Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We are Sprout People

Have you noticed how expensive food is lately at the grocery store? As a vegetarian, a large portion of my grocery bill goes to fruits, veggies and fish; yet in particular I was paying a fortune for leafy greens. Mescaline mix was high, red leaf lettuce and arugula, too, and I don't dare eat swamp lettuce (head lettuce with no nutrients). Thus we (more like the hubby) stumbled upon Sprout People - a site dedicated to selling a variety of sprouts (alfalfa and more) and providing instructions on growth and harvest. Here is our journey to growing sprouts and saying goodbye to all lettuce.
Step 1: Get a sprouter (we chose the cylinder version to save space). It is the best all around sprouter offering great drainage of water and air circulation ($13.85)
Step 2: Measure out 2 tablespoons of seeds. We went with the Russian mix (hardy and crunchy). Be sure rinse and remove any debris.Step 3: Soak the seeds for 8-12 hours. Cold water and lots of it. Water is the key ingredient to growing sprouts.Step 4: Sprouting - empty the seeds into the sprouter. Be sure to drain off all the water.

Step 5: Grow - place your container on the counter top away from direct sunlight. A plant can only perform photosynthesis when it has leaves. Until a plant has leaves, light has no effect.

Step 6: More rinsing and draining - add more water up to the top and drain it ALL out. Don't shake the container (we like to use a smooth swinging motion - waving the container side to side to drain out all the water). Do this every day for at least 3 days.

Step 7: Greening - You should see the sprouts budding by now and this is the best time to place near the sunlight. Not in direct sunlight just nearby light (e.g. window sill, coffee table, etc.)

Step 8: Dehull - by now you should see your green sprouts by the 6th day. The hull is the dryer outer covering of the nut/shell. Transfer your massive sprout ball to a bowl or big container. Loosen the sprout mass by pulling it a part with your fingers. I like to place under the facet to loosen the mass and continuously pull out onto a towel.

Step 9: Spin and Dry - you can also place in a salad spinner to throughout dry out all the sprouts. Sometimes we just place on paper towels to soak up the access water.
Step 10: Refrigerate and Eat - store in a sealed container of your choice and enjoy any time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

25 Most EV Ready Cities

Hot off the press (thanks to FastCompany) is a listing of cities that are best suited for electric car ownership. What is sad is that I live in Pittburgh, PA (a non-EV ready city) and my family lives in Los Angeles, Boston, Orlando and Denver - all of which are EV fantastic. So what would really need to happen? Answer - EV advisory councils. We are talking red vs. blue divide but in the form of gas vs. power divide. Cities together are presently forming EV advisory councils that consist of city and utility officials as well as manufacturers such as Ford that are changing the landscape of city infrastructure.
This massive initiative, while still somewhat under the radar, is putting cities like Detroit, Phoenix and Charlotte back on the map to brew jobs, infrastructure, and innovation. These so called hot-spots simply allow for more permits to be released for home charging stations, the ability for a city to work more openly with utility companies to set up cheaper rates during the night (when people will charge), and use an urban planning approach for public charging stations - meaning that they look at traffic flows and where people spend their parked time to determine charging locations.

Now all of this work will mean that the government needs to interfere in our lives a little more to make electric cars a feasible reality. However, from my perspective, I'm pleased if that occurs since we all know that gasoline is not getting any cheaper. And if you haven't driven a Mini E, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, or a Brammo Bike, then I suggest you step into the year 2011 and experience the rush of being behind an electric vehicle. I have...and you will enjoy it!

Source: Fast Company

The Power of Pesto

My first year being a vegetarian was pretty damn good. Flushing my body of toxins, animal hormones, and other yummy chemicals from my spraying days in the Florida orange groves to the afternoon beach swims in toxic Lake Erie. Fast forward to now, the second year of going about 80% vegan has done wonders for my hair, skin, and mood. I say, 80% vegan, due to completely eliminating eggs and some diary from my diet. This difficult food decision was brought on through a series of family deaths, books, research, conferences and simply educating myself about the dangers of factory farming (To read my personal view, click here).

So here I am, it's 2011, I don't have a roof top garden, or an eco-friendly home (...yet). And my soul and every fiber of my being is craving to be the most healthy individual in order to be a role model and decent contributor to society. What better place to start then food, which is how we meet and greet with strangers and feed our brains with nourishment. Food is how each of us share no matter what nation one lives in today. It is amazing how powerful pesto can be at dinner parties and even afternoon snacks. It is the new brain food that I recommend every household should carry in their refrigerator. From barn to bowl, or pasture to plate, we have a choice to eat healthy, reduce our obesity epidemic, get off the sugar-fat hamster wheel and eat wholesome meals.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Micro Gardens at Work

Anyone can be a gardener. You don't need to have a green thumb and you don't even need a garden. Gardens are old school and the new trend is micro gardens. With raising concerns of pesticide and fungicide usage, consumers are craving wholesome food that is local and organic. As with most organic fruits and vegetables, the price tag of those delicious organic tomatoes or blueberries makes your mouth water and your wallet cry. Yet, our busy lifestyles are preventing some of us from simply playing in the dirt. (e.g. working mothers, single parents, grandparents who can't afford to retire early) Families are spending less time weeding, planting, and mowing the grass and more time working, commuting, and eating (I'll touch on raising obesity cases later). But this doesn't mean we can't plant and grown our own food.

According to Plant Green, they have a list of 66 things you can grow at home in a container, and not in a garden. I'll share their top 10 below and see if you are up the challenge for growing your own food that is extremely rewarding and gratifying. Even hops, the main "spice" ingredient in beer is on the list!

1. Apples can be grown in a container; you can also grow them on the balcony or other small space using a technique called espaliering.
2. Kumquats
3. Avocados (plenty of extra tips online if you search)
4. Blackberries
5. Blueberries (sometimes helpful videos are available online)
6. Pomegranate
7. Cherries
8. Figs
9. Pears
10. Dwarf oranges

Image Source: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock