Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Enjoy this easy, earthy roasted beet salad as a healthy weeknight meal or a first course to a holiday gathering.  Peeling and dicing raw beets can be a mess, but roasting them whole makes the process a breeze: the cooled skins rub off easily, and the beets are tender and easy to cut.

Side Note: Don’t throw out your beet greens!  Instead, sauté them with a little garlic and olive oil for a delicious and nutritious side.

Gluten-free, Vegetarian

Makes 4-6 side salads or 2 dinner salads
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 40-60 min
Total Time: 55-75 min


  • 1 bunch of beets, red or golden, with tops removed about 1” from the beetroot
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Salad Ingredients:

You can get creative with whatever salad fixings you have around the house and substitute whatever greens you like to eat. Arugula would be particularly delicious in this recipe, but I didn’t have any on hand at the time. 

I used the following this time:

  • ½ head radicchio, julienned
  • Few handfuls of baby spinach
  • Few handfuls of red and green butter lettuce
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Candied walnuts (or any nut of your choice)
Frozen Peas

Dressing Ingredients:

You can also experiment with different salad dressings. I prefer a simple vinaigrette-based dressing for this recipe, which allows the beet and goat cheese flavors to really shine.  I used:

    • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp honey meyer lemon vinegar (you can substitute with lemon juice and white vinegar)
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Remove the beet greens from the beetroot, leaving about 1” of the stem.  Wash beets thoroughly and pat dry, then drizzle with olive oil and salt and wrap in aluminum foil.  Place in a baking dish and roast for 40-60 minutes, depending on how large your beets are.  Check that the beets are fork-tender before turning off the oven, then set them aside to cool slightly.
  2. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slice the tops off and then use your fingers to rub the skins off of the beets.  Dice into 1” pieces.
  3. Assemble your salad greens and top with the chopped beets.  Drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to combine, then scoop onto plates.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and candied walnuts, and serve.
Kristina Shane

This recipe is from of Home Chef and OPL Community member Kristina Shane.


OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

OPL Spotlight: A Love of Nature Sparked a Focus on Sustainability for Yvonne Dwyer

OPL Spotlight: A Love of Nature Sparked a Focus on Sustainability for Yvonne Dwyer

“It’s not something I have to force” is how Yvonne Dwyer describes her focus on sustainability.


For Yvonne Dwyer, sustainability has become an extension of a lifestyle immersed in nature. As a Master Naturalist and writer for One Planet Life, Dwyer places particular importance on sharing how the natural world can enrich our lives.

“This is stuff that I’ve been interested in my entire life,” she said. “I can remember back to when I was five, six years old, creating my own fort out of bifold doors in the woods.”

While working for REI, Dwyer found joy in having an outlet to share her love of the outdoors. When the Pittsburgh store where she was employed closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it was time to reinvent herself. Lorie Buckingham, a lifelong friend of Dwyer, asked if she would like to write for her new sustainability-focused website, One Planet Life.

“I was applying for the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program, so it seemed to be a good fit,” she said. “It makes us more credible to people than just sharing information. We are doing the things that we’re talking about. It’s important to be authentic and genuine in whatever you do.”

And it’s easy to see that Dwyer carries that authenticity into her work.

Sharing the Good News About Nature

As a naturalist, Dwyer aims to create stories that inspire positive messages. Getting out into nature is her best method.

“There’s research now where doctors are prescribing nature instead of medicine; that’s so wonderful,” she said. “Taking in the woods, the smell of the Balsam. You can’t recreate that. You’re using all of your senses.”

Enjoying the journey – not just the destination – when taking a walk in nature can be one of the best ways to encourage sustainable living because you’re experiencing the beauty at stake. 

“People go from point A to point B, or I’ll say point A to point C and totally miss what’s happening in point B – the journey,” she said. “The red newt salamander you might see on the ground or a mushroom – there’s always something unusual happening in the woods, no matter what time of year you’re going there. It doesn’t have to be in the woods; you can be in a city park or your neighborhood.”

Yvonne on a hike
Dwyer encourages a “big picture” perspective to get the most out of outdoor adventures.

“The big picture for me is to use all of my senses, create a story, and inspire others to go out and take it all in,” she said. “Just to go out and explore and see what happens. See what your senses pick up.” 

She’s also found inspiration in the naturalists who have come before her, women like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Anne LaBastille.

