In honor of Earth Day, April 22, I decided to take a look at how I could be greener in my kitchen.
In two new books, “Big Green Cookbook,’ by Jackie Newgent and “Cooking Green,” by Kate Heyhoe, I found some good ideas for reducing my carbon footprint (or “cookprint” as Heyhoe calls it). In coming up with that term, Heyhoe takes into account water usage and how food gets from the earth to the dinner table.
Both authors challenged me to think about the ingredients I use, about buying more local and organic foods, and about how food is packaged. We now try to save most of our leftovers in glass containers, and I pack sandwiches and snacks in reusable fabric bags instead of plastic ones. We also reuse the bags from our store-bought bread.
I read about ways to reduce the amount of energy used to cook our food. For example, from Newgent I learned the term “hyperbake,” baking in an oven without preheating it and using residual heat after turning it off. I used this method when making Happy Planet Cookies. And when I made Heyhoe’s French lentil and bulgur tabbouleh, I used her suggested passive cooking methods, such as boiling the lentils for just 2 minutes and then passively soaking them until done.
I was eager to try the tabbouleh recipe after reading about the amount of energy required to have meat for dinner. For example, Heyhoe cites the following data from the U.S. Geological Survey: It takes 2,607 gallons of water to produce a single serving of steak (the feed crops that cows eat require lots of water — irrigation), 408 gallons for chicken and only 3 gallons for tomatoes and 36 gallons for rice.
Both books contain great energy-saving ideas and recipes. Newgent also provides the following eight eco-rules to help make your kitchen greener:
1. Prepare plant-based meals.
2. Be an energy-wise cook.
3. Eat by season.
4. Enjoy fresh foods naturally and simply prepared.
5. Go organic and eco-conscious when you can.
6. Buy locally when logical.
7. Practice the 4Rs: reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle.
8. Be realistic.
And, though it’s not a rule —  have fun while cooking.
Lastly, if you are looking for ways to recycle containers and other products and you have children who like to do arts and crafts, check out this Web site, The Scrap Kins is a group of animated creatures that live in a recycling center and build their world out of things we throw away. You can find arts-and-crafts projects, like a milk carton pirate ship or an artsy hair clip, as well as tips for children on how they can be green.

Happy Planet Cookies
(from “Big Green Cookbook,” by Jackie Newgent, Wiley Press, 2009)

Naturally nutritious chocolate chip cookies
What would life be without chocolate chip cookies? Well, luckily you don’t have to worry about that. And if you’re going green, you still don’t have to worry. These New Age hyperbaked goodies will make you, and the planet, happy. They’re green chocolate chip cookies with an extra dose of healthfulness that actually taste good.

1 cup stone-ground whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
½ cup canola or peanut oil
1 cup turbinado or demerara sugar* (You can also make these cookies with regular white granulated sugar — they come out fine).
1 large organic egg
1 tablespoon apple butter ( I used regular salted butter because that’s what I had in my fridge.)
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup old-fashioned oats
4½ ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used ¾ cup of regular store brand chocolate chips;that measurement and brand worked fine).

*Turbinado sugar is similar in appearance to brown sugar but paler, with
larger crystals; and, in general, the two can be exchanged freely in
recipes. Turbinado sugar differs from refined white sugar in that it is
obtained or crystallized from the initial pressing of sugar cane.
Turbinado and demerara sugars are the same.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne (if using) in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk oil and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Whisk in egg, apple butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir the flour mixture into the oil-sugar mixture until blended. Stir in oats, then chocolate chips until combined. (Don’t worry if the mixture seems a bit stiff; that’s due to all of the hearty ingredients and is supposed to be that way.) Line two baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoon onto the sheets, 12 cookies each. Place in the oven, then turn the heat to 375°F (do not preheat). Bake until they just spread out to cookie shape, yet are still undercooked to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. As quickly as possible (so you don’t let out too much heat), open the oven and swap the trays — move the tray on the top rack to the bottom and bottom rack to the top. Close the oven, then turn the oven off and let the cookies continue baking until desired brownness and crispness, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Makes 12 servings, 2 cookies each
NOTE: The cookies will continue to cook slightly once out of the oven, too.
PER SERVING: 260 calories, 14g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 35g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 3g protein

French lentil and bulgur tabbouleh

From “Cooking Green,” by Kate Heyhoe. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong (, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.

1 cup water
2 bay leaves
½ cup French green lentils, rinsed and drained
½ cup fine-grind bulgur wheat
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup small diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon capers, chopped

Fill a small- to medium-size pot with water, bay leaves and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 2 minutes (make sure the pot doesn’t boil over). Turn off the heat and let rest 15 to 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. (French green lentils hold their shape; they’ll be firm, but not hard or crunchy, when tender.) Stir in bulgur wheat and salt. Cover again and let rest 10 to 15 minutes, or until bulgur is tender and the liquid absorbed. While lentils and bulgur rest, measure olive oil into a mixing bowl. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Add vinegar. When lentil-bulgur mix is done, pour into mixing bowl and stir to coat with  dressing. Stir in parsley, red bell pepper, red onion and capers. Serve at room temperature or let the flavors mingle and serve lightly chilled. The salad will keep 2-3 days refrigerated. Serves 4.

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