January 29, 2010

Really Natural Cookbooks: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Mmmm, I love cookies! Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats is a handy book filled with great recipes for vegetarians and omnivores alike! From Tahini Lime Cookies to Whole Wheat Fig Bars, you can't go wrong with these delicious recipes. Great images of the finished products make you drool and motivate you to get into the kitchen and start baking.

Caramel Pecan Bars

For the crust: 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon baking powder A big punch of salt 3/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, slightly softened

For the pecan topping:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons melted nonhydrogenated margarine
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure the foil completely covers the sides of the pan, with about 2 inches folded outside over the edges. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare the crust:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives held together to cut in the margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press down evenly and very firmly, making sure to press the mixture all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until firm and very lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside.

Prepare the topping:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and nondairy milk until foamy. Stir in the the dark brown sugar, brown rice syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture onto the crust, using a spatula to spread the topping evenly.

2. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is rapidly bubbling. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then move to the refrigerator to finish cooling and setting. Chill for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.

3. To slice completely cooled bars, grab ahold of the foil and carefully lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a heavy cutting board. Peel away the foil and cut bars with a heavy, sharp knife.

Disclosure:  I was sent a free sample of this product to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 28, 2010

Eating Chocolate Proven to Reduce Stress Hormones

Science has proven what I have known all along: eating chocolate reduces stress! The "chocolate cure" has been clinically studied. Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, Medical News reports:

It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed...

Sunil Kochhar and colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions. Studies also suggest that chocolate may ease emotional stress.

In my experience, a glass of red wine coupled with chocolate works best :) Of course, organic chocolate yields premier results.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 27, 2010

Natural Yoga Mat Made from Jute and Rubber

Recently, I found myself in need of a yoga mat in order to take an unplanned class hours from my home. At a local health food store, I purchased the Gaiam Eco Conscious Jute Yoga Mat (Natural). This mat is costs about $37.00, and it smells wonderful fresh out of the packaging. I have an aversion to smell of new yoga mats, even ones that are PVC-free, but this yoga mat had the sweet smell of jute. The jute mixed with rubber also gives the mat a different texture that I preferred to traditional yoga mats the first time I tried it.

An eco-friendly alternative for your yoga practice, this mat from Gaiam is made of 100% jute, an earthy, natural and biodegradable fiber. The mat is constructed by meshing jute fibers with patented PER plastic, a phthalate-free plastic that is safer for the environment, as well as for the workers who manufacture it. Soft and lightweight, the Gaiam Jute Mat features a grippy, non-skid rubber bottom, ideal for all types of flooring. The mat is durable enough for machine-washing but will have a longer life span if hand washed.

My trust in Gaiam has faltered given the BPA scandal in their aluminum water bottles, but I do really like this yoga mat. It has replaced my regular mat in my daily practice.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 26, 2010

2000-2009 Warmest Decade Since Records Began in 1880

Technically, there is still one more year to complete in this decade; however, it is already the warmest decade since 1880, when "reliable modern" records began. Live Science reports:

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, 2008 was the coolest year of the decade, and 2009 saw a return to near-record global temperatures (despite that frigid December, which was unseasonably cool for much of North America, Europe, and Asia).

2009 was only a fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, which is the warmest year on record.

James Hansen warns the current El Niño cycle causing big storms in the western US could create unusually high temperatures this summer, like it did in 1998.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 25, 2010

Natural Home Cleaning: Bissell Little Green

I have an older car and live in the mountains, so the carpet inside takes quite a beating. I have tried carpet shampooers at car washes, but the smell of the cleaning products gags me, and it is inconvenient. When I saw the Bissell 1400-7 Little Green Multi-Purpose Compact Earth-Friendly Deep Cleaner, I wanted to try it.

What makes the Little Green environmentally-friendly? When I first saw it advertised as such, I suspected greenwashing. According to the manufacturer:

  • A compact, multipurpose cleaner that has been redesigned with a 95 percent reduction in PVC.
  • Manufactured with tanks made of polypropylene, a material that is more recycling-friendly.
  • The brush block is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and the solution tank also contains parts made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.
  • All Styrofoam has been eliminated from the Little Green's packaging, and the carton and inner packaging are made from a minimum of 75 percent recycled corrugated materials.
  • The Little Green uses earth-friendly liquid cleaning formulas that do not contain any heavy metals, optical brighteners, phosphates, or dyes.
The Little Green does not heat the water, but you add hot water to its tank, which actually makes the unit more versatile for cold water applications. It worked very well at cleaning out my car upholstery, and even though it is not recommended by the manufacturer, I will use more natural clean products in the Little Green. 

