Adobe brick combines with wood in a low-carbon villa in Chiang Mai

March 14, 2019 by  
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Architectural practice Chiangmai Life Architects has completed a striking villa that blends elements of traditional Thai architecture together with environmentally savvy construction practices and modern amenities fit for 21st-century living. Located in the mountains of northern Thailand , the project, dubbed the ‘Earth & Wood Villa,’ was built primarily of locally sourced natural materials from the self-made adobe bricks to the exposed timber elements throughout. In addition to mountain vistas, the property is sandwiched between Lamyai tree orchards and rice fields, views of which are maximized throughout the home. Spanning an area of nearly 7,500 square feet, the expansive residence serves as the family home for a couple and their three children. The main house is a U-shaped structure oriented toward the north with four bedrooms lined up in a row in the east-facing private wing. The open-plan living area, dining room, kitchen and pantry are clustered across a hallway in the south of the building; full-height glazed folding doors open the living room and dining area up to an outdoor swimming pool. An entertainment area is in the west wing. A small home office is tucked into a second-floor mezzanine gallery and overlooks views of the surrounding landscape. The guest cottage with a sunset veranda sits adjacent to the main house. To meet modern living comforts, the residence is equipped with air conditioning in the private wing; however, it relies solely on natural ventilation in the living areas. Large openings allow for cross breezes and hot air while the raised roof — inspired by local vernacular architecture — permits hot air to escape and induces air circulation. The thick adobe brick walls that were built of local clay, sand and bamboo shavings provide thermal insulation. The exterior is coated in a water-resistant mixture of lime and fine earth powder. Related: Breathtaking bamboo building withstands earthquakes and boasts a zero-carbon footprint Locally sourced  bamboo  was used to construct the carport, barn and entrance gate; natural stone tiles were used for flooring. “The client was looking for a modern interpretation of using natural materials,” Chiangmai Life Architects explained. “Adobe brick walls combined with wooden roof structures were designed in a way to make this earth and wood residence both functional as a modern family home as well as in harmony with its environment and surroundings. This meant a design and finish fit for the needs and requirements of a 21st century family.” + Chiangmai Life Architects Photogrpahy by  Alberto Cosi , drone shots by Markus Roselieb via Chiangmai Life Architects

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Adobe brick combines with wood in a low-carbon villa in Chiang Mai

Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

March 14, 2019 by  
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It is rare when a social media trend actually results in a physical change to the environment, especially when it comes to picking up plastic waste . But a new viral challenge has thousands of people from around the world coming together to clean up places that have become overrun with plastic. The new challenge, #trashtag, encourages people to clean up litter and share photos from before and after the clean-up job is over. So far, tens of thousands of individuals have participated in the social media challenge. These participants have cleaned up roads, parks, beaches and wilderness areas. The challenge has also increased awareness of important environmental issues, like how much plastic waste ends up in the trash. Related: China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports While the challenge only recently went viral, it actually started a few years ago. A company called UCO Gear came up with the idea in 2015 to help with its wilderness protection program. The challenge did not catch on until this year, after a post on Facebook tagged “tired teens” in the photo. Since then, there have been well over 25,000 posts with #trashtag tagged, although it has a few other variations, such as #trashchallenge and #trashtagchallenge. Although it is great to see people cleaning up the environment in their free time, conservationists hope it will eventually lead to bigger changes. According to BBC , the director of Canada’s Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Mark Butler, hopes the hashtag gets people to understand why we need to eliminate single-use plastics altogether. “Getting plastic out of the environment is important,” Butler shared. “We need to do more than go behind the people that are littering and clean it up. We need to turn off the plastic tap.” Butler argued that if we do not start curbing our plastic use, then the clean-up job will never end. Given all of the photos we’ve seen from the trash challenge, Butler has a point. Hopefully, viral challenges like #trashtag will help initiate more lasting changes as we continue to deal with the problem of plastic pollution. Via BBC Image via Pacific Southwest Region 5

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Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

