Zero Waste Oranges

I hadn’t planned on writing this till I was mid-chop through my last orange for orange juice this morning! Then, it dawned on me just how MANY uses there are for oranges!

Of course, the first use is very simple: ORANGE JUICE! 

Go on and squeeze yourself a pitcher full, and yes- save the pulp. 

The first tip I have is for you smoothie lovers out there! 

Orange pulp holds a ton of fibers, so instead of straining it then tossing it out, scoop it into an ice tray and freeze it! You’ll have them ready to add into your smoothie tomorrow morning and you won’t even be able to taste the texture of it since it will be ground up! 

Now, lets go back over to those discarded peels. 

My favorite recipe calls for distilled white vinegar and fresh orange peels. With these two ingredients, you can make your very own all-purpose cleaner! 

Just chop those peels up small, stuff them into a jar, and fill it the rest of the way up with vinegar! 


Now, place the lid back on, and submerge your jar into a pot of water kept at 150degrees F for 20 minutes. 

Cool him off and set aside 2-3 days. When you come back to it, go ahead and strain your vinegar into a spray bottle (if you want to) and compost those peels! Voila! Your very own all-purpose cleaner! 

I still had orange peel leftover, however, so I set my oven at 170degrees F and popped them into there to dry out for use as fruit tea “leaves” later on. Keep them in for 1hr or until dry and brittle! 

These are the peels before going into the oven! be sure to spread them out!


Another short recipe is to fill a large pot with water and boil your peels in it. Add in 2 sticks OF cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and bit of cloves and keep it boiling! The result is a holiday-scented home for the next few days!! 

Hopefully you found these tips useful! Let me know what you do! 

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Composting 101

Hi again folks!

I was giving a lecture last week and a lovely lady asked me a question at the end about composting and how one should go about starting! I was a little lost for words since there are quite a lot of methods, however, here I have pulled together quite a few and even created small info-graphics about the very basics of starting your own compost! I give all the credit to the absolutely amazing book “The Urban/Suburban Composter” by Mark Cullen and Lorraine Johnson. I highly recommend checking this out at your local library if you’re looking for a very in-depth view on composting methods!

I only cover how to build a holding unit, however, there are many types of composting methods that work.

compost-bacteria-infograph

What happens when composting takes place? Bacteria grows and feeds off your scraps thus producing heat that kills them and creates the ideal temperature for another type of bacteria. This happens until the Thermophiles die off completely from the intense heat or from the lack of food. When this is complete, the pile cools down and allows the psychrophilic and mesophilic bacteria to come back and finish off what the thermophiles may not have gotten around to! This stage is called the maturation period and during it you may notice bugs and worms starting to inhabit your pile! When this phase is done, your pile should resemble a very dark sweetly-scented soil! This is called Humus or completed compost.


composting101infograph

Now that you know what happens during compost, let’s take a look at some of the facts around composting in general!


what-goes-into-compost-graphic

Ah, the carbon to nitrogen ratio. This is the part of composting that does actually require a bit of effort on your part. Think back to that high-school chemistry or biology class for a moment. Carbon and Nitrogen can be found in any material you will be composting. However, the amounts in which they are found will differ. Take, for example, wood chips which range have a C:N ratio of anywhere between 500:1 – 700:1 as compared to food scraps which typically have a C:N ratio of 15:1. You want your compost to have a C:N ratio between 20:1 and 30:1. This means that for every nitrogen rich material you add in, you want to add in twenty times the amount of carbon-rich materials such as dry leaves. Now before you check-out mentally and say that this is too complicated to keep up with, it’s not an exact science (well, at least it doesn’t have to be in your home). What you’re trying to do is have quite a bit more carbon rich or “brown” materials than nitrogen-rich or “green” materials as it’s been termed. Experiment around. Compost is very easy to salvage. After all, it is just rotten materials. Too much nitrogen and it gets slimy. Too much carbon and it will be brittle to the touch. You’re aiming for your compost to feel like a well-wrung out sponge: damp, but not too damp.

holdingunit-compostor-infograph

Here’s an easy-to-make compost bin using the holding unit method. This is taken directly from “the urban/suburban composter”

Ok, so maybe you don’t really want to build your own composter- what can you do?

There are dozens of  composters all set up and ready to go available online or at home-improvement stores such as Home Depot and local hardware stores.  This is a wonderful link for those of you who are aiming to just go out and purchase a Composter:

http://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors-Garden-Center-Composters/N-5yc1vZbx5p

Keep in mind, though that you don’t necessarily need the most expensive Composter on the market to do the job. Any container with a lid will do. Heck! You don’t even need a container at all if you dig a deep enough hole outside and layer it properly!

