Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking with EcoZoom Zoom Versa Stove [Review]

Are you looking for an eco-friendly cooking method, a way to cook food in an emergency, or when the power is out? I discovered the EcoZoom company when looking for all three. Actually, I was actually looking for another method to can produce (post to come later), but I am always on the search for eco-friendly cooking options and methods that can be used when the power is out or if there was an emergency/disaster. When I read that EcoZoom stoves take wood, dried biomass, or charcoal, I knew I had found what I was looking for. EcoZoom stoves are fuel-efficient and clean burning, allowing you to cook a complete meal using only a few sticks or charcoal briquettes.

EcoZoom Zoom Versa Lite Stove            $124.00
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Eco-friendly packaging
Takes a few tries to get the fire going

Easy to use by anyone

I will let you read about the product on the EcoZoom website. My post will be focused on my experience cooking with the EcoZoom Zoom Versa Lite stove.

PhotobucketLet’s start off with the packaging. Why is packaging important? With the increased amount of items I order online, the recycle bin and the trash fill up quickly. I am disappointed when I receive a package from a "green" company and it is filled with styrofoam peanuts. Eco-friendly, recyclable, and even reusable packaging is very important to me. I was pleasantly surprised about the minimal use of packaging by EcoZoom and that I could recycle 99% of it. The only plastic was the tape on the outside box and plastic strips around the EcoZoom Stove box itself.

The stove weighs 18 pounds, but I had no trouble getting it out of the packaging and carrying it outside. I set the stove in the middle of the driveway. After doing research online, I figured out the steps to get a fire going. I knew that the EcoZoom stove would be perfect for our house because we have a lot of mature trees, which equates to lots of sticks of various sizes. I walked around the yard and picked up sticks for kindling and for keeping the fire going.

Here are the steps we took to get our fire started:

Open up both compartments (damper and main compartment).  Gather your cooking fuel (wood, dried biomass, or charcoal) and keep close. (I would also recommend a good sized box of matches)


Build kindling from dryer lint or newspaper and about 3-4 thin wooden sticks (about the thickness of a pencil). We started off with dryer lint, which burned out quickly. I then added the newspaper on the bottom and in the middle of the sticks. Newspaper worked like a charm.

Use a match, lighter, or flint to light the kindling, specifically focusing on lighting the dryer lint or newspaper. Of course, lighting 10 matches and putting them inside also helps with kindling and getting the fire started. LOL

Photobucket   Photobucket   Photobucket

Once the wood catches fire and sustains, you can begin cooking.


Dish 1: Fire Roasted Garlic. I bought this awesome little contraption made from cast iron to roast garlic heads. The garlic roaster fit perfectly on top of the 6-pronged cast iron stovetop. I cooked the garlic for about 60 minutes, recommended time.  I did keep the fire going pretty strong (flames touching the bottom of the garlic roaster). Doesn't the roasted garlic look delicious?!


Dish 2: Halibut with peppers and onions in a cast iron pan. About two tablespoons of coconut oil were added and once melted, the fish was put on top. The fire was pretty strong and the fish sizzled. The Halibut got a nice crust on it. Toward the end of the cooking time, I stopped adding more sticks to the fire.

Photobucket   Photobucket

Once you are done cooking, put out the fire by closing the damper and the main compartment.

Lessons learned and takeaways:
  • Don’t add too much kindling.
  • Keep an eye on the fire, move sticks inside and continue to add thicker sticks to sustain the fire.
  • If you need more fire, add more sticks (these are probably the fundamentals of cooking over a fire, but this was my first time doing so).
  • Yes, you can burn dried dung. Thank you neighborhood deer!
  • It will take some time and more cooking endeavors to figure out the right size of the fire for the right temperature of the dish. 
  • The cast iron cookware will get sooty, but it washes off with some soap. 
  • You might be sooty and smoky smelling; take a shower!  :)

I must admit that I really enjoyed cooking with the EcoZoom Zoom Versa Lite stove. I wanted to keep cooking all night long. I look forward to the next time I cook with the Zoom Versa Lite stove.

