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Category Archives: Food

10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

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Enjoy this Earth Day by choosing an activity that helps or honors this planet that we call home.

  1. Plant a Tree

Trees are not only beautiful but provide habitats for plants and animals as well. Your local nursery will be able to help decide what will work in your area.

  1. Go on a Nature Hike

Visit a local park, river or lake to see the beauty that is Mother Nature.  Take the kids along and give them a lesson on the plants and wildlife that are indigenous to your area.

  1. Clean Up a Park

Spend a few hours at a local park picking up litter so that the area is clean and useable for all.

  1. Prepare an Earth-Friendly Meal

Pick a new recipe and cook an entire meal made with locally grown vegetables and non-processed foods to share with friends and family.

  1. Evaluate your Recycling

Take the time to evaluate your recycling and see if there are ways to improve upon it or establish a system.  See our earlier blog  “How to Create a Recycling System that Fits Your Lifestyle” HERE.

  1. Get Unplugged

Many people do not realize that most household appliances use electricity even when not in in use.  Be sure that all your appliances are unplugged when not in use to eliminate waste.

  1. Plant a Garden

Don’t have the space to plant a tree?  Try planting a renewable vegetable or herb garden.  If you have a smaller yard, the vegetables and herbs can be planted in larger pots and placed on decking.

  1. Go Paperless

Switch all you paper bills to E-bills and pay bills online to eliminate excess and unnecessary paper.

  1. Give your TV And Cell Phone the Night Off

Spend the evening without technology and electronics.  Read a book, have a family game night or visit friends and family.

  1. Pay it Forward

Donate to your favorite charity or organization- time, energy or anything you can give.

Make an “Egg-cellent” Organic Easter Basket

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Easter is a great time to celebrate Mother Nature, so skip the plastic grass and artificially sweetened candy and opt for organic treats and eco-friendly gifts.

Pick a Basket that can be Reused

Chose a reusable container that can be used again and again. Sand pails and toy toolboxes make for fun toys that can be played with later.

Recycle a basket and give it a fresh look with new ribbon.

Ditch the Fake Grass Filler

 Stay away from the dreaded and irritating plastic grass that finds a way to stick to everything in your house.  Use shredded fabric from old clothes or blankets to add color and texture.  Or go with shredded newspaper, magazines or printer paper.

Fill your Basket with Organic Treats and Earth-Friendly Toys

There are many different organic treats that can be put into the Easter basket; here is a list of a few great options:

Vegan Organic Easter Bunnies and Assorted Chocolates

Sjaak’s makes an all-natural, sweet dark chocolate bunny and assorted chocolate boxes. It’s 100% organic, Fair Trade Certified and completely vegan. Visit the SJaak’s website HERE for more information.

Surf Sweets Natural Jelly Beans

Their complete line of all natural, organic gummy candy and jellybeans is completely free of additives, dyes and preservatives. Surf Sweets stands by their motto of “If it doesn’t exist in nature, you won’t find it in Surf Sweets.”  Visit the Surf Sweets website HERE for more information.

Yummy Earth Organic Candy

No chemicals, no artificial flavors, and no corn syrup. The line includes many different candies from lollipops to sour jellybeans in 21 delicious flavors with real fruit extracts and delicious taste! They have something for everyone!  Visit the Yummy Earth website HERE for more information.

Lifekind Certified Organic Cotton Bunny

A cute, cuddly and healthy bunny for Easter that is sure to delight children of all ages. The huggable, floppy-eared, handmade bunny is a Lifekind® original. Made with safe, certified organic materials, it’s covered in super-soft terry fleece, the body is stuffed with organic buckwheat hulls, and the head, arms, and legs are filled with organic cotton. Visit the Lifekind  website HERE for more information.

