Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Eco-Friendly Easter Eggs

 

 

 

Dyeing Easter eggs with children or grandchildren is a special tradition.  Rather than expose you and your children to the artificial colors and chemical dyes of the traditional Paas egg dyeing kits, however, this year try an eco-friendly approach.

Vegetables like beets, cabbage, red onion, carrot tops, or fruits like blueberries, and spices like turmeric are perfect for making homemade dyes. Even coffee works. Beets and turmeric are especially good. Think what they do to your hands and cutting boards when cooking with them.

Listed below are some simple recipes for making red, yellow and blue dye, which you can then combine to make other colors.

For red dye: Roughly chop 1 to 2 beets (about 3/4 pound). Combine with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid for dyeing.

For yellow dye: Heat 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan. Add 6 tablespoons ground turmeric and stir well. Simmer for just a few minutes until the turmeric dissolves.

For blue dye: Shred 1 large red cabbage (about 1 pound). Combine in a saucepan with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid for dyeing.

Many countries use vegetables to dye their eggs. The Greeks for example, use red onionskins to make their traditional red Easter eggs. The Easter tradition in some countries involves wrapping the eggs in onionskins and sometimes adding bits of dill, rice, grass or leaves for a tie-dyed, mottled look. Experiment – the possibilities are endless.

If you find yourself short on time, Eco-eggs makes an egg dyeing kit using natural ingredients from 100% pure plant, fruit and vegetable extracts.

Have fun and Happy Easter!!!

 

Information compiled from: http://www.seriouseats.com/

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Benefits of Buying in Bulk

Bulk food buying is the hallmark of eco-conscious consumers.  Buying in bulk doesn’t just mean buying huge quantities of items to save money, which makes sense for staples like toilet paper and paper towels if you have the space.  It also means buying from those bulk bins you see in the grocery store.  There are several advantages to doing so.

Bulk items are usually cheaper.  With no packaging, companies are able to keep costs down. According to the Bulk is Green Council, “organic bulk foods on average cost 89% less than their packaged counterparts”.  Wow!

You can buy only what you need.  If a new recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of a specialty item that you don’t have on hand, you simply buy what is called for.  Buying this way also allows you to experiment with certain spices, grains or flours that you don’t usually buy without committing to a whole bag or box.  You significantly reduce food waste and save space in your pantry by buying only what you need. How many unused spices are in your spice drawer that have been there for years?  To insure freshness and for peak flavor, spices and most food items are better bought in smaller quantities anyway.

Bulk buying also keeps tons of packaging out of the landfills. A study from Portland State University found that if Americans switched to bulk bin buying for common items, it would “it would save tens of millions of pounds of trash from entering landfills each year.”  Specifically, the Bulk is Green Council states, “If all Americans purchased coffee beans from bulk food bins, 260 millions pounds of foil packaging would be diverted from the landfills per year.”  Or, “If all American families bought peanut butter from bulk food bins, about 749 million pounds of waste would be diverted from landfills per year.”

When buying from the bulk bin, you can either bring your own glass container or use the plastic or paper bags provided. Calculate the price per ounce, pound, etc. A scale is usually right there beside the bins.  If you bring your own container, make sure to weigh the container first before adding the item, then subtract that weight to determine the cost of the item you are buying.  If you are concerned about bin freshness or cleanliness, feel free to ask the store manager.  And, don’t forget to recycle or reuse the plastic bag after transferring your bulk items to a glass container at home.  Store them in the pantry or dark place.  I love the way the pantry looks with attractive glass containers or reused mason jars, which is all the rage today.

Items You Can Find In Bulk Bins:

  • Dry beans
  • Flours (including GF options)
  • Seeds (including flax and chia)
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Spices and herbs
  • Ground and whole bean coffee
  • Powders (such as baking powder)
  • Cereal and granola
  • Trail mix and dried fruits
  • Dry pasta
  • Nutritional yeast and other odds and ends

During the holiday season when we are baking, cooking and trying new recipes more than usual, buying from bulk bins makes even more sense.  Try it and enjoy saving money and waste!

Information compiled from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-15918/the-benefits-of-buying-in-bulk.html and http://www.bulkisgreen.org/.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Don’t Throw Away Your Coffee Grounds!

Coffee grounds, fine, wet.

Coffee grounds, fine, wet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you pour your coffee grounds down the disposal, read this blog and find out what you can do instead with this versatile, nutrient-rich leftover.

