Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Don't Preheat the Oven

Going Green Tip of the Day: Don't Preheat the Oven
I know that at one point ovens probably took a long time to heat. Such is not the case anymore (and may not have been for the past 30 years if you take a look at my oven). When you are ready to bake or cook your food, simply turn on the oven and put the food in. Set it for the time needed and then when that time comes check to see if it's ready. Chances are it will be! Half of the time I forget to preheat it anyway and turn it on when I put the food in.

If you have a light in your oven, check your food without opening the oven. This will keep all the heat in and checking the food won't mean a longer cooking time.

So what are you waiting for?! Go make something and try it out. You'll save energy, time and money!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Ditch the Paper Towels

Going Green Tip of the Day: Ditch the Paper Towels
Oooh, this is a hard one. We use paper towels...A LOT. We use them as napkins, to clean up spills, to dry our hands, to clean up Sweet P and to make Sweet P's wipes. But I do have a solution. And I'm slowly moving toward doing this and getting rid of paper towels except for what we use for wipes.

My friend Sarah told me about these Eco Friendly Cleaning Cloths. And they didn't disappoint. You can buy them online from the company or Amazon, but the best place to get them is at Costco. You can pick up a pack of 10 for around $8. Definitely beats the online prices, but if you don't have a Costco...I still think they're worth it. They are made without chemicals and made out of 99% recycled materials. I like them because they are soft and thick so they clean up spills and Sweet P's face really well! You can machine wash them with towels or other rags, but I do not recommend drying them. Keeping them out of the dryer keeps them soft. They even work great as a napkin.

So go pick some up and lay off the paper towels why don'tcha?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Perfect Parfait


I'm a huge fan of parfaits. Homemade ones, that is. If you're looking for new ways to spice up breakfast, here's one that is full of nutrition and will stick with you.

The Perfect Parfait
1/3 c G-G-Granola (or other granola)
1/2 c plain low fat yogurt
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 strawberries (chopped)
1/4 c blueberries
1/2 small banana

I like to build layers with my parfait so I put the granola on the bottom, then add yogurt, agave nectar/honey and pile fruit on top. So filling and oh, so good.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

G-G-Granola

Around here, we love granola. Love it. But. Granola can get pricey. And high in calories depending on where you get it. With all that to worry about, why not make it yourself? That way you not only know what goes in it, but you save money too!

So after looking at a bunch of different granola recipes, I came up with my own. I decided I wanted to use only raisins (because they don't have a ton of added sugar in them) and sliced almonds (rather than spend an arm and a leg on 3 different types of nuts). It's really yummy and great with soy milk (or regular), in a yogurt parfait and as a snack! I'm sure it'd be fabulous on top of ice cream, too.

The Recipe:
G-G-Granola

What you need:
3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup agave nectar (you can also use honey)
1/4 cup brown sugar (unpacked)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 to 1 cup raisins
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 baking sheets

Preheat oven to 325˚. In a large bowl, combine oats and spices. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, agave nectar, brown sugar and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and using your hands, combine them by gathering the oats into a fist.
Continue until oats are thoroughly covered with olive oil mixture. Dump onto baking sheet and spread out evenly, leaving a few clumps here and there.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and use a spatula to stir and flip the granola. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove, stir and flip granola and add almonds. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove, stir and flip granola and return to oven for 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Add raisins and serve! Or transfer to a container for later. Yields 4 cups of granola.

Time: 30 minutes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Natural Living Expo

Going Green Tip of the Day: Natural Living Expo
If you live in Des Moines, you should definitely check out the Natural Living Expo going on tomorrow and Sunday (March 27 & 28). It's Iowa's showcase of natural and green living. Admission and parking are FREE! There are over 120 vendors ranging from cloth diapering to chiropractic care (including our chiropractor who will be one of the speakers). Come hungry because you don't want to miss the Organic Valley Cafe by Fresh Cafe and Market. Sweet P, some other munchkins and their mamas and I ate at Fresh Cafe and Market today and it was both healthy and yummy! They even provided purees for the munchkins!

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: DIY Baby Food

Going Green Tip of the Day: DIY Baby Food
I know it might seem like a daunting task to make your own baby food, but it's really not! Think of the money, resources and plastic bags (from grocery shopping) you'll save by making it yourself. Not only will you know exactly what is going into your baby's food, you'll also get to regulate the packaging as well.