Rammed earth ties a contemporary home to the rocky New Zealand landscape

March 8, 2019 by  
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Emerging out of the landscape like a series of boulders, the Kanuka Valley House set into a lush valley in Wanaka, New Zealand mimics the large schist rocks that punctuate the pristine landscape. Wellington-based architectural practice WireDog Architecture designed the angular home for a winemaker and his family, who wanted the house to respect the beauty of the natural landscape. To that end, the architects not only modeled the building off of local rock formations, but also used a natural materials palette and rammed earth construction to visually tie the home to the land. Spanning an area of 3,390 square feet, the Kanuka Valley House consists of three northwest-facing volumes carefully positioned to maximize indoor-outdoor living . Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding pocket doors create a seamless flow between the indoors and out while framing stunning vistas of the Kanuka trees, Lake Wanaka and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The outdoors are also pulled in through the abundance of timber surfaces used indoors, from the reclaimed native rimu wood used for floors and ceilings to the cabinetry built of bamboo and OSB. The appliances and other materials, such as the steel counters, also follow the earthy and muted aesthetic. Related: Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls The beautiful rammed earth walls, which have been left exposed and unpainted, not only tie the building to the landscape, but also have the added benefit of thermal mass. During the daytime, heat is absorbed in the walls, which then slowly dissipate the stored warmth at night when temperatures are cooler. This advantage of energy-efficient construction is strengthened with the addition of  triple-glazed windows and deep roof overhangs that mitigate unwanted solar heat gain. The architects said, “The design engages passive house principles , with attention to insulation detailing, materials, ventilation and heating.” + WireDog Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Matthieu Salvaing via WireDog Architecture

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Rammed earth ties a contemporary home to the rocky New Zealand landscape

Jaden Smith launches Water Box to aid with the Flint water crisis

March 8, 2019 by  
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For the past three years, the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church has been battling the Flint water crisis by handing out clean water to locals. Volunteers with the organization started giving out bottled water every day of the week, but as donations decreased, they now distribute water over the course of three days. To assist, rapper Jaden Smith has just donated a portable water filtration unit called the Water Box, which can supply upward of 10 gallons of filtered water every minute. During donation days, the church usually runs out of supplies within a few hours, leaving many residents without access to clean water . The situation is disheartening to the volunteers and residents alike, but all of that is about to change. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Smith’s family, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, own a company in Glens Falls, New York, called JUST Water , which use large filtration systems to produce bottled water. The Water Box is a smaller version of the filtration system used at the JUST Water plant. The system removes harmful contaminants such as lead, and it will allow residents to fill their own water receptacles throughout the week. Church officials have been testing the Water Box for several weeks and have sent samples to a nearby lab to ensure all harmful contaminants have been removed. The tests will continue to be administered as long as the Water Box is in use. Residents in Flint can also view the weekly results on the company’s website. So far, there is only one Water Box installed at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, although Smith’s mom, Jada, has already committed to purchasing another unit for the city. Flint’s water problems began back in 2014. Corrosion in the water lines caused lead to leach into the water supply, potentially harming thousands of residents. Although the Flint water crisis is still a major concern, state officials stopped issuing bottled water in 2018 because the lead levels were not above federally mandated limits. Via Huffington Post Images via JUST Water

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Ultra-modern ski chalet pays homage to Ontario’s traditional farmhouses

March 7, 2019 by  
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Toronto-based Atelier Kastelic Buffey has unveiled a beautiful family ski chalet tucked into a winter wonderland landscape surrounded by Ontario’s Blue Mountains. Although the black and white Alta Chalet boasts a thoroughly modern aesthetic, the home’s extreme pitched roof was inspired by the area’s traditional farmhouse vernacular. The design also boasts a number of sustainable features such as a high-performance glazing system, ultra-tight insulation and natural air ventilation. Located in a private ski club, the massive 3,000-square-foot Alta Chalet was designed for a family of five who love the outdoors. When first approached by the clients, the designers were intent on avoiding the typical ski chalet aesthetic, instead opting for a home that would pay homage to its farmhouse history . The project was also inspired by the area’s idyllic natural surroundings. Related: Gorgeous prefab cabin is embedded into the mountainous Norwegian landscape “Alta Chalet communicates an ethos of contemporary design and elegant detailing that derives from the local vernacular tradition of the barn,” the architects explained. “Its iconic presence — defined by a reductive black-and-white color scheme and a tight, clean, gabled roof edge — complements the intelligence of its spatial and economic efficiency.” The home’s exterior is clad in jet black and bright white siding. Various blocks make up the ski chalet’s volume, which is marked by a large gable roof that looms over the lower volumes. The interior space, marked by white walls and wooden finishes, was designed with the family in mind. The open-concept kitchen, dining and living area is minimalist , but a strategic interior design scheme helps provide a welcoming living space that is perfect for both enjoying family time and entertaining guests. The home also has a south-facing outdoor deck to enjoy the crisp cold air while taking in the amazing views. Due to the extreme climate, the architects also focused on making the home as energy-efficient and resilient as possible. The ski chalet is wrapped in a low-maintenance, pre-finished Canadian pine siding and is heavily insulated to withstand the area’s frigid temperatures. Additionally, the home’s many windows are comprised of high-performance glazing in order to reduce energy loss. Along with a pleasant wood-burning fireplace, a hydronic in-floor heating system keeps the living spaces warm and toasty year-round. + Atelier Kastelic Buffey Via Freshome Photography by Shai Gil via Atelier Kastelic Buffey

