January 2013 - Our Daily Green

Thursday, January 31, 2013

No Fast Food Challenge Day #4

I love working with yeast dough. My grandmother taught me how to make bread as a child. I embraced it so heartily that she gave me a mixer with a dough hook as a wedding gift. 22 years + later, not just I, but also my children press it into service. We've shared our simple dough recipe here as well as on a guest post. Filling homemade dough rolled with sandwich fillings is a time saver when you're busy. We usually double our favorite pizza dough recipe which will net us 10 rolls. We fill them with broccoli, spinach, red peppers, cheese, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, whatever strikes our fancy.

homemade pepperoni roll
photo courtesy of Wikimedia
For the purposes of this challenge, we encourage using wheat flour. Understand that wheat flour is much denser than white flour, so it's not a 1:1 ratio for substitution. For bread baking, up to one-half the flour can be switched with wheat. Also, it's very important to measure your flour without packing it down. If you have a kitchen scale, measure also by weight.

The other key to working with yeast is to accurately measure the water temperature to activate the yeast; too cold and it won't activate, too hot and it kills the yeast. An instant read thermometer ensures the temperature is just right.

To me, the easiest way to avoid fast food is taking one block of time once a week and preparing for the busy days ahead. When I make up these rolls, we know we have something even quicker than a sandwich to grab and go. I love this recipe because it is ready to use after 5 minutes, it doesn't require rising time.

Simple Yeast Dough Recipe

1 packet of quick rise yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons if you buy it in the jar)
1 cup of water, 105-115 degrees
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 TBL. oil
2 1/2 cups flour (1 1/4 wheat, 1 1/4 bread)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the sugar, salt and oil in the same cup. Pour it into the flour and begin to knead. I have a dough hook on my mixer, so I do it that way, but it's also satisfying to knead by hand. When the dough is well mixed and kneaded, let it rest for 5 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare your fillings. Think what you'd put in a sandwich, ham and Swiss, beef and cheddar, pepperoni and mozzarella.

Divide the rested dough into 5 equal pieces and roll each piece into about a 6x9 rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough and then roll up, pinching the ends to seal the roll. Place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until the outside is golden brown.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Fast Food Challenge Day #3

You know you've been there. You know it's happened. You're driving around, either running errands or shuttling children. You're thirsty and you take a quick detour through the drive though. Then you figure as long as you're there, you may as well grab a quick snack because you're actually a little hungry, also.

What our bodies don't realize is that many times we mistake thirst for hunger. In fact, according to Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D.'s book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, the thirst mechanism in the body is so weak in 37% of the population, they don't even detect thirst and instead eat when they should hydrate. Those confusing signals can be a challenge especially when in the midst of a "no fast food challenge".

Our solution to staying hydrated is keeping a reusable water bottle with us at all times. Coincidentally, that ties in with today's review and giveaway, as well. I've worked with the folks from Reuseit before because I truly respect their mission. They are one of those companies that truly walks the walk and I'm very proud to be able to work with them.

When I was approached for the opportunity to do a product review, the first item I chose was their glass water bottles. Then when I committed to the "No Fast Food Challenge", I knew I could tie both topics together. I had owned a glass water bottle previously and alas, it broke. What is great about the Takeya glass water bottle is the silicone sleeve protects it against breakage. How clever! I also appreciate the wider opening, because so often small bottles with smaller openings are really difficult to clean.

I love drinking out of glass. I have a hard time drinking out of steel because I can taste the metal, and plastic tends to absorb a soapy flavor after too many washings. Additionally, the glass water bottle is dishwasher safe and comes with a variety of different colored sleeves so every member of the family can have their own bottle.

Reuseit has been endorsed by Oprah, National Wildlife Federation and Treehugger.com for their companywide commitment to the environment. On a personal level, we endorse them not just as customers but also as an affiliate. It is truly an honor to work with this company.

