Showing posts with label going green. Show all posts
Showing posts with label going green. Show all posts
I feel like everyone goes through phases with foods, whether it is loving it or hating it.  The good news is Liam has lost is sriracha obsession…thank goodness, but my husband and I have been in quick the granola kick.

There is nothing wrong with a little granola obsession for a while but making sure that it is in moderation.  My husband comes up with some great ideas when it comes to mixing up flavors in food.  He wanted us to make our own granola and he came up with little variations to avoid getting bored with the same kinds of granola.  He came up with some delicious concoctions I have to share these great granola ideas with.

With fall in sight Low Fat Apple Raisin Granola

Ingredients-
3 cups dehydrated buckwheat chunks
1 cup raisins
½ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger powder
Pinch of salt
¾ cup agave
1 apple, chopped and diced
1 tbsp. almond butter

Instructions-
Preheat oven to 250 degree Fahrenheit
In a large bowl mix the buckwheat chunks, raisins, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, ginger powder, and salt.
In another bowl mix the agave, apple, and almond butter together.  I have used a blender to thoroughly mix together.  Pour over the dry mixture and toss to coat and combine.
Spread on a lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Cool and store in an air tight container.  This is my favorite granola we have made :)

Vanilla Almond Goji Berry Granola

Ingredients-
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup grape-seed oil
1/3 cup agave
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup goji berries

Instructions-
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
Mix the oats, almonds, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl then pour on a lined baking sheet.
In a saucepan mix the grape-seed oil, agave, vanilla extract, and light brown sugar on low heat until a simmer then remove from the heat.  Pour over the oat mixture and toss to coat.
Bake for 20 minutes until it is golden brown, cool and break into chunks and mix with the goji berries.  Enjoy over yogurt, milk, or even ice cream if you are feeling ambitions.

When you don’t feel like a sweet granola, my husband loves his new creation: Salty Olive Granola-

Ingredients-
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cup pecan halves, pulverized
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Instructions-
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, pecans, coconut, and pumpkin seeds.  Add the maple syrup, sugar, olive oil, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon and mix until everything is coated.
Spread the mixture on a lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stir and bake for another 15 minutes.  Let cool and add the raisins and mix together.  Enjoy your salty granola with a twist.

If you have any unique and tasty granola recipes I am sure my husband would be excited to give them a try! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

I was looking for images on the web and came across an awesome infographic on BusinessInsider.com.


Although, it was posted a couple years ago, it is still relevant and resonated with me.  It is titled, Why You Need to Stop Driving Your Car Right Now.

I always try walking or riding my bike whenever I can and only drive my car when it is really necessary.  It not only saves me money by biking but I get exercise too.

When my husband and I were looking for our first our home, it was essential that it was located close to markets, parks, work, and our children’s school.  We were fortunate enough to find a home that is in a very central location and walking and biking distance to many places.

Since moving here and not using our car as much, we have seen a large drop in our transportation expenses and we are even healthier.  We are helping the earth by reducing our emissions that are harmful to the environment, not spending money on cars upkeep, saving of fuel, not having to pay for parking, and we get to speed past traffic jams.

I saw this statistic that shocked me; it showed that 80% of bike commuters improve their heart and lung function within 8 weeks! Just 8 weeks! I couldn’t believe it.

Once you understand how the simple change from driving your car to riding your bike is, it is clear that riding your bike is better for you, your health, your family, and the environment.  So hop on that two-wheeler and get pedaling.

I have shared here, the informative infographic from BusinessInsider.com. Enjoy!


After reading this infographic, I hope you feel motivated to start riding your bike whenever you can.

 If you live near your work, grocery stores, or frequented venues, why not give it a try?  I enjoy walking and biking places, it allows me to clear my mind and stay active.  I challenge you to try swapping your car for an earth friendly bike! :)

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie


Ever since I was young my parents taught me how important it is to recycle and take care of our planet.  I believe that all parents want to leave the world a better place for their children after they are gone.  As my children grew up and learned about trash and where it goes, they also knew about recycling.



