Flame Disk: The Charcoal Alternative

WhyItIsBetterThe Flame Disk is the fast, easy, clean & eco-friendly alternative to messy charcoal, featuring safe, solid, clean-burning, renewable biofuel.

The FlameDisk® can be used in any grill to cook a variety of foods. Just drop it in the bottom of the grill, peel the lid, and the FlameDisk® lights easily with one match. It’s ready to cook immediately. At the end of your grilling session there is no soot, ash, or dangerous hot coals. Simply remove the remaining aluminum shell from your grill and place it in the trash or recycling bin.

The FlameDisk® is easy to transport and store, making it great for tailgating, camping, boating, and day tripping. Finally, the FlameDisk® is much more eco-friendly than charcoal and lighter fluid because it features renewable ethanol. Ethanol is extremely clean burning and generates 90% fewer pollutants than charcoal. The FlameDisk®’s aluminum casing is also recyclable.

For more details and info on the Flame Disk click here.

Last Minute Quick Christmas Gifts to Make

christmas_candles

I don’t know how you are doing with getting your Christmas shopping done, but I still have a fair amount to get done. I would love to make some more gifts but time is running out. Below is a list of great do-it-yourself, quick, Green Christmas gifts.

  1. Bath and Body Treatments from Planet Green and Martha Stewart. Click here for the recipe.
  2. Make some Caramel-Corn Clusters for Christmas gifts from Planet Green. Click here for the recipe.
  3. Make a pine cone bird feeder. Click here for instructions.
  4. DIY Natural Christmas Candles. Click here for the instructions.
  5. Do-it-yourself Organic Chocolate. Click here for the recipe.

Green Christmas Gifts for the Chef on your List

1118565_94066269If you have a chef in your family, someone who loves food and loves to cook, check out the list below of 6 wonderful, green, Eco-friendly Christmas gifts for the food lover in your life.

  1. Duo Pressure Cooker from Fagor – This contemporary update on the classic pressure cooker recycles stainless steel in streamlined modern design with high-functioning performance.
  2. The Organic Wine Company Monthly Wine ClubEach month, they will send you a selection of 3 wines from our collection. New vintages or interesting, but rare wines will be offered in priority to expand your horizons!
  3. Cast Iron Skillet from Lodge LogicIts legendary cooking performance keeps it on the list of kitchen essentials for great chefs and home kitchens alike. And check out their Eco-responsibility practices.
  4. Organic Spice Collection – Each spice can contains 12 one-teaspoon packets. These flavorful organic herbs complement the global cuisines of today’s kitchen. Includes, Basil, Dill Weed, Oregano, Rosemary, Tarragon and Thyme.
  5. Green Your Kitchen – Includes everything you need to green your kitchen and replace those non green items that you have been keeping around.
  6. Bamboo Salad Bowls – 100% organically-grown bamboo, non-toxic adhesive, natural food-safe wood oil. These bowls are made from vertical-grain bamboo, which makes them not only beautiful, but also extremely durable. They do not impart or absorb flavors.

Start From Scratch

251_1613
Stay away from the frozen food aisle!

So many of us grab the easy to pop in the oven, pre-made food for dinners and when baking desserts, but with a bit of planning on your part and food prep ahead of time you can have wonderful made from scratch meals all through the Holidays. This time of year is my favorite time. I love homemade cookies, desserts and savory goodies. Start planning now and you will be glad you did. And with a smile on your face you can say “I made this!”

First you have to have knowledge of what freezes well and what doesn’t.

Food that can freeze:

  • Breads & Baked Goods
  • Butter & Margarine
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Potatoes – Cook before freezing.
  • Fruits & Veggies – Will soften when frozen and should only be used for cooking after being frozen.

Food that can’t freeze:

  • Veggies – Such as lettuce, celery, radishes, cabbage and cucumbers.
  • Melons – They become very soft and lose much of their juice.
  • Mayo – Seperates
  • Fried Foods – Lose their crispness.

Favorite Freezer Foods has a plethora of information to help you if you are wanting to cook once a month, once a week or even batch cooking.

