BY: ALI WATSON, MS, RDN
As I scrolled through my emails on my afternoon coffee break, I came across my daily “Nutrition and Dietetics SmartBrief.” For those who may be unfamiliar, this is one of the benefits of becoming a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). The SmartBrief contains headlines from current research and news articles that our professional organization finds worthy of sending out to credentialed Registered Dietitians / Nutritionists (RDNs).
I am not fond of the SmartBrief. I rarely open the email because the content feels relatively unhelpful; reiterating information we already have pounded in our heads from the four to six years of extensive schooling on everything food related. Many professionals in our field want to read something more meaningful than another research article on how eating red meat may increase your risk for heart disease. We want research updates that reflect a certain level of innovation and nuance.
Despite my lack of interest in these emails, the opening line for today caught my eye. It read – Study: Daily avocado intake promotes gut health. And with one click, I found myself reading about how eating added avocado to every meal for 12 weeks results in “great microbiome diversity.”
Now many of you are probably thinking – Yeah, what about it?
Here is my bone to pick.
I have high hopes that we as a community can do, and be, better by embracing and promoting intersectionality as foundational to our core professional competencies.
BY: MIMI REFOJO
Our choices as a consumer have major impacts on the environment and levels of greenhouse gases within our planet. Many are looking for a sustainable food option that is healthy not only for the individual, but for our planet as well. It is widely known that animal meat products contribute to higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, but just how high is this impact, and how do the levels of greenhouse gases produced by alternative meat products compare?
According to The Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry contributes 14.5% of all greenhouse gases produced, with beef being the largest culprit at 41% of greenhouse gas emissions for the entire meat industry (Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2019). Beef, when compared to other animal products such as dairy and poultry, needs “28 times more land and 11 times more water than the average of other livestock products” per calorie of beef consumed (Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2019). The high environmental impacts of animal products are only exacerbated when compared to their meat alternative or imitation meat counter parts. Imitation meats have surfaced recently and have been gaining popularity as a more sustainable option, and include products such as veggie burgers, and imitation bacon and chicken alternatives. A study led by Alfredo Mejia, Dr.PH. sought to find out how the greenhouse gas levels compared in the products of animal meat products versus imitation meat products.
Calculating total greenhouse gas emissions and looking particularly at carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide produced, animal products produced an exponentially higher amount of heat-trapping gases that can negatively impact the environment. According to data presented in 2016 at the American Society for Nutrition Annual Meeting, consuming an “8-ounce steak is equivalent to driving a small car for about 29 miles” whereas consuming a meat substitute can be compared to “driving the same car just three miles” (ScienceDaily, 2016). Within the study, researchers analyzed the environmental impacts of 39 different meat alternatives, noting “the amount and origin of ingredients and packaging materials, transport of raw materials, water, energy, and other inputs required to operate the factory and pack the products” to best compare imitation meats to animal meat products (ScienceDaily, 2016). From the research, it was found that animal meat products produced a substantially higher amount of CO2 emissions. Beef products produced between 9-129 kilograms of CO2 per equivalent amount, and pork and chicken produced 2-6 kilograms of CO2 per equivalent amount (ScienceDaily, 2016). When compared to meat alternatives, the average amount of CO2 produced per equivalent amount of product was much lower at only 2.4 kilograms (ScienceDaily, 2016).
This study found that meat alternative products produce ten times less greenhouse gas emissions when compared to beef products, something that should be taken into consideration for consumers wishing to lower their carbon footprint.
Of course, the importance of choosing a product that is not only good for the environment but also for our individual health is important. When choosing a meat alternative product, there are a few questions to ask yourself that may help you choose a healthier and less processed choice.
First, determine what the protein source is within the product. According to The Cleveland Health Clinic, meat substitutes that use pea protein or beans will provide you with the highest quality nutrition when compared to soy protein isolate and wheat gluten (The Cleveland Clinic, 2020). The study suggests that this difference may be attributed to the degree of processing.
Next, determine how much protein the product has. Aiming for 20 grams of protein per meal is a great benchmark to strive for, and a product with 10-15 grams of protein will be a great starting point when paired with other sides (The Cleveland Clinic, 2020).
Lastly, it has been pointed out that meat alternatives have a higher sodium and saturated fat content when compared to animal products. Producers commonly utilize palm oil or coconut oil within imitation meat products to mimic the texture of ground beef, both of which have a high saturated fat content (Hultin, 2019). Be sure look for a product that has a low sodium and saturated fat content and that your overall sodium consumption does not exceed 2,300 mg/day and that you do not consume more than 22g of saturated fat per day, if following a 2,000 calorie/day diet. (The Cleveland Clinic, 2020).