My husband and I made leaning about recycling fun for our kids.  We made it more of a game and made it easy for them to understand and put to use.  The earlier good habits are ingrained, the easier it is to make an impact.

When we were teaching our children about recycling we used some of these steps.

1. We talked about what recycling means and respecting and helping the earth.

2. There are many books about the basics of reducing, reusing, and recycling.  It is a great way to start of teaching your kids.  It excited my children to start recycling after reading.

3. To help them understand what was recyclable and what was not, we decorated bins to correlate what goes in them.

4. We had a “recycled item of the week” that we focused on to make it a fun event.  Each week we kept adding to the list until we had a full list.

5. We made a fun facts list to post on the fridge about facts about recycling. For example; the average person throws away about 170 lbs. of food waste every year that is the same as 1,077 banana peels.

6. We visited our local recycling center to see how the process actually works.  Our kids loved it when they were young.  Usually recycling centers will help organize a visit with a group.  It is a great way for them to understand the process.

7. To reuse our own “nice trash” we made little craft projects.  Kids love crafts and what a great way to learn about recycling too.  I found some good recycling craft ideas here.

8. To teach them about conserving water, we set a “shower song.” It was a song that they got to shower to that gave them a time limit so they did not waste water.  We always made it one of their favorite songs so they knew when it was going to be done.  It was fairly easy for them to grasp the concept of conserving water, they understand that if they used too much water, the fish wouldn’t have any place to live.

9. To teach our children about reusing we also had them go through their closets and toys to find five items to donate to local panties and organizations.  It was a great way to help the community and teach them about reusing and making a difference.

10. There are countless games online that revolve on the subject of recycling and conservation.  Our favorite websites were Kids Recycling Zone and Kids Recycle.


My husband and I strive to inspire our children to love the earth and take care of it.  It is easy to feel like we don’t have much control about what happens to our earth in years to come; but it is beneficial to teach our little ones now to ensure there will be a healthy planet for future generations.  I believe the earlier good habits are created, the easier it is to incorporate them into daily life.

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Many people become vegetarian for religious, moral or ethical reasons.  I chose to become vegetarian for the moral and ethical reasons regarding the treatment of animals.  When first deciding to transform my lifestyle, learning how long vegetarianism has been around blew my mind.  Vegetarianism began long before recorded history and has withstood the test of time. 



I think it is important to understand the lifestyle from the various points through history and see how it has benefited human kind.

Going way back to cave men, many anthropologist believe that most early humans ate mainly plant foods and were more gatherers than hunters.  This concept makes the most sense to me.  Knowing how to gather and grow sustainable food is a more reliable source of nutrition than hunting.

Vegetarian ideology is said to have been practiced among religious groups in Egypt around 3,200BCE.  The karmic beliefs of reincarnation were a main factor in vegetarianism for these people. 

In many eastern religions a meat-free diet is fundamental in religious philosophies.  Many religions have doctrines of non-violence and respect for all life forms, including animals.  Vegetarianism has always been one of the main aspects of Buddhism.  The religion focuses on compassion to all living creatures and the respect for all.




Looking at the research, it is clear to me that many of the early vegetarians, besides early humans, practice this lifestyle because of religious and philosophical reasons.  I find this very interesting because those religions are not as common in the United States. 

Vegetarianism was not very common in the US until 1971.  Author, Frances Moore Lappe, wrote a bestseller book titled Diet for a Small Planet that was published in 1971 encouraging people to practice a meatless diet.  His book described that it takes 14 times as much grain to feed an animal than what you get out in meat.  He recognized this as an enormous waste of resources and supported a vegetarian lifestyle to stop wasting the world’s food.





In the 1990’s the American Dietetic Association officially endorsed vegetarianism after overwhelming medical evidence supporting the superiority of vegetarian diets.  Many of my vegetarian friends became vegetarian in the 90’s because of the research and the support of a healthy lifestyle. 

I believe that the vegetarian community has grown rapidly in the past couple years because of the shocking truth behind the meat industry.  There is no denying that our county allows the mistreatment of animals to produce meat quicker at more quantities.  Recent documentaries and research has brought this industry in the limelight.



