February 26, 2010

Really Natural Cookbooks: Bob's Red Mill Cookbook: Whole & Healthy Grains for Every Meal of the Day

We've long been fans of Bob's Red Mill products and were delighted to receive a copy of this great company's cookbook.

f cooking healthier meals at home is your new resolution, look no further than Bob's Red Mill's extensive collection of high-quality grains, flours, and other mouth-watering products. The Bob's Red Mill Cookbook will help introduce new whole-grain ingredients into all of your daily meals, without a huge investment in pricey, difficult-to-locate, limited products that do more to take up space than change nutrition habits. Whole-wheat flours, brown rice, whole beans, and legumes have become prevalent in supermarkets everywhere, but among the hundreds of products milled at the Bob's Red Mill plant are also blue corn flour, quinoa, amaranth, teff, and all varieties of nuts and seeds, and they can be integrated seamlessly into any diet to delicious effect.

The unique, family-owned mill has been in the business of producing healthy whole-grain products for over 30 years, and they provide here more than 350 recipes for all sorts of everyday meals: morning food, snacks and sides, main courses, soups and stews, and sweets, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. This practical and comprehensive cookbook is an outstanding collection of reliable recipes that reflect the Bob's Red Mill product quality, product diversity, and dedication to healthful eating. Becoming a more inventive cook is a stepping stone to a healthier outlook, incorporating better ingredients for a better life.

Bob's Red Mill Cookbook: Whole & Healthy Grains for Every Meal of the Day includes many wholesome recipes. From zucchini chocolate muffins to wheat berry minestrone, you are sure to find many inspirations to add more whole grains into your diet. This cookbook also includes "Gluten-Free Baking Fundamentals", as well as many recipes safe for Celiacs.

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of this cookbook. No prior assurances were given as to the positive or negative nature of the review in exchange for the product.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 25, 2010

UN: Electronic Waste to Increase by 500%

Electronic waste (e-waste) is on the rise, as consumers discard older technology for the latest models. Much of this e-waste ends up in Third World countries. No matter where it ends up, the United Nations (UN) predicts e-waste to increase by 500% in the next decade and "poses a serious threat to health and the environment." The Guardian reports:

Despite a number of conventions aimed at preventing the indiscriminate dumping of e-waste, the problem is snowballing, with billions of people now regularly using advanced electronics.

The problem is particularly acute in parts of west Africa, where ship-loads of e-waste are dumped on a daily basis and scavenged by children who break down the electronics to recover valuable metals that they can sell.

Image: Greenpeace
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 24, 2010

Really Natural Books: Watch This Space: Designing, Defending, and Sharing Public Spaces

Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces is a wonderful book that teaches children (and adults) about the importance of shared, public space.

This unique and timely book introduces youth to what public space is, why it is important and how best to use it. It also underscores the need to create, preserve and protect public space. Readers will learn what makes successful public spaces work, the ins and outs of sharing and designing them, the issues surrounding teenagers in public spaces and much more.

Watch This Space answers the question, Why is public space important? It s important because this space belongs to all of us.

From a historical perspective to modern day movements like Critical Mass, this book explores many issues surrounding public spaces. Watch This Space is a great resource for educators and home school parents, and ends with the question of "How would you build it?" and ideas for "Fighting for public space".

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

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 23, 2010

Vegan, All Natural Chocolate Pear Cabernet Sauce Made with Organic Agave Nectar

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If you are looking for a unique gourmet spread, look no farther than A Perfect Pear from Napa Valley. Their all-natural, vegan Chocolate Pear Cabernet Sauce is sweetened with organic Agave nectar.

Made with premium Guittard chocolate, organic agave, cabernet juice and a hint of pear. Pour over a cabernet poached pear, vanilla ice cream or spread on brownies. Heat slightly and use as a fondue dipper with fresh strawberries.

I have yet to try this unique sauce heated, but it is delicious straight out of the jar. It is sort of expensive at $11 for 13 ounces, but it really does last a long time and is quite a treat. Another bonus is that a portion of profits is donated to children's charities.

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

February 22, 2010

Antarctic Peninsula Ice Shelves Retreating Due to Climate Change

New USGS data has discovered the southern portion of the Antarctic Peninsula is "retreating". Science Daily reports:

Research by the U.S. Geological Survey is the first to document that every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990. The USGS previously documented that the majority of ice fronts on the entire Peninsula have also retreated during the late 20th century and into the early 21st century.

