About a year ago I was sent a Lodge 10-inch cast iron skillet ($14) for review and it rocked my world. Since then I have an arsenal of stainless steel and cast iron in my kitchen. Cast iron certainly has its drawbacks- it’s extremely heavy and cast iron requires a little extra elbow grease to keep it in tip top shape. But I’m finding the pros far outweigh the cons.
Since I’m a newbie when it comes to cast iron I thought I would devote some time to a few cast iron basics.
Why Should I Buy Cast Iron?
Cast iron is the pan that your grandmother used. Cast iron pans keep getting better and better as they age. The more you cook the better they get. These relatively inexpensive pans are virtually indestructible, provided you take care of them. Cast iron pans can be transferred from the stove top right into the oven (or on the grill, or even over the campfire). Also, the seasoning of the pan creates a nonstick surface without the toxic chemicals found in Teflon pans (see below for information on seasoning). Note of caution: Acidic foods like tomatoes, beans, and certain sauces can damage seasoning, and should be avoided until the seasoning is well-established.
What Cooking Tools Should I Use With Cast Iron?
Many cast iron devotees have heard rumors that wooden cooking utensils are the best. This isn’t necessarily true. Stainless steel spatulas work fine and won’t damage the seasoned pan. If you choose to use metal cooking utensils with your cast iron you might see black flakes in your food. Those flakes are probably pieces of food and shouldn’t be of concern.
How Do I Clean and Season Cast Iron?
Cleaning cast iron is actually very simple.
After cooking, clean your pan with a sponge and hot water. No need to use soap. Careful not to put a hot pan in cold water-this could causing it to warp or crack.
TIP: If you are having trouble removing stuck-on food, boil some water in your pan for a few minutes to loosen residue, making it easier to remove.
Towel dry immediately and apply a light coating of oil while the pan is still warm.
There’s been a video flying around the internet on how to clean and season cast iron. It’s fascinating and involves using kosher salt. Take a look.
Do you have any cast iron pots and pans? Any tips to share?
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One question that I’m constantly asked is: “What green cleaning products do you use?”
That’s a tough question to answer since I’m always testing out new and improved green cleaning products, but I’m going to give it shot.
My overall advice when making the switch to green cleaning products is to replace products you’re currently using as they run out with a safer version. Take the time to research safer, non-toxic products and then make the switch.
So here you go….. Take a rare peek into my somewhat disorganized cabinet under the kitchen sink to see what green cleaning products I’m using right now.
That BIG tank is part of a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Let me know if you want to hear more about it. I’m happy to share the pros and cons.
Here are some of the green cleaning products under my kitchen sink:
This product is great for cleaning tile and grout, stainless steel, toilets, showers and tubs. I’ve been using Better Life green cleaning products for a few years. I’ve written about Better Life before and shared with you that I was an official blogger for the company. This essentially meant that I had a chance to test out some of their products and share my honest opinion. And I did!
Oh how I love this stuff. It can be used for cleaning so many different things. HERE are a few ideas to get you started.
Branch Basics is an interesting concept. If you don’t want to make your own cleaning products this is the next best thing. The starter kit comes with concentrate, an Empty Refillable Spray Bottle and foamer bottle. The unscented concentrate can be diluted with water to make the cleaner. There’s a guide that comes with the kit which spells out how to mix the concentrate. It can be used for laundry, dishes, stains, removing streaks and more.
What are some of your favorite green cleaning products hiding under your kitchen sink? I’d love to hear!
Disclosure: These products were all purchased by me and can be found under my kitchen sink. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk according to new estimates released by WHO, showing that in 2012 around 7 million people died — one in eight of total global deaths — as a result of air pollution. 4.3 million of those deaths wereattributable to indoor air pollution.
New carpet installation is one cause of indoor air pollution and can fill household air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including probable carcinogens like formaldehyde and benzene and stain repellents.
My struggle to find a chemical-free carpet began in college, but it didn’t end there. Every space that I’ve come to call home over the years has had some form of carpeting.
The toxic carpet issue became real as I watched my first child begin to roll and fall face first into our plush, new carpet. Most conventional carpets are made from synthetic fibers doused in artificial dyes, stain repellents, adhesives and other toxic chemicals. And my son was diving head first into that toxic soup.
What can we do?
BECOME A CARPET DETECTIVE!
As with any purchase, it’s important to be an informed consumer. We can all become carpet detectives! Contact retailers directly to ask questions and verify that you’re receiving a product free from toxic chemicals. Not only will this ensure that your carpet is safe for you and your family, but it will also notify retailers that we, as consumers, care about our products and we refuse to purchase products that are toxic.