Reuseit has agreed to host a giveaway for our readers to receive one of the same glass bottles pictured above. In order to qualify, please check out their Facebook or Twitter pages and leave a message that Our Daily Green or FreshGreenKim sent you. Once you do that, please leave a comment in the comment section of this post, so I know who is entered. If you do not leave a comment, your entry is not complete. The giveaway ends on February 6, 2013, at midnight EST. One winner will be selected from these comments.

disclaimer: Our Daily Green received a complimentary glass water bottle to review for this post. Nonetheless, I am resisting the temptation to tell you that I now drink like a fish. I will simply state that hydration is great and helps quell imaginary hunger pangs. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

No Fast Food Challenge: Day #2

As we shared yesterday, we've undertaken the challenge to go without any fast food for 10 days. My first thought was that it would be a piece of cake (homemade, not store bought). But upon reflection, I realized that I do keep a handful of convenience foods in the house as quick bites for our family on the go. For example, here was our household's evening schedule last night.
  • 3:45: Child #1 & #2 arrive home from school, driven by Child #1.
  • Child #1: 4:45-6:00 Speech & Debate practice, driven by self.
  • Child #2: 6:00-9:00 Community theater rehearsal, driven by Parent #1.
  • Parent #1: 7-8:30 Meeting at the church
  • Parent #2: 7 PM Arrive home from work, 8:30, leave to retrieve Child #2. 
A simple flow chart would indicate that the entire family was not in the house at the same time until about 9:20 last night. This is a slightly busier than usual evening, but pretty close to many of them, especially during theater shows. A saving grace has been having Child #1 drive. Last year at this time, I would have been single-handedly responsible for transportation to and from all the activities.

I say this not to justify our use of convenience foods, but rather to explain the importance of having easy to fix food to take on the go. This need not be something that is frozen in a box or is handed to anyone in a bag at the window. So today, I'm sharing my recipe for sun-dried tomato hummus, a favorite "fast" food of ours, which packs a nutritional punch and fills a wrap quickly.
sun dried tomato hummus

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus


  • 2  teaspoons minced garlic (you can use 2 fresh cloves, but for this recipe, I prefer the more mild flavor of the pre-chopped)
  • 2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed (again, you can use dried chickpeas and soak them overnight, but that tends to defeat the idea of this as a quick recipe)
  • 2/3 cup of tahini (sesame seed paste) (I buy my tahini at a Middle Eastern grocery store, the supermarket tahini is about 4 times the price)
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (bottled works also)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes soaked in 1/2 cup hot water, reserve water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

homemade hummusPulse the drained garbanzo beans and garlic in a food processor until they are well chopped. Add the tahini and mix well. Add the sundried tomatoes, that have been softened until they are well chopped. At this point, your hummus will have the consistency of a chunky peanut butter. With processor running, add the lemon juice, then the reserved water, then the olive oil and salt. Adjust the amount of oil by eye, when the processor is running smoothly and the texture is now like creamy peanut butter. For a softer hummus, add more lemon and water. This really does come down to personal preference. I like a thicker hummus that spreads on the bread, while others prefer more of a dipping consistency. 

It really is that easy. It keeps in the refrigerator and can be used to fill a pita, spread on a rice cake, anything you wish. You can make plain hummus without the sundried tomatoes (just add more lemon juice or water), or with fresh spinach, pine nuts, peppers, again, whatever you prefer. Just adjust the liquid accordingly to get the preferred texture. My favorite on the go meal is hummus with fresh spinach leaves and some chopped vegetables in a wrap. I once tried to make wraps up the day before, and the wrap gets too soft, but it's quick enough to make on the go that as long as you have that on hand, you're back out the door. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

No Fast Food Challenge

A few weeks ago, as part of our New Year's pledge to lose some weight and actually start putting more of what we preach into practice, we began to follow the health and wellness blog "Put That Cookie Down Now". This site is dedicated not just to exercise, but also strategies to eat healthier. It really is a great blog to dove-tail with our dedication to green living. To us, part of green living involves minimizing chemical intrusions on our body. One of the best ways to do that is to stay healthy and avoid the need for pharmaceutical intervention. Staying healthy is about eating right and following a regular exercise routine.

This weekend, they issued a No Fast Food challenge and invited their readers to join. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to really encourage a small step in the right direction. Long time readers know that we encourage an 80/20 philosophy. We allow for less than 100% compliance in all our challenges because it's easier to keep practicing small steps than get burnt out on an all or nothing approach. But for only 10 days, we are joining this pledge to avoid fast food.

