Posts Tagged ‘sodium bicarbonate’

Are Frozen Dinners Worth the Convenience?

We live in a busy, fast-paced society where taking the time to prepare a delicious and healthy meal is not always possible.  Pre-prepared foods and frozen dinners offer a quick and easy alternative, but at what price?

Typical frozen dinner

Most frozen meals are loaded with sugar, sodium, and preservatives with low vegetable and fiber content.  Though we need sodium in our diet, about one teaspoon a day or 2300 milligrams, for fluid balance, muscle strength and nerve function, most of us get far more than that with our consumption of frozen and processed foods.  We are all well aware of the dangers of too much salt and sugar!  The right kind of salt is important too.  Click here for more information about salts.

Certain frozen dinner brands, and specific meals produced by those brands, are worse than others.  Hot pockets, chicken potpies, and turkey and gravy dinners are among the worst.  Usually organic frozen meals are better, but it’s important to take the time to read the labels carefully, as with all processed foods.  Just because a product says “natural” doesn’t mean it is, even with frozen veggie burgers. Be on the lookout for salt’s various disguises like sodium alginate, sodium ascorbate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium benzoate, as well as added sugars under the name of high fructose corn syrup or natural cane sugar and unhealthy fats.

As Oscar Wilde said, “everything in moderation including moderation”, so the occasional frozen dinner won’t hurt you.  There is no substitute however, for a fresh, home cooked meal seasoned properly with healthy herbs, enhanced with a small amount sea salt, and prepared with love.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Information compiled from: http://channels.isp.netscape.com/,

http://www.webmd.com/

Recipes for Safe Weed Control

Happily spring is here  – trees are flowering, flowers and shrubs are blooming and lawns are turning green.  Oh lawns, we love them and we hate them.  They add beauty to the landscape and are a playground for our kids and pets, but to maintain a “picture-perfect” lawn requires a lot of time, money, energy, and usually toxic chemicals.    A conventional lawn is the largest irrigated “crop” in the country.  With an organic lawn you mow less, water less, thatch less and skip high nitrogen-based fertilizers and herbicides.  Organic lawns are clearly the safer alternative, but you have to be able to tolerate a few weeds as your lawn transitions from a chemical free lawn to an organic one.  

What can you do about those dreaded weeds?  First of all, realize that a monoculture, like a lawn, is not usual in nature.  With the more natural approach, there will be some weeds.   Change your perspective about them.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  Weeds are a messenger of problems in your soil and will grow where nothing else will. Many are an edible and nutritious food.  If you really can’t stand them, try the simple and safe recipes for weed control I’ve listed below using ingredients right from your kitchen.

VINAIGRETTE “DRESSING” FOR DANDELIONS

A well-placed shot of vinegar right on the plant can thwart dandelions or other broad-leaved weeds.  Be careful not to splash it on the turf or any plants you want to keep, because vinegar will kill grassy plants as well. A section of newspaper or cardboard can act as a shield for desirable plants.

Ingredients

Vinegar (as close to 10% acidity as possible); Dishwashing Liquid (optional); Pump Spray Bottle

Directions

Fill the spray bottle with undiluted vinegar (or mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part dishwashing liquid).  Spray a narrow stream, dousing the weed’s leaves and crown (the area at the base of the plant).   Rinse the sprayer well with water, especially if it has metal parts because vinegar is corrosive.  This is a spot spray only!

ALCOHOL ATTACK

Rubbing alcohol is a simple way to kill a weed.  Mix it with water and it will dehydrate almost any weed.  This also works against spider mites, aphids, and scale, but may require some experimentation to find the right level of effectiveness.  Test spray on one leaf to check for burning.

Ingredients

1-quart water; 1 (or more) tablespoons rubbing alcohol; Pump spray bottle

Directions

Mix water and alcohol in the spray bottle. (Use 1 tablespoon of alcohol for weed seedlings or thin-leaved weeds and 2 tablespoons or more for tougher weeds.)  Spray weed leaves thoroughly but lightly.  (Avoid surrounding plants.)

SORRY, CHARLIE

Creeping Charlie is a low-growing, yellow-flowered perennial weed that can be a real nuisance in lawns.  If you have noticed it in yours, borax can be a very effective weed-killer, particularly in late spring or early summer when weeds are growing most actively.

Ingredients

5 Teaspoons borax, like 20 mule Team Borax, for every 25 square feet of lawn; 1-quart water; Pump spray bottle

Directions

Mix borax in water.  Measure exactly: Too little and it won’t kill the weeds, too much and you could kill the grass too.  Spray to cover a 25-square foot area.  Water and fertilize your turf after the treatment so that it rapidly fills in the space left by the dead weeds.

SPRAY AWAY BROWN PATCH IN LAWNS

Brown or yellow rings that die out in your lawn, caused by rhizoctonia fungi, which comes from poor drainage, too much rain and/or too much nitrogen fertilizer, can be treated with this simple solution.

Ingredients

1 rounded tablespoon baking soda or potassium bicarbonate  (a better choice since it has less salt); 1-tablespoon horticultural oil; 1-gallon water

Directions

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Spray lightly on your lawn.  Avoid overuse or drenching the soil.

DELUXE BAKING SODA SPRAY

For a very effective disease and insect fighter, go no further than your kitchen.  This concoction works best as a preventative, so spray susceptible plants before disease  symptoms start and continue at weekly intervals.

