Green's blog

Frozen Lemons

One of my readers sent me a write up about the secret of frozen lemons. Rather than just using the lemon juice and wasting the rest of this nutrient-rich fruit, freeze it. Wash it first and once frozen, grate the unpeeled lemon and add it to salads, soups, stews, ice cream, cookie dough, chicken and fish dishes, rice, martinis, whatever, for much added nutrition and taste. What a great idea!

We all know that lemons are chock full of Vitamin C, which helps to neutralize free radicals linked to aging and most types of disease, as well as fight colds and flu. But did you know that lemons contain more health benefitting nutrients than other citrus fruits like oranges or tangerines? They contain citric acid, flavonoids, B-complex vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber. Surprisingly, the lemon peel contains as much as 5 to 10 times more vitamins than the lemon juice. Below is a list of some of the many benefits of this powerful and flavorful little fruit:

• Lemons contain more potassium than apples or grapes.
• Lemons help restore balance to the body’s pH even though they are acidic.
• Lemons help detoxify the liver and improve regularity. A large glass of water with fresh lemon juice is an important way to start the day.
• The citric acid in lemon juice helps to dissolve gallstones, calcium deposits, and kidney stones.
• The lemon peel contains the potent phytonutrient tangeretin, which has been proven to be effective for brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
• Lemons have powerful antibacterial properties; experiments have found the juice of lemons destroy the bacteria of malaria, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other deadly diseases. They can also destroy intestinal worms.
• The Vitamin P (bioflavonoid) in lemons strengthens blood vessels and is useful in treating high blood pressure.
• Lemons contain 22 anti-cancer compounds, including naturally occurring limonene, which studies have shown slows or halts the growth of cancer tumors in animals.

As we make our way through what is being reported as a severe cold and flu season, throw a couple of lemons into the freezer and grate your way to good health!

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from www.care2.com and www.nutrition-and-you.com. 

Paper Napkins or Cloth?

“In a Gentle Way You Can Shake the World.” - Gandhi

When I came across this wonderful quote, I started thinking about gentle changes we can make that positively impact the earth.  One such change is to switch from paper to cloth napkins.  It sounds silly, but here is the math.  If 50% of the U.S. population used 3 paper napkins a day, that would total 450,000,000 napkins for 1 day or 164,250,000,000 napkins over a 1-year period.  That’s a staggering number of paper napkins!

The manufacture of both cloth and paper napkins obviously uses resources and energy.   According to a report published by the Environmental Paper Network, however, the paper industry (which includes all paper) is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 1/3 of municipal landfill waste.  Additionally, in the manufacture of paper napkins, the chlorine bleach used to whiten them contains toxic compounds and the dyes in decorative napkins are also questionable.  And, paper napkins are only used once!

Cloth napkins alternatively, can be used over and over, often lasting for generations.  They can be energy intensive too, but there are several ways to minimize their environmental impact.  

·   Unless it’s organic cotton, it’s best to avoid cotton cloth napkins.  Cotton is labeled the world’s “dirtiest” crop because of its heavy insecticide usage.  Instead use linen (which comes from the fibers of the flax plant), hemp, vintage or your own made from fabric remnants.   

·       Reuse cloth napkins for 2 or 3 days, depending on how dirty they get.  Buy different colored napkins for each member of the family.  I jokingly match the napkin color to each family member’s personality, my napkin being green of course.  You can also individualize napkin rings.

·       Wash the napkins with regular loads of laundry with environmentally safe detergent, and air-dry them.  In addition to saving energy by air-drying them, I find I don’t have to iron them! 

Paper napkins are clearly more convenient, and for entertaining large crowds, picnicking or eating on the run, they make sense. Just make sure to use recycled paper ones.  According to MotherNatureNetwork, “If every household in the U.S. replaced one package of virgin fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees.”

