Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Specialized Food Movements Growing

As little as 10 years ago, I could not have told you what some of the now popular dietary specialties are, much less have explained why someone would choose to eat that way. I really have a lot to learn about the many, many ways a person can choose to eat healthy. I am amazed to learn just how many specialized diets there are, and particularly how big a following they each have. Doing a bit of research, I got thousands of hits for each of the specialized ways of eating listed below. We each have different needs and priorities, thus making this list quite lengthy. Check it out and see if I have included your particular menu choices. Admittedly, I have left out most of the commercialized diets, designed to make money for someone.

  1. Alkaline diet

  2. caffeine free

  3. dairy free

  4. diet related to religious beliefs

  5. Eat for my blood type

  6. fat free

  7. Feingold diet

  8. gluten free

  9. high calorie

  10. high protein

  11. iodine free

  12. juice diets for detoxing

  13. kosher

  14. low calcium

  15. low calorie

  16. low salt

  17. low protein

  18. Okinawa Diet

  19. Mediterranean Diet

  20. Multiple Sclerosis Diet

  21. nitrate free

  22. no bread or pasta

  23. no eggs

  24. no food additives

  25. no high fructose corn syrup

  26. no nuts

  27. no pork

  28. no salt

  29. no shellfish

  30. no synthetic sweeteners

  31. only sea salt

  32. only organic foods

  33. preservative free

  34. pro-biotic

  35. raw foods

  36. sugar free

  37. vegan

  38. vegetarian

  39. whole foods

Many of you probably attempt to incorporate several of these dietary restrictions in your own regimen. If I have missed anything, please drop me a COMMENT below. Fill me in on what and why you eat the way you do. This will help me to keep you all in mind.

My Tuesday food tip is to get to know your own eating habits better. Stop by the bookstore or library and pick up a book that reflects your goals in eating. Some of you may even find the series of books on eating for your blood type quite interesting. I certainly did, along with a couple of others, pictured above. When you have finished reading your book, most certainly you will have learned something more about doing it better. Thanks for reading Organic Journey Online and for following along with me on this learning expedition. I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you would like to learn more about.

Composting 101: Part II will be coming your way on Friday, when I'll be explaining site selection and setup of a backyard compost pile. If you missed the first edition, scroll up to my September 26 post: Composting 101: Part I of V.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tough Times Call for Tougher Resolutions

It's hard to turn on the TV or read the paper now without realizing that everyone is on edge over the economy. Proposed tax bills have been sent out, back to school supplies have stressed our budgets, layoffs and business closings have us worried, the holidays are coming, gas prices are up markedly, and that's just to name a few of the many things on our minds. Psychologists tell us that when we are worried about potential problems, our best course of action is to take ownership and DO SOMETHING--anything--that will positively impact the situation.

I see the worried look on my husband's face every night as he is dealing with the economic pressures at work, and then he has to come home and hear about how the pressures are affecting us personally, so he is getting a doubly-whammy. I'm sure this same story plays out in many homes, where one or both working members of the household have responsibility for the financial health of their businesses, along with the pressures of personal finances. College tuitions all over the country are rising dramatically, and we have 2 kids in college, with the likelihood of 6 more years of college costs to bear.

What can I do to ease the pressure? As usual, I can brainstorm and make a list. I'm a list maker. Lists always get me motivated; it's something about seeing it on paper that makes me realize I need to act now to complete all those tasks. I guess you could say I'm making my New Year's resolutions early. So, here's my resolutions for reducing our expenses at home:

1. As often as possible, use the car that gets the best gas mileage, for my errands and such. Our energy efficient Honda Civic gets 36 mpg--pretty good by most standards, but no Prius.

2. Use my coupon posts to the maximum possible, saving big bucks at the grocery store with their discounts.

3. Use a list when I go to the grocery store, to avoid too many excess purchases which don't get eaten.

4. Watch the sales in the Food section of the paper and clip coupons. Roxanne--You're my hero. I hear you are great at this.

5. Eat more simply 2-3 nights a week: sandwiches and fruit, salads, meatless meals like pasta with marinara (recipe in the post at this link), etc.

6. Turn lights off everywhere, except the room I'm in.

7. Revisit my saving water post, and add a few mental notes to that. Checking my water bills since that post, I've saved $10 already, just by watching things like leaving the tap running and washing clothes when I have a full load. This saves electricity too.

8. Speaking of electricity, I've started unplugging small appliances, phone chargers and such, shaving a few more dollars off of the electric bill. Considering that last month was our hottest in Florida, when our air conditioners work the hardest, that's an accomplishment.

While reading Living Like Ed, by Ed Begley, Jr., I learned that about 35% of my power bill can be contributed to our air conditioning use. I did the math and decided to experiment by dropping the A/C one degree and using the ceiling fan in the room I'm in. We'll see what the net effect is on the next bill.

9. Plan my errands for several days, grouping them into trips that involve visits to the same area, saving gas and time.

10. Switching to organic lawn care this month has already saved me about $40, and I know my dogs appreciated not having to stay inside all day while the old chemical treatments dried on the lawn.

11. This year I hope to do as much as possible with making holiday gifts, a practice I employed as a newleywed, when money was tighter. This should save money and make for more personal gifts. I'm planning to bake lots of goodies like the ones I've posted on Blake Bakes, where I write about organic baking. Interested? Visit my posts on organic oatmeal raisin cookies and organic cinnamon raisin bread for ideas. Oh, and watch for rich organic pound cake, coming on October 2 to Blake Bakes.

12. Saving money on weekend activities is a no-brainer. While I live in the theme park capital of the world, I rarely visit them, opting for activities which save money while preserving my health. With 3 dogs, I have definitely earned the frequent dog walker award in my neighborhood, where I often bike with them, walk with them, play obstacle games with them outdoors, and Tanner's favorite, swim. I can't even say that word without him running to the back door and beginning to yodel with excitement. There is nothing like a good fetch game in the pool to wear him out.

Of course, if you don't have a dog, that doesn't preclude you from biking or walking, but it always helps to have a partner for motivation. With a dog along, they never want to go back home. Friends and family can keep each other motivated to keep going as well. Even a baby in a stroller loves the movement that a walk provides, and often, it is the quietest time a new mom gets during the day, with the exception of nap time.

Did I mention parks? Remember the city and county parks; we all have them. Even if you're not up to the swings or the slide, many parks have nature walks with fitness courses along the way, making for a nice change of routine in your usual neighborhood walk.

One creative solution to weather issues is growing in popularity. Some of our malls are now co-sponsoring walking hours, along with area hospitals. If you arrive early, you'll often find many people enjoying a vigorous walk around the inside of the mall, allowing them to walk rain or shine, snow or intense heat. Although this is particularly popular with senior citizens, I have seen a whole range of ages enjoying the climate-controlled paradise of mall walking.