(from Put That Cookie Down Now):

The basic rules are as follows:

  • No drive-through restaurants where someone is handing a bag to you through your car window.
  • No restaurants where you walk up to the counter, place an order and someone hands a bag to you.
  • No heat and eat stuff from the grocery store such as frozen pizza, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, microwave meals, toaster oven breakfast pastries, etc.
  • No foods where the label has more than five ingredients (more ingredients = less nutrition). Recipes can have multiple ingredients.
  • No processed grain products like white bread, white rice and white pasta. Whole wheat will work though.
Probably my biggest downfall in this category is that we admittedly keep convenience foods around the house. With two busy adults and two busier teenagers, we are on the go. 
In preparation for this challenge, I spent yesterday in the kitchen prepping for the next ten days. I started with a very simple baked egg recipe to be a week's worth of high protein breakfasts. I had seen the eggs in muffin tin ideas on several Pinterest boards and simplified the recipes for to my own personal needs. In short, I scrambled 12 eggs and lined muffin tins with fresh spinach leaves. I evenly divided the eggs among the 12 tins and then put about a tablespoon of chopped red pepper into each tin. Sprinkled the eggs with a no salt mixed herb seasoning and baked for 15 minutes at 350. 

I learned a lesson: I should have greased the muffin tins. The eggs seeped under the spinach leaves and they glued themselves to the tin. (and all the recipes I've seen warn against using muffin papers, as the eggs will stick to the papers). Undeterred, I scraped the eggs out with a silicone spatula and had to scrub the muffin tin with a copper scrubbing pad. We all enjoyed a quick and healthy breakfast this morning as a result. 

As the challenge progresses, we will share additional tips and ideas that are helping us meet this challenge.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's recipe: my homemade sun-dried tomato hummus.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag

Make the Switch to Reusable Bags
Click image to see a larger version
Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag via
Factory Direct Promos -- Reusable Bag Manufacturer

Monday, January 21, 2013

No more Type 2 diabetes for kids in the new year (guest post)

Today's post is brought to us from Carolyn from Full on Fit! Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. We welcome her wealth of information to Our Daily Green. 
diabetes symptoms
By Mikael Häggström via Wikimedia Commons
November was American Diabetes Month, and normally I wouldn't have paid too much attention to it, but this past November was much different. This year, I was active with a walkathon to promote awareness. Why the change? Because the issue has become personal.

This past November, ironically, one of my younger cousins was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I couldn't believe it – she’s only 13! I was shocked when we found out, but according to her doctors, there are many kids her age who are now being diagnosed with this disease. Even worse, according to information from St. Joseph’s Cardiac Center in Syracuse, NY, if diabetes is left untreated, it can turn into such things as eye problems or blindness, heart disease, and even amputation!

I started reading more information on the internet to figure out ways we could prevent the rest of my cousins and family members from developing Type 2, and the results were unanimous: eat healthier and exercise. Simple in theory, but difficult to always carry out for some of our family members. Which is why on this New Year's Eve, we all made a New Year's resolution together: no more Type 2 Diabetes in this family. All we had to do was make some simple changes.

Eating Properly

The first thing my family decided to do was overhaul their kitchens. Based on some great tips from kidshealth.org, the bottles of soda and sugary juices were dumped. I suggested keeping a jug of ice water in the fridge at all times; and now the kids like to add lemon or cucumbers for some added flavor.  My aunt also keeps a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge, although my uncle does add non-sugar sweeteners for flavor.

The next order of business was to get rid of sugary snacks and junk food. The fridge was filled with veggies, fresh fruits, nuts, yogurt, and low-fat cheese sticks. Low-sugar cereal was set on the shelf for a healthy snack. Whole grain bread and pasta were next.
Here are some of our favorite main dishes we have been making:
- Sweet potato-turkey meatloaf
- black bean veggie burgers
- Moroccan Tagine – a stew we serve over brown rice
Everyone is finally making better choices together – of course, it does help that we are all on board to support one another!


Being regularly active is extremely important to avoid Type 2 Diabetes. My cousins would often get home from school and immediately go sit inside, watching television or playing video games for most of the night. Now was the time for a change. I sat down and made a list of fun things my family members could do together. Here’s a few of our favorite activities:

- walking the dogs in the local park or around the neighborhood
 after dinner
- going for nature hikes in the woods
- swimming at the local college’s pool
- going skiing or sledding (we live in a snowy climate)
- making obstacle courses and scavenger hunts
- practicing Yoga and Pilates together
- having silly dance competitions
- roller-skating or ice skating

Each weekend we try to all get together as much as we can and try a new activity. We take turns picking out the activity, which makes people much more willing to try things they may not want to, but since everyone gets a chance to pick it makes it fair. We have also bonded more as a family, and I am hoping that one day we can look back on this time – the time we were all fighting together to get my cousin healthy again – and see it as a blessing in disguise. Until that time comes, we will keep on working together as a family… like families should.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What is a regenerative thermal oxidizer?