Wondering where to buy a chemical free carpet? I detected a few brands that fit the bill. Some better than others. Some more expensive than others.
Earth Weave is my top choice for chemical free carpets. According to James Stinnett, President of Earth Weave Carpet Mills:
“The company’s commitment lies not in the recycling petrochemical products, but rather in taking advantage of the ultimate manufacturer; Mother Nature and her renewable natural resources. There’s no safe level of toxicity”
He also refers to the “recycled pop bottle products” that other manufacturers are using as an eco-selling point, and calls this “green-washing” stating that even though these products are marketed as environmentally friendly, they’re truly not.
Earth Weave uses something called Bio-Floor, which is 100% bio-degradable, and will decompose in a similar fashion to trees and grass clippings. Their products are made of pure wool, with no dyes, pesticides or stain protections.
Bloomsburg Carpet is a family owned business that focuses on using sustainable fibers that are ecologically friendly and readily renewable. According to the company “Our carpets meet the highest standard of indoor air quality and meet or exceed the Green Label Plus* criteria for floor coverings.”Green Label Plus is an independent testing program that identifies carpet with very low emissions of VOCs to help improve indoor air quality.
Woolshire is a family owned business, using wool to make their carpets. Wool acts as a natural fire retardant and also is a non-allergenic fiber which does not promote the growth of bacteria, dust mites, or give off harmful emissions. All Woolshire carpets are certified Green Label Plus* (see above for description). They’ve also partnered with EnviroCel, a natural backing for their carpets made from recycled soda bottles and soy beans.
Helios carpets are made in the US and are owned by Mohawk, a large conventional carpet distributor. Helios carpets are primarily made from New Zealand wool. Wool is dirt and soil resistant, fire retardant and non-allergenic. While most carpeting is tufted, Helios Wool carpets are woven. This makes them wear twice as long, and the company claims this reduces energy consumption by 50% during manufacturing and keeps them out of landfills for a many more years.
*Note about Green Label Plus certification: Some carpet manufacturers argue that the Green Label Plus certification isn’t a very stringent or reliable standard.
Don’t you think it’s time to take the burden away from the consumer and place it where it belongs – with the carpet industry?
Have you had any luck finding non-toxic, chemical-free carpets?
Walking up and down the bulk food aisle at your local supermarket can be somewhat intimidating and overwhelming. The sheer number of bins is mind-boggling and the choices are endless. Take your pick from bins of grains, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, spices or baking ingredients.
Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store is a great way to save money on your food bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. Here are a few more reasons to buy in bulk:
Get more bang for your buck
Bye bye wasteful packaging
Buy only what you need
Ability to test out new products without a big investment
Take the “Pledge to Love Bulk Food”
To help celebrate Earth Month this April, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is challenging consumers to take the pledge to “Love Bulk Foods” (foods bought from the bulk bins of a grocery store).
Why should consumers take BIGs pledge to Love Bulk Foods?
If Americans purchased all of their coffee from the bulk bins for 1 month (Earth Month), 20,000,000 pounds of foil packaging would be saved from landfills. That¹s the equivalent weight of 7,667 compact cars.
If the average American family bought peanut butter in bulk for 1 month, 1Ž2 pound of waste per family would be saved from entering landfills.
If Americans purchased all of their almonds in bulk for 1 month, 6,000,000 pounds of waste would be saved from landfills. That¹s the equivalent weight of 522.5 elephants.
Purchasing oatmeal from the bulk bins saves 5x the waste of its packaged equivalent
What is the Pledge to Love Bulk Food?
Take the pledge to purchase bulk foods once a week during the month of April, Earth Month (remember to bring your reusable bags!). If you’re interested in taking the pledge head on over to the Love Bulk Foods pledge page and sign a digital pledge. To make it easy to get on board with foods from the bulk bins, the Bulk is Green Council has outlined week-by-week the best bulk foods to purchase during Earth Month, that also offer significant environmental benefits (check out the infographic below).
If you pledge you’re automatically entered in a drawing where winners will be selected once a week at random and receive their very own Earth Month starter kit filled with everything needed to help create a natural and organic pantry and get on board with bulk foods. The prize pack includes recycled glass storage jars and a starter kit of common/popular natural and organic bulk foods that can be found in most bulk bins of natural food co-ops and grocery stores from the following brands: SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Lundberg Family Farms, and several other bulk brands.