Most of the time, however, use cloth ones.  Dig out your grandmother’s beautiful linen napkins and find yourself brought back to a simpler, slower time when gathering around the dinner table for meals and conversation was routine. That’s a pretty gentle change to me!

 

Information compiled from greengroundswell.com, mnn.com and thedailygreen.com.

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

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Green New Year's Resolutions

Go beyond the typical resolutions and add some “green” ones

The New Year is a time for starting fresh and making resolutions, some of which we keep and most of which we don’t.  This year go beyond the “lose weight, exercise more” typical resolutions and add some “green” ones.  Think back over the year to your newly acquired green habits and add to them.   For example, add one new item to your recycling that you have previously not recycled, like printer cartridges. (Staples recycles old printer cartridges and you can download mailing labels from HP to send back used ones.)  Recycle plastic bags at Whole Foods.  I keep a bag handy to store plastic bags and take them to Whole foods whenever I shop there.  Simple!  If you are not already bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, then start doing so.  If you are, add reusable produce bags, or bring reusable shopping bags on other errands as well.

Lower your carbon footprint one day a week by walking, biking or taking public transportation instead of driving.  Replace your light bulbs with energy-efficient CFL or LED lights.  One day a week eat vegetarian, a completely local dinner or even a raw meal. Try cutting out processed foods from your diet.  One day a week cut down on your appliance and technology usage or better yet, don’t use them at all.

Replace one of your conventional cleaning products with a non-toxic one.  Check out greenwithbetsy.com for simple recipes to make at home.  They work just as well and you will feel good knowing you are not breathing in toxins!

It only takes three weeks to make or break a habit, so start  your green resolutions now and they will soon become part of your daily routine. You may find you lose that weight and are exercising more simply by being more green!

Happy 2013!!!

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Making Jam the Old Fashioned Way

Last weekend my friend and I spent a lovely morning at a jam making class at the Green Briar Nature Center in Sandwich.  This post isn’t exactly a green tip, but rather a description of class that is a true throwback to an era when life was slower and simpler, a time when you only used ingredients you or your neighbors grew, a time when people took the time to talk to one another without smart phones, without Facebook, without Twitter.

The Green Briar Nature Center is located in a charming old house near a pond and adjacent to the famous Briar Patch of the Thornton Burgess’s children’s stories.  There are nature trails, a spectacular wildflower garden and a natural history library.  The center also offers year round weekly jam making classes in an old-fashioned, turn-of-the-century (and I mean the 20th century!) kitchen.   The recipes are the originals from the early 1900’s.  We made cranberry hot pepper jam.   The cranberries were local and came from the farm next to ours in East Sandwich.  The ingredients and jam making utensils were laid out nicely for each participant.  My friend is an expert jam maker, but even for a novice like me it was easy.  Friendly volunteers guided us through each step, making sure when the jam was ready to be jarred, we did it correctly.   Lined up one right after the other, we chopped and stirred, talked and learned about each other’s lives, and asked questions of the more experienced jam makers.  It reminded me of the old quilting bees when woman would gather and sew and chat.  In the jam making class, men participate too. 

What a pleasant respite from the hustle, bustle of the holiday season and a special way to spend time with a friend.  What a lovely gift homemade jelly makes!  The center also has a gift shop with more homemade jams and jellies as well as other handcrafted items.    I can’t think of a greener holiday gift than a morning at an authentic jam making class!  Visit www.thorntonburgess.org for more information.

 

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Greening Your Holidays

Don’t let your “green” habits fall by the wayside this holiday season.  Instead incorporate them into your usual holiday plans.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Christmas tree

    For your holiday feast, support local farmers who grow organic meat and produce – an organic heritage turkey is unbelievably moist and delicious. Incorporate vegetarian options as well.