Lots of parks have nature walks, springs or rivers to swim in and streams that can be floated down in a lazy tube ride. This is a relaxing way to spend a hot afternoon, one which my family has enjoyed many a summer day, and costs only a few dollars. Don't forget to bring a picnic lunch. Visit my posts on lunch box ideas at:

This whole park theme I have going here would not be complete without mention of the dog parks, which are also becoming more common across the country. My dog behavior guru, Cesar Milan, aka the Dog Whisperer, has done at least a couple of shows on his National Geographic Channel program, designed to help your dog get the most out of a visit to the dog park. My 3 dogs love the feel of wide open spaces and running off leash, not to mention the socializing with other dogs. It is cute to see them greet other dogs in their uniquely doggie fashion. Cesar would call this proper dog etiquette, even though most of us find it distasteful; it is their way of getting acquainted. If you have not yet tried a dog park, and your dog is friendly with other dogs, I advise you give him and yourself a chance to try it. You'll meet lots of friendly dog lovers to talk with, while your furry best friend will enjoy a good run, followed by a long nap when you arrive home. Think what you can do with that time, while the dogs nap. You could clean out closets and sell some old stuff on EBay; there's a money-making idea. Let me know how it goes for you. COMMENT below at the purple link. I'd love to hear YOUR money saving ideas for tough times, and your questions about dog parks. Lots of people ask me about my dog park visits, and are surprised to learn that so many dogs can enjoy playtime, just like kids. Also just like kids, though, they do require supervision in case they disagree over anything, like who owns a stick or who is the most dominant. Keep a close eye on your "kids" at the park, particularly on their first few visits. This should always be a pleasant experience for both of you.

Don't forget to stop in at Blake Bakes for my organic pound cake recipe on Thursday, October 2. The recipe makes 2 loaves and they are deliciously rich. Don't miss it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Composting 101: Part I of V

For today's Food Friday post I am beginning a series on composting, which is all about what we do with our leftover or spoiled food. We all know that organic foods are a bit more expensive than their conventional counterparts, so waste is a bigger crime when committed with organics. The extra cost alone probably prohibits us from allowing as much waste, but we still have some. In supporting a sustainable Earth, composting is our best choice for discarding these leftovers.

Composting: What is It and Why Do It?

According to HowtoCompost.org, "composting is the transformation of organic material (plant matter) through decomposition into a soil-like material...Insects, earthworms, and microorganisms help in transforming the material into compost. Composting is a natural form of recycling, which continually occurs in nature."

Why would anyone want to collect their kitchen garbage, discarded paper products and yard trash into one big smelly pile? That was my first question. Vicki, my composting mentor at Jolly Green Planet , corrected my misconception that the pile would be smelly. "Actually", she said, "It will smell like a rain forest when you balance the contents."

"Rain forest?", I asked, with a skeptical tone.

"Yes!", she replied, most confidently. Vicki went on to explain that the microorganisms that turn the garbage into compost, do a very fresh-smelling job of it, if given the right balance of "food". You can probably guess that my next question was how to balance their food supply. I'm not exactly up on the food pyramid of an earthworm. When Vicki started talking about nitrogen-carbon ratios she lost me, having never taken a chemistry course in my life. I was surprised and pleased to learn, though, that it is relatively simple, as long as I'm not in a hurry to get compost. If I want compost fast, I can buy all the gadgets to measure soil moisture, temperature, etc. I can stir the contents with a pitch fork daily, and even check the pH. OR I can go all out, buying an indoor composter which has all the bells and whistles; it does everything for you, except empty the compost when done.

Wow! So much information. My first and foremost reason for wanting to compost is to contribute less to the landfill. I know that we have a shortage of landfill sites, and trouble locating new ones is always in the news. I'm in no hurry. I'll wait for the compost to do its thing on its own time. So I asked Vicki for the lazy composter's version of the instructions, and she cheerfully replied that this is the method her associate, Becca, also employs. Now I feel less intimidated--more motivated. I have an ally.

Of course, the other reason for wanting to compost your wastes is to use the compost for fertilizer. It is the most natural and healthy fertilizer available, and totally free. From what I've learned from reading and asking questions, there are surprisingly large numbers of families who compost their household stuff and fertilize their yards and family gardens with it, but apparently they don't live in my neighborhood. My suburban neighborhood yards do not have sufficient space for a sunny garden, and most families seem so absorbed in soccer mom syndrome, that they would likely not have time. I honestly don't know how I would have done it when my kids were all home and I was carpooling from 2-7 daily. Most of us in suburbia pay someone to fertilize our yards, and those who don't use whatever is available at Home Depot or Lowe's. That's life in the suburbs. Maybe I was destined to be a country girl in my retirement, making compost and walking the spreader around the yard each time I get a fresh batch. This could be the beginning of a whole new lifestyle. We'll see.

It truly does make me feel good to see what small amount of garbage goes to the curb on trash day now. A year ago I had, on average, 2 full recycle bins each week. My trash contribution was about the equivalent of 10 kitchen-sized garbage bags a week. I shudder to think of that now. Oh, and I shouldn't forget that my yard garbage pickup, once each week, averaged one can full of trimming, weeds and dead plants. Now? Yesterday's trash contribution was 1/2 can of recycles and 1/2 of a kitchen-sized garbage bag. I'm pleased to say I found BioBags, pictured above, which are 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable, quickly biodegrading when exposed to nature's elements and microorganisms, leaving no residues behind. Even the package is made of natural fibers and recycled materials, and is 100% biodegradable and compostable. Finally, it is printed with soy ink, a much greener addition to your compost pile. Cool, huh?!

One interesting thing I learned in my recent research is that food that goes to the dump, doesn't biodegrade into healthy compost the way a compost pile does. Why? Apparently, it has something to do with the balance of junk in the dump. All the plastics, metals, meats, fats, artificial stuff like Rayon, etc. aren't natural and impede the process, just like disposable diapers taking a hundred years to biodegrade in the dump. The plastic exterior on the diapers slows down the process because it does not biodegrade. I suppose if I were an earthworm, I would seek out more food and less plastic for dinner.

If you'd like to be sure to catch all the posts in this series on Composting, the schedule is noted below. Of course, you can always find them by date, if you happen to miss reading one on the day it is published, or you can click on the composting label in the right sidebar. Remember, too, that you can subscribe by e-mail or RSS at the top right of the blog, and the headlines will come right to your e-mail. Just click to open and read. This is the easiest method. First class delivery of your Organic Journey Online articles; no stamp required. Thanks for your support.

One final note: COMMENTS, please! Click the purple COMMENT link following the post and leave me your questions or ideas. If you are already a composter, I would love to hear from you. I have a lot to learn.

Composting 101: Part II--Friday, October 3 Selecting a Spot & Setting Up a Compost Pile

Composting 101: Part III--Monday, October 6 Healthy Choices for Your Compost Pile

Composting 101: Part IV--Friday, October 10 More Composting Options and Information

Composting 101: Part V-- Monday, October 13 Composting Doggie Duty and Other Solutions

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's Plant Trees: Thursday's Green Tip Toe

I wish there was a way to keep track of all the new trees being planted, versus the ones being cut down in the rain forests. It is heartening to hear about the new codes which require a certain number of trees per acre on new construction.

