Sunday, October 11, 2009

Save Some Green

After a long hiatus, I am back. I have no excuse other than laziness, but I have some tips on saving on natural and organic grocery items that hopefully will put me back in everyone's good graces.

Let's face it. Organic food is expensive. Organic foods are labor intensive to produce and therefore cost more to the consumer. You rarely will find coupons for organic foods in the Sunday paper. You can find coupons at producers websites as well as a couple other sites to save yourself some money. Those I have listed below all have coupons you can print out at home. With the economy in such bad shape it's nice to know that you can save some green on your grocery bill. You may want to sign up for a separate email account specifically for the coupons so you don't bog down your regular email address.
  • Organic Valley - Their products are widely available (I've seen them at Kroger and Whole Foods) here in Virginia so you don't have to go to a natural food store to get them.
  • Stonyfield Farm - You're most familiar with their organic yogurt. They're the maker of the Yobaby yogurt that's so popular. They also make the yogurt tubes (think Gogurt only organic) that kids love. The Hubby and I are really excited to try their limited edition Pumpkin Pie flavor!
  • Pacific Natural - These guys make the boxed soups and stocks that are so easy to use. Costco actually carried their organic chicken broth and organic roasted red pepper soup for a while.
  • Seventh Generation - While these Seventh Generation doesn't make food, they seem to make everything else. Seventh Generation has range of eco-friendly products that include everything from cleaners to chlorine free diapers.
  • Mambo Sprouts - Offers printable coupons for natural and organic products. They also make the coupon books available at Whole Foods.
  • - This website will email you links to print the coupons you select. I just picked up a coupon for BioKleen products which are really hard to come by.
I'll pass along more as I find them.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

CSA Day!

We forgot to pick up our bag yesterday. Luckily Paradise Fruit keeps them in their cooler so they stay fresh. Here's what we received in our bag this week.

We had some bell peppers.

It is really nice change to have orange peppers after a few weeks of green peppers. The have such a great flavor.

And what CSA bag would be complete without these guys?

That's right folks - It's cucumbers, again.

We also received some yellow squash.

I used to hate squash growing up, but I've been pleasantly surprised that I like it now. We usually saute them in olive oil. It's so simple, but really tasty.

These sweet peppers are new.

I can't tell if they really are different than regular bell peppers or not. They kind of look like a larger version of those tiny peppers that you sometimes get in a crudites platter.

Acorn squash is a new one for me.

I think I've eaten acorn squash before, but I know I've never cooked with it before. I could roast it with a little drizzle of maple syrup or I could try a salad recipe I found on Food Network. There's also a pasta recipe we could try.

Also new this week is soybeans.

Growing up in rural Virginia, I can easily identify this growing in a field, but I had to think a bit to identify it up close.

Surprisingly, I've never eaten edamame by itself. I've heard that it's delicious by steamed with a little salt (a favorite at Japanese restaurants). I'm looking forward to trying these over the long weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Recent Purchase

While perusing the aisles at Target during lunch today, I happened upon this in the gift wrap section.

So it's not the most gorgeous wrapping paper. In fact it's pretty plain. But if you look closer at the label you'll see why I was excited about it.

Target sells wrapping paper that is made of 100% post consumer recycled content! It's not as pretty as some other wrapping paper, but it's a start. Usually any eco-friendly wrapping paper you buy is ridiculously expensive and sold in sheets, which I hate dealing with. I mean who wants folding creases in their wrapping paper before they even get to use it?

I decided I could invest in some stamps and non-toxic ink and I could make it look pretty cute. I'm not super crafty so I may just see what it looks like with a nice fabric bow on top. The best part is you can actually throw it in the recycle bin when you're done, which you can't do with traditional wrapping paper.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Reading list

Yeah, I know summer is almost over, but I've been reading a book this weekend that has renewed my excitement in my "eco-efforts."

The book is call "Sara Snow's Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home." I checked it out from my local library and I'm really enjoying it. You may have seen Sara Snow's shows on FitTV or Discovery Health. She exudes calm (I'm sure she does a lot of yoga) and is just fun to watch.

This book is great for people like me who are starting to make some green changes in their lives. Snow defines terms that are often misunderstood like "organic," "natural" and what the Fair Trade certification means. While the book doesn't go into specific product recommendations it does tell you what to avoid and arms you with good information. (her website does feature specific brands)

I definitely recommend this to anyone who is beginning their "green" journey.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Recently I've been on a quest to switch to greener products. I'm paranoid about getting green washed so I'm constantly doing research to find out which products are actually the greenest and figuring out which green products actually work.

I've slowly been switching to greener products ranging from laundry detergent to deodorant. I've found some that I'm really happy with, some I'm not so happy with and some that I'm allergic to. I have very sensitive skin and I've recently discovered I'm allergic to lavender. This is a real shame because I LOVE the smell of lavender. I always have to get the unscented version of the product I'm trying. Of course these never come in the economical bulk sizes (bummer).