Vegetarianism has been around since before recorded history and has withstood the test of time.   It has been recorded through many decades in cultures all over the world.  A plant-based diet has sustained humanity for thousands of years, why not join in on this healthy lifestyle?

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie


History of Vegetarianism

by on 1/21/2015
Many people become vegetarian for religious, moral or ethical reasons.  I chose to become vegetarian for the moral and ethical reasons rega...
Do you really know what is in your foods?  When I was first learning about vegetarianism I was naïve to what was actually in my food.  I just assumed that if it wasn't the actually meat it was vegetarian.  When I am researching, I always make sure I have a tough stomach because some of the things I have come across make my stomach turn.  It is shocking what ingredients are actually in the foods we eat all the time without thinking.

Even though I’m not vegan, I still like to be conscious about the ingredients in foods I eat and prefer my foods be free of animal byproducts.  I made a list of cringe worthy products that have animal byproducts that might make you think twice about what you are eating.


DISCLAIMER- if you have a weak stomach or just ate lunch, you might was to wait to read this until your stomach is strong enough to hear all the ingredients might be in your favorite foods.

When first beginning to research products that we not vegetarian gelatin was the first product I learned about.  Gelatin is mainly made from collagen, a protein often collected from animal skins.  Gelatin can be found in frosted cereals, yogurt, candy, some types of sour cream, and deserts.  The gelatin in deserts often comes from pig skin.

Beef fat is an ingredient many Hostess Products.  It is gross thinking a favorite sweet childhood snack contains beef fat.  The ingredient is included in the list of other oils that may or may not be used.

This is a more widely known animal product, crushed bugs are used as red food coloring.  Dried insects are boiled to produce a liquid solution that is turned into dye.  It is often called carmine or carminic acid.  YUCK

Beaver anal glands, castoreum, are common in perfumes and colognes.  I don’t want to use anal glands to smell sweet, that’s for sure.  Another use, they are used to enhance the flavor of raspberry candies and sweets.

It is more common people know Caesar salad dressing is made with anchovies, but they are in Worcestershire sauce too.  I was unaware of this until I did some research and now I avoid both sauces.

Like jelly beans or candy corn?  The shiny hard coating is make from the secretions of the female Kerria Lacca, an insect native to Thailand.  I personally don’t like any bug secretions in my candy.



These are just a few of the cringe worth products that use animal products to be more appealing and satisfying to the consumer.  After months of researching and growth I learned that animal products are in so many unexpected places and products.  I find it very interesting to learn about all the products that use weird animal parts and secretions.  Peta.org has an extensive list of animal ingredients that are in food that might shock you.

Know of any more cringe worthy products with animal products? I would love to learn more, comment to share your knowledge!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Yesterday at the restaurant I had a lovely conversation with a customer that had just converted to vegetarianism.  He dove in head first a month ago without any progression eliminating meat.  He told me he was feeling great so far but was having some serious meat cravings.  I know from experience the beginning can be difficult when you see other people eating meats around you. 
I remember those first months when everyone was eating meat around me it was hard not to think about going back, but in the back my mind I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I tried just about every meat substitute out there, some were very delicious and satisfied the little cravings and some were down right terrible.  I was happy to share my favorite meat substitutes with my customer so he wouldn’t have to go through the trial and error I did. 

In my opinion, these are the best meat substitutes.

•    If you are missing cold cuts and deli sandwiches, Tofurky Deli Slices should be your go to.  They are made from smoked wheat gluten and have many different imitated flavors.  I like the roast beef flavor, but they are all equally as delicious.  Even my non-vegetarian friends like them. 



•    Quorn brand Chick’n nuggets are incredible.  My kids love them cut up with BBQ sauce.  Quorn brand uses fermented mushrooms that give them a texture nearly identical to chicken. They are probably one of my favorite chicken replacements.



•    If you love mushrooms like I do, Gardenburger Portabella Veggie Burgers are really good.  They are primarily made of brown rice and vegetables.  I like the smoky flavor and chucky texture of the vegetables.  They do have a lot of sodium, so read the labels.



