Monday, April 30, 2012

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday was a movement that started back during World War I and with the help of celebrities, chefs, and a whole lot of concerned folks, is making its way back into the mainstream.

If you've heard of Meatless Monday, you know it's a great way to improve your overall health, reduce global warming, and reduce your carbon footprint.  Check out the following reasons to go meatless, and if that doesn't have you ready to make the change, maybe the delicious recipes we've found will!

Reasons to participate in Meatless Monday:
  • It has been found that diets high in fruit and veggies can reduce your risk of certain cancers. 
  • Red meats and processed meats have been linked to causing colon cancer.  
  • A study done by Harvard University found that replacing foods high in saturated fats, like meats, with foods high in unsaturated fats, like nuts and seeds, can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%. 
  • Diets containing a significant amount of meat have also been linked to diabetes and obesity.
  • The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that approximated 20% of man made greenhouse gas emissions is generated by the meat industry. 
    • These emissions can be considered a factor for the accelerating climate changes throughout the world.
  •   It has also been shown that water needed for livestock far exceeds the water needed to raise vegetables and grains.

So now that you know why Meatless Monday is beneficial, we've found some awesome recipes that we'd like to share with you.

Tuscan Vegetable Baked Ziti-from

  • 1 pkg. (7 oz.) KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Italian* Three Cheese Blend, divided
  • 2 large red peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 2 zucchini, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar (24 oz.) chunky spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

    How to:
    HEAT oven to 375ºF.
    RESERVE 3/4 cup cheese; combine remaining ingredients.
    SPOON into 13x9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with reserved cheese.
    BAKE 20 to 25 min. or until heated through.

    Yeah-it's that easy!  Or how about this timeless Pasta Primavera recipe from


    How to:
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fusilli and cook as the label directs. Add the sugar snap peas and/or broccoli, carrots and bell pepper to the boiling water during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and return to the pot.
    Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water. Pour the tomato mixture over the pasta and vegetables. Add the mint, parmesan and half the goat cheese and toss to combine. Season with salt.
    Divide the pasta among bowls. Top with the remaining goat cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
    If these two 30 minute meals aren't your style, how about a Mushroom-Manchego Quesadilla from that takes about half that time?

    • 2 jalapeño chiles
    • 2 tsp. canola oil
    • 6 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced (1 ½ cups)
    • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
    • 4 (8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
    • 6 Tbs. shredded manchego cheese
    • ½ cup prepared salsa verde
    • Cilantro sprigs for garnish, optional
    How to:
    Preheat broiler. Broil jalapeños on foil-lined baking sheet 15 minutes, or until blackened, turning once. Transfer to bowl, cover, and let stand to cool. Peel, remove seeds, and coarsely chop. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and pepper, and sauté 3 minutes, or until browned.Sprinkle 2 tortillas with 3 Tbs. cheese. Top with jalapeños, mushrooms, and remaining tortillas. Broil on baking sheet 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with salsa verde. Garnish with cilantro, if using.

    For more recipes-check out our Meatless Monday board on Pinterest!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Green Nursery

Are you more eco conscious now that baby is on the way?  Having a toxic free environment for your little one is important as babies' immune systems are still developing and can not fight off infections the way adults can.  Since babies will spend most of their day sleeping, here are a few tips on how to create a green nursery that is non toxic and eco friendly.

Starting with the bare bones of the room-walls and flooring, many of us are working on a tight budget.  If you are thinking about remodeling-cork, bamboo, and other hardwood flooring options are best.  Carpet tends to collect allergens and dust mites, not to mention, new carpet can release gases for months.  If you already have hardwoods and want to soften the room, look to buy a natural fiber rug, made of wool or organic cotton.  Anything that is not made from natural fiber will need to air out for several weeks and should be kept away from mommy too.  If you already have carpet and don't plan on getting rid of it, make sure you are vacuuming it often to get rid of allergens and dust mites that can collect in the fibers.  It's also not a bad idea to keep the nursery a "shoe free" zone to avoid tracking in any bacteria and dirt.

As for the walls-most of us choose to paint as soon we know the baby's gender.  Opt for a low or no VOC paint and again-keep mommy away from this task.  Even low VOC can affect the health of a developing child.  Right now vinyl wall stickers are a big trend in nurseries however vinyl is something you'll want to avoid, no matter how cute it will make the room look.

This room from uses wallpaper instead of vinyl to add a fun decorative element-just remember to use a non toxic paste.

Before furniture is moved in, it's also important to begin purifying the air in your baby's room.  Open the windows several times a day and have a houseplant in the room to help remove air pollution inside.  It's also important to use natural cleaners on windows, flooring, and furniture.  Vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda all have cleaning properties that will get the job done and mom can be worry-free during her nesting stage about inhaling anything toxic.

Now it's time for the basic pieces you'll need in the room.  You can obtain lots of furniture (for cheap) through friends, family, yard sales, and Craigslist.  This is obviously the most economical and eco friendly option, however reusing a mattress isn't recommended.  Be sure, before you purchase anything second hand, that you thoroughly inspect the piece to make sure nothing is broken or missing, and unless you plan on refinishing a piece, avoid anything with peeling or chipping paint.  It's also extremely important to avoid particle and fiberboard products that are held together with formaldehyde and toxic glues, which can release gases and toxins throughout the room for months.

