Every year, on April 22, people all over the world celebrate Earth Day to acknowledge the importance of protecting our planet and supporting a healthy environment for all living things.
If we examine how we live our day-to-day lives, we can find ways to make a significant contribution to living sustainably by taking what may seem like small steps but, when added together, can make a significant difference.
Our kitchen appliances alone account for more than 14 percent of our home’s energy use. Add to that the cost of lighting, heating, and cooking in our kitchen while we prepare, eat, and clean up, and it makes sense to think about ways to be a little more eco-conscious in our meal planning and prep.
For this month’s recipe feature, we’re bringing you a unique, eco-friendly Earth Day menu. Becoming more eco-conscious in our day-to-day lives doesn’t need an all-or-nothing approach. Small steps lead the way toward the bigger goal.
These tasty small-step recipes are drawn from locally produced ingredients wherever possible and include vegan and vegetarian options perfect for an Earth Day meal.
Enjoy our Earth Day menu by serving it up on your finest china and using your best linen, with your favourite soy or beeswax candles lighting the way toward a memorable tradition that you’ll be keen to practise on more than just one day a year.
Every day can be as eco-friendly as befits Earth Day. But April 22 is the day the whole world shines the light on our environment to remind us to be friendly to our earth. When it comes to the food we buy, prepare, and eat, there are a few ways we can be particularly mindful—on Earth Day and every day.
On Thursday April 22, 2021, switch off your lights and set the mood. Romanticize your Earth Day meal and eat by candlelight (soy or beeswax, of course).
Check to be sure your dinnerware and cutlery is environmentally friendly, safe for use, and also sustainable.
Buy and support local food growers and merchants whenever possible.
Plan your meals to avoid overbuying, which often leads to waste.
Store vegetable scraps in your freezer and turn them into a big pot of soothing soup to enjoy on a rainy day.
Bring back eco-friendly—and much more elegant—cloth napkins to your kitchen service.
Finally, always remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible.
These little bite-sized morsels are a snap to make. Traditionally, blinis are made with yeast and left to rise. We simplified the recipe using baking powder and soda. Plus, we added some buckwheat flour to make them a little nuttier. These delicious mini pancakes are the perfect foundation for any topping.
Fresh baby carrots are beginning to surface this month. They’re especially delicious eaten fresh from the garden. However, if you’re looking to sip a soothing bowl with healing spices, simmering young carrots in a lovely broth really delivers. We added nutty-tasting wild rice to up the protein quotient along with added fibre, potassium, and zinc.
Puttanesca is typically made with tomatoes, capers, and anchovies. But that’s not what “puttanesca” actually means. It roughly translates to “lady of the night.” We gave it a nutritional boost by adding in some miso, beans, and baby spring chard to add to the umami explosion of flavour. Perfect served with red wine and, of course, by candlelight.
Are you wondering what it means to buy “sustainable” seafood? The type of seafood, where it’s from, and how it’s caught or harvested all play into what makes seafood sustainable. Simply put, it means that the harvest of a particular seafood is done in a way that allows for continued harvesting into the future. But it’s not simply a question of controlling overfishing. Impacts on the environment are also key. Wild fish have the reputation of being more sustainable, but that’s only if they’re fished through managed seafood programs and don’t have other impacts such as pollution or depletion of other species. Seafood from aquaculture can also be sustainable, provided it is done in a way that avoids any detrimental effects to the larger ocean environment or other species. Stay informed, though, since species considered sustainable one day may be under threat the next. This might mean being willing to try something new or forgoing a favourite for something that is more sustainable. While that may sound like a sacrifice, it’s also an opportunity to discover a new favourite. If you live in an area where seafood is harvested, making a decision to support local fishers and harvesters may also influence your decision about which sustainable seafood choices to make. Navigating the specifics can be tricky, but your local fish counter is a great place to start your quest for sustainable fish. Your fishmonger is a valuable source of information about where the product is sourced. You can also look for certifications from organizations such as Ocean Wise and Marine Stewardship Council. Once you get it home, sustainable seafood’s variety and versatility presents us with an ocean of delicious opportunities in the kitchen. Try these recipes for simple, flavourful, and diverse preparations. Your choices can help Ocean Wise Seafood is a seafood certification program that helps consumers and businesses choose sustainable seafood options. The program works with scientists to assess the state of aquatic ecosystems and the species they support, making recommendations on sustainable choices. They employ a simple rating of either Ocean Wise Recommended or Not Recommended. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol when you buy seafood or check out their website ( seafood.ocean.org ) to search for sustainable seafood options. They have information about various species, where and how they’re fished or harvested, and whether your choice is sustainable. It’s simple, easy, and reassuring. Face your fish-prep fears Many of us shy away from cooking seafood because we think we don’t know how, or because we may be worried about spoiling a piece of beautiful fish. Here are some quick tips to relieve your fish-prep fears. Start with the best In addition to asking at your fish counter about sustainability, don’t be afraid to ask how the seafood you’re buying has been transported and stored. Frozen fish, which is flash frozen, may be a better choice than a piece of “fresh” fish that has been around for a while. Store it properly Shellfish Store shellfish in the fridge, in a shallow pan without water, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Frozen fish Remove frozen fish from its packaging, and thaw, loosely covered, in the fridge overnight. Drain any water that collects as it thaws. Cook fresh fish within two days. Celebrate simplicity Quality seafood is its own celebration and lends itself to simple preparations: a quick grill, a dash of lemon. Keep it simple and let the flavour of the fish shine through! Let your fish warm up It may sound strange, but letting your fish come up to room temperature over about 30 minutes will help you get an even temperature when it’s time to cook. Explore different cooking methods Poached, grilled, steamed, baked—seafood does it all. If you always grill fish, explore a gentle poach or raw preparation. Know your temperature Use higher heat for grilling, and make sure the pan or grill is hot when the fish hits it. Use low heat and a gentle simmer when poaching. Skin side down Cooking fish with the skin on helps keep it together. When grilling, cook the skin side first to protect the fish as it cooks. Know when it’s done Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is barely opaque in the centre. Dive in Don’t let your fear stop you. Just get started!
While sablefish’s texture and fat content stand up admirably to the heat of the grill, this firm fish is also delicious poached. For this recipe, sablefish’s luxurious taste is combined with a light fragrant broth of lemongrass and ginger punctuated with the heat of Thai chili. Sustainability status Sablefish, also known as butterfish or black cod, is a rich and satisfying fish, plentiful in omega-3s and sourced sustainably from the Pacific Northwest. Skin and bones Sablefish has large pin bones. Ideally, your fishmonger will remove them, but if not, before you begin, locate them along the fish’s centreline and, using a pair of needle nose pliers, grasp them firmly to remove. You can leave the skin on for this recipe, which may help the fish hold together a little better while cooking, but it can be tricky to peel the skin away from the cooked fish and discard before plating. I opted to remove the skin first and simply keep a close eye on the cooking time, being careful to remove the fish from the poaching liquid before it flakes apart.
These mildly spiced salmon tacos served with sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds will bring a party together. Make a small quantity of salmon go further when you pair it with a fresh red cabbage slaw featuring citrus and cilantro. Drizzled with some bright lime yogurt, the flavours come together perfectly. Sustainability status Wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska are considered among the most sustainable, as the fishery is subject to limited harvests. With salmon stocks in decline, supporting managed fisheries such as these can help maintain populations into the future. That may also mean eating salmon less often than we do now. Salmon is a favourite Salmon is the most popular variety of fish in Canada and the second most popular in the US.
B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.