Once you decide to go green, it becomes part of your everyday life, from the food you buy, cook and eat, to the way you shop and store produce. Doing so is easier than you think, and minimising food waste and packaging is a great place to begin.
Let’s start with recipes. We all know we need to aim to eat more fruit and veg, so when you’re planning your meals for the week, it’s worth keeping this in mind and opting for dishes that maximise health and nutrition (but still taste delicious, too).
Our kale pesto recipe delivers exactly that. It only requires six ingredients – including health-giving garlic, walnuts and olive oil – and involves nothing more than a quick whiz in the blender. As well as a sauce for pasta, this versatile veggie paste can be stirred through rice just before serving, spread onto crackers, spooned over chicken or fish halfway through cooking to form a crust, mixed with cream cheese to stuff chicken breasts or vegetables, or stirred through soups and sauces.
You can also ring the changes easily. To make the pesto vegan, choose a vegan cheese; switch kale for spinach or cavolo nero; reduce the amount of oil to serve as a dip with crudités or warm flat breads.
For a healthy dinner that tastes as good as it looks, Thai chicken laab lettuce cups are the way to go. Packed with fresh herbs and crunchy fruit and vegetables, this salad is a nutritional powerhouse. It also offers an explosion of colour and vibrant flavour, thanks to the classic Thai balance of spicy, salty, sweet and sour. And, as with so many Thai dishes, once you’ve roasted the rice and cooked the chicken, all that’s left is a little assembly.
Of course, being green extends beyond what you put on your plate and in your mouth. Food waste and unnecessary packaging are huge issues facing the world. Every little does help, though. Here are some tips to try:
- Don’t throw leftovers away: get creative instead. Leftover rice can be used to make easy egg fried rice the next night, cooked veggies cry out to be blended into a pasta sauce or soup and shredded meat or fish will add interest to salads,
- Be efficient when you shop for food. Write a list before you go and try to make sure all ingredients will be used. For example, if you try the laab recipe below, you’ll have cucumber, spring onions and lettuce left over, so include them in your next meal or make a salad accompaniment.
- Exercise portion control: cook only as much as you need.
- Every 2-3 days do a fridge sweep to see which ingredients you need to use up first. That way, you’ll have less chance of food going past its best.
- Try to avoid products with excess packaging: if you can, select loose fruit and vegetables
Makes 3-4 servings
2 garlic cloves
200ml olive oil
Tear the kale into pieces, discarding the stems. Thinly slice the garlic, finely grate the parmesan, roughly chop the walnuts and finely grate the lemon zest.
Transfer all the ingredients to a blender. Pour in the olive oil and blend to a smooth sauce.
Serve the pesto tossed through pasta and topped with extra parmesan, spread over roasted salmon just before serving or use the pesto to take a grilled cheese toastie to a new level.
Thai chicken laab
2 tbsp sushi rice
2 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken mince
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 Thai red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp fine salt
juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp fish sauce
8-10 small Iceberg lettuce leaves
½ English cucumber, cut into thin batons
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
small bunch mint
small bunch coriander
lime wedges, to serve (optional)
Set a frying pan over a high heat. Add the sushi rice and toast until the grains are golden brown and start to smell nutty. Remove from the heat.
Once cool, grind the grains to a powder using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.
Put a large frying pan with the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Tip in the chicken mince and stir to break into pieces. Fry for 10-12 minutes, until browned and cooked through.
Add the rice powder, remove from the heat and stir in the red onion, garlic, sugar, chilli, salt, lime juice and fish sauce.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter and divide the chicken mixture among them. Top with the cucumber, spring onion, mint and coriander and serve with lime wedges.