Summer Smoothie Parfait by Chef Chloe

This tasty, healthy, and satisfying recipe is by renowned Chef Chloe Coscarelli, who has kindly agreed to let us use her recipe and photo on this site.  Please find the original recipe here. One of her cookbooks, Chloe’s Kitchen, is a go-to for me for special dinners.  You can find it here.

Smoothie pic

To make this gorgeous parfait, simply layer granola with a blend of fruit, non-dairy milk, and flax seeds.

Bananas often get a bad rap because they are not local.  However, the excellent book entitled How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything describes three reasons why bananas actually have a low carbon footprint, especially when you consider how much nutrition they provide (lots of vitamins and fiber):

  • They grow well in the climate where they are grown. Only natural sunlight is needed (no hothouse).
  • They can be transported by boat, and they keep well on the journey, without refrigeration. Travel by boat costs only about 1% the footprint of flying.
  • There is minimal packaging (they have their own!)

In addition, they don’t require refrigerated trucking, or in-store refrigeration. (See the Homemade Guacamole blog for more information on refrigerated trucking.)

Be sure to buy Fair Trade bananas, as there are justice and environmental issues associated with bananas.

Here is the ingredient-by-ingredient comparison for this recipe with a similar one (for two servings, blend the first four ingredients and layer with the granola):


(this recipe)

Carbon Footprint

g CO2-equivalents


(traditional recipe)

Carbon Footprint

g CO2-equivalents

3 bananas (354 g) 237 Yogurt (354 g) 715
8 oz. strawberries 79 8 oz. strawberries 79
1/2 cup soymilk 28 1/2 cup 2% milk 165
2T flax seeds 15 2T flax seeds 15
½ cup granola 19 ½ cup granola 19
Total 379 for 2 servings Total 993 for 2 servings

Sources for conversion factors: For the bananas, I used the value given in “How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything.”  The book gives a value of 80 g CO2-equivalents for a banana, including shipping from the other side of the world.  For the rest of the ingredients, I used the Heller and Keoleian analysis.

For comparison, two servings of an English muffin with one egg and 1 oz. cheese have a total footprint of 943 g CO2-equivalents.

For an extremely low carbon footprint breakfast, try a bowl of oatmeal with fruit.  In fact, a recent article on the carbon footprint of food in the Washington Post (find it here) mentions oatmeal as a food that delivers a lot of nutrition for a small footprint.  For example, two servings of a bowl of oatmeal (made with ½ cup of dry oats cooked up in water, and topped with 4 oz. strawberries, 1 T flax seeds, and ¼ cup soymilk) have a carbon footprint of 232 g CO2-equivalents.

Each time you switch out the highest carbon footprint breakfast described here for the lowest (2 servings) saves 761 g CO2-equivalents, which is the equivalent of a 3.4 mile drive!  Put another way, each time you make a shift like this, it saves the emissions associated with burning a halogen bulb for 32 hours!

Enjoy!  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!

Please follow the blog for more recipes!


Berners-Lee, Mike. How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything. Greystone Books.  Find it here.

Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian. 2014. Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss. Journal of Industrial Ecology.


Yummy and Planet Friendly Vanilla Pride Cake

This recipe is simple, delicious, uses only one bowl, and is quick—it will only take about 15 minutes to prep and then 30 minutes to bake. It’s completely delicious and only has ¼ of the emissions of a traditional recipe!

Pride Cake

This recipe is only slightly modified from a great vegan dessert cookbook:  Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  I highly recommend this book!

Vanilla Cake


  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 1/2 t vanilla
  • ½ cup Earth Balance (or you can use 1/3 cup olive oil)
  • 1 t apple cider or white vinegar, or lemon juice

(The original recipe calls for 2 T cornstarch added to the dry ingredients, but it works well without it.)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour and 8-inch layer pan.
  • Add the dry ingredients (the first four ingredients) to a bowl and mix well with a fork.
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon or mixer.
  • Pour into the pan or pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
  • It’s done if a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.

Vanilla Frosting

This recipe is also modified from a recipe in the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook.


  • 3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance)
  • Approximately 4 T soy milk (or other milk alternative)
  • 2 t vanilla


  • Put all ingredients in a bowl except a bit of the soy milk into a bowl and mix well.
  • Add the remaining milk as needed to get the right consistency.  You can also add more powdered sugar if it gets too runny.

