September 30, 2011

Really Natural Cookbooks: The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes

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I love my Cuisinart Slow Cooker! Just toss the ingredients in, then come home from work to dinner made! Nothing could be easier, except I seem to make the same thing in the slow cooker. It is always some version of this soup or dal, and I have been wanting a slow cooker cookbook to get me out of my rut.

The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson is in its second edition. Although, this is not a vegetarian cookbook, which I would prefer, the recipes are easily adaptable and many are rated as "vegan friendly".

Opposite the pressure cooker's speed stands the leisurely pace of the slow cooker, also enjoying new popularity. Despite the hyperbole of the title, The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes breaks out of the usual soups/stews confinement of other Crock-Pot cookbooks. Judith Finlayson has gone to some trouble to create spicy Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup, full of tropical vegetables and hot pepper. Hearty Carbonnade reproduces the famous Flemish beef casserole, complete with its obligatory beer. Rarely seen elsewhere, South Africa's national dish, Bobotie, here boasts curry-spiked meat under an egg topping. Indian dishes, both meat and vegetarian, also appear. Even cake is not out of the question if the slow cooker is prepared as Finlayson suggests. There are enough temptingly tasty recipes here to keep those slow cookers plugged in 24 hours a day.

I'm making the red lentil and carrot soup with coconut for dinner tonight! Yum!

This book has beautiful photographs to get your mouth watering, and there are even dessert recipes. I've never made dessert in my slow cooker and look forward to more adventures in slow cooking!

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.

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September 29, 2011

How are we going to feed the world without destroying the environment?

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September 28, 2011

Really Natural Beauty: Flower Shower Juniper Rose by Bella Botanica

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One of my favorite natural beauty products comes from Bella Botanica. Flower Shower is a lovely toner spritz that is refreshing throughout the day. I recently tried the juniper rose flavor:

Mist this refreshing Flower Shower on your face, or in the bathroom, car, or office. Let the Pure Essential Oil aromatherapy of Juniper, Rose Geranium, and Lemon evoke a desert sunset or a mediterranean breeze... This spray will lift your mood, rejuvenate the spirit, cleanse stale air around you, and hydrate the skin - like a shower in a bottle!

My new beauty regiment is to cleanse, apply Tropical Tamanu Oil, then spritz the flower shower! My skin has never looked so good!

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September 27, 2011

2012 California Ballot Initiative: Label GMOs

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In the signature gathering stage, the 2012 California ballot initiative to label GMOs is underway:

WANT TO HELP MAKE GMO HISTORY?
Getting an initiative on the California ballot is a timed adventure. Once we turn the language of the initiative in, the state has it for anywhere from 40 to 60ish days or so. Once we get it back, we have 150 days to gather 504,760 qualifying signatures. All experts tell us that we should count on gathering 750,000 - 800,000 to make sure we have enough that make it.

This is a grassroots movement to ensure safety in our food supply.
The issue of GM food safety was first discussed at a meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and biotech representatives in 1990. The "substantial equivalence" concept was proposed in early 1996. The adoption of the concept of substantial equivalence permitted marketing of new foods without any safety or toxicology tests as long as they were not grossly different in chemical composition to foods already on the market. [FDA GRAS proposal]

To decide if a modified product is substantially equivalent, the product is tested by the manufacturer for unexpected changes in a limited set of components such as toxins, nutrients or allergens that are present in the unmodified food. If these tests show no significant difference between the modified and unmodified products, then no further food safety testing is required.

Because these genetically modified food products have not been FULLY tested for their effects on our bodies or the environment, we demand that they be labeled. We have a RIGHT TO KNOW what's in our food.This is a campaign about the right to INFORMED CHOICE. We want Genetically Modified Food LABELED. We have a right to choose what we put into our bodies, and a right to choose to not participate in a live food EXPERIMENT.


It is ridiculous and reckless to rely on manufacturers to test for the safety of GMO crops. Consumers have a right to know!

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September 26, 2011

Really Natural Cookbooks + Recipe: The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals

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My father is a celiac, and I have dappled with a gluten-free lifestyle myself. Once you get started, it is really quite simple to learn to cook gluten-free, whether it is simply a choice or medical need.

The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals is filled with great recipes and photographs to get your mouth watering!