This area is "rapidly changing".  It is farthest from the South Pole; however, the southern portion has the coolest temperatures and "may be a forecast of changes in other parts of Antarctica and the world if warming continues".
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 19, 2010

Zero Calorie Skinny Water Uses Artificial Chemical Sweetener Splenda

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When sent a box of Skinny Water, I became suspicious of this product's marketing because use the word "skinny" in its title. Of course, drinking a flavored water will not make you thin, but I also don't think the company is trying to make this claim; however, flavors have names like "crave control" and "shape", and they include health fad foods like goji berries. Skinny Water comes in six flavors:

My concern with Skinny Water is its use of the artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose). The safety of this artificial sweetener has come into question. Women to Women explains:
The FDA has no definition for "natural," so please bear with us for a biochemistry moment:
On the other side of the argument are responsible experts who say that Splenda is unsafe -- the latest in a succession of artificial sweeteners that claim at first to be healthy, only later to be proven to be full of side effects. These authorities say that Splenda has more in common with DDT than with food....

Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) -- except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms.

I found nothing wrong with the flavor of Skinny Water, but I don't think that people trying to lose weight need to sacrifice their health by using artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners may be used in moderation with a healthy, whole foods diet and exercise as part of any sensible weight loss plan. Besides, artificial sweeteners are turning up in our waterways and drinking water causing much concern for our health and the environment.

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

February 18, 2010

New Organic Dairy Standards Mandated 30% Grazing Diet

Large "organic" dairies have come under criticism by consumers for inhumane treatment of livestock. Green Living Ideas reports on the practices used by Horizon Organic:

It is the Idaho dairy farm where the image is most depressing and contradicts the Horizon label that promises cows "make milk the natural way, with access to plenty of fresh air, clean water and exercise." OCA describes one Horizon corporate farm:

At a Horizon dairy farm in central Idaho, the cows don't look that happy. Four thousand cows live in a stark landscape of sagebrush fields, long silver barns and open-air sheds. Jammed in crowded pens atop the hardpan of the Idaho desert, the cows are fed a diet of alfalfa, hay, grains and soy, all certified organic. Only occasionally do they eat fresh grass.

The USDA has responded by tightening organic standards, well sort of. Treehugger reports:
New USDA Organic Regulations
The new rules go into effect in June of this year. They state that at least 30 percent of food cows' ingest must come from grazing. If the dairy farm is located in a mild climate like California, cows will be expected to graze even more than the 120 days mandated as a minimum by law. Organic beef standards will also be tightened. Organic cattle, goats, buffalo, and sheep must be able to graze as well. Although in the last four months of life, certain diet regulations can be eliminated.
Personally, I don't feel these standards go far enough. 30% does not ensure the animals do not spend the majority of their time in feedlot situations.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 17, 2010

Organic Honest Tea Yearly Sales Match Coke's 9 Minutes

We occasionally drink Honest Tea because it is readily available in gas stations and health food stores alike. Recently, my daughter read an interesting statistic inside her Honest Tea lid:

Last year, Honest Tea sold 7,998,654 bottles of tea. This the same amount of Coke sold in 9 minutes.

She was blown away by this statistic, and it really shows how even a quasi-mainstream product like Honest Tea nowhere comes close to a giant like Coca-Cola. Of course, Honest Tea was only launched in 1998, and it somewhat ironic they would include such a quote when in 2008, "The Coca-Cola Company purchased 40 percent of Honest Tea". Hmm, maybe that's why we are seeing it convenience stores now.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 16, 2010

LED vs. LCD: Save Energy with a LED TV

I live off-the-grid. A couple years ago, we purchased a Sony LCD television, and we were shocked to see the amount of power this TV actually used. It wasn't a huge set, but it did pull a lot of juice out of our batteries. When we had the opportunity to try a LED TV, we wanted to see if it actually did use less power.

We tested out a VIZIO TruLED. According to the manufacturer:

VIZIO's Eco HD models exceed the current Energy Star guidelines by 56% below Energy Star 3.0, which saves you money on your utility bills while limiting the impact on our planet.