Made by Me Wood Toys

Made by Me toys are beautiful wooden toys that are designed and crafted in Vermont, USA. All their products are made from local sustainable hardwood.  These toys are great as they are not only fun to play with but you get to build and decorate them too.  These toys come in many different designs such as trucks, racecars, trains and more.  Visit the Little Cool Toys website HERE for more information.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

 You do not need to use harsh and toxic chemicals to dye your Easter eggs.  Chose the safer and healthier option by using organic products that can be found in your kitchen.

Boil eggs with all natural ingredients, such as brown onion skins for orange, red cabbage for sky blue or carrot tops for green. Or experiment and see what colors nature can give you!

Soak hard-boiled eggs in grape juice for lavender, beet juice for pink or strong brewed coffee for brown.

Have fun with all the organic possibilities out there, and here’s wishing you a happy, healthy Easter!

Our Most Precious Resource

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Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be conscious of our consumption.  Here is an excellent video that will help you think about our impact on the world. It is produced by GE, but the information is excellent!

Make It A Guinness…Cupcake!

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Every St. Patrick’s Day we have a company potluck where we indulge in tasty Irish-themed feast and employees bring something themed to share.  From green deviled eggs, to the traditional corned beef and cabbage, we eat like Irish Kings and Queens.

This year, I decided to try out a new recipe: Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cupcakes.

First thought when I saw the title: MMMmmmmmmmm…

The recipe was easy to follow, and the cupcakes turned out better (and fabulously more rich) than I expected. Delicate, moist and oh-so-tasty, this cupcake recipe is going in my “Keeper” file.

Enjoy!

Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cupcakes

Servings: Over 8

Cook Time: 60-120 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup stout (Guinness)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the stout and the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout/butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow cooling in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream

Directions:

Blend with mixer until smooth.  Refrigerate before frosting cupcakes.

Hip Hop Meets Organics

Check out these fun and entertaining videos by Stonyfield CEO CE-Yo Gary Hirshberg, the Stonyfield Moms, and Honest Tea CEO TeaEO Seth. Watch them rap out some information about the importance of eating organic.

For more information about the Just Eat Organic movement, visit www.justeatorganic.com.

Top Ten Ways to keep your Green Year’s Resolutions

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A lot of people resolve to be “more green” when the new year rolls around, but what exactly does that mean, and how can you implement the changes in your life without breaking the bank? We did a quick brainstorming session here at the OMI offices, and here’s what we came up with.  Without further ado, we present to you the Top Ten Ways to keep your Green Year’s Resolutions!

1. Recycle

Set up a recycling system or ensure your recycling is efficient and organized. This one seems like a no-brainer, and many towns and cities have made it even easier for you.  Call your local waste-collection company and find out what tools they have available to help you with your recycling.  Many cities offer free tubs for your use, will give you easy guides to tell you how to sort your recycling, and where you can take items that aren’t in your every day recycling (like e-waste and old appliances).

2. Stop buying water bottles.

Invest in reusable water bottles that you can carry with you and install a filter system for your home water. Not only is this a great way to help conserve the planet’s finite water supply, it will end up saving you tons of moolah in the end.  Get each member of your family a water bottle that matches their personality and encourage them to take it every where they go!

3. Swap first

Spend less on buying new items and try swapping or exchanging with neighbors and friends.  It’s a great way to get “new-to-you” stuff without having to spend the money on it, and no added burden to the planet.  You could even start a monthly swap in your neighborhood.  Some swapable ideas? Books, lawn equipment, shoes (yay!) kids’ clothing, exercise DVDs…. anything you have (or want).

4. Spend more time outdoors

From quality time with family to exercise… it is free and good for you and the environment. A day-trip to a local park can do wonders for your mental health, and you will feel even better knowing that pushing your kiddos in the swing isn’t taxing the environment.

5. Buy Local Produce

Find out in your community where you can buy locally grown and sustainable produce. Focus your meals around seasonal produce and you can save money, since out-of-season produce will be more expensive. Buying local not only helps sustain your local economy, it lessens the impact the shipping industry has on the environment. Plus, it’s really fun to be able to see where your food actually came from.