While it does save money and resources, it does take time. But you don't have to spend your life making food for your baby. Simply buy the same vegetables that you would purchase in baby food form. These vegetables can then be steamed, boiled, pureed, chopped...you name it! If you are overwhelmed by doing it every day, carve out a time each week that you can devote to making food for baby. Most homemade baby food can then be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can freeze it in ice cube trays or chopped and put into containers (make sure they are freezer safe).

Try it, your baby will like it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Read All About It

Looking for a good book? I have a few for you.

In case I've never mentioned it, I love to read. Love, love, love it. I consider myself a bonafide bookworm. Not much can compete with curling up on a rainy day with a good book. Of course, these days my book reading is limited to bed time or while Sweet P is napping. But! I still make it work because I love books! Okay, enough of that. Here are a few books you should be reading:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The emotions this book invokes are plentiful. I laughed, I cried, I seethed...it was so, so, so good.

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent
I'm in the middle of this one right now, but it is full of wisdom, faith and grace. And it's a true story (I love those).

In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham with Dean Merrill
Pretty sure I cried through this entire book. It's about a couple who are missionaries that get kidnapped in the Phillipines. They are kidnapped for over a year, this is Gracia's recount of the experience. Her faith and reliance on God is absolutely amazing. Whew, definitely a tear jerker.

Just wanted to share those with you. If you don't have time to read, make time! And if you have any recommendations for me...do share!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Earth Hour

Going Green Tip of the Day: Earth Hour
In 3 days, you can participate in Earth Hour and help make our planet a better place for the future. Just what is Earth Hour, you ask? Well, it's a chance to show your support for Earth Hour, the world's largest global climate change initiative. Earth Hour 2010 will take place on March 27th at 8:30pm. It is a call to action for everyone throughout the world to take a stand towards a sustainable future. People across the world will turn off their lights for one hour and join together to celebrate our planet. I hope you'll join this cause, it can't hurt can it?

For more information visit: Earth Hour

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baby Smoothie

I've been wanting to make Sweet P a smoothie for awhile now, but just hadn't gotten around to doing it. But today was the day. And let me tell you, she loved it. I was a little nervous because she doesn't like a few of the things I put in it as stand alone foods. But after today, we might be trying sweet potatoes and apples again really soon!

I tasted it and it definitely doesn't have to be just a baby smoothie, it's great as an adult smoothie, too! So what's in it?

What you need:
1/2 c organic plain yogurt (I still can't find whole fat, so I use low-fat 2%)
1 frozen cube pureed sweet potato (organic)
1 frozen slice of steamed apple (organic)
1/2 banana
1 tsp agave nectar (organic)
dash of cinnamon
scoop of probiotics

My blender was occupied by hummus, so I made her smoothie in a mini food processor (the sweet potato didn't crush all the way, but it wasn't a big deal). You can also use frozen fruit you buy at the store. I just happened to have cubes of pureed food that she won't eat.
As you can see, she drank it right up! She didn't finish the entire glass so I put it in the fridge and got it back out for lunch. It was thicker so I fed it to her with a spoon, so if your baby isn't straw ready...use a spoon!

Going Green Tip of the Day: Cool It

Going Green Tip of the Day: Cool It
Have you ever wondered if washing your clothes in hot water really mattered? I can tell you, unless you have heavily soiled clothing, it doesn't. The Farmer and I wash almost all of our clothing on the cold setting and still have clean clothes. Your cold water setting and the power of your detergent will do the work helping you save money and energy.

Your washing machine uses most of it's energy on heating the hot water cycle. So if a regular batch of laundry (not heavily soiled) is washed in hot water, energy is actually being wasted. Using less hot water (and saving energy) can lower greenhouse gas emissions (which is what we're really after).

I can also tell you from personal experience that the less work your water heater has to do, the less you are going to pay on your energy bill. The Farmer and I learned this last year when our water heater broke and was running constantly...causing our energy bill to sky rocket (over $120 dollars more than normal). I'm not saying you have to bathe in cold water, but it wouldn't hurt to use it on your clothes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Turn Off the Lights


Going Green Tip of the Day: Turn Off the Lights
Have you ever looked around your house and thought, "Why is every light in the house on!?" Make it a point to turn off the light when you leave a room. Might seem like a no brainer, but I'm willing to bet there's a lot of rooms out there where the lights are on, but nobody's home.

Teach your kids to do it, too. Since little ones like light wherever they go, teach them to turn them off when they leave the room. If they go right back in, they can turn them back on. Always make sure the lights are off when you leave the house and/or go to bed (unless you keep one on for safety reasons).

