Monday, March 31, 2008

Mmmmm......Acai Green Smoothie

According to Dr. Perricone's list of superfoods, Acai is first on the list. For those of you who do not watch Oprah (this includes me), Acai is a berry grown in the Amazon rainforest that has a hint of chocolate flavor. It has a very high concentration of Antioxidants and Omega fats.

After reading about Acai, I came across some smoothie packs made by Sambazon at Wild Oats. Of course, I had to try them. We are now hooked. I save our special Acai smoothies for Friday. This is cheaper and healthier than stopping at Starbucks, which is what I use to do on Friday mornings.

At first I was scared to taint the unique flavor with spinach. As I became more addicted to green smoothies, I could not bring myself to make one without throwing some spinach in there. Here are two different recipes using one of the smoothie packs. There are also recipes on the back of the package, but none include spinach.

Acai Banana Smoothie
1 Acai smoothie pack
1 banana
1 cup chocolate soymilk
1/2 cup water
1 handful of spinach

Acai Yogurt Smoothie
1 Acai smoothie pack
1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1 cup chocolate soymilk
1/2 cup water
1 handful spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Menu Monday

A dinner I made last week. Chicken Sausage with vegetables over linguine with butter & parmesan.

For some time now I have been trying several different methods for getting dinner on the table without going crazy. (Imagine frazzled mom trying to cook dinner with a kid hanging on each leg crying and whining because they are hungry , BUT want my undivided attention.) It is hard to strike a balance between fast and healthy. In order to accomplish this I have to be very organized and plan ahead. That means the grocery list and meal planning starts on Thursday for the upcoming week. I look at the Publix ad to see what is on sale. I decide on a couple of meals for the week and I make my list. I have made several dishes in bulk and have them ready in the freezer, which helps too. Then I go through my coupons to see if there are any matches. I usually have to make a trip at some point during the week to Wild Oats for some items that I can't find at Publix. It is still a work in progress, but overall the stress of getting dinner on the table is less than it was 2 months ago.

I am going to start posting our dinner menu for the week. It helps me stay organized and keeps me honest too. I am actually publishing this on Sunday, but Menu Monday sounds better and most people will not read it until Monday. That is also why Sunday is included.

Here is our menu for this week:

Sunday- Grilled Steak and Baked Scallops (Veggie Burger for me), Freedom Fries (***SC), and Salad

Monday- Tilapia, Portobello Mushrooms, Soba Noodles, and Sesame Grean Beans (**SBD)

Tuesday- Swimming Rama (a spicy coconut chicken and tofu for me- *FFF) on Spinach with Steamed Basmati Rice

Wednesday- Margarita Pork Chops (*FFF), Black Bean Salad, and Cheese Quesadillas or rice if there are leftovers.

Thursday- Amy's pizza with salad or leftovers

*FFF denotes a recipe from Fix, Freeze, Feast: More than 125 recipes to prepare in bulk and by the serving

**SBD denotes a recipe from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook: 200 Delicious Recipes Ready in 30 Minutes or Less (I love this cookbook)

***SC denotes a recipe from Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen!): Hiding Healthy Foods in Hearty Meals Any Guy Will Love (This is her 2nd book. I am trying out some of the recipes.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Green Cleaning Update

I finally cleaned out an empty spray bottle so that I could try out one of the cleaning recipes I posted earlier in the week. I made up the window cleaner. I used it on my countertops and also on a couple of windows to test it out. It worked great on the countertops. I used a rag instead of newspaper on the windows, but they still looked pretty good. I even stored the bottle under my sink for easy access. Since it is obviously not toxic, no need to worry about the kids getting into it. I want to try the wood cleaner next.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Etsy Napkins

It is official. Ebay is old news. Etsy is my new addiction. Etsy is a website dedicated to the buying and selling of handmade items. There is even a section where you can search for items made by people in your area. The people that sell on this website are really artists. Check out these fairy mushrooms.

I bought the fabric napkins pictured above from a seller on Etsy. I wanted to upgrade from the wash clothes we had been using. I really wanted to make my own, but I saw these and they were so inexpensive I could not pass them up.

Celebrate Earth Hour 2008

All you have to do is turn off all your lights for 1 hour beginning at 8:00 pm on March 29, 2008. Millions of people around the world are making a statement about climate change by turning off their lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.

