Noshin' Recipe: Go Meatless for Earth Day, and more!

Veggie Meat(less)loaf

Today is Earth Day! [trumpets sound] As such, opportunities abound for getting your Green on. Not only are retail stores bending over backward to convince you how green they are with reusable bag giveaways, incentives for bringing your own bags, and  free seeds, but tons of opportunities to roll up your sleeves and “green” your neighborhood.
Or maybe you want to green your life — the MN Energy Challenge has all kinds of tips for you.
And when you’re done with all that shopping and planting/greening/[insert physical expression of your environmentalism here], you’ll need to refuel.  Luckily, two amazing restaurants have got your back. Birchwood Cafe is offering a 7-course Earth Day beer dinner with both omnivore and vegetarian options (including a Surly Coffee Bender Ice Cream Float [drool]). Common Roots — my top pick for socially conscious business/restaurant in the Twin Cities — is offering free coffee today if you bring in your own reusable mug and a host of environmental awareness events. Can’t make those? They’ve always got fun and interesting events going on.

My recommendation for Earth Day?

Go meatless — even just for the day. The Earth will thank you.

It takes around 16 pounds of feed to produce a single pound of meat — an inefficient food source and a carbon-intensive commodity, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Not convinced? In the Torah, we’re told “I give you every seed and green thing. These shall be yours for food” (Gen 1:29). The pillars of ethical kashrut includes (but is not limited to) tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (not causing pain to living creatures) and bal tashchit (do not wantonly waste). Giving up meat — which can include simply eating less meat overall (think even just 1-2 meals a week) — is a great way to uphold these values.
There are more reasons why going meatless saves the planet, but instead of spending time convincing you, I’ll just give you a recipe to help get you started.

Prepping ingredients

Nutty Meatless Loaf
From Better Homes and Gardens, March 2010
Makes: 8 servings
This meatless meatloaf relies on delicious toasted pecans and savory garam masala for it’s umami flavor typical of meat-ful dishes, and the carrots, raisins (or apricots), and mango chutney add a lightly sweet, vinegar-y nuance and depth of flavor. The lentils — along with the nuts — provide ample protein, making this a nutritional and environmental powerhouse.
1 1/4 Cups dry red or yellow lentils
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 C snipped dried apricots and/or golden raisins
1 medium onion chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp garam masala or 2 tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 tsp)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 C cooked brown rice
3/4 C pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 mango chutney (or apricot preserves, in a pinch)
1/4 C chopped red sweet pepper
1/4 C chopped peeled fresh mango1 tsp salt
Chopped cilantro leaves (optional)

Individual portions in a muffin pan


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In medium saucepan bring 3 cups water and lentils to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; set aside.
  2. In 10-inch skillet, cook carrots, apricots, onion, celery, garam masala, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. In large bowl combine eggs, cooked lentils, carrot mixture, brown rice, 2/3 C of the pecans, half of the chutney (or preserves), and salt.
  4. Firmly press lentil mixture into a greased 9- or 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate (or muffin cups). Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes. In small bowl combine remaining half of chutney with sweet pepper, mango, and remaining nuts.
  5. Evenly spoon chutney mixture on loaf. Bake 10 minutes more or until chutney mixture is heated through (loaf should reach 160 F). Sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Let stand 15 minutes; cut in wedges to serve.