My challenge is to use the natural light more often...which can be hard to do in an apartment, but we're gonna try! And again with the no brainer, but not only are you saving energy...you're also saving money. What lights can you turn off right now?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patty's Potatoes

I know it's not St. Patrick's day anymore, but that doesn't mean I can't share a delish recipe with you! Put this in the quick and easy pile. When you see the cook time you might not agree that it's quick, but it's a "set it and forget it" type of cooking so you can do something else while you wait. These potatoes are yummy and the possibilities are endless. Serve them with hamburgers, throw them in a breakfast burrito, toss them in a frittata...

The Recipe:
St. Patty's Potatoes

What you need:
2 baking potatoes (chopped into 1/2 inch cubes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
dash of each:
garlic salt
paprika
oregano
sage
seasoning salt
any other herb/spice that comes to mind!

Preheat oven to 350˚. Dump chopped potatoes, olive oil and spices into a large ziploc bag (freezer ones work best). Shake the contents until potatoes are covered. I like to let them "marinade" for awhile. Wrap tinfoil around a baking sheet. Evenly pour potatoes onto baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Enjoy!

I like to wrap up the leftovers in the tinfoil and keep them in the fridge to put in eggs or to have on hand when we have sandwiches or burgers (veggie, of course). Feel free to mix up the spices. I usually just dump in whatever I have...a few shakes here, a few shakes there. Above are the spices I used today. We'll be serving them with Boca Chik'n patties on buns so they'll be like home fries! And because they are baked, they are a healthy alternative to french fries. So good. Let me know how yours turn out!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Buy Local

Going Green Tip of the Day: Buy Local
Obviously buying local doesn't really pertain to processed foods (but you're not eating those anyway, right?). When I say Buy Local, I'm talking about produce (fruits and veggies), grains, meat (if you eat it), fish, eggs, honey, nuts (should I go on?) . All the things that don't come shipped in a plastic wrap in a cardboard box.

So why buy local? For one, you are supporting local farmers and their farms. For another, you are helping rid the world of excess pollution and gas consumption. Most foods that are shipped large distances are chosen because of their ability to sustain long trips, not because of their quality (or taste). And if you live in Iowa does it really make sense to buy something shipped from Venezuela?! How long did it take to get here? And how many pesticides were put it on it to make sure it survived that long?

If you're buying local, you're probably buying more produce which means you are probably going to be eating a heck of a lot healthier as well. Buying locally often means you can buy organic, too. But don't assume that just because you buy from a farmer's market that you are buying organic. Look for sellers marked organic at your farmer's market or find a local grocery store that carries local organic products.

Greater Des Moines' Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign, sponsored by Drake University through the Agricultural Law Center, is "a network of local farms, food businesses, and consumers committed to increasing the production and sales of fresh, local foods." For more information on how you can take the pledge to BFBL, the local farms that supply these foods and the grocers that carry them visit www.buyfreshdrake.org. If you don't live in Iowa, research Buy Local campaigns in your area and if you don't have one, start one...and start buying local!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Sign this Petition!

Going Green Tip of the Day: Sign this Petition!
Remember back in November when I posted about the Million Baby Crawl and toxic chemical policy reform? This is a way to make sure our voices (or signatures) are heard!

My friend Holly, the Integrative Mom, posted this link about The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act which "would require that all chemicals be proven safe for children before they can be sold." The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that "uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment" needs our help. With our help we can let Congress know that our toxics law needs reform. The EWG website also has a lot of great information on the effects of many chemicals including BPA, cosmetic chemicals and flame retardants.

So what you are you waiting for? Go sign the petition!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: DIY Cleaning Products


Going Green Tip of the Day: DIY Cleaning Products
Making your own cleaning products is easy and inexpensive! Most of what you need you probably already have in your kitchen. This may not be new for a lot of people, but if you know about it and don't do it...you should! What you need:
Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Lemon Juice (optional)

I clean my kitchen (my sink cleans up fabulous!) with this including the kitchen floor! All I do is sprinkle baking soda where I want to clean, drizzle white vinegar (and lemon juice if I'm using it) on top and let it fizz. After sitting for 2-3 minutes, use a wet or dry cloth and scrub a dub dub! The one downfall is that you may have to go over it again with another cloth to make sure you cleaned up all the baking soda. It can get gritty. My challenge is to start using this in the restrooms. Are you up for the challenge? Remember it's easy and inexpensive!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Nix Processed Foods


