>Sleeping Naked is Green!!

>Just finished Sleeping Naked is Green, and I can’t help but mention how this book has inspired me to “green” a bit more in my own life. With the tag line “how an eco-cynic unplugged her fridge, sold her car, and found love in 366 days” this book sums up a year in the life of a 20-something Canadian reporter & film critic who makes a change everyday for an entire year to live more sustainably and “greener”. Vanessa Farquaharson is brutally honest and nothing short of hilarious in her story of changes, ranging from easy to those a tad more drastic, such as selling her car. I was able to pull many ideas and inspirations from this great read. Some that I am starting or re-enforcing in my life include:

1) No more tissues-switch to organic cotton handkerchiefs: I grew up so grossed out by my Dad’s hankies. Even recently I cringed when my Mom was using one… blowing your nose in a cloth and then reusing it? Kind of gross. But if you aren’t sick and blowing your nose every 5 seconds, I think this is a simple change to make. I certainly don’t enjoy seeing the garbage can pile up with snot rags that head to the landfill. Instead they’ll be washed and reused. yippee!
2) Diva Cup. For life. ’nuff said.
3) No more Q-tips. You’re techniqually not suppose to shove those in your ears anyways.
4) No more to-go cups or take out containers. I am already pretty good about this. I limit my consumption of plastics and disposable crap as much as possible. Even if it is biodegradable and not plastic, I still am not having it. I can manage without, thank you very much.
5) No more gum. While I may offend someone if I ate too much garlic-sorry ahead of time- I need to give up this horrible habit that is full of artificial sweeteners, colors and derived from petroleum.
6) Register with Freecycle. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
7) No more nailpolish. I already gave up regular nailpolish a long time ago. All the chemicals made me feel like I was loosing thousands of brain cells in a mere few minutes it took to paint (and I probably was). I don’t care enough about my nail color to loose precious smart cells. I’d rather stay in the nude.
8) Drink only loose leaf tea in a reusable tea infuser. I’m half way there. And I vow to compost any tea bags when I’m in a pinch.
9) Air dry all clothes. I have been slacking the past few years due to pure laziness I suppose. & too I usually need to shrink my clothes so they fit right.
10) No more disposable straws.
11) Use a rain barrel to collect rain water. Once I’m settled into P’burgh, it’s on!
12) No more Post-Its.
13) Drink local. Local as in 250 miles.
14) & oh yes! sleep naked! However I can’t do that yet. Not appropriate as I am currently camping out in my brother’s living room.

There are definitely more changes that I will embark on as soon as I live on my own. & too I don’t need to go into THAT much detail about those that are a wee bit personal. Regardless, I’m eager to switch up some of my practices and discover what I learn. I highly recommend this book. Check your local library (it is in Chicago’s Public Library circulation), buy used on amazon or just buy and share with someone else!
Happy greening!

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>Are you a dipper?

>I AM!
Food is a vehicle for sauce“-Mike Bancroft of Chicago’s Co-op Image Hot Sauce. I agree! I love dips, spreads, and sauces SO much that sometimes I find myself looking for something, anything JUST to enjoy the former. Jazzin’ up food = fun. Bland food = not fun. Some of my favorites are salsa, guacamole, ketchup, spicy mustard, spinach artichoke, Sriracha hot chili, horseradish, BBQ, hummus, babaganoush, pesto, nut butters…. I’ll stop here cause the list just goes on and on. I will never deny a dip- given its vegan friendly. On the sweeter end I love honey, maple syrup and on occasion agave. Maple syrup mixed with raw cacao power= hello best homemade chocolate sauce ever!

For ketchup, barbeque, etc. I had to find a brand that doesn’t add sugar (since avoiding processed and refined sugar is my ‘thing’). I really like Organicville. Very tasty and its well worth the switch from high-fructose corn syrup laden Heinz (my apologies to Heinz as I owe much to the family and company that will be providing me the gorgeous 388 acres of farmland at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus. In respect of this… I can’t bash Heinz too much :) If I wasn’t so anti-HFCS trust me I’d be lovin’ on that Heinz 57.

