crumbled
handful tortilla chips, crumbled (optional but tasty)

For dressing
Juice of two limes
1/2 T chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 neutral oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix first five dressing ingredients  in a bowl until well blended. Drizzle in oil while stirring, then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while you prepare salad.

Blanch corn in boiling water for one minute. Cut kernels from corn and spread in glass serving bowl. Layer rinsed and drained black beans on top. Slice tomatoes and tomatillos in thin crescents and lay on top of beans. Slice cucumber into thin rounds and add to serving bowl. Chop onion small and add. Top with queso and chips. Show everyone how pretty the layers are. Then toss with dressing and serve with tortillas or quesadillas.

Jamie's Italian, Leeds, UK, creative commons, flickr

    4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
    4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes
    1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
    1/2 red onion, chopped
    1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
    1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

As you cut the tomatoes, remove some of the seeds and liquid. Your panzanella will be juicy enough. Leave the crusts on the bread chunks; they will stay chewier and give the panzanella more substance.

 If you don't have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and put in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread may disintegrate into mush in the salad.

Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.

Serve at room temperature.

Rooey202, creative commons, flickr

    1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
    1 green bell pepper, quartered and seeded
    1 yellow bell pepper, quartered and seeded
    Cooking spray
    1 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
    1 1/2 cups dried lentils (about 3/4 pound)
    1 small onion, peeled and halved
    1 bay leaf
    2/3 cup chopped plum tomato
    1/2 cup chopped green onions
    1/3 cup cilantro leaves
    1/3 cup fresh lime juice
    1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil    

    1. Preheat grill to high heat. (I use stove top grill pan)
    2. Lightly coat bell pepper pieces with cooking spray. Place bell pepper pieces, skin side down, on grill rack; grill 12 minutes or until skins are blackened. Place bell pepper pieces in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel and chop bell peppers. Discard skins. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Place bell peppers in a large bowl.
    3. Rinse and drain lentils; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentils; add onion and bay leaf to pan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Drain lentils. Discard onion halves and bay leaf. Add lentils to bell peppers. Add remaining 5/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, tomato, and remaining ingredients to lentil mixture; stir well.

photophnatic, creative commons, flickr
This makes an awesome 'egg' salad sandwich on toast with lettuce. This serves 4 can halve to serve 2

2 lbs firm tofu
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Veganaise)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (I've used dried as well or may omit)
1/2 cup green onion, diced
salt and pepper

I always drain my tofu first.

cut it into 1/4s, wrap it in paper towels on a cookie sheet, with another one on top, weighted down with some heavy canned goods.

Let sit in refrigerator for 10-20 minutes.

Mash the tofu in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Mix tofu well with remaining ingredients.

Chill and serve.

manda wong, creative commons, flickr

3 cups cooked black beans (from scratch or canned, rinsed and drained)
1 cup chopped celery
1 tomato or 1 tomatillo, chopped
1 cup diced jicama
2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
1 cup yellow corn (off the cob or frozen)
1/2 to 1 avocado, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (for less heat, remove the seeds)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large salad bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

tomatoes and friends, creative commons, flickr


1/3 cup warm water
3 tablepoons agave nectar
3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes, depending how juicy your limes are)
1/4 tsp. salt, optional


12 ounces extra-firm lite tofu
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 (8-ounce) package of thin rice noodles (vermicelli)  I used the pad thai variety
1 medium-size cucumber thinly-sliced half-moons (1 heaping cup or 6 ounces)
4 ounces string beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)  These stay raw!
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups mixed greens

1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves

Peanut-Mint Gremolata:

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped very well.  
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Zest of 1/2 lime

1.  To make the dressing, mix all its ingredients together and stir vigorously.  Set aside.

2.  Slice the tofu into eight equal pieces widthwise, then slice those rectangles corner to corner to form long triangles.

3.  Place in a single layer on a large plate and pour 6 tablespoons of the dressing over the slices.  Also drizzle 2 teaspoons of soy sauce.  Let marinate, flipping occasionally, while you prepare everything else.

4.  Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions.  Usually they say to boil water, turn off the heat, and soak the noodles for about 8 minutes.  Once cooked, drain in a colander and run the noodles under cold water for about a minute until they are fully cooled.  Set aside to drain while you finish prepping everything.

5.  Mix all of the vegetables and the mint leaves into the noodles.  Mix the dressing into the noodles and toss to coat.  Refrigerate while you prepare everything else.

6.  Combine the gremolata indredients in a small bowl.

7.  Now grill the tofu.  Preheat a non-stick grill pan or a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.   Do not spray a non-stick pan with oil--it will ruin it!  The tofu will not stick!   Grill the tofu on each side for 4 minutes, or until grill marks appear.  If using just a regular pan, cook it for 3 minutes on each side.   Add the excess marinade to the noodles.

To serve:  Scoop the noodles into six pretty bowls.  Wedge two or three tofu peices on the side of each bowl.  Sprinkle with the gremolata and serve with lime wedges and extra chili garlic sauce.

"Sexy Sadie"   The Beatles

"Happiness is a Warm Gun"   The Beatles

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

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