Going Green Tip of the Day: Nix Processed Foods
Again, this tip falls in the Health category as well. I know that in the fast pace of life processed foods are sometimes the easy out. But think of how well you'd be treating your body and the environment if you stopped eating processed, packaged foods. An apple is much less waste than a granola bar that comes wrapped in foil packaging in a cardboard box. In fact, if you composted your apple you'd have no waste at all! (More on composting in another post). And I don't even need to tell you how much healthier an apple is than whatever it is they put in granola bars. So for today, ditch the processed foods and go for something natural (like a piece of fruit or stick veggies).

This is a tough one because virtually everything we eat (besides produce) comes in some sort of packaging. Avoid buying items that are frivolously packaged (like individually wrapped prunes, really? is that necessary?) and try to pick fresh food when possible. Buy choosing fresh you are working towards a healthier you and a healthier planet. So next time you're at the supermarket, take a look at what processed packaged food you buy and try to nix at least one. And before you purchase a certain brand check out whether it will be easy to recycle. What have we nixed lately? The Farmer and I have nixed cereal. Yep, that's right. Cereal. I'll tell you more about that in the Health Challenge next month.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Needed This Today

"Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into my protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. . . When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them, My presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do."
(based on Genesis 22:19-12, Ephesians 3:20 and Exodus 3:12), Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Auntie Rosita sent me this today because she knew I needed it (we like to think we share a brain). So I wanted to share it with you. We've had a rough go this week with Sweet P and her being sick again. If you or someone you love is having a hard time letting go and letting God, please pass this along to them. Sometimes you just need to hear (or read) it to remember that He is in control.

Going Green Tips will return tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Taking Pictures Tuesday

Oh boy do I love this kid.
Getting ready to go out in the rain in her rain coat from Auntie M and Mama Mary.

Biscuits for Breakfast

I love rainy, lazy days like today. Especially when you have nothing on the schedule for the morning. Especially if it's not snowing. And especially if you can take it easy. And we are definitely taking it easy after yesterday morning. Poor Sweet P has another ear infection (insert sad face here). She also had some issues yesterday morning that I won't post about in an entry about food. But don't worry, we are on the mend and will hopefully be good as new in the next few days (we better be! We're going to visit Gammie and the Aunties on Thursday!).

My favorite thing about lazy days like this though is that it always inspires me to make something yummy for breakfast. I dug out my William Sonoma Baking cookbook and found a recipe for Cheddar-Chive Biscuits. Except I didn't have any cheddar. Or any chives. So here's what I made instead.

Colby-Jack Parsley Biscuits (the name just doesn't sound the same)
2 c flour (I used one c ww and one c white flour)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp unsalted butter (cold and cut into cubes)
2 tbsp parsley flakes (dried or fresh)
1/2 c colby-jack shredded cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
2/3 c milk (I used a 1/2 c soy milk, 1/4 c water and 2 tbsp yogurt)

Preheat oven to 425˚. Combine flour, baking powder, parsley, salt and cheese. Using a pastry blender (or a fork) cut in butter. Add milk (or milk mixture) and mix until moistened. Turn dough out onto floured surface and put together. Knead about 6 times and form a ball. Pat into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Using a floured cookie cutter (or top of cup) about 3in wide, cut out circles. Continue until all dough is used. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Yields about 11-12 biscuits (depending on thickness).

These were really good. The Farmer even said, "These are the best biscuits you've ever made. They actually look like biscuits." This is true, my biscuits in the past have not quite looked like biscuits. You couldn't taste the cheese because it wasn't a sharp cheddar, but they had a really nice flavor to them. And they took under 30 minutes (including cook time) to make.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: Quit Smoking

No, I do not smoke.

If you do, you should stop. Right now. Don't wait another minute. Stop. This is actually a health tip as well as a Going Green tip. If you or someone you love smokes, please quit or help them today. Smoking is not only damaging both your and your family's health, it's also harming others around you as well as the environment.

