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Ask A Philadelphia Chef: Ways To Keep Your Meals Lean And Clean

Green living is a sustainable lifestyle created by the choices we make about what we buy, how we use it and how we dispose of it. In addition to recycling, reusing and composting, green living is also about what we choose to wear, the means by which we travel and – very important for our health – what we choose to eat.

Chef, media personality and cookbook author Hope Cohen is well known as a mover and shaker in the gastronomic world of the City of Brotherly Love. At a young age she studied under premier chefs in the Philadelphia area, and soon, the sought-after budding culinary star was juggling consulting responsibilities with travels to France, Italy and Spain. Cohen recently launched her cookbook, "Fast Fresh + Simple: Over 100 Delicious Recipies for Entertaining and Every Day." Cohen's cookbook, is directed at busy parents who want to cook healthy dishes that taste great.

As an advocate for green living, Cohen is committed to demonstrating to her audience how easy it is to eat clean.

In an effort to minimize her carbon footprint, Cohen said she uses an energy star dishwasher, refrigerator and freezer to save energy. She suggests planning ahead and timing dishes in the oven so that they can be combined wherever possible to maximize energy efficiency. Cohen advises recycling everything possible, and keeps a composting bin under her counter so that it is handy, while using separate color trash bags for trash and recycling to avoid confusion.

Other tips Cohen shared with us for keeping meals lean and clean are:

  • Use locally sourced ingredients to avoid unnecessary transportation.
  • Buy local and organic foods to minimize shipping costs and avoid the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which can be hazardous to humans and our environment.
  • Maximize your food dollars by using leftovers in future meals. Leftover proteins like fish or poultry, cooked vegetables and beans and grains are fantastic the following day when used in a salad.
  • When using hearty, raw vegetables in salads, they can be prepared ahead of time and marinated in a light vinaigrette to make them softer.

Cohen's blog, Fast Fresh + Simple, engages the reader with friendly anecdotal advice for preparing healthy meals, recipes and easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for preparation.

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Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on

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