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7 ways to be a sustainable and eco-friendly pet owner

February 28, 2019 by  
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Whether we realize it or not, every choice we make for our furry friends has the potential to impact the environment. While the biggest challenge that eco-friendly pet owners face is the balance between the needs of our animals and the needs of the environment, keeping our pets healthy and happy should always come first. After all, they’re part of the family. If you’re trying to stick to sustainable living, you don’t have to stop with your own footprint — keep your pet’s environmental paw print in mind as well. Adopt, don’t shop Seven million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States, because there is no room for them in shelters. Even more alarming, there are 70 million stray animals living in the U.S. without regular food or shelter. Choosing to adopt a pet already in need of a good home rather than one from a breeder is not only more economically friendly; it also means that there is one less animal out there trying to make it on the streets. When you’re adopting from a shelter, you’re saving a life. Invest in sustainable pet food If buying sustainable pet food doesn’t appeal to you, make your own! Though time-consuming and somewhat controversial , raw diets are a huge fad right now (and they cut down on processed ingredients). You can even make your own dog treats so you know exactly what is going into their bodies. Related: Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet? Just remember: your pet’s health comes first. Raw diets and homemade treats may not be what’s best for them, so make sure to consult your veterinarian before making a big change in your pet’s diet. Your vet may even be able to suggest some healthy, natural alternatives when it comes to packaged food brands. If you do choose to buy prepared or canned food for your pet, buy in bulk and make sure the packaging is recyclable. Limit plastic toys, or choose toys made of recyclable materials Especially if you have a particularly rambunctious pet who likes to chew and destroy, plastic pet toys can end up in the garbage or landfills where they’ll never decompose. Opt instead for toys made from recyclable materials or natural fibers. There are plenty of companies passionate about eco-friendly pet toys, like West Paw , which uses durable, non-toxic, recyclable plastic, and Harry Barker , which uses earth-friendly fabric like hemp and certified recycled materials. Use non-toxic pet shampoo Feel better about your pet’s least-favorite activity by using organic and natural shampoo during their baths. Make sure it is non-toxic and free of dyes and parabens — it’s not only better for your pet’s skin and hair, but it also it ensures that no excess chemicals end up going down the drain and into the environment. Do your research or ask your vet first, because many companies advertise their products as “all-natural” when they’re really not . Clean up waste properly You may think that leaving Fido’s waste behind after he goes to the bathroom is completely natural, but studies show it may be harmful to the environment if it leaks contaminants into the water supply. When it comes to cat litter, some brands use toxic ingredients or silica dust that can be harmful to humans and animals. Luckily, there are greener options out there. Purina has a kitty litter made from old newspapers, and Cedarific uses soft cedar wood chips that are eco-friendly and smell great. For animals that do their business outside, choose a bag made from plant-based materials that will actually decompose , and throw it away. Take more walks You probably already know that nothing makes your dog happier than a good walk. It’s also a great excuse to skip the carbon emissions from the car and walk your pup to the store instead. Even cats and other indoor pets could use some outside time once in a while, so get out there are enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Spay and neuter This one might seem obvious, but getting your animals spayed or neutered is one of the best gifts you can give to the environment. You never know what kind of mischief your pet might get into, and making sure that there aren’t any resulting baby animals ending up in a shelter or using up environmental resources is important. It will help control the pet homelessness epidemic and gives your animal a better chance of not catching diseases like testicular cancer, prostate issues, uterus infections and malignant breast tumors. ASPCA has an online service that finds low-cost or free spay-neuter programs in your area, so you can still be a responsible pet owner even on a budget. Images via Jowanna Daley , Luisella Planeta Leoni ,  Aqua Mechanical , Julita  and Shutterstock

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NYCs plant-filled Greenery Unlimited is worlds first Biophilic Design Store