Here's an example of a recipe:

Cinnamon-Raisin Muffins with Streusel Topping

Streusel:

1⁄4 cup chopped walnuts

1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons brown rice flour

(such as Bob's Red Mill)

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

11⁄2 tablespoons canola oil or

butter


Muffins:

Cooking spray

3.3 ounces brown rice flour (about

3⁄4 cup; such as Bob's Red Mill)

4.1 ounces potato starch (about

3⁄4 cup)

2.1 ounces tapioca flour (about

1⁄2 cup)

3⁄4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

11⁄2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

3⁄4 cup raisins

1⁄4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1⁄3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup plain soy milk



1. Preheat oven to 400°.


2. To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl with a fork until mixture resembles small peas.


3. To prepare muffins, place 18 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Coat liners with cooking spray; set aside.


4. Weigh or lightly spoon brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, granulated sugar, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in raisins and walnuts; make a well in center of mixture. Combine oil, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in soy milk; add to rice flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle batter evenly with streusel topping.


5. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm. Yield: 18 servings (serving size: 1 muffin).


CALORIES 201; FAT 8.5g (sat 0.8g, mono 3.9g, poly 3.2g); PROTEIN 2.3g; CARB 31g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 24mg; IRON 0.6mg; SODIUM 149mg; CALC 57mg


I can't wait to try out these recipes!  Many of the recipes are not vegetarian, but it is pretty easy to adapt them, and this cookbook does not claim to be a vegetarian, gluten-free one.  Also, some recipes rely on gluten-free mixes, like Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix, which doesn't both me as it simplifies the recipes, and it is always stocked in my pantry.

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.

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September 23, 2011

Backcountry Gear: MSR Dragonfly Stove

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I am a firm believer that in order to live a greener life, you need to experience nature. To experience the backcountry, you need good gear!

MSR's Dragonfly Stove is a great backpacking stove.


  • CoolFuel™ Valve: First ever dual-valve design offers an unrivaled range of flame control - simmer to boil with a twist of the flame adjuster.

  • Extra Wide Pot Supports: Three wide pot supports hold larger MSR pots or fry pans for gourmet cooking.

  • Multi-Fuel: Burns white gas, kerosene and unleaded auto fuel.

  • Compact: Folds to 1/3 of its working size for easy storage.

  • Remote Burner: Pioneered by MSR, the separate fuel bottle and pump keep the flame away from the fuel, which allows the use of a windscreen to make the stove burn hotter and more efficiently.


The Dragonfly has an adjustable flame, is extremely reliable, and doesn't become covered in black carbon with repeated use. I've owned two MSR Whisperlite International Liquid-Fuel Stove, which work great when new, but after the first year, require constant maintenance and are more finicky. After my second one failed on a backpacking trip requiring I take the whole thing apart, I decided it was time to upgrade to the Dragonfly. I love my new stove!  It is definitely worth the couple extra ounces of weight and extra money for reliability and flame control.  

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September 22, 2011

Disposable Single-Use Plastic Bags Drops Lawsuit Against ChicoBags

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I love ChicoBag reusable shopping bags! I keep one in my purse, and I love the way it cinches into a small packet. ChicoBags makes it so I always have a reusable bag with me, even when I forget them in the car.

In a classic story of David versus Goliath, ChicoBags was being sued by "three of the largest domestic manufacturers of disposable single-use plastic bags". Thankfully, they have dropped out of the lawsuit.  Green Festivals reports:

The plastic bag giants, which have also sued municipalities over bag bans or fees, had initiated the suit against ChicoBag alleging that the company's "Learn The Facts" page, (which contains widely accepted third party statistics regarding the impact of single-use plastic bags on the environment) was false and misleading, and had resulted in 'irreparable harm' to their companies....

When announcing the settlement, Andy Keller stated: "What started as a bullying tactic, to silence a critic and stop ChicoBag from achieving our mission of helping humanity kick the single-use bag habit, has morphed into two wins for the environment: First, Hilex Poly can no longer inflate plastic bag recycling numbers by including non-bag wrap and plastic film. And they have also agreed to acknowledge that plastic bags can become wind-blown litter despite proper disposal and to better educate the public."

"Ultimately, I hope this settlement will encourage Hilex Poly and the rest of the plastic bag industry to refrain from filing any future frivolous lawsuits, stop attacking reusable bags, and instead invest their dollars into reducing unnecessary single-use bag consumption and litter, while developing solutions to meet the growing consumer demand for more sustainable products."