Hmmm....I am thinking flashlights for bedtime stories and maybe a nice quiet (possibly romantic) evening with my husband. Doesn't sound to bad to me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? If so, then sorry I am a bit behind on my news. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world's largest landfill. This heap of trash, more than twice the size of Texas, is floating in the middle of the ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii. Click here to read the full story. You can also read why it collects where it does in this story.
When I read stories like these, it motivates me to reduce my own waste. Since I have become more aware of the amount of waste I create, I want to recycle everything. I want to compost our kitchen scraps. It just makes sense. Afterall, I am all for turning trash into something useful.
At work my trash can would be completely full by Friday, now it is nearly empty. If I can reduce the amount of waste I produce by that much in such a short period of time, just imagine the impact if everyone did the same thing. It is simple.... Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, right? Next time you throw something in the trash just think about it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Greening my Cleaning Part II

I decided that in order to really change my cleaning habits I needed some instructions and some empty spray bottles. Well, I have found some instructions. My next step will be to clean out the spray bottles. Here are some that I thought I would try.

Window Cleaner
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid soap or detergent
2 cups water

Combine in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray on window and wipe clean with crumbled newspaper. You can still recycle the newspaper once you are done.

Mold Removal
1 tsp Borax (you can find this in the aisle with the laundry detergent)
3 tbsp vinegar
2 cups hot tap water

Combine in a spray bottle and shake to mix. You can spray this on mold growing areas of the bathroom and leave it. No need to rinse.

Tile and grout cleaner
1 part salt
1 part baking soda
1 part vinegar

Combine to make a paste to polish tile and grout.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Baking Soda
Lemon Juice

Wood Cleaner
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon liquid soap

A few drops of olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Saturate a sponge with the mixture. Squeeze out the excess and wash surfaces.

Unclog drains
Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda in and around the drain opening. Follow with a cup of white vinegar. Flush with boiling water. Repeat if necessary.

What do you think about when you are lying in bed wide awake?

Magnet fun with a cookie sheet and some magazine pages.

Occassionally I wake up either with one of the kids or to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. I usually have no problems falling asleep, but once I am awake it takes me FOREVER to go back to sleep.

Harper woke up last night because she had an accident in her bed. She does not want to wear a pull-up any more so we are trying to beat this bed wetting stuff. Once I crawled back into my bed my mind started racing. I have to admit this is when I usually have my greatest ideas or at least that is what I think at 3:40 am. The other night while laying awake in bed I decided I would take that old cookie sheet that is sitting in the garage and clean it real well, paint it, and let Harper use it to play with magnets. I thought it would be great to take in the car on long road trips (like to MN). Well, as a test run I pulled out some good cookie sheets and magnets for Harper and Miller to play with and it was a bust. Tonight I decided I am not giving up so I tore out some pages from a magazine and placed them on the cookie sheets. It was a success. It occupied the kids for at least 15 minutes.

Last night I thought about food. What I would cook the rest of the week for dinner. What I could cook next week from my new cookbook Fix, Freeze, Feast. Topics I could blog about. Things I wanted to research on the internet. I also thought about how I could make bows out of the ribbon I have in the drawer. I planned out my herb garden. Needless to say I was tired this morning. Why am I so ambitious at 4:00 am?

What do you think about when you wake up in the middle of the night and your mind starts racing?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Today is the 1st day of spring hurray. Above is a picture of the rosemary bush in my backyard.

I have been reading about ways to dye eggs with things we have around the house such as fruits, fruit juices, spices, coffee and vegetables. It's not that I am completed opossed to using the artificial dyes, but if I can use something I have at home already why not? Plus I know that it is safe for my kids, especially if they want to eat one of the eggs. But to be honest with you the thought of dyeing Easter Eggs does not excite me. Maybe because it was not an Easter ritual when I was growing up or maybe because it is so messy. I am not really sure. It could be that my kids just aren't old enough to truly enjoy the whole process. So I have not decided whether we will dye Easter Eggs this year, but if we do I am going to try some of these methods.

There are two approaches when using the natural dyes. You can either boil and cool your eggs and then soak the eggs in the dye for 30 minutes or you can boil the eggs in the dye material.

Click here for instructions regarding the boiling method.

Click here for the instructions for using the cool method.

If we dye eggs, I will use coffee for brown eggs, spinach for green eggs, blueberries for purple eggs, and beet juice for pink. (I think I have a can of beets in my pantry.) I might also try carrots for orange, and maybe lemon peel for yellow just because these are the things I have at home. I will have to check to see if I have tumeric. Maybe we will even experiment with some other things. I will post pictures if we give it a go.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Greening my cleaning

Cleaning greener has been on my to do list. I have accumulated quite a few cleaning products and decided that I would just use those up before turning to other means of cleaning. After this past weekend, I started thinking maybe I won't wait.

I spent the majority of Sunday grocery shopping and preparing several meals from Fix, Freeze, and Feast (more on that in another blog). The kitchen was a mess, plus it smelled like garlic and onions. I used a multi-purpose cleaner with bleach to clean the sink and a different type of cleaner for the counters. Well, when Harper got up from her nap she said that the house stunk. She was so bothered by the smell she went to her room and closed the door. We finally had to open some windows and air out the house. Of course Mitch also made a sign for his Dad's 60th birthday party using a sharpie. I am not sure if it was a combination of all these things or just one that made Harper sick, but it really bothered me. It can not be good to breathe something that smells that toxic.