I decided this would be my tip today when I saw the pile of cigarette butts outside my first floor neighbor's apartment. According to cigarettelitter.org (yep, a real website), 7 TRILLION (what?!) cigarette butts are tossed on the ground each year (world wide). And it's no surprise that they are the most littered item in the world. So not only are they filling our landfills, they are also piling up on our streets, beaches, parking lots and apparently door steps (my neighbor's at least). And in case you were wondering...no, they are not biodegradable. There may be an eco-friendly cigarette out there somewhere, but the environment isn't the only thing I'm worried about:

As the second major cause of death in the world, smoking is not doing you any favors. In fact, it's not doing anyone any favors. Secondhand smoke is KNOWN to cause lung cancer. So while it may seem like I'm on my soapbox here, I'm just worried about smokers and those they care about it (and the strangers breathing their exhaled smoke!).

Quit today. Save yourself, your family and the environment. For more information on how to quit visit: www.quitnet.com (the web's original and largest quit smoking site).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: BYOBottle

Going Green Tip of the Day: BYOBottle
If you're still buying packaged water in PLASTIC bottles. Stop it. Stop it right now. Go out and buy yourself a reusable water bottle (preferably a steel one) and refill it throughout the day. Don't be afraid to spend a decent amount on one. Trust me, that thing will more than pay for itself.

So don't buy a cheap 3$ one that you see on the end aisle at the grocery store. Go find yourself a nice SIGG or Klean Kanteen bottle. I have a SIGG bottle that goes with me everywhere. It even has some nice dents in it from when I drop it. Shush. It gives it character. I do not have a sports top, but really wish I did. Auntie Rosita's water bottle does and I know it makes a difference, especially if you use it when you're working out.

If you must buy plastic bottles (from time to time! not all the time!) remember to recycle them when you are finished with them. And for your and your family's safety, don't drink from water bottles that have been left in the sun. I don't know for sure if the plastic is leaching chemicals into the water, but who wants to take chances?!

So there you have it. If you don't have a steel water bottle, go out and get one. And if you don't want steel at least find a plastic one that is BPA free and reusable. Save yourself, the environment and the money you spend on packaged water.

Note: The Farmer and I went grocery shopping yesterday and remembered our bags! We even used our own bags for produce items. How are you doing?


Saturday, March 6, 2010

One for You, One for Me


My baby bird eating pancakes

I like to think of myself as a pancake connoissuer. I love all things pancake. I also love to make them. I've posted before about how I ate them at least once a week while pregnant with Sweet P so you would think I'd perfected a recipe and use that one every time.

Not so. I am constantly trying new things with pancakes and today (and two days ago) I tried something different. On Thursday I made more pancakes for Sweet P. Brown Rice Sweet Potato Babycakes to be exact. She gobbled them right up. What can I say? She is her mother's daughter (this week anyway). This morning, I made The Farmer and me blueberry pancakes. YUM.

Now the next question is, "Are they healthy?" Absolutely. Seriously. They are. And I'm gonna share them with you. The babycakes are free of wheat, eggs and milk (even soymilk) and the adult cakes are free of milk and eggs. So how do you do it? I thought you'd never ask.

The Recipe:
Brown Rice Sweet Potato Babycakes

What you need:
1 c organic short grain brown rice (or non-organic)*
1/2 of one sweet potato (baked and cooled)
1 tsp baking powder
about 1 c water
1 tbsp flaxseed
a pinch nutmeg & cinnamon
2 tbsp plain organic yogurt (I use Stonyfield)
1 tsp olive oil
1 scoop probiotics (still trying to get those to her)

*This will become rice flour
Place brown rice in a food processor, blender or other grinding device (I use a coffee grinder) and pulse until ground into a powder. You may have to sift the flour and place unground rice back into the machine to grind again. This process may take about 10 minutes. You can also do a fair amount ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Add flaxseed, baking powder, spices and probotics and mix. Add yogurt and olive oil, then slowly add the water about 1/4 c at a time. Stir until the batter is thick and slightly runny. Add more water if needed. Mix in sweet potato. Cook like regular pancakes on skillet using olive oil on medium heat. I make them Sweet P bite size so she can pick them up. Yields about 24 bite-sized cakes.
The Result: Sweet P loves these. Even more than the oatmeal babycakes. The great things about these is that the possibilities are endless. You can replace the sweet potato with banana, zucchini, apples, carrots, etc! This is a great way to hide veggies for babies and toddlers. Because what toddler doesn't like pancakes! Sweet P also likes them dipped in yogurt.

