Halloween Anytime Trailmix

 

When I want inspiration for a kids snack, I often go to the Weelicious blog or books.  She has a fun trail mix with pop corn that I made my own with a few adjustments.  20131030-160628.jpgFor my Halloween Anytime trail mix I used the following:

  • Popped popcorn (please always use organic, as it most often genetically modified and thus a certified insecticide),
  • Goji berries
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate chips

Get creative and create your own mixtures.  Better yet, put various ingredients into little bowls and let your kids create their own mixture.  It’s fool proof.  It makes a beautiful treat with a little protein and superfood power.  My kids and I ate it right up and I’ll most definitely make more for Halloween tomorrow.

 

 

20131030-160639.jpgLet me know what you think and tell me your unique combinations!

Chipotle Shares Skyrocket With Non-GMO Commitment

Talk of price increases next year lift Chipotle stock as they make a commitment to switch GMO foods for non-GMO foods.  You can read the full story here.

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Robyn O’Brien brilliantly asks on her Facebook page, “At what point does it become the fiduciary duty of execs at the big food companies to dump GMOs, if the jump in Chipotle’s share price to record highs is an indication of how the market feels about this?”

Next up in GMO news is Washington State’s opportunity to follow Connecticut and Vote Yes on prop 522 to label genetically modified foods (read more here).  While Monsanto and Dupont are pouring in millions (read here) to fight against the labeling measure.

Are Agrochemicals Affecting Our Health?

We are seeing more and more articles like THIS ONE regarding our food supply.  How does this article make you feel?

Do you believe that our food is linked to our health?

How do you feel about Monsanto?

What are your thoughts on food transparency and labeling?

Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

Roasted Squash Seeds

Roasted butternut squash seedsFall is my favorite season of the year.  I love the homemade cacao drinks, spiced apple cider, crispy cold air outside with a roaring fire inside and I love love love snacking on salty squash seeds.  For the longest time I only roasted pumpkin seeds until one day somebody told me to roast the seeds from the butternut squash I was making.  They have a similar flavor as pumpkin but dare I say, are slightly more delicious!  When I make butternut or acorn squash and pumpkin I always utilize the heat of the oven to toss the seeds in after and savor the results- warm, crispy, salty seeds!

What you need:

  • Squash seeds (don’t remove all the pulp, it adds amazing flavor!)
  • Coconut oil to lightly coat
  • Salt

For crispier seeds heat your oven to 325° F, for more tender seeds heat to 300°.  Lightly coat your seeds with a little coconut oil and salt liberally.  Bake about 15-30 minutes or until desired crispiness is achieved.  It will depend on how plump your seeds are.  These taste best when served warm.  Enjoy!

Easy Vegetable Coconut Curry

20131008-135205.jpgOne evening James and I looked in the refrigerator and then looked at each other. There was nothing to make for dinner. Instead of picking up the phone and ordering in, I got crafty. The results were this delicious Easy Vegetable Coconut Curry dish that has become one of our favorite dinners, is whipped up in no time and very difficult to screw up! It has the added bonus of using up all of your vegetables that are on the brink of going bad and it’s always a hit with guests.

What you’ll need:

  • 3-5 cups of chopped vegetables (I often use sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, zucchini and broccoli)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I prefer a can of full fat coconut milk for it’s thickness)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2-4 cups of cooked quinoa (or another grain you love such as millet or rice)
  • 1 tbls coconut oil, plus more as needed
  • Salt & pepper

Chop your vegetables in uniform pieces. Saute them in the coconut oil and a pinch of salt on medium heat. I add vegetables such as onions and carrots that take longer to cook first and then add other vegetables as those soften up a little. Add the turmeric and curry powder to the vegetables and continue to saute until they are nearly cooked to your liking. Add the coconut milk and more turmeric and curry powder to taste (spicy food lovers add lots of curry!). When everything is heated through, plate over quinoa or another favorite grain like millet or rice. Let guests salt and pepper their dish to taste. Voila. Enjoy your customized creation.

Update: somebody recently sent a photo of her curry dish she made with pumpkin.  So looking forward to trying that!

Bea Johnson and a Zero Waste Home, Part One

There is no underestimating how less waste and clutter can help you clear the mind, create time and bring you closer to the ones you love.