February 28, 2019 by  
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An enormous green wall and a 12-foot ficus tree await visitors at Greenery Unlimited , a newly opened retail store that’s been billed by Greenery NYC owners Rebecca Bullene and Adam Besheer as the “world’s first Biophilic Design Store.” Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn , Greenery Unlimited is the first brick-and-mortar location for the botanic design and installation company, which has a thriving online presence and an impressive client list ranging from the likes of TED Talks and Google to The New York Times and Netflix. The retail store will sell plants as well as more complex green installations aimed at improving human wellness indoors. Created as “an evolution of the traditional plant store,” Greenery Unlimited will sell plants in addition to growing systems such as grow lighting, irrigation systems, specialty vessels and tools. With a decade’s worth of experience installing large-scale botanic installations around the city, Bullene and Besheer have learned the best practices for plant cultivation and long-term management and have seen first-hand the restorative effect that indoor plants have on improving human health and comfort, a practice that Bullene and Besheer call “ biophilic design.” “As long time residents of New York, we know that the only way to deal with the chaos of the city is to make your home into a sanctuary,” Adam Besheer explained in a press release. “Plants are an unmatched aid to calm and relaxation, but there’s an inherent stress in trying to keep them alive in the suboptimal conditions of a New York City apartment. We want to provide New Yorkers with the tools and knowledge not only to keep plants alive, but to fully integrate them as part of their home environment.” Related: A London office boasts biophilic design for a healthier, happier workplace Greenery Unlimited will serve as a showcase for green installations and biophilic design concepts, such as a 120-square-foot green wall behind the reception desk and a central seating area integrated with a self-contained irrigation and fertilization system supporting a 12-foot-tall ficus tree. The indoor environment will mimic an outdoor setting with a cloud forest-like atmosphere using a pressurized misting hub and circadian lighting displays. + Greenery Unlimited Images via Greenery Unlimited

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Essential eco-friendly fixtures to incorporate into your home

February 20, 2019 by  
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Being a steward of the environment means evaluating how many resources you and your family consume and consistently looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make small eco-friendly fixtures to your home that can have a huge impact towards those goals. Water costs WaterSense, a federal program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency provides information about the most water-efficient fixtures for your home. Look for a label that indicates the device has met the strict restrictions certified by an independent testing facility for the best water conservation and lowest water costs. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Faucets The bathroom and kitchen faucets provide a convenience water source for washing hands, brushing teeth and cleaning dishes. With the ability to crank out significant amounts of water, most of the water you pay for heads right down the drain. Instead of free-flowing the cash out of your wallet, look into aerating faucet heads. They work by forcing air through the system, which provides good water pressure while using significantly less water. Look for a model with WaterSense certification and replace each faucet as they begin to leak or as your budget allows. Toilets Standard toilets are a culprit for much of the water usage in the average home. By replacing standard toilets with low flow models, you will see the savings add up. Basically these devices work by providing two flush options: one for solid waste  and one for liquid waste that uses about ? the amount of water. Doing the math, that will save you 25-33% on your toilet flushes alone. With a standard flush requiring around three gallons, that’s some big savings. Showerheads Low flow showerheads work in the same way as other water fixtures. In addition to the aforementioned aerating design, there are other options for slowing the flow in your morning shower. Shower heads equipped with a laminar-flow shower head that feeds individual beads of water through the holes, allows less water flow over all. Other shower heads use a flow restrictor, which allow more or less water through depending on your water pressure preference. Whichever style you choose, look for a shower head with less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) flow rate and a WaterSense certification. Bathtubs Bathtubs are notorious for requiring copious amount of water. After all, submersion in a hot bath averages a consumption of around 30-50 gallons. Showers with a standard shower head, by comparison, use about 10 gallons every four minutes so calculating your shower time will help you evaluate the best water savings. If you’re a disciplined sort, keeping it under ten minutes, than a shower is probably the way to go, especially if you invest in a water-conserving shower head. If you just can’t seem to shut it down in less than 20 minutes, than a bath won’t cost you any more. Lighting One of the best conveniences in a modern home is the ability to flip a switch and bring light to nearly any room in the house. But each flip of the switch costs you at the meter. One option to lower those costs is to replace the type of switch you use. For example, dimmer switches allow you to set the bulb at a lower output level. Lower output means lower consumption and therefore, a lower bill. Timers are another useful option if your family tends to leave lights on frequently. A device that tells your lights to turn off at a specified time will keep the meter from running all day when they are not needed. Motion sensored lights also save money by automatically turning lights on when you enter the room and turning them off behind you when they sense inactivity. Of course, the bulbs you use also make a huge difference in the amount of energy you’re consuming. Traditional incandescent bulbs suck up significantly more energy than the more modern halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) that not only require less energy, but also last 3-25 times longer. Look for the Energy Star rating on the bulbs you select and be sure to responsibly recycle old bulbs that contain mercury. Electrical costs Your day to day activities are reflected in your electrical bill, whether your house is powered by electricity alone or a combination of sources such as natural gas. The costs of heating, cooling and providing power to the outlets in your home add up quickly, so any changes you can make to reduce your usage will pay you back in the wallet and environmentally. Related: A renovated Toronto home boasts energy savings of over 50% Heating and cooling Heating and cooling costs make-up the lion’s share of every home’s electrical bill. Air conditioners and furnaces should be maintained for the best performance and replaced when they fail or when convenient to you. As your budget allows, swap out old systems for new ones that are more efficient and, of course, Energy Star certified. Although the unit is an investment up front, the savings long term are worth it. In addition, there are often local, state and federal tax credits that help offset the cost. Insulated windows and doors are another investment that can add up to huge savings. Energy Star models are much more energy efficient than those made even ten years ago, keeping warm air in and cold air out, which also equates to lower heating and cooling costs. Another relatively inexpensive fixture that can save you on your heating and cooling bills is an automatic thermostat. These smart devices are easy to find and install. By programming your thermostat to keep the temperature of the home lower during the night and when nobody is home, you avoid paying unnecessary heating and cooling costs automatically. Water heaters Another mainstream fixture that uses both water and electricity for heating is the water heater. By switching over to tankless water heaters, the average homeowner can save up to $100 per year. You can either install a central unit that provides on-demand water for your entire house, or you can use individual units, installed in each bathroom , kitchen, laundry, and other areas that require a water heater. These units work by only heating water as the faucet requests it, rather than keeping a huge tank of water heated and at the ready constantly. Images via Skitterphoto , 955169 , Karishea , TBIT

