New Year’s Resolution – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Happy New Year!  Sorry for the late wishes.  We are not quite sure where January went, but as we approach February we are moving forward with our New Year’s resolution to reduce the amount of plastic waste that we produce across all areas of our lives.  We have always recycled, but in recent months Louise’s husband, Tom has been doing more research on the what is actually happening to the plastic that we put in our recycle bin and the news is not good.  

Did you know even if your local trash collector says they are recycling everything you put into your bin, that in fact, some or all of it is probably ending up in the landfill?  Really? That was our first reaction  and here is what our research produced:

In a recent interview, David Kaplan, the CEO of Maine Plastics , a post-industrial recycler, explained about the current recycling practices here in the US.  He said that plastics with numbers 3-7 are absolutely not being recycled and are going to a landfill because China is no longer taking these plastics.  This has been happening since the launching of an initiative known as ‘Green Fence’ by the Chinese government which was to help reduce their pollution.  The policy bans the import of all but the cleanest, most tidily organized bales of reusable rubbish.  The program was supposed to end in November of 2013, but as suspected by the recycling companies, it looks like Green Fence is here to stay.  Mr. Kaplan believes that the plastics #3-7 will continue to end up in landfills until the United States can economically recycle these plastics. 

So unfortunately not all plastic that is put into a bin is getting recycled and only 9% of all plastic even makes it into a recycling bin.  So what happens to the other 91%?  Some of it ends up in a landfill but a fair amount ends up in our oceans.  Around 8 million metric tons go into the oceans each year, according to the first rigorous global estimate published in Science today.  That’s equivalent to 16 shopping bags full of plastic for every meter of coastline (excluding Antarctica).  By 2025 we will be putting enough plastic in the ocean (on our most conservative estimates) to cover 5% of the earth’s entire surface in cling film each year.  Those are some scary statistics.  But what really made us rethink our plastic addiction was the report from The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics, which analyzed the flow of materials around the world and predicted that, given the projected growth in plastic production, by 2050 oceans could contain more plastics than fish.

In the year 2050, our children and nieces and nephews will be close to our ages.  We want them to be able to enjoy nature as much as we do today.  Therefore, we are making a change.  At home and at the office we are going to reduce the amount of plastic that we use and at the same time we are going to recycle as much plastic material as we can in order to decrease the amount of garbage that we produce.  It is not easy. Once you stop and pay attention to the amount of plastic that is around, the task seems daunting.  We believe we have to start somewhere! We cannot let this make us complacent, nor paralyzed.

In our next blog we will tell you how we are doing it! Please come back and pass this along to your friends and family.

We are all in this together.

Sign up for our blog 

Find us on Facebook

Email us to get on our mailing list!

 

Advertisements

Zucchini Time!

 

zucchiniIt is that time of year again!  Zucchini are everywhere.  If you have a garden, you may be inundated with these beautiful green vegetables.  If you know a gardener, you may be the recipient of one or more of these beauties.  I can remember one summer when we were kids that our garden supplied us with more zucchini then we knew what to do with.  We literally had wagon loads! We gave a lot of them away but even so my mom had to make some very creative recipes to try and use up our supply before they went bad.  Zucchini soup, zucchini casserole, zucchini pizza … and the list goes on and on!  Needless to say, I am sure we were not the first family to be so sick of zucchini by September that we never wanted to see another one again…well at least until the next year.  There are a million ways to use a zucchini but the recipes below are made especially for that zucchini that was hiding underneath the leaves and is now the size of a small baby.  These are not the ones to use in a recipe that requires a tender vegetable.  These are better served peeled, de-seeded, grated and then baked into all kinds of fun recipes. I will often grate and measure the exact amount required for my favorite zucchini bread recipe, bag it and freeze it to use mid winter.  I am sure that everyone has their favorite zucchini recipe.  Here are just a few of mine.  Enjoy!