In addition to the fact that LED HDTVs are more efficient than standard LCDs, the display's LED backlights do not utilize mercury, an environmentally harmful substance used in other backlights.

Some reviewers on Amazon have complained about the sound on the Vizio, and straight out of the box, I couldn't agree more. There was a strange sort of buzz and the volume needed to be cranked up for watching. The Vizio came set to "flat" in the audio settings. Switching this to "rock" fixed the problem.
Even thought this TV is larger than our TV, we noticed it uses less power. Obviously, that's a good thing for all consumers, not just those making their own power like we are. In fact, earlier this year California looked at regulating energy consumption of TVs.  LED TVs appear to be the solution, but I am not sure it warrants buying a new TV.  All of the energy and resources used in manufacturing a new set may not be offset by the energy savings.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 15, 2010

Desertification Threatens 38 Percent of the Globe

Published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, the first study of its kind "to include the impact of desertification" on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has found that "38% of the land surface of the world" is in danger of desertification. EurekaAlert! explains:

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a scientific methodology that objectively analyses the environmental impacts of an activity or process, taking in the full cycle, from extraction of raw materials right through to management of the waste generated at the end of this material's useful life...

By simultaneously using the LCA and a Geographic Information System (GIS), the researchers have shown that eight of these 15 areas can be classified as at risk of desertification, representing 38% of the land surface of the world.

The eight natural areas at risk are coastal areas, the Prairies, the Mediterranean region, the savannah, the temperate Steppes, the temperate deserts, tropical and subtropical Steppes, and the tropical and subtropical deserts.

"The greatest risk of desertification (7.6 out of 10 on a scale produced using various desertification indicators) is in the subtropical desert regions - North Africa, the countries of the Middle East, Australia, South West China and the western edge of South America", the scientist explains.

Researchers hope the new information will make it possible to accurately evaluate "particular" human activities impact on desertification in different regions.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 12, 2010

New Gluten Free Crunchy Maple and Vanilla Sunrise Organic Cereal by Nature's Path

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Nature's Path already makes many gluten-free, organic cereals, and now they have added to the bunch with the Crunchy Sunrise flavors of maple and vanilla.
Crunchy Maple Sunrise:

Made with love and ...
INGREDIENTS: Organic whole grain corn meal, organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice flour, organic yellow corn flour, organic inulin, organic quinoa puffs, organic maple syrup, organic flax seeds, natural maple flavor, organic buckwheat flour, organic quinoa, sea salt, organic amaranth, organic molasses, tocopherols (natural vitamin E). Produced in a facility that uses peanuts, tree nuts and soy.

Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise:
Made with love and ...
INGREDIENTS: Organic whole grain corn meal, organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice flour, organic yellow corn flour, organic inulin, organic quinoa puffs, organic flax seeds, natural vanilla flavor, organic buckwheat flour, organic quinoa, sea salt, organic amaranth, organic molasses, tocopherols (natural vitamin E). Produced in a facility that uses peanuts, tree nuts and soy.

Of course, you don't have to be one of the two million people in the US that suffer from Celiac Disease to enjoy these healthy cereals. There is no sacrifice of flavor in making these cereals gluten-free.

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

February 11, 2010

Houston to Get EV Charging Stations Thanks to Nissan and Reliant Energy


The city of Houston, Texas is partnering with Nissan and Reliant Energy to promote "the development of an electric-vehicle charging network and policies to support widespread adoptions of electric cars". The Nissan LEAF, an all electric, zero-emissions car, is supposed to be introduced this year, and the car manufacturer is partnering with cities and electric companies to be sure the infrastructure is in place for EVs. Green Car Congress reports:
As part of the agreement, Nissan and the City of Houston, along with Reliant Energy, will develop plans to promote a charging infrastructure for electric cars that encourages home and workplace charging, as well as a public-charging infrastructure. The partners will work to coordinate the establishment of policies and help streamline charging infrastructure deployment. Nissan also has agreed to make available a supply of electric vehicles to the City of Houston and in and around the metropolitan area...

Reliant Energy is working to make the broad adoption of electric vehicles simple by developing an ecosystem of charging infrastructure and services that makes fueling electric vehicles more convenient and affordable than the gasoline alternative.