Bea Johnson, the queen of Zero Waste, is not only responsible for a huge shift in how I run my household and the amount of trash we produce, but also how I view and spend my time.  As a result, of her book,  Zero Waste Home, I have begun de-cluttering my home, re-organizing my kitchen and rethinking how I value and spend the moments that create my life.  I was fortunate to ask Bea some questions about her transition into a Zero Waste home and how it has affected her life and family.

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Bea Johnson’s living and dining area.

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Bea Johnson’s kitchen

Interview by Kimberly Van Der Beek.  Answers by Bea Johnson

What is a Zero Waste Home?

A Zero Waste Home strives to eliminate all forms of waste in its day-to-day activities. It’s not only about adopting waste free alternatives, but also embracing a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, a lifestyle focused on experiences versus stuff. It is achievable through the application of the 5R’s, which we’ll cover tomorrow. 

Tell me a little bit about your transition from living the “American Dream” to living Zero Waste style?

In 2006 we were living in a large home located in a bedroom community (where the car was our main mode of transportation). We wanted to be able to walk or ride everywhere (school, stores, coffee shop, movies, theatre) so we decided to move to a downtown to be closer to amenities. Our transformation from there took two years. It is downsizing that triggered our rethinking. Our transformation was not overnight, but rather gradual.

Before finding the small house, we rented a small apartment for a year, and moved in with only a few necessities (we stored the rest). We immediately realized the benefits of living with less: We had more time to do the things that are important to us, such as spending time with family and friends, and explore/enjoy the outdoors.

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Bea Johnson’s pantry

The second year, we bought a house half the size of the previous one, we let go of 80% of our belongings (including those that we had stored) and then our voluntary simplicity opened time to educate ourselves on environmental issues -that’s when we decided to change our way of living for the sake of our kids future. In the midst of the recession, my husband quit his job to start a sustainability consulting company; I tackled the house and our lifestyle.

How has your day-to-day life changed?

We found that the Zero Waste lifestyle is nothing that we would have expected it to be, it is not just good for the environment: Overall it has also made us healthier, and it saves us an incredible amount of time and money!

I once urged my husband to compare bank statements from 2005 (pre Zero Waste life) with 2010 (when we had already adopted Zero Waste as a lifestyle), he found out that we were saving 40% on annual household costs by living this way. Did you know that 15% of the sales price of a packaged product covers the cost of the packaging itself? It basically means that when you buy food from bulk bins you automatically save 15%! The savings of the Zero Waste lifestyle are so great that I beat myself for not doing it earlier and I could not envision myself going back to the way I used to live (what a waste of money it was!)

Zero Waste has even brought beauty into our life -glass jars are so much prettier than disposable packaging in my pantry for example. 

In the end, it’s all good! And I wish everyone realized and enjoyed the great hidden benefits of this lifestyle.

What I love most of the lifestyle is the simple life, and how closer it has made my family. Voluntary simplicity has changed our daily routine in these ways:  It has greatly simplified our cleaning (picking up the house only takes a few minutes each day). It makes our housework and professional work much more efficient. It has allowed us to play more (since simple living focuses on experiences versus stuff) and spend more time together (we always eat dinner together). It has even allowed us to travel more by being able to easily to rent our house when we’re gone (our minimalist wardrobes fit in carry-ons), which then funds vacation and family getaways!

What’s been the biggest challenge about your transition?

Our major challenge was finding balance, figuring out what works for us and what does not. There were no books or blogs on how to do Zero Waste when I started in 2008. So I googled alternatives and tested many recipes and how-to’s. But I eventually got too wrapped up into homemaking: At one point, I made cheese, bread, yogurt, soy milk, butter, etc.  Some of these practices were too extreme, too time consuming for my full time job, and we later dropped them for the sake of simplicity.  For example, we realized that there was no need for us to make bread if we could buy it unpackaged either directly from the bakery or from the bakery bins. Other alternatives were easy and we adopted them. 

Today, we have Zero Waste on auto-pilot in our home. We found that for Zero Waste to be sustainable in a household, one has to adopt alternatives that fits his/her schedule and are feasible in the long run.

How do you children feel about the shift?

The transition was very easy for our kids: they did not even notice that we were doing Zero Waste until we were months into it and I pointed out to them what we were doing things differently from the norm. Kids adapt so well. To help them understand the reason and need for change, we watched movies with them such as “Wall-E”, “Earth” and “Home”, and I pointed out how their efforts could make a difference.