•    Amy’s Kitchen has good premade meals if you are on the go.  My son loves the black bean vegetable enchilada.  They have a selection of soups and meal starters as well.




•    Anything Morning Star Brand!! My absolute favorite are the Grillers California Turk’y burgers.  They have the perfect amount of flavor and spices and when topped with avocado and tomato; they are the most flawless burger.  I highly recommend all the products by them!


When looking for a product you like, be sure to read the labels because some brands are high in sodium and aren’t very nutritious.  Although my diet doesn’t consist largely of these meat replacements, they are a nice easy break from cooking.  Happy eating!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
On Friday I went to a good friend’s house to meet up with the girls.  It was so nice, we all brought little hor d’oeuvres and chatted over wine.  They loved the tropical popcorn balls I brought and were amazed I used agave nectar instead of honey and they tasted so good. (find the recipe below!)



As you know whole foods and farmers markets are my thing.  I am always finding ways to make recipes unique using natural ingredients.  Managing a restaurant has given me so many opportunities to learn and try new things.  Now, when I’m at home I create recipes on the fly and spice it up differently every time depending on my mood.

I use agave nectar all the time at home and in the restaurant.  We use it in a lot of the desserts and even some main courses.  There are many natural ingredients that can be used to substitute common processed ones.

Here are my favorite natural additives and replacements:

•    Agave nectar is the extract from the wild agave plant.  It is low in glycemic levels and is a natural alternative to white sugar and other sugars



•    Cacao butter is the raw pure oil from the cacao bean.  It has a rich chocolate aroma.  I love to use it in smoothies, desserts, and in just about any chocolate creation I am making.  It is easy to use because it is raw, it melts easy and blends into any type of recipe.


•    Coconut oil has become very popular recently with its many health benefits.  It is commonly used as a food product and skin moisturizer.  It has a rich buttery taste that is great for cooking.


•    Miso is a salty flavored paste made from soybeans, rice, or barley.  It is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.  I like to use it in soups and adding it to salad dressings and sauces.


•    Tamari is a natural soy sauce made from fermented soybeans and tastes wonderful.



I believe that cooking should be a fun and freeing experience.  I take pride in making food that is good for you and delicious.  Real sustainable food nourishes not only your body but the environment as well.  Try some new substitutes and let me know what you like.

Here is the recipe for the tropical popcorn balls my friends loved.

Ingredients-
•    6 heaping cups of popped popcorn
•    ¼ cup agave nectar
•    ¼ creamy natural almond butter
•    ¼ cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
•    ¼ cup unsweetened coconut

Instructions-
•    Cover a baking sheet with wax paper to put the balls on
•    Mix the agave nectar and almond butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat while constantly stirring.  Keep heating until the mixture lightly bubbles and remove soon after.
•    Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and macadamia nuts and mix until well coated.
•    Quickly press small handfuls of the popcorn and macadamia mixture into balls and roll in shredded coconut until coated then place on baking sheet and let cool and harden.
•    Enjoy!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
Although fall is my favorite time of the year it’s one of my daughter’s most difficult times…ALLERGY SEASON.  The coughing, sneezing, runny nose, water eyes…oh the list goes on, it is terrible.  If you or someone in your family has allergies, you understand my love hate relationship with fall.



Of course I love to find natural ways for just about everything, including allergies.  My mother had allergies, I have them, my husband, and my two kids.  When I was growing up my mother was always against going to the doctor and insisted on finding ways to deal with the symptoms. I have been accustom to natural ways to rid these pesky symptoms since I was young.

This season of allergies seems so much worse than years past.  My whole family is feeling it, and my poor daughter’s nose is constantly running.  Some of my friends who have never suffered from allergies before are this year too.  I shared my preferred remedies with my friends and a few of my daughter’s friend’s mothers; so I thought I would share my natural allergy remedies with you too.

•    My grandmother swore Apple Cider Vinegar and I have used it to help with my own symptoms for years.  It supposedly helps reduce mucus production and cleanse the lymphatic system.  When I use it I mix one teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink this mixture three times a day.