It's exciting to see a town like Houston with roots in the oil industry to be embracing EVs!
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 10, 2010

Get Stubborn Stuff Off Your Skin Naturally with Removeez

Screen shot 2010-02-06 at 10.02.17 AM.png Temporary tattoos on kids' skin, Sharpie markers, tar, sap, band-aid residue, etc....these are all stubborn substances that typically have to just wear off your skin unless you use harsh chemical agents. Removeez has the natural solution to "Get Stuff Off Your Skin".
Numerous hospital visits with our young son, and the skin-tearing sticky bandages that come with... Daily trips to our tar-ridden beach, and the impossible-to-remove-goop that come with it... A daughter who loves to play with Sharpies, and the permanent skin art that comes with it...

We found we needed something like REMOVEEZ daily. We had no desire to go into the shed for toxic mineral spirits and we were done with the "just rip off the band-aid" moments. We didn't want to stop our kids from being kids -- wearing temporary tattoos or playing with face paint; we just needed something to clean them up so they could look nice for the grandparents.

As California beach parents, we went looking for something natural, with additional homeopathic elements, because after all we were going to put it on our kids' skin. When we didn't find it, we invented it.

Using homeopathic extracts of aloe, bee pollen calendula, Hawaiian white ginger, and red clover blossome, Removeez comes in four scents:

  1. Removeez - Lavender/orange

  2. Removeez - Eucalyptus/orange

  3. Removeez - Clove/orange

  4. Removeez - Coconut/orange

Removeez is an "alternative to rubbing alcohol, baby oil, turpentine, mineral spirits, acetone, and industrial products not meant to clean the skin."

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

February 9, 2010

iPhone App Helps You Find Fruit on Public Lands

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There is a park in our county seat that is full of heirloom fruit trees. This fruit most often falls to the ground and is consumed by the deer, and I have often wondered about the legality of families collecting this harvest in times of need. A new iPhone app helps solve the problem of wasted food on public lands.

Neighborhood Fruit began as a website to help neighbors share the fruit in their yards. Green Living Ideas explains:

Neighborhood Fruit is a new website that aims to connect neighbors and their fruit trees to share in the abundance...

In a time when many people don't know their neighbors living next door, sharing fruit can be a challenge, but it can also be an icebreaker. Imagine a harvest block party in the fall which would truly be a locavore potluck! Neighborhood Fruit can help you connect with your local community, as well as give you access to delicious, local, homegrown food.

Neighborhood Fruit has released an iPhone app that shares information on free fruit on public lands. Mother Nature Network describes the app:

Right now, there's a pear tree on 17th Street in Philadelphia that I could grab a pear or two from if I wanted. At least, according to a new iPhone app Neighborhood Fruit's Find Fruit there is.

This 99 cent app has mapped out fruit trees on urban public lands and locates them for you according to what is in season at the moment. It also allows you to see what's available during all seasons.

This app also works on the Apple iPod touch too!
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 8, 2010

Freaky Plush Toys Based on Endangered Species

yoohoo.jpgAurora has created a line of plush toys called Yoo Hoo & Friends. Each character is based upon an endangered species, and a virtual world accompanies the toys at yoohoofriends.com. From lemurs to capuchin monkeys, each toy can be squeezed to make a noise and have certain characteristics online, like being "creative & smart".

Personally, I find these toys a bit freaky. Their color schemes are bizarre, and the sounds are not genuine to the animals they represent. I am not sure what the educational benefit is as far teaching children about endangered species, and these toys are made of synthetic materials. Unlike Aurora's Natural plush toys made from soy and kapok that more accurately resemble animals, I feel the Yoo Hoo line is all about marketing and trying to tap into the Webkinz frenzy.

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

February 5, 2010

Organic Gourmet Flavored Tortillas Made in LA by Tumaro's

Tortillas are completely versatile wraps, and now they are coming in more flavors than just wheat and white. Tomaro's makes gourmet organic flavored tortillas that are great in any recipe. Varieties we tried include:

Herman Jacobs originally retired in 1981 after selling two successful family businesses, Hain Pure Food Co. and Hollywood Foods. In 1994, Herman and his son Brian bought a tiny Mexican frozen entrée company named Tumaro's in Santa Monica, California. Together, they reformulated the product line to be healthier, tinkering with the tortillas they used in the process.