While I should be putting up some enjoyable recipe for my fave- I’m out of town and without all my recipes. To make up for this, I will mention I have been on the hunt for a healthier version of Nutella to satisfy this void. While there are plenty of HFCS-free versions out there, including Chicago’s local Futters, I still have not come across one that isn’t sweetened with some variation of corn syrup or cane sugar. Next week I am making it a priority to come up with my own batch of chocolate hazelnut spread sweetened with local honey. Stay tuned for a recipe soon.

>26 Blessed Years

>What a difference a year makes! I have been blessed with a year full of many new friends, experiences, and revelations that have helped shape me into who I am today- 26 years old and only getting younger-duh! With a new job, new perspectives and unbinding myself from a lease I flowed through my 25th year with much more fluidity. In addition to my winter exodus to Maui & living at Greenleaf, another highlight of my year was volunteering with Brian in Costa Rica for a turtle conservation program. We met awesome people from all over the world, experienced life in the jungle living off the grid, both managed to think we were dying of malaria and denghue fever, and oh yes, contributed to the conservation of sea turtles! Here are a few photos from our trip that I always enjoy:

hatchlings

watching the hatchling make it to sea at sunrise

mama turtle

my first hatchling save!

incidentals trek through the jungle

nest excavations

blue-eyed tree frog

siblings

go turtles go!

nest checks at sunrise

camp

twins

toucan

I look forward to another year full of many new people, places, and experiences! So what better way to recognize a new year of life than with a relaxing, no frills dinner with the fam. I didn’t give the menu much thought as I’ve been really busy but we whipped up some tasty dishes that included:

*Salad (but of course!) consisting of red leaf lettuce, romaine, arugula, spinach, sunflower sprout greens, peppers, cucumber and grape tomatoes. Topped with my Mom’s lemon vinagrette.
*Roasted golden beets & purple asparagus (that turn green when cooked-hmm!)
*Grilled chicken for the rest of the family.
& last but not least…
*Raw KEY LIME PUDDING for dessert! I made my mom take away my bowl after I was on my 4th(??) helping. It’s just that good. Brian and I also shared some Raw & Fine chocolates I picked up last minute. His allergy to avocados completely slipped my mind when planning to make the pudding and avos are the main ingredient, whoops! Chocolate to the rescue!

For those who would like to indulge in the goodness of a healthy & raw alternative to key lime pie or for a fun twist on a pudding… DO try this at home.

Key Lime Pudding:

4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup lime juice (plus 1 tbsp for stronger lime flavor)
~ 1 TBSP lime zest
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, melted
pinch of celtic salt

Blend well on high in a blender or food processor. Eat right away, chill if desired for later, or use as a pie filling for key lime pie. Top with crushed macadamia nuts or shredded coconut for something extra. & enjoy enjoy enjoy!

>Choosing Your Produce With Intention

>Unfortunately at this point in time we cannot assume all food is created equal. We can’t just walk into a store & pick out any old piece of produce… or anything for that matter. The government and giant ag companys have done a mighty fine job of covering up nasty ingredients that accompany our food unbeknownst to the common shopper. So until we change this for good- we must educate ourselves on what to buy and most importantly VOTE WITH OUR FORKS.

Let’s be honest. Produce can be expensive. Eating healthy can be expensive & it is. Approach your grocery bill as your healthcare plan and insurance… taking charge of your health by deciding what to put in your body will hopefully keep down medical bills in the future. At least we hope. I just came across the latest list of the Dirty Dozen. These are the 12 most common items of produce that should be the ones you always buy organic or ensure your local farmer are growing sans pesticides. Considering produce is the majority of what I purchase I have to pick and choose my battles. I simply can’t buy all organic at this point. So how do I tackle this? I always, always, always make sure my apples are organic and thank goodness since they just topped the list. However, I eat way too many cucumbers to justify organic vs. conventional so I opt for the latter and simply peel. When choosing conventional I do my best to know the practices of the farm since many farms are not certified organic yet do not use pesticides, herbicides, kill your body-cides. These are mostly small, local farms you find at smaller markets and farmers markets.