For the baby's crib, look for an eco friendly mattress made of wool, organic cotton, or 100% natural latex.  Anything else will again have to air out for several weeks and should be kept away from mom.  For bedding look for organic cotton and linen materials and a natural fiber mattress cover to help reduce allergens.

For toys, remember babies like to put everything in their mouths so look for organic and plastic free items.  Wooden toys with non toxic paints and stains are another way to go.  Babies don't need many toys at first, so don't feel like you need to fill their room up with too many things.  The point of a nursery is to create a clean, calm environment where they can hopefully sleep soundly throughout the day and night.

100% organic cotton from

Made from wood and safe, non toxic paint from

Stay tuned for the next post-Greening your baby's bath time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day and we're bringing you 22 eco friendly tips that are simple, effective, and can even earn you money.  Now who doesn't like that?

1. Stop buying bottle water and instead invest in a water filter and use a reusable bottle. 
2. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
3. Buy or sell clothes/toys at consignment stores.  This is especially helpful for kids who seem to grow out of clothes every time you look!  If you don't have or don't plan on having another little one that could use the hand me downs-why not try to make a few bucks?
4. Switch from toxic cleaners to natural ones.  Our post, "Spring Has Sprung," on the 2nd of this month talks about wonderful, non toxic cleaners, that you already have in your pantry.
5. Wash full loads of laundry and dishes.
6. Choose paperless billing.  It's eco friendly and keeps paper clutter in your house at bay!
7. Use reusable grocery bags.


8. Use rags or towels instead of paper towels.
9. Participate in your community's recycling program.
10. Use tupperware or reusable containers instead of plastic bags.
11. Unplug electronics that are not being used.
12.  Collect rainwater from your downspouts to water your garden.
13. Opt out of receiving catalogs and junk mail.
14. Try composting.
15. Line dry your clothes.
16. Shop at the local farmer's market.
17. Try going meatless for one meal a week.
18. Bring plants indoors to help purify the air.

19. Use your own coffee mug at the office instead of a paper or styrofoam one.
20. Add rocks to your toilet's tank to help displace the water and save on your water bill!
21.Use energy star products for major household appliances.

Happy Earth Day!

pictures are from the following sources (in order of appearance):,,,,,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Showers Bring...The Need for Indoor Activities...

It's raining, it's pouring, the baby is snoring...but your toddler is running around like a madman.  You haven't been able to go outside all day because of the weather and now cabin fever is setting in.  Here's a few clever activities that might keep your little one at bay for (hopefully) more than a few minutes.

Those old cardboard boxes in the garage or basement can easily be transformed into just about anything...a post office, a kitchen, a ship, a drive in theater.  A 9yr old made quite the news story just days ago for making his own arcade out of boxes.  You could at least win coolest mom of the day award for doing the same thing.
Or what about angry birds and bowling?  Didn't think you could do anything like that inside the house, did you?

And then of course if you are trying to wind your little one down so that maybe, just maybe he'll take a nap too...there's always storytime :)

Good luck-and please let it be sunny tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easy Green Weekend Projects

Busy doing chores this weekend?  Have a few minutes to spare?  Here's a few green projects that can make a difference in your house and community (and they may already be part of your to do list)!

Less than 10 minutes:
  • Replace your shower heads with low flow ones
  • Replace your air filters
  • Clean your vents, ducts, and fans
  • Replace your light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs, or CFL bulbs

Less than 30 minutes:
  • Clean off your patio furniture-all you need is a hose, spray bottle filled with diluted vinegar, and an old cloth or toothbrush
  • Start a compost bin-build it yourself or buy one and start collecting materials to fill it up
    • This can take up a nice corner of your backyard or try a smaller, enclosed outdoor one or a container that can even fit under your sink
  • Build or buy a rain barrel...if you already have one-water your plants!
  • Line dry your laundry outside

A few extra minutes to spare:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Greening Your Garden

With the temperatures getting warmer, gardening and lawncare are being added to your to do list.  Here are a few tips that are not only eco friendly, but just may save you some work.

1. Recycle cardboard and newspaper by using it as weed control in your garden.  Simply wet the ground (so the newspaper doesn't fly away) and layer the cardboard or newspaper in your garden bed.  Cover with mulch and your done!  The newspaper and cardboard are biodegradable so it's completely safe AND those pesky weeds can't get the sunlight they need to continue to grow.  This can save you hours of weeding and not to mention a sore back!

2.  Collect rainwater from your gutters and downspouts and reuse the water on your plants.  Water conservation at its best!

3. Compost your yard waste to help add nutrients to your soil.  This helps plants grow and yield more flowers and fruit/vegetables.

4.  Speaking of fruit and vegetables...start your own food garden.  Something as simple as a container herb garden can add a pleasant scent to your garden and add lots of flavor to your food.  Radishes, bell peppers, tomatoes, and green beans are also easy to grow vegetables.

