In light of the fact that this past Sunday was Earth Day, I wanted to focus this post on a few simple swaps I have implemented in order to leave a smaller ecological footprint and play a role in helping create a healthier and more sustainable environment, specifically in and around the kitchen. I have “squashed” a few of my old ways, which were less eco-friendly and adopted more conscientious habits that I feel are definitely feasible, reasonable changes. I challenge you to peruse the following ideas and select one to try out. You may find making the switch is incredibly easy and if not, at least try the included squash recipe because it is a total winner and though not a bad habit, at least you will be able to say you squashed something, right?
- B.Y.O.B! No, I am not advocating for the consumption of alcohol to better our world! The acronym here stands for “Bring Your Own Bag.” To avoid the excessive amounts of paper and plastic bags they use to pack your groceries at the supermarket, bring your own reusable tote bags. I tend to always keep one or two in my car in the event I need to unexpectedly stop at the store. Additionally, if you pack your lunch, invest in a nice lunch sack and a few storage containers, which reduces waste that ends up in landfills. A bonus: many are insulated, which helps to keep the food fresh and at the proper temperature! If you do happen to have an abundance of plastic bags lying around, do not toss them in the trash, but rather, try finding ways to reuse them. Whether that be on a walk with the dog for “waste management,” or in smaller trash cans throughout your home.
- Recycle, People! It pains me to see individuals toss cans, glass, and plastic bottles in the trash when just a few steps further is a receptacle for recyclables. Take the extra step, as that plastic and aluminum can be melted down and transformed into another product. What would be even better than that? Invest in a BPA free bottle and fill it up with your own filtered water!
- Clean Green! Turn the faucet off while scrubbing the dishes and you will conserve quite a bit of water. If you choose to run the dishwasher, wait until it is completely full before doing so. Try using natural products to clean that are devoid of harmful toxins, which penetrate the air. For example, I recently discovered through a Pinterest post that ammonia does an incredible job cleaning stovetop grates and burners. Baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, and club soda are also used frequently as all-natural remedies for common kitchen messes.
Now, everyone loves a bowl of pasta, but the truth is, one serving (1 cup cooked) possesses a high amount of calories (180-210) and carbohydrates (35-45) while not leaving me very satisfied. The swappable solution? Spaghetti Squash! This vegetable has just 42 calories per cup and 10 carbohydrates. It’s good on the lips and hips! On this Earth Day, to honor the abundant, beautiful, nutritious vegetables our planet provides, I made a “Pasta” primavera dish. It was quite simple and I must admit that the flavors were so incredible, I ate it a little more quickly than I would have liked because it was just so darn good! I guess that means I will just have to make it again…maybe tomorrow??
Creamy Spaghetti Squash Primavera:
½ of a medium-sized Spaghetti Squash
1 Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Wedge
1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Chopped Garlic
½ Cup Chopped Bell Pepper and Onion
2 Button Mushrooms
6 Grape Tomatoes
Fresh Basil (optional topping)
Instructions for Baking the Squash:
--Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
--Microwave the whole squash for 2 minutes and 45 seconds to slightly soften. (This will make it much easier to cut in half!)
--Cut the ends off of the squash and stand it upright. Slice the squash straight down the middle and scoop the seeds out of each half. (You may choose to save these and roast them later, as this post is about cutting down on waste, or simply discard them.)
--Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet that has been covered with foiled and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (Note: I flipped the squash over after cooking to take the picture below.)
--Bake the squash for approximately 40 minutes, or until very tender.
--Allow the squash to cool for 10-15 minutes before using a fork to remove the inner goodness, or strands of “spaghetti.”
--In a medium-sized skillet, over a medium flame, heat the oil and add the chopped vegetables, starting with the onions and peppers; season with a dash of ground pepper and add in the garlic. You don’t want this to burn, as it will become bitter. Sautee, which fun fact, literally means to jump around, until veggies are tender and caramelized.
--Cut up the cheese wedge and add it to a bowl containing ½ of the stranded spaghetti squash. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir well. Add the vegetable mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined.
--Top with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil. Now enjoy every last bite!! Mmmm!
Calories: 251, Fat: 7.5 grams, Carbohydrates: 35 grams, Fiber: 8 grams, Protein: 8 grams