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September 21, 2011

The Absolute Best Care for Your Lips: Dr. Hauschka Lip Care Stick

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For years, I have resisted dishing out the big bucks, relatively speaking, for Dr.Hauschka Skin Care Lip Care Stick. I get lots of lip balms sent to me as samples for reviewing, but Dr. Hauschka is the line I buy when given a choice. The lip balm always seemed extravagant at $14 a stick, but I finally justified it to myself promising to never lose it.

Four plant waxes join beeswax to seal in moisture and protect even the most sensitive lips while providing a soft, silky shine.
  • Jojoba wax and shea butter protect from the elements
  • Helps prevent dry, chapped lips
  • Soothing extract of carrot and anthyllis soften and nurture
  • Unlike conventional lip care products, the ingredients in Lip Care Stick promote healthy lips without causing dependency
Your lips deserve this wonderful, organic, natural product. Just one application, and I feel relief that lasts without constant reapplication. I love Dr. Hauschka!
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September 20, 2011

The Park Spark Project: Using Dog Poo to Power Parks


Via: Discovery News and the Park Spark Project

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September 19, 2011

Really Natural Baby: BPA-Free Lifefactory Multi-Sensory Silicone Teether

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Lifefactory makes one of our favorite glass reusable drinking bottles. The company hasn't left baby out with their cool products! The Lifefactory Multi Sensory Silicone Teether is made in Wisconsin of medical grade silicone. Silicone is non-toxic, so safer than many plastic teethers on the market.

Multi-sensory, medical-grade silicone teethers are designed to develop oral motor skills. Teethers can be refrigerated or frozen to soothe gums.
Lifefactory's products are bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalate, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) free.

Personally, I preferred my babies chew on something natural when teething. We found the Under the Nile Organic Cotton Veggies in a Crate to be perfect, but I do think the Lifefactory teether may offer a little bit more satisfaction for little mouths.

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.

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September 16, 2011

All Natural Popcorn Chips: Chip'ins by Popcorn Indiana

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Popcorn Indiana makes great snacks. We recently tried their Popcorn Indiana, Chips'in Sea Salt.

Here is the chip'ins for Purists. The main ingredients: Corn, sea salt, and air. While we couldn't park a farm right next to the ocean (though that would be pretty sweet), we were able to create the next best thing: Sea Salt chip'ins, the perfect, all natural triumvirate of taste, purity and crunch. Enjoy, and Munch Better.™

Unfortunately, they are not made from organic ingredients, and most of the corn grown commercially in this country is GMO. I also expected them to have chunks of popcorn in them. Instead, they are have pockets of air in the corn chip.

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.

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September 15, 2011

LED Bulbs Suppress Melatonin 5 Times More Than Other Bulbs

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Humans are meant to sleep in darkness. Nighttime lighting has been shown to increase the risks of cancer and exacerbate air pollution; however, most significantly for overall human health, it affects our rest. According to a new study, LED lights suppress melatonin levels. Green Prophet reports:

Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin five times more than exposure to the outdoor lights filled with high pressure sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light. "Just as there are regulations and standards for 'classic' pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for the pollution stemming from artificial light at night," says Prof. Abraham Haim of the University of Haifa who is following the effects of cancer and artificial lights at night.

Melatonin is a compound that adjusts our biological clock and is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties. The study investigated the influence of different types of bulbs on "light pollution" and the suppression of melatonin, with the researchers recommending several steps that should be taken to balance the need to save energy and protecting public health.


Although LEDs are better for the environment due to lower energy usage, "over-lighting" with any kind of bulb should be avoided to protect human health.

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September 14, 2011

Really Natural Beauty: Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer and Green Apple Peel

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Made with certified organic ingredients, Juice Beauty makes high end products without the exorbitant price, well too exorbitant. We were sent two Juice Beauty products to try:
Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel - Full Strength

A powerful hydroxy-acid complex of certified organic apple, lemon, grape juices, raw cane sugar and white willow bark dissolve and free dull, lifeless skin for visibly improved skin tone and texture. Vitamin antioxidants and essential nutrients hydrate and nourish fresh skin for a healthy, beautiful complexion.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer
Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer contains a proprietary blend of organic fruit stem cells and powerful Vitamin C to help decrease DNA damage and accelerate cellular proliferation.
Fruit stem cells penetrate deeply into the skin and encourage cellular repair while potent Vitamin C promotes collagen production and renewed skin elasticity
.

