Monday, October 6, 2014

Meatless Monday: Broccoli-Almond Sweet-and-Sour Tofu

How are you doing with Meatless Mondays? Have you tried something new you've enjoyed? Have you surprised yourself or others with something you didn't think would be as tasty as it was? 

In keeping with Meatless Mondays, here is another recipe from Jerol Kennedy, supplied by the Humane Society and adapted from a recipe by Lauren Ulm of Vegan Yum Yum.

Broccoli-Almond Sweet-and-Sour Tofu  SERVES 4

Nutritional info per serving:
Calories: 490
Fat: 26 g
Fiber: 13 g
Protein: 7 g
Carbs: 50 g
Sodium: 613 mg


1-2 cups steamed broccoli
1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Steamed rice

3 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if sodium is a concern)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons water

1 tub extra-firm tofu, pressed
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil (use less if fat is a concern)
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons cornstarch, plus 4 teaspoons soy or almond milk (or water), mixed
Sesame seeds for garnish


1. Slice the tofu into triangles or small cubes. Smaller pieces are better for this recipe.

2. Toss the tofu with the cornstarch-and-milk/water mixture until coated. Then toss the pieces in the 1/4 cup of cornstarch until each piece is coated and dry, adding more cornstarch if needed.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok.

4. While the oil is heating, mix the sauce ingredients, except for the cornstarch mixture, in a small sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Then add the cornstarch mixture and whisk until the sauce thickens.

5. Watch the sauce so it doesn't thicken too much and burn. When the sauce is thick enough to stick to food rather than puddle below it, turn off the heat and set the sauce aside.

6. Place the tofu in the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself. (Don't crowd the tofu pieces together or they will stick to each other, so fry them in batches if needed.) Fry for 3-5 minutes until golden on the bottom, then gently turn and brown the other side.

7. When the tofu is almost done frying, scatter the sliced almonds on top so they fall into the oil. As soon as the nuts start to turn color, take the pan off the heat and very carefully drain the oil into a heat-proof container to re-use or dispose of properly. Almonds taste burned before they look burned, so don't let them sit in the oil too long.

8. Transfer the tofu and almonds to a large bowl and add the steamed broccoli. Toss the mixture with the sweet-and-sour sauce, and serve it over rice.

Slightly adapted from a recipe by Lauren Ulm of Vegan Yum Yum

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Friday, October 3, 2014

UUs Join in Supporting GMO Labeling Effort

- By Dale Luckwitz

I am an environmental researcher and writer for a company that makes certified organic mattresses. Our company founder is an advocate for safer chemicals and products and is a featured speaker at various events -- he was invited to testify at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on the need for changes to the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law that regulates what chemicals can be used in our products.

As a result I work with many environmental, business and advocacy groups. Recently, we partnered with Just Label It, an organization advocating labeling GMOs to guarantee a consumer's right to choose. 

Anyway, in partnering with Just Label It, I was browsing through the other business and organization partners, and guess who I saw? A group called the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth! Looks like we're in great company!

If you're interested like many other UUs in supporting choice regarding GMOs, sign the online petition at, where you can also gather information. The right to know what is in our foods has gathered support from supporters across political lines, and even people who don't take issue with GMOs can support allowing consumers to make their own informed choices.

 As a side note, the mattresses my company makes do not use GMO cotton as they are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
GOTS does not permit GMO cotton. If you purchase clothing or other textiles that has the GOTS label (above), you know you are not getting GMO cotton.

Likewise, food with the USDA Organic label also cannot contain GMOs.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Concerned About Climate Change? Part Two

- By Jerol Kennedy

My last article on climate change reviewed the Green Sanctuary Team’s exercise,“Where am I on the Climate Change Continuum of the American Public” (see the Beacon article, Jan. 2014 for full information) in which the overwhelming majority (86%) of the congregation who responded reported being “Alarmed” about climate change.

The report issued in 2006 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2002 statistics warned that the livestock sector represents 14.5% of global human induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. From 2002 to 2009 the weight of livestock products worldwide increased by 12% WHICH yielded a proportional increase in GHG emissions. When the lifecycle and supply chain (for example) are factored in, livestock related deforestation and farmed fish, which is up to half the annual catch of marine organisms, were not counted in the 2002 FAO report, the direct and indirect influences raises the percentage to least 51% of annual worldwide GHG emissions. (Livestock and Climate Change, world watch November/December 2009

Percentage carbon dioxide attributable to livestock undercounted or overlooked in the 14.5.% figure are the following:
  • Respiration by livestock         13.7
  • Overlooked land use                  4.2
  • Undercounted methane            7.9
Other four categories (too long to go into considering the limits of this article – see text in referenced article)
  • Misallocated in current GHG inventories 4.7

Wonderful veggie picture courtesy of Be Well Barron County,
the website for Barron County, WI

“Shifting from a red meat and dairy to a plant based diet just one day a week reduces greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving about one thousand miles less per year” (Animal Agriculture One of the Largest Contributors to Global Warming, UN Body Reaffirms) (2013//09/FAO climate change).

