Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Re-Gifting is Eco-Friendly

Every holiday season, my department participates in two events: Adopt-a-Child and Adopt-a-Family. My goal is to get at least two gifts every year. I would rather spend money on a family that truly needs basic necessities than buy stuff for my family that they do not really need. Every year, I am more and more amazed by the gifts that the children and the families request. I am humbled that the families want basic necessities such as socks, underwear, and a pillow. Here I am asking for Sperrys and Le Creuset pots when families do not even have things like undergarments and warm sweaters!

For this holiday season, I picked a 15 year old girl who wanted an art set with a sketch pad and Bath & Body Works type items. I also picked a mother who wants a laundry basket and a nail care set.

I have a few body products left from before-my-all-natural days. I thought they would be perfect for the 15 year old girl. Instead of throwing these products away, I am re-gifting them to someone who really wants them. Yes, I am passing on toxic chemicals to someone else, but I know that she really wants these body products. Could you imagine the look on her face if I gave her an organic version?!? I will save my eco-friendly soap box for another day.

If you have an opportunity to adopt a child or family for the holidays, even if you just pick up one tag at the mall's booth and buy something that costs less than $10, you are helping out someone in need. Being green and eco-friendly means that we are supporting each other. I can pass on my Sperrys this year!

Leftovers Pie [Recipe] [CTWW]

I am participating in this week's Change the World Wednesday challenge to waste no food. Please read my strategies for not throwing any food away this week.

Today, I am sharing a recipe that will reduce the amount of food you throw in the trash. Why? Because this is the Leftovers Pie! Start with a pre-made pie shell (I always have a few in the fridge and freezer), create the filling base and add any leftovers inside. I scan the refrigerator shelves and the freezer for anything I have left and throw it in.

Leftovers Pie Recipe

Pre-Made Pie Shell (I recommend Trader Joe's brand)

Filling Base
(rough measurements):3 eggs

1 cup of milk
2 cups of shredded cheese (can mix cheese types)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour

Additions: anything you have left over in the fridge! My favorite are leftover meat and veggies, including onions, tomatoes, peppers, etc. You can totally make this recipe vegetarian! Add seasonings to go along with the additions.

  1. Preheat over to 350 F degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients for Filling Base.
  3. Add any additional ingredients.
  4. If mixture is too wet, add more ingredients, flour, cheese, or sour cream. If mixture is too dry, add more milk, eggs, or sour cream.
  5. Place pre-made pie shell on butter pie dish.
  6. Pour in mixture and smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 40-60 minutes.  The time depends on what combination of ingredients you have.  After 40 minutes, check the center with a knife.  If knife does not come out clean, bake longer, re-checking with a knife every 10 minutes.
  8. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve!

I made this recipe tonight.  My additions were leftover organic grass-fed ground beef, chopped onion, previously frozen sauteed radish greens from my garden, and spicy seasoning.

This recipe was created by All Natural Katie. If you see this Leftovers Pie recipe anywhere else, please email me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Green Motivation Monday: Buy a Live Christmas Tree

This post is part of the Green Motivation Monday series. The purpose of these weekly posts is to offer motivation to take a small baby step in the green and eco-friendly direction. Of course, I will be taking the step right along with you. I will let you know how I did and I hope you let me know what you were able to accomplish.

Motivation: Buy a live Christmas tree instead of an artificial Christmas tree

I asked my husband if he thought that a real tree or an artificial tree was more eco-friendly. His answer: artificial tree. Initially, we both thought that an artificial tree would be more eco-friendly because you are reusing the same tree year after year and not cutting down real trees. We were both wrong!

Real Christmas trees are the eco-friendly choice.
Buy a tree with the root ball and you are being even more eco-friendly because the tree can be planted after the holidays are over. Good Girl Gone Green and Earth 911 cover the debate of "real vs. fake" and also promote buying a real Christmas tree. Over the long run, a real tree will cost you more money. However, the positive environmental impact of buying a real tree every year will outweigh your out-of-pocket cost in the end.

Artificial Christmas trees are harmful. They can potentially cause cancer because they are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is “one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic.” Fake trees might contain lead and other additives that have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological and reproductive system damage in lab studies on animals.