Soon after, they concentrated all their efforts solely on tortillas, infusing them with natural flavors and whole grains. They created the supermarket industry's first flavored tortillas and to this day, remain the largest seller of flavored tortillas on the market. In addition to adding flavors, they also set out to make them the healthiest too.

These are good tortillas, and we enjoyed them with our burritos. I like how the company discloses the percentage of organic ingredients in each product, instead of just saying "organic". 

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

February 4, 2010

Vertical Farming Sustainably Optimizes Growing Space

We have a problem: the world's population is growing rapidly putting pressure on agriculture to feed all those people. One solution is vertical farming, which has just won the endorsement of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Valcent, developers of Verticrop, explains the benefits of vertical farming:

Vertical growing is a new idea currently emerging in the sustainability discourse which offers great promise for increasing urban production. Vertical growing systems have been proposed as possible solutions for increasing urban food supplies while decreasing the ecological impact of farming. The primary advantage of vertical growing is the high density production it allows using a much reduced physical footprint and fewer resources relative to conventional agriculture. Vertical growing, hydroponics and greenhouse production have now been combined into an integrated commercial production system, a system that has major potential for the realization of environmentally sustainable urban food and fuel production.

Treehugger further addresses some of the criticisms of vertical farming:
Of course criticisms of vertical and urban farming still shave some merit--namely that urban real estate is generally expensive, and best used for high-density residential and commercial use, with the surrounding farmland being used to feed the city. But such criticisms ignore the fact that formerly industrial sites in cities like Detroit are now lying derelict and are being eyed-up by potential urban farming operations.

I don't see that vertical farming has to be limited to urban locations, as it could also be used by farmers in order to maximize their crop land for food products that require more space.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 3, 2010

Organic Meat Soups by Pacific Natural Foods

Of course it is better to make soups from scratch, but the next best thing when you need a quick meal is canned organic soup. Pacific Natural Foods has just improved the flavors of its Hearty Artisan Soups that contain "organic meat protein". As a vegetarian, I could not taste these soups, but I did find an omnivore to try them out. He said they were good with some "doctoring" of Bragg Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast. The five improved flavors are:

  1. Pacific Natural Foods Organic Savory White Bean With Smoked Bacon Soup

  2. Pacific Natural Foods Organic Spicy Chicken Fajita Soup

  3. Pacific Natural Foods Organic Savory Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  4. Pacific Natural Foods Organic Chicken & Penne Pasta Soup

  5. Pacific Natural Foods Organic Split Pea with Bacon & Swiss Cheese Soup

Besides being committed to organic foods, Pacific Natural Foods is a top donor to the Oregon Food Bank. The company believes, "No one should go hungry."

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

February 2, 2010

Apple iPad: How Green is It?

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We are big Mac fans here at Blogpire, and much of the environmental blog world has been a buzz asking the important question: How green is the new Apple iPad?

iPad embodies Apple's continuing environmental progress. It is designed with the following features to reduce environmental impact: Arsenic-free display glass BFR-free Mercury-free LCD display PVC-free Recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
Shea Gunther at Mother Nature Network explains:
Apple has taken some lumps in the past, particularly from groups like Greenpeace, for using toxic substances like mercury and arsenic in their products. With e-waste being as big a problem as it is considering the huge number of products Apple and other tech companies produce every year, the decision to stop using these poisonous chemicals is a big one. The iPad (and nearly ever other electronic device) have a LONG way to go before they can truly be called green, but they're getting greener and greener every go around.
earth2tech gave the new iPad a grade of B, and during the iPad's announcement, Steve Jobs was sure to tout it's green features. According to Infoworld:
Another green bragging point: Apple claims that the device's specially designed lithium-polymer battery, combined with the energy efficiency of the iPad's A4 processor, means the system can run for 10 hours straight.

The iPad's form factor also contributes to its green credentials. It weighs a mere 1.5 pounds and is half an inch thick. Compare that to the bulkier devices it rivals -- say, a netbook -- and you can see the iPad contains fewer materials. Moreover, unlike a netbook, a keyboard isn't a necessity for the iPad, which means you won't have to invest in yet another hunk of plastic, metal, or the like. (That's not to say the iPad doesn't support a keyboard.)

Being the first to own the latest technology is definitely not green living, but at least consumers are faced more environmentally friendly options when making new purchases. 

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 1, 2010

Really Natural January 2010 Monthly Round Up



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