Meatless Mondays is an easy, healthy, and delicious way to help mitigate climate change. Consuming meat analogs such as soy and seitan (wheat gluten) and dairy analogs such as soy cheese, milk and ice cream is an attractive alternative as these products taste similar, aare easier to cook and healthier. (You can also make your own cheese and dairy,” Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Skinner).

A plant based diet has the added benefit of alleviating the global water crisis as the enormous amount of water used for livestock production would be freed up.

Reducing animal products would have a quick reduction of GHG and also reverse the ongoing world food and water crisis. The use of fossil fuels must be reduced also to be sure, but tjat takes time to build the infrastructure, a lot of time, and we don’t have a lot of time. A plant based diet in addition to the development of renewable energy, has an immediate impact and can start right now with the food choices we make.

Meatless Monday
This information brings us to an initiative we would like to start at our church, joining with a global campaign to eliminating animal products from our diets for just one day a week. This would make  an enormous difference  in our carbon footprint/on climate change.

Below are some websites to help us along in doing this needed action.

Addendum: It is to be noted that the statistics in this article may not be precise due to the unavoidable changing conditions in what is being measured. But, they are the best possible within our current abilities.
The word “meat” in this article also includes fish and poultry.

Jerol Kennedy
Green Sanctuary Planning Team

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meatless Monday: Zucchini Potato Casserole

A great looking recipe to try, courtesy of The Humane Society (sent in by Jerol Kennedy)

Zucchini Potato Casserole  SERVES 8

Nutritional info per serving:
Calories: 237
Fat: 9 g
Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 6 g
Carbs: 34 g
Sodium: 172 mg

3 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into large pieces
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
2 shallots, diced
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Seasoned (or regular) salt and pepper, to taste
Paprika, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but adds deliciousness)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (204 C).

2. In a large casserole dish, thoroughly mix together all the ingredients.

3. Place the casserole dish into the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, mix the ingredients some more, and let the casserole bake for another 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning.

4. Stir and serve.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Concerned About Climate Change?

By Jerol Kennedy

You may recall last Earth Day Celebration, April 21, 2013, the Green Sanctuary Planning Team had an exercise for the congregation entitled “Where am I on the Climate Change Continuum of the American Public?” based on an interview by Bill Moyers with scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

The categories people were asked to place themselves on the continuum were; Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful and Dismissive. Out of 42 responders, 36 were Alarmed, 2 were Concerned, 2 were Cautious, 1 was Doubtful, 1 wrote in” Other”, none said Dismissive or Disengaged.

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of our congregation who responded was Alarmed.

A report issued in 2006 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FOA) warned that raising cattle for meat and dairy generates more greenhouse gases than all the automobiles in the world. The report states:

photo: Creative Commons: Wikipedia
  •  About 9% of the total carbon dioxide produced by human related activities is emitted by livestock
  •  65% of the nitrous oxide output (a chemical which has nearly 300 times the Global Warming Potential as CO2) is emitted by livestock
  • 37 percent of the methane output is from the livestock industry, and
  • 64 percent of the ammonia output is from the livestock industry (United Nations News Center). 
All these emissions are contributors to climate change. According to an updated follow-up report, “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock”, concluded that the livestock sector represents 14.5 % of global human induced greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, more than 1/3 of the world’s grain is used to feed livestock. (Eco Mind, Francis Moore Lappe)

Fact: Each one of us can lessen our climate change footprint by reducing our consumption of meat, eggs, and milk.

Want to do it? There is a way for those who still eat meat, egg and dairy and want to change to help lesson Climate Change - It is called Meatless Monday, a movement that is gaining momentum. More on Meatless Monday later.

Jerol Kennedy,

Green Sanctuary Planning Team

Saturday, September 27, 2014


-- By Ron Prosek

Senator Rob Portman called the recent algae drinking water crisis in Toledo a “wake up call.” Ya think?

Yes, that’s quite an understatement. What if this algal bloom had affected water intakes in the central Lake Erie basin (Northeast Ohio area)? A million, perhaps two million people could be without drinking water. Responding to the Toledo crisis, bottled water from all over the region was diverted to the Toledo area distribution centers. That was for 400,000 people. How well could drinking water needs be met in Northeast Ohio for two million people in such an emergency? 

Consider this. July was the tenth coolest July on record in the Cleveland area (central Lake Erie basin), and August, at least the first half, has also been relatively cool. What if July and August had been among the ten warmest Julys and Augusts on record? The algal bloom could well have been a problem here. Remember, the climate trend has been for warmer seasons, so this summer, we may have dodged a bullet that we won’t be able to dodge next year.

I have read many letters and op/ed pieces in the Plain Dealer and elsewhere about what happened in Toledo. While many discussed short-term solutions, like better equipping our drinking water treatment plants, very few touched on the roots of the problem or on a big picture view of all the factors involved in this problem.