•    Nettle Leaf is a natural antihistamine that blocks the body’s production of histamine.  It can be purchased in different forms; pills or tea.  I prefer using the capsule form because I think it is easier and more effective. I know family members that use the tea for and mix it with other herbs to make an anti-allergy concoction.


•    Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid that is said to help stabilize cells and keep them from releasing histamine.  Quercetin is also a known antioxidant and reduces inflammation.  I personally have not used it but I know friends that have.  It is suggested you take it 4-6 weeks before allergy season to prevent symptoms from occurring.  Quercetin is found in citrus’ and broccoli but in very small amounts, there is a supplement that is commonly taken for treating allergy symptoms.



I hope these natural supplements can help you and your family during this beautiful yet stuffy season.  If you have more natural remedies for seasonal allergies I would love to hear about them and try it out!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie


Happy World Vegetarian day and the start of Vegetarian Awareness Month!  Obviously, October is one of my favorite months where I let my veggie flag fly high.  World Vegetarian Day and Vegetarian Awareness Month can be celebrated by everyone, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.



In case you wanted a more information, here you go!  October 1st was recognized as World Vegetarian Day by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978.  This day is “to promote the joy, compassion, and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism.”  It brings awareness to the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.  Go veggie heads!

Needless to say, I make sure that all my friends and family are aware of this great month.  My non-vegetarian friends and family often ask how they can partake in this day and month if they have no desire to become vegetarian…the answer is simple, keep an open mind and try new things.  I believe it is a great time to encourage others to try a new way of living and raise awareness.

I challenge my friends, family, and readers to do little things this month that make you more aware about a vegetarian lifestyle.  Here are my five challenges for you this month…

1. Visit the official website of World Vegetarian Day to understand and learn why this day was created and how you can help.  There are so many useful resources on this site I still visit it!

2. Take some time to learn about the health, environmental and financial benefits of becoming a vegetarian.  In the US we don’t take enough time understanding where our food is coming from.
 When I take the time to learn how my food was created, what ingredients were used, and how it got into my hands, preparing it becomes an entirely new experience

3. Attend a vegetarian food festival.  With it being a dedicated month to vegetarians there are many festivals and expos everywhere.  Do a quick Google search or look in a local newspaper to see if there are any nearby.

4. Visit a vegetarian restaurant.  I might be a little biased on this one… :) but I believe when non-vegetarians visit a vegetarian restaurant they expect lettuce dishes and leaving hungry.  That is not the case at all, a vegetarian restaurant experience is unlike any other.  You’re most likely not going to be leaving hungry but with a fully stomach and a sense of satisfaction.

5. Last challenge; host a meatless dinner party!  If you are not the dinner party type, try doing Meatless Monday with your family during the month of October.  Check out my post about Meatless Monday here.



The food possibilities are endless.

I could not be happier with my decision 5 years ago to become a vegetarian.  I hope that I am able to encourage everyone to learn a little more about a vegetarian lifestyle and how it benefits you and the world around.  Raise your inner veggie flag.

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
Happy National Mushroom Month! It is the best time of the year, mushrooms are so abundant and it is my excuse to use them this month as much as I can!  Mushrooms have such a unique taste and distinctive texture that makes them wonderful to cook with. 

Some people are mushroom “haters” and refuse to give them a try, I say put your hate aside and try some of my favorite recipes that showcase September’s featured veggie, MUSHROOMS! :)


Portobello Red Pepper and Pesto Pizza- very easy!
Serves 6
Ingredients-
•    Your choice of pizza dough, either homemade or premade
•    2-3 Portobello mushrooms with the stems removed
•    5 canned roasted red peppers, sliced
•    ¾ cup of parmesan mozzarella blend
•    ¼ cup pesto, your choice either homemade or store bought
Instructions
•    Prepare the dough according to its specific directions, then place in a pizza pan.
•    Chop the Portobello mushrooms into long thin slices.
•    Spread the pesto on the pizza dough, top with Portobello slices and roasted red peppers then sprinkle the parmesan mozzarella blend on the top.
•    Bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes; the time will depend on the dough and your personal crispy taste.



