Back to the Kitchen: Celebrate Earth Day with food of the earth

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Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the our global environment. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson  founded it in 1970 as an environmental teach-in and now we are celebrating its 40th year!

So, in honor of Earth Day on April 22, I celebrate it with foods of the earth and offer these tidbits of culinary information.

Did you know that a tomato is a member of the nightshade family whose siblings include peppers, potatoes and eggplant? Originally from South America, tomati is the Aztec word for plumb vegetable, but the conquistadors misunderstood and turned the word into tomato.

Celebrate Earth Day 2010 with foods of the earth. Photo: Courtesy


What about the fact that rabbits and squirrels won’t go near a garden with crops of onions and garlic? Did you know that Cuban Cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean traditions? Black beans, rice and plantains are a staple of this culture plus plenty of tropical fruits like mango, papaya, coconuts and pineapple. Did you know how lucky we are to live in Southern California with all of its diversity and amazing local farm producers so we can eat locally?

Here are the 2010 Earth Day Actions that will try and live by:

I will stop using plastic bags and start using reusable bags when shopping.

I will continue my Green In 2010 challenge and do one green thing each day of the year and blog it at

I will breastfeed my children to cut down on the need to produce/package/ship/dispose of formula.

I will take shorter showers and use a water-saving showerhead….

I will abstain from meat at least one day a week to curb carbon emissions from the livestock industry….

I will use environmentally friendly cleaning products….

I will pay my bills online instead of receiving bills in the mail….

I will use environmentally friendly cleaning products….

I will use a reusable water bottle and bring a mug to the coffee shop….

I will shop at a farmer’s market and buy local and organic food….

I will abstain from meat at least one day a week to curb carbon emissions from the livestock industry….

I will walk, ride my bike, and take public transportation instead of driving….

I use a metal reusable bottle every day instead of store-bought bottled water!

Do what you can to make a commitment to our planet and enjoy these recipes inspired by Mother Earth.


Dark Dream Smoothie

2 bananas, peeled

1-cup blueberries

1 papaya, skinned and de-seeded

2 dates, stoned

1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated

Blend all ingredients and drink.

Mango Peach Smoothie

1 cup peeled mango chunks

1 large peach, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks

1 cup Green or White Tea

2 tablespoons lime juice

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Raspberry Watermelon Smoothie

2 cups seeded watermelon chunks

1/2 pint raspberries

1 cup orange juice

1 cup ice cubes

Put all ingredients in blender. Set to blend. Blend until all ingredients have blended and there are no chunks of ice left.

Italian Soup

1 avocado, peeled and stoned

4 tomatoes

A handful of basil

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

Blend all ingredients. If it’s too thick add some freshly made tomato or cucumber juice.

Sweet Beet Soup

3 beets, peeled

3 strawberries

1 tomato

2 cups of water

3 sage leaves

1 teaspoon grated horseradish

5 scallions

Chop all solid ingredients and blend with the water. If you like, you can strain it and add some of the pulp back in to get the consistency you like. Serves 2.

Corn Soup

5 ears fresh corn, shucked from cob

4 cups almond milk

Dash cayenne pepper

In a blender puree until smooth. Serves 4

Carrot Asparagus Soup

1/2-teaspoon wasabi powder

2 cups cut up asparagus

1-cup carrot juice

2 heaping tablespoons almond butter

3-teaspoon onion

A pinch of sea salt

In a blender, blend ingredients into a smooth
 consistency. Taste and adjust flavors. Pour into serving bowl. Serves 2

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

6 large heirloom tomatoes, all varieties and colors, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes

1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

4 Parisian cucumbers or 1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced into1/4 inch cubes

2 purple bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

In a blender or food processor combine tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and peppers. Add cilantro, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and jalapeno. Add a few pinches of salt and black pepper. Process vegetables into a juicy soup, leaving it nice and chunky. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serves 4.

Curried Squash and Fennel Soup

4 cups butternut squash. Peeled and chopped

2 cups baby peeled carrots, chopped

6 stalks celery, chopped

2 bulbs fennel, chopped

1 apple, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 cup tahini

1/2-cup olive oil

2 Teaspoons curry powder

1 Teaspoon cumin powder

2-teaspoon sea salt

Lime wedges, and cilantro sprigs for 

In food processor, pulse each of the first 5
ingredients, then combine in large mixing bowl. In 
blender, add ginger, garlic, curry, cumin, olive oil and Tahiti, Blend (add water if necessary). Combine in mixing bowl with vegetable mixture. Add sea salt, mix
 well. In batches, fill blender 3/4 full and 
liquefy. Garnish soup bowls with a sprig of cilantro and a squeeze of limejuice. Serves 4

Ginger Apple Salsa Recipe

2 apples, finely diced

1 onion, diced

1/4-cup limejuice

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root

Dash salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients together, and allow the flavors to mingle at least one hour before serving.

Strawberry Salsa

1 cup coarsely chopped strawberries

1 red onion, finely chopped

1clove garlic, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons Braggs Amino

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill.

Mini Lentil Loaves with Country Gravy

1 cup dry lentils

2 1/2 cps water

2 bay leaves

1 red onion, diced

3 stalks celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 red pepper, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2-teaspoon kosher salt

2-teaspoon black pepper

2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

2-teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2-tablespoon sesame oil

Juice of one lemon

3/4-cup oats

3/4 dry breadcrumbs

In a medium saucepan simmer the lentils and bay leaves with water until they are soft and the lentils split easily, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile in a medium skillet heat the oil. Sautee the onions, garlic, carrots, celery red peppers until soft. Remove from heat and add the seasonings. Let cool. Process the Oats in a blender until finely ground. Combine the lentils with the vegetables and then add the oats and breadcrumbs. Add the sesame oil and lemon juice. Shape into 12 mini loaves and line up on a sprayed cookie sheet. Place in a preheated 400-degree oven and bake until lightly brown about 15 minutes.

Country Gravy

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 portabella mushrooms, slice 1/4 inch thick, then each slice in 4ths

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic

2 cups veggie stock

1/2-teaspoon thyme

1/2-teaspoon rosemary

Pinch salt and pepper

3 tablespoons flour

Fresh thyme and rosemary to float on the top

In a skillet heat 1 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Add mushroom, garlic and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat up remaining oil and add flour and whisk until smooth and cook 30 seconds. Add stock in a steady stream while continuing to whisk cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserve mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook 5 minutes more season with salt and pepper. Pour into gravy boat and serve with mashed potatoes and the baked lentil loaf.

A Classic Thai dish

1 inch ginger, peeled and minced

1/3 cup sesame oil

1-teaspoon coriander seeds

Juice of 2 lemons

3 cloves garlic

3 black olives

1 medium tomato, sliced

1 handful crimini or other mushrooms,

6 zucchinis
, julienne

3 cucumbers, julienne

Nama Shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce)

Blend the ginger, olive oil, coriander seeds, lemon juice, olives, and garlic in a blender until well liquefied. Add Nama Shoyu to taste. Toss with zucchini and cucumbers. Garnish with a sprig of parsley as well as tomato and mushroom slices and red bell pepper rings on the side.

Cucumber, Fennel, And Orange Salad

10 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 large oranges zest and pith removed, halved and thinly sliced

2 bunches watercress

4 tablespoons pomegranate juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Juice of 1 lemon

1-tablespoon honey

1/2-cup olive oil

1-cup pomegranate seeds

1/2-cup pine nuts

Combine cucumbers, fennel, onion, oranges and watercress in large shallow bowl. Whisk together with lemon juicer, pomegranate juice, orange juice, honey and olive oil. Toss with salad. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.