I challenge you to buy a real Christmas tree (even if it is a small one) and stand clear of fake, toxic plastic trees!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Waste No Food [#CTWW]

This week's challenge comes from Reduced Footprints based on this article. Recent estimates suggest that 40% of the food grown for human consumption is never eaten. This percentage is along the whole supply chain. Households throw away about 14% of food. Take your total food spending and multiply 14%. That is how much money you are throwing in the garbage.

This week, make a conscious effort to waste no food. If you need some ideas on how to accomplish this, please read the article referenced in the previous paragraph.


If you never, ever waste even a morsel of food ... WOW ... you are a hero. Pat yourself on the back and then sit back and relax in the knowledge that you are doing a great thing for the earth!

A little analysis of our wasteful effort reveals two paths for wasted food. Vegetables and fruits are composted. Cheese and leftovers that have sat in the fridge for 1 week are the main items that are tossed in the trash.  Here is a graphic that show what standard U.S. household usually throw away:

For this week, I am going to make an effort not to throw anything away. Here is my strategy:

  1. Freeze leftovers that are not consumed within 2 days.
  2. Freeze ingredients that are not used.
  3. Create meals around fruits or vegetables that are going soft.
  4. Blanch or steam vegetables that are become soft and freeze for later use in soup, stir-fry, or pasta dishes.
  5. Plan the menu and buy only what I need. For anything extra, refer to numbers 2, 3, and 4 above.
  6. Save left over chicken bones and carcass for making home made chicken stock (freeze the stock for future use).

I usually live by most of my rules, but I need to make a better effort to not throw away food. All of us buy too much food, eat too much food, and throw away too much food. Let's be more aware of what we are buying and eating so that we have zero food waste this week.

Here is a Food Recovery Diagram from the EPA.  The diagram describes what can be done with food scraps.  Food can be a valuable resource.

Food Waste Can Be A Valuable Resource

>> What tips do you have for helping me avoid throwing away food?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pine Cone Gift Decoration

I am officially in gift giving mode!  With my husband's side of the family, the Thanksgiving weekend is a time of exchanging gift lists and then shopping for those gifts.  Several gifts have been bought and I am thinking of eco-friendly ways to wrap them.

My recent post about pine cone decoration was well received by my Twitter and #CTWW followers.  I must admit that I am going a little crazy about the pine cones.  I am now Googling pine cone gift decorations!  (Off Note: My husband thinks I've gone off the deep end and should just drop the whole pine cone theme.)

The Country Living website offers creative ideas for decorating with pine cones.  My favorite is the pine cone gift wrap.  Instead of using the standard-issue bow, you string one or two pine cones on top.  You can even spray paint or brush paint them with your favorite holiday color. All year long, I have been saving the brown/beige paper that is used to wrap fragile items. I will use the paper to wrap some of the gifts and will attach one or two pine cones with a name tag at the end of ribbon.  

>> How do you incorporate eco-friendly themes into your gift wrapping?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Challenge Results: Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I am not a vegetarian, but I have reduced the amount of meat that I eat. I have really enjoyed discovering vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts. In response to the Food, Inc. movie I recently watched (the awful commercial farming practices also apply to turkeys), I decided not to eat any turkey, ham, or meat on Thanksgiving.

What I Avoided:
  1. Turkey
  2. Ham with preservatives
  3. Salad with bacon
  4. Green beans cooked with bacon
  5. Bread with preservatives
What I Ate:
  1. My cranberry sauce
  2. My Toasted Almond and Butternut Squash Tart (Source: Whole Living magazine)
  3. Stuffing (afterwards, I realized that the bread used had preservatives in there. Fail!)
  4. Mashed potatoes
  5. Broccoli casserole
My Thoughts: Eating vegetarian was not as difficult as I thought it would be. To be quite honest, I did not miss the meat at all. I actually found it harder to avoid preservatives because I did not know all of the ingredients in the sides (ex: mayonnaise, cream of mushroom soup, etc.).

