October 2011 - Our Daily Green

Monday, October 31, 2011

Personal Testimony LED Green

Our Daily Green recently finished a kitchen face-lift. Throughout the process, we tried to incorporate our passion for eco-friendly living as well as economical and practical choices. When we first started planning, we considered what we could do on a minimal basis for maximum impact. We kept our original cabinets but replaced the countertops with quartz, which is a durable and sustainable choice, utilizing post-consumer recycled glass.

By request, our contractor donated everything that was removed to Habitat for Humanity's local ReStore. We replaced our refrigerator with an energy star appliance and it was even eligible for a rebate from our local provider.

The most innovative and exciting upgrade we made was utilizing new LED under-cabinet lights. For anyone unfamiliar, LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and Consumer Reports explains LEDs:  Light-emitting diodes, the newest choice, were the most energy efficient under-cabinet lighting by far. Their low-profile housings tend to be relatively discreet. 

Household applications for LEDs are increasing as the old incandescent bulbs are phased out and folks have concerns about using fluorescent bulbs. Currently, LEDs are a bit pricey, but the energy savings will offset for the higher price. In 2009, The Simple Dollar, a financial tip site, did a side by side comparison of CFL (compact fluorescent light), LED, and incandescent bulbs. LEDs were by far the most efficient, but also suggested that they'd soon be the most economical, as the prices dropped. Their site recommends a $15 price point as the benchmark. LED's longevity factor is also attractive for hard to reach bulbs, the US Department of Energy estimates that LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours, compared to 10,000 for a CFL.  Some additional advantages to LED lights is that they turn on immediately, they can be dimmed, and they do not generate heat. The newer LEDs cast warm colored light, not blue like the earlier ones.

As indicated by the photo, our inobrusive LED lights brighten our kitchen workspace tremendously. We highly recommend learning about and using LEDs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Food Day Green

One of the recurrent themes Our Daily Green stresses is eating healthy. Eating food that is not processed with unpronounceable chemicals or additives. We believe strongly that the best step to going green begins with our diet, to the point that the younger Mini Greens have written and Mama Green has published their essays supporting our family commitment to healthy choices.

When we learned today was the first Food Day and we had an opportunity to reiterate our dedication to healthy diet, we embraced it.

Food Day is a grass-roots mobilization for a better food policy, says Food Day founder Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the non-profit organization Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Ask Congress to Support Food Day's Goals:
  1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
  2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  4. Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
  5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
Morgan Spurlock, director and star of the Super Size Me documentary, elaborates in his public service announcement for the Cooking Channel.

Readers, when was the last time you had fast food? Was it satisfying or saddening?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Apple a Day Green

thanks to: Paul @ free digital photos
Apples can be green or red or yellow now is certainly the season to find them.

Our Daily Green recently attended the Fall Festival at a local apple farm and stocked up on the sweet and tart fruity goodness. It turns out the wives' tale is correct, an apple a day really could keep the doctor away.

A typical large apple (based on data collected from red and golden delicious, fuji, granny smith and gala apples by the USDA) is an excellent source of fiber, beta carotene, potassium, vitamin C.

The Environmental Working Group offers a free downloadable PDF guide to pesticides in product. Apples are listed as the number one item to buy organic. Nutrition and you reiterates this,
Good yield demands close attention and supervision of apple crop... The most common pesticides found on apple are organo-phosphorous and organo-chloride pesticides like Permethrin and DDT. Therefore, it is recommended to wash the fruit thoroughly before use. 
Being truly realistic, Our Daily Green agrees with Doctor Yourself, when they assert,
Real-world people shop at supermarkets, and real-world affordable fruits and vegetables contain pesticide residues. Not everybody can buy organic; not everybody is a gardener. 
If organic apples are not available, it is imperative to wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. While there are a number of commercial produce washes available, using what is already in the pantry will work fine. According to Savvy Science Mom:
Some contaminants can be removed by an acid and others by a base. Vinegar is an acid, which serves as a preservative and disinfectant to kill germs. A base, like baking soda, also serves as a cleansing agent. There are many recipes online for how to make your own produce wash. In general, ... mix one cup of water, one cup of vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
Our Daily Green recommends an apple a day, preferably organic, but if that's unavailable, take the necessary precautions and wash it properly. The health benefits are immense.

What is your favorite type of apple? Me, I'm a Granny Smith tart and tangy fan.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Applegate Farms Review

A few weeks ago, Our Daily Green received a shipment of samples from Applegate Farms. It was a generous shipment, with two boxes of their fabulous products to sample and enjoy. Yesterday, we finished the last sample and are excited to share our opinions.

