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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chocolate Mousse That Is Healthy And Delicious!

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse

1 Ripe avocado
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients. Puree until smooth. Serve chilled.








Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, clean water advocate, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Yummy and Healthy Avocado Dip

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Avocados are a creative way to increase your fruit intake during the fall and winter months. You can add them to almost any dish. Avocados contain about 8% of your recommended daily value of fiber
Photo Credit: Elena White @lifethegreenway
per serving. Dietary fiber from fruits, as a part of an overall healthy diet, can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and also may lower risk of heart disease.

Here is a family favorite that is healthy and yummy (and a great football gameday snack)!

Ingredients

4 ripe avocados
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup Plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. of Sriracha (if you want it spicy)

Directions

1. Scoop the avocados out of their skins and place in a food processor.
2. Add the cilantro, Greek yogurt, lime juice, jalapeno, salt, pepper and other spices, then blend until smooth.

You may serve with vegetables, such as, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and jicama.
I really like Snappea Crips - they're delicious with hummus, too.


Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, clean water advocate, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.

Friday, November 21, 2014

4 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Holidays Healthy

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The holiday season is upon us! That means that you're probably spending a lot more time in the kitchen - whether you're hosting a party or simply cooking a traditional meal for your family. No matter what the reason, you're going to shop for many ingredients, cook, clean, and enjoy lots of yummy food (let's hear it for the leftovers)!

If you're like me (and I'll bet you are, since you're here), you want to buy quality food that is also healthy for your family, while keeping costs down. I've done the legwork for you and created a list of tips to help you accomplish your "green" feasts.

Here are 4 easy tips to keep in mind as you shop, cook, eat and clean: 

- Choose food low added chemicals and toxins

- Avoid toxic chemicals in cookware

- Store and reheat your leftovers safely

- Clean the greener way!

1) CHOOSE FOOD LOW IN POLLUTANTS AND ADDED CHEMICALS:

As you may already know, today's food can contain ingredients that you definitely don't want to eat, such as: pesticides, hormones, artificial additives and chemicals found in food packaging.

Here are 3 ways that you can cut down on these types of chemicals: 

When you go grocery shopping, buy organic when you can. Why buy organic? Two reasons: organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides and organic meat and dairy products can limit your family's exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics. I know what you're probably thinking: "Organic costs more. I thought that you were going to show me how to save money??"  Don't worry, it's okay to buy some non-organic fruits and vegetables. You can find the list of the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables here.

Cook with fresh foods, rather than packaged and canned, whenever possible. Packaging chemicals in some food containers can leach  into food. Bisphenol A, for example, is used to make the linings of canned goods. Go for fresh food or prepared foods stored in glass containers. Pick recipes that call for fresh, not canned, foods.

Cook with frozen fruit and vegetables. When cooking with fresh produce is not an option, your next best choice would be to cook with frozen fruit and vegetables - some would even argue that frozen is the better choiceWhile fresh fruits and veggies may be more visually appealing and taste better, they don’t last as long in your refrigerator and may not even be the most nutritious. Frozen produce is available year-round, and in most cases, is cheaper than fresh. Plus, the vitamins and nutrients are preserved in frozen fruits and vegetables because of the way that they are processed; they are picked, then quickly blanched and immediately frozen and packaged, generally when nutrient levels are at their highest. This means that frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at their peak, in terms of freshness, and nutrition.

2) AVOID TOXIC CHEMICALS IN COOKWARE

Is non-stick cookware in your kitchen? It is in most kitchens across America, but for safer cooking, may I suggest cast iron and oven-safe glass? My family uses both, but there are many benefits of cooking with cast iron cookware: they are inexpensive, conduct heat wonderfully, go from stove-top to oven with no problem, and can last a lifetime, if properly cared for. There are also health benefits when cooking with a cast-iron skillet. You can boost your iron intake from eating food cooked in cast iron cookware. Iron is a vital mineral that is crucial for maintaining energy levels, and it also helps strengthen immune systems.

If you're not completely sold on using cast iron cookware, you can reduce the possibility of toxic fumes when cooking with any non-stick cookware you already own: never heat an empty pan, don't put it in an oven hotter than 500 degrees F, and use your exhaust fan over the stove.

