Tag Archives: eco-friendly

Aside

I am a problem solver. The most common problem I have heard from anyone trying to maintain a fresh, plant-based diet is the price. Oh the price of organic vegetables, fruits, specialty flours, nuts, pretty much anything that is healthy is going to come with a high price tag. What bothers me more than the price of good food are the health nuts that continue to spew the mantra of “it’s ok if you spend a lot on food because it is an investment in your health.” I totally get this argument and I don’t necessarily disagree with it, but for some of us (ehem recent college graduates) it’s not possible to spend hundreds of dollars on food every month. That’s right it’s IMPOSSIBLE, especially if you want to be fiscally responsible and not add onto your debt load. The solution? I’ve compiled a list of healthy eats, arranged by category, that are the best bang for your buck at the grocery store. Today we take a look at everyone’s favorite: vegetables!

1. Sweet Potato

I have been eating a ridiculous amount of sweet potatoes recently because on top of being cheap (usually between $1-$2/lb) they are SO easy to prepare. Just turn the oven on to 400 degrees, wrap that potato in aluminum foil, wait one hour, and voila, a delicious sweet potato awaits you! I like to add coconut oil to enhance the flavor.

But wait, it gets better! Sweet potatoes contain all sorts of awesome vitamins, like B6 for heart health and magnesium for natural stress-relief. There’s also a serious amount of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium in those tiny little sacks. They are less starchy than a regular potato and they’re SWEET. Make sure you pick up a real sweet potato and not a yam. Sweet potatoes taste better than yams AND are healthy, crazy right?

 

2. Carrots

Ah, the carrot, the poor man’s staple. They are typically around $1/lb and can be used in everything from stews, to chilies  to side dishes, and even eaten raw as a healthy alternative to a chip. I like to cut up carrot sticks and dip them in hummus, mmm mmm! : ) While these suckers are cheap, you will literally turn orange if you eat too many (my cousin Sydney learned this the hard way by age 1).

Carrots contain a sick amount of beta-carotene, that awesome form of vitamin A that helps to regulate skin health, improves vision, and slows  aging. But the carrot isn’t done yet! It also is known to help prevent certain cancers, packs a punch of fiber, and even has a bit of protein. Even my meat-loving dad can’t help but swoon over cooked carrots. However you like them, pick up a bunch, they stay fresh in the refrigerator for a long time. If you have outdoor space grow your own, they are one of the easiest vegetables to maintain.

3. Onions

Truth time: I am a bit obsessed with onions. I think the smell of caramelizing onions is what is wafting around in Heaven. There’s something about the smell that makes me go weak in the knees. Don’t get me wrong, raw onions are delicious too and can really jazz up a salad, but when a caramelized onion touches my lips my brain goes crazy for the slightly sweet vegetable that is about to pass through my digestive system. Onions, onions, opinions!! Add them to a chili, a stew, a soup, a salad, or a sauce and you will NOT be disappointed.

Onion Clip Art

And of course, they are good for you too, they are a vegetable after all ; ). Onions are packed with flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, those amazing entities that bolster our immune systems. Onions also help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and prevent blood clotting. Each type of onion has other specific health benefits.

4. Whatever is in season

Pick vegetables that are in season where you live. The less a vegetable has to travel, the less expensive it is and the more nutrients it contains. Pick out a cheap option, like root vegetables in the winter, and base a recipe off of what you found on sale. Preparing your own meals always cuts down on costs and is the only way you can be certain what you are putting in your mouth. Instead of going out to a restaurant for a date, cook a meal together at home, it’s much more romantic, stimulating and private.  What are some appropriate foods for a date night at home? Now that’s a post for a different time!

Portland Farmer’s Market

Cheap Eats: Vegetables

Going “No Poo”

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For many women their hair is part of their identity. Finding the right shampoo or hairdresser is equivalent to finding Mr. Right; once you find something that works you want to stick with it.

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So when my wonderful friend Mara suggested I stray from my routine and go “no poo,” I was a bit hesitant. I love the smell of shampoo and I didn’t want my hair to smell bad, be dirty, or lose it’s luscious softness.

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But then I learned that shampoo (even natural or organic shampoos) have a ton of chemicals. Worse yet I began to read about how your skin ABSORBS these chemicals into your blood stream. YIKES! I reluctantly decided it was time to give this “no poo” technique a try.

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I had heard the horror stories: “my hair became so matted I couldn’t brush it,” “I had to cut off my hair it was so damaged,” “my hair looks awful!” They terrified me, but I was determined to try it for myself since Mara raved about the results. She claimed she didn’t need to wash her hair as much and it gave her a sense of freedom. She used baking soda as a shampoo and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. Mara has gorgeous curls and my hair is slightly wavy, so I had doubts about having the same result as her.

At first my hair was REALLY dry and I was starting to worry I had made a serious mistake. After two weeks I began to get the ratios correct and my hair was starting to look and feel great again. A month in I had a very unfortunate cococnut oil mishap:

I used coconut oil as a conditioner. It felt like it wasn’t rinsing out (even after 10 minutes of scrubbing) because it wasn’t! My hair dried in these gross greasy clumps. No big deal right? Well that night I got called for an interview for the following morning, alright, now there was a problem. I mean my hair was so greasy it looked like it hadn’t been washed in months. I woke up early so I could wash it again before the interview. No change. So I tied it in a tight bun and tried not to let it bother me. When I got to the interview I looked in a mirror and realized my hair was still glistening and not in a good way. Needless to say I didn’t get the job and it took a week to fully wash it out. DO NOT use coconut oil on its own as a conditioner.