Our kids have what they need and they live very normal lives, filled with friendships and fun! 

They very much enjoy living minimally because they have “less to clean and pick up from the floor”, and it has allowed them to live some cool experiences. For example, they received a parasailing gift certificate instead of stuff from their grandpa for Christmas. Last year we also gave them a subscription to a monthly secret family activity. So each month, we surprised them with an activity that we had never done before (strawberry picking in a farm, zip-lining, kayaking, etc) 

My kids think that Zero Waste is a breeze. In their mind, Zero Waste is mainly my responsibility because I am the one that does the shopping for the household – Zero Waste really starts outside the home, with the decisions we make when shopping.

All that is expected of Max and Leo is to be mindful about the decisions that they make outside our home -for example refuse a party favor that they know is going to quickly break and clutter their room, or bring a plate to the local pizza parlor to buy a slice. That said they also know that if they accept a wrapped candy that someone hands out to them, we’re not going to be mad at them!

Be sure to check back tomorrow.  Bea will be giving great tips for creating a Zero Waste Home and we’ll be giving away five of her life-changing books!

For more information you can check out Bea’s blog, Instagram and Facebook.

Is Agave Syrup Worse For You Than High Fructose Corn Syrup?

If agave syrup is in your cabinet, chances are it’s there because you thought it was a healthier alternative to other sweeteners.  Unfortunately, clever marketing infiltrated the health food market and this is not the case.Is Agave Syrup Worse For You Then High Fructose Corn Syrup?

I’ve been there with you.  It was my go-to for sweetening baked goods, tea and smoothies until I was informed otherwise while reading a book by one of my favorite nutritional advisors, Kimberly Snyder.  A quick google search then filled me in on all the details.

Agave syrup is highly-processed (often with chemicals and GMo’s) in a fashion similar to high fructose corn syrup.  While it’s true that it has a low glycemic index, it’s fructose ranges from 55-97%, depending on the brand.  High fructose corn syrup averages at 55% fructose.

The Harvard Heart Letter noted that fructose can be damaging to the heart and liver.  The liver processes fructose into triglycerides which increases the risk for heart disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  It also increases LDL cholesterol, promoting the buildup of fat around the organs, increases blood pressure and makes tissues insulin-resistant (a precursor to diabetes) and increases the production of free radicals.  A recent Yale University study indicated that high concentrations of fructose contributes to overeating because it does not promote a feeling of satiety.

I welcome you to do your own research before purchasing this again.  I am more trusting of food as close to it’s natural form as possible.  This is not one of those foods as marketing would have us believe.  If you’d like an alternative, we now use maple syrup, honey, coconut nectar or stevia instead.  Before buying stevia, be sure to read this post first.

Goji Berry Tea + Benefits and Other Uses

I’ve had really low energy this pregnancy and my brother-in-law Jared, who happens to be a gifted healer, suggested adding goji berries to my tea in the mornings and then eating them. They’ve become such a pleasure in my life that I had to share the benefits with you.  And don’t forget your kids.  Olivia and Joshua love goji berries!

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Native to the Himalayan Mountains, the goji berry has been used for thousands of years for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

A good protein source, these miracle berries contain 18 amino acids (including all of the 8 essential ones). They have a whole host of other vitamins (A, c, B-1, B-2, B-6 and E) and trace minerals including calcium, cooper, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. They are rich in carotenoids that protect your vision, and antioxidants to repair your skin. They’ve also been shown to increase energy, athletic performance, help digestion and reduce stress and fatigue. They also have anti-aging and UV protecting properties. Need I say more?

How to incorporate them into your diet

  • Make a tea: add them to warm water or herb tea and then eat them after you drink it.
  • Enjoy them plain, in oatmeal or trailmix
  • Add them to homemade granola, scones and muffins
  • Use them for garnish: on shakes (try the ABC Shake), soups (amazing on pumpkin and butternut squash varieties) and in salads.

Important to note, while doing my research I came across some precautions with goji berries. They are in the nightshade family (with eggplants and tomatoes) and some people can be allergic, so monitor your reaction. They also tend be a high pesticide crop, so get yours from a reliable source. And lastly, it’s always good to check in with your care provider when adding new foods to your diet, especially when on prescriptions. These have been known to negatively effect those on blood thinners.

I’d love to hear, how are you using goji berries? And please link to your favorite recipes with them so that we can all enjoy!

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