  • Buy a pesticide-free Christmas tree. Some growers use 40 different pesticides and colorants.  You can find no or low pesticide trees at some of the local tree farms and they always last longer when you cut them yourself.  There is controversy about which is more environmentally friendly, a fake or a real tree, and there are arguments for both, but you can’t beat the smell of a freshly cut tree.  After the holidays, recycle your tree. Many cities offer programs to turn trees into mulch or woodchips. (visit www.earth911.org for information)
  • Lots of fresh greenery and berries make beautiful, natural decorations!
  • Energy efficient “LED” lights use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights and are also less expensive for you.  You can recycle your old incandescent ones at HolidayLEDs.com. You can find LED lights at Target, Costco and most major retailers.
  • Mass produced wrapping paper is beautiful and convenient, but usually ends up being thrown away. Make your own holiday wrapping paper instead, which is greener, more personal and doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  Holiday dish towels, colorful scarves or bandanas, newspaper sections, old maps, or even plain brown paper tied with a colorful bow and some greenery cut from your backyard make great wrapping paper. If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • Gifts to your favorite charity are much-needed in this economy and not only make you feel good, but obviously cut down on waste.
  • Green experiences like restaurant gift certificates, cooking classes, theater or concert tickets, or memberships to sports clubs are meaningful, waste-free presents.

Feel good this holiday season knowing you are taking simple “green” steps that make a big difference!

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Green Holiday Shopping

I love the way life moves in the right direction – it’s getting so much easier to find eco-friendly, responsibly-sourced, sustainably-made products that don’t impact the earth. Below is a list of green websites to help you with your holiday shopping (and beyond). 

WorldofGood.com

WorldofGood.com is an eBay company for online shoppers and sellers, who have pledged to buy, sell and think green.  It features eco-friendly, sustainably made and resource-saving products available on eBay.com. According to the website description, WorldofGood.com is positive for people, environment, animals and causes.

Ethicalocean.com

Ethical Ocean, based in Toronto, is an online marketplace for ethical products and services from around the world.  Their tagline says it all – “own what’s good”

EcoMall.com

EcoMall is an online directory of companies and products as well as a green living magazine. Easy to navigate, it lists hundreds of green products and services.

 “ A place to help save the earth” …

GreenPages.org

National Green Pages is a “directory of products and services for people and the planet”.  It works like a phone book and lists major eco-responsible companies like Patagonia and Seventh Generation.  It also features local stores.

LinksOrganic.com

LinksOrganic.com is a comprehensive international guide to finding organic or environmentally friendly businesses. Some have online stores while others are physical storefronts in your local community.

Where-clothes.com

I have to put a plug in for my daughter’s company, Where…. Earth Friendly Fashion.  She restructures vintage clothing into today’s style.  Each piece is hand sown, one of a kind and most incorporate antique lace!  Check it out!

There are many more websites featuring eco-responsible products and services, but this should get you started.  Remember to request plastic-free and minimal packaging when ordering online! 

 

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

Raw Food Diet

I recently attended a raw food cooking class. A raw food diet is just what it sounds like – food that is eaten raw or heated to no more than 115 degrees. According to raw food experts, the advantages are that raw food contains beneficial live enzymes that make it more digestible and that it has a higher vitamin and nutrient content.   Heating or cooking chemically alters food causing it to lose its ability to provide energy.  Cooking also destroys certain vitamins.  A raw food diet can cleanse and heal. The raw food diet as a health treatment was first developed in Switzerland in 1897 by Dr. Maximillian Bircher-Benner, the inventor of muesli, after he recovered from jaundice by eating raw apples.  His health center is still in operation today.

In summer when fruits and vegetables are abundant, preparing seasonal, local, raw food is easy. A strict raw food diet year round however, is more involved and does not include any processed foods.  To make crackers, breads and other “baked” goods can be time consuming and require advance planning.  Blenders, food processors, juicers and dehydrators are all needed equipment.  Sprouting and soaking are necessary to eat grains, legumes and nuts.  Nuts are a large part of the raw food diet and are used to make cheeses, crackers, breads and soups. 