Recently I renovated an old apartment building and we added 5 new trees to the front yard. I can hardly wait to see them start to fill out. About 6 years ago, when we added on to our home, we put in a couple of beautiful, small elm trees. They have spread out to have a nice canopy and bring welcome shade to the side of our home, reducing our air conditioning requirements. It is surprising how quickly they grow. One day you plant them and comment on how cute they are, and the next day you're trimming large branches away from the house. Where did the time go?!

This Thursday's Green Tip Toe is don't put it off. Those trees you're planning to plant SOMEDAY, won't be providing shade SOMEDAY, unless you plant them NOW.
Okay, this Green Tip Toe might take more than 10 minutes. Let's tally this: 30 minutes to get back and forth to your local garden center + 20 minutes to select a tree for the spot you have in mind. Get the kids to dig the hole while you're gone, and add 10 more minutes to put it in the ground. You're done in 1 hour. Can you afford 1 hour to beautify your yard, raise your property value, attract butterflies and birds, and provide oxygen to the planet? Of course you can!
Count yourself among the ranks of the treehuggers, and while you're at it visit Treehugger.com

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lend Me Your Ears: Woofing Wednesday

This Woofing Wednesday is more like a nose wiggle, and is dedicated to Robby, our rabbit, who will be moving "home" in a couple of weeks to live with his original owner, my son. I have to say that he is the "greenest pet" I have ever owned, as even his litter (made of pine shavings) and his droppings (totally vegetarian) are compostible, and have been added to my ongoing compost pile. I'll be telling you more about that in a later post.

Robby and his canine companions are just one of the reasons we converted to organic lawn care. The other, of course, is that organic products don't contaminate the ground and ground water with toxins.

You've all seen them, those signs the lawn care companies are required to leave in your yard after they treat your grass with chemicals. As I've mentioned in recent days, I just hired an organic lawn care company to care for our yard. I was surprised to learn that they, too, are required to leave a sign that says they have treated your yard, even though their organic ingredients are not required to be rated, analyzed, etc. by the government. Interesting and confusing. They put stuff like fish emulsion and corn gluten meal on my lawn and have to post a sign saying it is safe to play there--immediately upon application. Sometimes the things our government does in the name of safety don't make any sense, but at least it is clear that my yard isn't contaminated with chemicals. I also liked that the technician put the sign in the garden where you can see our gas-saving Honda Civic. That baby gets 36 mph on the highway.

This week, rather than giving you a link to follow, I'm bringing you some interesting facts to ponder about pets and pesticides, provided by Jolly Green Planet:

  • According to the National Cancer Institute, dogs with common cancer (canine malignant lymphoma or CML) were 30% more likely to have lived in a home where the owners had employed a commercial lawn company to treat their yard.
  • Dogs exposed to the weed killer 2,4-D die of cancer at twice the normal rates.

There is a healthy alternative to synthetic lawn chemicals. Find out what is available in your area by doing a Google search on organic lawn care. Your happy, green dogs will be healthier.

Tomorrow join me for some tree planting fun. I felt the need to replenish the oxygen at one of our investment properties, so they got 5 new trees...babies, but they'll grow. Food Friday is coming up, and I'll have a surprise topic for you. Come see what I've got in store.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thank You for 1000 Visits!

At nearly 70 posts, I have finally reached the 1000 visitors' mark, thanks to all of you. I am truly enjoying being back in the saddle (writing) and find this role to fit my lifestyle beautifully. However, my goal is to inspire YOU to work more toward eating organic and living green. If there is anything you are interested in that I can research and report back on, please COMMENT below. Also, your COMMENTS about my content or any questions would be welcome.

For today's Tuesday's Tips I am bringing you a blast from the past, or more simply stated, a few of my favorite tips:
Tomorrow I'll show you what a truly safe lawn care treatment sign should say and share a few more safe dog tips. Finally, I will share a farewell photo of Robby the rabbit, who will be moving to Virginia in a couple of weeks to reunite with his true owner, my son. Thursday I'll talk about planting trees and show you a few I've added to our property....small, but with potential. There are even bargains in trees. See you then.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Green and Organic Coupons for Everything You Can Think Of

You name it; it's here. If you're looking for food coupons, also visit my most recent post from last week at the link. Today's listing has some food, but is primarily household and personal items.

Green and Organic Coupons at this site include:
  • baby and kids
  • beauty
  • books and magazines
  • cars
  • flowers and gifts
  • food
  • more green and organic products
  • health related products
  • clothing by Organic Style
  • eco-friendly gifts for all occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, new babies & more

Alex's Coupons includes the following:

  • alternative energy
  • books and software
  • clothing
  • eco travel
  • food
  • gifts
  • green office supplies
  • health and beauty
  • home and garden
  • magazines
  • maternity and baby
  • pet care
  • services
  • transportation
  • wine
  • yoga

Companies represented in the above offers include:

  • Greenfeet
  • Arbico Organics

  • Aubrey Organics
  • BTC Elements
  • Better World Club
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby - All Natural Pregnancy Product
  • Ecoist
  • Gardens Alive
  • Global Exchange Online Store
  • Green and More

  • Greenloop
  • Hemp Sisters
  • Hemp.com Store
  • Ideal Bite
  • Jones Soda (organic)
  • Kate's Caring Gifts
  • Lamas Beauty
  • Little Earth
  • Mother Nature
  • Natural Family Botanicals
  • Nature Hills Nursery
  • Organic Bouquet
  • Organic Wine Company
  • Solio
  • Stonyfield Farm

  • Vegan Essentials

Some of the above coupons require a code to get the discount, which will be provided when you click the link, along with a list of options. I hope you enjoy these shopping mall from home imitations I've been creating for you. I try to include variety and good value. Keep me posted at the COMMENT link below if there is something you are looking for that you haven't yet found. I'll be on the lookout for you. You're welcome.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Organic Lunches on the Go

Back to school is old news now, as the kids here have been in school a month already. It's time to think about changing up the lunch ideas so your kids don't get bored. I'd get bored with eating the same stuff every week also. Here are three new ideas to add to the ones I brought you a while back.

Organic Lunch Parfaits
Organic yogurt
Organic fruit
Organic granola (granola cereal works great too)

Using a wide-mouthed or sectioned container or thermos (chill it first for best results) layer yogurt and small fruit pieces. To prevent browning, stir in any fruit that tends to darken. Provide the granola in a small container to add at lunch time, so it doesn't get soggy. This is like dessert, but with a great protein and vitamin punch. Kids love it.
Parfaits make great breakfasts and desserts also, especially if you're putting on the dog for company. Go ahead and layer all 3 ingredients into parfait glasses just before you serve, topping with one slice of fruit as a garnish. Enjoy!
Organic Raisin Bread and Creme Cheese Sandwiches
Not much of a recipe needed here, huh? Spread two raisin bread slices with organic creme cheese to make a sandwich, and wrap securely to keep moist. You can buy organic raisin bread or make it in your bread maker. If you're energetic, I have a wonderful homemade organic raisin bread recipe at Blake Bakes, where I provide organic recipes. Try it sometime and surprise your family with a warm and delicious smelling treat. It's great for breakfast, snacks, lunches and dessert--truly a multi-purpose, healthy bread.
Organic Gelatin and Fruit Salad
  • One package non-flavored gelatin
  • Fruit pieces, your choice
  • Organic apple juice (try other flavors too)

Following the recipe in the non-flavored gelatin package, using juice. Chill until thickened. Stir in fruit pieces and spoon into lunch-sized containers or chilled, wide-mouthed thermoses. This also makes a beautiful, special-occasion dessert, when placed in a clear, parfait glass or other tall, glass serving-sized dish.