Anyway I digress. The whole point of this post was to share some of the resources I use to research some of the products I try. There are three I turn to most.

First there is Green Guide. Green Guide was originally a magazine created by the folks of National Geographic. They offered the typical printed version but they also offered an electronic version that was delivered to your inbox each quarter.

The articles are well researched and I always found useful. (this article for instance) They had buying guides that you could print out that could be folded to the size of business cards that you could put in your wallet and take shopping with you. You'll notice that they refer to the "dirty dozen" a lot when they talk about cosmetic products. That one is folded up in my wallet and one of my co-workers uses it too. The magazine never made it past it's first year, but the site is still up and they update the content frequently.

For product reviews, I turn to Consumer Reports. You have to have a subscription to view the product ratings. Don't fret if you don't want to do an online subscription - their articles are pretty useful. They even launched a separate site devoted to all things green. If you check out their Eco Labels center you can research those labels you see on your green products and what they mean. (and whether they actually mean anything)

The last site I check is Amazon. Frankly, The Hubby and I use this for researching anything - from electronics to shampoo. They have a large selection of products for sale and they allow users to post reviews of every product on their site. People don't hold back on this site. You get good reviews, bad reviews and everything in between.

I hope these sites help you feel more comfortable when purchasing greener products. I've definitely picked up some duds (Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent - I guess they can't do everything well) but for the most part I've been pretty happy with the products I've tried (their laundry detergent works quite well).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CSA Day!

It's CSA day again. This week we had lots of yummy vegetables in our bag.

There were some big ripe tomatoes.

I'm not sure what we're going to do with them yet, but it's not hard to find a use for tomatoes.

These were new this week.

The Hubby asked me to make him an eggplant casserole. My grandmother makes it at most of our holiday gatherings. It's like crack casserole. It's the first thing to go at all the family gatherings. At Easter there was almost a fight over the last helpings. (I've included the recipe at the end of this post)

Green peppers were also part of our bag.

One of these guys will be used in the eggplant casserole.

Once again, cucumbers made an appearance.

I'm seriously running out of ideas for these. We've made pasta salad, tzatziki and cucumber salads galore. I'm all tapped out.

Zucchini and Squash make a repeat performance.

I love these guys. I never get tired of them. I love them roasted, grilled and sauteed.

I promised the recipe for my grandmother's eggplant casserole. This can be frozen before you bake it. It takes some time but it's so worth it.

Eggplant Casserole

1 eggplant peeled, cubed
4 slices of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 quart diced tomatoes
1/4 cup sugar
7 slices of bread
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper

Boil eggplant in salt water until tender. In a large skillet, fry bacon slices until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and saute onion and pepper until onions are soft and translucent. Add tomatoes and heat through. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then take off heat. Crumble bread slices into bread crumbs. Add breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon slices, 1/2 cup of cheese, and drained eggplant to tomato mixture and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a ceramic baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CSA Garden Recipes

Sorry I haven't updated the blog in a while. We've been in Florida for the past week for a wedding for one of The Hubby's cousins. We had lots of fun and Lola (our Labrador Retriever) got to go swimming in the in-law's pool!

On to today's post. The Hubby suggested I show everyone some of the yummy dishes that we made with produce from our garden and the CSA. He actually started taking pictures of them so I thought I'd share.

For the last few weeks we've gotten plenty of cucumbers so I made some tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is a Mediterranean salad that is typically made with a grain called bulgur. Of course now I can't find the recipe anymore so I can't give anyone. This particular recipe also used some of the mint from our garden.

One week our CSA bag had a lot of zucchini in it so I made some zucchini muffins.

I love zucchini bread. The Hubby and I usually add a schmear of cream cheese to them. This was a Paula Dean recipe from a cook book my mother gave me. As you can imagine, just like anything from Paula Dean this is not a low-fat recipe.

We used some of the tomatoes and zucchini for a pasta dish.

I always forget how much zucchini cooks down. As you can see I underestimated how much we needed for this amount of pasta.

Here are The Hubby's famous mojitos

We love to have these on a Sunday afternoon. We recently discovered a recipe for a shaken simple syrup. No simmering required. Costco carries bulk organic sugar. It's like the Sugar in the Raw stuff you get in packets (it's brownish) which is why these have cloudy tint to them.

These are the turkey burgers we made with the cayenne peppers.

The cucumber salad was supposed to go on top of the burgers, but we used it as a side instead. After making these we realized that neither of us actually like turkey burgers so we won't be making these again. Since we made them into sliders we used regular dinner rolls. The poppy seed rolls were from Trader Joes. If we ever attempt to make sliders again we'll definitely get them again.