  1. Neutralize odors in your refrigerator or freezer with dried grounds.
  2. Repel insects by mounding the grounds into a protective ring around plants that will ward off ants, snails and slugs.
  3. When you clean your fireplace, sprinkle damp grounds on the ashes to cut down on airborne dust.
  4. Scrub hands with grounds to act as an exfoliant and eliminate food smells like fish and garlic.  Grounds are also a good cellulite reducer (see recipe below).
  5. A few teaspoons placed on a thin rag can be used to clean grease and grime from dishware.
  6. Steep grounds in hot water to make a natural dye for Easter eggs or fabric.
  7. For a non-toxic cockroach trap, fill a can with an inch or so of wet grounds and line the neck with extra-sticky double-sided tape.  The scent draws the roaches into the trap.
  8. Add some grounds to your potting soil to give plants and seedlings a nitrogen boost.  They may repel root maggots too!
  9. Coffee grounds dabbed on scratches in dark wood furniture will minimize them.  Use a cotton swab to apply and add a bit of liquid; try a test area first.
  10.  Coffee grounds are a nutritious addition to your compost pile!

Companies are doing interesting things with recycled coffee grounds.  Moving Comfort, an athletic gear company, uses recycled coffee grounds in a fabric called S. Cafe to absorb odors. My husband’s company, Boston Tree Preservation, has an arrangement with Boston Bean Coffee Company to recycle their spent coffee pods. The pods are fed to the worms in the worm farm;  the worm castings are then used to make a rich, nutritious compost tea which is sprayed on customers’ trees as an organic fertilizer, natural fungicide and pest deterrent.

Recipe for Coffee Ground Exfoliant

 (from livestrong.com)

 Since coffee grounds are course, they are a natural exfoliant.  They also contain caffeic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects on the skin and stimulates collagen production.

Mix 1 cup warm coffee grounds with 1/2-cup sugar, then add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Rub the mixture all over your skin, especially rough areas such as elbows and feet. If you do this in the shower, put a mesh sink strainer in the drain. Otherwise, the coffee grounds could clog the drain.  You can also just use the coffee grounds to exfoliate.

Information compiled from thisoldhouse.com March 2012 and curbly.com.

A CUP OF CHICORY

Beignet and Frozen café au lait at Café du Mon...

Chicory is an interesting and highly nutritious vegetable.  A relative of endive, it has many culinary uses – as an addition to salads, served with dips, sautéed or blanched – but it is mainly known for its association with coffee. When the roots are dried, roasted and ground they make a delicious, coffee-like drink with a robust, roasted flavor.  Caffeine- free, it is often blended with coffee to cut down on the amount of caffeine. Because it is more water-soluble than coffee, you don’t need much, making it an inexpensive beverage.

Chicory was brought to North America from Europe in the 1700’s and often served as a coffee substitute when coffee was scarce or too expensive.  It was a favorite drink of the French in Louisiana during the Civil War and is still popular at New Orleans’ famed Café du Monde. Chicory was cultivated along the Nile for thousands of years; ancient Egyptians and Romans used it to help cleanse the blood.

English: Curly endive Français : Chicorée fris...

Image via Wikipedia

Among its many health benefits, chicory is one of the richest sources of vitamin A, important for eye health, and contains Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. It is a natural laxative, is useful in treating liver disorders, helps lower cholesterol and is a natural sedative and anti-inflammatory for the nervous system.  Juiced with other vegetables, its nourishing properties are increased.

One of the keys to good health is variety.  No one fruit or vegetable does it all.  In fact health experts recommend the rainbow method, where the goal is to eat something of all colors most days.  So, as I sip my delicious cup of chicory, I know I am getting different nutritional benefits than from my usual cup of green tea.

Vary your morning routine and try a cup of chicory.  Drink it with milk, mix it with coffee or cocoa or try it plain, you’ll be surprised!  ♥

Information compiled from http://www.cafedumonde.com, http://www.coffeetea.about.com, www.theepicentre.com


 

“GREEN” COFFEE (AND TEA)

 

Image by Peter Wild

 

After crude oil coffee is the world’s most commonly traded commodity, and tea is the world’s most consumed beverage after water.  Making an “eco-correct” purchase of these mainstays of the American diet, however, can be complicated.

There are several categories for coffee. “Fair Trade” applies to coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, handicrafts that are produced in a way which ensures living wages and safe working conditions for farmers, promotes sustainability and usually includes rigorous environmental standards.  “Shade Grown” coffee refers to the traditional method where coffee beans grow in shade and mature slowly, creating richer flavors. Coffee farmers were encouraged to replace shade grown coffee with sun cultivation in order to increase yield.  To do this, over 2.5 million acres of forests in Central America were destroyed, which caused an immediate loss in biodiversity, both in the many types of trees and plants that were eliminated and the animals that depended on them.  When I visited Brazil, we saw sun cultivated coffee plantations everywhere and were told that 95% of the Atlantic rainforest has been destroyed.  Coffee and tea with the organic certification are ecofriendly, grown without toxic chemicals, thus sparing workers from exposure to the harmful pesticides and herbicides.  They are also harvested in a way that protects the environment.

In summary, most fair trade coffee is also shade grown and organic.  Otherwise, you choose which of the certifications is the most important to you and buy accordingly. Fortunately, you can now buy coffee and tea with these green certifications at most grocery stores, Starbucks, Peets Coffee and Dunkin Donuts.

One more tip, coffee grounds and tea leaves make outstanding compost!