Low Carbon is the New Low Carb

biggreencookbookDuring the Atkins era, pork rinds and bunless burgers were immortalized.  But low carb has been kicked aside for low carbon.  These days, the buzz is grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood and locally grown produce.  Devoted carnivores are now locavores. The carb conscious are now climate conscious.  The intense focus on “net carbs” and “glycemic index” has shifted to carbon footprint and food miles.

Today, food is being viewed through a new lens: how it impacts the environment. The “greening” of our cuisine was the topic of my article today in the Chicago Tribune.  I interviewed registered dietitian and chef Jackie Newgent and featured tips from her new book the Big Green Cookbook.  This excellent eco-friendly cookbook includes hundreds of planet-pleasing recipes and clever tips to green your cooking routine. A few examples:

Cut down the size. The finer food is diced, the faster it will cook.  That translates to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere.  Try cutting vegetables into smaller pieces for stir-fries and pounding boneless chicken breasts into super-thin fillets to shave off cooking times.

Do double duty. Aim to prepare, cook and serve in the same pans or bowls when possible so you’ll have less washing to do.  For example, when making a salad, use one bowl to whisk the dressing, toss the salad and serve.

Put a lid on it. When food on the stove is being simmered, sauteed or boiled, finish the cooking by covering it with a tight-fitting lid and turn off the burner to let the trapped heat do some of the work.

Get to know your microwave. Because the microwave oven can reduce energy use by about two-thirds compared with a conventional oven, use it to do more than make popcorn or reheat leftovers.

Skimp on water. When boiling beans or other vegetables, use just enough water to cover the food.  That means you’ll waste less water and  you’ll be able to bring it to a boil faster — two ways to help save resources.

Another excellent book that I mention briefly in my article is Go Green, Get Lean: Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate, Low-Carbon Footprint Diet by registered dietitian Kate Geagan, “America’s Green Nutritionist.”  This book maps outimg_book an eating plan to help you lose weight and step gently on the Earth. Fortunately, the same diet will do double duty.  Primarily it comes down to eating more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts.  She makes a convincing case that our SUV-style diet is warming the planet and making us fat. She motivates readers to enhance their health, trim their waistline and save the planet one bite at a time.

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