“Women like that inspire me,” she said. “It’s not that John Muir and [Ralph Waldo] Emerson and [Aldo] Leopold don’t – they inspire me to, but it’s cool to listen to what women are doing, their journeys, and how they’re affecting things that are happening. They’re not just sitting by; they’re on the park agency committee or a land trust committee. When we work together with everybody in diversity across the board, we all win.”

Nature offers a wonderful path toward more sustainable living. There is a tremendous amount of free information from naturalists like Dwyer, who are eager to share what they know. And there are inspiring online communities like One Planet Life and other apps. 

“There are more ways than ever to educate and inform people about what is happening in our natural world, share that, and hopefully inspire others to go out and observe – maybe use iNaturalist or eBird, one of these apps. They can easily become citizen scientists, helping with climate change or bird migration.”

Committing to a Natural (and Local) Lifestyle

When Dwyer had her first child over 30 years ago, she focused on providing as much natural sustenance for her family as possible. 

“We ate naturally. Our water was filtered, and I grew my own vegetables,” said Dwyer. “One of the reasons why it became important to grow my own vegetables is because the baby food company we bought our food from had glass in it. So I grew the vegetables, pureed them, put them in little ice cube trays, and froze them. That spurred my love for gardening.”

She remembered the guidance her grandmother offered as well. 

“My grandmother was a big inspiration for my cooking,” she shared. “She told me, ‘When you get married, you never feed your family from a box.’ I never did.” 

The One Planet Life Team
What she couldn’t grow on her own, Dwyer sourced as much as she could from local farmers.

“I think what started me on my journey shopping locally is that my oldest son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was three and a half,” she shared. “At the time, commercial farmers were putting in antibiotics and growth hormones. I wasn’t aware of what was being injected into our animals and how that would have an effect. So I found a farm near us.” 

Shopping for pasture-raised meat, eggs, and dairy at a little farm store provided Dywer with transparency and freshness not often available at the supermarket. 

“Our country exists on small businesses,” she said. “If we don’t protect small businesses, we are going to be locked down with the big businesses, their costs, and all the things that go along with it – our selection of choices may be lowered, protection for our workers, our natural resources. We can’t have a monopoly. We need to protect our small business owners to help preserve them.” 

Joining Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), shopping for what is currently in season, and learning ways to preserve fresh food at home through freezing and canning are great ways to lower your carbon footprint when it comes to eating sustainably.

“I try to encourage people to join CSAs because you’re not only helping the farmer, you are also saving money in the end,” Dwyer said. “If you go to your local farmer or CSA, you won’t pay as much as you do in the big box grocery stores. It’s going to be fresher because it came from right here.”

She tries to encourage others by giving them samples to try. Once tasting the difference in freshness, it’s easy to make the switch to local.

“If you’re buying in season, you’ll be getting the freshest food,” she added. “It can be sustained if you buy extra, put it in your freezer, or make a soup out of it, put it in your freezer, and you can have it during the winter months when produce selection is a little bit lower.”

And the best part of it all?

“It’s relationship building,” Dwyer said. “You never know who you’ll meet at one of these little places that might become your best friend, someone to walk with. There are a lot of people from COVID who are still wary of going to these big box stores. You go into smaller businesses and somehow feel a little bit safer. You feel a little bit more welcome.”

Through a lifetime love affair with the outdoors, a keen interest in learning about the natural world, and dedication to providing her family with fresh, natural meals, Dwyer’s sustainability journey has been decades in the making.

“All the things that I do, it’s natural,” she said. “It’s not something I have to force.”

And that mentality shouldn’t seem so difficult – returning to our roots. After all, our climate crisis has only been accelerating within the past few decades. If we all make an effort to support our local food chain, consume the plethora of free resources available from experts, and revel in the wonder of the outdoors, a sustainable lifestyle could quickly become “natural” for all of us.

 You can read more about Yvonne’s Sustainability Journey here:

My Journey to Reduce My Carbon Footprint Started With Trash

An Easy Guide to Backyard Composting

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and REFILL to Benefit the Planet

The staff at One Planet Life are serious about sustainable living. That’s why we decided to share the struggles and successes of our individual sustainability journeys. We will share tips directly from our team members, curated through authentic personal experience. We hope that by sharing our stories, we can help foster a community committed to helping each other – and the planet!