Frost the cake when cool, and add seasonal fruits.

Here it is with just berries:

Berry Cake

Check out the ingredient-by-ingredient carbon footprint information.

Carbon footprint for cake alone:


(this recipe)

Carbon Footprint

g CO2-equivalents


(traditional recipe)

Carbon Footprint

g CO2-equivalents

1.5 cups flour 118 1.5 cups flour 118
¾ cup sugar 138 ¾ cup sugar 138
1 cup soymilk 56 1 cup 2% milk 326
½ margarine 131 ½ cup butter 1335
1 egg 156
Total 443 Total 2,073


Carbon footprint for frosting alone:


(this recipe)

Carbon Footprint

g CO2-equivalents


(traditional recipe)

Carbon Footprint

g CO2-equivalents

3.75 cups conf. sugar 432 1.5 cups flour 432
½ cup margarine 131 ½ cup butter 1335
¼ cup soymilk 14 1/4 cup 2% milk 81
Total 577 Total 1,848


Carbon Footprint for Frosted Cake:

Total (this recipe) 1,020 Total (tradit.) 3,921

The big difference in carbon footprint comes primarily from switching out the butter and milk.  This is because these are both dairy products, and raising cattle for both beef and dairy is particularly resource-intensive, even when compared to other animal agriculture.  Like all livestock, most of the energy they consume throughout their lives goes toward their metabolism or is lost in manure.  But for cows and other ruminants, methane–a highly potent greenhouse gas– is naturally produced as part of their digestive process.  So, reducing products from ruminant animals seriously shrinks your carbon footprint!


If you do make this, you can put it on Instagram with #easymealsfortheplanet so we can check out what you made!

And please follow the blog for 1-2 low carbon footprint recipes per week!



Peanut butter cookies

This recipe makes a delicious, quintessential peanut butter cookie.  It’s from a great cookbook by Alicia Simpson, which you can check out here.  The author has graciously agreed to let us publish her recipe and the carbon footprint on this site.


Makes 24 cookies.

You’ll need:

½ cup granulated sugar

½ brown sugar

½ cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I like Earth Balance), softened

½ cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 T plain soy or almond milk

1 ½ cups flour

¾ t baking soda

½ t salt

Note: You may want to experiment with the type of flour you add.  Depending on the flour, you can add a fraction of whole wheat flour up to 2/3 or so before it starts feeling too heavy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the first four ingredients together.  You can use an electric mixer if you have one handy, but it’s okay if not.  Mix in margarine and peanut butter, then the applesauce and soy or almond milk.  You should mix together the baking soda and salt with the flour before adding it to the mixture, so you don’t get clumps.

Make 1” balls, drop them onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and use a fork to make a cross-hatch pattern.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like them.

These cuties have just 30 g CO2-eq per cookie, with 10 g CO2-eq coming from the peanut butter, 4 g CO2-eq from each of the sugars, and 5 g CO2-eq from both the margarine and the flour.  The applesauce contributes less than 1 g CO2-eq, and the soymilk less than 0.5 g CO2-eq, all per cookie.  If you used butter instead of margarine, the difference in impact would be a whopping 51 g CO2-eq per cookie, for a total of 81 g CO2-eq per cookie (the added butter contributes 56 g CO2-eq per cookie, roughly twice the total of all of the other ingredients)!!  An egg added to this recipe would contribute 7 g CO2-eq per cookie.

Baking just one batch of cookies with a plant-based margarine saves the equivalent of taking a 6 mile drive in a 40 MPG car.

This calculation shows the important role cutting down on dairy can play in reducing our carbon footprint.  The reason is that cows are ruminant animals, which means their natural digestion process produces methane—a greenhouse gas with greater warming potential than CO2.  In fact, an omnivorous diet very low in dairy can have a smaller footprint than a vegetarian diet that includes lots of cheese and milk.

If you are into low or no added sugar desserts, please stay tuned!  I will be adding some great recipes along those lines soon.

Note:  These calculations use conversion factors from: Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian. 2015. Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss. Journal of Industrial Ecology. 19(3): 391-401.

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