If you're interested in back-tracking to my earlier lunch ideas you can check out the following links to my lunch posts:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gas Prices Got Ya Down?

Thursday's Green
Tip Toe

Photo copied from The Club Registry, no source sited

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Does This Sign Keep Your Children and Pets Safe?

Absolutely Not!

When the pesticide or other chemical application dries, is it gone? Of course not. You know that, but signs like these try to lead us to believe that once the pesticide dries it is no longer harmul.

Think about what goes on in your grass. My kids rolled around in the grass while wrestling, playing tag, kickball, and the list goes on. The same with my dogs. They love to roll in the grass when they go outside to play.

Here's a somber, yet important consideration. A friend of mine had a beautiful black Labrador retriever. She was still young and vigorous, and a constant companion to my friend. One day she had a seizure and died from complications that followed. The veterinarian was unable to determine definite cause of death. However, when my friend told her about the lawn care applications done the day before, the vet suggested that Molly may have had a severe reaction to the chemicals.

I can cite personal migraine headache examples triggered by oil based paint, carpet replacements, even cleaning products. I know not everyone is as sensitive to chemicals as I am, and that is good news. What worries me is how other people's bodies cope with the presence of the chemicals in the long term. Certainly the news media has been all over the many causes of cancer and Alzheimer's for several years, often blaming the chemical cocktails in our foods and environment.

Now that I am composting our household and yard wastes and eating mostly organic foods, I have a more optimistic attitude toward the future. Also important is our transition to organic yard care. I'll be sharing with you more information on composting and organic lawn care coming up in future posts, so keep reading. I know more of us need to get on this ride. Jump aboard and subscribe to my blog at the top right. Than check out some ways to get started with organic lawn care at your house:

Planet Natural
Safer Pest Control Project
Extremely Green

Here's a pictures of my 2 year old furry fella, Tanner, giving you an example of his jumping expertise. I'm glad he can get out and play in a safe, chemical-free yard.

Check out next week's Woofing Wednesday post for the sign that really does keep your kids and pets safe in the yard--from my organic lawn care company,
Jolly Green Planet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Organic Coupons: Tuesday's Tip is All About Saving Money

Coupons! This is the best coupon cache I have found yet. I found so many coupons this time that I will list here only food coupons, so have a blast and save some cash. I'll do another post on the "green coupons", so watch for it. Have fun:
Organic Valley Dairy Products

Organic Food Coupons from Blurtit


Flat Earth Get a free bag of Flat Earth Chips

Annie's Homegrown Coupons - Sign up for Annie's e-newsletter to receive coupons for their most popular products

Mambo Sprouts - Click, print and save on your favorite organic and natural products. Mambo Sprouts running a contest and they are looking for creative and original recipes! You could win a years supply of your favorite product as well as other great prizes! Mambolicious Recipe Cook Off

Vegan Coupons - A variety of coupons or vegan and vegetarian food, juicers and eco health and beauty.

Nature Made Vitamins Coupons - Become a member and get $5 in printable coupons

Organic Valley Coupons - Sign up for Organic Valley's Farm Friends and get a free kit with coupons for their most popular products.

Seventh Generation Coupons - Sign up for $10 worth of Seventh Generation coupons.

Knudsen Juices - Save $1 off any Recharge, $.75 off juice

Santa Cruz Organic Juice - Save $.75 off any product

Coleman Natural Beef - Save $5 off any hot dog, bacon or ham product

Earth's Best Baby Food - Coupons for Earth's Best Organic Baby Food

Feline Pine Cat Litter Coupon - Get your first bag of cat litter for free

Stonyfield Farm Coupons - Save on your favorite Stonyfield Farms yogurts, smoothies and products

Natures One Baby Formula - Rebate on Nature's One Baby Formula

AllOrganicLinks.com: This website has thousands of links to organic companies. Once you find a company you are interested in visit their website to request coupons.

Alexescoupons.com this is a great web site that lists a nice variety of organic food stores as well as personal care stores that all have coupons

You may want to check out the Organicconsumers.org web site they are selling coupon books that focus on fair trade products, organic products and environmentally responsible corporations in North America.

Grocery Coupon Guide - this is a fantastic web site! They have a fairly comprehensive list of organic food companies and products. Below I have listed the page links individually so you don't miss anything!
Grocerycouponguide.com 1
Grocerycouponguide.com 2
Grocerycouponguide.com 3
Grocerycouponguide.com 4

Organic Food Discount
http://www.blurtit.com/redir_new.php?ruid=1079481969 Find Organic Food Discount and Compare prices at Smarter.com.

Organic Food Coupons

Coupons.Pronto.com Find Organic Food Coupons Products Shop, Compare and Save at Pronto.

Organic Food Coupons - up to 75% Less

http://www.best-price.com/ Incredible prices. Find organic food coupons & save up to 75%.

Food & Grocery Delivery

http://www.aulsuperstore.com/ Shop for food & groceries from home. Organic food to 48 US states.

This ought to net you a ton of savings. No complaining about organic food prices now, huh?!! I hope this makes your shopping a bit less stressful for the next couple of weeks or so. Oh, and don't forget to pick up the ingredients for your organic baking. Need recipes? I am the organic baker for another blog called Blake Bakes. So far, I have two recipes posted there: organic oatmeal raisin cookies (they're to die for!) and organic cinnamon raisin bread. Coming up next will be rich organic pound cake on October 2. Click the links to get the recipe ingredients and you could be eating these yummies too.

Look for green coupons here on Monday, September 22, and check out all the discounts you can get for choosing more sustainable options when you shop for household or personal items. Also coming up will be a couple of new additions to your lunch box ideas. The kids in my area have been back in school about a month now, just long enough to start tiring of the same old stuff. If you missed my back to school lunch posts earlier, you can still check them out at Another Peanut Butter Creation for the Lunch Box, More on Juicing--Organic Apple Juice and Apple Sauce, and Green Up Your Back to School Lunches with Creative Choices.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moo! Which Organic Milk Tastes Best?

Milk. It is easily the first organic that most families change over to, and for good reason. If you ask why, the answer is in the news. Most of us have now heard that milk cows are fed growth hormones, which accumulate in our bodies, encouraging earlier sexual maturity. Organic milk is produced without growth hormones, along with a host of other nasty stuff like pesticide treatment on the pastures that the cows graze on. I don't want that in MY milk.

