June 29, 2011
By Jess Spate, HL&S Guest Blogger and writer for Appalachian Outdoors
Modern consumers are more aware of the impacts of their choices than they have ever been before, but what about on days when we’re not supposed to be worrying about anything? Like on vacation?
We consider the ethical implications of the foods we buy and the clothes we wear, how they were made, where, and by whom. Where possible, we think twice before getting into the car when it would be possible to walk instead. We recycle bottles, cans, and paper, and avoid plastic shopping bags.
But it can be difficult to do this while on vacation for many reasons, including because you aren’t in your normal routine. Here are a few points to get you thinking:
Practice sustainable travel and reduce your carbon footprint
1. How are you going to get there? Air travel is probably the worst offender when it comes to carbon emissions, while land-based transport is less damaging in most cases.
2. Where are you going to stay? Eco-tourism is growing fast, and there are plenty of great environmentally friendly accommodation choices almost anywhere you want to travel. Look for environmental information on hotel and resort websites. If they do have good green and social credentials, they’ll almost certainly say so.
3. Is the accommodation appropriate for the region? For example, altogether too many hotels in hot, desert places aim to capture the luxury market with lush green lawns and European-style landscaped gardens. These take up a huge amount of water that may be sorely needed elsewhere. At best they show disregard for the local environment and should be avoided.
4. Where is your money going? Look for businesses that employ local people. Some may also offer a guarantee that a share of profits will go back into the local community. This is particularly important if you’re traveling to developing countries. Where possible, choose locally-owned hotels, restaurants, and tour providers.
5. What’s going on your plate? Remember that the ethical standards governing food production are not the same all over the world. Where possible, choose local, sustainable food.
6. What’s coming home with you? Souvenirs such as sea shells are often harvested for the tourist market, not washed up empty on the beach. Steer clear of buying keepsakes and gifts with an animal component.
The very best thing an ethical traveler can do is ask questions. The more you do that, the more travel providers, tour operators, and hotels will realize that they have to lift their game when it comes to environmental and social responsibility. Be critical, be vocal, and make sure your reasons for choosing one holiday over another are out in the open.
Jess Spate is a sustainable business consultant. She works for eco-friendly companies like Fountain Spirit and writes for travel magazines.
June 27, 2011
By Nicole Rodgers
HL&S Guest Blogger
We at HL&S LOVE organic food – eating it raw, cooking with it and making it apart of our everyday lives. If you are unable to start your organic garden, as we taught you on Friday (perhaps you lack free time or live in an apartment building), but would still like to eat organic, have no fear.
Food grown 100% organically is appealing to individuals looking to live healthier lifestyles. But buying organic food can be expensive. Not every shopper can afford to spend those few extra dollars every week at the grocery store.
Buying organic can be expensive.
These easy tips can help buyers to eat better and spend less on organic food at the grocery store:
1. Coupons are the best friends of organic shoppers on tight budgets. Shoppers should always scour newspapers and the advertisements placed in most mailboxes to look for coupons that apply to the local organic stores, or larger chains that offer organic products. Saving a few pennies here and there can really make a difference over long periods.
2. Buying bulk items is always a good idea to save money, and this applies to organic shopping as well. However, this is not always possible with certain food items, namely fruits and vegetables. To cash in on savings, shoppers should limit their bulk items to dry goods and drinks. Purchasing bags of fruit like apples and oranges may be a good idea, but only if shoppers use them regularly.
Buying fruits and vegetables from organic shops can add up very quickly. For this reason, some individuals must make a compromise by purchasing only a few pieces of produce at a time.
3. Buying produce in season is a great way to cut the costs of organic shopping. Furthermore, many organic grocery stores display advertisements for specials, so shoppers on tight budgets may consider planning their shopping trips accordingly. For the shoppers unable to purchase from organic stores, many large grocery store chains provide organic shopping options, and they may cost less than local organic stores.
The Environmental Working Group strongly encourages shoppers to buy organic foods whenever possible, but if you’re unable to commit 100 percent, they have supplied a list of produce items most like to accumulate pesticide residue:
- imported grapes
Apples have a high amount of pesticide residue. Peel the skin to cut it down.