I was prepared to answer any questions from family members who would be curious why I am not eating meat. I cannot say that I am "vegetarian sometimes" because they would look at me like I was crazy. So, I decided that a simple, "no, thank you!" will do it if I was offered turkey. Now, for the ham and deli meat, I am prepared to say that "I cannot eat preservatives." I could say that I cannot eat deli meat and cured meat, but I brought salami with me (preservative-free), so that answer would not fly.

Here are some of my canned responses:
  1. No, Thank You!
  2. I am allergic to ...
  3. I cannot eat ... 
If you find it difficult to explain your food preferences to your friends and family, think of a few responses beforehand. No need to go into detailed and lengthy explanations. No need to be sorry for your preferences. Be prepared with a canned response.

Happy Turkey Day!

Eat, Drink, and Be Green
and if you're eating turkey, say thanks! :)

Happy Turkey Day to all of my wonderful readers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Do You Shop? I Shop Small Business Saturday

Black Friday is a tradition that touches every family, whether you stay up all night planning to start shopping as soon as the stores open or you opt out of shopping on this day. Or, you are like me, who chooses to visit a few stores during the middle of the afternoon just to see what is going on.

Over the past year, I have challenged myself to buy more local and small business items. I like supporting the "little people." Shopping at small and local businesses allows you to find items that are unique and very well made. If Black Friday is not your ideal way to shop for holiday gifts, then consider venturing out on Small Business Saturday.

The 2nd annual Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. On November 26, they are asking millions of people to Shop Smallsm at their favorite local stores and help fuel the economy.

Help to create a new tradition! Avoid the big box stores and spend your hard-earned money at small businesses. The customer service will be better and you will be more satisfied with unique and high quality gifts.

When we all shop small, it will be huge!

Wordless Wednesday - Edible Garden Wall

Here is an interesting concept - an edible garden wall made up of herbs! The herb garden wall is a great way to create greenspace in narrow or small areas. Over the winter, I am going to think about where I can build a small edible garden wall.


Wouldn't this be gorgeous?  If only I had a stone wall...

Herb Wall

Monday, November 21, 2011

Green Motivation Monday - Taste the Season

This post is part of the Green Motivation Monday series.  The purpose of these weekly posts is to offer motivation to take a small baby step in the green and eco-friendly direction.  Of course, I will be taking the step right along with you.  I will let you know how I did and I hope you let me know what you were able to accomplish.

Motivation: Taste the season by f
lavoring foods with spices and low-fat, low-sodium seasonings like rosemary, basil, or red pepper.

Instead of heavy sauces, butter and marinades, flavor foods with spices and other low-fat, low-sodium seasonings. Try rosemary, basil or red pepper on some of your favorite foods this week for a new, healthy twist.  By avoiding heavy and pre-made sauces, you will reduce the amount of toxins and additives in your body.  Pre-made sauces often contain High Fructose Corn Syrup and Preservatives.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Waxelene - The Petroleum Jelly Alternative [Review]

I cannot tell you why I never made the connection that Petroleum Jelly comes from Petroleum! Sounds like an easy 2+2=4. Right? Of course, if we stop and think about the name, our intelligence will ask why it is called Petroleum Jelly. Because Petroleum Jelly has become a mainstream product, we assume that it is safe for everyday and baby use.

Why is Petroleum Jelly Toxic?

Petroleum Jelly is also know as petrolatum or paraffin, and is a petroleum byproduct (just like the gas or oil in your car). EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database rates petrolatum as 2 (green) and paraffin is rated as 1 (green), but describes as a "semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum." Even though it is rated as 2 by EWG, the fact that it is a petroleum byproduct is disgusting! Would you put oil or gasoline on your body if it promised more moisture? Not me! As consumer, we generally do not know the origin of petroleum or the chemicals that are used to process it. Therefore, we do not know exactly what we are putting on our bodies or what type of toxic chemical contamination we are being exposed to.

So what is a girl with dry skin to do? She can get herself a cute little jar of Waxelene!

Waxelene 2 oz. jar

Waxelene 2 oz. jars retails for $6.99.
Waxelene 9 oz. jar retails for $15.99.

Why is Waxelene The Perfect Alternate?

Waxelene is an alternative to petroleum jelly and has an endless number of uses.