But the real question I hear from people who aren't yet drinking organic milk is, "How is the taste?"
I interviewed a friend who is a big milk lover. Here is his input:

NOTE: CB=Carrie Boyko, ML=Milk Lover
Note to Organic Valley Farms: Please Pardon the exclusion of your photo here. I hate to admit it but my dog ate the carton just before the photo was taken. I guess he likes your milk. We do too!

Milk Lover's Interview:

CB: So, you tried the 3 national brands of milk I asked you to taste test for me, right?
ML: Yes. I also tried the store brands from Publix and Whole Foods Market. Thanks for the coupons, by the way.
CB: Great. Tell me what, if anything, you found different in the various brands.
ML: Hmmm. I was happy to find out that all the milk brands I tried tasted pretty much the same.
CB: You mean they all tasted the same?
ML: Yeah, pretty much.
CB: When you buy milk for yourself, do you purchase whole milk, 2%, 1% or skim?
ML: Well, lately I’ve been noticing a little pudge around my middle so I’ve starting drinking skim. I used to just buy whatever, probably mostly whole. I’m getting older now and I haven’t been working out as much, so it’s starting to show.
CB: So, you were able to just switch to skim milk without gradually getting used to the taste of less fat, by trying 2% and working your way down?
ML: Yeah. No problem there. My sister is a big organics buff. She got me to try the Horizon Skim Milk at her house, and when I did I was shocked at how creamy it tasted.
CB: My husband said something similar about the organic skim milk tasting better than non-organic skim milk. Any idea why?
ML: Nope.
CB: I’d like to think it has something to do with the missing “ingredients”. You know, the ones that aren’t on the label: pesticides, hormones, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. It seems to me that if a product is not laced with these, it is bound to taste somewhat different--better.
ML: Must be. I’m hooked on that Horizon Skim Milk now. I buy a half gallon on the way to work every day and its gone before lunch.
CB: You have a very physical job, being a contractor. Don’t you drink sports drinks and water?
ML: Yes, I do, but more in the afternoon. In the morning, I drink milk to give me a protein boost for the day. The protein helps keep me sharp all day.
CB: I’ve heard that is how people with blood sugar problems like diabetes and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) help to control their blood sugar and energy. What else do you drink for energy?
ML: I’m not into caffeine, if that’s what you mean. I prefer protein drinks, like I often get a protein smoothie in the morning for breakfast—the giant sized one. If I do meet one of the guys at Starbucks, I always get decaf, usually a Frappuccino. It’s more like a dessert. Ha ha!
CB: Good for you! I’m a Starbucks junkie, myself. I do like that I can get my vanilla latte with organic milk. I even did a post on my Starbucks vanilla latte. I guess it is my vice; you know, everyone has to have a vice. Funny, but I’ve known you for about 15, 16 years, and I don’t know of a vice you have.
ML: Don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. Not much of a sweets lover. I don’t know, maybe you’re right. I’ll think on that.
CB: Okay, well thank you for talking to me about the milk comparisons. My readers will enjoy hearing that organic milk, even skim, can be better tasting than non-organic.
ML: Yeah. I was surprised. Good luck with the blog. I’ll check it out.

******End of Interview******

The three national brands of milk taste-tested were Horizon, Organic Valley Farms, and Stonyfield Farms. For coupons (many are as much as $1.00 off) you can visit their websites or my latest coupon collection at Organic Coupons, Coupons and Coupons.
Don't forget to save a glass of that milk to enjoy with your favorite cookies or raisin bread. I have wonderful organic recipes for Organic Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Organic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies posted at Blake Bakes, where I occasionally post organic recipes. Next up? Organic Pound Cake is coming on October 2, and this would be awesome with a cold glass of organic milk.

On another note, one of my latest organic experiments has been starting a compost pile, which I mentioned in my Wednesday post, Excited About Organic Lawn Care on Woofing Wednesday. Join me Thursday for some tips on starting your own compost pile. It's easy and your landfill will love you for it. See you then.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Learning and Behavior Problems Caused by Diet

Any comments on the new header for the blog, I'd love to hear from you. Hit the purple COMMENT link at the bottom of this post. Thank you for your thoughts.

Graphic credit Feingold.org

Do you have a child who often has unexplained, sudden hyperactivity or an inability to sit still and focus on a task(ADHD or ADD)? Years ago I discovered a sensitivity to food coloring was causing significant problems for one of my children. Removing the food coloring corrected the problem, but created a new one. How was I to find all the foods I needed for a balanced diet, when so many foods include artificial additives that are written in "Greek" on the ingredients label.

Enter the Feingold Program. My pediatrician steered me here when we figured out what was going on with my child. Their program provides food lists of acceptable foods, educational materials, recipes, symptoms lists, mail order resources, and much more to help those who need to avoid certain artificial ingredients that affect their child.

You may be asking just what food additives could affect your child's behavior or ability to learn. The Feingold Program eliminates these additives: synthetic coloring, artificial flavoring, Nutrasweet (artificial sweetener), and artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, TBHQ). In addition, the Feingold Program guides you through an initial phase of testing to see if your child reacts to salicylates (naturally occurring chemicals in some foods, which are known to cause problems for some children).

In my case, food coloring was the issue. I learned that food coloring is made from crude oil (like gasoline) and that it is a carcinogen (causes cancer), so we were eager to make the change. I also learned that, in time, many children grow out of these sensitivities and can begin eating at least some of the offending substances again. Fortunately, this has been the case for my child, but for years, we eliminated food coloring from his diet to avoid problems. The Feingold Program offered much help in locating foods that were acceptable, and in blending his diet into our family's without a problem. This solution, for us, was far superior to the drugs being given for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Studies have found that many of these children can be helped by diet changes such as those in the Feingold Program.

I suppose by now you know where I am going with this. If you eat organic, you are already eliminating all but the salicylates from your child's diet. You're almost there. If you are one of the thousands of families who have a child with behavior or learning problems, isn't it worth the effort to try a diet which might help? Visit Feingold's website. You will find an abundance of information on symptoms caused by artificial food additives. You can decide for yourself whether it is possible that your child could be helped, just by reading the list of symptoms. Comments are welcome. I'd love to hear your experiences with this. Click the purple COMMENT link in the line below. Thanks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Taking Your Dog Green: Thursday's Green Tip Toes

With all the changes going on around my home, my dogs have not been forgotten. It is my intention to protect them from toxins, as well. But how?

My Thursday Green Tip Toes are committed to being 10 minute ideas that help you live a greener life, so pick one. When you have it working, pick another sometime and get it going. Don't stress yourself out, but remember your furry friend and his health.