Shoppers may choose to avoid buying organic broccoli, cabbage, bananas, pineapple, and onions because these items do not usually accumulate pesticides and can be purchased in the non-organic variety.
Many individuals purchase organic food to avoid eating harmful pesticides used to grow and harvest traditional food. Others do it for environmental reasons, preferring methods that do not harm the earth. The rest enjoy the freshness of non-processed food. Whatever your reasoning, do it affordably and sustainably while you peruse the produce section.
Nicole Rodgers has been blogging for three years; she loves to eat organic foods but knows how hard it is to stay within a budget while doing so. Another way that she stays on budget is by going online and finding great deals and coupons at Savings.com.
June 24, 2011
By Lauren Tessin
HL&S Guest Blogger and writer of MyGetRidOfGuide
With all the dangerous chemicals, the unknown, and the modified products, it’s hard to feel that your produce is safe. As you may already know, girls are maturing faster than years ago, and people are suffering from more and more diseases. Is it linked to the food we’re eating? Or perhaps it’s because of things like pesticides and hormones. Who knows, but we do know that growing our own garden can have several health benefits.
Growing your own produce is rewarding, cheaper and healthier.
If you’re thinking about starting your own garden, here are 5 reasons why you should definitely consider it this spring or summer!
1. It’s a great hobby: Gardening is a great way to spend time our doors. It allows you to keep your mind off things, get some fresh air, and even some exercise! It can also be fun if you have your children help you out.
2. Eat better: Since you have fresh produce growing right in your backyard, it’s going to encourage you to eat better. The recommended daily amount is at least 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables. With a garden, this should be easily attainable.
3. Save money: Although produce is often cheaper in the warmer months, it’s still cheaper to grow it on your own. Due to this, you could easily save $20 a week! Have too much growing and you don’t want it to go to waste? If so, just freeze it in freezer bags and you’ll have a fresh supply for months!
4. It’s organic!: As stated before, there is a lot to think about when it comes to your produce! Between sprays, certain bugs, as well as hormones and modification you never know what happened to your food before it got in your hands now.
5. No worries: If you maintain a garden yourself, you don’t have to worry about anything. You know how it’s grown, where it’s grown from and if you sprayed it with anything. Also, you don’t have to worry about people handling it at the stores, sneezing on it, having it fall on the ground, or even if it has dangerous things such as e-Coli on it.
Starting your own garden makes you feel good.
As you can see, there are several great reasons to consider growing your own garden. With all the unknown out there, all the handling at the store, and everything else it’s best just to go with what’s best and healthiest – and that’s from your own garden that you’ve been taking care of and monitoring!
June 22, 2011
By Jess Spate
HL&S Guest Blogger, Ethical Traveler and Travel Writer for Appalachian Outdoors
Eating well at home can be tricky, but finding nutritious, healthy food while on vacation can be a lot harder. It’s very tempting to eat out and that often means going to the nearest restaurant, even if all it sells is burgers and greasy pizza. Those who maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet can have real problems, but even thoughtful meat-eaters find it a lot harder to make sure their holiday food is organic and their eggs free-range.
Just how difficult it will be depends on where you go. It’s very easy for American and European vegetarians to forget that in some parts of the world, freshly prepared vegetarian food is the norm, not the exception. In rural India and Nepal, the abundance of chickpea and lentil dishes makes getting protein fairly easy for those who don’t eat meet.
In fact, going vegetarian for the duration of a holiday in India or South-East Asia is a good idea for more reason than one. Cheap veggie food is easily available and there is far less chance of tummy troubles if you leave out the meat. In particular, buying from street vendors can be a delicious way to sample authentic local food, but meaty treats of this kind can cause digestive problems.
If you’re going to somewhere like the rural US or Canada, Australia, continental Europe or the UK, the secret to good travel nutrition is preparation. There are good, healthy restaurants and grocers almost everywhere- the hard part is finding them. A little bit of internet research can go a long way. Before leaving home, note down a few places to get good food along the way to your destination and in the area around it. There are local forums and online discussion groups for almost every region, so if you have trouble, just find one of those and ask for advice. In most cases people will be happy to help and you might uncover some well-kept local secrets.