  • Anything you would use petroleum jelly for and more!
  • Skin moisturizing, protection, and lubrication
  • Protection from chafing, friction, and wind burn 
  • Make-up & removal
  • Soothing chapped, dry skin (Eczema & Psoriasis)
  • Reducing diaper irritation
  • Aftershave for face/legs
  • Wetsuit rash prevention
  • Hair
  • After Sun
  • Hands
  • Tons of other creative household and cosmetic uses

  • Non-petroleum based - Healthier for your family and the planet!
  • Eco-friendly, biodegradable, no GMOs
  • No parabens or artificial ingredients
  • Smooth and silky consistency
  • All natural
  • Contains organic ingredients
  • Water/sweat resistant - Lasting protection
  • Not Greasy
  • Goes on clear
  • No animal testing

What are the Ingredients?

  1. Organic Soybean Oil (non-GMO, non-hydrogenated)
  2. Beeswax (100% Natural)
  3. Organic Rosemary Oil (non-GMO)
  4. Vitamin E Oil (100% Natural)
Check out Waxelene's descriptions and benefits of the ingredients.


What Did I Think of Waxelene?

Waxelene is a little jar of heaven! I was impressed with the glass jar and the metal lid (both are reusable and recyclable), as opposed to the usual plastic container.

I was surprised by the smell! The Organic Rosemary Oil adds an unexpected, but interesting scent. Do not worry, you will not smell like a rosemary bush!  The scent is herby and woodsy.

I have been using Waxelene for 2 weeks. I love that a little bit of the product goes a long way. This 2 oz jar will last a long time! Waxelene immediately absorbed and softened my dry and red hands without leaving my skin greasy.  The softness lasted for hours and even overnight! Waxelene is the perfect moisturizer because it is light enough that it will not leave my skin looking greasy, but heavy enough to take on dry, cracked, winter skin. Waxelene is truly the perfect moisturizer!

Opportunities for Improvement: I would love to see more scents with Organic Essential Oils, something like Calendula or Lavender.

What is the Man’s Opinion? 
My husband did not like the smell because it smelled too "functional." He would like to see a more floral and body-product smell. Aren't herby and woodsy smells supposed to be masculine? :)

All Natural Katie's Rating:
Total green check marks out of 5.

I would recommend Waxelene to anyone for the following reasons.  I might not be able to use another moisturizer ever again because Waxelene works so well!
  1. Immediate and effective moisturizing of dry skin
  2. Immediate absorption
  3. A little goes a long way
  4. All natural product
Be sure to use Waxelene within one year since the product contains no preservatives.

Disclosure: I received the sample from Waxelene, Inc. in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my personal experiences. This review is objective and completely honest.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Preparing for Eco-Friendly Adventures in Babysitting

My husband and I have babysat his twin nieces a couple times. They are mover and shakers! They like to run around and play with everything! Today, I am mentally and physically preparing for tonight because I know we will need to keep them busy. Here are some eco-friendly craft ideas:

Seashell Angels and Snowmen 
Gift to Grandma at Christmas
Shells collected during our beach trip

Paint pine cones and string together to hang on doorknobs
Pine cones collected in our neighbor's yard (make sure you ask first!)
My favorite is the one in the middle

Pinecone Swag

Tutorial and pictures to come! I am off to clean shells!

>> What eco-friendly crafts have you done with your kids?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Very First Blog Hop!

I have connected with two great ladies (Eliza and Jennifer) and to bring All Natural Katie's first blog hop! Blog hops are a great way to increase your reader base and gain new followers. I have discovered so many amazing blogs from blog hops!

Wordless Wednesday - Which Chicken Would You Pick?

Source: Food, Inc.

The chicken on the left is grown under normal conditions. The chicken on the right is what farmers who are part of Agribiz are producing. The chicken on the right is grown in about 20 fewer days.  This chicken is fed food that chickens are not meant to eat so that it can grow bigger breasts.  It is unnatural and disgusting!

>> Which chicken would you choose?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

America Recycles Day - November 15

Today is...

America Recycles Day

Almost 6200 people have taken the pledge on their website to recycle. I challenge you to take the pledge! I did!