  1. Switch to new Flushpuppies poop bags. They are made of water soluble PVA film which dissolves in less than a minute in water. Flushing is best, but in the garbage, the bags are biodegradable. As the folks at Flushpuppies would say, "It is your duty to take care of their doodie." You can find them at Amazon or at Flushpuppies. Your second choice, when Flushpuppies are not available is to use biodegradable poop bags, such as the ones made by Bags on Board and Pet Zone; these are available at most pet stores. Leaving poop on the ground allows bacteria to leach into groundwater and run off into lakes and streams. This eventually ends up in our drinking water supply. Finally, if you leave it, you may step in it tomorrow.
  2. Switch to organic dog food. I know it costs more. I have 3 dogs, so believe me, I know. Look at it as an investment in their health and longevity, just like you would your own switch to organics. Finally, buy it on sale and watch for coupons at your local petfood suppliers.
  3. I am trying VERY hard to get away from disposable stuff. It is hard. I'll grant you that, but the landfills are getting scarce and expensive. We need to take action to reduce our garbage. Start a compost pile; you can read up on how on the internet, or wait for my upcoming post on Thursday, September 18. Don't know what composting is? You're not alone. A friend just asked me that the other day. I'll try to answer all your questions in that post, but be sure to send me a COMMENT if you have more. I just started a pile and so far so good. Meanwhile, when you go out, try to remember to take a reusable water bottle and a reusable water bowl for your dog. You're both happy, and there is no trash.
  4. Reuse pet food bags for trash that cannot go in your compost pile. If the pet food bag is totally paper, it can go in the compost pile as "brown matter". We'll talk more about that next Thursday.
  5. Read the Raise a Green Dog blog for lots of tips and ideas.
  6. Grass--the delightful place where your dog plays, and poops. Isn't that enough contamination? Don't add to it with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Popping up all over the country are organic lawn care companies, like Jolly Green Planet, my local provider. They use natural stuff like fish emulsion for fertilizer, diatomaceous earth (DE--ground up seashells) for flea control and corn gluten meal for pre-emergent weed control. There's much more to it, of course, but the point is, you don't need chemicals, and your pet doesn't either. Your pup's feet are in that grass the whole time he is in your yard, and he licks them clean, at least occasionally. You don't want him licking chemicals off his feet.
  7. Flea control is tricky here in Florida where fleas are out of control this summer. We did not have a freeze this past Winter and that always causes a upsurge in fleas for the Spring and Summer. Luckily, I learned from my friends at Jolly Green Planet that I can purchase DE in food grade form for use on my pets. It repels fleas on them, just like it does in the grass. I found a natural pet supply store in my area that carries it, so my dogs will finally be rid of those monthly chemical coctails I've been putting between their shoulder blades.
  8. Now we can move to your carpet, another place your dog probably spends a good deal of time. Does your carpet cleaner use chemicals to remove stains and odors? Just like other providers, carpet cleaners are hearing the call of green consumers. You can find companies who use natural products. My carpet cleaner recommends the most natural stain remover of all--club soda. Its bubbling action brings the spill or stain to the surface where it can be absorbed with a clean towel. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but it does work. On the Raise a Green Dog blog, I found a suggestion for using vinegar and water for the same purpose. Vinegar is a great, all purpose cleaner, which neutralizes odors, thus the suggestion--a good one.

Enough for today. If there is a "green pet" topic you are particularly interested in, please let me know with a COMMENT below the post. Just hit the purple COMMENT link.

I should mention that starting today I am offering a new service. You can now subscribe to my posts, free of charge. They will be sent directly to your e-mail. You can cancel your subscription anytime, so there is no obligation. It's easy to subscribe. Just scroll up to the top right. There is a box under the blog title, to the right, that says Subscribe Via E-Mail. Fill in your e-mail address and hit the Subscribe button. You'll be asked to type a few letters that will appear (to verify that you're human!) and then you're done!

Tomorrow I'll be talking about food additives and the Feingold Program, a non-profit organization whose goal is to support families who need to avoid certain additives. Research has shown that many food additives are responsible for hyperactive and attention deficit behaviors in children. Feingold provides information on acceptable brand name products. If you have a child who is sensitive to any food additives or has ADHD, this will be a good post for you to read. Hope to see you then.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Excited About Organic Lawn Care on Woofing Wednesday

These dogs don't look too excited, do they? No, they are exhausted from playing outside while we prepared a spot for composting. With a compost pile, we will reduce our contributions to the landfill by about 75%, I estimate. Better yet, I'll get the benefit of rich, organic compost being created by the pile. This compost can be used to fertilize all my plants. I'll talk more about composting later. Here is the real news:

We have a new plan in place for organic lawn care, thanks largely to our local provider, Jolly Green Planet. Vicki and Becca spent more than an hour with me, teaching me some of the basics of composting and explaining how we can take care of my lawn without poisoning my dogs or the Earth. This has been one of my goals, so I am excited to be finally getting started with it. Jolly Green Planet will be taking care of my whole yard with organic fertilizer, fungus and pest control, pre-emergent weed treatments, and flea control--grass and plants--for less than I was paying for chemical treatments that are harmful to both the Earth and living things. What's not to be excited about that?!

Since Jolly Green Planet is still a local company and not available to serve you all, I'd like to give you some information on organic lawn care products that you can use yourself. Of course, you can Google organic lawn care in your local area and see what you find. This is how I found Jolly Green Planet. Here are a couple of places to get you started:

Planet Natural

Safer Pest Control Project

Extremely Green

Let me hear from all you gardeners out there. I'd love to know what you think or hear about your experiences with these products and methods. Hit that COMMENT link below and give me some input. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let's Read Food Labels: Tuesday's Tips

There is probably nothing that will educate you more about the garbage in your food more than reading the ingredients labels. You will probably find, as I did, that you do not know what most of the ingredients are. To me that is scary.

In order to understand what I was eating, I had to buy a dictionary. The book I bought at the time is pictured here; the copyright date is 1994. There may be a more current version available now, but I still find all the answers I am looking for in here. The only problem is I don't like the answers.

This is another reason I have shifted our family's foods to organics. The labels on organic foods are rarely difficult to read, and I feel better knowing exactly what's in them. The absence of artificial preservatives has not been a problem, nor have I missed the artificial food coloring, sweeteners and flavorings, herbicides, fungicides, hormones and pesticides.

From the introduction of this book alone, I learned that:

  • From 70 to 80 percent of food is packaged in various polymers, some of which contain potential cancer-causing agents that migrate into our food every day.

  • Tranquilizing drugs are injected into many pigs immediately before transport to slaughter, making a withdrawal period impossible and giving diners unexpected sedation with their pork dish.

  • Sixty percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides are carcinogens (cancer causing agents).

I'll just touch on one thing you should read up on here, the concept of GRAS by the FDA. You can read the FDA's FAQ's at this link, but be sure to read another source as well; the picture will be a bit clearer. Our government's Food and Drug Administration has developed guidelines for every artificial ingredient; these criteria determine the maximum amount of each ingredient acceptable in a serving of food. This guideline is called GRAS, Generally Regarded As Safe. When you browse through a book such as this one and find out how many artificial ingredients are considered BOTH carcinogenic and GRAS, it will blow your mind. Far too many ingredients in our foods contain 8 or more syllables and cannot even be pronounced by the average reader, much less recognized as a food. Today's Tuesday Tip: Educate yourself on what you eat.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Test Your Toxic Load

From the back cover of the book, The Hundred-Year Lie, comes this description of Randall Fitzgerald's book:

"In this devastating expose, investigative journalist Randall Fitzgerald warns how thousands of man-made chemicals in our food, water, medicine, and
environment are making humans the most polluted species on the planet. A century
ago in 1906, when Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act, Americans were
promised "better living through chemistry." Fitzgerald provides overwhelming evidence to shatter this myth, and many others perpetrated by the chemical, pharmaceutical, and processed foods industries. In the face of this national
health crisis, Fitzgerald also presents informed and practical suggestions for what we can do to turn the tide and live healthier lives.