That is the exact question I asked when my most recent client wanted me to write about it for this blog. I scratched my head, made a few cracks about knowing that I must have arrived to be considered worthy of addressing this topic, and then set about doing some cursory research, as well as an extensive virtual discussion with my Facebook community.

Well, it turns out this is something we may already know about albeit indirectly. A regenerative thermal oxidizer or RTO is an industrial processing machine that treats exhaust air before it pollutes the environment. They are used extensively in industries that produce low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), but have a high waste stream. What happens is the RTO passes a hot gas stream over a passive heat exchanger in one direction and sends a cool gas stream in the opposite direction to recover the heat.

This process puts less pollutants and hazardous material into the air and instead recovers and contains it. Industries that utilize this technology include foundries, paint shops, pharmaceutical, car shops, food processing, plastics, sewage, metal recycling, and printing. In essence, this technology is used in nearly every aspect of the manufacturing industry.

Like me, you probably didn't know anything about this process until you started to read this post either, but thanks to today's sponsor, we all know something new. 

National Day of Service Ideas

“Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
— Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the nation prepares for the fourth National Service Day, we are reminded that service should be a lifelong commitment—whether it's at the school, community, city, state, or national level. To honor the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the first family is asking Americans to find an event and serve with others in their community.While a day of service is a great start, it really does need to become a way of life.

Community action
Anyone can make a difference! 
Volunteers are the lifeblood of a community, giving back far more than hours, but also building a sense of hope. There are chances for anyone to give something back, regardless of skill or training or income or social circumstance. From circulating petitions, to sorting donations, to mobilizing a community, the opportunities are endless. Service brings together very unlikely allies.

One particularly fascinating alliance is the partnership between Toyota and the Audubon society, called Together Green, as they are investing in communities around the nation. The program offers volunteer opportunities for folks from any walk of life.

If you're confused where to start, or what you may want to do, we encourage you to take a look at some of the inspiring stories from concerned citizens around the nation, in all sorts of communities. Don't let service be a once and done day, make it a way of life like so many others.
disclosure: I still consider myself one lucky green girl. I am being compensated to encourage you to find a way to give back. Nonetheless, I'd encourage you regardless of compensation. Help me out and follow the links I've included and learn a bit more. Thanks! 
Leave a comment and tell me about something you would like to do in your community... I will help you find a way to make it happen.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tutorial how to leave a comment on a blog

I have had several folks tell me they didn't understand how to leave a comment on my blog. What is second nature to me is confusing to folks who aren't around it all the time, I believe. So I took a few screen shots.

The top image is what the page will look like before you open the comment box. Circled in red is where you click to open it.

The bottom image demonstrates where to type your comment, indicated by a big red X. You have the option to comment anonymously, but if you are entering a drawing and you're anonymous, it will be really difficult to contact you if you win. In fact, impossible. Please leave some sort of identifying screen name.

Any questions?

Cheers for Vignette!

Back in November, when we received our complimentary cheese assortment from Affinage Cheese, we saw an intriguing product on their website, the Vignette Wine Country Soda. It looked like an elegant alternative to the cloyingly sweet sodas found in vending machines. We read a little more about Vignette, and discovered they are a non-alcoholic soda, flavored with varietal grapes such as pinot noir and chardonnay.

We were intrigued and contacted the company to see if they would be interested in sending us some samples to review for Our Daily Green. We were delighted when they shipped us two bottles of their soda, the California Brut and Pinot Noir soda. We took them to an open house party to share with the guests. The party was a mid-afternoon event, so it was really nice to have a non-alcoholic option.

