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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!

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.

Healthy Desserts

1 Apr

The word healthy and desserts don’t always go together but here are 2 recipes that taste good and are healthy too!

One is from The Family Dinner website and one from the Progressive Pioneer blog — both of these sites are great resources for healthy food.  And these 2 recipes are easy enough for your kids to help make them too.

In the recipe from The Family Dinner website, I used almonds instead of cashews because I love almonds in dessert.  I did add a little honey when I made it.  And next time, I would try adding dates.  I think that would be a good addition.  I used it on top of a mixture of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  And added a few pomegranate seeds on top for some extra color!

http://thefamilydinnerbook.com/in-the-kitchen/2012/03/29/whipped-cashew-cream/

From Progressive Pioneer, I made these lemon bars on Valentine’s Day for a brunch and they are excellent.  Not too sweet and delicious. One of my favorite desserts ever.

http://www.plantoeat.com/blog/2012/02/healthy-lemon-bars/

 

My next challenge is to find a healthy chocolate dessert!  Will report back soon with a couple great recipes.