Monday, September 30, 2013

Getting Around

My first semester of college I took a microeconomics course. I learned a lot from this class but one of the biggest things I took away was the following.

"When traffic is congested, each driver is imposing a cost on all other drivers on the road --he is literally getting in their way (and they are getting in his way.) This cost can be substantial: in major metropolitan areas, each time someone drives to work, as opposed to taking public transportation or working at home, he can easily impose $15 or more in hidden costs on other drivers." - Microeconomics by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

In that class I also learned that "You don't need to know this," means, "You need to know this," in professor speak, and that you should never enter a jungle alone (I don't remember why, but I wrote it down in my notes).

The point is, I had never really thought about the negative economical factors involved with automobiles. The environmental impact is something I've always known is terrible. Automobile driving is a major cause of:

  1. Global Warming: Carbon dioxide emissions from autos are the largest contributor to global warming.
  2. Air Pollution: Automobiles produce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.
  3. Water Pollution: Automobile manufacturing, gas and oil production, road runoff of fuel, oil and antifreeze, underground gasoline storage tanks and marine oil spills all pollute our water.
  4. Habitat Destruction: Oil drilling, metals mining and road construction all damage wildlife habitat.
  5. International Conflict: Nations compete over oil reserves. The US currently imports 48% of its oil -- the highest levels ever. Many analysts ties this oil dependency to the hundreds of billions we have spent on Persian Gulf wars.
Americans drive an average of 231 miles per week, which comes out to about 12,000 miles per year. For a car with average miles per gallon (21), this is 571 gallows of gasoline annually. Given that every gallon of gasoline used emits 20 pounds of CO2, that means our cars are emitting 11,420 pounds of CO2 each year. The Union of Concerned Scientists stated, "personal use of cars and light trucks (including pickups and SUVs) is the single most damaging consumer behavior." In fact, the most significant change an individual could make toward reducing their carbon footprint is to cut down on how much they drive. Here's how:


Lastly, be a considerate and cautious driver. Fast accelerates and decelerations are damaging to your vehicle and the environment. Moral of the story: Be the tortoise, not the hare. In this classic children's tale, the tortoise proved that slow and steady won the race. The arrogant hare who burst from the gates and slams on his breaks for a rest proves that being a jerk never got anyone anywhere. Or at least that's what I got out of it.

How do you cut back on your car time?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Seed Showdown: Comparing Flax, Chia and Hemp

It's Food Fun Friday and what's more fun than talking about seeds? I can't think of anything. It started with flaxseeds, and now that hemp and chia seeds are prominent players in the health food market I think it's time to compare and contrast the benefits of these superfoods. It's time for a Seed Showdown.



Here's a Venn diagram...

aaaaaand a table.




and now for some words...

Chia

Remember the "Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet"? Well these seeds are the same thing only you aren’t going to grow them into a cute hedgehog, you’re going to eat them. Chia, Salvia hispanica is a plant, which belongs to the mint family. It was so highly recognized by the Aztecs that it was often used as currency. It contains high levels of antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and iron. Studies show that chia has enormous potential to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. It can lower blood sugar (glucose) after a meal, reduce inflammation and blood pressure, help maintain hydration and is a natural blood thinner.

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/eating-chia-seeds/story?id=18296119

My tip: fill a liter bottle with juice, tea, flavored water or lemonade and add 3 tablespoons. Shake every 5 minutes and enjoy throughout the day.

Flax

Flax or Linum usitatissimum is in the Linaceae familyHippocrates wrote about using flax for the relief of abdominal pains, and the French Emperor Charlemagne favored flax seed so much that he passed laws requiring its consumption. Flax contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), dietary fiber, and lignans.

http://positively-healthy.com/a-beginners-guide-to-flaxseed/
My tip: Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of almond milk and drink within 30 minutes (or the milk will start to thicken). Flax is also well suited for baking, add 1 tablespoon to any recipe when you add flour.