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Apple cider vinegar is the best natural conditioner. I use a few drops of essential oil afterward to give myself that delicious shampoo smell

Recipes For Going “No Poo”

  • Shampoo: dilute 1 TBS baking soda with 6 oz water*
  • Conditioner: 2 TBS apple cider vinegar, let sit on hair for 1 minute, rinse
  • Post Conditioner: 2-3 drops essential oil (like lavender), drop in palm of hand and spread over hair, let sit for 1-2 minute, rinse

*The baking soda will not feel like shampoo, it will have the consistency of water. Use a shampoo bottle or water bottle to mix the baking soda with water and dispense onto hair. Start with the crown of your head at the roots, using your fingertips to massage into scalp. Then work the sides of your head. Follow with the back, being careful not to put too much on your locks as it will dry them out. Rinse.

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Going “no poo” is cheap, natural, and good for the environment. After the first 1-2 months you will likely realize your hair has never felt as soft, that you can go longer between hair washes, and that your hair can hold hairstyles better. The horror stories are usually from people that have quit before they were a month in.

Repurposing Toilet Paper Rolls

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I love anything that has to do with repurposing or recycling. I won a recycling scholarship in my senior year of high school by writing a persuasive essay about our duty to recycle, no joke. Waste has always bothered me and so, I look for new ways to use old objects.

Toilet paper rolls are one of those pesky things, that you can recycle, but you wish there was another purpose for them because you will always have many of them lying around (probably for the rest of your life). We’ve all see those commercials for roll-less toilet paper, you know the one with the toilet paper rolls falling out of the elevators? Well I like my toilet paper on rolls, they keep my toilet paper rolling smoothly and there is always a brand on sale, but the problem of the left over roll remains.

When I first got to Portland I shared a house with my boyfriend and two other women. One day I noticed a bag full of rolls, I had to know what they were saving those rolls for! Sasha guided me out to the garden and my life was forever changed.

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How to use toilet paper rolls for seedling planting:

You will need:

  • toilet paper rolls
  • plastic container
  • dirt
  • seeds
  • water
  • patience

Instructions:

  1. Cut a hole in the plastic container to allow water to drain out.
  2. Line the plastic container with dirt.
  3. Pack bottom of toilet paper roll with dirt, layer seeds in tube, then cover with dirt.
  4. Water and wait for them to grow.
  5. When seedlings have sprouted, transfer to larger plot.

Green Laundry

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I would subscribe to the hippie lifestyle if it wasn’t for my love of being clean. There’s nothing like reaching in the closet and putting on a fresh pair of socks. I like to smell good, but I also do not like to put harsh chemicals on my skin. Read the back of your laundry detergent and you’ll likely find a long list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce because they do not exist in nature. My saving grace is Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.

This soap comes in different sizes and scents. It is made with all natural ingredients. The company is committed to sustainable and ethical production/business practices. I spoke with some representatives of Dr. Bronner’s in NYC at the Green Festival this past spring. They were personable, gave out tons of free samples, and genuinely love the product. That’s because Dr. Bronner’s is good for the environment, a great multi-purpose cleaner (you can clean almost anything with this tuff), cheap (it’s highly concentrated), organic, fair trade, and gentle on your body. All castile soaps are great for cleaning, Dr. Bronner’s just happens to be the best deal and therefore, my favorite.

For awhile I was content with using eco-friendly washing detergent, but I recently moved into a new apartment with a coin operated washer and dryer. I’m not someone who normally carries around $3 worth of quarters and it’s also expensive, I needed a solution. I remembered watching No Impact Man, where the family did their laundry in the bath tub because it does not require electrical energy. Cool beans, I thought, but how practical would it be?

It was surprisingly fun and a great workout! Since I use Dr. Bronner’s I do not need to worry about chemicals soaking into my skin. Next came drying, which didn’t work out quite as well as I thought it would. I installed an indoor clothesline. After two washes this is what happened:

This picture serves as a cautionary tale: either buy an anchor or find a stud or be prepared for the hardware to fall out (and it will). I rehung the clothesline and it works, but the process is much more time consuming than the dryer and much less effective. It’s constantly wet in the Pacific Northwest so that also makes it more difficult to rely on air drying. I still hang up a small amount of clothes. It is more practical (and still saves a lot of energy) to do your laundry manually and head to the dryer to dry clothes. You will still save money and you will still help out the earth!

Instructions for bath tub laundry:

  1. Turn on the water and remember you can have a cold, warm, or hot wash.
  2. While the water is running add 1/4 cup castile soap and 2 tablespoons baking soda directly into the flowing water.
  3. Add clothes and swish around to ensure they are soaked.
  4. Let the clothes soak for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Put on some Italian music and getting ready to stomp those clothes like you would grapes to make wine. Stomp for 2-3 songs to ensure clothes are cleaned.
  6. Drain water.
  7. Refill tub with water at desired temperature.
  8. Repeat stomping and rinsing until water runs clear (usually 1-3 rinses is sufficient).
  9. Stand on clothes to squeeze out excess water and let drain for 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer to clothesline OR dryer.