Is it greenwashing? Probably not, and I am glad I purchased this product.  I only wish the cleaner it came with was truly natural.  
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 22, 2010

New Natural Hair Care from Aveda Light Elements: Texturizing Creme and Shaping Wax

Screen shot 2010-01-16 at 9.14.43 AM.pngI am a huge fan of Aveda's Light Elements line. It is perfect for any hair type! Aveda has just introduced two new products to this popular line:
Light Elements Texturizing Creme:

Weightless texture with light hold for all hair types.

  • Amur corktree and barley blend adds moisture to hair.

  • Organic beeswax and pullulan help provide light, flexible all-day hold.

  • Plant emulsifiers from jojoba and soy give the product a soft and creamy texture.

  • A blend of gamma oryzanol (from rice bran) and Sasa veitchii (bamboo) helps protect hair from UV damage.

  • Spicy-citrus aroma features certified organic mandarin, ginger and Australian sandalwood.

Light Elements Shaping Wax:
Weightless texture with firm, pliable hold for all hair types.

  • Organic beeswax and jojoba wax help provide unique pliability

  • Pine rosinate and pullulan help give all-day strong hold

  • Plant emulsifiers from coconut, jojoba and soy give the product a creamy texture

  • A blend of gamma oryzanol (from rice bran) and Sasa veitchii (bamboo) helps protect hair from UV damage

  • Spicy-citrus aroma features certified organic mandarin, ginger and Australian sandalwood.

I absolutely love both of these products.  The scents are wonderful, and they really improve the coarse texture of my hair and give it manageability. Aveda is committed to the environment, and these products are manufactured in the USA.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 21, 2010

Self-Sufficient, 3-Wheeled Futuristic Concept Electric Car Inspired by Air and Water

If you are going to design an eco-friendly car for the future, what better place to find inspiration than nature itself! The AERO is a three-wheeled electric vehicle modeled after air and water. Ecofriend explains the AERO's unique features:

The lightweight vehicle can reach high speed consuming a small amount of energy, which too is generated by the vehicle itself...

The self-sufficient vehicle can be recharged by three different systems. A wind power system harvests wind energy and uses it to recharge the onboard battery pack. Two solar panels located between the front wheels absorb daylight to power the batteries. When the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, the vehicle can be recharged by plugging it into any source of 120V.

Imagine a self-sufficient car!

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 20, 2010

Anti-Allergen, Organic Cotton Eco-Friendly Bedding by Allergy Luxe

We spend a lot of time resting in our beds, so it only makes sense that we choose bedding products that are eco-friendly and better for our health. Exclusively made for Bed Bath & Beyond, Allergy Luxe Organic Pillowcases not only give you pesticide-free peace of mind, they also protect you from allergens like dust mites and pet dander.

This luxurious sheet set is made from certified pure organic cotton and promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle. The soft sheets are free of harmful chemicals and organic dyes, and has an anti-allergen barrier weave that protects the sheets against dust mite dander, pollen, pet dander and other allergens. 100% organic cotton with a 300 thread count.

This bedding is very soft, and at least part of the packaging is made from burlap rather than entirely plastic.

Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of this product to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 19, 2010

Arizona to Close Most State Parks

First California proposed closing state parks due to budge cuts, now Arizona has actually done it. 21 out of 30 Arizona state parks will be closed as a result of a unanimous vote by the Arizona State Parks Board. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Wrestling with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, Arizona decided Friday to close nearly all of its state parks, including the famed Tombstone Courthouse and Yuma Territorial Prison.

The State Parks Board unanimously voted to close 13 parks by June 3. Eight others had already been closed, and the decision would leave nine open -- but only if the board can raise $3 million this year.

The action represents the largest closure of state parks in the nation, although several other states are considering similar moves.

What happens to closed state parks? Are you people no longer able to visit them or are they simply not staffed? Are trails closed?
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 18, 2010

Sturdy Organic Canvas Tote by Dandelion

You can never have too many canvas bags when you are a parent. From shopping to simply carrying snacks and water bottles, a sturdy bag is key! The Dandelion Organic Canvas Tote is a great bag with many pockets.

Dandelion Organic Tote Bags are designed for eco-conscious Moms on-the-go. Developed with a Diaper Bag in mind, the totes have all the conveniences Mom needs including multiple pockets and pouches. Made with durable 100% Organic Cotton Canvas and feature Organic Cotton Rope shoulder straps. Environmental message printed with eco-friendly low-impact dyes. Outside features large pocket with snaps, 1 large open pocket and 2 elastic pouches.