Purchasing tofu, tempeh, beans and lentils all provide ample amounts of protein and nutrition, and are easy to season yourself without the added sodium and saturated fat content that other meat alternatives may contain (The Cleveland Clinic, 2020).
Meat alternatives are an amazing substitution for those wishing to lower their carbon footprint, and should the right products be chosen, for those wishing to live a healthier life as well. Lowering our carbon footprints may seem daunting at first, but through small changes in our diets, a larger impact can be seen within our planet and our overall health.
BY: AMANDA TERILLO, MS, RD
Below is an excerpt from Amanda Terillo's book, Kitchen Confidence, which outlines the environmental impacts associated with food waste, how food waste is generated, and a simple way you can start reducing your own food waste: home composting.
Environmental Impact of Food Waste
The United States spends roughly one billion dollars per year to dispose of food waste. Food leftovers are the largest portion of our waste stream according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This waste includes unconsumed food and food preparation scraps such as vegetable peels. 
Food waste has a significant impact on the environment. Growing food requires a lot of inputs, such as water, energy, and fertilizer/animal feed. In America, bringing food to our plates uses 10% of our total energy budget, 50% of land, and 80% of freshwater per year . In fact, agriculture is responsible for one-third of climate change . To make matters worse, 40% of food that is grown is wasted. When we waste food, we are also wasting the inputs used to grow our food. 
Food is wasted at all stages of the food chain from harvesting in the fields to consumer waste. Fifty-four percent of the world’s food waste occurs during the product, postharvest-handling, and storage phases. The other forty-six percent of food waste occurs at the processing, distribution, and consumption level. 
Sending food to the landfill increases the release of methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas, into the environment. Greenhouse gases increase the temperature in the atmosphere and make the oceans more acidic. Acidic oceans cause the death of aquaculture (farming of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants), which reduces the diversity of commonly consumed fish species. Today more than 1 billion people worldwide rely on aquaculture as a primary source of food. 
Produced-but-uneaten food occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land in the word. This represents 30% of the world’s agricultural land area, the land cleared for growing food. This wasted land is about the size of India and Canada combined . Cutting down arable land increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which leads to climate change. In addition, when we cut down land in order to raise livestock, we are decreasing habitats of many animals leading to species loss.
Certain foods require more inputs than other foods. Animal proteins, such as meat, poultry, and dairy, require more inputs than vegetables. In the United States 47% of soy and 60% of corn are used for livestock consumption. This soy and corn take up 33% of arable land. Therefore, when we waste animal products we are not only wasting the animal, but also the feed, inputs for feed, and the land used to raise the animal.
The increase in droughts across the globe has made wasting water a significant issue. Since 70% of the world’s freshwater is used for agriculture, the food we eat has a large impact on how much water is used or wasted. Animal proteins require the largest amount of water to produce. Check out the Water Footprint Calculator to learn more about the water footprint of different foods.
Every time we throw food away, we also throw away the precious water used to create the food. At the retail and consumer level, fruits and vegetables make up 32% of total food waste. Though not as high as animal proteins, vegetarian proteins and plant-based foods require heavy inputs as well. These foods many not need to be fed grain, but they still need water and fertilizer to grow. Reducing food waste at the consumer level can significantly improve the environment. One way to reduce food waste, and lower your water and carbon footprints, is to send less food to the landfill.
Introduction to composting
Reducing food waste is the best choice for the environment, but the next best thing to do with wasted food is to compost. Composting is a process of recycling decomposed organic materials into nutrient-rich soil known as compost. When added to the soil in your garden, compost help plants grow by adding nutrients back into the soil rather than sending them to the landfill .
Food scraps and yard waste are easy-to-compost items. There is no set recipe for creating a compost, but it is important to create a balance between green materials (nitrogen) and brown materials (carbon). The recommended ratio of brown materials to green materials is three to one. The following table provides a list of green and brown materials.
There are many ways to compost at home. The equipment needed for each style of composting varies. Composting does not require a lot of space. You can even compost inside an apartment. If you manage your compost bin well, it should not attract pests or create unpleasant odors.
Keeping your compost contained in a structure works best. There are many different containers and materials you can use to create a structure for composting, but you must have airflow. You can create airflow by drilling holes in a container or using chicken wire or hardware cloth around your bin.