Pulling a meal out of the freezer is faster than the drive through, delivery or your favorite eat in restaurant.

Homemade meals are cheaper than eating out and since you control all the ingredients you can rest assured that your family is eating healthy food.

So drive past the line at the drive through, put down the phone, step away from the boxed entrees in the grocery store and get a healthy homemade dinner on the table.

Favorite Freezer Foods will teach you how to freeze each type of food, they have recipes available for freezer foods, and instructions on how to defrost the freezer foods.

So take on the challenge and start from scratch and enjoy the holidays and your savings.

Green Kitchen Tools

Complete_SetIf you are anything like me, you probably love to cook and you care about the environment. Combining the two can be difficult sometimes. The other day I was reading Joy the Bakers blog and she mentioned Green Kitchen Tools and so I decided to check them out and see what they are all about.

Green Kitchen Tools:

  • Heat and stain resistant
  • Safe to use on all non-stick surfaces
  • Will not absorb flavors or odors
  • Lightweight and strong

All Green Kitchen Tools are made to be sustainable and practical. We craft our tools utilizing the best materials – scratch resistant nylon, stainless steel and exquisite 100% bamboo handles – all provide strength, durability and functionality.

Tough, durable and lightweight – bamboo is a natural in the kitchen. It’s also one of nature’s most sustainable resources; reaching maturity in just four years without pesticides or chemicals.

Bamboo’s density makes it naturally water-resistant, which inhibits germ and bacteria growth.

Green Kitchen Tools offers a variety of tools for your kitchen and bbq. Selling them individually and in sets. If you are in need of new kitchen tools, check them out!

Buying Organic on a Budget

162212_5903Most people if asked would eat organic, knowing that its better for them, the environment and the local farmers. But most people can’t afford it. More and more organic produce and items are showing up in grocery stores but its still on the expensive side.

Here are a few ways you can eat organic and save money:

1. Go straight to the source – Buy directly from the farmers/farmers markets for any fresh produce, this will save you from the mark up prices at the grocery store.

2. Try the organic store brand – Many stores sell organic food with their own private labels. Whole Foods and Trader Joes are among the many now.

3. Stay away from packaged food when you can – Foods in their natural form are cheaper to buy and better for you.

4. Grow your own organic fruits and veggies at home – Its not as tough as it may sound, and growing your own is a great learning experience for the whole family.

5. Join a co-op – A cooperative is a member-owned business that provides groceries and other products at a discount. Many of the items from the co-ops are organic and much of the produce comes from local family farms.

6. Clip coupons – Look for any organic food coupons you can find. Most of these will be in the stores themselves or online. Go straight to the manufacturers site online to find what they offer.

Mix My Granola

mixmygranola_containerThe brain child of Andreas, Matt and Raoul, Mix My Granola was founded in 2008. They came up with the idea at breakfast one morning when they were talking about what they thought the perfect granola combination would be. After they realized each of them had a different idea of what that would look like and not being able to find those combo’s at the store they started making their own mixes.And from that came MixMyGranola.com: The website where YOU can custom-make your own granola. The way YOU like it!

The Container:

They treat the environment with respect and all of our packaging is 100% recyclable. A soy-based ink is used to print our labels, which means less chemicals are leaking into the environment.

Organic Ingredients:

They take great pride in our ingredients and have hand-picked all of our ingredients from the best producers in the U.S. Most of their ingredients are organic, and all their granolas, nuts and seeds are preservative-free and all-natural products. All fruits are dried fruits and have been carefully processed to preserve their natural flavors and nutritional value. All of their fruits, nuts and seeds are cholesterol-free.

How it works:

  1. You get to pick your granola base: Organic Granola, Low-fat Granola or French Vanilla Granola.
  2. You add your ingredients: Ranging from dried berries/fruits, nuts/seeds, extras such as M&Ms, animal cookies, jelly beans, chocolate raisins, etc.., and you can add enhancer powder.
  3. Then you get to give your granola mix a name.
  4. Finally you order.