Frequently, Our Daily Green encourages cooking from scratch and offers tips and recipes to do just that. However, that's not always realistic or feasible in our fast-paced world. Far too often, families rely on take out or convenience foods. What is so exciting about the Applegate line of foods is the convenience and peace of mind. Applegate's transparency is impressive; a consumer can check where their food was raised via the Applegate site and their UPC number.

Our shipment included a wide array of their newest products, including:
  • Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders
  • Homestyle Chicken Breast Tenders
  • Grilled Chicken Breast Strips
  • Southwestern-Style Grilled Chicken Breast Strips
  • Organic Uncured Thick Cut Bacon
  • Barbecue Chicken lunch meat
  • Uncured Cooked Capicola Ham
We highly recommend Applegate's products for quick (not fast) food. While it's a given that everything is better with bacon, everything is even better with organic Becker Lane Berkshire Pork that is humanely raised and nitrate free as well as gluten free and casein free.  The barbecue chicken lunch meat (also gluten free and casein free) was so deliciously seasoned that it didn't even require additional condiments. The ingredients used to flavor the chicken were natural and pronounceable, including:
Salt, Honey, Potato Starch, Sugar, Carrageenan (From Seaweed), Tomato Powder, Potassium Chloride, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Yeast Extract, Natural Mesquite Smoke Flavor, Capsicum Extract, and Mustard Extract.
A few slices of this meat on some bread with a tomato slice and lettuce leaf created a perfect sandwich.

The frozen chicken tenders both Homestyle and Gluten free were a fabulous alternative to the factory farmed fused chicken leftover parts that frequently graces the plates of children's lunches. Again it was so flavorful that no additional condiments (which are laden with sodium and fat) were needed to enjoy this chicken. It is comforting to find so many allergen free products as more and more sensitivities are discovered.

As an additional side note, we are very impressed with Applegate's overall commitment to socially responsible business, as the press kit they included with their products was in a folder from ReBinder (another company we have worked with and endorsed in the past).
Our Daily Green kudos to Applegate for consistent messaging!

In accordance with FTC disclosure laws, Our Daily Green received our samples from Applegate free of charge, but we also have been an Applegate customer for many years which is why we asked for the opportunity to try their latest products. We highly recommend their line of frozen meats and cold cuts. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog Action Day 2011

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011 www.blogactionday.orgTake a moment to watch this video and pass along the word. 
Thank you from Our Daily Green. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Green Tomato Green

As the summer growing season winds down, Our Daily Green has a plethora of unripened tomatoes. Beyond the famous fried green tomatoes, we were searching for solutions to our unripened harvest. It may be surprising, but in some ways, a green tomato actually has greater health benefits than a red one.

from Jenny Decker, RN at Emax Health:
The green tomatoes also have about the same amount of beta carotene as a red tomato. Those studying the green tomato found that the chlorophyll that is in the green tomato actually causes the red color from the beta carotene to hide. 
Other green tomato benefits include three times the amount of calcium as the red tomato. They also contain slightly more vitamin C than the red tomato. The red tomato, in comparison, has more folate and more potassium than the green tomato. Any way you want to eat it, you are getting great health benefits from both red and green tomatoes.
One of our first finds was a Green Tomato Cake. After reading the 15 reviews, we decided to give it a shot, as odd as it sounded, as it utilized a number of SuperFoods. The recipe is very similar to a carrot cake we make at the holidays. The recipe is adapted from Diana Rattay, About.com guide to Southern Food.
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or melted shortening (we used olive oil
  • 3 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom 
  • 1 cup walnuts 
  • 2 1/2 cups diced green tomatoes 
  • coconut 
Preparation: Preheat oven to 350°. In mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg; slowly beat into egg mixture. Blend well. Stir in walnuts and tomatoes. Pour into greased 9x13-inch pan. Top with coconut if desired. Bake for one hour, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

green tomatoeschopped green tomatoes

tomatoes ripen from inside out
A little trivia: Tomatoes ripen from the inside out!

green tomato cake

one bowl batterdelicious cake

Please share some of your favorite things to do with green tomatoes!
Thank you to our Facebook friends for your input.

