Friday, April 17, 2015

Spicy Tomato Soup


I really like this week’s recipe, because of the Italian spices – a nice little twist on regular tomato soup!  CameraAwesomePhoto (15)


  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped (I used red onion, which worked out well)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 tblsp of the jar garlic)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (I upped the spices a little and used 1 tblsp dried basil and 1 tblsp dried oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 (28 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes (I used diced, but you can use whole)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I think I used 4 cups)
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (I used regular skim milk)
  • 2 tblsp brown sugar


  1. Heat oil in a large pot and saute onion until soft
  2. Add in garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, and red pepper.  Cook briefly, maybe a minute or two.
  3. Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil.
  4. Use a blender or a blender stick (my choice) to puree the soup.
  5. Add milk and brown sugar and reheat.

Enjoy!  This recipe is adapted from one I found in a fun new vegan cookbook called Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, by Chloe Coscarelli. 

Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics

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Monday, April 13, 2015

What’s in your backyard?

One of my biggest complaints about environmental science classes is the focus on faraway ecosystems.  Sure, tropical rainforests and African savannas are exciting places, but we need to understand what’s going on in our own backyards. 

Squirrels are a common and fascinating creature in most folks’ backyards.  I’ve written about what’s happening up in their nests, and John Kelly is currently running his annual weeklong series in the Washington Post.  Now there’s an exciting video that’s gone viral from National Geographic, Hawk vs. Squirrel – you’ve got to check it out:

So much excitement in your own backyard!  Take a little time to enjoy.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Meat-free Friday–Pasta sauce!

Most greenmomsters probably already have a tomato sauce recipe that they’re using, but just in case you’re still using sauce from a jar, here’s an easy recipe that I make and freeze until I need it.
3 large cans diced or whole tomatoes, undrained
3 small cans of tomato paste
1 cup of water
about 1 tsp salt
about 2 tsp pepper
about 1/2 cup sugar (yup, I use it!)
about 2 tblsp dry oregano
about 2 tblsp dry basil
Mix together ingredients and simmer for about 2 hours.  If you like thinner sauce, add another cup of water.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

So you slept through science class–What’s “habitat fragmentation”?

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What do you think is the greatest threat to wildlife biodiversity?

  • pollution?
  • overhunting/overharvesting?
  • wildlife poaching?
  • habitat destruction?

If you guessed habitat destruction, you were right!  Often, when we think of habitat destruction, we think of clearcutting of forests or mountaintop removal for coal mines, but there’s a much more common type of habitat destruction.  It’s called “habitat fragmentation” or breaking large tracts of habitat into smaller chunks.  Examples include when we divide forest habitat into 5 acre lots for housing development, or when we build roads through wild areas.

Many species can coexist with humans without too much disruption – think of squirrels, crows, robins, hawks, even coyotes. Some species, such as deer, thrive on “edge habitat” – the area where forests meet fields.  But there are many other creatures that need large tracts of undisturbed habitat (often woodlands, but not always) in order to successfully feed and breed.  We often think of large animals, such as bears or wolves, when we think of this type of creature, but many birds only thrive deep in forested areas.

Although setting aside small chunks of habitat is helpful for some creatures, others need much, much more space.  There’s an exciting effort going on right now called Y2Y or Yellowstone to Yukon.  Their vision: “An interconnected system of wild lands and waters stretching from Yellowstone to Yukon, harmonizing the needs of people with those of nature.”  (photo from the Y2Y website).  Although this effort is a huge one, you can do the same where you live – be aware of fragmentation of habitat and encourage preservation of wildlife corridors and large areas of habitat.

Yahk to Yaak

Friday, April 3, 2015

Esther’s Eggplant Panini

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From the kitchen of professional chef, Matt C!  Getting ready for those tastyNoah Thompson summertime eggplants!

Make 4 sandwiches

Roasted Eggplant Slices:

  • 2 pounds eggplant, skin partially trimmed, sliced into rounds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin, ground
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tomato chutney, prepared
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 4 herb flatbreads

Tahini Sauce

  • 1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (or more) hot water

Spoon the tahini into medium bowl. Add lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 cup hot water and whisk until well blended, adding more hot water if mixture is very thick. Season to taste with salt.

Preheat a barbecue grill or chargrill on medium.

Slice the eggplant flesh diagonally into ½” think slabs.

Brush the eggplant with the oil and rub the garlic into it. Sprinkle with the cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes each side or until lightly charred and tender. Set aside until ready to use.

Assemble and Serve: Spread the tomato chutney on 2 pieces of flatbread, top with eggplant, then feta and a drizzle of the tahini dressing. Top with the remaining flatbread. Grill the sandwich on both sides with a small amount of olive oil on either a Panini press or a medium-high griddle. Cut and serve immediately.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Leapin’ lizards! Remember to choose wisely.


165 critically endangered geckos seized at Heathrow

Photo from

I’ve written about the world of illegal wildlife smuggling in past posts.  And here’s proof that we can’t assume the problem is solved – during a recent seizure of illegally traded wildlife at Heathrow airport, over 165 critically endangered geckos were found!

Many of us enjoy owning reptiles as pets, but remember to always ask about the source of these animals.  Never buy animals that were wild-caught.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Veggie Fire Cracker Wrap

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This week’s recipe comes to us again from professional chef, Matt C.  This one looks a bit more involved than last week’s recipe, but I’m ready to give it a go!  I’m sure it’ll taste great!

Makes 4
  • 4 12” tomato tortillas
  • 4 pieces tom Yum Roast Tofu, cut in half lengthwise (recipe below)
  • 4 cups Fire Cracker Slaw (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons of dressing, reserved from the slaw
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
Mix the herbs together. For each wrap; place the wrap on the board, place equal portions of slaw in the center, then top with two pieces of tofu, followed by the herbs. Drizzle the herbs with the dressing and sprinkle with peanuts. Roll the wrap tightly and served, cut in half.

Tom Yum Roasted Tofu
Makes 4 servings
  • 6 tablespoons Tom Yum paste
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound firm tofu, rinsed, patted dry, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a bowl whisk together the paste, vinegar and oil. Cut the tofu into 4 slabs and gently rub each side with enough of the marinade to evenly coat them. Arrange the tofu in a single layer in a small baking dish. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the tofu over and continue to bake until firm and browned on the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Fire Cracker Slaw
Makes 6 servings
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garlic-chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • 3 cups carrots, peeled, julienned
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend and then season with salt and pepper.
Mix cabbage, carrots, peppers and green onions in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat and then season with salt and pepper. Reserve the remaining dressing for later. (This can be made up to 3 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)