With Easter and Passover right around the corner many of us are looking forward to sharing time and traditional meals with family and friends. Passover lasts for eight days and for those who observe the holiday no regular breads or baked goods are eaten. Wheat, oats, barley, rye, and spelt are forbidden, with the exception of matzo, which is made with flour and water. When someone in the group follows a vegan or gluten-free diet it can be challenging to find a menu that meets everyone’s needs.
If you’re looking for a vegan or gluten-free twist to some of the traditional dishes here’s some inspiration.
Classic Veggie Roast
This dish is a staple in our house and something we make for almost every holiday. Generally I use whatever vegetables are in my refrigerator, chop them up and roast them with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Sometimes I make two separate veggie dishes-one with potatoes and one without. You can see the veggie roast/ratatouille recipe HERE.
Smashed Garlic Potatoes
My kids love almost anything with potatoes. THIS vegan, gluten-free mashed potatoes recipe will be a hit with the big kids too. If there’s a nut allergy it’s simple to swap out the almond milk for another type of dairy-free milk. Leave out the nutritional yeast if you’re celebrating Passover!
It’s truly amazing how many foods now have a gluten-free option. Even matzo, which is typically made from wheat flour, is now available in a gluten-free form. Here’s a list of several companies who are selling gluten-free matzo. If you’re feeling ambitious how about making your own matzo? HERE’s a relatively simple recipe to test out.
Sweet Sunflower Green Beans
The combination of green beans and red onions make these green beans a gorgeous dish for any holiday. The total prep time is about 25 minutes-this works for me. You’ll find the whole recipe HERE.
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup with Spring Vegetables
THIS vegan matzo ball soup recipe is chock-full of spring vegetables, and the perfect start to the Passover Seder dinner. Cooked quinoa flakes bind the gluten-free matzo balls together.
If you’re a spinach lover this recipe will ‘wow’ the crowd and can be used for both Easter and Passover meals. HERE’s the recipe. There are nuts, but they can be omitted if needed.
What are some of your favorite vegan and gluten-free Easter and Passover dishes?
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner it’s impossible to miss the sea of red and chocolate in every aisle of every store. How did chocolate become almost synonymous with Valentine’s Day? There’s no surprise that after Halloween, Valentine’s Day is the single largest candy-consuming day all year in the Unites States.
Unfortunately many of our favorite chocolate treats are filled with Genetically Modified Organisms (also called GM, GE or GMOs). GMOs refers to crop plants that are consumed by animals and/or humans that have been tweaked or modified in a lab to boost desired traits such as: the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide, disease resistance and improved nutritional value.
Food with GMOs looks and tastes the same, but they’re not the same. Food producers have been altering and messing with our food with the blessing of the FDA, but without our permission.
GMO labeling isn’t required in the US
Does that bother you? It bothers me. It actually makes me angry. We have the right to know what’s going into our food-don’t we? If we take a look at our friends in the EU and other countries -GMO labeling has been the norm for years. Yet in the US the FDA doesn’t require the labeling of GMOs in food ingredient lists.
So what does that mean? Since there’s no requirement for companies to label their products when we buy food we generally have no way of knowing whether or not it contains GMOs.
Valentine’s Day and GMOs
Some of our favorite makers of chocolate are some of the strongest supporters of NOT labeling products that contain GMOs. Wondering why? Their products are some of the biggest offenders, filled with GMOs. That’s not all. Not only are their products filled with GMOs, but they also contributed big bucks to stop GMO labeling.
GMOiNSiDE.org put together this great graphic showing how two of the largest chocolate manufacturers (comprising 70% of the chocolate market in the US!) don’t care about GMOs and transparency in food labeling.
As 2012 comes to a close and many of us are heading on vacation for a few days, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support this year. I am truly grateful for each and every one of you and all you bring to this amazing community of groovy greeness that we’ve created together.
After so much tragedy and loss over the past week I’m planning to spend some quality time with my family and relax for a few days. Before I sign off there are a few things to share:
Sandy Hook Help
If you’re looking for a way to help the PTSA of Sandy Hook Elementary has asked that people send snowflakes so they can hang them in the cafeteria of the new school the kids will be attending. Snowflakes need to be sent in by January 12, 2013. My friend Shane at Environmental Booty has all the details HERE.
#26Acts of Kindness
If you haven’t heard about this, Ann Curry from NBC News wrote about a movement started to honor the 26 lives that were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary. This is something we can all participate in and it will hopefully become so ingrained that it becomes second nature and will last a lifetime.