Solar Energy Green

As consumers and businesses start to look for alternatives to fossil fuels, the answer literally may be shining right on us. While the energy from the sun has been around since ancient Romans used it in the first greenhouses, the world is now more sophisticated in their ability to harness the power.

solar energyPhotovoltaics (or PV) is the process that converts the sun's power into electricity. Solar cells are two layer silicon based panels. The silicon on one side is made impure with a positive flowing electron, while the other side is made impure with a negative flowing electron. The reaction between the positive-negative junction creates a flow of electrons that transforms sunshine into electricity. The cells are wired together to create a panel and the panels are combined and interlinked to create even greater power.

In 1941, Bell Laboratories patented the first silicon solar cell and it converted approximately 4% of the sun's power into electricity. Today's solar cells are about 7 times more efficient at 28% and that number is rising as scientists continue to make better solar cells. Solar energy in California utilizes cutting edge technology to bring the best solar options to their state. While failures of companies such as Solyndra bring negative attention to the industry, that attention is a result of poor financial decisions, not bad technology.

A solar plant that begins operating today would still be producing power anywhere from 25-35 years into the future with a minimal operating costs which would offset the initial high capital costs, as solar power requires no additional fuel and limited impact on the environment. The future promise of solar energy is too great to ignore. To learn more about the potential of solar power, our sponsor is offering a free downloadable brochure about solar energy.

Our Daily Green has been compensated for this article. We only accept opportunities from companies that fit the mission of our blog, to promote a more economical and ecological home. To learn more about sponsoring a post on this site, Click Here .

Friday, October 7, 2011

Healthy Choices Green

Our Daily Green has written multiple articles about healthy food choices, growing and canning food at home and how to cook that food with various recipes. The question of how to eat healthy when not at home is more complicated. Fortunately, most restaurants and cafeterias now have a salad bar, where someone can choose the exact foods they desire.

salad bar
Salad bars can be a hidden pit of unhealthy fat and nutritionally devoid foods with their mayonnaise laden salads, synthetic bacon bits, oily dressings, and calorie dense soups. Yet, with some education, salad bars are frequently the best choice mindful eaters can make. 

Salad bars are also a plethora of high vitamin and high fiber choices. The simplest way to get started is to think of a rainbow. As a general rule, colorful foods are higher in vitamins and antioxidants than light colored foods. For example, spinach has a higher nutritional punch than iceberg lettuce. Some of the healthiest choices from a salad bar include leafy green lettuces, carrots, beets, raw broccoli, peas, red pepper. Look for raw vegetables instead of marinated or cooked, as raw will contain the highest level of nutrition. 

Consider any sort of canned beans, like garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans. They will add fiber, protein and folate to the plate. Sunflower seeds and raw nuts are an excellent source of Vitamin E and fiber, while lean protein such as chicken, tuna, tofu or hard boiled eggs will round out the salad. 

Top the salad with a light sprinkling of salt/pepper and a shake of oil and vinegar instead of preservative heavy dressings. Enjoy your salad with the comfort of knowing you've made healthy and nutritious choices. 

In accordance with FTC regulations, Our Daily Green has been compensated for this post. For additional information on sponsoring a post on this blog, click here.

Energy Savings Green

As the weather gets colder and homeowners get ready to close up their homes for the winter, according to the US Department of Energy, they could be saving anywhere between 5% and 30% of their energy usage with a few simple check ups. A comprehensive home energy audit can help navigate the different ways a home could not just save money and energy, but also qualify for different home repair grants available for approved upgrades.

Navigating the paperwork and finding trusted companies can leave even the most diligent homeowner confused. But companies like Home Energy Team take the guesswork out of improving a home. By working with certified professionals, whether a homeowner is looking for home insulation contractors or to install energy efficient windows, they have peace of mind knowing that the work will be done properly and within appropriate government guidelines to maximize rebates and consumer savings.

With a challenging economy, a wise consumer needs to ensure that they able to save money and have the work done right. From the top of the house and finding attic insulation contractors to below the foundation for damp basement solutions, Home Energy Team offers one stop assessment, so an energy conscious consumer doesn't waste their time. Their site is packed with useful hints and articles as well as a free energy savings newsletters. Located in 16 states plus Washington DC, Home Energy Team can help many consumers find energy efficient solutions in their home. They work closely with national certification bodies like RESNET and BPI to guarantee accredited contractors are performing the work. We were very impressed also by the rebate search ability and free hints for any homeowner.  

This post is sponsored by Home Energy Team. Our Daily Green only accepts sponsored postings for services that fit the mission of our blog by giving our readers useful information that helps nurture a more environmentally and economically friendly home.