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Reduce Your Foodprint & Save Money

January2016_FoodprintEach day, Americans toss out enough food to fill the Rose Bowl stadium! As much as 40% of edible food in the United States goes uneaten. That’s a drain on your wallet of between $28-$43 a month. All that uneaten, but perfectly good food doesn’t just lay waste to your budget, it rots in landfills and pollutes the planet.

While your virtual self is looking for spare change in that mountain of food trash, we’ve got good news: With a little mindfulness, there are easy ways to reduce your foodprint and put money back in your pocket!

Net-Zero Your Fridge.
Before you restock, make sure it’s emptied of all edible food. If you really must stick to a shopping schedule, try freezing, canning or preserving foods.

Befriend Your Freezer.
Most frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. Freeze leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad.

FIFO Your Meals.
Plan and cook meals using the “First In, First Out” rule. Place the most recently bought items toward the back so older items, in the front, are used first.

Love Leftovers.
Look for recipes that will help you get creative with using leftovers.

Shop Smarter.
Plan your shopping and avoid impulse buys. If you have no idea how much food your family wastes in a month, do what restaurants do to manage profit and loss: keep a log of what you buy and what you throw away.

Get Savvy about Expiration Dates.
“Sell-by” and “use-by” dates are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. The dates are not federally regulated to indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. Not sure if you should keep a food or toss it? Search online for a shelf life guide.

Bought Too Much?
Donate or Compost. Non-perishable and unspoiled food can be donated to a food bank, soup kitchen, church, or a neighbor in need. Perishable food you can’t donate can be composted to recycle their nutrients and nourish the planet.

Use the Resources List to access charts, instructions, and tools to help you reduce your foodprint.

Resources List

If you are looking for a yummy recipe to help you to reduce your environmental footprint, check out this recipe for Vegetarian Lasagna.

Vegetarian Lasagna

January2016_veg-lasagnaVegetarian dishes are a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. Meat-less (and cheese-free) meals use fewer natural resources from farm-to-table.

Ingredients
Tomato Sauce
24 oz. tomato sauce (fresh seeded tomatoes food processed; organic, roasted tomatoes, or your choice)
Approx 1-2 tsp. each: Fresh (or dry) Basil, Oregano, Parsley (adjust to your taste)
Dash of sea salt
Dash of fresh ground pepper

Bechamel Sauce
5 T. Earth Balance (soy free) or 5 T. Sunflower Oil
1/4 c. gluten-free flour mix
4 c. coconut milk beverage, unsweetened (So Delicious brand or make your own)
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Noodles: Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles (Tinkyada noodles are awesome)

Tomato Sauce Preparation
Mix ingredients together and heat up but do not bring to a boil. The longer it sits, the more flavor the herbs release into the sauce.

Bechamel Sauce Preparation
1. Heat Earth Balance on low heat till melted (If using Sunflower Oil heat on medium for about 5 min).
2. Whisk in 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix; Immediately add 4 cups coconut milk.
3. Whisk continuously over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until thick.
4. Add sea salt, ground nutmeg and garlic.

Noodle Preparation
Preheat Oven to 350° F. Cook noodles as box instructs, rinse and lay out flat on parchment paper right away, but do this right before you put the lasagna together so noodles do not dry out.

Put the Lasagna Together
9×11 baking dish
Place a layer of tomato sauce in baking dish, layer of noodles, spoon Bechamel sauce over noodles; Drizzle some tomato sauce, layer of noodles, Bechamel, Drizzle of tomato sauce;
Last layer of noodles, tomato sauce and Bechamel.
Cook at 350° F for 30 minutes, allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Healthy Add-ins:
Quartered or chopped artichoke hearts, zucchini or other squash, diced/shredded onion, spinach or just about anything you like can be added in between the layers. Can also use sheep’s milk Manchego cheese if that is a tolerated food. But you don’t have to use it as the Bechamel thickens up and acts like cheese.

Earth-friendly 2016 Diet Resolutions

factory farmingToo many of us have become Eco-Zombies… careless about the relationship between the health of the planet and the health of our own bodies and minds. From farm to fork, the way food is grown, processed, and distributed affects not only its quality and variety, but also impacts our health and the sustainability of Mother Earth. That’s why a lot of people who are concerned about both the size of their waist and recent extremes in climate change are making Earth-friendly dietary choices.

A useful starting point for understanding the relationship between the environment and your health is “planetary boundaries,” or tipping points in our planet’s natural air, land, and water systems. Recently, a team of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified these boundaries and related changes in natural systems, such as air quality, biodiversity, and land use. Breaches to these boundaries and the altered environmental trajectories could result in rapid, irreversible changes that threaten the conditions under which humanity can thrive on Earth. According to the scientists, 3 of the 9 planetary boundaries have already been crossed: climate change, biodiversity, and the global nitrogen cycle. The direct and indirect effects are seen in loss of biodiversity; soil, air and water pollution; polar ice melting; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; species endangerment and alterations in habitats; and inadequate development of water and land resources to meet food and energy needs. These changes have inexorable effects on human health, including increases in food and waterborne disease; disease carried by wildlife (e.g., Lyme, West Nile, Ebola), malnutrition, and rising rates of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, and diabetes.