3) STORE AND REHEAT YOUR LEFTOVERS SAFELY 

Who doesn't like leftovers? Leftovers help to keep you in the holiday spirit by giving you a break from the kitchen! When storing your leftovers, it's best to avoid plastic containers - especially when reheating them, even if they claim to be "microwave safe." The chemical additives in plastic can get into food and liquids. Ceramic or glass food containers, like Pyrex, are safer.

If you do use a plastic container, handle it carefully. Use it for cool liquids only; wash plastics by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher, which is farther from the heating element. Use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave. Also, avoid disposable (or single-use) plastic as much as possible -- reusing it isn't safe because it can harbor bacteria and trashing it fills up landfills, polluting the environment.

4) CLEAN THE GREENER WAY

Having guests means that there will be tons of cleaning to do - before they arrive, while they're there and after they leave. You will also have to clean while you cook, but do you clean the green way? Traditional household cleaners (bleach, etc.) can cause the air inside your home to become polluted with chemicals. It is easy and cheaper to clean the green way. You can try natural alternatives like vinegar, baking soda and water.  Avoid commercial anti-bacterial products (learn about natural alternatives here) and the biggest hazards: acidic toilet bowl cleaners, air fresheners, oven cleaners, and corrosive drain openers.

While cleaning, no matter what products you use, be sure to do it safely! Open the window, use gloves and keep young kids away from toxic products. Dust and vacuum often since dust often contains toxins. Wash your hands with plain soap and water -- it's simple and very effective. Use a baking soda and water paste instead of commercial oven cleaner.

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Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, clean water advocate, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Buying Organic Produce Doesn't Have to Break the Bank: Here Are Ways to Save!

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By Alanthebox (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
There are tons of health benefits that come from eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Most importantly, fruits and vegetables that are pesticide-free, meaning no pesticides or chemical fertilizers were used to grow them.
Most of the produce in your everyday grocery store, unfortunately contains several pesticides. Buying organic food, that is, food that is grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, is key. However, organic food almost always costs more than conventionally-grown produce.

As I have previously mentioned in my posts, "Do You Know When To Buy Organic?" and "Save Money By Learning When To Buy Organic: The New "Dirty Dozen" Plus," most of us cannot afford to buy all organic produce; it's just too expensive. That's why knowing those fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with chemicals is so important when it comes to saving your hard-earned money. I'm going to make is easy and share a list of those fruits and vegetables that are probably okay to skip on the organic aisle, thanks to our friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Every year, the EWG analyzes pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with rankings for these popular fresh produce items. All 48 foods are listed below from worst to best
(lower numbers = more pesticides).

EWG's 2014 "Clean Fifteen" ™ (Don't have to buy organic):
  1. Asparagus                                   
    By Takeaway (Own work)
    [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
    via Wikimedia Commonsion
  2. Avocados
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Onions
  11. Papayas
  12. Pineapples
  13. Sweet Corn
  14. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  15. Sweet Potatoes

EWG's 2014 "Dirty Dozen Plus" ™ (Buy organic whenever possible)
  1. Apples                                                                  
    By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
    (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
    or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)],
    via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry Tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Peaches
  8. Potatoes
  9. Snap Peas (imported)
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell peppers
*Plus: 
- Collards /Kale
- Hot Peppers
To download a FREE, printable copy of the Environmental Working Group's Shopping Guide To Pesticides, click here. I challenge you to take it with you whenever you go grocery shopping.


Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, former corporate sustainability coordinator, clean water advocate, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.

Monday, November 17, 2014

8 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality

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Autumn is here, but it's getting pretty cold! Now that cooler weather is here, we are spending more time indoors. Indoor air quality is often much worse than the air outside. One problem that faces many families, including mine, is the poor quality of air in the home during the winter months. This is especially true for those of us that suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies, asthma and other respiratory issues. Everyone in my household suffers from allergies in varying degrees of severity. If you have ever experienced any of the following symptoms: eye, nose or throat irritation, watery eyes, sneezing, cold/flu-like symptoms, fever, digestive problems, skin rash, fatigue, wheezing, headaches, nausea, insomnia, depression, chest pains, asthma attacks, drowsiness, dimmed vision, shortness of breath, or dizziness; ask yourself: Do these symptoms go away when you leave the house? Do I only feel this way when I'm either at home, work or another indoor location?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollutant levels could be two to five times higher than pollution levels outdoors. Since most Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time inside, indoor air quality has a huge impact on our everyday lives. Also, indoor air pollutants are one of the most prominent triggers of allergies and asthma.