What everyone really liked was the delicate and sophisticated flavor of the Vignette Sodas. It completely overcame the previous impressions of artificially colored purple grape soda or overly sweet and bubbly non-alcoholic sparkling juice drinks, that is typically only enjoyed by the single-digit aged crowd. This was a soda for adults, without any added sugar and is actually made from the same vineyard grapes as California premium wines. According to founder Patrick Galvin,
“The goal from the beginning was to create a better soft drink and a new brand that captured a little bit of wine country magic in a soda bottle,” Galvin says.  “And I’m hopeful people who see Vignette on the shelf and give it a try will feel that we've accomplished that.
We highly recommend the Vignette Wine Country Sodas and they have generously offered a giveaway to one of our lucky readers. See for yourself how delightful they are. Just leave a comment on this post. Contest closes on January 29th at midnight EST. We will randomly select one winner from the comments.
  • All Natural
  • No Added Sugar
  • Non-Alcoholic
  • No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • 40 - 50% Varietal Juice
  • No Added Colors
  • Caffeine Free
  • Gently Pasteurized
  • Lightly Sparkling
  • No Preservatives
Our Daily Green received two complimentary bottles of  Vignette Wine Country Soda for our review. Nonetheless, our opinions are completely our own and we think bubbles make any occasion special. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Are you still buying bottled water?

If you are, do you make a point to recycle the bottle?
Look what happens when we keep using more and more and more plastic. It really is a nightmare...

a special thanks to OnlineEducation.net for this fabulous graphic: 

Plastic Infographic

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are you ready to be a changemaker?

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored campaign. We wholly support using social media as a vehicle for change and were thrilled to be invited to be part of this experience. The power of communication and the internet can be harnessed for good and to make a difference. Learn more by following the links in today's post. 

Every day people are taking small steps to create big change in communities all over the country. We want to highlight some of these extraordinary individuals who are an inspiration to all of us.  Check out the stories at TakePart then click on the “Real Changemakers” button OR go directly to TakePart.

Features include:

Mama Hill, who started a home learning center for youth living in South Central Los Angeles
Alabama Chanin, who helped to revive her small town by starting a home-sewn apparel line that attracted the attention of some of today’s biggest fashion labels
Malik Yakini, who started an urban farm in Detroit when his community hit a downturn
Ruth Lande Shuman, an architect/designer who is putting her skills to use in re-imagining New York City classrooms with color

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Don't dispose, clean it!

When our family bought our first home, it was carpeted with a lovely plush wall to wall carpet. Every step we took through the home was cushioned beneath our feet.

Shortly after buying our home, we also got a family dog. The carpet no longer stayed clean and actually began to stretch and get matted with dirt.   Then we had a baby and the thought of a baby crawling on that carpet was enough to send any parent into a state of panic, yet the thought of chemically cleaning the carpet to then have our child and pet walking, playing and crawling on the chemicals was not any more attractive. 

Eventually, we ripped up and replaced the carpet and started anew. We were not alone. In fact, the Carpet & Rug institute estimates that 70% of all carpet that is replaced is for reasons other than wear. Carpet waste in landfills reaches nearly 800 million yards, annually.* We didn't realize there other options to cleaning and stretching and refurbishing the carpet in a safe and effective manner. Over the years, companies have developed cleaners that are non-toxic and biodegradable, while being effective, which is good news for homeowners as well as environmentalists everywhere. 
*according to statistics from Green Eco Services, the one click source for everything green. 
This post has been brought to you by a sponsor, but we do confess to replacing perfectly good carpet that we could have cleaned if we had known about environmentally friendly carpet cleaning companies. 

Get some "green" for college

Our Daily Green is excited to announce a $5000 scholarship opportunity from the folks at Nordic Naturals. Nordic Naturals are a supplement company committed to delivering the world’s safest, most effective omega oils.

Omega oils are associated with positive brain function. In a 2012 paper released by UCLA, structural brain aging is associated with lack of omega-3 acids in diet. Additionally, those whose levels of all omega-3 fatty acids were in the bottom 25 percent scored lower on tests of visual memory and executive function, including problem-solving, multi-tasking and abstract thinking. That study confirms prior studies,
"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain. "Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging." 
"Omega-3 fatty acids support synaptic plasticity and seem to positively affect the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory that are found on synapses," Gómez-Pinilla said. "Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function."

To be eligible for the scholarship, as well as a one year supply of Nordic Natural supplements, any student who will be or currently does attend college is encouraged to apply. For details how to apply, see the Nordic Natural Facebook page.  

$5000 scholarship

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yes, We have no bananas!