Read about One Planet Life Founder Lorie Buckingham’s sustainability Journey.

OPL Spotlight: Lorie Buckingham’s Sustainability Journey Began with a Craving to Learn More

OPL Spotlight: Lorie Buckingham’s Sustainability Journey Began with a Craving to Learn More

“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” advises Lorie Buckingham. “Living sustainably is a journey that will take time.”


Decades before founding One Planet Life, Lorie Buckingham had already embarked on her own sustainability journey. With a background in science, Buckingham became interested in learning more about what harmful additives can be found in our food and environment.

“Majoring in chemistry and learning about the impact of chemicals, I became intrigued,” she said. “I started wondering what really is in my food. That led to being shocked that companies did not have to put ingredients on labels – they could keep the information from you.”

Finding sources of information that were based on facts and could be trusted for their credibility was challenging. Through environmental science classes at Harvard, she learned how to have a keen eye when researching information.

“It’s actually incredibly hard to find what I’ll call trusted resources,” she said. “There’s so much information, and you don’t even know what to trust or not trust. They really helped me understand that I’m not going to find everything I want, but how I could parse through, know what I could trust, and that it was always evolving.”

That experience confirmed the need for continuous learning and establishing a centralized hub for sharing this specialized information with the greater sustainability-focused community.

“That’s part of One Planet Life – I want to keep putting information out there because we don’t know enough, and there are so many false claims,” she said. “Every time I think there’s more qualified information, I’d like us to share it. Knowledge is power.”

Feeding the Family with a Focus on Sustainability.

Buckingham’s journey didn’t solely weave through the pages of scientific study, though – she was moved to take action because of the impact on her everyday life. 

“The moment that brought it home to me was when I had my daughter,” she shared. “When she was little, we realized that when she would eat beef, she would have an incredible allergic reaction. Supposedly, you can’t have an allergic reaction to beef.”

It turned out that her daughter had developed a reaction from excess penicillin that had treated ear infections in her early years. Factory-farmed beef has so much antibiotics in it that it triggered severe allergic reactions in my daughter (and others).

That experience caused a shift in the way Buckingham looked at feeding her family.

“For my family, I really started avoiding anything but the exterior aisles of the grocery store,” she said. “I’m looking for fresh fruit, vegetables, everything fresh. The next thing was local and then, where possible, organic.”

As with building any new habit, it wasn’t always easy.

“It’s not balance; it’s more of riding the wave,” she said. “There were times when I didn’t have a lot of time to focus on it. I’d make strides with what we ate, and it was an easy way to do that because I controlled the shopping. My husband helped with the cooking. The other thing I think you have to do is not force your family. I’m never going to have my kids not eat sugar and not have snack foods. We’re not going to be what I would call a ‘never family.'”

So Buckingham focused mainly on leading by example, and years later, she saw changes that resonated with her family.

“There were a lot of complaints made by my kids because their friend’s house had much ‘cooler’ food,” she said. “But now they both cook. They’re into being healthy. I think when you do things honestly, and you have some type of consistency – even consistency that has its moments when you don’t have it – you do create that ripple effect.”

One Planet Life is born.

When Buckingham decided to take the leap and give life to the idea that’s been on her mind for years, she quickly realized as she started building a team that One Planet Life would be fulfilling a long-awaited need. 

“What I found fascinating is that they were all thinking about journeys but couldn’t say whether they were on a journey,” she said. “Each of them cared about this, wanting to be on a journey, but felt frustrated by what they could and could not do. They’re all living busy lives. This idea of having an app that helps you understand how you’re making a difference really resonated with them.”

The idea of helping individuals find their voice and make a difference has been intentionally built into the foundation of One Planet Life.

“For One Planet Life, maybe that can be the place where we can bring people together who care about these things – all different types of people and start with little steps that are doable but that add up over time,” she said. “I call it the ripple effect. Before you know it, you’ve made some pretty amazing changes in your life that do make a difference in the world and in your life.”

The One Planet Life Team
One Planet Life App
Embarking on a sustainability journey for the first time?

Sometimes, people are just too hard on themselves, Buckingham has come to recognize. Easing into the journey can be a better approach to help make changes stick.

“When you’re starting something out, don’t be afraid to make just one small change; don’t pick the hardest thing, don’t pick ten things, just pick one or two,” she said. “It can be one that you can do and just enjoy it – be happy about it. Just make one change, track it, and enjoy that you’re doing it.”