>I Love Quinoa… You Should Too

>Here is a mini tribute to my favorite grain: quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH). This grain was first cultivated over 7,000 years ago in South America and was a staple in Mayan, Incan and other native diets. Translating to “mother grain” from the Quechua language-its seems to me a no brainer it is an excellent source of nourishment. Quinoa is both easy to cook (& quick!) and available now at most stores (bulk bins at Whole Foods/local coop will be the most economical). Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that can be enjoyed by all and should be based on its nutritional profile. Considered a complete protein as it has all 8 essential amino acids, it is a nutrition powerhouse. One of the amino acids it is high in is lysine- an acid that most other grains are lacking in. Quinoa contains more iron than most other grains, and is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins.

Most common varieties are in red, white, and black. Right now I have a confetti mix of all three but red is my favorite as I find it to have the most flavor (nutty if you will) on its own. Just like rice and many other grains it is prepared in a 2:1 ratio (2 cups water: 1 cup quinoa). There are many ways to enjoy quinoa (consider it an excellent substitute for rice, pasta, oatmeal, millet, etc). Another way to enhance its flavor is toast it for a few minutes in a skillet or at the bottom of your pan before cooked/prepared.

Below is one of my favorite recipes (I use red quinoa). Sometimes I forgo the avocado to allow the flavor of the lemon and lemon zest to steal the show.

Quinoa & Avocado Salad

Ingredients:
3 TBS raisins
2 TBS dried apricot
1 cup quinoa
1 Lemon
3 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
2 avocado
3 scallion
2-3 tbs coarsely chopped/toasted almond
pepper/salt to taste

Directions:
Soak raisin & apricots for 5 minutes; drain.
Bring 2 cups of water and quinoa to boil. Cover & simmer until absorbed. Fluff & turn onto baking sheet to cool.
Grate zest of the lemon and squeeze 1 TBS of lemon juice in bowl. Whisk juice, zest, oil, coriander, cumin, and paprika together.
Toss with quinoa, diced avocado, scallion, almond, raisins, and apricots.

>Balsamic Mushroom Marinade

>Here is a quick and delicious way to intensify the flavor or your shrooms. Again, I never use an actual measuring device so these are rough estimates. However, I always have more vinegar than oil.

1/4-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
~few TBS olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary (chopped)
salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Whisk all these together and be sure to coat each mushroom. Allow to sit at least 24 hours in fridge to marinate completely. Great way to marinate whole portobellas to grill or chopped portobellas & criminis for salads. Adds excellent flavor to salads!

>Spuds

>Do you ever wonder what to do with potatoes that have begun sprouting in your kitchen? WELL, if you don’t feel like eating them anymore-plant them! Each one of the “eyes” will produce more potatoes… all you need is a container, soil, and a sunny location. We have too many potatoes at the Farmstand to sell so we’ve been giving them away for people to plant along with this handy article on how to grow potatoes at home. On Sunday I took an old plastic container I found in the garage, poked some holes in it for drainage and added some organic dirt and compost. Placed my taters in there…

covered them, watered, and now we wait until the fall harvest!

>Dane Co. Farmer’s Market

>What better way to spend a Saturday than in one of the greatest cities -Madison, WI- at the Farmers Market!? That is how I enjoyed this past weekend after walking the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 5K with my Mom & good friend Elizabeth. After the walk we drove to the center of town, refueled at Barrique’s Coffee Shop and spent the next couple hours roaming the market & State St. First order of business……. HONEY! from Gentle Breeze Honey. This time around my Mom & I opted for the spun wildflower. More bitter in flavor and darker in color than our usual purchase from them.

There were so many beautiful seedlings and flowers!

There was a special cow event happenin’ off the main drag featuring lots of….you guessed it….cheeeeese! I loved this massive rotating grilled cheese making device. A grilled cheese lovers paradise.

After our quick detour to the street of cheese, we ventured back to indulge in more flowers, plants, and local veggies. Our purchases included radishes, asparagus, garlic onion, yellow tomatoes, pickling cukes, swiss chard, a rare red leaf lettuce variety, and popcorn.

What a gorgeous Capitol Building in the center of market!

This man has got the right idea…

…and these guys were certainly making some good beats!