What appealed to me about the class was its emphasis on creating warming uncooked meals.  We learned simple tips like bringing all food to room temperature for a couple of hours before preparation and using lots of warming spices like cumin, curry and nutmeg.  Our meal started with a delicious raw butternut and green apple soup, followed by zucchini chive canapés, a zucchini slice smeared with chive cream cheese made from cashews - even better than “real” cream cheese! For dinner we made a Brussels sprout and pumpkin seed slaw, a wild rice and chickpea salad, kale and shallot pizzettes with 3 kinds of cheese (again, cashew based; the crust was made from flax seeds and vegetables “baked” in a dehydrator) and a fresh fig and lemon tart for dessert.  The dinner was fabulous and you never would have known it was uncooked!

I could never be an extreme “raw foodie”, but I do love experimenting with new and healthy cuisine.  I read somewhere to make 50% of your diet raw, so challenge yourself and give it a try. Below is a simple recipe for Cashew Parmesan cheese that rivals the real thing! Email me for more raw food recipes.

 

½ cup dry cashews

1 clove garlic (chopped)

¼ teaspoon sea salt (coarse)

 

Grind cashews and sea salt in food processor (with ‘s’ blade) until fine, almost powdery.  Add garlic and pulse food processor until texture resembles Parmesan.  Use on everything!

 

Information compiled from The Raw Truth, The Art of Loving Foods, by Jeremy A Safron and Renée Underkoffler,  http://en.wikipedia.org/, onesmallpatch.com.

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Celebrate with a Green Thanksgiving!

As we give thanks this Thanksgiving, why not make it a "green" one?  Try the ideas below.

Image by Ilrena Flickr.com
  • For your holiday dinner, support local farmers who grow organic produce. The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Local food by contrast is usually transported 100 – 200 miles, has fewer pesticides and can be picked when ripe.  It is obviously fresher and better.  Farm stands and supermarkets have an abundance of local winter squash, carrots, potatoes, greens, herbs, apples, and pumpkin. Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags.
  • Try a locally grown, free range organic turkey available at local farms and Whole Foods.  Fresh turkeys are unbelievably moist and delicious and not treated with antibiotics and growth hormones.  You won’t believe the difference.  For the vegetarians at your table, try a Tofurkey (available from Trader Joe's).  It come with its own vegetarian gravy and is really good!  If possible, use organic cranberries for your cranberry sauce - cranberries are a heavily sprayed crop.
  • Add freshly baked local artisan bread and rolls.
  • Consider serving organic wine along with your meal. Organic wine is made from certified organically grown grapes, meaning grown without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Conventionally grown grapes are one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and the chemical residues can end up in the wine.  Organically grown grapes are better for the soil, the plant and the wine drinker.
  • China, silver and cloth napkins are obviously better for the environment than paper plates and plastic utensils.  They look much better too!  If you are expecting a big crowd and need to opt for disposable, get the biodegradable and compostable plates and utensils.
  • After the big feast, don’t forget to recycle cans, cartons, plastics and bottles and compost leftover kitchen waste.

With your healthy and “green” holiday feast, you won’t feel so badly about overindulging!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Are Artificial Sweeteners Okay?

The American diet is inundated with sugar

I’m always amazed when friends or family ask for Sweet ‘n Low or Splenda, and they are always amazed when I say I don’t have any!  I’ve never used artificial sweeteners and have always been leery of them. 

The American diet is inundated with sugar - in cereals, crackers, cookies and hidden away in other processed foods.  It’s in fruit juices, sodas, flavored water, energy drinks and diet drinks.  It’s an additive for coffee and tea and used in baking and cooking.  Our bodies need sugar as a source of energy, but when natural sugar is refined or overused, it upsets the natural balance and loses its benefits.  Sugar is definitely overused and its overuse results in all sorts of problems, including diabetes, weight gain, a compromised immune system and depression, to name a few. Artificial sugars aren’t sugar, but you still get the sweet flavor without the calories!  Perfect, right?  Not really. 