Accepting that success can often be the result of compounding failures, and it’s also important to grant yourself some grace along the way.

“It’s about doing things that you can have your headspace into,” she said. “If it backfires, then stop and do a different one for a while. Pick out the level of difficulty that you’re ready to take on. People have busy, stressful lives. There’s no need to make this something crazy.”

Everyone is on their own journey. You can’t force it.

“Don’t expect others you live with to do the same,” she said. “Know that they’re on their own timing. They’re going to do their own thing. Honor them to choose when to do things because that also adds stress if you’re trying to do it and you’re trying to make others do it.”

But having support from others going through this journey is also essential. That’s where One Planet Life comes in.

“I’d love to see One Planet Life continue to be this safe place where I can try on my journey, and everybody makes a difference,” she said. “At the same time, we can become a powerful voice making the world better, one person at a time. We do have this ripple effect. There are so many people in the world that are suffering and don’t have the advantages we have. If we could raise our voices and help them – that would be the dream.”

The staff at One Planet Life are serious about sustainable living. That’s why we decided to share the struggles and successes of our individual sustainability journeys. We will share tips from our team members, curated through authentic personal experience. We hope that by sharing our stories, we can help foster a community committed to helping each other and the planet!

Creamy Parmesan Fusilli with Grilled Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Spinach

Creamy Parmesan Fusilli with Grilled Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Spinach

This creamy parmesan fusilli with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach is truly luscious! A perfect weekday meal.

Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Total Time: 35 min


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup of Italian dressing, for marinade
  • 16 oz of pasta – I used fusilli because it holds sauce really nicely in all those crevices, but any pasta shape will work
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt, for the pasta water
  • 1 jar of sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped, reserving 2 Tbsp of oil for the saucepan
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 5 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 4 oz of freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
    Extra-firm Tofu
    Frozen Peas


    1. Combine chicken breasts with Italian dressing and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
    2. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the grill to 400 degrees and then grill for 5-8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts.  After removing from the grill, allow to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before slicing into cubes.  Set aside.
    3. Boil 6 qts of water, salting the water generously.  Follow package directions to cook the pasta.  Before straining the pasta, take a coffee mug and dip it into the pot, collecting about 1 to 1 ½ cups of pasta water. Set aside.
    4. In a separate saucepan, add the reserved 2 tablespoons of sundried tomato oil.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, then add the chopped sundried tomatoes. Add the chicken broth and cream cheese, and lower the heat, chopping at the cream cheese to break it up and help it melt.  When the cream cheese is softened and the mixture begins to bubble, add half of the reserved pasta water and parmesan cheese, and stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Add spinach and cover the pot, allowing the heat to wilt the spinach.  Add chicken and pasta and toss, adding the remaining reserved pasta water slowly until desired sauce consistency is reached.  Garnish with extra parmesan cheese.
    5. masala, and coriander, allowing the spices to profume.  Pour the onion mixture back into the pan, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn.  Add peas, vegetable broth, and green chili, and stir until well combined.  Continue cooking on a medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes longer. 
    6. While the sauce is thickening, heat a medium fry pan with a few drops of oil, and spread it around the pan.  Add the tofu blocks to the pan and saute for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the tofu is brown.  Remove to a cutting board and cut into 1” cubes, and then add to the sauce pot.  Add coconut milk and stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.  When ready to serve, garnish with chopped cilantro.  Best served with basmati rice and a few pieces of warm naan.


    • The trick to this dish is the reserved pasta liquid!  When you boil pasta, excess starch builds up in the pasta water and acts as a binder for the pasta sauce.  When the pasta water and sauce are combined, the oils and starches emulsify to create a truly luscious, next-level sauce that clings to the pasta.
    • Do not rinse the pasta after straining; you will wash off the residual starches and the sauce won’t bind to the pasta as nicely.
    • You can save time by using leftover grilled or pulled chicken in this recipe!  Follow the same recipe, but put the chicken in the sauce by itself and allow it to warm before adding the pasta.  
    • To make this recipe vegetarian, omit the chicken, or substitute white kidney beans or chickpeas.
    Kristina Shane

    This recipe is from of Home Chef and OPL Community member Kristina Shane.