The average American carries a "body burden" of 700 synthetic

Chemicals in tap water can cause reproductive abnormalities and
hermaphroditic birth

A 2005 study of lactating women in eighteen U.S. states found perchlorate
(a toxic component of rocket fuel) in practically every mother's breast

I urge you to take the Toxicity Test at this link to Randal Fitzgerald's website to learn what your risk level is. This book shatters the myth that our food is safe and will motivate you to to take action to protect your health and that of your family; please find time to read it. I'd love to hear your comments below. Just click the purple COMMENT link that follows this post.

One very important action you can take to begin to reduce your toxic load is to start converting your diet to organic foods. Even a small step or two will take you in the
right direction. This blog is all about taking small steps to move toward better health and a greener future for the Earth. You don't have to become a vegetarian or give up all of your favorite foods.

For instance, my favorite cookies are organic oatmeal cookies. I've posted the recipe for them at Blake Bakes where you will find a picture and complete instructions with the recipe. This is a great way to get started loving organics. Who doesn't love a

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another Peanut Butter Creation for the Lunchbox

I've talked about back to school lunches a few times now, focusing on variety. So often lunches get to be the same thing day in and day out--boring. These Peanut Butter Balls are a protein-packed snack that is perfect for the lunch box. No problem if you have to squeeze them into a small space and any type of wrap or container will work. No utensils needed, either. Best of all, they are quick and easy to make:

Organic Peanut Butter Balls
  • 2 cups Organic Peanut Butter, slightly warmed
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup Organic Honey
  • 1/3 cup Organic Nonfat Powdered Milk

Using a blender or mixer, add honey first, then peanut butter, mixing until consistent. Using a soup spoon, make golf ball sized peanut butter balls and roll in powdered milk. Refrigerate in a shallow covered container, or separate layers with waxed paper, parchment, plastic wrap or foil. Once chilled, they will be firm and ready to pack into lunches as a delightful surprise snack, or even a few of them for a "main course".

If you would like to reduce the fat content, pour off the oil that accumulates on top of the peanut butter, before warming it. Another option, for those who are lactose intolerant, is to pass on the dairy by skipping the powdered milk. They will still be fine.

If you are visiting here for the first time and would like to see other back to school lunch posts, try these:

During the upcoming week I plan to divert my attention away from lunches for a bit and bring you some more variety here. I'll be talking about food additives, ADHD, children and dogs (green ones, of course!). Sounds like a great combination, huh? I hope you'll join me for some interesting topics, and most of all, please COMMENT below. Thanks!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thank You Notes in the Electronic Age: Thursday's Green Tip-Toe

What can I say; my mother exudes Emily Post. I grew up believing that there was no option to writing a thank you note. After all, the gift giver deserves to know you received the gift and to see that you were willing to take the time to express your appreciation on paper. Ahhh! Paper! We have a shortage of this stuff and Emily Post's rules may take a beating.

But my children, all grown up now, are beginning to sway me to their new way of thinking. Text, talk, IM, Poke, Shout, E-mail, fax and voice message, to name a few, are all the new ways of saying Thank You. Perhaps we don't really need to teach this younger generation how to live greener. They seem to be doing a better job than those of us who still write thank you notes, like the one pictured above.

According to my eldest son, an attorney in Virginia, thank you notes should be and will soon be going the way of the Dodo Bird. And for good reason, too, as paper shortages are causing a rise in paper prices, which impacts us all. Who wouldn't prefer to receive a personal phone call from a gift recipient, than have a tree cut down in honor of their gift?
With all the electronic options available to us, I would have to say the text message has the least amount of appeal to me personally, but I could handle the IM and would even get a giggle out of a faxed thank you note. But, then, the fax itself is printed on paper, so we really haven't saved anything there. Better cross that off the list of electronic paper saving options. E-mail is better and more available....I think.

Recheck. Have I considered the senior citizens, many of whom do not have access to most of these communication methods? Although my parents do have cell phones, this is the only thing on the list that is an option for them, and many senior citizens don't have cell phones. I suppose, for their generation, we should give consideration to their customs and expectations and handle these matters in a way that makes them most comfortable. After all, in a few years, they may not be able to hear us say thank you on that voice mail we leave them.

My to do list: Keep a few paper thank you notes and stamps on hand for the grandparents. Call the kids. Save some trees.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Woofing Wednesday Goes to Meetup.com

© Carrie Boyko

This beautiful smile is my golden girl, Xena, who is almost 12. She is my role model for aging gracefully. She still takes daily walks, plays vigorously with our 2-year-old Golden Retriever, Tanner, and loves to visit the dog park.

Speaking of dog parks, today's new website suggestion is Meetup.com. This is a cool resource to help you find other like-minded folks to do things with, that you like to do.

On Meetup I have found organic co-ops, big dog meetup groups, small dog meetup groups, yoga classes, water ski buddies, and much more.

Meetup is free to join, and once you put in your zip code and interests (Yes, there is a search for whatever you are interested in) it will come back with a list of things going on in your area that might interest you. Any topics that don't return with a group, will be added to an "of interest" list, and when someone steps up and volunteers to organize the group, the information on the meetup will be sent to you. Better yet, you can step up and get it going today.

Each week you'll receive a calendar of events. Once you sign up to be a member of a meetup group, you'll receive all of their internal communications also. Check out meetup's list of available groups in your area and you'll be amazed at what you can get involved in with nothing more than a few keystrokes and an RSVP to a meetup. It is a great way to meet people if you are new to your area, or are just looking for others who share an interest with you.

I love meeting my dog meetup groups at the dog park each month. My dogs enjoy the variety, as we visit different parks, and it is fun to talk to other dog owners. I meet some of the most interesting people.

You can also find work-related meetup groups on this website. It is not just for hobbies and activities. There are Toastmaster's groups, networking groups, and much more for people with small or large businesses and those looking to make business contacts in various areas. Let me know what you find at meetup. Something new is always popping up there.

I have a new post up at Blake Bakes, for anyone who loves oatmeal raisin cookies. I am Blake Bakes' official organic baker, which just means I get to bake and tell you about it. Fun, huh?! This organic recipe is the absolute best oatmeal raisin cookie I've ever tasted, so it was a suitable addition to their collection. The recipe and a photo are there at the click of your mouse. Happy Woofing Wednesday.

In tomorrow's Thursday Green Tip Toe I will share with you a little tip on saving paper and the wisdom of the person who shared the idea. Check it out here tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Save Money with "Diluted" Organics

© Carrie Boyko

People tell me every day that they would really like to eat organic foods, but the cost is prohibiting them from doing it. I hear you loud and clear, and that is why I've been trying to include posts which show you ways to save on organics and on ways to live green for less. Right now you are probably wondering what a diluted organic is, so let me define my newly-coined term.