Juice Beauty consistently receives low hazard scores (one to three) from the Environmental Working Group. These are great products from a company you can trust! All of the products are made 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

September 13, 2011

Will the USFWS Decide on 757 Endangered Species?

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The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is developing a new agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to decide on 757 imperiled plant and animal species they've been stonewalling on for years, many of which are running out of time. The Good Human reports on the deal:

The agreement in question forces the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to make initial or final decisions on whether to grant some 757 imperiled plant and animal species protection under the Endangered Species Act over the next six years. In exchange, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a leading advocacy group devoted to animal and plant conservation, will withdraw its legal opposition to a May 2011 agreement between USFWS and another conservation group, Wildlife Guardians. CBD argued that the agreement with Wildlife Guardians was too weak, unenforceable and missing key species in need of protection. The new agreement, if approved by the U.S. District Court as submitted in July 2011, would make many of the provisions of the old agreement obsolete.

It's a shame environmental groups have to do such deals to get the government to do their job in evaluating and protecting species.

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September 12, 2011

Really Natural Pets: Planet Dog Orbee Balls

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Have you been in a pet store lately? The amount of plastic junkie toys for our pets is just as bad as what is designed for our children. Fortunately, Planet Dog to the rescue!

Since incorporating in 1997, we have been known as the industry's leading socially responsible, values-based design house, bringing people and dogs together for fun and mutual support....

Our mission is to amuse, explore, support, innovate, create, educate, celebrate and philanthropate... all in the name of the dog. We "romp the romp" by providing financial resources to those in need, educating consumers about canine-related issues, creating an array of non-toxic and recyclable products, and keeping the tails of "our pack" wagging.


We were sent two great Planet Dog balls!

These are great dog balls: very sturdy, easy to throw, easy to retrieve! My dogs love them (so do my kids).

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.

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September 9, 2011

Really Natural Beauty: Hugo Naturals Dual Action Sea Fennel and Passionflower Deodoran

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Deodorant is somewhat a necessity of life, but unfortunately many of the big name brands are full of toxic substances that are particularly concerning for breast cancer. Finding a natural deodorant that works can be a challenge.

Hugo Naturals, Sea Fennel & Passionflower Deodorant is a unique blend perfect for sensitive skin.

Dual-Action Formula Our powerful formula helps keep you fresh all day long. We've formulated our deodorant with powerful anti-microbial ingredients that help stop odor causing bacteria, while leaving out propylene glycol, alcohol and aluminum. Gentle yet effective, our rich deodorant contains rice powder to help absorb perspiration. Non-irritating. Non-staining. Crafted from cruelty-free ingredients. Always free of artificial fragrances, artificial colors, parabens, petroleum products, and animal fats.

I love the smell of this deodorant!

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

September 8, 2011

6 Months Later: Is Our Food Still Radioactive from Japan's Nuclear Fallout?

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One of the biggest fears and concerns after the Fukushima nuclear reactor started leaking after the devastating tsunami in Japan six months ago was that food in the US would be affected by radiation drifting across the Pacific Ocean. Sure enough, radiation was detected in food from California to Florida. These levels, of course, are nothing compared to the people of Japan's exposure, but nonetheless, any amount of additional radiation is a concern. Should we still be concerned?

Healthy Child Healthy World reports:

In a word, yes.
As long as the reactors continue to leak, radioactive particles will end up in the air and water, subject to the currents and jet streams that will carry them all over the globe. And, even after the leaking has stopped, there is an issue with how to dispose of or contain all of the contaminated soil, sewage, debris, etc. Some of these things are currently being dumped into the ocean or burned - both of which lead to further spread of the radioactive particles...

Radioactive cesium in particular is of concern. David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, says in The Wall Street Journal that "its half-life of 30 years means that what was released from the Fukushima plant will be with us for many decades. Most of this radioactive cesium will end up in the Pacific Ocean and will be enormously diluted in the 200 quintillion gallons of water there. But some of it will end up on dry land, in our food and water--and there it will stay, at very low levels, literally for generations."