Hemp

HempCannabis sativa L. and other non-drug varieties of Cannabis, commonly known as hemp were not previously commonly cultivated, but are becoming more popular. Technically hemp seeds are the nut of the plant. A diet rich with hemp has been shown to lead to increased energy, improved metabolism and immunity, reduced food cravings, and it can help lower blood pressure. Hemp also contain plant sterols that have been shown to reduce cholesterol.

**Interesting plant nerd side note** Two of Boulder's favorite pass times find there origin in the Cannabaceae family: hops and hemp. #TheMoreYouKnow #DoHashtagsWorkHere?

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2013/05/26/raw-tabouli-salad-with-hemp-seeds/#i.1cj27pxv9fjy

My tip: Add 1 tablespoon to smoothies, 1 tablespoons to oatmeal, 1 tablespoon to everything you eat, ever.

Definitions

Lignans - antioxidant compounds found in plants that seem to provide extra protection against many types of cancer, are anti-inflammatory, and may also help lower cholesterol levels.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - anti-inflammatory. Read more about the importance of balancing omega-3s and omega-6s 

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber - Put simply soluble fibers (those found in chia and flax) absorb water, helping to slow the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from foods, while insoluble fibers (those found in hemp) do not. Read more here.


I hope that clears up some of the confusion if there was any. My conclusion: all of these seeds can be beneficial additions to your diet and can be used in so many ways so, if the budget allows, having them all on hand is a good idea. If you have to choose just one, the price for flax can't be beat, hemp is probably the most well-rounded health option and chia is a very fun alternative to try.


Did I miss anything? What is your favorite way to eat these healthy seeds? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Freshen

We're more than halfway through our 12 weeks of wellness; this week we'll focus on the home and making your space safe, stress-free zone where you can find relaxation and comfort.



To freshen your space in a sustainable way, check out my Greening your Home Posts: Part 1 and Part 2

This week freshen: nest and take care of your space

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Perfect Ten: Mani-Pedi for the Earth Angel

I love going to the nail salon to get pampered, I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's a little splurge that helps me relax and results in beautiful digits. Unfortunately, mani-pedis are not very Earth-friendly and, with the exception of the relaxed feeling that results, they aren't very good for your body either. Just like so many other things that I love, I must add them to the bad list and replace them with an Earth-friendly option. (Yes, there is another way!)


Here's the deal, the process from start to finish is chemical city. The pedicure sinks they soak your feet in must be disinfected using harsh, nonbiodegradable chemicals. Tools are shared between customers. It's a green goddess' nightmare (I just learned that green goddess is also a salad dressing, so I do not mean this nightmare to involve withered vegetables or anything like that, but hopefully the context was enough so you new that).

Über Chic is an eco-friendly salon in Edgewater, CO

On top of this the products used specifically for nails (at the salon or at home) go directly to your bloodstream (do not pass the liver, do not collect $200). It turns out that while your nails are hard, they are absorbent and therefore do not form good barriers (you might say they form better windows than doors).

Many nail polishes contain formaldehyde, which as you might remember from Cleanliness is Next to Godliness: Hair, is a carcinogen with many undesirable qualities. Dibutylphthalate is another common ingredients. See the phthalate hiding in that word? It's another carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. The dibutyl form is a potential reproductive toxin and endocrine disruptor. You may also find the volatile organic carbon toluene, which is a neurotoxin.


Piggy Paint is a harsh-chemical free nail polish marketed for children, with ingredients as natural as mud.

The removers aren't much better. According to the National Institutes of Health, acetone is a poison which can cause death; coma; unconsciousness; seizure; respiratory distress; kidney damage; nose, throat, lung and eye irritation; intoxication; headaches; fatigue; stupor; light-headedness; dizziness; confusion; increased pulse rate; nausea; vomiting; and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women. Most nail polish now state they are "non-acetone" but what do they replace this nail polish removing miracle poison with? Acetate.


It may be listed as ethyl acetate, amyl acetate or butyl acetate. It's not as bad as the original stuff (acetone) but the fact that it's "flammable" and the "vapor may ignite" and warns me to "keep out of eyes" and that it's "harmful to synthetic fabrics, wood finishes, and plastics, makes me wonder, "If it's not safe for my table how is it possibly safe for me?"