I, personally, own a tabletop composter to collect scraps of food from the kitchen in before taking it outside to toss into a rather large compost tumbler. The tumbler is a good option for those of you with patio/backyard space that plan on mainly composting food scraps. This is a minimal-maintenance approach to composting. You toss in your nitrogen, top it with 20x more carbon and close it. Then, once a week, you turn it. That’s all.

I do want to give an honorable mention to vermicomposting which harnesses the power of worms to compost in a fast and efficient manner. I will be starting this process here soon and will update you with how it goes!

Here are a few excerpts from the book that you may find useful! 


I want to leave you all with a quote I found in (you guessed it) The Urban/Suburban Composter.

“My passion for compost stems from observance of a very basic rule of life- put things back in their place after you’re finished with them”- Mark Cullen

Send me an email at littlegreengoddess.blog@gmail.com if you have any questions on composting or would like more information on the methods not covered here!

Stay Green!

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Vegan Cashew Cheese Sauce!

This is probably the single most requested post I’ve had from close friends and family members for the simple reason that they cannot believe something vegan could be so decadent and creamy!

The first time I made this cheese sauce, I served it over pasta with some fresh basil and tomatoes (recipe at end) for my boyfriend to taste. Needless to say, he loved it enough to take some leftovers to his work the next day where he proceeded to offer a sample to a coworker and thus began the inquiries on when I would be posting the recipe and just how they could convince me to make some more! My own mother has requested I whip up a jar and drop it off at her place to eat!

So just what is this magical sauce made up of? Mainly cashews! These cuties need to be soaked for 4-6 hours beforehand, however. You can purchase them in your local Bulk Aisle. Make sure you get organic RAW cashews ( not roasted or seasoned at all). For soaking, place desired quantity of cashews in a container and then add 3x the amount of water to the container. This allows the cashews to plump up and become soft enough that when you blend them they have a creamy consistency to them. Drain and rinse before use in your recipe.

The original recipe I had found was from connoisseurusveg.com and although it was delicious, I decided to add a few more ingredients and alter the quantities to suit my needs and tastes a little better!

My edited recipe is as follows:

Cashew Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C raw cashews (soaked and rinsed)
  • 1 C unflavored soy/almond milk
  • 3 TBLS freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 TBLS Vegan White Miso Paste (found in refrigerated vegan section of your local grocery store) *I’m specifying Vegan here because some miso pastes contain fish
  • 2 Large garlic cloves minced
  • 2 TBLS nutritional yeast (this gives it a slightly cheesier taste)
  • 1/2 Tsp of salt and more to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and blend till creamy, adding more milk 1/4 C at a time for a thinner sauce.

To heat: pour sauce in a small saucepan and gradually bring to heat on a medium flame- being careful not to boil it.

So now that you’ve made your cheese sauce, what on earth are you going to use it on?!

My suggestion would be to bring a pot of penne pasta to al-dente consistency and pour it right over it. Add in about 3 TBLS dried basil or a 1/2 cup fresh basil (chopped) and 2 small tomatoes diced with some red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste! This is the same recipe I had whipped up for my very first batch of vegan cheese!

Enjoy and stay full!

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Preparing and Storing Bulk Foods

For starters, thank you all for your patience on this post coming out! I suddenly fell ill and wasn’t able to upload it till now!

Also, if you haven’t read my previous post on how to purchase bulk foods, I highly recommend backtracking a bit and giving it a thorough read through here Bulk Buying 101 !

Now that you know how to purchase those eco-friendly foods, let’s get you up to speed on how to store and prepare them!

You may be wondering why there is even a need for a post on preparing bulk foods- it can’t be that hard right? True, it may not be hard, but it is slightly more time consuming than purchasing pre-cooked and packaged goods for the simple reason that you now have to go through the effort of cooking, sealing, and storing it yourself!

STORAGE

The main things to remember when getting ready to store bulk products are how often you use that item and what its shelf-life is. Take, for example, flour as compared red kidney beans. You will more than likely use flour much more regularly than the kidney beans so you want to make it as accessible and refillable as possible. On the contrary, the beans can be stored in something a little smaller and be tucked away without it becoming frustrating.

We will go over what items require what type of storage based on shelf-life and usage here in a moment! First, let’s figure out how many jars, bottles, bags and containers you will need and where to purchase them!

