Sustainability Project: June 2019

As I wrote sometime last month, I would like to keep up with the sustainability swaps, and do about one a month. It turned out I did something different than I was thinking about, as I ran out of coffee. Since this post is about coffee, I have to admit something: I have a Keurig.

I bought it a few years ago, after breaking every glass coffee pot I tried to make it work with. I don’t know why I have this problem, but I will also say that I am the only person in the house who drinks coffee from home on a regular basis, so most of the time, if I made a pot, it would go to waste anyway.

Now, of course, I wish I didn’t buy a Keurig. I was weak and annoyed at spending so much money buying single cups of coffee from various shops. But I feel terrible about all the plastic K-cups that go into the landfill. And I did try the kind of K-cup that allow you to peel off plastic part, and then that portion goes into the recycling, but it wasn’t great.

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This is the variety pack!

So after some searching, I found this company: Tayst. The beans are sustainably sourced and the pods themselves are 100% compostable!

The only downside to this plan is that I do not yet have a compost area, as when I bought my house, the backyard was paved. I do have a small front yard, and since coffee is good for plants, and I only drink about three cups of coffee a week at home (most is at work), I am wondering if I can’t literally just bury these little suckers and let them feed the tree that lives there? I plan to try this and see how long it takes them to break down. A possibly fun experiment?

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Just adding this photo of Samir from 7 years ago for fun–but note I still have the same coffee cup!

Meat-Free May: It’s Over (or is it?)!

Today is the last day of May, thus the last day of Meat-Free May! All of my meals in May have been vegetarian, save one fish meal, which I ate because my favorite fish restaurant is closing and I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to go in June before it does. I realize that I don’t miss meat at all, and if possible, I think I might like myself a little better as a vegetarian.

So, with that, I’ve been thinking about extending this meat-free month into June, July, and maybe beyond. For now, I’ll see how June goes. I have the intention of eating mostly vegetarian. However, I do want to clean out my freezer, and I know I have some chicken in there that I didn’t want to eat in May, so I will probably eat that in June. I am also traveling a lot in June and the beginning of July, so it will be more challenging than if I were to just be staying in vegetarian-friendly NYC. Either way, I’ll report back at the end of June.

This week, I didn’t eat out that much. The one place we did go to was an Ethiopian place in the Village called Meskerem. I had the vegetarian combo, which is a little of everything. I wish I could name all the items on the plate. I know the upper left was cabbage, and next to that is green beans and carrots. Everything else was sort of pasty and maybe either lentil or chick peas or both. And the injera bread it’s all served on is a perfect utensil as well.

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Everything looks mushy in this photo but it was all great!

We also ate a lot at home. As I said, I’ve been trying to finish food that’s in my freezer. I do this about every three months and I think it’s a good practice to avoid food waste. We ate a lentil stew that I made about four months ago. It was really good, and I wish I had a recipe, but it was mostly just red lentils, kale, carrots, garlic, and garam masala cooked in vegetable broth. I’ve also been cooking more in general. In fact, I followed an actual recipe! That recipe was tofu and mushroom stroganoff.

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Yummy and filling and mushroomy!

It seems complicated, probably because of the soaking of cashews. But don’t let that put you off–they practically soak themselves! Some changes I made to the recipe were substituting elbows for fusilli pasta (I don’t know why I hate fusilli, but I do). I left out the wine because I had already drunk all the available wine. And I didn’t add the parsley garnish. It was yummy, and my kids didn’t realize it wasn’t real cheese in the sauce.

Meat-Free May: Week 4

Week 4 of Meat-Free May included a lot of eating out, and, to come clean, one of those times I ate fish. I found out my favorite fish restaurant was closing, and I was planning to go there for my birthday in June. So I went this week. I feel like I failed in that I ate fish, be succeeded in that I didn’t let in get me into a spiral of continuing to eat meat.

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BBQ Tempeh Bowl from MTHR Vegan was a terrific lunch in Midtown NYC!

One day, I forgot to bring my lunch to work, and was depressed at the thought of eating in my office cafeteria, so I wandered out to MTHR Vegan. I originally wanted a sandwich, but changed my mind and got this BBQ tempeh bowl. Fortunately/unfortunately the restaurant is only a few blocks from where I work, so I’ll be back.

We also went back to the Queens Night Market, and managed to eat only vegetarian things, and none of the things we ate the last time. We had a guava and cheese empanada, spicy fried masala noodles, samosas, mozzarella arepa, radish puffs, and some fried cinnamon cake.

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And it is/was Memorial Day weekend, so we had BBQ! I marinated some eggplant in olive oil, tahini sauce, garlic, and lemon juice, and had it on fresh Italian bread with some kale and a cashew cream sauce (that I made for something else, but didn’t have time to make yet, so I’ll make it tomorrow). Also, grilled corn, which is always a favorite!

Meat-Free May: Week 3

We are into the third week of Meat-Free May! I am still feeling good and have not eaten meat nor wanted to eat meat. I do have a few health updates that may or may not be related. Because I was at the doctor’s this morning for my annual, I know I lost two pounds. Also my blood pressure, which has never been a concern of mine, was 118/75, so now it is even less of a concern (previously had been 120/80). At some point this week, I remembered that in the past when I was vegetarian or vegan for years-long stretches, I became deficient in vitamin B12, so I did start taking that as a precaution.

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Hiking in the woods near our house!