These days, most homes and apartment buildings are built to be cost- and energy-efficient by holding heat in the winter time and keeping heat out during the summer. Also, most homeowners tightly seal any cracks in insulation prior to the winter months which prevents cold drafts from entering the home. However, this also seals off the home from any fresh air and raises the concentration of both allergens and pollutants in the home. Some common household pollutants are mold and mildew, pet dander, dust mites, pollen, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or secondhand smoke, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and lead.

Here Are 7 Ways to Get Cleaner Indoor Air Without Spending A Lot of Money (You Can Even Save Money):

1) Circulate Air. I find that one of the most irritating things (pun intended) about indoor air in our home during the winter months is the lack of fresh air due to all the windows being closed. Opening the windows while you're out of your home for a short period of time will greatly improve the indoor air quality. You'll return to a fresher (and slightly colder) home and will breathe easier.

2) Take or Wipe Off Your Shoes. In most Asian cultures, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home for either spiritual or practical reasons. It is a good practice since estimates show that we track as much as 85% of the dirt in our homes in from the outside on our shoes or paws of pets. The EPA specifically recommends that shoes remain outside the house. However, if going shoeless is not something that the whole family is willing to do, try getting them to wear house shoes, slippers or socks that are solely worn inside the house.

3) Prohibit Smoking Indoors: This may sound like a no-brainer, but this can be a challenge for those who have a smoker in the house or smoke themselves. The best option is to have anyone that smokes, do so outside.

4) Use Safe Cleaning Products: Most cleaning products come with warnings for a reason: they contain harmful chemicals that get into the air when they're used. There are many non-toxic alternatives that you can use, even make, at home, such as baking soda, washing soda and white vinegar and lemon juice that work very well and are also a lot less expensive.

5) Pets: For families with pets, it's often more difficult to keep the air quality in good condition. The issue of hair shedding can be the leading cause, as well as pet dander. However, you can often diminish this problem with improved vacuuming and cleaning habits. Most of us vacuum the carpet on our floors, but don't really think about vacuuming other areas like fabric furniture and drapes and curtains to help them stay dust-free.

6) Replace/Clean Air Filters: Most of us change our air filters, but don't practice it diligently. If you want to extend the life span of your air conditioner and maintain its efficiency, the most important thing you can do is change the filter of your air conditioner or furnace once every three to six months. Most people find pleated filters are sufficient for them. These have an estimated efficiency of 10-60% and need to be replaced every 3 to 6 months. HEPA filters are considered the most efficient filters available, but need to be checked monthly since they can become choked up very quickly and can hamper the airflow if they become too clogged. Electrostatic filters probably offer the best combination of value and efficiency. They can cost twice as much as a good quality disposable filter, but you can just wash them with water when they become dirty, and reuse them.

7) Bring In Some Green: One of the easiest steps to cleaning the air is to bring in plants. Indoor plants actually act as natural air filters, improving indoor quality by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. Also, many of the chemicals that make us sick, such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, are quickly absorbed by plants. For a list of some plants that are effective in contributing to cleaner air, click here.                            
By Reinhard Kirchner (Own work)
 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)],
via Wikimedia Commons

8) Change Your Candles: You may be surprised to learn that the most popular type of candles are paraffin-based and are a significant source of indoor air pollution. They emit toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene. While burning these types of candles every once in a while is probably harmless, repeated exposure can be problematic, especially for asthma and allergy sufferers.


By applying these low-cost methods, you can dramatically improve the air quality in your home and spend less money on trips to the doctor, and over-the-counter (and prescription) medicines.

Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, former corporate sustainability coordinator, clean water advocate, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.