Sitting in the driveway, watching the fire going, and periodically feeding sticks into the fire was very relaxing. The stove is efficient, eco-friendly, and compact. I would highly recommend this stove to anyone, even if you have never cooked over a fire before. It might take some trial and error to get the fire going, but it was easy to sustain the fire and cook a complete meal on the stove.

Disclosure: I received the sample from the company in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. I am under no pressure to return the product to the company or to write this review. This product review is based on my personal experiences. This review is objective and completely honest. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Top 5 Reasons Why Eco-Friendly Baby Products are Best for Baby

The following post is a guest post from Josh Cooper of Four Green Steps (the largest green marketplace in the world).

Every mother wants what is best for her baby. When you bring that little creature into the world, they become your everything. As you begin taking care of a new baby and introduce them to the world, you quickly find that you only want the very best for your baby. One way to ensure your new bundle of joy is receiving the very best is to use eco-friendly baby products.


In every situation, the safety of your baby is your first priority. Using eco-friendly baby products is one of the greatest ways to guarantee safety when it comes to clothing, toys and other baby necessities. Because these products are made with materials that will not harm the environment and are completely toxin free, they are much safer for your baby to wear and use.

Easy on Baby’s Skin

Research has shown that common baby health issues, such as skin irritations, can be linked to ingredients contained in non-eco-friendly clothing, lotions, shampoos, and other products that touch the skin. Using products that are organic and toxin-free pose no health threat to your baby. The world is already full of so many other toxins that we must do everything we can to provide baby with clean products and a toxin-free home.

Prepare for Baby’s Future

The worst thing for parents to realize is that their tiny, perfect baby is going to grow up. However, babies are going to get older and live in this world for years to come. Using eco-friendly baby products is a smart way to make sure you do not contribute to large landfills or cause poisonous waste.

Setting an Example

Parents can introduce their children to an eco-friendly lifestyle from the time they are a newborn. By using eco-friendly baby products the parent is introducing the baby to a lifestyle and world that cares about the carbon footprint they are leaving behind. Showing your child your belief in preserving our planet will help teach the future generation of this importance.


No parent would want their baby crawling around in chlorine bleach and phosphates. Using cleaning products in your home that are not eco-friendly can cause and unhealthy ‘playground’ for your baby. Many of these products can actually travel through skin and into the bloodstream. Using eco-friendly, non-toxic products in your home will create a healthy environment for your growing and developing baby.

These are some of the ways that you can ensure that your baby is healthy and well. By focusing on natural, organic, and green products, you can give your baby a great start in this world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finders, Keepers and Reusers

When I am working or playing around on my laptop, I usually sit in the dining room where I can enjoy the nice view from the bay window. I love watching people walk/run by, the deer and the squirrels play around in the yard, and whatever else usually occurs on our street. One day, I noticed there was something pink in the road, close to our curb. I went out there to see what it was and potentially throw it away. To my surprise, it was a reusable bag! I thought, "why not keep it?!" Yes, I know it was in the road and probably run over by many cars, but that's why reusable bags are machine washable. The bag has been washed and dried and is ready for use! Plus, the pattern and the colors are so adorable.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Organic Brands Oppose GMO Labeling [#JustLabelIt]

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), which are different than plants that have evolved through selective breeding, have always freaked me out. The fact that we do not know what type of effect the have on our bodies and on children's bodies is a scary thought. Personally, I do not want to take the risk. In the United States, we have been brainwashed to think that just because something has not proven to be harmful / toxic / deadly over and over again, that it is okay to consume it or use it (innocent until proven guilty). On the other hand, in most of the other countries, governments ban products and foods until they are proven to be safe (guilty until proven innocent).

I try to avoid GMOs by buying Organic foods or buying foods with the "Non-GMO Project Verified" seal. Shopping at Whole Foods Market allows me to buy some of the lesser knows organic brands and avoid the "Big Food" industry. However, unless I do the research, I might not know that the brand I am buying is owned by a "Big Food" parent company. After reading this article, I realized that it is even more important to know the parent company and their philosophy on organic and sustainable foods. Reviewing the list of Organic/Natural Brands that I buy and how much money has been donated by the parent company to oppose GMO labeling has opened my eyes. The only option I see is to boycott these companies.

