Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Go Green for the New Year


So........2009 is about to roll around, and it's that time when we all start to think about making New Years Resolutions. I used to always make them, but now I just make changes whenever I feel I need to. I mean, why wait until New Years to change something? When you want to change something in your life, you should do it as soon as you can motivate yourself, right? And, it's not like you have to just do it once a year, but do it as many times through the year as you want. Don't make unrealistic promises to yourself. So many people go full force into something totally new and different, and it ends up fading away. Sometimes changes or additions need to be gradual. And, if you screw up...no biggie... just pick yourself up again and start over.

Speaking of resolutions, one thing that I think everyone should incorporate into their lifestyle is to start living environmentally friendly. Why wait until new years... go green now!

Now, I know as much as you that it's impossible to care 100% all of the time for the environment, but as long as we can realize that there is a time and a place for paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic bags, and so on... and at least cut down, then we can start to make some noticeable changes together.

Below I have outlined some small changes that you can start to incorporate into your life that will make you and the earth feel a little healthier:

**Shop at your local farmers market: If you've have been to your farmers market, then you know what a delight is. Shopping at the farmers market keeps the money local and in the community. It saves energy and pollution since the produce does not have to travel over long distances. Not all of the produce is organic, so you'll have to ask around. But, buying local is the key. Also, if you can walk to the farmers market... that saves energy as well. Don't forget to bring your own shopping bags!

**Bring your own silverware, plate, bowl, and cup to work. This way, you won't have to throw away plastic utensils everyday, and paper, and styrofoam. The water that you will use to wash the dishes is still better than throwing all of that stuff into a landfill. Wash with warm water and don't let the water run for too long.

**Keep your A/C off as much as you can and open windows and use fans. There is a myth that if you turn on and off the A/C then it costs more. That is not true... I tested it myself and cut my electric bill in half!

**If you have an older dishwasher, and you live alone or with one other person, try washing your dishes by hand rather than running the dishwasher. Chances are... you will save some money and water. If you are a family of 4, then it might be harder and the circumstances might be a little different.

** Buy compact florescent light bulbs and count on natural sunlight as much as you can to light your home rather than lamps or other artificial lighting.

**Buy a water filter and buy an environmentally friendly water bottle (like the sigg cup) rather than buying plastic water bottles. This way, you can cut down on the amount of plastics you throw away, and when you drink water out of a filter, then it doesn't have the plastic leeching into your water, which causes cancer. Also, if you have a water filter on your refrigerator then drink out of that. The water coolers are a #7 plastic, which is the worst for you. Plus, if you have a fridge with a water filter... why spend the extra money on the water cooler?

**Buy glass or ceramic tupperware. You'll end up throwing away the plastic eventually, and the more that plastic is used and heated, the more it will leech into your food and put you at risk for health problems later in life.

**Make a point to start reading the ingrediants on household soaps and cleaners. Pick out the ones with the least ingrediants where you can understand what they are and what they mean. Do research and try making your own household cleaners, or go to the health food store and buy natural cleaners.

**Save your junk mail and use those coupon books or chain letters as wrapping paper, or paper to wrap glass and ceramic when you are moving or when you're helping a friend move.

**When going to the grocery store, use your own bags. Also, don't use the plastic in the produce section to bag your fruits and veggies. You're just going to end up throwing them away anyways.

**If you have a bike, try riding that more than your car if you aren't going long distances.

**Cut down on manicures and pedicures. Those places waste so much water, so if you're getting them once a week... try taking care of your own nails, and get them once a month instead. You'll save so much money too!

**Of course... if you're not vegan or vegetarian, try to go vegetarian for a few days a week. The animal agriculture industry produces more greenhouse gasses than cars, trucks, and planes combined!

**RECYCLE & REUSE EVERYTHING!!!!

The list can go on and on, but pick one at a time... and just start to incorporate these changes into your life! What else can you think of? Let's keep the list going!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tomato Gazpacho


This recipe serves 4 as a meal, and 6 as an appetizer.

Ingrediants

2 cans of 14.5 organic diced tomatoes with juice
1 hothouse cucumber, diced (see below-save about 1/2 cup for garnish)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and cut in half
2 tablespoons of cilantro, plus a handful for garnish
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (see below for garnish)
18 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
-1 tomato on the vine, cut in half and quartered
-1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

Set aside for Garnish
- a few leaves of cilantro (about 6 per bowl)
-a tablespoon red bell pepper, diced
-diced cucumber (about 1/4 cup per bowl)
-yellow onion
-tomato on the vine


This is a pretty simple recipe. You pretty much just have to chop the veggies, blend, pour in a bowl, and garnish! The first thing you have to do is chop and dice the cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Prepare the jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro. Make sure to set aside some of the cucumber, cilantro, and bell pepper for garnish. Chop the vine tomato and set aside with the garnish and onion for later.

The soup is made in two batches. In a blender, add 1 can of the tomatoes with the juice, and add half of each: cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and some black pepper to taste. Process in the blender on the lowest speed until broken down. Turn the speed up to high and puree until the soup is completely smooth. Repeat with the second half and mix together.

Pour the soup in bowls, and add a handful of the yellow onion, cucumber, a few leaves of cilantro, a few pieces of the chopped vine tomato, and some red bell pepper. You can eat right away, or chill and eat very cold the next day.

Delights and afterthoughts:

I got this awesome cookbook for my birthday called Great Chefs cook Vegan. This recipe is basically a variation from a chef named Suzanne Goin from this cookbook, but with some differences. The recipe originally called for yellow tomatoes, but this one uses canned red diced tomatoes. We also used yellow onion instead of red onion. There is so much that you can do with gazpacho, and I think you can probably make it different every time. I was really happy and amazed with how flavorful this gazpacho turned out, and I think you will be too. The best thing about it is that you get a full serving of vegetables and it's all raw (well, the canned tomatoes may not be raw, but close!) so you are not cooking out any of the enzymes. Also, you can really taste the garlic in this, but feel free to add more since garlic is such a good antioxidant when raw. I also had a thought that if you wanted to substitute one can of fire roasted tomatoes, or add cayenne pepper, then you can can make spicy tomato gazpacho. Or, maybe you like to have chunks in your soup, so don't puree until completely smooth... just blend until desired consistancy. You can really put your own variation on it... like adding some basil and some grated follow-your-heart mozzarella "cheese" to make a tomato caprese gazpacho... that sounds yummy! Or, maybe add some chunks of avocado... that sounds good too. Seriously... try it out and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear about it!

Gazpacho on Foodista