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Sleep in this restored WWII air control tower full of historic charm

February 15, 2019 by  
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A unique Airbnb listing in Scotland is inviting guests to stay at an amazing restored WWII air traffic control tower. Located in the Scottish Highlands area of Tain, the HMS OWL Air Control Tower dates back to the second world war, when it was used as an airbase for planes coming in and out of the country. Now, the tower has been renovated into a vibrant guesthouse with design features that pay homage to its military past. The old air tower is located in Tain, a former WWII air base that sits adjacent to the North Coast 500 Scenic Route. The former military structure was bought by Justin Hooper and Charlotte Seddon, who converted it into their family home. The family lives on the first three floors, but the top floor of the building is available for rent starting around $100 per night. Related: Sleep hundreds of feet in the air in this renovated air traffic control tower The five-year renovation process was extensive, but the couple went to extreme lengths to retain the military character of the building. To blend the tower into the expansive grassy landscape, Justin and Charlotte painted the exterior a jet black. They also left the original steel-framed Crittal windows that let in optimal natural light into the property. On the interior, large concrete pillars and exposed brickwork gives the living atmosphere a chic,  industrial feel. Large leather sofas and chairs, along with a wood-burning stove, make the living space extra warm and inviting. The top floor’s  unique guest room sleeps up to two people in a comfortable king-sized bed and beautiful en suite. The room has plenty of large windows to let in natural light as well as to offer the stunning views of the Scottish countryside. + HMS OWL Air Control Tower Via Curbed Images via HMS OWL Air Control Tower

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14 vegan and vegetarian Valentine’s Day dinner ideas