Do you use bulk food bins? What are your favorite bulk foods to buy?
We all know we should “go green,” but we don’t all know the reasons why. Here are three important benefits of going green.
1. It saves you money
There are several ways to save money and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. First, consider switching to energy efficient appliances (affiliate links included). Although it’s a bit of an investment up front, you’ll notice the long-term monetary benefits in your lower monthly energy bills.
Second, unplug your appliances when you’re not using them. Use a power stripto make it easy. Not only will you save energy, you’ll also save money.
2. It keeps you healthy
Eliminating toxic chemicals found in cleaning supplies, cooking products and personal care items can drastically improve your health and reduce instances of skin, eye and respiratory irritations.
Also, if it’s an option, consider walking orbiking when possible instead of driving or taking public transit. Not only is it a free option, but it will also keep you healthy and active.
3. It has a long-term impact
Going green is a lifestyle choice that has both immediate and long-term benefits. Living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle today helps ensure a more vibrant planet tomorrow. Reducing carbon emissions, recycling, eliminating plastics, and saving water are all ways we can promote long-term environmental health.
Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)
It’s time for my newest video, Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips! This is the second in a series of 5 videos filmed during my recent trip to New York City and produced by the amazing team over at Manilla. Each video covers some of the many ways we can all lead a greener life. If you missed my first video, 5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life, you can find it HERE.
Hope you enjoy!
4 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips
Conventional cleaning products are expensive and can be hazardous to your health. Not to mention the amount of paper we waste using paper towels. Green your cleaning process by following these easy eco-friendly cleaning tips.
1. Ditch your Swiffer
Single-use mop pads are expensive and wasteful. Invest in a reuseable mop with a detachable head that can be tossed in the washing machine, hung dry and used again and again.
2. Make your own cleaning products
Making your own cleaning products is simpler than it seems and requires few ingredients. The four basic staples are baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and water. If making your own products still seems like too much work, consider swapping out your current cleaning supplies with non-toxic alternatives found at health food stores as you run out.
3. Hang dry your laundry
line drying your clothing may seem antiquated, but it actually preserves the integrity of your clothing, saves you money, and uses less chemicals.
4. Stop using paper towels
For most of us, using paper towels is a habit—and habits can be hard to break. But, using reusable cloth and old linens as rags can dramatically reduce your household waste and save you up to $1,500 a year.
I’m at war over here. A war with fruit flies. And I’m proud to say I’m winning.
The piece that I’m struggling with is that there’s nothing that could possibly be causing these little buggers to multiply like wildfire. I know how they got here- there was ripe fruit on the counter. That piece makes perfect sense. But I’m having a hard time understanding how they’re still here after we were out of the house on vacation for over a week. The disposal’s been run, the garbage emptied. counters wiped and the fruit flies have still managed to find something in our home to help them thrive. And thrive they are doing very well.
The only theory I can surmise is way back when we did have ripe fruit on the counter the fruit flies decided to lay hundreds of eggs which then hatched into larvae and then decided to stick around for a while.
The bottom line is they’re here and they’ve been calling our kitchen home.
I have always taught my kids to try their best to release bugs found in our house safely outside. Yes, I’m one of those parents. Last night was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. There were too many fruit flies and releasing them outside wasn’t working. I was finished sharing my home with what felt like thousands (probably only 50) of them.
Here’s how the fruit fly battle went down.
How to get rid of fruit flies naturally
A glass jar. I used a glass Pyrex measuring cup.
Apple cider vinegar
Liquid dish soap
Plastic wrap. I don’t use it for many things, but it was helpful for this
A rubber band
Fill the glass jar with 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.
Add a squirt of liquid dish washing soap and mix them together with a spoon.
Cover the top of the glass jar with plastic wrap and hold it in place with a rubber band.
Poke small holes in the plastic wrap (so the fruit flies can get in, but can’t get out).
I woke up this morning and discovered that I’d won. There are still a few hanging around, but they’re pretty interested in the apple cider vinegar concoction. I’m guessing they won’t be around for long.
There are many ways to combat fruit flies. Some are very similar and others different.
Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green has a similar solution, but doesn’t use plastic wrap. Might have to try that next time!
Becky from Eat Drink Better had success with the same sort of fruit fly recipe. She points out that the dish soap breaks the vinegar’s surface tension so the flies can’t land on the surface of the vinegar without sinking.
Tiffany from Nature Moms creates a simple trap using a jar, plastic wrap and a piece of food.
Karen from EcoKaren had similar success with the apple cider vinegar method.