The Recipe:
Blueberry Whole Wheat and Rice Pancakes

What you need:
1 c whole wheat flour (sifted)
1/2 c organic organic brown rice (ground into flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp flaxseed
3 tbsp yogurt
a pinch cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
1 c water
a splash of soymilk
1 tsp olive oil
2/3 c frozen or fresh blueberries

Mix all ingredients (except water and blueberries) in a medium size bowl. Add water until a thick and slightly runny consistency is reached (will look like regular pancake batter). Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into 4-inch circles onto greased griddle or skillet. Use butter or olive oil to grease. Cook on medium heat and flip after 2 minutes. Yields 10 4-inch pancakes. Can double recipe and freeze extras. Serve with syrup, honey, yogurt or agave nectar.

The Result: These were so good. We had them this morning before my workout and I worried I might feel too full, but I actually felt great and they satisfied me until I got home from the gym. Without eggs or milk they have a heartier quality rather than a fluffy quality which I like. They also don't take long which when you're trying to get out the door on time is a huge plus!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Going Green Tip of the Day: BYOB

Thank you to Auntie Rosita for my adorable Going Green icon! Isn't that environmentally friendly girl the cutest? Does being environmentally friendly make you more attractive? Hmmm, maybe!

Going Green Tip of the Day: BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)
I struggle with this. Why? Because I'm a mom and forget where my brain is half the time. Usually, I'm in the store at the checkout counter watching them put my groceries in bag after bag after bag before I realize my canvas bags are at home. So here's where the challenge comes in. I challenge you (and myself) to put the bags in the car (it's a start) and write GET BAGS! on your grocery list. That way when you look at your list, even if you're already inside, you'll remember the bags (and run out to get them!). A lot of stores will give you a discount for BYOBing. Target takes 5¢ off your purchase for each bag of your own you use. It may not seem like a lot, but it'll add up over time.

Plus, you're helping the environment by limiting the plastic bags. If you're offered a choice (paper or plastic?) I'd choose paper. While both paper or plastic use about the same amount of energy, paper is sturdier when you reuse the bag and recycled quickly (so you can throw them in with your mixed paper). If you forget your bags and your only option is plastic...either recycle them by taking them back to the store or reuse them at home (as trash liners, lunch bags, compost bags, the possibilities are endless!

Don't pretend you don't know where to get your own canvas bags. Almost every store carries them (usually near the checkout) and you can buy them for 99¢ most places. You can also buy larger bags or produce bags from this site.

So add this tip to your recycling paper/cardboard. I'm going to put my bags in my car right now! Do you already use your own bags? Let me know what types you use.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Challenge: Going Green

photo credit: www.genexe.com

I was going to make this month the Health Challenge, but at the last minute changed my mind when I realized March has St Patrick's Day...so why not Go Green! this month? I'll share with you a few things we do already to go green and then challenge myself to a few more! But don't worry...I won't leave out the Health Challenge (look for it in April, when we Iowans can get outside more often).

But before we get started on March let's talk about February. How was my challenge? Eh, hard to say. We had a few crazy nights in February with Sweet P being sick and heading to the ER at 12:45am so I can't say it went fabulous. I will admit, though, that I have definitely been going to bed earlier (maybe not at 10pm every night, but earlier). I've also challenged myself to get up a bit earlier too. So with that challenge out of the way (but I'll still try to go to bed early), let's head into March!

Oh glorious March. I can't tell you how long I have waited for you (3 months to be exact). I have a feeling March is going to be great. I'll do my best to post a Go Green tip of the day and if you try it, tell me how it goes!

Today's Go Green Tip: Recycle Cardboard and Paper

This is for all you non-recycler's out there (which I hope there are few). If you don't recycle ANYTHING, start small. Start recycling cardboard and paper. It's easy. Find a box or plastic tub and start filling it up with paper. IKEA carries great stackable recycling bins to use for your recycling. We keep ours inside by the door. You will be AMAZED at how fast it fills up. Look for a place in your town/city where you can drop it off or have them pick it up. If you aren't currently wheeling out your blue trash can to the curb...get to it! That includes the toilet paper roll.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quinoa Pudding

Try a new twist on rice pudding! I made this for Sweet P today for breakfast and she gobbled it right up. It was simple and not too bad (I taste everything I give her).

Quinoa Pudding
1-2 tbsp cooked organic quinoa
1-2 tbsp plain yogurt
1-2 tbsp pureed pear (I had these frozen already)
a dash of cinnamon

Mix all together and serve. The Farmer thought it looked like rice pudding so ta-da! A new alternative to rice pudding. Enjoy!

Note: Feel free to make a large portion for other children or yourself! This is just what I knew Sweet P would eat.