This week I ate out a lot, but forgot to take photos every single time! We went hiking, biking, went to a show at my son’s school, and I went to a concert and spent a lot of time hanging out with horses. One night I ate Chinese food out at a fancy place. We had an assortment of things, but my favorite was Shao Kao Fu, which is seitan with mushrooms and peanuts. I also ate Thai food out with my family, and had Massaman Curry with tofu and vegetables. And finally I had Italian food out with my family, and I had eggplant rollatini.

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These were actually really good!

I’m trying to remember what I ate this week at home and mostly failing. There were a ton of my favorite salad: kale, avocado, cucumber, tahini, and hemp seeds. I made orange seitan with broccoli for the family one day. And I finally got to try jackfruit, which I’ve been curious about for some time. It came four cakes to a pack, so I made them all, and ate two on successive days for lunch. I liked the jackfruit, even though I’ve not into crabcakes that much. I would definitely be interested to try jackfruit in a different format!

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This was my favorite thing I’ve made in a long time, and I ate it two days in a row!

Meat-Free May: Week 2

The second week in Meat-Free May went well in that I continued to not eat meat, continued to not crave meat, and continued to feel well!

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Yummy ramen! We were also given complementary endamame for some reason–not that I’m complaining!

We actually ate out a bit more than usual, the highlight of which for me was ramen! I love ramen and was concerned our local joint did have a section for “vegetable ramen,” but it did not specify that the ramen was vegetarian. I know their regular ramen is made from animal bones, so I asked the waitress, and was informed that my favorite, the miso ramen, is vegetarian!

The two other times we ate out were at vegan restaurants, so we were able to pick from the menu without asking/worrying. While I love this about eating at vegan places, I think it’s also important to eat at omnivore restaurants as a vegetarian, so they will know that yes, people like vegetables!

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TJ’s falafel mix is very easy to prepare!

For meals at home, we had pasta one night, pizzas another night, and one day, something that I previously thought was really hard to make–falafel. I baked it rather that fried it, mostly because that amount of frying seemed like it would be more danger than I wanted to deal with! Thus, it was a little dryer (and I’m sure way healthier) than I’m used to. Also, this mix was a bit spicier than I usually expect falafel to be. Nonetheless, thumbs up! I ate this with kale salad for lunch the remainder of days of the week.

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The pita is almost bigger than my plate!

For dinner, we had the falafel balls with pita, kale, cucumbers, avocado, and TJ’s tahini sauce. The kids ate their falafel with…cheese and ketchup. At least they ate it!

Sustaining the Sustainability Swaps!

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It’s been a few weeks since my month-long sustainability swaps, so I thought I would check in. The five swaps I made were: (1) Reusable water bottle, (2) Reusable bamboo utensils, (3) Recycled and bamboo paper products, (4) Reusable beeswax sandwich wrapper,  and (5) Reusable wool dryer balls.

All have held up, and I would like to make some more sustainability swaps, but I have to do some more research, which is time-consuming. I thought perhaps I would aim to do one swap per month, as that seems pretty doable. There are a few things I’m in the middle of researching, so if anyone would like to provide personal insight, I would appreciate it!

Here are a couple of things for which I am trying to find alternatives:

  1. Deodorant: Mostly because of the plastic tubes, so any product that replaced this would have to be in some other packaging, but I’m not particularly sweaty and I have sensitive skin, so I am also looking for something with fewer harsh ingredients. I also have an relatively new deodorant I am going to use up first.
  2. Razor: Again, this is all because of the plastic. I am looking to buy a safety razor, but I am very nervous about using a safety razor. Also, I keep finding boxes of razor “heads” in random cabinets, so I am going to use them up first.
  3. Toothbrush: Once again, the plastic. I know there are bamboo brushes out there, but I just bought a new toothbrush a few weeks ago, so I am going to get its full lifespan use out of it before I swap it out.

Since I am participating in Meat-Free May this month, I’ll probably not decide and write about my next swap in June. Looking forward to it!

Meat-Free May: Week 1

It hasn’t been a full week yet, but since I didn’t take notes and am liable to forget, I thought I would check-in how I did for week 1 of Meat-Free May. In short, it went well! Meaning, of course, I didn’t eat any meat, and I felt fine and wasn’t craving it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I generally eat the same two things for breakfast and lunch every day: cereal with almond milk and a banana and kale salad and a peanut butter sandwich. My only weekday deviation was an egg salad with carrots and chips one day, as I was at the DMV all morning and didn’t want to bring my lunch with my.

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Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs: a yummy study in contradictions!

One night for dinner we had spaghetti and meatballs. Having two young kids, this is a staple at our house. They were hesitant when I told them the meatballs might taste differently because they were not meat, but they not only ate everything I gave them, but asked for seconds!

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They ate all this and asked for seconds! And yes, I let them eat in front of the TV, but in my defense, we were watching Kiki’s Delivery Service!

Another meal I put together at home was ready-made Indian stuff, also from Trader Joe’s. It was chana masala (chickpeas with tomato and spices), palak paneer (cheese cubes with spinach puree), and garlic naan (flatbread). This was too much for my older son, so I also made him frozen fish fingers. My younger son is a much more adventurous eater and proclaimed it “spicy, but not too spicy.”

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I was hungry and started eating before taking the photo!

Over the weekend, as predicted, I ate out twice. For lunch Saturday, we had pizza. For dinner Saturday, we went to a large food truck festival called the Queens Night Market. I was walking around and eating too much to take photos, but we mostly all shared everything. We had corn on the cob, a rice cake with eggplant and tomato puree on top, a corn cake with tofu and vegetables cooked into it, a spiralized potato with cheddar seasoning, and fried ice cream. I have to admit that I was nervous there would be no vegetarian options there, but there were plenty. I plan to go back many times this season!