This meal is a great way to make a lot of people very happy (and healthy) with a low carbon footprint—it is ridiculously delicious and easy to throw together. You can lay out rice or noodles, steamed veggies, and peanut sauce in individual bowls so each person can make a creation. Or, to keep things simpler, just throw veggies into the boiling noodles for the amount of time you’d like and drain it all together. While all of that is cooking, you can warm up the peanut sauce, and you’ve got a great weekday meal on your hands. Go ahead and make a double batch of peanut sauce—it freezes well.
Pottery credit: Joey Sage Jablonski
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- Rice or noodles (white or brown will work well)
For the peanut sauce
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 can coconut milk (you can use light or regular)
- 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 T maple syrup or brown sugar
- Juice from 1/4 small lime
- 2 t sweet chili sauce, 1/2 t chili powder OR 1 1/2 t chili garlic sauce or siracha (optional)
For the veggies and tofu
- 4 cups broccoli, chopped. Remember you can peel the stalk—the inside is delicious.
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- one block of firm tofu (or use edamame)
- Start cooking pasta or rice for four people according to the directions.
- Steam the veggies (either individually or together),
- Braise the tofu in a bit of soy sauce if you’d like, or just steam it
- For the peanut sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, turn it down to low until everything else is ready.
Lay it all out and enjoy!
The sauce alone already has 10-13 grams of protein per serving (depending on which coconut milk you use), so if you just want to serve rice and veggies with it, you will still have a filling meal. The additional 4 oz. of tofu per serving adds another 8 grams of protein to each serving.
Also, this sauce makes a great salad dressing! Just pack up a container of the sauce and bring along some romaine lettuce with whatever raw veggies you like. You will look forward to that lunch all morning!
This is comfort food, plain and simple. And, it’s easy on you and the planet. Here is the carbon footprint breakdown for the major ingredients:
|Coconut milk||1 can||
|Peanut butter||2/3 cup||
|Broccoli, chopped||4 cups||
|Red bell pepper, chopped||1 large||
|Carrot, chopped||2 medium||
|Tofu||16 oz block||
The meatless nature of this dish contributes to the low carbon footprint. For comparison, 16 oz. of chicken would contribute 2,297 g CO2-equivalents to the dish (for a total of 3,475 g CO2-equivalents if you use chicken rather than tofu)!
Considering the peanut sauce alone, the carbon footprint is 836 g CO2-equivalents for the four servings. For comparison, the carbon footprint of a cheese sauce with the same calories per servings as this recipe would be a total of 3,248 g CO2-equivalents (the breakdown is 322, 2,592 and 344 g CO2-equivalents for the 1 cup 2% milk, 265 g cheese and 2 T butter, respectively). A dinner using peanut sauce rather than cheese sauce saves emissions equivalent to an 11-mile drive! If you made a comparable switch once a day for a year, you’d save the emissions from driving your car over 4,000 miles!
Enjoy your meal!
You can post your creations on the FB page, or on instagram with the hashtag #easymealsfortheplanet so we can see what you are up to!
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The conversion factors come from:
Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian, G.A. (2014) Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss. Journal of Industrial Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12174
Nutritional information is from the USDA Food Composition Database.