Alert: Electronic Waste Recycling This Weekend!

March 31, 2011

The Lower East Side Ecology Center is holding quite a few electronic waste recycling events this April.  This Sunday, April 3, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. – 4 p.m., they will be collecting e-waste in the north plaza of Union Square Park (17th Street and Broadway) and will be collecting on April 16, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Tekserve, 119 West 23rd Street, between 6th and 7th Aves).

There are many other April e-waste collection dates in and around New York City.

The LES Ecology Center collections kitchen scraps every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Union Square Farmer’s Market.  For more information, click here.


Glass water bottle for packed lunch?

March 24, 2011

I have been packing a recycled bottle from GT Dave’s Kombucha and keep it in a Built NY neoprene bottle holder called the Thirsty Tote.  I’ve found something a little smaller and lighter for a child’s lunch (and for my purse) — the 9 oz. child’s bottle from Life Factory.  The lid is #5 plastic and BPA-free and the bottle is glass (my favorite!) and it comes wrapped in a silicone sleeve.  There are many different sizes available, from baby bottles, to large adult-sized bottles.

Life Factory 9 oz Glass Reusable Bottle

Life Factory 9 oz Glass Reusable Bottle

I found it yesterday at Elm Health on 7th Avenue, just below 14th Street (which is a clean, nice, well-stocked health food store and drug store with friendly, helpful staff).  It was $14.99 at Elm, and is $12.99 on the website (but you have to pay shipping).

Is there a packaged soup mix you like?

March 21, 2011

Yes!  I find Happy Pho Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Soup in Zesty Ginger easy, quick, elegant and delicious.  I hate that I am so attracted by green-looking packaging, but I am.  I wasn’t even looking for Vietnamese soup, or any soup for that matter, but the uncoated, unbleached, recycled, packaging caught my eye in Whole Foods, so I checked out the ingredients.  The ingredients are simple, there are (thankfully) no nightshades in this product and it’s gluten free.

Sometimes, I use chicken stock, and other times I use my version of a kombu stock (made with onions, carrots, celery, kombu, wakame, hijiki, ginger, garlic, shitake mushrooms, sage and thyme).  I usually add chicken (this is a great way to use leftover chicken), some sort of green (chard, kale, turnip greens, beet greens, spinach… whatever) and if turnips are in season, I put in a whole mess of julienned hakurei turnips.  I add the noodles last, because they cook very quickly.  If you are planning to have any of this soup left over, don’t put the noodles in the pot, because they’ll be mush upon the second heating.  Then, I finish the soup with chopped parsley, cilantro and either chives or scallions with the juice of at least one lime per large bowl.

Happy Pho in Zesty Ginger - all dressed up

Happy Pho in Zesty Ginger - all dressed up!

Notes: I always have noodles left over, so I would add way more stock than the package recommends (4 cups).  I would use at least a quart, maybe a quart and a half, of stock.  When you’re using that much stock, you easily could get four nice bowls of soup out of the package and not just the 2 servings they list.  You can get away with that much stock when you add a lot of other flavors, such as chicken, a lot of cilantro, a lot of lime, etc.  At $5.49 a package at Whole Foods, the price is a bit much for this very simple soup, but I pay it anyway.  I really love this soup and it’s such a great go-to item to have in your pantry.

Which sauerkraut do you like best?

March 13, 2011

I did a taste test between my favorite local, raw sauerkrauts (what is the point of cooked sauerkraut, I ask you?), and it wasn’t easy to pick a favorite.


Left to Right: Hawthorne Valley Farm Raw Caraway Sauerkraut, Dickson Farmstand Sauerkraut

Hawthorne Valley Farm’s Raw Caraway Sauerkraut has been a favorite of mine for years.  It is lacto-fermented, unpasteurized and raw and the ingredients are New York State Organic Cabbage, Unrefined Sea Salt, Organic Caraway Seeds and Organic Juniper Berries.

Recently, I purchased the sauerkraut (new item) at Dickson Farmstand, which was also delicious.  There is no ingredient list or information on the package, other than the word “sauerkraut,” but when I purchased it, they told me it was raw.  Solely from the taste, I don’t think there is much else in it other than cabbage, salt and maybe some good bacteria for fermentation.