Prices range from $4.49 – 4.99 for 16 oz. of granola and depending on the ingredients you add it costs anywhere between .49 – 1.99 for 1 oz. Shipping is free with a $40 purchase.

This is an interesting concept and one that I look forward to trying. Check it out for yourself and start enjoying your own personal granola.

No Waste Lunch – A Green, Healthy and Money-Saving Alternative

1101409_80042520Reading through the Happy Hippie I found an article on the No Waste Lunch – a green, healthy and money-saving alternative. Having kids in school I find it difficult sometimes to get them out the door on time with a no waste lunch. I tend to grab the quick and easy plastic baggies that you throw away. I want to be more intentional about what I send my kids to school with, keeping in mind the amount of trash that schools throw out daily and not wanting to add to it.

The basic steps as mentioned in the article are:

  • Reduce the amount of disposable waste you pack
  • Pack reusable products
  • Recycle anything you have left over

They sound easy enough – don’t they? And yes by each of us doing our part we CAN make a difference.

They have Easy tips for a no waste lunch. To read the full article click here.

How To Grow Your Own Coffee Tree

coffee-trees-growing-01As I am sitting at Starbucks writing this blog, I’m thinking about how many times I’ve come here in the past few years and how much money I have spent buying coffee and other products. While Starbucks seems to be one of the leaders in green and healthy drinks, as well as contributing positively to the environment and world, I thought I’d give us all a tutorial on growing your own coffee plants.

As a fun project, or to spend less money at starbucks, coffee plants are fairly easy to grow in the home as a potted specimen, which should be moved outdoors for the summer if possible.

They do best in filtered sunlight, with night temperatures in the lower to mid 60s and day temperatures of 70F or higher. Plant them in any good commercial, fast draining potting soil . The soil should be kept on the moist side, but never soggy.

Coffee plants will produce fruit without any fertilizing whatsoever, but for best results and maximum yield, they should be fed every 2 weeks from March to October, and then monthly from November through February. You can find seeds for coffea and other rare and unusual plants online from The Whatcom Seed Company

The plants will grow to about 10 feet if given ample root room, but can be pruned if this is too big for the allotted space. Pruning may involve simple pinching to produce a bushier plant, or you may go as far as cutting it way back…. Right down to where only two branches near the bottom are left on it.

The fruit are red when they ripen in the fall, with a sweet pulp surrounding the bean. Each coffee berry has two beans. The coffee tree’s fruit does not all ripen at one time. In fact it will have blossoms and berries in various stages of ripening. Only the ripe berries can be picked. The berries cannot be picked when green since they will not ripen once picked.

So give it a try and let us know how it goes!

How to Know if Your Antique China Contains Lead

1128197_74978027Another question that was posed to me the other day was “how do you know if there is lead in your antique or vintage china?” Again I didn’t know the answer to this. I decided that this is an important thing to know about the dishes we use and eat off of everyday.

Some of the old glazes on vintage china and pottery does contain some level of lead in them, so we have a right to be concerned. Even new china, if not stated lead-free, most likely contains some lead also.

They sell test kits that you can use at home to test your own dishes for lead.

Abotex/Lead Inspector Lead Test Kits – They come in 8, 24 and 100 test pack kits.

What Potential risk factors to look for:

  • China handed down from a previous generation. These heirlooms were made before lead was recognized as a hazard.
  • Homemade or handcrafted china, either from the U.S. or abroad, unless you are sure the maker used a lead-free glaze or high-temperature, commercial firing practices.
  • Highly decorated, multi-colored inside surfaces (the part that touches the food and drink).
  • Decorations on top of the glaze instead of beneath it.
  • Corroded glaze, or a dusty or chalky grey residue on the glaze after the piece has been washed. This type of china could be quite dangerous. Stop using it at once!

To minimize your risk of lead leaching off vintage and possibly newer china:

  • Do not eat off of it every day. Get some plain dishes for everyday.
  • Do not store food on vintage china in the refrigerator.
  • Never put vintage china in the microwave.
  • Avoid eating off vintage china that has painted or printed metallic decoration.
  • Be most cautious of very brightly colored china, as it is more likely to contain lead