Learn. About the recycling options in my community. I will find out what materials are collected for recycling in my community at americarecyclesday.org.
Act. Reduce my personal waste by recycling. Within the next month, I will start to recycle one new type of material.
My husband and I began recycling when we realized how much trash we accumulated each week. How could two people produce so much trash?!?

Once we began recycling, our recycle bin had more trash in it than the trashcan. Then we added composting to the mix and we hardly have any trash. This means that we spend less money on trash bags.  Score!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Green Motivation Monday - Take the Stairs

This post is part of the Green Motivation Monday series.  The purpose of these weekly posts is to offer motivation to take a small baby step in the green and eco-friendly direction.  Of course, I will be taking the step right along with you.  I will let you know how I did and I hope you let me know what you were able to accomplish.

Motivation: Take the stairs to burn a few calories and reduce electricity usage if you need to go up or down less than 5 floors.

I work on the 26th floor and I have taken the stairs both up and down several times (not in one day, lol).  Yes, it's difficult.  Yes, I feel like I'm going to die halfway up.  However, it takes only 7 minutes to do so and I burn around 40-50 calories doing so.  Either way, taking the stairs helps me to break up the monotony of sitting behind a computer all day long.

Taking the stairs when you have to go up or down only a few floors is reasonable for most people.  Next time you have the option, seek out the stairs instead of pushing the elevator button.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting Crunchy with Katie: Bloopers at the Farmer's Market

I shop at farmers markets several times each year, but I am not a regular shopper by any means.  I feel that they are always located "out of the way."  Maybe it is because most of them are only open one day a week.  Maybe it is because I cannot get all of my groceries in one stop.  Excuses!  Excuses!  Or, maybe it is the fact that I do not know the right questions to ask.  Today, I am bringing you some of my bloopers from the farmers market.

Check out the rest of my post at Mommy Living the Life of Riley: 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winterize Your Home - Yard [#CTWW]

This week's challenge comes from Jen.

This week, prepare your home for winter. Do at least one thing which will ensure that your winter is Eco-friendly. Need some ideas? Click HERE. If you are moving into spring/summer, prepare your home for the warm months ... you'll find some ideas HERE.

Or ...

If you've already prepared your home for the cold (or warm) months ahead, we'd like to know what you've done. Please include tips, ideas and any do-it-yourself advice.

I plan on doing several posts about our "winterizing process." Yesterday, I covered Heating. Today, I will 
cover the Yard. Our yard is pretty big and we have some big, old trees that drop an unbelievable amount of leaves.  Let me tell you how we are preparing the yard for the winter.

Yard Improvements:
  1. Mulched leaves placed in compost bin, compost piles, flower beds, and garden. Mulched leaves provide protection for plants during the winter. In the garden beds, they break down to provide nutrients for the next growing season.
  2. Dried flowers and plants removed and placed into compost piles and bin to bread down.
  3. Rain barrel drained and stored. I was able to water every single plant, bush, and young tree. Next year, I will disconnect the rain barrel earlier so that I do not have a full barrel of water and have to spend over 1 hour pouring, carrying, and watering every single plant. (great exercise though!)

>>  How are your preparing your yard for the cold weather months?

Winterize Your Home - Heating [#CTWW]

This week's challenge comes from Jen.

This week, prepare your home for winter. Do at least one thing which will ensure that your winter is Eco-friendly. Need some ideas? Click HERE. If you are moving into spring/summer, prepare your home for the warm months ... you'll find some ideas HERE.

Or ...

If you've already prepared your home for the cold (or warm) months ahead, we'd like to know what you've done. Please include tips, ideas and any do-it-yourself advice.

WinterizingthumbnailI plan on doing several posts about our "winterizing process." Today, I will 
cover Heating. We have been living in our house for 2 years now and we have 
been slowing making improvement to keep the cold out. Our house is 63 years old, so you can expect some drafts.  My husband and I swear that there is no insulation in the outside walls, especially in our bedroom. During the cold months, our bedroom pretty much becomes a "meat locker" because it is so cold in there.