Ingredients

1 ½ tablespoons baking soda; 1-tablespoon canola oil; 1 cup plus 1 gallon water; 1-tablespoon vinegar; Backpack or pump sprayer

Directions

Mix the baking soda, soap and oil with 1 cup of water.  Add the vinegar.  Don’t mix the  vinegar in until last or the mixture may bubble over.  Pour the mixture into the sprayer and  add 1 gallon of water.  Shake or stir to combine the ingredients.  Spray plants, covering the bottoms and tops of the leaves.

PLAIN AND SIMPLE GARLIC JUICE

If you are a garlic lover, you may want to use this simple recipe to fight diseases and insects on your plants.

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves; A blender; Pump Spray Bottle; Molasses (optional)

Directions

Liquefy 3 garlic cloves in a blender that is half-filled with water.  Strain out the garlic, then mix the remaining liquid with enough water to make 1 gallon of  spicy concentrate.  Two tablespoons of molasses will help the mixture adhere to the leaves.

CITRUS KILLER FOR APHIDS

Aphids and other leaf-sucking insects can cause considerable damage if you don’t control them.  This mixture neutralizes aphids and can also act as a deterrent to ants!

Ingredients

1-pint water; Rind from 1 lemon, grated  (or orange or grapefruit rind); Cheesecloth; Pump Spray Bottle

Directions

Bring the water to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the grated lemon rind.  Allow the mixture to steep overnight.  Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, and pour into the spray bottle. Apply the mixture to plant leaves that are under attack.  (This mixture must come in contact with the insects’ bodies to be effective.)

WEEDS IN HOT WATER

Use boiling water to eliminate weeds from sidewalk or driveway cracks.  Be careful not to splash it on to neighboring plants or turf.

Ingredients

Teakettle or pan

Directions

Boil a full kettle of water.  Pour slowly and carefully, dousing both the weeds and the soil immediately surrounding them.

For more recipes, email me at greenwithbetsy.com.

Recipes for organic weed, insect pests and disease controls compiled from Great Garden Formulas, 1998 Rodale Press, Inc.

 

Information compiled from: lawncare.about.com/od/lawncarebasics/a/historyoflawn.htm


 

UNCLOG YOUR DRAINS SAFELY

One of my readers contacted me about unclogging her bathroom sink.  As a conscientious environmentalist, she was surprised and frustrated when baking soda and vinegar didn’t unclog her drain.  She was adamant about not using conventional, off the shelf products with lye and other toxic chemicals and wondered if there were other natural products that work.

Baking soda and vinegar really do work, but it‘s important to use the right amount and follow the directions of this tried and true recipe I’ve listed below.  For stubborn clogs, you may even have to repeat it a couple of times.

Cover of "Home Comforts: The Art and Scie...

Unclog Your Drain Safely Recipe 

Important:  Do not use this recipe if there is standing water in the sink.

Pour ½ to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain; slowly pour ½ to 1 cup of vinegar (distilled white vinegar is good) after.  Cover the drain immediately with a cloth or rag so the fizzing interaction cannot escape. (This is the same fizzing action that happened when “erupting volcanoes” with the kids by mixing baking soda and vinegar.)  Let it sit for 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes depending on the severity of the clog.  Follow with a gallon of boiling water.  If necessary, pour more boiling water down the drain or repeat the entire process.

Some recipes add a cup of salt to the boiling water, followed by running warm water for 10 minutes to clear any product from the drain.  If this doesn’t work, try using a sink plunger after pouring down the liquids.  The plunger creates suction and forces open the clog.

English: Plunger icon from SuperTuxKart

Image via Wikipedia

This procedure by the way also cleans your pipes at the same time.  And unlike conventional chemical products, baking soda and vinegar won’t harm your pipes and of course not you or the water table.

I used to tell my kids if you are ever stranded on an island, make sure you have baking soda with you. There are millions of uses – culinary, medicinal and for cleaning.  Click here to read more.

 

Information compiled from Home Comforts – The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson and thegoodhuman.com.  

Home Comforts is a great book, a true encyclopedia of anything and everything having to do with the home.

 


 

 

DON’T JUST BAKE WITH BAKING SODA!

Image by Peter Wild

I used to say to my kids, if you are ever stranded on a deserted island, make sure you have baking soda.  Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural salt essential to the functioning of the human body.  In addition to its primary use as a leavening agent in baking, it can be used to heal, clean and polish just about everything. Baking soda is simple and cheap and over the years people have discovered some ingenious uses for it. It is used in animal feeds, fire extinguishers, textile processing and more. In addition to its common use as a deodorizer for refrigerator smells, baking soda can be used in numerous ways for personal care.  For example, as a natural tooth polish, athlete’s foot treatment, burn soother, deodorant, earwax softener, or foot soak.  It can be used to treat bee stings and insect bites or as an antacid.

There are environmental and health concerns about toxic chemicals in cleaning supplies. Baking soda’s versatility, safety and effectiveness have led to using it as a cleaning alternative.  Its gentle abrasion makes it perfect for cleaning stained kitchen sinks and mildewed shower tiles.  Baking soda’s effervescence and detergency clean spills on rugs and deodorize pet bedding.  Try it for dirt and grime on the legs of kitchen tables and chairs. Coffee and tea stains on your china are easily removed with baking soda.  So are counter and tabletop stains.

Baking soda has been around since the 1800’s.  It is tried and true.  Don’t just use it for baking.  Check out Peter A. Ciullo’s book called Baking Soda Bonanza, which lists hundreds of ways to use baking soda, or go on line for ideas and recipes.  It’s safe, effective and cheap.

Information compiled from Baking Soda Bonanza by Peter A. Ciullo.