If you had to choose just one way to store all of your items, I would hands down invest in Mason Jars of varying sizes. They come in all sizes- from as small as a shot glass all the way up to a monstrous 2 gallon jar! Something to note with Mason Jars is that not only do they come in virtually every size imaginable, the opening (or mouth) of the jars come in varying sizes, as well! You can find wide-mouthed or regular! Wide-mouths tend to be better for solids and grains (anything you’d need to fit a scoop into, honestly) and regular-mouthed jars are much better at storing liquids and small solids. I find the small jars ideal for storage of salt, olive oil, vinegars and homemade sauces/spice mixtures!

Thanks to the huge surge of hype in vintage-chic décor, Mason Jars are extremely easy to come by. They’re sold at hardware stores, most grocery stores, or even online! (When buying online make sure to really stock your cart up to reduce on waste from multiple packages!) Another cool plus with buying Mason Jars is the seemingly limitless possibilities for accessories! Explore your options!

Here are some quick links to fulfill all of your Mason Jar desires!

As far as how many of each size you will need, I would reference your grocery list! You’ll need large jars (32 oz) for staples such as pastas, rice, and oats. Medium/standard sized jars (16 oz) are able to hold most of everything else. You’ll need these for your olive-oils, vinegars, beans, dried fruits, nuts, and so on. Smaller jars (8 oz or less) are ideal for storage of bulk spices and homemade sauces. The tiny guys do really well stacked up, so they’re perfect for refrigeration, too!

Did you get your fix on Mason Jars? Although you could decide to call it quits right here and just go out and load up on jars, they are quite heavy and take up lots of room in your pantry and fridge. This brings us to our second best-friend: the reusable cotton bag.

Organic Cotton Bags are great for everything save liquids (clearly). On top of being extraordinarily lightweight by nature, they are ideal for storing produce in your fridge! The fabric is much more breathable than the plastic offered in-stores and will have the added benefit of being much more durable and resistant to tears. The best part about these guys? You can make them at home! Take an old shirt, dress, pillowcase, or any other cotton item and turn it into a lovely bag for your grocery needs! I’ll post some patterns below! However, I do understand that time may not always be on our side, so I’ve included a link to my favorite bags on Amazon here: Simple Ecology Bags

I found this easy-to-follow tutorial on YouTube for your pleasure! In this video, the creator uses a sewing machine. I don’t personally find this necessary. You can use a needle and thread- just be sure that the distance between each stitch is very small so that your grains and smaller solids don’t escape!

 

If you’d rather not watch a tutorial, here’s a fun pattern you can save right to your device!

http://www.blisstree.com/

The author of the above-mentioned article does a wonderful job at laying out (in picture format) how to cut and sew a bag out of everyday materials! I highly recommend this pattern! You can always add on embellishments such as zippers, drawstrings, and pockets later. Draw strings come in handy when storing something such as flour whereas leaving it open without a closure attached at all is better for produce.

Alright, so now you’ve got bags and jars! What else?

Actually, that’s all! Storing bulk goodies really doesn’t require you purchasing or investing much, you just have to arm yourself with the knowledge of what sizes of bags and jars you need! Thrift stores are another great find for glassware and jars, so don’t forget to scour your local second-hand stores for deals, as well!

Are you ready to get dinner prepped?

Same.

PREPARATION

Honestly, there are so many different types of foods you can purchase in bulk and it would be difficult to navigate the preparation of each and every one without your own personal guide. Lucky for all of us, Whole Foods has done just that! They have created an online database for every type of bulk item you could imagine and exactly how to prepare them for eating.

To give you an example, beans require that you soak them for several hours (exact length of time is dependent on the type of bean) then simmering them for a few more hours before you can add them to a recipe as usual.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It’s actually not. Just toss anything needing soaking in a jar of water before bed, or better yet (if it’s for a meal later that day) put it in before you go to work and pull it out right when you get home!

I just got a great tip from another environmentally-conscious lady like myself saying to use a crockpot! Something so simple that I would have never thought of on my own!

For a full guide to preparing bulk items, visit this webpage:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/department/bulk

You’ll find a small navigator located midway down the page on your right-hand side where you can select food by categories such as “seeds” and “beans”. (Can you tell I like beans?)

Hopefully you feel fully prepped and ready to grocery shop now!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to reach out to me at littlegreengoddess.blog@gmail.com

I am also available t0 be booked in the St. Louis area for a more personal consultation on how to live sustainably. For those out of the area, I would be happy to have a Skype conference with you to help build your sustainable home! Shoot me a quick email or check me out on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/littlegreengoddess 😀

Stay green and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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