As you can see, the two sauerkrauts look very different.  Other than having more ingredients and varied flavors, Hawthorne’s cabbage is cut thin and is much more tender, compared to Dickson’s, which is thicker and crunchy.  Hawthorne’s is much tangier, with much more a fermented and complex taste, while Dickson’s is much saltier and straightforward.  They are both delicious, but my favorite sauerkraut of all time is…


Raw Cranberry Apple Fennel Sauerkraut by Hawthorne Valley Farm

Not only is my favorite sauerkraut festive and beautiful, but Hawthorne’s Raw Cranberry Apple Fennel Sauerkraut mixes interesting flavors and textures.


Check out that whole cranberry! Awesomely sour!

I must give an honorable mention to Glaser Organic Farms Daikon, Ginger and Green Cabbage Raw Fermented Sauerkraut, which is what I eat when I’m in Florida.  [Maybe it’s just me and my preternaturally heightened sense of safety-consciousness and general stain-avoiding tendencies, but I think it is a very bad idea to travel with fermented sauerkraut.]  To my tastebuds, it is not tangy at all, nor is it very salty, but it tastes fresh and the ginger is strong.  I recommend trying some if you’re looking for a good raw sauerkraut in Florida.

What should I do with all the artwork my kids bring home?

March 5, 2011

When your child comes home, take a picture of your child with the art.  That way, you’ll be able to at least roughly identify his or her age just by sight, (original file information is not always maintained).  Also, you’ll feel a lot better about getting rid of the artwork later if you have some sort of record of it elsewhere.  For paintings and drawings and other two dimensional art, a large portfolio for each school  year works well to store the art work.

For three dimensional sculptures and projects, again, take the picture when it enters your home.  Then, have one shelf/surface devoted to display of the art.  When there is no more room on that surface, have your child help to decide which art gets given away or otherwise recycled.  Unloading Giving art projects on to grandparents and other unsuspecting family members is convenient nice.  If it is especially loved, take many pictures of the item before passing it along.

After a year or so has passed, start raiding the less important paintings from your child’s younger years and wrap birthday and holiday presents in them.  Doing this saves you the expense, resource depletion and trouble of procuring wrapping paper, decreases your stash and makes your gifts look “festive.”

Do you mill your own flour?

March 3, 2011

Yes. I make oat flour out of raw oat groats and almond flour out of the dehydrated pulp I strain out when I make almond milk. I just use the dry mix container on my VitaMix blender and I’m happy with it, though I don’t feel like it’s super-fine. However, a friend of mine regularly mills all of her own flour and has raved about the Vario mill by Schnitzer for years. It’s really expensive, but apparently, it’s amazing.

What’s all this about alkalizing foods and acid/base balance?

March 3, 2011

I wonder about this kind of stuff, too.  Recently, I’ve had some digestive difficulty and I went off gluten.  Being off gluten has been great, and I’ve had odd and unexpected benefits from it (such as I don’t get tartar on my teeth anymore and I have experienced a significant reduction in car-sickness, which has been the bane of my traveling existence for decades).  However, it hasn’t solved the digestive difficulties as much as I would have liked, though it has helped.  I started keeping a food diary and I’m narrowing in on what some of the issues are, but something that is standing out to me is the balance between acid-forming and alkaline forming foods.  I found these sites that have extensive lists of foods in each category and more information about the acid/alkaline diet problem.

I have seen plenty of information online about alkalizing water, so it made me test my own water at home.  I got a very basic pH kit, which I’m not sure is great, and it looks like my water is 5.5, which is really acidic (for water).  I’ve run a few preliminary tests on myself, drinking water that I’ve made more alkaline on my own with a tiny pinch of baking soda.  I don’t have a whole lot of data yet, but it feels like drinking the alkaline water an hour or two after a meal helps, though I have a long way to go before I even choose the controls that I want to test against, let alone do all the trials that will give me some useful information.

Alkalizing water filters pop up quite a bit when you research this kind of thing online and I am unsure of my stance on them.  First, I’ll need to do a bit more research on the effect of trying to achieve balance through diet, and only if it truly proves helpful can I begin to evaluate tools (if they are even necessary).  My initial thought is that the acid/base balance is very important in terms of digestion and health, that it can be manipulated within healthy limits with diet (including water), and that I need a hell of a lot better pH kit.  I’ll let you know what I find when I have data from some sort of controlled trial on myself.

UPDATE: 4/3/11 – I just found out about doctors who specialize in functional medicine.  If you think you have a problem with acid/alkaline balance, read up on this branch of medicine.

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