6. Plan meals

Thought meal planning went the way of the housewife wearing heels and pearls? Well, think again.  Planning meals for the entire week can help cut down the cost of your grocery bill and allow you to use leftovers in new meals, limiting excess and waste.  Added bonus: planned out menus mean fewer trips to the market, and who doesn’t love that?

7. Up the efficiency in your home

Unplug unused appliances, switch out old bulbs for longer lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, and install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy (an easy task that even the most inexperienced DIYer can accomplish).  If your appliances need an upgrade, be sure to buy EnergyStar models that use less energy to run and lower your operating costs. If your old mattress is giving you problems, make sure you upgrade to a responsibly sourced and organic mattress (of course we suggest an OrganicPedic mattress by OMI).

 8. Compost

Put your food waste to work for you.  When you compost, not only do you cut down on the amount of garbage headed toward the landfills, you get some great soil out of it. A great tutorial on setting up your compost pile can be found here from John & Sherry at Young House Love.  Not sure what’s compostable? Click HERE for a list of 75 things you can compost, but thought you couldn’t.

9.  Use earth-friendly cleaners and household products

Back in the day, “earth-friendly cleaners” meant baking soda, vinegar, and a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease.  We still love the ease of using items that are most likely already sitting in your cupboards, but we understand that isn’t an option for everyone.  When looking for household cleaners, be sure to pick brands that are environmentally friendly, preferably made with organic ingredients.  Our sister company, Lifekind, has a great line of Naturally Safer cleaning products, and earth-friendly products are popping up in retail stores across the country.  Just beware: not all companies have altruistic intent, and may try to trick you into purchasing their product with the implication of being “green” without actually offering an environmentally friendly product.

10. Go paperless

A lot of big companies are now offering incentives to customers who want to view their statements and pay their bills online.  If your local utility company doesn’t offer online bill pay, make sure you call and suggest it to them. Instead of sending printed cards, make use of online greeting cards and evites.   Just imagine how much paper and trees would be saved if everyone made this small change to their life.  If you absolutely must use paper (for your business, perhaps) be sure to buy paper from sustainably harvested trees.

 These ten ideas are just a the begining of  hundreds of different ways you can make your life more green.  What are your ideas and what has your family implemented to make your 2012 greener than your 2011? Let us know in the comments!

and a Happy Green Year to You!

How To Green Your Holidays…

Here are some helpful tips on how to stay green this holiday season from food to decor and even gifts.

Making Your Holidays Eco-Friendly!

With the holidays here, we begin our traditions. And why not help those traditions have a smaller impact on our world?  Here are a few tips for keeping your holidays green:

Decorations

Why not use decorations from last year and years before?  It may not be trendy to reuse decorations, but it can create fond family memories.  I remember using the same ornaments year after year as a child, and my family uses many of them still.  The decorations then become more meaningful and allow us to feel nostalgic during the holidays.

If you find some of your decorations are no longer to your taste, be sure to donate them so that they can provide holiday cheer for other households.

Use edible objects for holiday centerpieces, such as apples or holiday candies in a bowl or glass canister.

Baked goods like decorated cookies on platters make fun displays with color!

Making your own decorations is always a greener option than buying new ones.  If you do decide to make your own, use raw materials that are less harmful to the environment.  Things that make beautiful decorations are grass, twigs, dried flowers, and even scratch paper… the possibilities are endless.

Holiday Cards

Email fun family photos for Christmas cards…it saves on paper! But if sending a card in the mail is what you desire, have kids make them by drawing colorful and fun pictures. Hand-deliver cards when possible for a personal touch!