Easy Mushroom Stroganoff
Serves 2
Ingredients-
•    1 tbsp. of oil
•    1 medium onion, diced
•    4 cloves of garlic, minced
•    17 oz. mushrooms, sliced or diced
•    3 tbsp. vegetable stock
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    Black pepper, to taste
•    3 tbsp. sour cream
•    4 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
•    Heat oil in a large frying pan, cook the onion, garlic, and mushrooms over medium heat for 5-10 mins until slightly softened.
•    Add vegetable stock and paprika and season to taste with black pepper.
•    Before serving, stir in the sour cream and half the parsley.  Once heated through, serve topped with remaining parsley.


Portobello “Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich”
Serves 4
Ingredients-
•    2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
•    1 medium onion, sliced
•    4 large Portobello mushrooms, steams and gills removed, sliced
•    2 tsp. dried oregano
•    ½ tsp. ground pepper
•    1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
•    ¼ cup vegetable broth
•    1 tbsp. soy sauce
•    3 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
•    4 buns, split and toasted
•    (Optional) ½ medium green pepper, sliced
Instructions
•    Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms, green pepper, oregano, onion and pepper. Stir often and cook until vegetables are soft and wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
•    Reduce heat, sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat.  Add broth and soy sauce and bring to simmer.
•    Remove from heat lay cheese slices on top of vegetables, cover and let stand until melted.
•    Divide mixture into 4 portions in each toasted bun, and serve.





There are so many ways to prepare mushrooms and add them to your favorite recipes, you could spend the entire month finding different ways to savor the taste of mushrooms.

If you are a lover like I am, I suggest following @MushroomChannel on twitter or the Mushroom Channel on Facebook.  They post great recipes and interesting facts about one of the best veggies.  Join me in hashtaging all your wonderful mushroom creations this month, #MushroomMonth, for the Mushroom Council :) As the mushroom council says, “Let your friendly fungi flag fly.”

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

National Mushroom Month

by on 9/04/2014
Happy National Mushroom Month! It is the best time of the year, mushrooms are so abundant and it is my excuse to use them this month as much...
The carefree days of summer are over and my kids have begun another school year.  They are already wining about the early mornings and getting ready…parents I know you know what I mean.  Back to school time is such an exciting time for kids, they are ready to see their friends, make new ones and meet their teachers.  Along with all the excitement comes an uphill battle for parents, packing school lunches they actually like. 


Packing lunch for my kids can be challenging to say the least.  I pack them a healthy meal with their favorite foods, and they come home with an untouched meal.  They say it is more fun to “trade” their food with their friends to get better lunches. 

I try to keep my kids as healthy as possible during the school year, a healthy body helps build a healthy mind.  I figured out my kids want lunches that are unique that no one else has.  They love when I make lunches with wraps or anything that is not just a piece of bread.  Here are a few fool proof lunches that my kids love and don’t trade with their friends. 

•    Chicken Soft Tacos- Fill two small whole wheat tortillas with shredded chicken, lettuce, and tomatoes.  Pack a separate container with mashed avocados with lemon juice, top that with a layer of shredded cheese.  My kids say they love making their own tacos at lunch. 






•    BLTA Wraps (Turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado)- On a whole wheat wrap, spread mashed avocado with lemon juice, top with a few pieces of turkey bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes.  I think my kids like this because of the “special” avocado on it.



•    And for the side dish win, Frogs on a log- Instead of the beloved ants on a log with celery, peanut butter, and raisins; I make a savory version with cream cheese and olives.  Sometimes, the kids help me spice it up and add red pepper to the log




These are my secret school lunch weapons, I would love to hear what your “go to” school lunches are.   I am in need of more ideas, please share your secret school lunch recipes so all our kids will have yummy healthy lunches. :D

Healthy School Lunches

by on 8/27/2014
The carefree days of summer are over and my kids have begun another school year.  They are already wining about the early mornings and getti...