I have been using vinegar to clean the kids humidifiers and a couple of weeks ago I soaked the kitchen faucet in some to remove all of the crud that had formed. My friend Tara says she uses vinegar, water, and some essential oils to clean just about everything. Wow. Why do we have to have all of these toxic cleaners when something so simple works just as well? Check out this site
to see all of the things you can do with vinegar.

There are products on the market that you can buy that are non-toxic, biodegradeable, and made from renewable resources (not petroluem) like Simple Green, Clorox Greenworks, and the Seventh Generation products. However, I like the idea of going back to the basics, so I am going to give vinegar and baking soda a shot. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frozen Bananas and Fat and Skinny Green Smoothies

I thought I would share a couple of other green smoothie recipes and also some quick frozen banana recipes.

Whenever my bananas are getting too ripe to eat, I freeze them. Usually I just divide the banana into about 4 chunks and put them in a container in the freezer. Most of the time I use the frozen bananas for Breakfast Ice Cream. This is a Sneaky Chef recipe that I modified slightly.

Breakfast Ice Cream
1 frozen banana in chunks
2 tbsp of vanilla yogurt
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Place all of the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth. This is a yummy treat. I save this for extra grumpy mornings. I also give it to my kids for dessert sometimes. This recipe makes a pretty small serving. You can always double or triple the recipe.

You can also slice a banana into slices like chips and freeze them on a cookie sheet. My kids gobble these up. Since they are frozen, they think they are getting a treat.

I have had several comments on my green smoothie recipe so I thought I would share a couple more of my variations with you.

Fat Green Smoothie
1 handful of spinach
2 bananas
2 cups of chocolate soy milk
2 tbsp of peanut butter

This one is not as healthy, but it will satisfy that chocolate craving and you still get some spinach.

Skinny Green Smoothie
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1 fresh mango or about 2 cups frozen
2 cups water (you can do 1 cup soy milk and 1 cup water if you like it creamier)

This is a good one to do if you are watching your calories.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Recycle your old shoes

Before you send your shoes to Goodwill look at these recycling programs. It is easier to drop them off at Goodwill, but with these programs you know they are put to good use. The only problem is you have to ship them. Maybe if more people start participating more drop off locations will be added.
Soles 4 Souls- This organization is based in Nashville, however the distribution centers are in Alabama, Virginia, and Nevada. So you still have to ship them.
Let Me Play- Nike runs this organization. They recycle old athletic shoes into material used in sports surfaces like basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks and playgrounds for young people around the world. These have to be shipped as well.
SolesUnited- This program recycles old crocs into new shoes for people in need around the world. Of course, they have to be shipped as well.
I am willing to collect old shoes from people locally and ship them to the various organizations. Just let me know if you have any old shoes and want to do that!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What does Going Green mean?

One of the hot air balloons that floated over our house this afternoon.

Going green means something different to everyone. On Going Green is redirected to Environmentalism. According to wikipedia .com, environmentalism is "a broad philosophy and social movement centered on a concern for the conservation and improvement of the natural environment, both for its own sake as well as its importance to civilization."

To me right now going green means conserving energy, creating less waste, recycling, educating myself, and being aware of my impact on the environment. I want my children to grow up in a safe and unpolluted environment.
Here are some new green tips. I am calling them my easy ecos.
1. Don't get an ATM receipt or a receipt at the gas station. (Thanks to Dana for that one)
2. Sign-up for your bills to be automatically drafted from your bank account. You can also sign up to receive your bills via e-mail. No more bills in the mail, no more checks, and no more stamps.
3. Green Dimes- This is another great way to get rid of that junk mail. It costs $20 and they use this money to plant 5 trees. (Thanks to Dana for this one too.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Green is the new black

I recently read this quote on a bottle of vitamin water and it is so true. Green is definitely in and I have jumped on the bandwagon. It is amazing how aware I have become of the things that I need to change since I started this process. I am trying to make a difference and change my ways, but how do I sort through ALL of the information available to me? I have to worry about things like greenwashing. Is organic really better or should I concentrate on buying local? What are carbon offsets? I may buy something that is organic, but it traveled thousands of miles to get to the store. Should I stop shopping online? Where do I buy a "green" birthday present for a child? What do I use to wrap the gift? I could go on forever. Of course, these questions are the main reason I started this blog. I hope to connect with others that will help me on my journey. Maybe I will even help someone else while I am at it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's the little things

I know it is cliche, but I really do think it is the little things that you do in life that really make a difference. The picture to the left is Harper's dinner. She ate every bit of it. She usually does not eat beans, but she gobbled these up and even asked for more. I guess dinner just needed to be a little more fun.

