Climate-friendly recipe ideas

Climate-friendly recipe ideas

Cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent.1 So next time you’re cooking dinner, consider your food’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions. 

Before meat and cheese-lovers lose faith: You don’t have to totally cut out your favorite dishes from your diet to eat more climate-friendly foods. According to one study, if US consumers all adopted a “flexitarian” diet — eating 1.5 ounces of meat a day or three hamburgers a week — it could help cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52 percent.2

Reducing your consumption of foods that have a high carbon cost is progress — even if that just means eating a few more plant-based meals each week.

If you’re interested in taking up a new plant-based diet or you’re a plant-based eater looking for some new veggie recipes, try some of our team’s favorites.

Apricot Tempeh Tacos
Ingredients for 8 tacos
8 corn tortillas
2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the tempeh and marinade:
8 oz tempeh
3-4 tbsp apricot preserves
2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, to taste

For the pickled jalapenos:
2 large jalapeños, deseeded and cut into strips
approx. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp honey (or white sugar if avoiding honey)

For the slaw:
1/2 cup red cabbage
1/4 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup shredded carrots
2 stalks celery
2-3 tbsp sunflower seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Splash of rice vinegar
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the sauce:
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tbsp sriracha
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic

  1. Begin by cutting the raw tempeh into strips about 2-3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. (I tried flax tempeh, but regular tempeh also works just fine!) Combine the apricot preserves, tamari, vinegar, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in an airtight container to make the marinade. 
  2. Add the tempeh and toss vigorously to ensure that all the ingredients in the marinade are well mixed and fully coat the tempeh. Marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to 12 hours. (Consider choosing a high-quality apricot preserve with chunks of whole apricot in it. After cooking the tempeh and assembling the taco, these chunks of caramelized fruit are real delights in the finished product!)
  3. Slice jalapeños into long, thin strips. Pour rice vinegar over the jalapeños until they are mostly covered, and then drizzle on your honey or sugar. Mix well so that the honey or sugar dissolves into the vinegar. Marinate for as long as you marinate the tempeh (1-12 hours.) This will perfectly pickle the jalapeños, giving them a slightly less hot and more flavorful touch.
  4. After the tempeh and jalapeños have marinated, mix the vegan mayo, sriracha, lemon juice, and garlic together to make the sriracha mayo. Next, finely chop the cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and celery into small pieces to make the coleslaw. Mix the vegetables together with the sunflower seeds. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the vegetable oil into a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and any remaining marinade into the skillet. Cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until caramelized and crispy.
  6. After the tempeh is crispy, empty into a bowl and scrape the pan clean. Heat tortillas on the same skillet for one minute on each side. Assemble the taco by spreading sriracha mayo on top of the tortilla, then placing the tempeh, 4-6 jalapeño slices, and a generous helping of slaw in each taco. Serve immediately.

Spicy Lime Stuffed Bell Peppers
Ingredients for 4 stuffed peppers

For the bell peppers:
4 green bell peppers
1.5 cups wild rice (dry)
1 can black beans
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
Approx. 8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
Salt, black pepper, paprika, and Tajin, to taste

For the guacamole:
1 ripe avocado
2 roma tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 clove garlic
1/4 red onion
Juice of 1 lime
Approx. 4 sprigs cilantro
Salt, pepper, and Tajin to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  3. Wash all produce. Cut off and discard just the very tops of the bell peppers, but creating a level top (so check and see if the peppers sit funky.) Scoop the seeds and white stuff out of the inside of the peppers.
  4. Chop 2 cloves garlic and 1/4 cup cilantro. Drain and rinse black beans. Whenever the rice is ready, mix the black beans, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro into the rice. Flavor with salt, pepper, paprika, and Tajin. (If you’ve never tried Tajin, it is a spice blend that can easily be found in most grocery stores. My partner introduced it to me a few months ago, and it’s deliciously spicy and citrusy!)
  5. Fill bell peppers with the rice and bean mixture until fully stuffed. Bake for approximately 30-35 mins.
  6. While the bell peppers are cooking, make the guacamole. Finely chop cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, onion, and tomato and combine in a medium bowl. Spoon avocado into the bowl and smash with a fork until creamy, but where there are still a few avocado chunks. Cut lime into quarters and squeeze the juice of the whole lime over the guac. Add a liberal amount of salt, pepper, and Tajin. (If you don’t like avocado, you can leave the avocado out of the guacamole recipe to create a delicious pico de gallo!)
  7. When the bell peppers are tender, place a large spoonful of guacamole on top and garnish with a cilantro leaf.

Lemon Leek Risotto

2-3 leeks
1-1/2 cups of mushrooms
2-5 cloves of garlic
1 lemon
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1-2 tablespoons of chives
1 yellow onion
Olive oil
2-3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
5 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegan parmesan (optional)

  1. Slice 2-3 leeks (about a cup, cup and a half) into quarter inch slices and wash well, breaking them up. Slice 1-1/2 cup of your favorite mushrooms into bite size pieces. Dice 2-5 cloves of garlic depending on your taste. Juice and zest one lemon. Chop up about 1/3 cup fresh parsley and 1-2 tablespoons of chives. Dice one yellow onion.
  2. Using a deep skillet (like a wok pan), saute the leeks and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until they start to get soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, give it another minute or so, and then set the veggies aside.
  3. Melt 2-3 tablespoons butter in the pan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add 1 3/4 cups of arborio rice, stir, and let it cook in the butter for a minute or two, basically toasting it.
  4. You’ll need 5 cups of vegetable broth. One cup at a time, pour it in and stir, letting the rice absorb the broth before adding another cup. You don’t have to stir constantly, but you don’t want the bottom to burn or stick. After 4 cups, test the rice and see if it’s soft — you want the rice to be creamy and chewy but not crunchy soggy.
  5. Once the rice is ready, stir the vegetables back in. Add in the lemon juice, zest, parsley, and chives. Salt/pepper to taste.
  6. Optionally add in or grate on top a little fresh vegan parmesan.

Coconut curry lentils

1/2 small onion, chopped finely
1 cup green or brown lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoon red or green Thai curry paste
1 can coconut milk
3 cups spinach
Cooked rice

  1. Soak lentils in water for a few hours (optional – but doing this helps your lentils cook faster).
  1. In medium saucepan, saute onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent
  2. Add lentils, broth and thai curry paste, bring to boil and simmer until lentils start to soften.
  3. Add coconut milk, simmer until lentils are done
  4. Taste – add more curry paste, salt, or sugar to taste
  5. Stir in spinach in batches and heat until hot.
  6. Serve on top of cooked rice. Add a squeeze of lime or fresh cilantro if desired.

P.S. If you cook one of our team’s recipes this week, post a picture of your plant-based dish and tag us on social media!

1. Olivia Petter, “Veganism is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce environmental impact, study finds,” The Independent, September 24, 2020. 

2. Tom Philpott, “You Don’t Have to Be a Vegan to Be a Climate-Friendly Eater,” Mother Jones, June 2019.