Turning your compost will help facilitate the process of decomposition. Turning your compost exposes it to air, which will keep your compost pile aerobic. This encourages microbes to decompose the materials. It is recommended that you turn your compost weekly with a pitchfork, but if you miss a week or two your compost pile will be okay .
Keeping your compost pile moist is also important. You can maintain proper moisture by monitoring the amount of rain in your area and watering your compost during dry spells. If your compost pile starts to get too moist, simply add more brown material to absorb the excess moisture.
Check out the following resources to learn more about composting at home:
BY: SARA KUSHNER, MS CANDIDATE
Climate change and global hunger are so intertwined that it is impossible to address one without considering the other. Extreme weather events – such as hurricanes, droughts, flash floods, and desertification – have doubled in the last 30 year . These events can produce disastrous effects including food shortages, contaminated water, and economic instability, all of which contribute to hunger and malnutrition, literally and figuratively eroding hunger reduction efforts around the world.
Underpinning the relationship between hunger, malnutrition, and climate change is the fact that 80% of the world’s food insecure individuals live in areas that are prone to natural disasters . The high occurrence of extreme weather events in these areas leads to a cycle of food insecurity that promotes malnutrition, and it is very difficult for impacted communities to reverse the cycle. According to World Food Program USA, the cycle of climate change-induced global hunger is as follows :
And so the hardships continue. Global temperatures are expected to continue rising over the next 30 years, producing more frequent and severe natural disasters. Reversing this trend will require cutting carbon emissions to zero, a feat that does not appear likely to occur without a coordinated, global effort. Elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reduced the nutritional value of foods, inflaming the issue of global hunger and malnutrition. To complicate matters further, increasing food production, a necessary step in tackling the hunger crisis, will result in increased greenhouse gas emissions if done using current industrial farming methods .
The existence of climate-friendly, resilience-promoting farming techniques provides some hope that disaster-prone communities will one day be able to maintain food systems that produce enough food to eliminate malnutrition while withstanding future natural disasters. Regenerative agriculture is a method of farming that is not only more sustainable, but also works restore the natural resources that are used for food production . It involves strategies such as no-till farming, cover cropping, and diversification, all of which enhance the nutrient density and overall health of the soil . Healthy soil sequesters more carbon, which helps reduce climate change. Additionally, healthy soil is resilient soil. When drought or flooding occurs, healthy soil is able to recover faster, resulting in less food loss. And soil that is nutrient-dense grows more nutrient-dense food, which helps combat malnutrition.
Climate change, global hunger, and malnutrition are inextricably linked. To address one, we must address them all. Mitigating climate change by implementing regenerative agriculture farming methods is one strategy that can effectively address hunger and malnutrition, if done on a large enough scale. By working to reverse climate change, we increase the possibility of eradicating global hunger for good.
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about the Author
Admit it, you know the feeling.
- Settle for those old, bland leftovers that may or may not leave you facing undesirable consequences in a few hours—yuck.
- Resort to ordering over-priced takeout that arrives cold and well past the expected delivery time.
- Forego dinner altogether, waking up the next morning more lethargic and hangry than the night before.
1. Stick to Staples.
2. Use What You’ve GoT.
3. Think Before You Toss.
4. befriend your freezer.
5. spread the wealth.
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THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS HAPPENING NOW
Climate change also threatens our food system which ultimately means it threatens our survival. In their Special Report on Climate Change and Land released in 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that extreme weather events like drought, flood and fires are resulting in reduced crop yields, increased pests, less arable land and soil that is not only less healthy but less resilient to natural and unnatural disasters. If global warming is to be kept below the goal set by the Paris Agreement of 2 degrees Celsius, greenhouse gas emissions need to be at zero by mid-century . But there’s hope! Food is a critical component in the fight against climate change. Did someone say “food”? Yes. And where food is, dietitians and other nutrition professionals are. Or, we need to be, especially as it relates to the rapidly changing climate.
Many individuals have sought to reduce their carbon footprint by driving or flying less, recycling more, taking shorter showers, buying eco-friendly products, using different light bulbs, and perhaps by participating in political actions targeting the fossil fuel industry. What is not commonly known is that around 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from our global food system . Additionally, our food system is one of largest drivers of biodiversity loss and ocean acidification, which further exacerbate the climate crisis by reducing the earth’s ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. It’s imperative that nutrition professionals and healthcare practitioners are a part of creating a sustainable, resilient and regenerative food system that is aligned with the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals. How we grow, harvest, transport, process, produce, package, distribute, consume and waste food is a major part of the climate problem. But good news! It may also be part of the solution.
nutrition professionals have a substantial role to play
Additionally, many of us see nature as a healing force and an integral part of therapeutic lifestyle interventions for numerous health issues, so we may already be incorporating discussions of the environment in our patient and client interactions. Lastly, we work to prevent disease with food and lifestyle as medicine approaches that can potentially reduce the need for additional healthcare, purported to be responsible for around 9% of greenhouse gases .
