Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lovin' Your Liver in Springtime

Spring tulip after rainfall in Massachusetts

One of my favorite things about the season of Spring is getting to change the kinds of foods I eat to light, fun and refreshing! Spring is a time of upward rising energy, which means time to eat more foods that grow upwards out of the ground. Some really wonderful foods to emphasize in our Springtime cooking are:
  • leafy green vegetables like kale, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, scallions, parsley, bok choy, sprouts, and dandelion greens
  • sour tasting foods like sour green apple or lemon - help stimulate the liver to cleanse the body
  • sweet foods - help relax the liver if it is too contracted, i.e. you are are feeling too contracted and need to mellow out
Having these things in mind while cooking will aid our bodies in doing some internal "spring cleaning" and will also help us lighten up in this new season.

Another Springtime tulip in Massachusetts

Some ideas for Spring Cooking are:
  • Grain Salad with lightly sauteed colored vegetables, seasoned with some olive oil, sea salt and fresh lemon juice - this is a fun idea to jazz up your usual grain dish with bright colors and fresh flavors
  • Corn on the Cob - lightly steam it for a few minutes and serve with a schmear of umeboshi paste, this brings out the sweetness even more, yum!
  • Light Pressed Salad - choose a juicy vegetable like crisp cucumber, finely chop some bright purple cabbage or carrot and even add some sliced green apple. Sprinkle with sea salt and press with a weight for a few minutes. Rinse, then serve with an optional sprinkle of vinegar and sesame seeds.
  • Fresh Fruit Kanten- the most delicious way to relax, cool off and get yourself into a good mood. This is my all time favorite dessert.
Green Apple Kanten

I have been having fun making different types of kanten, and the two that I liked the best were Green Apple Kanten and Raspberry Peach Kanten. Check out this recipe I made:

Raspberry Peach Kanten Cups
2 cups peach juice
1/4 cup cold peach juice
3/4 cup fresh of frozen raspberries
1 flat Tablespoon agar flakes
1 flat Tablespoon kuzu
pinch of sea salt
  1. Put 2 cups of juice, salt and agar into a pot on the stove. Bring the pot to a boil while continuously stirring.
  2. Once the liquid comes to a boil, continue stirring and simmer on low. Keep stirring until the agar flakes dissolve.
  3. Dissolve the kuzu in 1/4 cup of cold peach juice by mixing it together in a small cup or bowl.
  4. Pour kuzu juice mixture and frozen raspberries into the simmering pot of liquid. Continue stirring until the liquid becomes translucent, this should only take a couple minutes.
  5. Take the pot off of the stove and spoon liquid into individual serving cups. Let stand on the counter at room temperature or put them into the refrigerator to firm up.
  6. Once the kanten has become firm it is ready to serve. Enjoy! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 Day Eco-Challenge, Part 3

Glendale Falls in Middlefield, Massachusetts

So my eco-challenge is coming to an end, but it doesn't mean I will stop doing some of the things I have become aware of and changed.

I realized how I am often surrounded by people who don't care about the environment with the same passion as I do. That was very difficult for me, because I felt like some of the people I hang around with think I am weird enough for eating organic, whole foods and caring about my health. It definitely made it more challenging, but it also helped me to remember that I care about my opinion of myself and the environment more than I care about other people thinking I am an extreme tree-hugger.

Barnet, Vermont

For many people, it is easy to look the other way or to think that one piece of trash won't make a difference. But it does. I used to be one of those people, but once I experienced the breathtaking beauty of nature, I changed. I had to change, because I knew that if I kept my bad habits of being wasteful and apathetic, I was personally contributing to the denigration of nature and the health of the planet, the people around me and myself.

After traveling to some beautiful places in the world, I saw the natural beauty that existed and I had to do all I could to make sure it was still there in the future.

But deciding YOU care doesn't mean you have to make-over your whole life and become a recycling obsessed extremist who spends all day protesting. 

The best way to make any lasting real change in your life is to do it very slowly, one step at a time. So start small, with something like always bringing a reusable water bottle with you where ever you go. Or keep reusable shopping bags in your car so if you need to shop, they are ready and waiting for you!

Remember that every little thing you do does add up. Every person you share with about your commitment to the environment is a possibility for you to inspire someone new. Every time you do something good, you are changing the world in ways you can't even begin to imagine. So keep going and keep trying. We will get there!

Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Must See Film: Forks Over Knives

Degenerative diseases have taken over the world. More people than ever have serious health conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Half of the American population takes at least one prescription drug. The majority of Americans are overweight.

This film examines the claim that most of these diseases can be controlled or reversed by eating a whole foods plant based diet. It is about time a movie like this came out!

Doctors T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn conduct and examine the research and show us that food really can be our best medicine. Anyone who cares about health and living a good quality life should definitely see this one!

Watch the official trailer and get more info here:

Monday, May 16, 2011

30 Day Eco-Challenge, Part 2

This eco-challenge is seriously difficult. I guess I picked a bad time to take on this challenge, because I have been celebrating holidays in the last few weeks, which means I have been walking all over the place, going to different people's homes to eat meals. I have also been cooking at other people's homes a lot, so that has made it difficult to not use an aluminum baking pan when all the other pots or pans are being used, or to not drink from a plastic water bottle or plastic cup, since that's what everyone grabs easily.