Many writers discussed phosphorous run-off from farms, and certainly that is a major problem, but I am troubled by the use of the word “farms.” Most of these are not the farms of the Old MacDonald variety – a small farm owned and operated by a single family. Most of these are industrialized agribusinesses owned and operated by corporations. Some writers did mention agribusinesses, but no one described their nature and methods of operation in any detail.

These agribusinesses (let’s not call them farms), are involved in monoculture crop production. For example, they might typically grow GMO corn in large fields, using vast amounts of fertilizer and pesticides. Now here is a key question: Is this corn going to be food for people? The answer is “no.” Most, if not virtually all of this corn is going to feed animals for meat and dairy production. 

It’s the meat and dairy that is going to feed people, and we Americans eat vast amounts of meat and dairy. The result: we are fat and unhealthy and quite likely to suffer cardiovascular diseases and/or diabetes sooner or later. At the same time, our voracious meat appetites, besides helping to drive fertilizer run-off going into Lake Erie, are driving another activity—feedlots for beef and hogs.

What are these feedlots like? Steers and hogs are typically fed monoculture GMO corn while they stand in relatively confined fenced-in areas. In many of these lots you will see hundreds of animals packed together, standing in their own feces. This manure gets washed away by rain and ends up in streams that eventually empty into Lake Erie. This manure, like the phosphorous in fertilizer, is a powerful nutrient for algae.

Let’s look at the big picture and consider ALL the factors that are creating the algae problems in Lake Erie: Americans’ voracious consumption of meat and dairy AND to feed that appetite, monoculture GMO corn and soybeans grown on vast tracts of land owned and operated by agribusiness corporations that use vast amount of fertilizers and pesticides.

As reported in the Plain Dealer, when the Ohio General Assembly considered tightening regulations to restrict run-off from these corporate agribusinesses, lobbyists from these corporations intervened and made sure the regulations were so weakened as to be almost meaningless. This is nothing new. Oil and gas corporations do the same thing in Columbus. Their lobbyists also make sure that fracking keeps rolling merrily along in Ohio along with the dumping of toxic and radioactive frack waste into our landfills and the injection of toxic frack waste into the ground beneath our feet in Class II injection wells. 

Do you think that these poisons just stay in the landfills and in the geology into which they are injected? Think again. Landfills leak and leach their contents into ground water. Geology underground is not static. Geologists have told us that fluids underground are constantly on the move. Therefore, eventually, some of these toxic fluids could well end up in Lake Erie.

Chief Seattle is reported to have said, “What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.” He also said, “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.” We need to look at the big picture—including our absolute dependence on healthy natural systems. We need to look at the roots of our problems with safe drinking water. The Toledo water crisis—a wake up call? Absolutely! 

We need to address the roots of the problems before they overwhelm us. We need to curb our voracious meat appetites. We need to institute mandatory changes in agriculture. We need to turn away from massive monoculture of GMO corn and soybeans. We also need to turn away from fracking oil and gas and from ALL fossil fuels as quickly as possible if we are to avoid frying planet earth—the only home we have. An essential step in this effort is to rein in corporations. We need to end their stranglehold over our government. Challenging? Yes, but it is a challenge that we must meet.

Concerning Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes, which contain twenty percent of ALL the fresh water on earth, if we cannot safeguard them, then I hold little hope for the future. But if we truly heed the Toledo algae bloom “wake-up call,” and address all of the root causes of our environmental recklessness, then we can enjoy a healthy future without any more drinking water crises and other similar human-caused “natural” disasters.

Ron Prosek, Convener of FaCT – Faith Communities Togetherfor Frack Awareness

7439 Case Avenue

Mentor, OH 44060

Phone: 440-974-2035

Sunday, June 29, 2014

In The Event Of My Being Consigned To The Plant Kingdom

Rus Stanton's aunt-in-law (is that a designation?) is a poet. Rus wanted to share this wonderful poem written by his wife's aunt, poet Alexandria Sergio.  Enjoy this playful musing about a serious topic.

In The Event Of My Being Consigned To The Plant Kingdom


The artichoke
is class as hell,
harbors a delicious secret
defended by spiked guardians,
rewards effort.
You can't go wrong
with artichokes.

It was broadcast that
the dying man was
 "in a vegetative state"
like fulvous broccoli,
a pitted bean
spotted parsnip,
a life reduced
to sliming greens.

Clutching for some scrim of dignity
to make safe my naked soul,
I've left instructions that should my mind discard itself
while the heart yet whispers,
the announcement,
if it must indicate a change in my taxonomy,
is to say
"she maintains an artichokian essence."

Do not report
that she was last seen resembling a flaccid carrot,
sour with the taint of last week's spinach,
but rather say there prevailed an aura of globed amusement
suggesting that,
tantalizing as the cardoon,
she had a secret
and now you will never know it.

Alexandria Sergio (C)