Our reliance on factory farms—a.k.a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs—is a big contributor to environmental rifts and the degradation of health. Most meat, poultry, eggs and dairy sold in the U.S. come from CAFOs, a major driver of deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change. To prevent disease and promote faster growth, these animals are given hormones and antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance, a serious public health problem. Animal feed consists largely of subsidized Genetically Modified (GMO) grains grown with toxic pesticides and fertilizer, which end up in the water supply and on our produce.

“Grass-fed” beef may be more humane for animals but even the most humane farming practices wreak havoc on ecosystems. We have to feed billions of people, too many of whom consume too much of any kind of meat.

Fish aren’t off the hook, either. Overfishing has depleted many marine species and degraded marine ecosystems. Fish farms face similar problems to CFAOs. When it comes to reducing the negative impact food production on the planet, reducing seafood consumption is part of the equation.

Earth-friendly Diet Resolutions

Every day, you have three chances to choose a healthy, Earth-friendly diet consisting of more fruits, veggies, and legumes and no (or less and more carefully chosen) meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. In turn, you’ll create a healthier future for Mother Earth.

Grow Your Food.
Growing food helps save money, reduce the environmental cost of factory farming, and gives the whole family an “agri-education.” Use organic soil, compost, and practice conservation-friendly watering to help your garden grow.

Eat Organic, Seasonally & Locally.
Choose organic and in-season foods from local farms (Community Supported Agriculture-CSA) to support your local economy.

Go Meatless on Mondays.
Just 1 day a week, try replacing meat-based recipes with savory vegetarian options.

Fish with Care.
Like beef, farm raised fish also contain chemicals that affect our health and the environment. Choose locally caught, sustainably raised fish like tilapia, catfish or carp or “lower food chain” seafood including squid, clams or mussels.

Start a Farm-to-School Program.
Talk with local public schools about partnering with CSA farms and serving vegetarian options to students.

Support GMO Labeling.
The only way to know if a food has been genetically manipulated is for labels to indicate products are GMO-free. When it comes to your inbox, sign petitions for GMO labeling laws.

Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep

Lavender (Lavendula species), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Oats (Avena sativa)

Three herbs well known for calming effects are Lavender, Chamomile and Oats. Perhaps, not quite as well known as the first two Herb_Sleepherbs, Avena sativa (Oats Milky Seed or Oatstraw) is the grain* source of oatmeal. The entire plant is abundant in minerals and trace nutrients, in particular the B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium, which help soothe and strengthen the nervous system. As an herbal remedy, oats can ease the effects of stress, anxiety or exhaustion and resolve sleeplessness. Oats contain the amino acid tryptophan, which research shows promotes sleep. In fact, Scottish folks suggest a bowl of oatmeal before bedtime to ensure restful sleep!

Of its many medicinal uses, lavender is known worldwide as an herbal “rescue-remedy” for reducing stress, anxiety and tension. Its strong, relaxation-inducing scent is used in massage therapy lotions, candles, bath salts, tinctures and essential oils. As one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, a dab of lavender on the inside of your wrist can help soothe a stressful moment. Lavender is also used in teas, often paired with chamomile. If you aren’t a tea-drinker, dried lavender can be added to a sachet and placed beneath your pillow to help induce sleep.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for easing stress and insomnia. Today, these uses continue and we also have good clinical evidence for the safe use of chamomile preparations to help reduce inflammation, promote more restful sleep, ease colic and digestive upset, and facilitate wound healing when used in a cream. While chamomile seems to reduce the effects of anxiety, which can contribute to sleeplessness, more research is necessary to demonstrate the specific properties of chamomile that contribute to its effects.

Since there are many different ways to prepare these herbs, and some people can be allergic to certain herbs, do check with your wellness practitioner for the best approach to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

*If you have sensitivity to gluten, be sure to use an oat product produced using gluten-free manufacturing practices.

Calcium Essential for Strong Bones, Sound Sleep

Supplement_CalciumDid you know that Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, is not only essential for strong bones, it also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems? Research shows a relationship between Calcium intake and risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, and managing a healthy weight. When it comes to sound sleep, insufficient dietary Calcium has been associated with insomnia. Calcium is instrumental in the way our brains cycle through the stages of sleep and in the ability to generate brain chemicals, including tryptophan, associated with deep sleep.

The best way to get calcium is through whole foods. Dairy products are abundant in the mineral in a form that’s easy for most people to digest. Vegans sources of this mineral include almonds, dark leafy greens, and tofu. However, figuring out how much calcium you’re actually getting from veggies is tricky. If a vegetable contains oxalic or phytic acid, then the calcium may be poorly absorbed because of the acids. For example, 1 c. of frozen spinach contains nearly as much calcium as 1 c. of milk, but only a tenth as much is absorbed because of the oxalic acid.

For a healthy adult, the recommended intake for a Calcium supplement is 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily, depending on health status and lifestyle habits including exercise. There are many factors and forms of calcium supplements (e.g., carbonate, citrate), that affect how well the body absorbs the mineral. Also, calcium supplements can interact with other medications. Too much calcium can stress other bodily systems, leading to health problems. For these reasons, consult with a health practitioner as to which type and dosage of calcium is best for you.