Monthly Archives: February 2012

retail me not: striving for zero waste

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I’m becoming more and more fascinated with the concept of Zero Waste and creating less waste in our household as a means of lessening our impact on the earth.  We’re already recycling and doing our best to limit what we are bringing home, but practicing a lifestyle that results in less waste means choosing necessities (like food) that are either unpackaged or packaged as little as possible.  It also means making an effort to dispose of our waste as responsibly as possible.  After doing a little sleuthing, I discovered that Vancouver has a food scraps drop off program in place where every Saturday you can take your compostable waste, including food scraps and coffee grinds, to be disposed of in a more sustainable way – your waste is converted to compost rather being sent to the dump!  I performed an experiment last week and created a food waste bin in my fridge – I wanted to see how much of our garbage is actually food scraps and waste.  By simply diverting our food waste into a stainless steel bowl in the fridge, I’ve managed to avoid taking a single trip to the garbage room in our building this week and the garbage in our trash can is about half its normal amount.  I’m looking forward to taking an inaugural trip down to the food waste drop off spot next weekend.

Reducing our packaging is a big part of reducing our waste. Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

These are some of my goals for this year with respect to moving towards producing less waste in our household:

  1. Avoiding food with packaging (especially excessive, non-reusable or non-recyclable packaging)
  2. Carry reusable bags so as to refuse plastic and paper bags when shopping
  3. Reuse packaging (rather than recycling) by frequenting stores that will allow me to reuse and refill my own containers
  4. Making food at home so as to make it healthier and produce less packaging waste
  5. Diverting food waste by collecting compostable food scraps
  6. Lose weight by eating real food and food as close to its natural state as possible
I will admit that buying food products with as little packaging as possible can be a bit tricky.  But I believe that any effort to reduce one’s waste is commendable!  Recently, I have been making  grocery trips to Whole Foods (or lovingly referred to as “Whole Paycheck” in these parts) and have been making a real effort to buy food with little or no packaging.  This is quite simple in the produce section – I brought my own reusable produce bags that I purchased last year (from Carebags).  When I had finished shopping, I stopped by the customer service desk and asked if they allow customers to bring their own reusable containers to be used at the meat and deli counters – and they said, no problem!  The great thing about Whole Foods Market is that they do not carry any products in their store that contain high fructose corn syrop or hydrogenated oils, and all of their meats are hormone and antibiotic free.  Whew.  So in addition to being sure that you aren’t getting anything extra in your food, you can also eliminate some of the packaging that comes along with groceries and avoid having to bring it home at all!

If you are interested in cultivating a zero waste lifestyle, one of my favourite resources for inspiration on this subject is Bea at The Zero Waste Home.  Bea and her family are living proof that with a little effort and planning, zero waste (or little waste) is possible for a family with children.

Are you interested in reducing your waste and your impact on the planet?  What works for you and your family in terms of reducing waste in your household?  Please share your ideas in the comments – I love hearing what others are doing on to reduce their impact on the planet!

a minimalist in the kitchen: pumpkin apple muffins

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A minimalist in most areas of my life, except the food department.  I love food and eating, and am on an adventure this year to eat better and healthier than ever before.  As much as I love food, I am all for simplicity in the kitchen – I like simple recipes with simple, whole food ingredients.  I’ll be posting a few of my favourites in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

These muffins are SO easy to make and are amazingly delicious!  These would probably taste great with some shredded carrot too, but I haven’t tried that variation yet.  Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour – I like to mix it up, so I use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of sweetener of your choice – I like using maple syrup, but plain ol’ white sugar works too!
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree, 398 mL size (I use organic)
  • 1/3 cup oil of your choice
  • 2 cups of apple, cored and chopped (I use my mini-processor to chop these into pretty small pieces)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Line two baking sheets with 24 paper muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin, oil and chopped apples.  If you are using a liquid sweetener, add it to the bowl with the wet ingredients instead of the dry ingredients.
  3. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

One alteration I like to make to this recipe is to make muffin tops or scones instead of muffins – line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop 1/4 cup size amounts of muffin batter onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced.  Baking time is about the same for this method, but be sure to check them around 30 minutes – you’ll know by checking the bottoms of the scones to ensure they aren’t getting too dark!

link love: apartment therapy for the soul

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I’ve become obsessed with Apartment Therapy.  There are a ton of inspiring articles over there to read, and they have the coolest categories, with lots of fun posts on green living, small living, and mindful living.  Now that I have found their website, I am pretty sure my life is complete.

Everything is pretty at Apartment Therapy!

Here are some cool, recent posts from AT:

Have you discovered the inspiration that is Apartment Therapy?  If so, do you like the Do-It-Yourself posts or do you favour the house tours?  Personally, I am very much inspired by most of the posts on Small Living. 

a minimalist in the kitchen: an ode to kale chips

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A minimalist in most areas of my life, except the food department.  I love food and eating, and am on an adventure this year to eat better and healthier than ever before.  As much as I love food, I am all for simplicity in the kitchen – I like simple recipes with simple, whole food ingredients.  I’ll be posting a few of my favourites in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Image courtesy of feastie.com

Kale chips.  So simple to make, so delicious and so healthy.  What better way to get your greens in?  I usually use an entire head of kale and end up eating it all in one day.  Oops.  I’m trying to get my three year old turned onto kale chips too, because he’s mostly repulsed by vegetables but will tolerate potatoes in chip form – so I figured why not give kale chips a try?

Delicious Kale Chips

  • 1 Tablespoon of tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 head of freshly washed and chopped kale (think bite-size pieces, and be sure to remove the stems!)

Not only is this recipe simple, but even the ingredients are simple!  Put all ingredients (except kale!) in a blender or food processor, and set to pulverize.  Once everything is fully blended into a salad dressing-like consistency, pour over your freshly washed and chopped kale.  Toss kale to ensure leaves have an even and thin coating of dressing on them.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and place kale on baking sheets, being sure to spread it out so that each piece has its own place on the baking sheet (if you have multiple pieces of kale lying one on top of another, kale will not bake well and may turn out soggy instead of crispy!).  Place baking sheets in the oven and bake at 200 degrees for two hours – don’t be tempted to turn up the heat or your kale chips will end up brown in colour, rather than green.  After 60-90 minutes, toss kale on baking sheets and place back in oven for final 30 minutes.  When two hours is up, take baking sheets out and enjoy your kale chips!  If your kale is not sufficiently crispy (or is still soggy) after two hours, don’t be afraid to toss it again on the baking sheet and bake for another half hour or so.