Monday, February 27, 2006

About comments on blog

I was just posting an old post from my archives on a forum, and noticed some comments that I have not read--sorry if you posted a comment and I didn't answer; I usually don't look at my old archives much!

But I just figured out how to set blogger to show the date when people post, and for blogger to also e-mail me when someone actually leaves a comment, so hopefully I won't miss replying to a post in the future!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tips to go veggie! (Vegetarian Information)

I love being a vegetarian. Aside from the personal and environmental reasons, the thing I love most about being veggie is the food! (I think it must be in the genes, since my sister loves veggie food as much as I do!). I literally become veggie overnight, but I realize that for some it's not that easy! Here are some easy and delicious tips to incorporate more veggie foods in your life!

Tip #1:

Try eating your favorite foods.

Try looking at recipes of things you enjoyed before you became veggie, and then convert them to veggie recipes. For example, if your favorite food was pepperoni pizza before you became veggie, substitute the crust with a whole wheat dough for more nutrients (or if you are in rush, french bread or whole wheat pitas), and then top the pizza with cheese or soy cheese, tomato sauce, and then your favorite pizza toppings, like veggie 'pepperoni', olives, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, roasted garlic and red peppers, artichokes, etc, and some fresh or dried herbs. Or if it was chicken parmesan, make eggplant parmesan.

Tip #2:

Try cuisine from different cultures.

There are a lot of tasty vegetarian recipes from Asia and the Middle East, and Latin America (like hummus, curries, quesadillas, vegetarian sushi rolls, etc). Go to food network's website. Hundreds of recipes; a lot are veggie, and those that aren't can be easily converted.

Tip #3:

Try easy to make but nourishing foods.

If you are really tired after work and don't want to cook, try soup or yummy smoothies! Make a veggie/fruit/bread/cheese/dip platter. Sometimes when I can't think of something to eat, I'll just cut up my favorite breads, cheeses, veggies, and fruits, and add a couple of dips or sauces. The possibilites are endless. Examples: fruits with yogurt or chocolate sauce; breads with brie/cheddar/soy cheese, and also olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes, hummus, gaucamole. Other good things to add: peanut or almond butter, cheese fondue, an herbed cheese spread, etc. Yum!

Tip #4:

Jazz things up with herbs and spices.

Even when you are cooking with the same ingredients, a bit of rosemary or sage here, and a bit of cumin there will really make a difference.

Tip #5:

Add foods that are high in vitamins.

Things that are high in vitamins: herbal tea (especially when made with organic herbs. Herbs have a lot of trace nutrients), actually any organic food, and also all types of sea weed (which has the highest concentration of nutrients).

Tip #6:

Try looking in your freezer section.

Places like Whole Foods have a lot of organic frozen veggies and fruits (which are great for making smoothies), so that could increase the variety of your diet during the winter when fresh produce may not be available.

For veggie resources click here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Green House Cleaning (Natural House Cleaning)

When I started using more environmentally friendly products many years ago, I found that one of the hardest things to find were good natural house cleaning products. Not only were they expensive and hard to find but half the time they didn't work very well! I often just used the conventional stuff, until I slowly researched and made some of my own products, or finally found natural brands that worked. Nowadays things are different as more products are readily available, companies are producing better products, and the prices have really gone down!

I've found that some of my favorites still are the ones I make: they are simple to make and use and are highly effective, not to mention light on the wallet! Here are a few of my favorite books on the topics to make your own green cleaning products!

Books on how to make your own non-toxic cleaners, including basic information on toxic chems:

Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. Great overall book: it has many recipes on how to make all types of products, information on why to switch to natural, dangers of common chemicals, and how effective her natural recipes are compared to commercial chemical brands. She also lists how much money you can save by making your own products (since the book was written in 1997, the price comparisons may be a little dated, but you will save money). An important thing she notes, is that you often how to add the ingredients in a specific order so that the cleanser will work.

Clean and green: the Complete Guide to Non-toxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping by Annie Berthold-Bond. Sim to above; lots of good non-toxic, earth friendly recipes and information.

It's So Natural by Alan Hayes. More than just cleaning, this book has a lot of information on all kinds of environmentally friendly hints from cleaning to skin/hair care/health to garden tips. Highly recommended. Check out Hayes' website

Since I'm a busy graduate student I don't always have time to make my own and sometimes prefer to buy products from the store or online. These are some of my favorite cleaners and brands. Natural products may be a little more expensive than conventional, however, I've found that natural products are often more highly concentrated than convetional products (read: less water in them) so you really use a lot less. Not to mention it's not only better for the planet (since it's biodegradable) but healthier for you and your family!