Of course, you don't have to use it just for diapers. I think this will make a great bag for this busy teacher to carry things back and forth to school.

Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of this product to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 15, 2010

New Variety of Apple: Piñata Heirloom Available in 2010

Screen shot 2010-01-09 at 10.34.43 AM.png
Our grocery stores are filled with the same generic varieties of fruits and vegetables, when countless heirloom varieties are coveted by home gardeners. Not all agricultural producers are stuck in the same variety rut.  Stemilt Growers is introducing a new variety of apple: Piñata.

• The PIÑATA!® apple originated in the 1970's after researchers in Dresden- Pillnitz, Germany crossed the Golden Delicious, Cox's Orange Pippin and the Duchess of Oldenburg varieties. The apple was released commercially throughout Europe in 1986.
• In 2004, Stemilt Growers--a leading tree fruit company based in Wenatchee, Washington--trademarked the name Piñata. Stemilt holds the exclusive rights to grow and market this variety in the United States.
• Under its former names (Pinova and Sonata), Piñata was deemed "Apple of the Year" in Germany in 2001. In 2004, Stemilt renamed the variety Piñata, in order to tie-in the apple's given names with its exciting attributes.
• Piñata apples are stripy red over an orange background. A blend of high sugar and high acid levels give Piñata a special flavor. Crisp and juicy, Piñata has a classic apple flavor with a unique tropical twist.

The Piñata reminds me of a Pink Lady, one of my favorite varieties of apples, and my children really loved them. They are tangy and sweet, they are quite beautiful in appearance. They are available under the Artisan Organics label.

Personally, I am annoyed that heirloom varieties would carry a registered trademark. These varieties belong to the people of the world, not agricultural companies.  It shouldn't need legal protection or have exclusive rights.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 14, 2010

Newsflash: Mega Stores are Bad for America...Just Ask Our Pets

It's no surprise that mega stores, such as Wal-Mart, are bad for America. From the environment to shutting out small local stores, mega stores are to blame for many of our woes. These mega stores have a monopoly on our economy and safety is often compromised. In order to offer endless rows of cheap products, quality standards are abandoned. Consider the recent recall of pet food, that caused many people to lose their loved pets. Truthout reports:

First, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it suspected that some toxin had been mixed into the wheat gluten that was used to thicken the canned meats. Second, an independent lab reported that it had found rat poison in the recalled cans. Third, Menu Foods pointed a finger at a shipment of wheat gluten that had been purchased from a supplier in China. Although rat poison was later replaced as the main culprit by a chemical named melamine, the story line had now taken shape: cheap and adulterated Chinese products were poisoning Americans, their children, and their pets.

The problem goes beyond pet food...all those cheap products need to come from somewhere, and profit is the of the up most importance:
Some Chinese toothpaste makers had used diethylene glycol, a component of brake fluid and antifreeze, as a sweetener. Some Chinese toy makers had coated their products with lead-based paints. Some Chinese farmers had fed unapproved drugs to catfish that were bound for U.S. dinner plates. Some Chinese slaughterhouses had mixed "oversulfated chondroitin sulfate" into the pig intestines that were used as the raw material for the blood thinner heparin.

Without Chinese manufacturing, our mega stores would fold.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 13, 2010

Zero Calorie, Natural Stevia in the Raw Cup for Cup Replaces Sugar in Recipes

steviainraw.gifScreen shot 2010-01-09 at 9.34.22 AM.png
I first heard about stevia from my secretary about ten years ago. At that time, it was available as a liquid extract, and I couldn't figure out how to use it in recipes. I'm not a huge fan of zero calorie sweeteners, and stevia has not been without controversy; however, Stevia Extract In the Raw may change my mind. You can use it cup for cup as you would sugar in any recipe.

Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is an herb in the compositae family that grows as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves make it incredibly sweet, a property that is unique among the nearly 300 species of stevia plants. Stevia has been used to sweeten beverages and medicines for over 400 years. A scientist named Antonio Bertoni first recorded its use by native tribes in 1887...

Unlike some of our competitors, Stevia Extract In The Raw does not use additional sweeteners such as erythritol (Truvia™) and isomaltulose and erythritol (PureVia™) to mask the natural sweetness of Reb-A Stevia Extract. The high purity level of our product eliminates any of the licorice-like aftertaste associated with less pure Stevia products currently in the market.

I am not sure how processed this stevia is compared to raw sugar, but it is much lighter in weight and the kids love it!

Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of this product to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 12, 2010

Fish Roe is the Best Source of Omega-3

A new study has found that the best source of Omega-3s comes from roe. Medical News Today reports:

Until now there had been no precise understanding of the nutritional potential of the roe of marine animals, but a team of researchers from the UAL has now shown that this is one of the best natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for ensuring the correct development of a wide variety of metabolic functions in the human body...