5.  Mow your lawn on a high setting.  This helps produce stronger, healthier grass which can help eliminate pests.  By using a push mower you can also get your workout in.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

6.  Water early in the AM to help reduce the levels of evaporation. 

Talk about taking your green thumb to a whole 'nother level!

Pictures;; powerpoint clipart

Monday, April 9, 2012

Keeping It Clean And Green

Now that the clutter has been cleared, let's keep it that way by using some eco-friendly products and ideas. 

Starting in the kitchen...

Use drawer organizers to keep utensils in the correct spot with an expandable bamboo tray found at Bed Bath and Beyond.
Store your bulk food items in glass containers, like these ones from Oggi, found at Macy's.

Keep counter tops clutter free by a creating mail organizer or message center.

Keep dirty clothes at bay with a colorful and collapsible hamper.  Now should you ever be able to collapse it because you have no dirty clothes...then we applaud and envy you!  This cute one from The Container Store is offered in several colors.

Keep your shoes, sweaters, and t-shirts organized with a hanging shelf.  Canvas and bamboo are a great eco friendly choice.
Finally, let's move to the garage...

Use mesh bags to round up the kids' equipment.  You can keep everything they need for their sport together and the mesh fabric allows cleats and pads to breathe.

Also try to create an organized recycling solution by using colored bins.  If you're waste management company collects everything in one bin, make sure you know exactly what they accept, so as not to contaminate the load.

Now that everything is clean and put in place...sit back, relax, and enjoy your green and clutter free home.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning: Ridding Yourself of the Unwanted

So you've gone through your closets, pantry, and drawers and realized...there's a bunch of stuff here I don't want.  So get rid of it!  If it's something you haven't worn in over 6 months-get rid of it.  If it hasn't expired, but has sat in your pantry for several months and you have no intention of using it-get rid of it.  If it has expired and has sat in your pantry (or refrigerator)-get rid of it FAST!

Once you've pulled out all of the unwanted things-be it clothing, food, or knick knacks-sort it into two or three categories.  1.) Donate 2.) Trash  3.)Sell (only if you really, really, REALLY think you can and will sell it).

If food is past its prime-toss it.  If you have unopened items that are still good, think about donating it to a homeless shelter or food drive.

You have several options if the unwanted item is clothing.  If they are in good condition you could sell them in a garage sale or to a consignment store.  You can also just donate them to Goodwill or The Salvation Army to get them out of your house.  For t-shirts in poor condition-turn them into rags to clean the house or wash the car.  Jeans can sometimes be cut into shorts, turned into a skirt, or even a purse.  Old sweaters can be turned into mittens or even pillows!

Collect the miscellaneous items hiding in drawers like batteries, old electronics, the excessive amounts of plastic grocery bags, or even old appliances hiding out in your garage and find out where you can donate them.  Some companies will even come to your house to pick up items free of charge.

Now that the clutter has been cleared stay tuned for the next post about what products can help you stay organized.

Happy Cleaning!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is in full effect and we've got the pollen and allergies to prove it!  Not to mention the undeniable urge to clean our house from top to bottom, nook to cranny, for that annual thing they call "spring cleaning."  This week's post will have spring cleaning tips and tricks to help get your house in order, the green way. 

We'll start with the doer of all...white distilled vinegar.  It's edible, it's effective, and you can use it in every room of your house.  And did we mention is costs only a few bucks for a GALLON! 

Vinegar is one of the most popular natural cleaners due to its acidic level.  It can effectively kill germs, bacteria, even mold!  You can pour it straight into a spray bottle and happily go about your chores, or you can dilute it with water.  Have a stubborn stain-just add a little baking soda to your vinegar to form a paste and voila!  Stain...gone.  Clean the whole kitchen and bathroom top to bottom with just one spray bottle.  Don't worry about the smell either, it will completely disappear as soon as it dries. 

Baking soda, as mentioned before, is also a great compliment to vinegar, or use it alone for its deodorizing characteristics.  Like vinegar, baking soda can be used all over your house, is non toxic, and costs pennies compared to other cleaners.

Most of us have these ingredients in our home, but are unaware of the endless list of uses for them.  Try using baking soda on your dog's bed or in your cat's litter box.  Sprinkle some on your carpet and vacuum it up to freshen a room.  Try doing the same thing on upholstered furniture or drapes.  It can even rid the smell from tupperware and other food containers...and what's awesome about it's safe!  For you, for baby, heck we use baking soda when cooking and brushing our teeth! 

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural mineral that dissolves easily with water, and it's non abrasive so it really is a natural wonder.  You can even use it to remove grease and oil in clothes, in the garage, or in the kitchen.  Have a clogged drain?  Instead of using harsh, toxic chemicals that end up polluting the water supply, use these two green ingredients together.  Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar.  Let sit for about 20 minutes then flush with a kettle full of hot water and your clog should be draining like new.
Check back later for more tips and tricks to clean the green way.

Happy Cleaning!