No Miss Inc. sells  healthy alternatives to beauty products at an affordable price.

What about the Earth? Good point, observant reader, I have not begun to discuss the impact these products have on the Earth. When nail polish and remover go down the drain they seep into and contaminate groundwater. Additionally, while the bottles are technically recyclable, the vast majority of nail polish bottles end up in the landfills where they leach out.



Now what!? Don't cancel your appointment yet, as always I have solutions for your beauty needs.

  • Check your city and regional magazines for local green salons and spas.
  • Call or stop by some local salons and ask them the following questions:
    • Do you use and carry eco-friendly products? Check ingredients and make sure you would use understand the ingredients.
    • Do you employ water-saving practices, such as reusing rinse water?
    • Do you use energy-efficient equipment?
    • Do you use natural cleaning products and laundry detergents? Refer to greening your home part 3: cleaning supplies for information about what to look for.
    • Do you recycle?
    • Do you offer other eco-friendly services? They may not always use eco-friendly practices but they may offer services to people who ask.
  • Consider skipping color and opting for a simply buff and shine treatment (the unnatural color just chips away in a few days anyway).
  • If you love color, only use polishes which do not contain toluene, phthalates, or formaldehyde. You can find some at:
  • Make sure your remover is acetone- and acetate-free. Try No Miss Vegan Nail Polish Remover (smells like vanilla!). While more and more salons are offering earth-friendly nail polishes, the remover is harder to find so take your color off at home.

What earth-friendly products do you use for a perfect ten?

Friday, September 20, 2013

No Fuss Ice Cream

The weather is cooling down so I'm trying to get as many frozen treats in before the outside becomes just as frozen. This Food Fun Friday recipe is for ice cream that you can make at home even if you don't have an fancy smancy ice cream maker.


The basic recipe calls for one 14-oz can condensed milk, 1 pint whipping cream and 2 tsp. vanilla. You can add anything else you want for other flavors. I used Nutella because, well do I really need a reason?


Pour whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl. Then use a mixer to whip it until stiff peaks form (5-8 minutes).


Warm 1/2 cup of Nutella in the microwave until liquidy (if you have a soften or melt button pre-programmed into your microwave use that. If not change the power to about 30% and microwave for 1 minute, checking occasionally.

Fold in melted Nutella.

Spoon in about another half cup of Nutella (not melted) and continue folding. To form swirls don't mix in completely. Pour the mixture into a bread loaf pan. Cover and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.


Feel free to lick the spoon, Nutella is the best thing on Earth.

Once frozen enjoy your delicious homemade treat.

What's your favorite ice cream flavor? I think we're all clear on what mine is. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Nourish

Last week I talked about nourishing your body through eating more vegetables. This week (the 6th week of wellness) nourish your body through something other than food. This is important on multiple levels. We eat when we're hungry yes, but many people also eat when they're thirsty, tired, watching TV or just when they're bored. Discovering another way to use your time will not only distract you from the feeling of wanting to eat, but it will enrich your life.

This week nourish: focus on something other than food that fills you up

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Feedback Loops: Cynicism and Hope

Colorado is experiencing 1000 year flooding. The damage and destruction is unbelievable. My dad keeps saying that word, "Un---believable," or, "Un---freaking---believable!" It reminds me of the movie, The Princess Bride, the character Vizzini keeps saying, "Inconceivable!" until finally Inigo Montoya says, "You keep saying this word, I do not think it means what you think it means." Only in this case, with my dad, he knows what it means and it's the best word to describe these disasters.


I know one storm cannot be definitively linked to climate change and it will take months of research to determine if climate change caused this storm to be more likely to occur. I can't help but speculate that it is likely to have catalyzed  this, and all the other monster natural disasters that have occurred recently around the world. Storms of these calibers did not occur so frequently in history.