Shopping Healthfully on a Budget

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to be able to eat healthful, nonprocessed, or even organic foods.  Many people think that buying healthful and organic foods is an expensive luxury that we cannot afford.  But thanks to a wonderful blog titled “100 Days of Real Food,” we learn that this is not always true. (Visit the blog site HERE.) It offers information on many different topics, from recipes, meal planning, and tips for shopping for nonprocessed foods to how to stop eating processed foods, budgeting ideas, and more. The post I found most beneficial and inspiring was titled “12 Ways to Keep it Cheap” (to see the full blog post, go HERE.)

 

Here is an excerpt from the post, showing 12 ways to shop healthfully and stay on budget:

 

1. Set a specific budget. This tip may sound basic, but as I just said simply thinking about “not spending a lot of money” DOES NOT work! Here’s how to structure a budget…

  • Pick a realistic budget amount that you will adhere to each week or month. I personally think a weekly budget is easier to follow because you can’t go too far over budget before you realize you are in trouble.
  • Consider using cash in an envelope so going “over budget” isn’t even possible. (For those who’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, yes, we’ve both read his book!) Also, no matter what, make a commitment that if you do for some reason go over budget you will deduct that amount from the following week or month.
  • Define what will and will not be included in the budget. Will it just be for food or for household items too? What about alcohol, entertaining, and going out to eat?
  • Keep track of all your expenses on paper whether you use cash or not. It is important to see where your money goes.
  • Share and discuss the running budget total with the other adults in your household…accountability is what it’s all about!

2. Be organized and plan out your meals for the week. Last minute purchases that you haven’t put a lot of thought into can add up fast.

3. Minimize waste by saving all uneaten food instead of throwing anything away.

4. Know and use what you have on hand especially if it’s perishable. Even consider keeping an inventory list of food on your fridge or freezer so different family members can check off items as they use them. I know my husband is more likely to eat something in the fridge if I leave a note telling him it is there (don’t ask me why)!

5. Make substitutions in recipes to reduce how many things you have to buy…or even leave out a small ingredient all together.

6. Maximize “cheap” foods like bananas, beans, and pasta. Here are some of our favorite super cheap recipes:

7. When making inexpensive meals like soups and pasta dishes double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for when you have one of those days where you just don’t have time to plan out a good dinner.

8. Make sacrifices like drinking water instead of milk and skipping juice and other flavored beverages all together. If you really have trouble kicking the juice habit at least water it down a little so the juice lasts longer.

9. Reduce your consumption of meat and desserts. Meat can be a big-ticket item and while dessert is certainly a “nice to have” it is by no means a regular necessity (sorry)! Also experiment with “stretching” your meat dishes by mixing in veggies and/or beans.

10. Buy produce that’s in-season and if you like to frequent your local farmers’ market  try going just before closing time to get some great deals on items the vendors won’t want to haul back to the farm.

11. If you can’t afford the organic version of everything consult the dirty dozen list. 

12. Check your receipt after you get home to make sure your your money was spent wisely (most grocery stores accept returns!).

Thanksgiving is for Giving

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and celebrate with friends and family over a delicious meal.  A growing trend across the nation is to prepare and serve organic, locally grown and healthy foods, and this trend has now become present in homeless shelters.

Bruce Horovitz from USA Today wrote an article that explains the drive behind this movement of healthy food in shelters. The full article is available HERE.

Here are two quotes from the article as to why shelters are offering a healthy thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.

Director of Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, DC, Steve Badt, “If I have a guest coming to my house for Thanksgiving, I’m not going to open a can of beans for them. A homeless person who is my guest deserves no less.  There’s really no added expense, since all of the shelter’s food is donated,” Badt says. “Why can’t a soup kitchen run like a high-end restaurant if it’s not costing anyone else money?”

Co-pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., Ann Kansfield, “Their dinner will be served the day before Thanksgiving and will include locally grown and organic fruits and veggies. “If that’s how I feed my own children, that’s how I prefer to serve other people’s children.”

It is this thinking and the generosity and donations of others that allows for the shelters to offer these healthy meals.

Lets take a cue from these shelters and make our own Thanksgiving celebrations  happy, healthy and most importantly, organic. 

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