Image:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by °Florian

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September 7, 2011

Really Natural Foods: Monte Bene Farm Fresh Vodka Pasta Sauce

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Vodka goes with tomato juice (think of a Bloody Mary) ,so why not include it in pasta sauce? Monte Bene Farm Fresh Vodka Pasta Sauce is a unique product made by an Italian born chef now living in and making sauce in New Jersey:

Ingredients: Tomatoes, Imported Italian San Marzano Tomatoes, Heavy Cream, Onions, Pecorino Romano Cheese (Sheep's Milk, Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Corn Starch, Cellulose), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vodka, Salt, Basil, White Pepper, Black Pepper, Citric Acid.
As you can see from the ingredient list, there is not much Vodka in the sauce. My only criticisms are not with flavor, but earth friendliness. This product is not made from organically-grown ingredients, although it is gluten-free and natural, and our sample was shipped in a humungous box full of styrofoam peanuts.

 

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.

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September 6, 2011

UK Fights Obesity: McDonald's Displays Calories on Menu

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I don't eat at McDonald's, and I would never even consider dining at this fast food chain in Europe where delicious food abounds! High calorie, non-nutritious, cheap food fills the Golden Arches' menu; however, if you live in the UK, you will soon have this information in your face when ordering, similar to what New Yorkers see. The Huffington Post explains:

About 1,200 McDonald's restaurants in the U.K. will this week begin displaying the calorie count of each food and drink item on their wall-mounted menu boards, as part of a government-led program to fight obesity and promote healthier eating, the chain said Sunday.

McDonald's already puts calorie information on its Web site and the back of its tray liners, but this is the first time the figures will be displayed prominently in its restaurants outside the U.S.


Perhaps seeing 790 calories next to that Angus Bacon & Cheese will make you think twice about consuming it! That's 40% of your total daily recommended calories. Add a soda and fries, and you might as well not eat the rest of the day.

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September 5, 2011

Really Natural Books: American Wasteland

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How much food do you throw away each time you clean out your refrigerator? I'm ashamed to admit it is usually quite a lot in my household. Not only is this wasted money, it is wasted resources that could feed hungry people. Add the amount of food wasted on farms, grocery stores, and restaurants to be astounded that Americans actually dispose of nearly half of all food produced.

American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It) by Jonathan Bloom is thorough exploration of food waste and how we can improve our inefficient ways.

Since the Great Depression and the world wars, the American attitude toward food has gone from a "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" patriotic and parsimonious duty to an orgy of "grab-and-go" where food's fetish and convenience qualities are valued above sustainability or nutrition. Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America's food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field. He accounts for every source of food waste, from how it is picked, purchased, and tossed in fear of being past inscrutable "best by" dates. Bloom's most interesting point is psychological: we have trained ourselves to regard food as a symbol of American plenty that should be available at all seasons and times, and in dizzying quantities. "Current rates of waste and population growth can't coexist much longer," he warns and makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food conscious "to keep our Earth and its inhabitants physically and morally healthy."

Bloom's book gives much food for thought, so once again I will vow to waste less food while feeding my family.  From saving the planet to saving our pocketbooks, there are so many reasons to read Bloom's book and amend our ways. 

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

September 2, 2011

Really Natural Dessert Cookbooks: Sinfully Vegan

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There is nothing better than a good dessert. Make it vegan, and the guilt goes away!
Sinfully Vegan: More than 160 Decadent Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth by Lois Dieterly makes your mouth water!

What better way is there to end a meal than with a luscious piece of cheesecake, a rich slice of chocolate cream pie, or some chewy peanut butter cookies--all made with easy-to-find vegan ingredients? In this newly updated and expanded edition of Sinfully Vegan, Lois Dieterly shows you how to do just that, with more than 160 dairy-, egg-, and cholesterol-free recipes.

Sinfully Vegan offers desserts from every shelf of the pastry case: cakes, candies, cookies, brownies, pies, tarts, puddings, and quick breads. Complete with essential baking and preparation tips, creative recipe variations, nutritional breakdowns, and wheat-free alternatives, Sinfully Vegan is the ultimate vegan dessert resource and an essential addition to any kitchen. And since there are no eggs in the batter, plenty of sampling is encouraged!


From toasted coconut pecan pie to peanut butter twist brownies, you won't miss the dairy in any of these recipes! My only critique is I wish there were pictures to accompany the recipes. I am always motivated by images!

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

September 1, 2011

Really Natural Monthly Round Up August 2011

Beauty

Business

Climate Change

Energy Savers

Entertainment

Fashion

Food

Green Homes

Health

Herbal Medicine

Kids

Monthly Round-Up

Office

Organic Food News

Product review

Really Natural Books

Recipe

Travel

technology

transportation

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