Take the vow to do 26 random acts of kindness, each representing a life lost that day. The movement has gone viral. It’s already begun. We all want to and can do something.
As of this afternoon the long awaited school vacation week will officially begin. I will be spending the next week recharging and bonding with my family on our local ski slope.
May whatever you do to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year bring you much joy and happiness. I am going to take a few days off from writing and I will be back in 2013 with more groovy green info to share. I’m looking forward to connecting with you here and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ or maybe even in real life!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Wishing you much love and groovy greenness in the new year.
What are your holiday/vacation plans? Whatever they are enjoy! See you back here in 2013.
Reusable bags are where it’s at. Are you in? Have you committed to using reusable bags whenever you can? Making an effort to use reusable bags is a simple change we can all make which will have a big impact on our environment. These days it’s pretty easy to accumulate a substantial stash of reusable bags. Most business are readily handing them out with their logo proudly embossed on the side of each bag. My favorite reusable bags are small and fit easily into my handbag. That way I’m assured that they’ll be with me most of the time.
If you still haven’t jumped on board the reusable bag train it’s not too late. Check out these plastic bag facts to help bring you over to the world of reusable bags.
An estimated one million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags.
It’s not only the birds and turtles. In my friend Beth Terry’s book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, she talks about how so many cows in India have died from ingesting plastic that many states in the nation have banned plastic bags altogether as a way to avoid it. Beth goes on to explain how in the United Arab Emirates veterinarians have seen goats, camels, sheep and other endangered desert animals dead because they’ve ingested plastic garbage.
According to the Wall Street Journal, only 1% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide; the rest are left to live on indefinitely in landfills (or worse, in the environment).
Plastic bags don’t biodegrade and can instead photo-degrade and dissolve into toxic particles. Most often, when this happens, it happens in the ocean. Toxic particles can enter the food chain when they are ingested by unsuspecting animals.
The United Nations Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean.
Recycling isn’t the answer. The cost to recycle plastic bags so outweighs their value that most recycling facilities will not take them, leading more and more to just be thrown out with the rest of the trash. According to Beth Terry recycling should be a last resort after we have reduced our plastic consumption as much as possible. Recycling is problematic because first, it doesn’t close the loop. For example, a plastic bottle generally gets recycled into something like polar fleece or carpet or other polyester produce, so virgin plastic must still be used to create new bottles. Also, most of our plastic recycling is shipped overseas to countries like China, where it is processed in some environmentally-unfriendly ways, and third, plastics can only be recycled so many times. When plastic can no longer be recycled, those non-biodegradable molecules linger in the environment virtually forever. Plastic recycling is necessary, but we should first focus on turning off the spigot of new plastic products and packaging.
It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the amount of plastic bags the US uses per year.
Did you know that the average reusable bag has the lifespan of over seven hundred disposable plastic bags?Check out this fantastic map which describes the evolution of various solutions to the plastic bag problem throughout the world.
After forgetting my reusable bags more times than I care to admit I finally figured out a simple solution for remembering them most of the time. I keep a few smaller bags in my purse and I throw the big, supermarket sized reusable bags in the front seat of my car.
What’s your trick for remembering your reusable bags?
Candles are such a big part of the holiday season for many of us. We crave certain scents this time of year that trigger holiday memories. Our family is getting ready to kick off Hanukkah this weekend and we are shooting for 8 days of candle lighting. When our kids were a bit younger we could get away with skipping a night or two, but I have a feeling the kids will be on us this year to remind us that 8 days of presents and candle lighting cannot be ignored. So prepared we will be. At last check our candle supply was running low so I need to stock up to have enough to make it through the multiple days of lighting the menorah.
There are so many varieties of candles on the market. Candles come in varying scents, colors, shapes and sizes. One thing to think about as you replenish your holiday candle supply is that candles can add nasty pollutants to your indoor air. Most of the candles on the market are made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum, and scented with synthetic fragrances, also derived from petroleum. There are other types of candles made from soybean, palm, or hemp, or beeswax. These aren’t petroleum based. In a study by the American Chemical Society the researchers found that the petroleum based candles emitted varying levels of cancer-causing toluene and benzene, as well as other hydrocarbon chemicals called alkanes and alkenes, which are components of gasoline and can irritate respiratory tracts and trigger asthma. Not good.
So while you’re out looking for those pretty, smelly candles that trigger those holiday warm and fuzzies keep in mind that not all candles are created equal-some can be pretty toxic. Take the time to find non-toxic candles that won’t add to the indoor air pollution in your home.