Of course, you can also take good food with you. There are sometimes restrictions on the kind of foods that can be brought across borders (fruit and veg are usually out) but if you’re staying within one country or even within the European Union, transporting food around is usually okay.
Dried fruit is lightweight, non-perishable, and it provides great vitamins on the run. Bread doesn’t travel so well but it can be replaced with puffed rice cakes, which do. You can make great sandwiches with these, just like with slices of bread. They’re low in fat and your nearest wholefoods store probably sells them. Almonds and other nuts can help you get the protein you need.
Nuts are healthy snacks and easy to take on the road.
Dried fruit is a good supplement for fresh fruit while traveling.
Dietary supplements and protein bars can be taken with you no matter where you travel. They usually don’t taste as good as fresh food, but it’s better than letting healthy eating habits slide while on holiday. Do choose carefully though- a lot of supplements are packed full of preservatives or use genetically modified ingredients. Read the labels carefully so you can be sure of getting something that meets your ethical and health standards.
June 7, 2011
This Ahi Tuna Poke with Ponzu Vinaigrette recipe from Mii Amo Cafe in Sedona, Arizona would not normally be my cup of tea because I’m not a sashimi gal, and neither is the cook, really. But we both loooovveee avocado, so we decided to give the tuna a try. I have to admit I took it seared, rather than rare, though. Jay opted for the rare.
It’s also so easy to make. We had our friend Andy over for the occasion, who seemed to know the ingredients and sashimi skills required much better than us. The first thing you want to do is make the vinaigrette. We cheated and bought the bottled Ponzu sauce, but of course I think it would taste better homemade!
Recipe by: Mii amo Cafe
1 Garlic Clove
5 Chopped Green Onions
1 Tbs. Mustard
½ cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 lemon, Zest and Juice
1 Orange Zest and Juice
2-3 Tbs Cilantro
1 1/2 cup Thickened Water **
½ Cup Oil
1. Combine and blend all ingredients except oil.
2. Slowly drizzle oil into blender to emulsify
** Bring 1 quart of water up to a boil. In a bowl mix ¾ C. Cornstarch with ¾ C. of cold water. Mix Cornstarch and cold water together with a Wisk and then pour into boiling water. Wisk the boiling water as you add the cornstarch mixture in order to avoid getting lumps. Turn down heat and allow mixture to slowly simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Allow to cool in refrigerator for several hours until completely cool before using in vinaigrette.
OK, now on to the big Kahuna tuna! We used 2.5 pounds of fresh tuna steaks. Our eyes were apparently bigger than our stomachs at the grocery store. But we were determined!
First, mix avocado and vinegar, with salt and pepper, reserve it. Combine tuna with lemon juice, sriracha sauce, green onion, and mix. Toss lettuce with vinaigrette. Arrange lettuce on plate. This was my job, since Jay doesn’t let me near the stove when he gets going! Cover with layer of avocado mixture. Top with 2 oz. of tuna mixture. Finally, serve with broken pieces of rice cracker, garnish with extra vinaigrette.
At the end of very easy preparation, we devoured the tangy salad that was cut by the tenderness of the tuna and the creamy avocado slices. We nixed the rice paper, opting to try corn tortillas (hey, we work with what we have). But don’t do it. They didn’t add much to the salad and it would have been better without anything. It was a nice blend of the different spicy, sweet and tangy flavors. You gotta try it!It took about 15 minutes to make.
8 oz sashimi grade tuna, small dice
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
2 tbs. green onion, minced
2 avocado, sliced or diced
2 tbs. rice wine vinegar
4 rice papers, toasted
2 cups lettuce
1/2 cup Ponzu Vinaigrette
I love the color of ripe avocados and green onions!
Seared tuna salad
Rare Ahi Tuna Salad
June 6, 2011
Jay and I recently took a break from cooking to get married!