So where does one begin? You may have heard the buzz word “sustainable” in relationship to diets and the food system, and yet many argue that the current system is not anything that we would want to sustain. Industrial agricultural practices have had a devastating effect on the health of our soil, harming this underground ecosystem which helps bring nutritional value to the very foods we are recommending. The goal now is to bring resilience and regeneration to the system as it faces more challenges with extreme weather patterns wreaking havoc on the land, and with COVID further revealing the immense disparities and lack of equity apparent in communities of color and indigenous populations in terms of both environment-related health repercussions and food access . We need to work towards a food system that “conserves and renews natural resources, advances social justice and animal welfare, builds community wealth, and fulfills the food and nutrition needs of all eaters now and in the future" . Below are three key ways for dietitians to take an active role.
1. Advocate for more plant-based foods and less meat consumption and production.
- Massive deforestation to raise both cattle and grow the crops that feed them, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- The chemical inputs into the land, like fertilizer which produces another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
- The burped-up byproducts of cattle digestion that emit massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is far stronger and traps heat much more so than Co2.
Interestingly enough, globally, the supply of red meat is at 568% of what the population needs for a healthy diet. Yet, we fall short of meeting the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables as well as the beans, grains, nuts and seeds that are produced using lower energy-intensive systems and far fewer resources . While there is, of course an important place in our food system for humane and sustainable animal agriculture , one of the biggest changes we can help individuals, communities and institutions make is to promote a more plant-based diet. Whether this is in one on one counseling, efforts made in a hospital or cafeteria food service setting, in the planning for an in-person conference or event or working with large food brands and companies, dietitians can change the conversation. Unfortunately, the argument for meat reduction isn’t as simple as individuals substituting a burger for a veggie patty a few times a week. As dietitians, we need to also be working with and demanding that food service companies like Compass, Sodexo and Aramark make their offerings more climate friendly. These organizations are providing much of the food for millions of individuals at universities, colleges, stadiums and hospitals. Reducing the purchasing of red meat by 30 percent would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the roads over 10 years . We also need a major systemic overhaul of the US government’s role, that would include subsidizing different foods and changing public policy. While it’s clear that agribusinesses need to be shouldering much of the responsibility of greenhouse gas emissions, we also know from watching numerous movements, consumer demand has and can participate in driving system change. Multiply these kinds of consumer and institutional decisions and purchases by 10 thousand (or even 10 million) and the food industry is going to take notice. We may not do all the convincing. There has been a growing interest from consumers in purchasing foods with lower environmental impact .
2. Encourage and promote regenerative agriculture and agroecological practices.
As dietitians, we can not only advocate for shopping at local farmers markets for those who are lucky enough to have access to them, but we can be working with restaurants, chefs and institutions to include more locally and regeneratively grown foods as part of their food sourcing. In fact, we are perfectly positioned to solidify the argument that these eco-friendlier practices also foster human health. We can work to amplify the voices of indigenous and black farmers and be involved in the world of policy as well, working to ensure that the USDA and our dietary guidelines consider the potential benefits of promoting these kinds of agricultural practices as well as the risks of maintaining the system as is .
3. Work to reduce food loss and waste.
AS A COLLECTIVE, LET'S SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE AN IMPACT.
- Global Warming and Life on Earth. Center for Biological Diversity website. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/climate_law_institute/global_warming_and_life_on_earth/index.html Accessed August, 2020.
- People with Certain Medical Conditions. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Updated Sept 11, 2020. Accessed September 14th, 2020.
- AR5 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2014–Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Regional Aspects. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Website. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/ Published, 2014. Accessed August, 2020.