Who’s all done with holiday gift shopping? Not me. This year I’m at a bit of a standstill as I reevaluate what my three tween boys are into. They’re no longer interested in cars and trucks (unless of course they are remote control and fly). They are now a whole different breed. They are somewhere in between being a child and a teen-a tween which is a very distinct category of boys and girls generally between the ages of 8 and 12 who are pre-adolescent. According to the US Census there are currently 20 million tweens in the U.S. and they are projected to hit 23 million by 2020. I have three of them.
It’s not easy buying for a tween. Video games are an easy out, but I thought I would share some screen-free alternatives fit for a tween boy. Maybe there’ll be one that works for yours.
Top 20 gifts for tween boys
If you haven’t seen or tried the Perplexus Epic or the Perplexus Maze Game you are missing out. These things are guaranteed hours of entertainment. For the record I’ve tried both of them and I’m horrible.
Phase 10 Card Game-This game comes from the makers of UNO. It’s a rummy-type card game with a challenging and exciting twist. All three of my boys love it.
You can never have too many Air Hogs – Hover Assault. We love these amazing remote controlled airplanes. Be sure to stock up on batteries because they run out constantly. This Air Hog comes with remote missile launching capabilities. That’s right.
So much for not wanting toy guns in my house. Boys will be boys and everything from a wooden spoon to a toilet paper roll turns turns into a gun. So we broke and now Nerf guns are all the rage. Friends come over and all out battles ensue. This N-Strike Elite Retaliator Blaster is da bomb.
To go along with the Nerf gun game add in a pair of Nerf Walkie Talkies. This really adds a new dimension to the game.
There’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned game of Monopoly. The entire family can play. Good news there a short version included in the box too. Most of know this game can go on for days.
If you’re looking for a big gift this is where it’s at. The Razor Ground Force Drifter Go Kart will turn your neighborhood upside down. It has a secure seat belt and only goes up to 12 mph (which feels fast when you’re driving). It holds up to 140 lbs.
Bring this special Nerf Firevision Sports Football to the bus stop with you every morning. We do! Great addition to any sporty kids ball collection.
The Original Buddha Board was a gift to us a few years ago. This amazing Zen-like Etch-a-Sketch uses a brush to paint designs onto the board with water. As the water evaporates your image will fade, but will reveal a new perspective on your creative endeavors, encouraging the Zen idea of living in the moment.
Take your paper airplanes to a new level with this PowerUp(TM) Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit. The PowerUp Electric Power Module converts your basic homemade paper airplane into an electrical aircraft capable of over 30 seconds of flight. Simply design your own paper airplane, attach the PowerUp electrical module, and let the fun begin.
A combination of LEGOS and orgami let your kids make these PIPEROID paper robots. These are unique paper craft robot kits which can be assembled in less than 30 minutes. The only tool needed is scissors; no tape or glue needed.
Any other suggestions for a tween boy? What do your tween kids want this holiday season?
How can it be Thanksgiving already? Ready or not, it’s here. In honor of Turkey Day I’ll be celebrating by closing up my laptop for a short break and spending some much needed time with family and friends. I hope many of you get the chance to do the same over this long weekend.
While eating too much turkey and dancing Gangnam Style with my nieces and nephews (dance party happens after we stuff ourselves silly) I’ll also take some time to think about all that I’m grateful for. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-I am grateful for each and every reader of this site. You have given me encouragement, advice and support that makes this site work. Whether you have left a comment, sent an email, advertised on the site or just read the articles, you have helped to make a difference and inspired me to continue doing what I’m doing.
As a friendly little reminder-if you have the tendency to get sucked into Black Friday, as many of us do, check out these 4 Ways to Be a Green Consumer on Black Friday and Beyond. Black Friday, which falls the day after Thanksgiving, is the kick off for the holiday shopping season. We all know at least one person who lives for the Black Friday madness. You know who I’m talking about (maybe it’s you?): they set their alarm for the wee hours of the morning, wake up ready to shop and spend, and are mentally prepared to wait in long lines-all in the name of finding a bargain. Bring it on, but try to make it a wee bit greener this year. I dare you.
And before we go our separate ways for a few days I wanted to share this Thanksgiving video from one of my favorites goofballs, Adam Sandler.
Lori Popkewitz Alper, Founder and Editor of Groovy Green Livin, provides eco-wellness consulting for businesses, schools, homes and individuals; and inspiration for a greener lifestyle through her Groovy Green Livin blog and website. Read more….