An example will help. My favorite traditional supermarket in our area is Publix, and at Publix they carry a line of store-brand, all-natural and organic foods, called Greenwise. Greenwise meats, for instance, are not USDA Organic, but they are produced without antibiotics and growth hormones. I guess you could say they are sort of meeting us half way. They cannot yet claim that the cows are grass fed on organic land, but at least they aren't feeding them chemicals. It is definitely better than the traditional alternative, and cheaper--a compromise.

Publix doesn't hold the franchise on the idea of diluting the organic concept. Foods that are labeled All Natural are similar in that they too have not added chemicals or synthetic ingredients. Of course, this doesn't guarantee that the product was not grown with the help of pesticides or chemical herbicides, but again, it is a compromise which is cheaper than the organic version and a little better than the traditional version. You decide.

Another variation of diluted food products would be those that say they are "Made with organic ingredients." This means that the volume of organic ingredients is not enough to allow the producer to qualify for organic certification. Most often, however, these products are still a healthier choice than their traditionally produced counterparts.

Of course, with fresh fruits and vegetables, there is no diluted status; it's either organic or it's not. With one exception, though, and that is that often small, local farmers are farming organically, but their produce is not certified organic, because the cost of this certification is prohibitive. In fact, your best outlet for fresh, organic produce may likely be your area farmers' market. You'll have to do some sleuthing to get to know whose produce is really organic, though. Visiting the same market regularly, you can get acquainted with the farmers and answer this question for yourself by reading between the lines when they converse with you about their farming practices. Ask open-ended questions and give them a chance to lay it all on the line.

I should mention that many of Publix's Greenwise products are USDA organic, and are labeled as such. Greenwise is simply a brand name to attract the shoppers like myself, who are seeking healthier choices. Some Greenwise products are organic and others are simply all natural, or as I call them, diluted. I include many Greenwise products on my shopping list because of their price. Volume purchasing by a grocery chain does give them an advantage in pricing, and we, the consumers, get the benefit.

So Tuesday's first tip is simple; check out your local supermarkets to see if they, too, have a healthier store brand product line. Many do, and this will likely save you money. Alternatively, check out the farmers who frequent your local farmers' market, and learn from them which products are organically grown. Good luck in your hunt.

One final note. In my side job, moonlighting for Blake Bakes, I write organic recipes. Today you can visit Blake Bakes to see my latest post, Toni's Favorite Organic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Hope you have time to check it out. My husband says they're the bomb!

Monday, September 1, 2008

More on Juicing--Organic Apple Juice and Apple Sauce

On August 21 I did a post on school lunches to kick off Back to School. It was called Green Up Your School Lunches with Creative Choices. It got to be rather long, so I left out one of my favorite healthy lunchbox side dishes. You can't always have fresh fruit available that will make it through the bumpy bus ride and getting slammed into the locker or cubby. Peaches just aren't good in lunchboxes. Apples, on the other hand, are great. Just for extra insurance, I take a couple of paper towels, squeeze them up a bit and wrap the apple in it for padding; the paper towel becomes a napkin. You can use this tip with bananas also. Despite their thick skin, they need padding to diminish bruising.

As great as apples are for lunches, kids get bored with them. So do adults. So here I will offer a couple of additional ways to get the goodness of fresh, organic apples into your lunch.

Many people I talk to about juicing think that it is a lot of work. It actually only takes a few minutes to juice a bag of apples. The most time-consuming part is cutting them up, so use one of those round cutters that creates 6-8 wedges. You'll be done in a jiffy. Let's start from the beginning.

Homemade Organic Apple Juice

You'll need 1 large bag of apples. I juiced 4 1/2-5 pounds today and got about 40 ounces of juice (yes, this is definitely a special occasion thing; my son from Virginia is in town) and about 24 ounces of sauce. Your results will vary with the type and ripeness of the apples. Baking or eating apples are best, as sweetness is desirable for juice; save the Granny Smith for pies. We like Gala or Red Delicious the best. While you set up the juicer and bowls, containers ,etc., put the apples in a large bowl of water to soak. Dry them as you take them out to cut them up. Remember, there is no need to peel apples for juice, unless you prefer it that way. The juicer does all that work for you; that's one reason it is so fast. I juiced the apples, cooked the sauce and cleaned up in about an hour.

Work with the pulp first, since it tends to discolor if left to sit too long. After you get the sauce cooking, you can deal with the juice. While the sauce cooks and cools, use the finest strainer you have to strain the foam off the apple juice. You can strain it as many times as you like, rinsing the strainer each time. Or you can leave the foam and shake the juice each time you pour a glass. If you plan to send it to school, pour it into the lunchbox drink containers and store it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, put it in a pitcher with a secure lid. This stuff is like gold, so we don't want it absorbing any flavors from the refrigerator, like, say, garlic. Yuck!

Homemade Organic Applesauce

© Carrie Boyko

The pulp should be placed in a microwave-proof bowl; add a teaspoon of organic cinnamon, if you like. Sugar is optional, as well. Other variations are good too, such as raspberries, raisins or small minced chunks of apples. Remember, it is variety we are shooting for here, so change it up a bit each time you make applesauce. Dot the apple pulp with organic butter, just a small slice. Stir this all us and cover. Microwave on high until the apples are soft, then cool. If you juice 3-5 pounds of apples like I did, it will take around 5 minutes. check them after 4 and go from there. Warm apple sauce is wonderful with dinner or as a dessert, but it does heat up well later also.

Now let's store the applesauce. Spoon some of the applesauce into a container for a family meal or dessert. Save this in the refrigerator to eat in the next day or two. If you have some really small containers (3-5 oz.) that you trust in the freezer and in lunchboxes, use these for lunches. If not, an ice cube tray works fine. Once frozen, remove the cubes and store in a suitable larger container. The applesauce will need to go in smaller containers for lunches (probably 2-4 cubes for most kids), so wait till you have a small container that works. Remove the applesauce from the freezer when you are packing lunches and place it in the lunchbox frozen. By lunchtime, it will still be cool. One final tip: Don't forget the spoon.

Clean up is a snap too, as my juicer recommends using the dishwasher, and all the aluminum or glass bowls and funnels also go in the dishwasher. Let me know what you think about your applesauce. I'd love to hear other ideas for creative apple sauce.

One last note. If you prefer, you can always peel the apples first, perhaps using a peeler like the one from Williams-Sonoma. This is a fabulous tool for speeding up the time consuming chore of apple peeling for making pies and such. It takes a whopping 3 seconds per apple to peel one. As for me, though, I like the texture and nutrition that the peel adds to apple sauce. Enjoy it your way!


My "side job" (I'm moonlighting--haha!) is writing organic recipes for Blake Bakes. My second recipe was posted yesterday, and you can find it at Blake Bakes. This post is Toni's Favorite Organic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. As my husband would say, they are the bomb. Hope you can drop in and check it out.
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