One good idea my sister and I came up with that has come about from this challenge is figuring out how to ways to resolve the challenges we come up against with being mindful about wasting.

One thing I thought of was bringing a tiny wash cloth and/or handkerchief in my purse so I can use it when I need to, instead of using paper towels to dry my hands or napkins when I eat somewhere or while I am at work. This might sound strange, but actually, in Japan is has been the norm for years! The best thing about this is that the way the Japanese do it is so cute and fashionable. Often in Japan, paper towels or hand dryers are not provided in public restrooms, so many people just bring a cute mini towel in their purses.

Here is one place to get some super soft organic wash cloths:
Etsy Washcloths

One really good life lesson I have learned from all of this is that even if I am in a situation where I can't do what is ultimately best for the environment, it does not mean I have to give up and let the whole eco-challenge go out the window. I think for many people, myself included, sometimes when life gets busy with balancing work, home, school, friends, spirituality, health, etc., it's easy and common for us to forget about or lose track of the things we care about. Every week I am in a situation where I am faced with using disposables, throwing away plastic cups, paper napkins or plastic food bags. I recognize that I just have to try to make the best choice possible and know that what I am doing is important to me, so I can't give up or stop trying. Hopefully, I have a lifetime of making these kinds of choices and every choice I make that is good really does make a difference.

In a way it is like making any life change, like changing your diet for example. Just because I fall off of the wagon once and eat a box of donuts isn't the end of the world. I just need to pick myself up and try to make the next thing that goes into my mouth healthy.

Sometimes those simple sayings in life really are the most valuable:
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

With that being said, I will leave you with a few of my favorite inspirational quotes:

"If you really want something you can figure out how to make it happen." -Cher

'In a gentle way, you can shake the world." -Mohandas Gandhi

"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine." -Lord Byron

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." -Mother Teresa

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." -Dalai Lama

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Conscious Collection From H & M

I just HAVE to write about H & M's new Conscious Collection, I am so excited! Eco-fashion going mainstream and being easily accessible by so many people, while also being affordable is so beyond awesome. Not only are the designs for this collection super cute, they are white, which make them perfect for the new Spring and Summertime weather. This collection uses recycled fabrics, organic cotton, and tencel. Tencel is a natural and renewable resource.

Here is a cute perfect-for-spring top I got:

Many of their pieces from this collections are very versatile. You can layer tops like this one with other more relaxed slouchy pieces for a comfortable chic look, or pair it with a more structured cardigan or jacket and statement jewelry for a more polished-put-together look.

H & M has put together a whole website all about their Conscious Collection, which includes information about corporate responsibility, a 2009 Sustainability Report, and information about them using greener goods. I love it.

You can check it out here:

You can read more about H & M and shop there from their website:
H & M's Conscious Collection

Monday, May 9, 2011

Need a Cell Phone? What's Your Credo?

I finally got myself a cell phone- my friends will be happy they can get in touch with me, and I am happy I made a smart choice with the kind of company I want to support.

The best thing about Credo is that they donate 1% of all charges to progressive nonprofits like Human Rights Watch, Democracy Now!, and the Rainforest Action Network. Since 1985 they have donated over $65 million to nonprofits like Doctors Without Borders and Planned Parenthood. They've done too much good for me to list, so instead, you can check it all out HERE.

Credo mobile also gives you the option to buy a completely refurbished phone (see picture above). This means that some of the parts of the phone are recycled and the phone is being reused, which keeps phones from going into landfills. I like my new phone and I like that I can make choices that help make the planet just a little bit greener.

Check out the list of nonprofits Credo supports:

Check the Credo website:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Healthy Gums, Teeth and Planet

Good hygiene is important and so is caring about the environment. Why compromise? Support both with Eco-dent Gentle Floss.

Eco-dent is a vegan floss that is waxed using rice bran, instead of bees wax. It is made out of nylon instead of silk, which can involve toxic chemical sterilization and could involve child labor. What makes this floss so clean and green is that it is 100 yards per package (which is up to 300% more floss than other brands, and the packaging is plastic-free - they only use cardboard packaging which is recyclable and biodegradable.) Gotta love it! I have been using it everyday for years and my teeth and conscience are happy. 

You can buy Eco-Dent at your local natural food store or online.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Story Behind the Barcode

One great speaker I heard at Green Festival's Fair Trade Pavillion in San Francisco was Kilian Moote, from the Not For Sale Campaign. They partnered with the International Labor Rights Forum to create this awesome new iPhone/iPod app (I just downloaded) called Free2Work.

This app empowers consumers with information they need to know so they can make educated decisions about what companies and business practices they want to support with their money.

Is buying your favorite candy bar contributing to child slave labor? 
Is the underwear you are wearing right now made by people who are paid a living wage to support their families? 

Well, now you can find out about these things and more by downloading the app or even just checking out the website.

One really cool thing that Killian spoke about is that through creating Free2Work, their goal is not to point out everything wrong with a company, but rather to help companies put into place a system for addressing problems so that they can make improvements for workers and the environment. Through increasing company transparency, accountability and empowering workers, we can create safe, healthy and fair working conditions for people.

Check these websites:

Free2Work Website

Not for Sale Campaign Website