The conclusions of the study also show that minimal consumption of lumpsucker, hake or salmon roe satisfies the human body's Omega 3 essential fatty acid requirements, because of its levels of EPA y DHA. A lack of these compounds is associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, diabetes, poor development of the nervous and reproductive systems, and inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's disease.

I've recently begun supplementing my vegetarian diet with fish oils by Nordic Naturals. I know this seems odd to take a supplement and not just start eat fish, and it was a hard decision, as I want to remain a vegetarian. I have been suffering from an arthritic hip, and my doctor recommended fish oils. I decided I would rather take the supplements than suffer from pain or rely on over-the-counter medications that are not natural.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 11, 2010

150 Great Ideas to Get Kids Outside and Into Nature

Get Out!: 150 Easy Ways for Kids & Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future is a budget-friendly, easy to pick up book about ways to engage your child in nature and combat Nature Deficit Disorder.

Today's children spend an average of 6.5 hours per say staring at computer and TV screens, and very little time out-of-doors. This book aims to change that with 150 ideas for enjoying nature and being eco-friendly. Ranging from window gardens to birdhouses, from family bike rides to hikes, these suggestions are sure to spark the interest of all! For kids, families, schoolgroups.

One of my favorite ideas is to have a daily "green hour", no matter the weather.
As e.e. Cummings wrote, the world is "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful".

Other ideas go beyond the outdoors to how your family can become green consumers and get involved.

Disclosure: I was sent a sample of this product to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 8, 2010

BPA Free Baby: Plastic Bottles and Pacifiers by BornFree

BornFree was one of the first companies to offer BPA-free baby products when news broke about this hazardous chemical. Not only are their products free from BPA, they are also free from PVC and phthalates. Two of our favorite BPA-free BornFree products are:

Babies need to be protected from chemicals; we all do:
Exposure to Bisphenol A is Widespread

  • Bisphenol A is most commonly used to make clear polycarbonate plastic for consumer products, such as baby bottles. Through use, this plastic breaks down and leaches bisphenol A into liquids and food to which it comes into contact.

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found bisphenol A in the urine of over 95% of people they tested.

  • Alarmingly, the median level of bi-sphenol A in humans is higher than the level that causes adverse effects in animal studies.

With my first child, I never used a pacifier and only used a bottle to try to feed her water when she was older. My son had health problems that required a bottle and pacifier while he was in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery, and unfortunately the hospital did not have BPA-free bottles or pacifiers. After his release, he was back to the breast only for his nourishment and comfort.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 7, 2010

Burlington, Vermont Airpot Gets Solar and Wind Power

The airline industry is often targeted for its excessive greenhouse gas emissions, Vermont is trying to make one of its airports more eco-friendly. Heritage Aviation at Burlington International has installed its first wind turbine and 120 solar panels. UPI reports:

"We're proud to be on the leading edge of energy efficiency, corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship, in our region and in the aviation industry," said Christopher Hill, president of Heritage Aviation.

Heritage Aviation is the sole fixed base operator at Burlington International Airport. Hangars and other facilities at the airport include rainwater collection systems and one of the largest so-called green roofs in New England.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 6, 2010

Instant Coffee made with Organic Gendarma Still Tastes Like Instant Coffee

I am a coffee addict, snob, connoisseur, etc., so when I was approached to try "organic" instant coffee by OrGano Gold, I agreed with some trepidation. I was recently offered coffee at a friend's house and was served a cup of instant. I did not want to offend, so I grimaced and drank the "coffee".

OrGano Gold comes in several flavors, such as Black Gold, Mocha, and Latte, none of which resemble their true namesakes. Sure, they are a little better than Nescafe, but it is still instant coffee, and it is not even organic.

NOTE: Organo Gold coffee is not organic at this time, we are planning on introducing an organic version in the near future. All Organo Gold product contain 100% pure organic ganoderma.

The only coffee made with 100% certified ganoderma lucidum. Organo Gold Contains the most pure Certified Organic Ganoderma: A Red Mushroom that dates back over 4,000 years. Ancient generations prized this mushroom for its medicinal properties, promoting health and well-being.

Even when backpacking or traveling, I can't drink instant coffee. I carry a Mini Espresso Maker. I really can't sacrifice a good cup of joe for convenience sake.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 5, 2010

January 4, 2010

Really Natural December 2009 Monthly Round Up

Alternative Energy




Fair Trade




Green Homes




Product review





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