SWEETENER

QUANTITY

CALORIES

Natural

 

 

Brown Sugar – chemically processed

1 tsp

15

Cane Sugar – chemically processed

1 tsp

15

Honey

1 tsp

20

Molasses

1 tsp

20

White Sugar – chemically processed

1 tsp

15

Stevia

1 packet

 0

Raw Organic Agave

1 Tbs

60

 

 

 

Artificial

 

 

Equal

1 packet

 5

NutraSweet

1 tsp

 2

Splenda

1 tsp

 5

Sweet N Low

1 packet

 0

Sucanat

1 tsp

16

 Two of the main artificial sugars are saccharin (Sweet N’ Low) and aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal and Sugar Twin).   Both are approved by the FDA, but they have no nutritional value and studies show that there are possible cancer links as well as allergic reactions.  Aspartame, which is found in more than 6000 products, is even more controversial than saccharin. It has been associated with headaches, dizziness, change in mood, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, change in vision, diarrhea, seizures/convulsions, memory loss, fatigue and even weight gain.  In addition, there are links to fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, tinnitus, joint pain, anxiety attacks, blurred vision, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, unexplainable depression, slurred speech, and various cancers.  Scary!

Saccharin was first produced in 1878 by a chemist working on coal tar derivatives; today it’s manufactured with chlorine and ammonia.   Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by a chemist working for G.D.Searle and Company, and is composed of three main compounds - aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol (wood alcohol), all of which can be dangerous.  As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, says, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”    I know that the FDA says they are safe, but I’d rather err on the side of caution and sparingly use natural, unrefined sugars.  That means avoiding products labeled as “low calorie”, “diet”, “sugar free” or “no sugar added” too!  Saving only 10 calories or so just doesn’t seem like a good risk to me.

Information compiled from www.medicinenet.com/; naturalhealthsherpa.com/; www.natural-health-information-centre.com/

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Eco-College Choices

My thoughts are with all my East Coast readers
as they recover from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. 

As you help your high school child navigate the overwhelming college selection process, you might want to consider commitment to sustainability along with academic excellence, location, affordability, and size. According to the Princeton Review’s latest Hopes and Worries survey, 68% of the sampled 7,445 college-bound students said commitment to sustainability impacts their college choice.  

The world is definitely moving that way and colleges are on board. In addition to more environmental academic offerings, many schools are incorporating green building and LEED certification in their new buildings, as well as offering organic food choices including organic gardens on campus maintained by students. More schools institute recycling and other programs to lower carbon footprint.  They provide greener transportation, more opportunities for student run sustainability groups and preparation for green jobs.  Colleges and universities are increasingly moving towards greener operations and finance.

The Princeton Review tallied a green rating on 806 colleges based on “1) whether students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable; 2) how well a school is preparing students not only for employment in the clean energy economy of the 21st century, but also for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental challenges; and 3) how environmentally responsible a school's policies are.”  This year’s list of the 21 colleges and universities with the highest rating are:  American University, Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, California State University – Chico, Catawba College, Chatham University, College of the Atlantic, Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Goucher College, Green Mountain College, Harvard College, Northeastern University, San Francisco State University, University of California- Santa Cruz, University of South Carolina- Columbia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Vanderbilt University, and Warren Wilson University.  I’m thrilled to see that 2 of the 3 schools where my kids went, Goucher College and Vanderbilt University, are listed!

It’s encouraging to not only see change happening, but to see that institutions of higher learning are realizing the necessity of placing emphasis on sustainability as they prepare our next generation of leaders for our rapidly changing world. Of course when it comes right down to it, most kids choose their college based on something totally unexpected, like the fact that Chulula Hot Sauce was on every table in the dining room.  That was the clincher for my son! 

Information compiled from Natural Awakenings, September 2012, Cool Schools and Princetonreview.com.

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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