    OPL Plant-rich Recipes

    Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

    Packing It Out: Learning More About “Leave No Trace”

    Packing It Out: Learning More About “Leave No Trace”

    The Leave No Trace (LNT) principle brings attention to the conservation, preservation, and protection of our parks and ecosystems.

    The Leave No Trace (LNT) idea dates back to the 18th century and has increased in popularity in recent years as we have become more aware of the impending climate disaster Earth is facing.  

    Since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, many have found solace in heading outside to release stress and anxiety and find joy in nature and recreation. It’s a wonderful feeling to experience the natural world around you: crisp air, beautiful vistas, and the quiet humming of wildlife as you embark on your outdoor adventure.  Excursions are great for your physical and mental well-being – an opportunity to reflect and be mindful of the planet that sustains you.

    But the peace and wonder you feel can quickly be interrupted by the sight of trash along your path. Your mind may begin racing with questions about how the rubbish came to be abandoned.  You may feel frustrated with how humans treat our planet or concerned about the short- and long-term consequences litter will have on our ecosystem.  

    Refuse Decomposition: A Sobering Reality

    Litter decomposes differently depending on the material.  Below are a few examples of commonly-abandoned trash and how long they will linger:

    • Glass, Styrofoam, and tin foil never decompose.
    • Plastic can take two to one million years to decompose, depending on its composition.
    • Aluminum cans take 80 to 100 years to disintegrate.
    • Conventional chewing gum – the world’s second most common form of litter – is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose due to the synthetic plastic polymers used in its creation.
    • Animal poop in a knotted bag can take ten to twenty years to decompose.
    • Paper products will disintegrate in two to six weeks.
    • Fruit and their skins will decompose from six months to two years.
    • Rubber tires in a landfill will decompose within fifty to eighty years.


    You can find gum that is better for the environment and made with natural ingredients, similar to what the ancient Mayans made from chicle, a form of rubber that is biodegradable and can disintegrate in two weeks. 

    There is a way you can help, and it starts with awareness of the Leave No Trace principle.

    Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints.  There are seven main tenants of the Leave No Trace principle: 

    • Plan ahead and prepare.  Before you go on an excursion, consider what you need to protect yourself and the place you are visiting. For tips, check out our OPL blogs about Planning for a Successful Outdoor Adventure. What to Wear and What to Pack.
      • Select clothing and gear to protect yourself from outdoor elements.
      • Avoid traveling alone, as unexpected things can happen. 
      • Always leave a message with a family member or friend about your outdoor plan, the time you plan to return, and what to do if you do not return as scheduled.  
      • Carry a lightweight, waterproof tarp or emergency blanket to use as an emergency shelter.  
      • Carry extra food and water. Trail food such as nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate, hard salami, and hard cheese cubes are good options to take with you on an excursion.
      • Do not take any unnecessary risks, especially if the weather turns foul, daylight is nearing an end, or you or someone in your party becomes ill.
      • If you think that you are lost, stay where you are and try to remain calm. Only continue traveling once you know where you are.  
      • Three of anything (shouts, whistles, flashes of light, etc.) is a standard distress signal. Only use these in emergencies.
    • Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Stay on marked trails to prevent unnecessary scarring of the landscape and avoid damaging vegetation, organisms, and waterways. 
    • If camping, choose a surface that is durable
    • Dispose of waste properly.  Ensure that any waste you generate is carried with you (also referred to as “packing it out”) and deposited in a waste receptacle at the end of your hike.
    • Leave what you find. Enjoy the wildflowers, plants, fungi, and trees but do not collect them without permission.
    • Minimize campfire impact.  Become familiar with fire safety and containment, and ensure that fires are never left unattended.
    • Respect wildlife. Quietly view wildlife and birdwatch without disturbing them.  You can use the eBird app to help you identify them and help scientists track the habits of these animals.  Never feed wildlife.
    • Be considerate of others.  Refrain from shouting or making loud noises on the trail.  Make space for other groups to pass if your party stops to take a break.

    As individuals, we can be a part of the Leave No Trace solution by showing respect and care for nature and seeking to educate others on the harmful effects that rubbish has on our health, wildlife, and our environment.

    At One Planet Life, we share our adventurous journeys on the OPL app, and use our knowledge to inspire, educate, and create energy for your own joyful experiences. We would love for you to share your venture with us. 

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