Heating Improvements:

  1. Thermal curtains in 3 rooms.  When we're home, we open them in the morning and close in the evening.  
  2. Blinds and thermal curtains in the bedroom.
  3. DIY tufted headboard (this REALLY helped to protect the cold from the outside wall).
  4. Additional weather stripping on the front door and the walk-out basement door. [just added]
  5. Extra blankets in the living room and bedroom. Temperature kept at 67 during the day when we are home and 64 at night or when we are away from home.
  6. Caulking around the windows and the front door.

>>  How are your preparing to keep your house warm during the cold weather months?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Search of Eco-Friendly Exercise Clothing

I participate in many different forms of exercise: running, DVDs, weight training, and most recently, yoga and cycling. Buying yoga clothing has been the most fun. Many retailers offer organic cotton options for yoga wear. However, I have had some difficulty finding appropriate clothing for cycling. My collection of boot cut exercise and yoga pants is not safe when I have extra fabric flapping around between the pedal and the chain.

I am in search of cycling pants and tops that are eco-friendly and non-toxic.  

Bicycle GreenMy Criteria (in order of importance):
  1. Eco-friendly fabric
  2. Eco-friendly dyes
  3. Comfort
  4. Style

I did some research.  In terms of fabric appropriate for exercise, I found options like organic cotton (hard to find for cycling clothing), wool, vintage polyester, and recycled polyester as being the best options. Bamboo is not on my list! Even though bamboo is touted as antibacterial and eco-friendly because it takes so little time to reach maturity, the process of transforming bamboo into fabric is very extensive. Toxic chemicals are used to liquefy the wood and turn it into a fabric similar to rayon. Bamboo itself is good, the process to transform it into fabric is far from being environmentally friendly. I know there are companies out there that sell eco-friendly and sustainable bamboo, but I have not found them yet!

What other types of fabrics can I look into?

What brands are going to be the best?  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There is a Place and a Time

I have a small group of "green" ladies at work. I love chatting with them about organic foods or the latest discovery of a nasty chemical that is added to processed foods. However, there is a place and time to have these types of conversations. This week, I learned this lesson the hard way. Let me tell you about my experience.

I am currently working a team made up of a few men who are 40 years old and older. We have a pretty good team dynamic and have been working well together. During one meeting, we got on the topic of soft drinks (pop, soda, whatever you call it). As usual, I got on my soap box about the nasty ingredients in soft drinks, especially in diet soft drinks. The team knows that I eat organic and shop at Whole Foods, so it should not have been a surprise that I have an opinion about the health hazards of soft drinks. A few minutes into this discussion, and I was being told that they hope I continue this "excitement" about healthy living as I get older, followed by laughing.

What is this supposed to mean?!?

This is not some fad that I'm going through, this is a complete change. Obviously, I haven't gotten the point across that this is my lifestyle now.

Did they put me down because I am younger and therefore, not as "wise?"

I might not be as wise about life in general because I am younger, but I bet I know a whole lot more about healthy, green, and eco-friendly living.  I am going to try not to take this personal. I am going to take this as a challenge to get my point across better and know when to keep my mouth shut.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Eat an African Horned Melon (Kiwano)

Have you ever seen a Kiwano?

A Kiwano is also known as an African Horned Melon, which is part of the cucumber family.

Basic nutrition stats:

  • 25 calories per melon
  • 0g fat, sodium, and cholesterol
  • 40% of your daily vitamin C RDI
I inherited three of these melons from my mom. I say that I inherited them because they were in my fridge for almost two weeks before I gathered enough courage to eat them. First, I realized I needed to find out how to eat the melon. Do you see those little bumps on the melon? They are a little sharp! Here are some easy instructions:
  1. Cut the melon in half (along the equator).

    Horned Melon
  2. Take the half that you cut and gentle squeeze to release the flesh and seeds.  (do not cut into quarters like the picture show, just in half)

  3. Lick or suck up the flesh and seeds into your mouth. Do not attempt this in front of your extended family or someone you would like to date. The juices got all over my face!  I recommend using a spoon to scoop the flesh out.

