Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Honeydew Melon Batido (Smoothie)

When visiting Costa Rica, one of my favorite lunchtimes treats are batidos, essentially fruit smoothies either blended with milk or with water. Most casual restaurants will have a variety of about 5 or more batidos, made to order. They are usually about a quarter of the price of a "Jamba" here in the U.S.- and much, much better!

Here is my recipe for a Honeydew Batido, inspired by the delicious ones I have had in Costa Rica:

Fill a blender about 3/4 full with chunks of ripe organic honeydew melon. Add about 8 ice cubes, a heaping tablespoon of local honey, and about 1/2 cup of organic plain yogurt. Blend and serve!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Senate Bill 510

Senate Bill S 510, the "Food Modernization Act" is about to go to the Senate floor.  It would give the FDA complete control over the food you grow IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD, as well as on small farms.  Saving seeds, growing organic foods, and selling organic produce at farmer's markets could become ILLEGAL. 

The procedural vote has already PASSED 74-25. So what seems like a ridiculous act, could become law very soon.  I mean, who would have thought that soybeans could be patented, and now look at MONSANTO.

Supporters of the bill are of course major food industry leaders, opponents are small farmers and organic food producers.  Please learn more about this bill at:

To learn more about how so many of our government leaders are in bed, so to speak, with the huge food corporations, please watch Food, Inc.

Please call your senators' offices to oppose this bill.  FYI Californians, Boxer and Feinstein SUPPORT this bill.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan and Gluten Free Marshmallows

I am making candied yams for my son's Thanksgiving Feast - and really did not want to put regular store bought marshmallows on top.  They have gelatin in them, and that does not sound appetizing to me, knowing what gelatin is made from.  Here is some info from the Polymer Science Learning Center's website:

What is gelatin used for?
  • binders for paper money
  • cosmetics
  • bonding for the tip of matches
  • bakery products
  • photographic film
  • whipping agent in dairy products
  • medicine emulsions
  • hardening of jams and jellies
  • treatment of wounds as a sponge
  • marshmallows
Exactly what IS gelatin anyway?
Basically it's a protein substance obtained by boiling animal bones and connective tissue. (Hey, you asked!) But where does the raw material for gelatin come from??? You guessed it! The meat industry where all that's left but the moo is converted to gelatin. The end result is a pale yellow, dry powder. The powder is about 85% protein, 13% water, and 2% mineral salts, free of additives and preservatives. Gelatin contains about 18 different amino acids joined together in a chain. Eventually a polymer in the shape of a triple helix (or triple spiral) is the complex form that gives gelatin its unique ability to, well, "gel" things.
I also did not want to MAKE marshmallows.  I tried a "Martha" recipe years ago, and my little Easter Peeps looked like a big pink glob of sticky goo.  Yuck!  
So, I am happy to say, I found Vegan, Gluten-Free Marshmallows made by Chicago Soydairy called Dandies.  They are made in a peanut/tree-nut free facility on dedicated vegan equipment.  And, they taste really good!  Our local market, Henry's carries them.  Check out your local natural foods grocer and see if they have them.  A great alternative!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Montessori?

Why do I raise my son the way I do?

I want him to be compassionate.

I want him to practice a peaceful way of life.

I want to teach him how to be independent.  

I want him to help take care of the Earth, and its people, plants, and animals.

I want to encourage his senses of creativity and spontaneity.

I want him to be able to share the love he has in heart with others.

I want him to see the world.  I want to show him as much of the planet as I can now, so that when he is grown-up, he will continue to explore.

I want him to know diversity.  I want him to have friends of all backgrounds, all races....

I want him to feel good about himself.  I want him to be proud of his actions.  I want him to feel comfortable in his own skin.

I want him to feel brave enough to "do the right thing," even when "doing the right thing" is difficult to do.

These are just a few of the many reasons I have chosen a Montessori education for my son.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plastic Baggies: "Bye, Bye!"

Neither the preschool that my son went to, nor his elementary school allow plastic baggies in the students' lunch boxes. They have "trash-free" lunches.  So, I put everything in reusable containers.  Until recently, I had yet to find a sandwich container that is the right size to hold a sandwich, but is not too big so that it fills up the entire lunch box - leaving no room for anything else.   I struggled with these awkward containers, and then I happened upon something called LunchSkins.

Here is an excerpt from the LunchSkins website, which talks about how LunchSkins began:

"While sitting around a kitchen table in 2008, we heard a staggering statistic - every day, more than 20 million sandwich bags from school lunches go into landfills in the US. We knew that many families were looking for easy, convenient ways to be green and avoid this kind of waste. So we put our passion and energy together and 3greenmoms was born. Our mission - to design a colorful, fresh alternative to the plastic baggie.