Do you hate all those catalogs that come in the mail? They drive me nuts. Check out this website. You just sign up, enter in the code on the back of the magazine, and you are removed from their mailing list.

Are you constantly throwing out paper at work? Most workplaces have recycle bins these days, but before you throw it in the bin use it again. I just use the blank side of the paper to make notes instead of using a separate notepad. I also bring home paper for my kids to draw on. They don't care if there is print on one side. Then you can recycle it when you are done. Also, think twice before you print something. Is it really necessary? Do you need all of the pages?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My Bota Box

Ahhh, as I sip a glass of wine from my Bota Box I think back to the good ol' days in College when drinking boxed wine wasn't uncool. Ok, so I have not had boxed wine since College (well until this weekend).

I am not a wine connoisseur by any means, but I do enjoy a good glass of wine. However, wine can get expensive. But I am trying to be healthier, so I know that I need to cut back on the amount of beer I drink. Plus I have been craving wine lately.

So I journeyed to the liquor store to buy some wine. I was looking for something organic or local. As I was wandering aimlessly around the liquor store, I came across the boxed wine. I saw the neighbors hauling in a bunch of boxed wine last weekend probably for a party, but it had me thinking. Do they make boxed wine that is decent these days? So I looked through the selection and I came across the Bota Box wine. Of course the big recyclable label on the front caught my attention immediately. Then I noticed that the Cabernet was tagged as being rated one of the top 100 (I think it was # 86) wines in the store according to someone. It didn't really matter. I was sold. It was $15.99. The box said it equals four 750ml bottles of wine. You know I am always looking for a bargain. The box is recyclable and lasts up to a month once it is opened.

So I bought the Pinot Grigio and the Shiraz. The Cabernet was sold out. The first thing I did when I got home was google Bota Box and I found this. Bota Box goes green. The box is printed on recycled paper containing 95% post consumer fiber. The box is 100% recyclable. The ink is soy based versus petroleum. They use unbleached paper and use cornstarch instead of glue.

Man, what a great deal. I got the equivalent of 8 bottles of wine for $34, it's easy to grab a glass of wine without opening a whole bottle, and it is environmentally friendly. This find made my weekend. Maybe boxed wine will make a comeback. It has in my house.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Snow and green smoothies

Look at that snowman. We had fun playing out in the snow this morning. Harper and Miller have never seen this much snow so it was fun to watch them play. Maybe next year I will invest in some waterproof gloves.

I thought I would post the recipe for my green smoothie. You really should try it. Mitch and I are addicted to them now.

Green Smoothie Recipe
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 celery stalk chopped (sometimes I leave this out)
1 banana
1 cup frozen fruit (I use mixed fruit usually, but you can use berries, mangoes, or even just add another banana)
3/4 cup vanilla soymilk (you can use regular milk)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup of water

Blend it all up and enjoy. Don't let the color scare you. It really does taste yummy. When you use lighter colored fruit, the smoothie turns out a bright green (which I like best). If you use berries, the color can turn brownish. Sometimes I use chocolate soymilk or add a little chocolate when I use blueberries so that it looks like a chocolate smoothie.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Where do I begin?

My New Year's Resolutions this year were to 1. Be healthier and 2. Go Green. Pretty broad, huh? Well, at least it gives me a lot to work with. I don't usually make resolutions so I am not sure why I did this year, but I am SO glad that I did. This is what we have done so far.

1. Being Healthier
I have tried to eat more food. That is real food. Not food with a bunch of preservatives and HFCS. This has been tricky, but is going pretty well. I started buying more organic foods. I also bought the book The Superfoods Rx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients. I REALLY like buying new cookbook and diet books for some reason. (I have started going to the library to try to satisfy this addiction of mine. ) I also try to have a green smoothie every morning. It makes me feel healthier and I get a good serving of spinach first thing in the morning. Can't beat that. The tricky part is getting my kids to eat healthy. That will be a topic for another day.

2. Going Green
I think I am driving my husband crazy with all of this green business. We already recycle and I am a vegetarian so I guess we are ahead of the curve in that aspect. So at the beginning of the year I started researching things that we could do to make a difference. Our first step was eliminating all of the individual water bottles that we drink. No more bottled water at our house. I bought a couple of Sigg Lifestyle Loop Top Water Bottle (1.0-Liters) as motivation and that has worked out pretty well. Then I bought some ChicoBag Reusable Shopping Bags to take to the grocery store. I know these are small steps, but every little bit helps, right? I can't wait for May so I can start going to the farmer's market.


Related Posts with Thumbnails