  4. You have two options:
    • Eat the flesh and the seeds
    • Hold the seed between your teeth and suck the flesh off it.  Spit the seed out.  I tried this method a few times; it was too much work. 
Overall Impression: This is definitely the most interesting piece of fruit I have ever eaten. The taste was very mild, not too sweet and not too tart. I read that a Kiwano is usually compared to a mix of cucumber, lemon, banana, and lime. Very interesting and very good combination! Although a little time consuming to eat, the fact that a Kiwano is only 25 calories and provides a very unique combination of flavors is a plus in my book!

>> Have you ever heard of or tried a Kiwano?  What did you think?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reducing Your Electricity Usage [#CTWW]

This month's challenge comes from Mrs. Green. A whole month!

This month make note of the electricity (Kilowatts) used in your home (find this number on your electric bill, by reading the meter, by using a home electricity monitor, etc.). Then, spend one month reducing that number by 10%. In December we'll come back and report on our success including the actions we've taken to reduce our usage.

For this month's challenge, my goal is to track the amount of electricity and gas that we use each week.  I start each Monday by taking a reading from both meters and continue taking readings each Monday after that. I am using a spreadsheet to track the day, time, readings, and any notes. I will analyze the results and see what type of progress we are making each week.  My challenge is to reduce the usage by 10% each week (the Change the World Wednesday Challenge is to track for November and reduce in December).

A few items that will affect the usage: 
  • I work from home sometimes
  • We travel on the weekends to visit family
  • We will be traveling out of town for Thanksgiving and Christmas

The following items are opportunities for reduce electricity use:

  1. Leaving lights on when no one is in the room
  2. Leaving the TV on when not in use
  3. Length of showers
  4. Leaving small appliances and electronics plugged in when not in use
  5. Lower the thermostat by 1 degree (we already have it fairly low, 67 during day, 64 at night)

In the next few weeks, I will post my table of readings to share my improvements!

>> Will you join me in this challenge?

Challenge Results: One Day as a Vegan - Menu Plan [#CTWW]

This week's Change the World Wednesday challenge consisted of eating vegan for one day.  I had a great menu plan for Sunday.  Here are the results:

Breakfast: Banana and Peanut Butter Oatmeal
My thoughts: Delicious recipe!  I substituted Trader Joe's Crunchy Almond Butter with Flax Seed.  The mashed banana gave the plain oatmeal a great flavor.
His thoughts: Husband approved!  Sweet enough that he would not need to add sugar.

Lunch: Chipotle Veggie Bowl
My thoughts: Chipotle makes awesome grilled veggies.  I did not miss the chicken that I usually get.  I passed on the sour cream and cheese and got guacamole.
His thoughts: Husband did not join me on this challenge for lunch.  Although, he loves Chipotle!

Snacks: I usually eat dried fruit, nuts, and fruit for snacks.  However, once in a while, I will sneak in chocolate, candy, and other sweats.  I came back from the grocery store ready for a snack and went straight for chocolate and a cookie.  And then I remember the challenge!  Fail!

Dinner: Black Bean and Avocado Quesadilla
My thoughts: The recipe was great! I love the guacamole inside.  I sauteed onions and green peppers in olive oil and also added it inside the quesadilla.  Chili powder and cumin were mixed in with the beans.  I did not add cheese to my quesadillas.
His thoughts: Husband had cheese and sour cream on his quesadillas, but did not even notice that he was eating vegetarian.  Success!

Summary:  Although I did not stick to the vegan menu plan 100% and my husband did not join me 100% on this challenge, we still made a small impact on the environment by avoiding meat at every meal.  I like the challenge of making vegetarian and vegan recipes, so I will try to incorporate on vegan meal per week.

Whether you eat vegan for one day or for one meal, you should be proud of yourself. Most times, it is difficult to get our spouses and families to make the change, but sometimes, you can sneak in a little here and there, and they will not know at all.

* "His thoughts" are brought to you by my (sometimes) unsuspecting and unwilling husband. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

One Day as a Vegan - Menu Plan [#CTWW]

This week's challenge comes from EcoGrrl

This week, eat Vegan for one entire day. That means, for one entire day eat only plant-based foods ... no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, etc.