- Vermeulen SJ, Campbell BM, & Ingram JS. Climate change and food systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 2012 37:1, 195-222. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-environ-020411-130608
- Francis, D et al. How healthcare can help heal communities and the planet. BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l2398 (Published 17 June 2019)
- Kirby, T. Evidence mounts on the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. VOLUME 8, ISSUE 6, P547-548, JUNE 01, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7211498/
- Tagtow A, Robien K, Bergquist E, et al. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Standards of professional performance for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (Competent, Proficient, and Expert) in Sustainable, Resilient, and Healthy Food and Water Systems. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114(3):475-488.e24. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.11.011
- Gerber PJ, Steinfeld, Henderson B, et al. Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. 2013. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3437e.pdf
- Krishna Bahadur KC, Dias GM, Veramani A, Swanton CJ, Fraser D, et al. When too much isn’t enough: Does current food production meet global nutritional needs? PLOS ONE 2018 13(10): e0205683. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205683
- Hamerschlag K. Less and Better Meat is Key for a Healthier Planet . Friends of the Earth. https://foe.org/less-better-meat-key-healthier-planet/. Published August 29, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2020.
- Bergen, Sujatha. Food Service Companies Must Act Following New Climate Report. National Resources Defense Council Website. Published August 9th, 2019. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/food-service-companies-must-act-following-new-climate-report Accessed. August 2020
- Fromm, J. How Sustainable Food Brands Can Appeal to Today's Most Influential Consumers. Forbes Website. Published February 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2018/02/02/how-sustainable-food-brands-can-appeal-to-todays-most-influential-consumers/#c02c28e22103 Accessed August 2020.
- Hamburg, S.P., Vadeboncoeur, M.A., Johnson, C.E. et al. Losses of mineral soil carbon largely offset biomass accumulation 15 years after whole-tree harvest in a northern hardwood forest. Biogeochemistry 2019;144, 1–14
- Overview: Agroecology Knowledge Hub. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Website. http://www.fao.org/agroecology/overview/en/. Published 2020. Accessed June 11, 2020.
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This enormous, oblong, and versatile fruit has been consumed in tropical regions around the world for millennia before making its way to the US just recently as a trendy household item. It is native to southwest India and has spread throughout the region to grow abundantly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and beyond. Eaten ripe and raw, it has a mild sweet taste like pineapple; cooked and unripe, it has a starchier, potato-like consistency and a neutral taste that easily absorbs surrounding flavors and seasonings.
Beyond its uniquely adaptable flavor profile, jackfruit is also becoming known as one of the most sustainable tree-borne fruits in the world, particularly in the context of the looming climate crisis. One jackfruit tree can produce up to three tons of fruit, and as one of the largest tree-borne fruits out there, this equates to a lot of fruit! (Seriously, an adult jackfruit can grow to be one hundred pounds and up to three feet long.) It grows easily and abundantly in tropical climates and is known for its resilience in the face of extreme heat, drought, and common pests, potentially due to its thick, fleshy exterior. But because jackfruit grows so plentifully in tropical climates and has such a thick, bumpy exterior (and a mildly unpleasant smell during processing), one study reports that nearly three-quarters of the annual yield of jackfruit in India goes to waste every year, leaving a massive window of opportunity to jackfruit processors to reduce food waste while providing an affordable food option to the masses.
The nutrient profile of jackfruit makes it even more enticing. In Bali, jackfruit is considered a healing and almost medicinal fruit, particularly to ease digestive upset. A nutrient analysis of one cup alone of cleaned, sliced jackfruit shows us just how nutrient-packed this sustainable fruit can be:
- Calories: 155
- Carbs: 40 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 18% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 11% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
- Potassium: 14% of the RDI
- Copper: 15% of the RDI
- Manganese: 16% of the RDI
A climate-resilient, nutritious fruit that shreds like pulled meat and grows abundantly in spite of drought and pests? It's no wonder that jackfruit has been hailed as a miracle fruit.
You can find fresh jackfruit in some speciality stores (raw, ripe is my favorite way to eat it!), but if you're looking to swap shredded meat for jackfruit at your next taco night, go for the 20-ounce canned young jackfruit instead. Rinse, drain, shred and properly season at least one can to see how you like it.
Here's a recipe you can try for your very first jackfruit experience - one of my personal favorites.
Yield: 10 servings (1 cup each)
- 1.5 cups dried chickpeas, canned or soaked overnight (>8h)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- ½ orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup butternut squash, cubed
- 1 cup sweet potato, shredded
- 2 jalapenos or hatch chilis, seeded, diced
- 4 tbsp Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Elote” Seasoning (or combine 1 tbsp ground cumin, 2 tbsp chili powder, ¼ tbsp coriander, ¾ tsp salt, fresh ground black pepper)
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cans young jackfruit (strained, rinsed, shredded)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth for added protein)
- Garnish: cilantro, avocado, tortilla chips, nutritional yeast, lime juice
Equipment: Instant Pot preferred (or pressure cooker, or stovetop), blender
- If using dry chickpeas, cover dry chickpeas with 4 cups of water and soak overnight in the fridge (or for 8-10 hours).