(subtitle: what to eat when you don't like something that is good for you)

no bananasToday's post has been something that has been in the conception stages for a while. I was prompted to put it together today when I was at a friend's house for breakfast and one of the offerings were bananas, which I politely declined. I don't like them. At all. I haven't ever. Apparently I did like them as a child, but my first memory of a banana was being made to eat one with a brown spot in it. A perfectly normal parent move, but it just stuck with me and I cannot ever remember eating a banana. From time to time, I will try to take a bite and it just never gets past my tongue. I just don't like them. And yes, I know how good they are for me. 

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, and manganese. But since I have no desire to ever eat a banana, it's important to consume other foods with the same vitamins and minerals.

Acorn SquashAn excellent replacement nutritionally are winter squashes, such as acorn and butternut. These squashes are high in vitamin C, B6, fiber, and manganese as well as Vitamin A.  We are encouraged by this because last summer, we had a bumper crop of volunteer acorn squash as a result of our vigilant composting.

(an aside, last summer, we couldn't figure out what seemed to be taking over our garden, but kept waiting to see what sort of plant it was... imagine my joy when I harvested about 12 acorn squashes that I never planted!) 

Not to mention, it's a lot easier to grow acorn squash in Ohio than bananas! Heck, it grew without me even trying!

In keeping with our theme of finding good substitutes for foods you don't like, even if they are good for you, we want to share a great recipe for Acorn Squash Bread, instead of Banana Bread adapted from the healthy eating blog, Put That Cookie Down Now.

Acorn Squash Quick Bread With Cranberries and Chopped Nuts


1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed acorn squash
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted first
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup fresh/frozen chopped cranberries (do not thaw frozen cranberries, just chop and add to recipe).


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large bowl, mix oil and sugar together. Add eggs, and milk and mix well. Stir in squash and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Add baking soda and baking powder. Stir to mix. Blend in chopped nuts and dried cranberries. Spread batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 1/2 hour before slicing.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Did you resolve to lose weight this year?

I count myself among those who have made such a resolution and this infographic is a stark reminder of how my choices have changed not just my appearance but also my health. There are several keys to consider and I'd like to address some of the inflammatory language that is used surrounding weight issues. Fat and fit are not mutually exclusive, and skinny is not synonymous with healthy. More important than a number on a scale is whether we are making healthy choices.

Food that is processed with additives and chemical alteration or packaged in plastic containers, prepared with tools made of known endocrine disruptors may present a far greater challenge to any weight loss goal than any diet. In other words, it's not simply how much we eat, but what kind of food we eat and how we prepare it.

For example, it is not safe to reheat food in Styrofoam or wrapped in plastic wrap. It is not safe to cook on petrol-coated nonstick surfaces, and it is not healthy to eat food that was created in lab instead of a field or barn. It is not safe to eat food that was nurtured with chemically altered food or dosed with massive amounts of chemical fertilizers. This sort of food manipulation may disrupt the endocrine system of the body which can affect metabolism as well as fat absorption. (please follow orange highlighted links for additional information regarding these issues). 

All these issues factor into the body's ability maintain a healthy weight. If you're finding it difficult to lose weight, consider how you prepare your food and where your food comes from. It may well be another cause.

The skinny on fat
by KyleKim. Browse more data visualization.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Eco-Friendly, Money Saving Home Energy Solutions

High electricity costs aren't just a burden on your pocketbook. They also mean that you may not be taking advantage of some very simple methods to reduce your carbon footprint. There are simple changes you can make in every room of your home to cut expenses and contribute to sustainability programs designed to protect our plant.
save energy and dollars
Your home is full of energy vampires and they are sucking up electricity even when you aren't home. As much as possible, unplug items in your home that aren't in use. Turn off computers, lights, lamps, phone chargers and other devices that are using unnecessary electricity. Powering down your computer alone can save up to $200 per year.

Consider making the switch to energy-efficient bulbs. You’ll have to eventually anyway, as the traditional incandescent light bulbs are going out of production, but you might want to make a change now. You’ll pay more at the register, but a single compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) uses about one-quarter of the energy traditional bulbs use to produce the same light. They also have a much longer life span – about 10 times longer, in fact. And they consume much less heat, which reduces cooling costs. Replacing a single bulb can save more about $30 over the life of the bulb.