Eating a vegetarian meals once per week is realistic for my husband and I.  We usually do a pasta with red sauce and lots of vegetables.  He is a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy, so it is challenging sometimes to have a meal without meat.  We have began eating more fish, but either way, we're still impacting the environment.  I accept this week's challenge to go one steps further and eat vegan for one day.  Here is my menu plan for tomorrow (Sunday).
(I will substitute Almond Butter)

(My parents are coming in town and we usually eat out for lunch)

Black Bean and Avocado Quesadilla
(Remove the cheese, add mushrooms)

Do you want to join me on this one-day challenge?  If one day of eating Vegan is too much for you, then start with one meal.  If you want to know more about the challenge, Reduce Footprints blog can tell you all about it.

Mighty Flavors with Mighty Leaf Teas [Review]

Mighty Leaf Teas have been part of my home tea collection for quite some time.  I am always impressed with the whole leaf pouches that produce the most delicious tasting teas. When I started buying more organic products, I was glad to find that Mighty Leaf Teas carries organic teas. Mighty Leaf Teas also expanded their tea collection by offering Iced Tea pouches.

What are Mighty Leaf Teas? (from Mighty Leaf website)

Mighty Leaf Teas are specially handcrafted Tea Pouches that are designed to release the essence of the tea.  Mighty Leaf Tea has a passion for creating unique handcrafted tea blends from around the world, using the best ingredients available. 

Each Tea Pouch has a unique blend of teas and flavors.  Take a look at the quality of the whole leaf teas:

What Mighty Leaf Teas Did I Receive?

Mighty Leaf Teas was gracious enough to send me a variety pack of their Iced Teas and a few samples of their hot teas.

Half Gallon Iced Teas sell for $6.35-$33.95, depending on what size you purchase.


Receive two free samples with every order.
Sign up for email and receive 15% off your order.
Mighty Leaf Tea Rewards Program - earn rewards by referring friends and family.

What Did I Think of Mighty Leaf Teas?

My standard iced tea routine is to measure the amount of water in the pitcher and count out tea bags. The tea bags float in the water and I have to take them out one by one. This process gets a little time consuming, especially if I do not have enough tea bags left. 

Might Leaf Iced Teas pouches change the game! Each whole leaf pouch brews up to 1/2 Gallon or 64 oz of Iced Teas. I love that I did not have to measure the cups or the tea bags. I placed the bag into the pitcher and poured hot water over it. How easy is that?!?

Let me tell you about the tea bag. The whole leaf tea bag is bigger to accommodate 64 oz. The string is longer so that you can place the tea bag in the pitcher and not drown the tag once you start pouring the water. The tag at the end of the string has instructions so that you can quickly gage how long you need to brew the tea. Easy, breezy!

The first iced tea I brewed was the Ginger Peach Iced Tea. This flavor is the current best seller. This tea is delicious both hot and cold. The Ginger and Peach flavor combination was perfect.   

My husband brewed the Chamomile Citrus herbal tea, another best seller. Although my husband is not usually a fan of herbal teas, he really enjoyed the Chamomile Citrus flavor. 

Did you know that Mighty Leaf also offers teaware? I would love to try the Chantal Tea Kettle, as my current tea kettle is ancient.  


You can still enjoy iced tea during the cold months. Mighty Leaf Iced Teas quench your thirst after raking leaves in the yard or playing in the snow with your kids. Choose Mighty Leaf Teas and you taste buds will thank you.

My Thoughts: I would highly recommend Mighty Leaf Teas to anyone. The variety of flavor combination will satisfy any tea lover’s taste buds. The best aspect of Mighty Leaf Tea is that I can reuse the bag several times because of the amount of high quality, whole leaves.  I also love that the tag on each tea pouch tells you the brew time.   

Opportunities for Improvement
 – Mighty Leaf has a lot of opportunities to continue expanding their organic teas to meet market demand. I look forward to seeing what new organic flavor combinations Mighty Leaf can create. 

What is the Man’s Opinion?  My husband, who usually turns his nose to “girly” tea flavors, enjoyed both the Ginger Peach and the Chamomile Citrus. I think I could convince him to buy more Mighty Leaf Teas! J

Total green check marks out of 5.

Mighty Leaf Iced Teas 

Mighty Leaf Tea Pouches 

Disclosure: I received the samples from Mighty Leaf Teas in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my personal experiences. This review is objective and completely honest.

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