Archive | food RSS feed for this section

Environmental Awareness

3 Oct

Several things have been running through my mind lately — from lessening my daughter’s exposure to environmental toxins to wasting less food.

When I pack my daughter’s school lunch, I use the same reusable containers everyday to cut down on waste.  And I found other great tips on lunch boxes from NRDC’s This Green Life.

I give leftover food to our dogs instead of throwing it away (except for dangerous foods for them like grapes, chocolate and avocado).

Today’s breakfast is chicken, salmon and cobb salad and for dinner they get broccoli, carrots and noodles. It is estimated that 40% of the food we produce in America goes uneaten.   That is a lot of waste.

We have also been eating more locally-grown, organic foods from our farmer’s market or local supermarket. That way we lower our carbon footprint and reduce our exposure to pesticides.

To avoid exposure to BPA, I rarely buy food in cans.  And there are other easy ways to lessen BPA exposure.

I have also been supporting a local, small business, Redbread,  who makes their own breads and jams (and the most delicious cookies!). Follow them on Instagram — @redbread.  Or on their twitter feed.

And now to end with a feeling of hope that came over me today just from reading two tweets!

One from Ian Somerhalder that simply said:

“In Wholes Foods’ parking lot- EVERY SINGLE PERSON has their own recyclable bags to shop with-it’s happening.We’re finally getting it;)”

And the other from 350.org that said: “Grassroots pressure is making it much harder for Enbridge to get away with pushing tar sands on Michigan.”

As Ian said, we’re finally getting it.  We are rising up and doing what needs to be done to help our planet. This gives me hope!

Advertisements

“BUY LOCAL” CHALLENGE

3 Sep

My family did a “buy local” challenge where the goal was to spend money only on local items for a day.

We bought several items made or grown in Malibu and Los Angeles and the balance came from Northern California.

For breakfast we had organic strawberries from the Thorne Family Farm in Malibu and organic blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from Driscoll’s in Watsonville. Yogurt from Brown Cow Farm in Antioch, bread from La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles and butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows.

So far so good!

Except mid-day, I realized there is no local coffee!  Hot water with honey was not quite an adequate substitute for caffeine!

Dinner was the highlight of the day.  Organic, sustainably farmed chicken from Petaluma Poultry and vegetables from One Gun Ranch in Malibu — cooked with Malibu olive oil.  And to drink — a delicious Semler cabernet sauvignon.

A great end to “local day” was sleeping outside on the deck under the stars with the fresh air on our faces.

Ethical treatment of farm animals

12 Aug

The ethical treatment of farm animals has been on my mind a lot lately.  Sheryl Eisenberg of NRDC’s This Green Life has written a great article about what to look for when buying eggs, dairy and meat.  I always try to buy grass-fed beef when we eat red meat (although I just learned today that grass finished is also a good term to look for).

And I look for eggs from chickens that are pasture raised.  The animals deserve a better life and we need to protect them.  Plus it is healthier for us if they live in better conditions and don’t need antibiotics because of bad living conditions.

An idea my husband came up with the other day is to buy only local items one day a week.  We are lucky because our market has a pretty good selection of fruits and vegetables grown in our area.  And we can drink wine from a vineyard nearby or water from our tap.  Best of all, we can watch the stars from our deck that night!

Taking inspiration from the Olympic swimmer, Natalie Coughlin, our next goal is to grow some of our own food!

Please let me know if you try a “buy local” day in your area and how it went!

.

Biking in Italy

16 Jul

Charlotte and I just got back from a 7-day bike trip in Northern Italy! We started in the small town of Mantova, staying in a beautiful hotel, Ca delle Erbe and we ended the trip in the spectacular city of Venice!

There were 13 of us plus others from the US and Europe (Switzerland, Norway and England).  We had some ups and downs along the way (my mother liked to say Charlotte had a “crash” course in bike riding) but we had a lot of fun and laughed a lot — especially at dinner each night on the boat after riding our bikes 40-50 kilometers!

And we were definitely inspired by the good food! We all loved a mediterranean barley salad so here is my version:

Cook 1 cup of pearl barley in 3 cups of chicken broth for about 50 minutes. Toss in chopped tomatoes, persian cucumbers, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, pinenuts and olive oil.  Olives would be another good addition.  Or some basil pesto.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

30 Apr

A few fun and different Mother’s Day gift ideas:

On the NRDC Green gifts website, you can help support the local and organic food movement while also buying a great cookbook for your mom, grandmother, aunt or sister!  Image

Two other cute ideas I saw on one of my favorite blogs (Progressive Pioneer) are Jenny Kostecki-Shaw’s new project, the Mother’s Wisdom Deck.

Image

And a fun project to make with your kids — May Day cones — which are traditionally for May 1 but I am thinking they make a cute Mother’s Day present.

Healthy Thin Mints

23 Apr

My daughter asked for thin mints the other day so we decided to make a healthier version of them than the ones you can buy in a box.

Here is our recipe, adapted from Handle the Heat:

Makes about 24 cookies

4 ounces (or 1 stick) of unsalted butter (we used organic)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa

1/4 tsp (plus a bit more) sea salt

3/4 cups whole wheat pastry

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:

1/2 pound good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (we used Scharffen berger)

peppermint extract to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make the dough:

In a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and continue to cream.  Add in vanilla, salt and cocoa. Mix until creamy like frosting.  Add flour and mix until batter no longer dusty.  Don’t overmix.

Knead the dough, using flour on your surface, and place in plastic bag.  Flatten to 3/4″ pancake and put in freezer for 20 minutes.  Using a lot of flour, roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and use 1-1/2″ to 2″ cookie cutters (round or heart-shaped or whatever shape you like).  Place them on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool completely on wire rack.  In the meantime, melt the chocolate and add the peppermint one drop at a time to taste.  Don’t overdo it on the peppermint.

Drop the cookies into the melted chocolate for a thin coating.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer or refrigerator until set.

The original recipe called for powdered sugar instead of honey.  Our dough was a bit sticky so next time I may try to use an organic powdered sugar instead.  Another thing to try might be putting the peppermint in the dough instead of the coating.

Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE!!!

7 Apr

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!!

I have always wanted to be able to make a delicious chocolate mousse ever since I was 10 years old.

I still remember a day in 5th grade when I tried to make mousse for a school bake sale.  I made it the night before and the next morning ran to the refrigerator so excited to bring it to school.  And what did I find — a RUNNY chocolate mousse.  I was SO DISAPPOINTED.

Ever since that day, I have always wanted to find the perfect recipe and serve chocolate mousse in beautiful demi-tasse cups for dessert.

I found this recipe today on The Family Dinner website (a great resource!) and it has gotten me closer to the PERFECT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.

The recipe says to beat by hand for 5 minutes.  At 5 minutes my mousse was not thick enough so I beat with a hand-held mixer for another 7 minutes which ended up being too long.  The mousse still tastes delicious (I didn’t even add sugar) but it is not as pretty as the picture on the website.  I started by sitting my bowl in water and ice but then switched over to sitting my bowl on top of an ice pack which seemed to work better.

I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet (70% cacao) dark chocolate.  And didn’t add any sugar.  Next time, I might add a little salt or vanilla.  Hazelnut flavoring might be nice too.  A lot to try still!

I am very excited about this recipe.  I can see my childhood dream coming true soon of serving the perfect mousse in tiny individual cups. Just a little bit more experimenting!  And I still need to go out and buy the cute little cups.  Will send you a photo soon! But in the meantime, here are photos from round 1.