Paleo Friendly Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray or grease 2 mini loaf pans or muffin tins.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Place the wet ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, then beat on medium for 1-2 minutes until frothy and fully combined. Add the zucchini and beat again just enough to incorporate.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer running, until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated.
  5. Spoon the batter into 2 mini loaf pans. You can also use this batter to make muffins.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, moisture squeezed out
  • Optional add-in: ¼ chopped walnuts, ¼ cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two mini loaf pans or one large loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts or chips if using.
  3. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the maple syrup and oil, then stir in the squeezed zucchini.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Transfer batter to the prepared pan(s). Bake for 28-30 minutes for the mini loaf or 35-40 for the large loaf.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Zucchini Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 whole eggs (preferably medium in size)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1-2 tablespoon coconut oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, place the shredded zucchini and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Stir gently and let set for 10 minutes to allow zucchini to sweat. After the 10 minutes, transfer the zucchini to a flour sack towel, cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Squeeze as much liquid out as possible so you don’t have soggy fritters.
  2. While the zucchini is “sweating,” in another bowl combine the eggs, oregano, basil, additional sea salt, black pepper, almond and coconut flours.
  3. Combine the squeezed shredded zucchini with the egg mixture and stir to combine. If the zucchini still holds a lot of moisture or eggs were on the larger side, you may need to add additional flour to achieve that pancake-like consistency.
  4. Place a medium/large skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add coconut oil to the skillet. When the skillet is very hot, drop 1/4 cup portions of the zucchini mixture onto the pan. Press down gently so they’re about 1/2-inch thick.
  5. Cook on each side for 3-5 minutes. Flip carefully so they don’t fall apart. When done, transfer to a wire rack or plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until zucchini mixture is gone, adding more coconut oil to the pan between each batch. Coconut oil spray will also work well between batches.
  6. Serve with apple sauce or sour cream, or eat them plain. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Kitchen Experiment: Crispy Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Waffles

Every Sunday morning when we are home, my husband and I have breakfast together and our favorite thing to eat is waffles.  I have been on the search for a fantastic, crispy waffle for a long time and I finally found the recipe. I have made some other great waffle recipes, but this one not only tastes great, but it makes the crispiest gluten-free, dairy-free waffles that I have ever eaten.  What I love about this recipe is not only how easy it is to make, but how versatile.  I have added and changed the recipe almost every time I have made it and each time the waffles are just as delicious and just as crispy.  I forewarn you, if you are not one of those people that enjoys a crisp waffle, then these are not for you.

(The original recipe comes from the Real Food Dieticians and if you go to their site, you can find some great reviews and comments about this recipe.  )  The recipe below has a few of my own changes.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Crispy Waffles

  • 2 cups finely ground almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. flax meal + 6 Tbsp. warm water or 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dairy free milk (flax, almond, soy, coconut)
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup liquid sweetener (maple, agave, coconut nectar) [or milk or water if you want it to be sugar-free as well]
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup oil (coconut, melted; olive, grapeseed, sunflower)

Instructions

  1. Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, tapioca starch and baking powder. Whisk or stir to combine well.
  3. In a small bowl or coffee cup, whisk together flax meal and warm water. Set aside until thick and egg-like.
  4. In a small bowl, add milk and apple cider vinegar. Allow to sit while you melt the coconut oil (if you are using it) on the stove.
  5. To the milk mixture, add flax meal, maple syrup, vanilla and finally, the melted coconut oil. Whisk well to combine and quickly add to dry ingredients (because coconut oil will start to harden and clump if you don’t).
  6. Stir batter just until combined. Using a ¼ cup scoop (or size recommended by manufacturer), pour batter onto preheated waffle iron and cook until golden brown.
  7. Layer on your favorite toppings and enjoy!  (My favorite – almond butter, banana, cinnamon and maple syrup)

Note:  when I first made the waffles, I thought that there was something wrong with the batter. You can see how the middle is brown but the edges do not seem to be cooked?  I have determined that it is all of the tapioca starch that makes this happen because that “uncooked” part seems gooey.  I flipped that waffle and cooked it on the other side for 30-60 seconds and then they seemed fine.  The other side looked fine:

I sprayed my waffle iron with coconut oil before cooking.  I did not have an issue with them sticking but I did see some comments with the original recipe where people complained about having that issue.

Here are some of the changes and additions that I made to the recipe:

  1. The first time I made them, I was out of coconut oil, so I used olive oil.  The consistency of the batter was a little but thinner than it is when you use coconut oil, but the waffles cooked up the same.
  2. I have been trying to go without sugar in recipes, so I made them without the maple syrup and added 1/4 cup more milk and again they tasted a little bit less sweet but they cooked up exactly the same.
  3. I made the batter with 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 tsp. monk fruit powder and the waffles were just a little more sweet like the original recipe.
  4. I am always trying to add more vegetables into my diet so I have added:
    1. grated carrot – I made the batter in my vitamix so the carrots really were more pulverized then grated and the waffles cooked up fine with a lovely orange hue.
    2. grated zucchini – I added one small zucchini to the batter and cooked them up like normal and you would have never know that there was zucchini in there.
    3. I purchased powdered beets and kale from Earthlight and I added a tsp to the batter.  It changed their color a little but the flavor was basically the same once I added all of my toppings.

I hope you enjoy these waffles as much as I do.  It makes about 8 waffles depending upon the size of your iron.  I freeze the extras for a mid week treat!  Bon Appetite!