February 11, 2019 by  
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Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it. If you need some romantic vegan and vegetarian dinner ideas, look no further than this list of amazing appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts. We even found a recipe for a rich, velvety vegan hot chocolate that will surely impress your significant other! Vegan fondue Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fondue. This dairy-free cheese fondue from  The Edgy Veg  really spices up a romantic date night. For this  plant-based  fondue, you will use rice, potato and cashews. It is so delicious, you will want to dip everything in it. Sweet potato and avocado bites Another appetizer idea for your Valentine’s dinner, these sweet potato and avocado bites from Blissful Basil are a show-stopping treat. The ingredient list is short, and you simply start by tossing sweet potato slices in olive oil, cumin and paprika. After roasting them, top the sweet potatoes with an avocado and lime juice mixture, and finish with a garnish of tomato and radish sprouts. It’s a delicious vegan dish for the start of your romantic evening. Grilled zucchini rolls From Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom , these grilled zucchini rolls combine herbed goat cheese , roasted red peppers and zucchini. They are incredibly easy to make, and they are a great appetizer to munch on while you are making your main dish. Vegan Caesar salad Featuring homemade elements like Caesar dressing, peppery croutons and hemp Parmesan cheese, this recipe comes from My Darling Vegan . It is the perfect side dish for your vegan or vegetarian Valentine’s dinner. Related: How to make a hearty, warm kale salad with spicy chickpeas and sweet potato noodles Grilled eggplant with tomato and feta This amazing first course from Epicurious features eggplants, basil leaves, a large slice of tomato and crumbled feta. You start by grilling the eggplant and then stacking the ingredients. Continue grilling until the cheese melted. If you don’t have a grill, or if it’s too cold outside to fire it up, but you still want a delicious vegan eggplant dish for Valentine’s Day, try this vegan eggplant Parmesan recipe from Oh She Glows . Mushroom and leek risotto This vegan and gluten-free dish comes from The Minimalist Baker , and it is a creamy, cheesy comfort food that takes just eight ingredients and 30 minutes to prepare. You will need vegetable broth, olive oil, bella or cremini mushrooms, leeks, arborio rice, dry white wine, vegan butter, vegan Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and some salt and pepper. It is the ideal side for an Italian dinner. Stuffed mushrooms A savory appetizer for your Valentine’s dinner, this recipe is from Cheftographer , and it features sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and vegan cream cheese stuffed inside bite-sized mushrooms . This appetizer pairs well with a glass of wine, and both vegans and non-vegans will love it. Cheesy spaghetti with dill and peppercorns sauce You can indulge on  Valentine’s Day  with this creamy, cheesy dish from  Gourmandelle . The peppercorns give it a spicy kick, and the sour cream, feta cheese and dill give the pasta a delicious flavor. You can also choose a gluten-free pasta and add as many leafy greens as you like. Cauliflower steak with mushroom gravy When it comes to a cauliflower “steak,” the name refers to how the cauliflower is cut. No, this is not for a steak-loving meat eater, but this  recipe  from  Oh My Veggies  is excellent for vegans. The mushroom gravy gets its complex, umami flavor from the dried porcini mushrooms. But if you can’t find those, any dried mushroom will work. Cauliflower hemp Alfredo This deliciously creamy sauce calls for 10 ingredients and just 30 minutes to make, plus it is dairy – and nut-free. The recipe comes from Making Thyme For Health , and you can add this sauce to your choice of pasta, spaghetti squash or spiralized veggies. You can also give the dish “extra veggie power” by adding peas, mushrooms, broccoli or whatever else tickles your fancy! Related: How to cook and enjoy 10 types of squash other than pumpkin French salted hot chocolate This is a decadent beverage made with dark chocolate, coconut milk and coconut cream, then topped off with a flaky, gourmet salt. This idea comes from Champagne Tastes , and it is a perfect treat that you and your Valentine can enjoy before or after dinner. Heart cutout cupcakes This idea from Food Family Finds creates cupcakes that are filled with love. Basically, you make your favorite cupcake, cut out the center into a heart and fill the hole with cherry pie filling, strawberries, fudge or anything else your heart desires. Valentine’s Day heart cookies This vegetarian recipe from Food On Paper is a classic cookie recipe that features butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla and a dusting of powdered sugar. But the most important part of this recipe is the heart-shaped cookie cutter. Alternatively, whip up your favorite cookie recipe, then use the cookie cutter to make your cookies into lovable shapes. Raw chocolate almond cheesecake This recipe comes from The Vegan 8 , which means it is a vegan recipe that only calls for eight ingredients. Not only is this dessert vegan, but the chocolate crust is also gluten-free. To make that crust, all you need is sliced almonds, raw cacao, raw agave nectar and some sea salt. Related: DIY decadent vegan, gluten-free chocolate lava cake For the filling, you will need raw whole cashews, sliced almonds or regular almond butter, lemon juice, raw agave nectar, vanilla extract, sea salt and chocolate almond butter. Images via Michael Miller , Julien Pianetti , Stacy Spensley , Klara Avsenik , Thomas B. and Shutterstock

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