Ready for another great post on farmers markets?  It is hard not to write about it every time I make a visit.  This morning while mingling amongst a few of my farmer friends, I noticed a couple that appeared to be new to the farmer’s market “scene.”  I went over and introduced myself, it turns out this was their first market.  I shared with them about how much I love buying locally and how farmers markets are the best to do so.  After talking with them, they seemed much more at ease and ready start shopping.

After my encounter with new market goers, I thought it would be great to share a few tips on how to shop at farmers markets if you are new to it and how to experience all that makes it what it is.  So here you go!

•    Go early- I always like to be at the market right after it opens.  There is a large selection and you don’t have to worry about your coveted favorite veggies to be sold out.



•    Bring a few reusable bags to carry your yummy purchases in.  Farmers usually don’t supply their own bags.


•    Bring small amounts of cash.  A lot of famers don’t have change for large bills.  Some larger markets have ATM’s nearby and with technology some farmers even have their own credit card readers.

•    Try new things.  Sometimes the most odd looking vegetable or fruit is the best tasting.  Try new weirdly shaped, unfamiliar or interesting veggies and fruits, your taste buds will thank you!  Every once in a while I find strawberries, like this one, in quite unique shapes.  I sometimes feel bad eating them because they are just so neat.


•    Talk to your farmers!  It is not every day that you get to talk to the person who grew your big juicy tomato. The farmers are often keen to talk with you about their harvests and tell you about the land.  And if you’re lucky, they might even share some of their recipes on how to cook it!  After talking, it is easy to make good food choices and personalize exactly what is on your plate.


•    Ask questions and create a community environment.  Get to know those around you, chat about your best finds, and enjoy the experience.


I’m sure you know from all my posts I really love farmers markets, eating seasonally, and buying locally.  I believe that they are a great place to find fresh, affordable, and delicious fruits, and veggies!

Farmers markets are for everyone!  Don’t be discouraged if you are intimidated on your first visit, trust me, I was too.  I encourage everyone to try to get the most out of local farmers markets and learn to love them as much as I do!

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

Since becoming vegetarian and learning about all the toxins we freely accept throughout daily life, I have tried become more conscientious about using natural and environmentally friendly products in my home.  We don’t realize that the chemicals that are used in modern cleaner build up in homes and can cause asthma, eczema, and allergies.


I have slowly progressed into becoming all natural in my home.  As a disclaimer to this post; know that become organic and chemical free does not happen overnight.  It took me quite a while to find ingredients and recipes that worked for me and were cost effective.

Finding the products were a little challenging at first, but I realized I wasn’t looking in the right stores.  When I found ones that suited my needs, I was shocked at how much more expensive they were compared to common cleaners.  They were nearly double the cost.  I became turned off at the price but I knew it was something I wanted to do so I found a few solutions.  I went to a health food store and found a much larger selection although they were still pricier than chemically filled cleaners I gave them a try. 



After a few months of home use I could definitely tell a difference.  Now, I didn’t have to hold my breath or end up coughing every time I sprayed the counter or washed the windows.  The products not only cleaned my house well, they kept me feeling healthy. 

Although I loved using those products, they were costing me a little more; I went online and found a few recipes to make your own natural products.  I found a lot of information on this blog: Wellness Mama Click here.  After making a few different types and finding the ones I liked, I was saving so much more; even more than when I was still using the chemical cleaners. 
Here are a few natural products I use to clean my home

•    Lemon Juice- Cleans glass and mirrors, effective against most household bacteria (one of the strongest food-acids)
•    Coconut Oil- Wood polish
•    Apple Cider Vinegar- laundry deodorizer
•    White Vinegar- Unclog drains, removes grease, mildew, odors, some stains, keeps vegetables fresh
•    Baking Soda- Deodorizes, cleans stoves and ovens, softens water
•    Cornstarch- Cleans windows, carpets, and rugs, polishes furniture



There are so many other natural cleaners and different ways to combine them to create great natural products.  I highly suggest trying to switch over to a few natural cleaners and see the difference for yourself!

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

Go Green at Home

by on 8/16/2014
Since becoming vegetarian and learning about all the toxins we freely accept throughout daily life, I have tried become more conscientious a...