Here is my list of products/brands that I have bought in the past, but will not buy any longer. As far as the rest of the list, I'm not going to buy them either.
  1. Naked Juice
  2. Honest Tea
  3. Bear Naked
  4. Kashi (I stopped buying any Kashi products last year when I did some research on the supposed "all natural" ingredients that are not quite as natural)
  5. Cascadian Farm
  6. Muir Glen
  7. Horizon (I do not usually buy because the milk is ultra-pasteurized, which kills off most of the nutrients)
So what can you do? You can educate yourself through resources like the Non-GMO Project. You can oppose GMO by voting with your dollars. You can support companies that are committed to not using GMOs. And you can talk about it with your family, friends, coworkers, and your online network (#JustLabelIt).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Vegetarian in a Steakhouse

I have not officially announced on my blog that I am a vegetarian, but I hope some of you have realized that I do not eat meat or fish by some of my recent posts (Vegetarian Thanksgiving, 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, and When Was the Last Time You Ate Meat). Most of the time, I do not experience roadblocks to eating vegetarian. There are vegetarian options available at most restaurants, even if you sometimes have to get a little creative. On a recent trip with my husband, we were in the land of good food and gourmet steakhouses on every corner. Although I do not eat meat or fish, I still prepare it for my husband and we still go to steakhouses (my reasons for becoming vegetarian will be coming in a different post).

After doing some research, my husband selected a steakhouse and we made a reservation. Of course, I reviewed the menu before we made the reservation to make sure there was something I could eat there. We arrived at the restaurant and were promptly seated. Our waters were poured. The bread basket arrived. We were deciding on our order. The waiter came over to take our order, starting with me.

Me: I would like the baked sweet potato and the broccolini.
Waiter: And what would you like for your dinner?
Me: That is all that I am having, I am a vegetarian.

I had no hesitations about telling him that I do not eat meat or fish, but his reaction really hurt my feelings. The waiter shook his head in disbelief that I was not ordering meat. I started to say that I was at the restaurant for my husband, but the waiter already turned to my husband to take his order. He had no interest in talking to me.

This is the life of a vegetarian in a steakhouse...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Today's Harvest

Fresh from my garden today:
  • My first acorn squash
  • My first carrot (a little small, but I'll take a 3 inch carrot)
  • Hungarian Wax Pepper
  • First cut of chives

Monday, August 6, 2012

Say No to Dry Cleaning

I live in the Corporate world. A world of (mostly) wool pencil skirts, silk, cashmere, wool, cotton tops, and suits. I like natural fabrics, which needs to be either dry cleaned or hand washed. While most of my coworkers use laundry and dry cleaning services, I have a confession to make: I have never taken anything to the dry cleaners! I prefer a more eco-friendly cleaning method. My method involves a bucket, Dr. Bronner's soap, water, time, and my hands.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Letting Go of My Starbucks Cup

I love Starbucks coffee! I visit Starbucks frequently throughout the work week. While the cup can be rinsed and recycled (depending on your local recycling infrastructure), the #6 lids are not recyclable in my area. Some (including me) would argue that just because you can recycle it does not mean you should get it. Recycling takes energy and also impacts the environment.

Obviously, the best option is to bring your own cup. However, I love holding a disposable Starbucks cup in my hand. There is just something about it fitting perfectly in my hand. I like my coffee and cappuccinos hot, so I will usually reheat them throughout the day. You cannot really put a coffee travel mug (unless it is plastic and we are trying to avoid plastic here) in the microwave and coffee in cups/mugs ends up getting cold too fast.

In an effort to start mentally preparing for National Zero Waste Week (September 3-9), I am going to make a sacrifice and start using a reusable coffee mug for my morning Starbucks coffee. If I need to reheat the coffee, I will use a ceramic mug I have on my desk at work to reheat in the microwave. It will only be for one week, right? I might even realize that it is not so bad!

You can attend the National Zero Waste Week event on Facebook.

P.S. Even most greenies will struggle with some not-so-eco-friendly conveniences throughout their daily routines. I want to share with you, my dear readers, that not everything about living green is going to be easy. We first have to change ourselves, our thoughts processes, our preferences, before we can influence others.

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