For a great 100% natural all-Purpose Household Cleanser try Aubrey Organics Earth Aware Household Cleanser (made with soap, soap bark extract, and herbs). I love to use this to clean my counters and my tub out. It does not leave a residue! I didn't care for using it too much for laundry (since it has orange essential oil in it, and that's a solvent) but you could use it for that. It comes in a big 32 oz jug that's under $7. They also have a Liquid Sparkle Spray Cleanser. Haven't seen it in the stores, but it's available online.

Another good 100% natural and organic cleaner is Vermont Soap's Liquid Sunshine (made with soap). You can use it for stain removal, general cleaning, dishwashing soap, etc. They recommend it for laundry too, but since it has orange essential oil I'd do a test patch on your clothes first just to be sure. I am not sure if the formula is similiar to their aloe castille liquid soap with sweet orange or not (the ingredients look the same) but they are the same price so it probably doesn't matter which one you get. (I usually make my own recipes with their aloe castille liquid soap; or you could use Dr. Bronner's). Vt. Soap also has a veggie wash, and a yoga mat cleaner.

Earth Friendly Products are really good too. "Natural" but not just soap and herbs/essential oils like the two in my first post (it's made with natural and naturally derived ingredients like citric acid and coconut oil derived surfactant, BUT not SLS and no chemicals). Wide range of products, including laundry soap (which is the only laundry soap I've found that I like). You can find it at Whole Foods and other health food stores. Some info on website about use of chemicals.

Seventh Generation also makes some nice products. I don't care too much for their laundry soap but I do like their dishwashing soap. Their dishwashing soap is made with vegetable surfactants (so natural derived aka partially synthetic detergent derived from a natural source). It is fully biodegradable, and does not contain toxins like conventional soap. It comes in unscented or is naturally scented with essential oils. This brand does not contain a high amount of water, so its very concentrated.

For more brands, companies, and eco-friendly services all over the U.S. check Greenpeople's directory. I use it to find all sorts of natural products. OCA (see below) sponsers them.

For articles and information about all things organic check out The Organic Consumers Association's website. You can also subscribe to a news letter. Lots of good information, book suggestions, etc. Great website.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Re: Sugarloaf Craft Festival (Festival information)

I had an awesome time at the Sugarland Craft Festival a couple weekends back. No matter how often I see hand crafted items, I am just amazed at the quality and pure artistry of hand made crafts. There were so many amazing artisans, it was hard choosing a few pieces to buy, and the majority of what I bought was for my sister!

There were literally dozens of potters there, but I got my sister two beautiful large soup/chowder mugs from "As the Pottery Wheel Turns, Inc.". What caught my eye about this potter was that his pieces were of a very high quality but inexpensive; the gigantic mugs only cost me $10 each. Many other potters had nice pieces too, but they were charging more (up to $60), and the few others that I saw who sold more affordable pieces, were of a lower quality (bumps in clay, bubbly glaze, etc). Unfortunately this crafter only seems to sell his wares at the Sugarland Craft festivals, as he does not have a website, and did not have business cards or a catalog. He did tell me that he will be at the next Sugarloaf Festival in Chantilly in May.

I also brought Bexn some handmade fudge and some maple leaves from Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum. This museum on elephant collectables also sells old time candy. I'm not sure about all the ingredients they use in their candy production (how "natural" it is), but my sister said the fudge was very good.

Though there were mainly potters, jewelry makers, wood and metal workers, and food vendors, there was a natural cosmetic company there, Pretty Baby Herbal Soaps. They are a family run business that have been making soap for five generations. They sell a vast assortment of herbal all natural soaps (no chemcial preservatives or colors, made with all natural ingredients, colored with natural pigments). They also sell several other products, including balms and creams. Of the ingredient lists I've read they were all 100% natural, though I am not sure what kind of wax they use to emulsify their creams with, either way their creams are 90-100% natural too (all of the other ingredients in their creams are natural ingredients from plants, but they just listed vegetable wax or something like that as the wax ingredient, and some "vegetable" waxes are not natural). So far I've used the La-Tea-da soap, and it is very nice! Very emollient and fresh smelling (lime/ginseng/irish moss/green tea/lavender scent). I also have the gardenia soap which smells wonderful. (I also brought Bexn a couple).