We took our honeymoon at Jade Mountain in St. Lucia, which is consistently ranked among the best resorts in the world by the Travel Channel, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure for its sheer wow factor, and for impeccable service and romantic nature. Just to give you an idea of the service – we took the resort’s boat taxi to a neighboring beach and forgot to bring sunscreen. One of the beach butler’s had someone retrieve a bottle from the gift shop and bring it to us by boat! The resort is set in the mountainside with views of the Caribbean (and just a short walk to the beach). It was so secluded – we had a large suite with a private infinity pool and views of the famous Pitons (volcanos – a main symbol of St. Lucia). With two butlers, a five-star restaurant (plus access to several more restaurants on the Anse Chastanet sister property), and to die for, comfortable accommodations in a three-walled suite, we were absolutely in heaven! Rest assured, we did attend a cooking demonstration by Chef Jonathan so that we knew where all of our delicious food was coming from. And what we found so great about it is that it’s all grown on a nearby farm (and fish caught fresh by local fisherman).
We took an all-inclusive option and took advantage of a sailing cruise, scuba diving, a tour of the Anse Chastanet plantation, jungle biking and a couple’s massage. We will never forget it, check it out!
Our Star suite at Jade Mountain
This is one of the daily snack trays we got every day in our suite’s fridge
Our favorite tropical drink
The scene at the beach
Jade Mountain’s interior
Afternoon snack display from room service. Different each day, but we loved the cocoa tea, a native treat of Soufriere, where Jade is located.
Welcome champagne by our infinity pool
The bed, with mosquito netting, since our suite had just three walls.
Eric, the greatest sommelier at the Jade Mountain Club, a five-star restaurant
Certified scuba divers, we went with Scuba St. Lucia, on site of Jade Mountain/Anse Chastanet premises on three dives
On Jade Mountain’s Serenity yacht as we pull away from the Piton mountains
View of Soufriere
Enjoying a Piton beer in the infinity pool with the Pitons in the background
The main beach at Jade Mountain
Couple’s massage at the Jade Mountain spa
June 3, 2011
This recipe for Spring Pea Soup from the Lodge at Woodloch in the PA Poconos was so delectable and savory, yet meatless! It almost had a saffron taste to it, which I think is from the fresh parsley. It also is a really pretty bright green color and is 225 calories! Perfect appetizer for entertaining. We had this soup hot, but it’s so versatile I think it could definitely work chilled with a little parsley garnish on top. Our new fav veg is leeks. They are such a good detox, yet yummy as well and can be pureed into just about anything.
First, you eat the oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat; add the garlic and let it sizzle for about 1 minute, then add the leek and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soften. Add stock and bring to a simmer, and add the peas. Cook for about 8-10 minutes then add the
soy milk, parsley, and thyme and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Puree with a food processor until smooth and strain. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
And then you have it! An awesome and totally healthy and pretty soup.
Yield 4-5 Servings
1/2 tbs. Olive Oil
1/2 clove of Garlic, lightly crushed
3/4 cup sliced leek
1/3 cup diced celery
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
¼ cup soy milk
2 ¼ cup shelled peas
1 ½ tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat parsley
¼ tsp. minced thyme
sea salt and pepper
June 2, 2011
This jerk marinade recipe from Moosewood Restaurant is so simple, as you would expect a marinade to be. But there are SO many ingredients (all good and all-natural, though).
Basically, mash all of these up together. You’re supposed to puree them in a blender, but we’re at the beach for the summer with limited supplies, so we just finely chopped the ingredients and put them in a gallon-sized Ziploc with some chicken (or tofu, or whatever you want to use). We did make a couple of substitutions because of course, I made a run to the store thinking we had soy sauce (and just plain forgot about the molasses!) Rather than go back, we subbed brown sugar for molasses and left out the soy sauce, which probably toned down the thai/Asian flare a bit. This was an interesting twist on the traditional jerk sauce.
Let it marinate for 30-60 minutes in the fridge and throw it on the grill. Mmm, mmm! This recipe would go great over some saffron rice, and it is very savory and rich when sauteed in a pan rather than grilled, which is what we did. By the way, any leftover marinade will keep for two weeks!
Yields 1 cup
1 tbs. grated fresh ginger root
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup chopped red onions
1-2 red or green chiles, seeded
1 ½ tsp. dried thyme
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves
3 tbs. vegetable oil
2 tbs. molasses
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. soy saue
½ tsp. salt