Tips to Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer and Lessen Food Waste

 

Assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables and berries. Bunch of carrots, spinach, tomatoes and red apples on chopping board, blueberries and cranberries in old colander over old wooden table. Top view

According to the National Resource Defense Council the average modern American family throws out between $1,000 and $2,200 in groceries each year  That is approximately 470 pounds of food!   With the continuous effort to eat healthier diets full of fruits and vegetables that means 25% off the wasted food is produce.

There are many ways we can help lessen waste and reduce our carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways to lessen waste is to learn how to properly store produce to ensure the longest shelf life.

Here are a few great tips on storing produce:

Do not store fruits and vegetables together

Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (a ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil the surrounding produce.

Refrigerate these ethylene releasers:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Figs
  • Honeydew

Do not refrigerate these ethylene releasers:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Keep these away from all ethylene releasers:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon

For Vegetables

Before storing, remove rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave about an inch of the stems to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the vegetables in has some holes punctured to allow good airflow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer together they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens should be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.

For Fruits

Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, citrus, and berries will deteriorate if left out, and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

Here is a chart that offers a quick reference for how long and where each type of produce can be stored:

Photo courtesy: www.100daysofrealfood.com
Photo courtesy: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com

Keep enjoying delicious and nutritious produce with these tips!

Nature’s Sleep Aids

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? One of the easiest ways to combat insomnia and sleeplessness is to utilize the benefits of natural essential oils. Whether you apply the oils topically, add them to a warm bath, diffuse them, or spritz* them onto your pillowcase or eyemask, certain essential oils provide relief for insomnia and aid in falling and staying asleep.

Lavender

lavender By now, many people know that lavender helps to soothe and relax tired minds and muscles. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders.” It is also beneficial as a bug repellent and antibiotic, for all you avid campers.

 Ylang Ylang

imagesThis essential oil is one of my favorites for relaxation, probably because of its fragrant floral notes. It reduces stress and relaxes the nerves. I like to mix a couple drops of this with lavender or chamomile for added benefits.

 Roman Chamomile

chamomile-401490_640Roman Chamomile has a sweet, fruity aroma. It has a calming effect, and is great to diffuse for a soothing and peaceful environment, i.e., one that promotes and supports sleep.

 Bergamot

7339944092_3463564e14_o_d

Bergamot is a good choice for someone who loves citrus scents, but it is much more calming than the more stimulating oils of grapefruit or tangerine. It is great for “clearing your head” in preparation for a peaceful night’s rest.

Vetiver

Vetiveria_zizanoides_dsc07810

This essential oil is extracted from the root of the vetiver plant. It has a warm, earthy scent, and promotes sleep while also relieving stress and muscle tension.

* I recommend adding a couple drops of essential oil to a water-based spritzer so the oil does not stain your bed linens.

The Organic Effect

What would happen if you only ate organic food? To answer just that the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL conducted a study on the effects of eating only organics. Watch this short video, The Organic Effect, to see the results.

The decrease in the amounts of pesticides present in the body after eating only organics is astonishing. Buying organic when possible is a great way to have less exposure to chemicals and pesticides used in conventional items. “There were a whole number of chemical removed from my kids’ bodies and I don’t want them back.”

For more information on the study and the full report, click HERE.

Is Food Healthy Just Because It’s Labeled Organic?

When most people see a food item that is labeled organic, they automatically assume that it is healthy for you. The truth is, food is labeled organic based on how it is grown, raised, or prepared, not based on the nutritional value. Unhealthy foods can be made with organic ingredients and be labeled as such, but will still be lacking in wholesome, nutritious ingredients. Check out this fun video that explains the difference between organic and healthy and will let you know what to look for next time you are shopping for a healthy meal:

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a great time to recognize all of the wonderful things dads have done for their children this year. There are many ways to show appreciation, like planning a special event, finding that perfect gift, or doing something nice to help him out. Here are some ideas that are fun for Dad and friendly for the environment.

  bcd632562d625eef61cd156520da38b3

Prepare an organic breakfast-in-bed

images

Buy him a nice organic-cotton tie, shirt, or bathrobe

images-1

Take him on a trip to a farmer’s market or a local restaurant

images-2

Take him to a concert, festival, or sporting event

images-3

Set up a hammock for him in the backyard so he can relax

images-4

Take him bird watching and take pictures of birds you see

images-5

Go on a hike or bicycle ride and spend some quality time together

images-7

Get a pair of fishing poles and take him out to the river

images-6

Find a nice recipe for dinner that the two of you can make together

Whatever you decide to do, the best part of Father’s Day will be spending some quality time together!

25 Ideas to Kick Your Summer Off Right

 

1246289517_23c7fcc042_o

Now that school is out and the weather is hot it’s time to think about what kind of fun activities you can plan to keep the whole family happy. Here is a list of 25 ideas we came up with. Use some of our ideas or come up with a few of your own.

  1. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, nature center, or organization that you support.
  2. Plan a camping trip and head out to the great outdoors.
  3. Visit your local farmer’s market for some yummy produce and local goods.

    market-101412_640

  4. Pick berries.
  5. Use the berries you pick or the farmer’s-market finds to make delicious smoothies!

2011.09_smoothie2

  1. Have a picnic at a park.
  2. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  3. Have a backyard campfire – with s’mores.
  4. Go biking on a trail.

    3657847661_f32b5936ae_z

  1. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  2. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvas or cardboard.
  3. Visit a museum.
  4. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible.

    I120731_162422_6563693

  5. Go outside and play. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, badminton- whatever game you love, get out and start playing.
  6. Get a map of the US and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit.
  7. Lace up your skates and go rollerskating.

    Roller_skaters_group

  8. Make popsicles with your favorite organic juice.
  9. Visit a flea market.
  10. Pick up a new hobby like painting, writing, fishing, etc.
  11. Visit a national park. The kids can even become Junior Rangers!

    Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 11.24.33 AM

  12. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary, Jenga, Monopoly, etc.
  13. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  14. Find a local carnival.
  15. Have homemade-pizza night.

    Flickr_-_cyclonebill_-_Kartoffelpizza_med_rosmarinpesto

  16. Fall into a good book.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the summer, be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun!

 

Plan A Picnic

 

images

Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to pack a picnic and head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. First you have to decide what dishes to bring. Typical picnic foods can include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, which are not the healthiest choices (though they may be delicious). If you’re looking for better options, here are 10 healthy finger-food ideas for your next picnic outing!

images-1

1. Edamame

images-2

2. Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)

images-3

3. Grilled Vegetables (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.)

images-4

4. Pita Chips with Hummus

images-5

5. Homemade Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)

3870174472_1307d91a4f_z

6. Turkey Sandwiches with low-fat ingredients (whole-grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and low-fat cheese)

images

7. Shrimp and Lemon Skewers

images-6

8. Yogurt

images-7

9. Fruit Salad

images-8

10. Angel Food Cake (low in calories) with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped cream

Now that your basket is packed with delicious foods, it’s time to head out and enjoy the beauty of nature!