When things like this disaster happen we look at the world's problems and have good intentions, we wish the problems will go away but when we see they stubbornly remain we react as if they are happening in a movie. People continue to starve, communities fall apart, violence thrives, families fade, nature disappears, and those unaffected continue in their daily lives.

At this point there are two options: hope and cynicism.


Diagrams adapted from A Better World Handbook by Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler and Brett Johnson

The cycle of cynicism can be broken and replaced with a cycle of hope. When we find out about a problem that disturbs us, and when we decide we want to help, instead of giving up when we see no options, we should search for more information. We take actions that are in line with our own values, the vision of a better world can become a reality. If we stop blaming others for not doing anything and start taking personal responsibility for being good people. Finally, it's important to recognize that we can't do everything, otherwise we may fall back into a cycle of cynicism.


In ecology we talk about feedback loops. A positive feedback loop continues to build on itself. For example, climate change is a positive feedback loop: As temperatures warms, there is less snow and ice, this leads to more sunlight being absorbed by the land and the sea, which leads in turn to further warming. A negative feedback loop is a system that is kept in equilibrium such as the relationship between predator and prey populations: As the predators population increases they catch more and more prey causing the prey population to decline. With fewer prey to catch, predators begin to die off leaving a greater opportunity for the prey to regenerate their population. Now there are again more prey so the predator population increases again, forever and ever.

Both the cycles of hope and cynicism are positive feedback loops; one leads to apathy and the other leads to a better world. Which loop will you pick?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Abso-fruit-ly Yummy Smoothie Recipes

Last summer you may remember from my Backpacking For Dummies post that, due to wildfires and drought conditions, Colorado looked a little like this:



Well this September we have received 50% of our average annual precipitation within the last 48 hours, so now it looks a little more like this:


I know homes, businesses and people have experienced devastating loss over the past 2 days. I would like to express my sympathies to everyone who has been affected by this disaster.


So guess what this is. Just guess! okay fine I'll tell you: this, yes this very thing that you are reading with your eyeballs, is my 100th post on Maggie's Mind Mumbles!

Congratulations to me but mostly congratulations to you. You, who come here to my blog and read whatever nonsense gibberish I happen to feel like writing in the moment. I really appreciate it. (No, I'm not crying! Someone just poured water all over my face).

Not only is this post #100, it's also Friday, which we all know is the best day of all the days. AND not only is it Friday, it's Food Fun Friday (what a big day!) so it's time to blend up some fun. Today's recipes are berry good. Check out the 36 supercharged smoothies in the a-peel-ing infographic below!