You might want to opt for a tankless water heater installation. Heating water in your home accounts for about 30 percent of your energy costs. Tankless water heaters are more than 20 percent more efficient than traditional water heaters. And, traditional water heaters maintain 40 gallons or so of hot water at all time, whereas tankless water heaters only use energy when needed.

When doing laundry, use cool water as much as possible. Except for very stubborn stains, improvements in laundry detergent formulas in recent years mean that hot water may not be necessary to get your clothes clean. To even further reduce your energy usage, hang your clothes outside to dry after they are laundered. Your clothes dryer accounts for about 6 percent of your overall energy usage. After every load, clean the lint filter to keep the dryer running efficiently.

When cooking, go smaller appliances, like a toaster oven or a crock pot, and reheat food in a microwave. Smaller appliances take less energy than your oven. But when you do use the oven, minimize the number of times you check on the meal. Every time you open the oven door the temperature drops 25 degrees, requiring more energy to bring it back to the desired cooking temperature. When you’re done with dinner, skip rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher or, if you need to rinse, use cold water.
There are many steps you can take to be comfortable in your house and, at the same time, eliminate unnecessary costs that are also bad for the environment. Just a few small changes will help you reduce your energy bills and go a little greener.

About The Author:  Tina Jacobs is a registered nurse and DIY home improvement maven who has written and blogged for DIY Mother as well as numerous print and online publications ranging in topics from education to health and from home renovations to interior decorating.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This Year, Resolve to Love Your Body (guest post from OtherWords)

You can buy another car, but you sure can’t get a new body

Jill Richardson
After a month of gorging ourselves on gingerbread, stuffing ourselves with Christmas cookies, and washing it all down with so much eggnog that we have to ask Santa to bring us clothes in a larger size, we end our year with a final night of feasting and champagne. Then we wake up on January first and think, “I ate what?
Most retailers wait all year for Christmas, but gyms live for January. That’s when Americans wallow in self-loathing at their flabby bodies and drag themselves to a gym to sign up for memberships en masse. We resolve that this year we will stick to a strict diet and hit the gym regularly. We spend over $60 billion each year on weight loss — but then we spend more than triple that on fast food.
But what if we didn’t do that this year? What if we did something crazy? What if we resolved to love our bodies instead?
What if we took all of that self-loathing, that shame, that judgment we derive from the size and shape of our bodies and we left it behind in 2012? In 2013 and beyond, we should resolve that self worth is no longer connected to one’s waistline. No more fad diets. No more holiday binges. In their place: love and appreciation for our bodies’ beauty and capabilities.
If you really want to be thorough about it, chuck the fashion magazines and turn off the TV. Human bodies in the real world don’t look like the ones portrayed in the media. In real life, fashion models, who are compelled to starve themselves until they’re skinnier than telephone poles, can actually look a bit freakish.
Loving Earth/Flickr
But by loving our bodies, I don’t mean simply admiring your love handles and multiple chins as you sit on the couch watching TV and eating Cheetos. I mean something more like loving our bodies like we love our cars.
Think about someone you know who loves his (or her) car. He takes good care of his vehicle, putting the right fuel in the gas tank, getting regular oil changes, keeping enough air in the tires, and so on. She doesn’t drive recklessly or carelessly fling open her doors in crowded parking lots because she doesn’t want to get in accidents or get a bunch of dents. A good car owner treats his or her car so that it will run well for as long as possible. But odds are that same car owner is not half so kind to his or her body.
It makes no sense really, because you can always buy another car — given the right budget — but you sure can’t get a new body. So why would anybody spring for premium gasoline but then fuel their body with cheap junk food? Why would you keep to your car’s maintenance schedule perfectly while allowing your own body to fall into disrepair?
Loving your body means eating food that makes you feel good and helps your body be able to do the things you love to do. A cookie may taste good, but does eating one make you feel good? Not in the way eating a hearty homemade dinner does. Real food — minimally processed foods that come from plants and animals — nourishes you. It satiates you. Junk makes you crave more chow without any satisfaction until you’ve got a stomachache because you’ve had too much.
This year, let’s love our bodies by eating foods that nourish us, doing activities we enjoy, allowing ourselves to say no to things that stress us out, and getting enough sleep. Forget weight. Forget clothing size. Focus on what’s important and the rest will take care of itself.
OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. OtherWords.org
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