- On the day of cooking, heat olive oil in a large pot (or Instant Pot on “Saute” setting). Add onions, jalapenos, and bell peppers until fragrant and onions are translucent. Add all spices and mix well. Add squash, sweet potato, corn, and half of chickpeas. Mix well and let the mixture cook for 5-10 minutes, or until mixture begins to cook down. Add strained and shredded jackfruit and vegetable broth. Mix well, add more seasoning as needed, and cover. If using a stovetop, simmer the chili mixture over medium heat for 3 hours. If using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 1 hour.
- After cook time is complete, add remaining uncooked chickpeas to a blender with 3 cups of cooked liquid broth and any remaining squash chunks taken directly from the cooked mixture. Blend well and slowly stir back into chili mixture for a smooth and creamy final product. You may opt to blend the corn into broth as well for a smoother texture throughout.
- Top with cilantro, avocado slices, fresh jalapenos, nutritional yeast, lime, tortilla chips, and your favorite hot sauce - mine is a Rwandan chili oil called akabanga (please try one day).
Let us know what you think of your first jackfruit experience and feel free to share any additional tips, tricks, and recipes for prep in the comments!
about the Author
Ayten Salahi, M.S. is a researcher, food policy advocate, and nutrition educator on a mission to heal people and the planet through food. As the first-generation daughter of Turkish-Cypriot immigrants, Ayten learned at a young age to view food as a tool for healing, compassion, and unity, and she has committed her career to using food as a vehicle for change. Ayten founded the Planetary Health Collective to engage the larger food and nutrition community in the fight against climate change, under the ethos that all individuals have unique skills to contribute to the fight. She completed her Master's at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, where she specialized in Nutrition Interventions: Design, Operation, and Management. She also completed a Didactic Program in Dietetics at Simmons University and will complete her Dietetic Internship at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2021. Ayten has worked with the Tufts Food Aid Quality Review and USAID Office of Food for Peace to co-author report on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of international nutrition assistance research, and has foundational researching training on mind-gut pathologies from the Duke University Medical Center. She is a member of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), co-founder of the Friedman Food Policy Action Council, and Founder and CEO of the Planetary Nutritionist. Connect with Ayten on Instagram at @planetary.nutritionist or at www.planetarynutritionist.com.
Compared to omnivorous diets, healthful plant-based diets containing primarily vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and unsaturated plant oils have been shown to confer beneficial effects for weight management, metabolism, heart health, and systemic inflammation over time. And don’t worry – you don’t need to go vegan to reap the rewards. Mediterranean style diets that emphasize plants, whole grains, olive oil, low-fat dairy, and fish show similar benefits. The key in both cases: eating mostly plants, most of the time, over time.
Making the switch to a more plant-powered diet is a lifestyle change that begins with one knockout meal and carries on for the long run. Start the new year – and the years to come – on a nutritious note by impressing your loved ones with plant-based swaps to holiday classics that still hit the spot. Here are a couple options to start.
- Use soy milk in place of high fat dairy. Creamy, slightly sweet, and rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, soy milk makes for an excellent dairy alternative for the newbie plant-based eater. Instead of leaning on egg yolks, heavy whipping cream, and granulated sugar for your eggnog this holiday season, try swapping in unsweetened soy milk with a can of light coconut cream and monk fruit sweetener for a Creamy Vegan Eggnog.
- Swap chicken breast for marinated tofu in a few dishes. Not ready to fully give up chicken? You don’t have to! Find ways to alternate your favorite chicken recipe with marinated baked tofu instead. You can find pre-baked tofu in most grocery stores, which will cut down significantly on your cook time and add a healthful, plant-based protein source, rich in healthy oils, to your dish. Add cubed baked tofu to these Mini Plant-Based Pot Pies for protein-packed personal pot pies in under 60 minutes.
- Give jackfruit a try in place of shredded meat. Say what? A high-fiber, low calorie fruit with a neutral flavor and meaty texture, that shreds like pulled meat? Yup. With the right amount of moisture and seasoning, jackfruit can make for an excellent plant-based swap to shredded meat. Swap chicken thighs for jackfruit in this spicy, warming, White Chicken Chili for a plant-powered dish that looks and feels you’re your favorite shredded chicken tortilla soup.
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