It seemed relatively easy... all we needed was a food-safe, dishwasher-friendly, moderately-attractive reusable bag. How hard could that be? Our number one priority was to find a food-safe fabric, so we went straight to the food industry. There, we found a very high-quality European fabric used by patisseries and bakeries certified as food-safe. Conveniently, this fabric is durable and withstands high heat, too - bingo! It can withstand repeated cycles in the dishwasher. We came up with some fresh, modern designs for those of us who want to dress up our bag lunch. Then, we found a family-owned manufacturer nearby in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

It all sounds logical, right? But, after many prototypes, sleepless nights, exhausting early morning flights and late evening telephone calls, we think we’re on the right track. Getting here wasn’t easy, but LunchSkins have now put a fresh face on an old idea. Thankfully, it has been a family affair with husbands, kids and friends sharing advice and support on a daily basis.

Whether you care about our environment, saving money, eating healthy, or looking stylish, LunchSkins are the answer to your plastic baggie blues -- they offer an environmental benefit (reduce landfill waste), a practical benefit (they can be used hundreds of times and save you money over the long run), and a healthy choice (food tastes better in a pastry bag). Welcome to our family!"

And it seems that business has been good.  And landfills are feeling the ease. Look at this!

"In just one year, our LunchSkins customers have taken a big bite out of landfill and ocean waste. With your purchase and use of LunchSkins, more than 12 million plastic baggies have been saved from the landfill. WOW! We’re on a mission to reduce the number of plastic baggies thrown out. Help us reach our 2011 goal of keeping 100 million plastic baggies out of landfills and waterways. Bag the (plastic) baggies!"

We love our Lunchskins sandwich bag.  I can toss it in the top rack of the dishwasher, or handwash it.  It is so durable!  Plus, my son likes the cool design on his.  Check it out.  And think about "trash-free" lunches for your kids!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughts On Our New School...

I have been noticing the parents at my son's new school as we are in line at drop-off in the mornings and pick-up in the afternoons.  I don't know many of them yet - this is a new school for us.  "Big Kid School," as my son calls it.  But yesterday, I noticed the Indian mother bringing in home-cooked food for her son's class.  I noticed my son's teacher who came to greet him at the car, wearing a peace emblem on her shirt.  I have noticed the different races of the students at the school, playing on the playground together, and not in cliques.  I noticed the pickup truck in front of me with a antique bureau in the back.  The truck had a bumper-sticker that was pro-environment, and the dad, dressed in flip flops, looked like a surfer.  In a community which boosted many Yes on Prop 8 bumper stickers last year, I am seeing more Coexist bumper stickers now.  Over the summer, many of the parents volunteered to improve the playground and garden.  They gave up many of their vacation days to help the school! And we just finished the first school fundraiser - selling biodegradable SKOY cloths, instead of junky candy and tacky gift wrap.

I am so glad that my son is in a school which embraces all children, of all backgrounds.  I am so glad that the parents are globally minded, respect the environment, and understand that a we should teach our children these things.  I love that the parents are involved in their children's education.  I am so glad he has teachers that read books to the class like "Three Cups of Tea." 

I think all of these things play into an environment that is loving, safe, and supportive.  I think these children will be more open-minded than generations past.  I think schools like this are helping to create a better society for the future.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chemicals, chemicals, everywhere!

Someone very close to our family has been in the hospital for the past couple of days with a severe reaction to a chemical peel done by her dermatologist.  First came the swelling, the anapyhlaxis, next heart problems, and then seizure-like spasms occuring every hour or so.  This is rare and the doctors are getting to the bottom of it as we speak.  They are expecting a full recovery, but nonetheless, this is very, very scary.
This is a perfect example of how quickly and efficiently our skin, our body's largest organ, can absorb chemicals, and how quickly our bloodstream can move chemicals to other parts of our body. About 6 months ago, I read somewhere that it is quite common for a person to slather on, soap up with, and bathe in over 200 chemicals per day.  I was urged to look in my medicine cabinet, in my shower, on my counter.  I scanned bottles for anything I couldn't pronounce.  Words like sodium laureth sulfate became bad words.  I threw out bottle after bottle...items which said "natural" on the front label, but had a list of about 50 unrecognizable ingredients on the back.  
Imagine how many times per day, per week, per year you use lotion, soap, shampoo.  If there are chemicals in those products, imagine how much of them your body absorbs over a long period of time.  Also imagine using those products on a child, whose body is smaller and weaker than yours.  
Take a closer look in your bathroom.  It potentially may house more harmful chemicals than your cleaning supplies cupboard.