These 36 are sub-lime aren't they? But in case that's not just peachy with you, here are just a few more grrrr-ape recipes.
  • Banana - 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 teaspoons honey, a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Strawberry Banana - Same as above, replace one banana with a cup of frozen strawberries.
  • Strawberry shortcake - 2 cups frozen strawberries, 1 cup crumbled pound cake, 1 and 1/2 cup milk, sugar to taste and top with whipped cream.
  • Triple Berry - 1 and 1/2 cups frozen mixed blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup milk.
  • Raspberry Orange - 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1/2 cup plain yogurt.
Food Network
  • Peach Mango Banana - 1 cup frozen mangos, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 cup plain yogurt.
  • Honeydew Almond - 2 cups frozen honeydew melon, 1 cup almond milk
  • Cantaloupe - 2 cups frozen cantaloupe, juice of 1/2 lime, 1/2 cup water, sugar to taste.
  • Carrot Apple - 1 cup carrot juice, 2 cups frozen apple.
  • Kiwi Strawberry - 1 cup frozen strawberries, 2 peeled kiwis, sugar to taste.
Food Network
  • Cherry Vanilla - 1 and 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt.
  • Tangerine Honey - 4 frozen tangerines, juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup ice.
  • Apricot Almond - 1 and 1/2 cups apricot nectar, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 2 tablespoons almond butter.
  • Grape - 2 cups frozen grapes, 1 cup grape juice.
  • Blueberry Pear - 1 and 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, 1 frozen pear, 1 and 1/2 cup maple yogurt.
Food Network
  • Banana Date Lime - 2 frozen bananas, 3/4 cup chopped frozen dates, the juice of 1 lime, 1 and 1/2 cup milk.
  • Peach Ginger - 2 cups frozen peaches, 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger.
  • Grapefruit - 1 frozen grapefruit, 1 cup grapefruit juice, 3 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of cinnamon. 
  • Pomegranate Cherry - 1 cup frozen cherries, 3/4 cup pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a pinch of cinnamon. 
  • Vietnamese Coffee - 1/2 cup chilled espresso or strong coffee, 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, a pinch of cardamom, 1 and 1/2 cups ice.
Foor Network
  • Blueberry Banana - 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.
  • Creamy pineapple -2 cups frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup milk, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of salt.
  • Peanut Butter Apple - 1 frozen apple, 3 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons flaxseeds, 1 and 1/2 cup milk, honey to taste.
  • Apple Ginger - 1 frozen apple, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, the juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup water.
  • Creamsicle - 3/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt.
Food Network
  • Lemon Poppyseed - 2 teaspoons poppyseeds, the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, sugar to taste.
  • Mango Acai - 8 ounces frozen acai, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 cup orange juice.
  • Mexican Coffee - 1/2 cup chilled espresso or strong coffee, 1/2 cup milk, 3 and 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon almond extract, 1 and 1/2 cups ice.
  • Banana PB&J - 1 cup frozen banana, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 2 tablespoons jelly.
  • Black Raspberry Vanilla - 1 pint frozen blackberries, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey.
Food Network
  • Chocolate Raspberry - 1 cup raspberries, 1 cup chocolate frozen yogurt, 3/4 cup milk.
  • Pomegranate Berry - 1 cup frozen blueberries, 3/4 cup beet juice, 3/4 cup pomegranate juice, honey to taste.
  • Cucumber Kale - 1 and 3/4 cup vegetable juice ice cubes, 1/2 cucumber, 3 kale leaves, the juice of 1/2 lemon.
  • Pineapple Mango - 1 cup frozen pineapple, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 cup coconut water, a pinch of allspice.
  • Peanut Butter Banana - 1 frozen banana, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup milk, 2 tablespoons malted milk powder, 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder, a pinch of salt.
Food Network
  • Oatmeal Cookie - 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 cup milk, 1 cup oats, 1 teaspoon flaxseed, a pinch of cinnamon, top with a cookie.
  • Chocolate Banana - 1 banana, 1 cup chocolate frozen yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, a pinch of salt.
  • Apple Spinach - 2 cups spinach, 1 frozen apple, 1/2 cup silken tofu, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tablespoon wheatgerm, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Mint Jalapeno - 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 jalepeno pepper, 2 and 1/2 tablespoons honey, a pinch of salt, 2 cups plain yogurt, top with toasted cumin seeds and cilantro.
  • Cucumber Honeydew Mint - 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 frozen honeydew melon, 1 cup pear juice, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 cup mint leaves.
Food Network
  • Strawberry Maple - 2 cups frozen strawberries - 1 and 1/2 cups milk, 1/ cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup wheat germ, a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Birthday Cake - 1 and 1/2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1 cup milk, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, top with sprinkles.
  • Carrot Mango Herb - 1 cups frozen mango, 1/2 cup carrot juice, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup mint, tarragon or basil.
  • Blueberry Banana Spinach - 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup spinach, 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1/2 frozen banana.
  • Banana Split - 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup milk.
Food Network
Smoothie making is a science and a tricky balancing act. The best rule of thumb is to include one frozen ingredient and one liquid ingredient in whatever combination you want. I like to freeze the fruit because I find it is hard to keep fruit from going bad in the summer when fresh is available and it's cheaper in the winter to buy frozen. You can freeze juices, teas, coffees, etc. into cubes and use that or plain water cubes as well.

Practice makes perfect and soon you will find a routine that works well for you. Play with these recipes and concoct your own to really get into the smoothie making s-pear-it.