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Eating for the Planet

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More of us than ever are coming to understand the links between the food we eat and its impact on the planet. Eating a diet rich in legumes and organic vegetables, with a reduced emphasis on meat, is recognized as being better for us and the planet.

Organic fruits and vegetables are direct sources of nourishment, take less land and water than animal production, and are grown free of pesticides that can damage soil. When grown as part of a regenerative farming system, they contribute to sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, and soil improvement.

Nitrogen-fixing leguminous plants, including lentils, peas, and beans, have deep roots and require less irrigation and tillage than other crops. When used as part of a crop rotation system, the nitrogen these plants leave behind in the soil can be passed on to other crops, reducing the need for fertilizers, which, in turn, results in efficient production and less residue for the soil and the food we eat.

Where and when our food is grown is also important. “Buying local” supports local economies and may mean fewer transport emissions, just as shifting our attitudes toward selecting seasonal items can result in positive impacts for the environment as well as more variety in what we eat.

The magic is that what’s good for the earth is also good for us. Legumes are great sources of fibre and protein, and leafy greens are packed with vitamins C and K. Diets rich in vegetables, including antioxidant-packed leafy greens, are associated with lower cancer risk. Read on to discover delicious recipes that will help you include more sustainable ingredients in your meal plans.

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Leek and Mushroom Tartines with Wilted Watercress

Herby Lentil Salad with Spinach and Peas

Small black beluga lentils, so called because of their resemblance to caviar, hold their shape well, making them perfect for salads. If you can’t find beluga lentils, use French Puy lentils, which have similar properties. With lentils, young spinach, spring peas, and herby dressing, this salad welcomes spring.

Bison Chili with Cinnamon and Chocolate

Creamy pinto beans and earthy black beans stand in for kidney beans and help make a hearty chili along with some smoky poblano peppers. A pinch of cacao in this chili enhances the slightly sweet flavour of lean bison. If you prefer a less spicy chili, feel free to reduce the amount of powder, or add it in stages.

Pea and Radish Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing

In this fresh spring salad, spicy radishes and crisp snap peas work together perfectly with a miso tahini dressing that dishes plenty of umami flavour. Full of colour, not only is this salad appealing to the eye, but its fresh crunchy texture and bright flavours will keep you coming back for more.

Poached Rhubarb with Cinnamon, Mint, and Ginger

Perhaps nothing signals the arrival of spring better than delicious rhubarb. The tart vegetable (yes, you read that right) that we think of as a fruit lends itself to gentle poaching to coax out its flavour. It’s just waiting to be combined with a host of herbs and aromatics to make it even more luscious.

This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue of alive.

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Going Pro

You might think of protein as something you mainly get from a meal and, therefore, not a component of dessert. But, if you’re going to opt for dessert from time to time, why not consider working in ingredients that go big on this important macronutrient? It’s easier (and more delicious) than you may think! Protein is an essential part of every cell in your body and plays a starring role in bone, muscle, and skin health. So, certainly, you want to make sure you’re eating enough. And it’s best to spread protein intake throughout the day, since your body needs a continual supply. This is why it can be a great idea to try to include protein in your desserts. When protein is provided in sufficient amounts in a dessert, it may help you feel more satiated and help temper blood sugar swings. Plus, in many cases, that protein comes in a package of other nutritional benefits. For instance, if you’re eating a dessert made with protein-packed Greek yogurt, you’re not just getting protein; you’re getting all the yogurt’s bone-benefitting calcium and immune-boosting probiotics, too. Adding nuts to your dessert doesn’t just provide plant-based protein, but it also provides heart-healthy fats. Yes, desserts need not be just empty calories. Ready for a treat? These protein-filled desserts with a healthy twist are dietitian-approved—and delicious.