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Archive for Green Living

April 1st, 2014

What Does a Fat-Free Label Really Mean?

Groovy Green Livin Fat-Free Label

Fat-free is a term that many of us are very familiar with. We see ‘fat-free’ on our food labels and we seek it out on the foods we love to eat.

What Does ‘Fat-Free’ Mean?

There’s an assumption that fat-free actually means free of all fat. Well it doesn’t. The label that reads ‘fat-free’ can actually be very misleading.

The FDA permits foods to be labeled ‘fat-free’ if they contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.

Here’s the tricky part. If you eat over and above the serving size on the package chances are the food will no longer be fat-free. And we all know how small those serving sizes tend to be on a food label. Most are very unrealistic.

For example let’s pretend we are about to indulge and eat a fat-free, chocolate chip cookie for lunch. The label on the cookie packaging states that the serving size is 1 tasty cookie. We all know that it’s next to impossible to eat only one cookie. So now we add two more cookies to our lunch-time treat. While each cookie has under the 0.5 grams fat content to legally be called fat-free, when added together they exceed that amount. Those cookies are no longer fat free.

Does ‘Fat-Free’ Mean Calorie-Free?

Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Not all calories are created equal, but it still holds true that a calorie is a calorie whether it comes from fat or carbohydrates. Packaging can say a product is fat free, but it could be loaded with sugar. Check labels carefully for calorie count and serving size.

Sometimes It’s OK to Eat a Little Fat.

The type of fat you eat may be more important than the amount of fat you eat. When choosing your foods think about finding sources of good fat, not necessarily fat-free foods. Bad fats in food can increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Consuming foods with good fat will help keep your heart and body healthy. Omega-3 fats are an example of good fats and can be found in Chia seeds, salmon and other fish and Brussels sprouts.

Best solution: Eat everything in moderation, do your best to stick with fruits and vegetables which are naturally low in fat and try to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

What do you think of the fat-free label? Is it important to you when you’re buying food?

photo credit: MyDigitalSLR via photopin cc

March 17th, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Filming a Green Living Makeover Video with Manilla

Groovy Green Livin Filming a Green Living Makeover

I’m back in Boston after a day of filming a green living makeover video with the fabulous team from Manilla. As many of you know I’m Manilla’s Green Living Expert and I was asked to makeover a college student’s apartment that was a complete ‘green’ disaster!

There’s nothing like heading into Manhattan for the day. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s such an easy trip. I just hopped on the Acela and took a 3 1/2 hour train ride into Penn Station.

My morning in New York started off when I arrived at the prestigious Hearst Tower in Manhattan, home to Manilla and some of the most well known magazines including Marie-Claire, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan.

Groovy Green Livin Filming a Green Living Makeover

The filming of the makeover took place on the 29th floor where Good Housekeeping Magazine is located. It was incredible to see the test kitchens and various rooms filled with appliances and vacuums.

Green Living Makeover

The purpose of the video: It was my job to makeover a college student’s apartment and turn it into a lean, green, eco-friendly machine.

Annie, a senior at Fordham University, was in desperate need of a green living makeover. Her apartment was filled with plastics and paper products along with toxic cleaning supplies. She was a great sport and so much fun to work with, as was the entire Manilla team.

Groovy Green Livin filming a green living makeover

I’ve filmed other videos for Manilla, but this was different. We spent about 6 hours filming, which will ultimately end up as a 4 minute video. We shot each segment over and over so the editing crew has quite a bit of footage to choose from. There were hand closeups, b-roll footage (extra footage) and me trying desperately to get through each take without a mistake! 

Groovy Green Livin filming a green living makeover

We started off using cue cards, but that didn’t work very well. I ended up memorizing my lines and improvising. Now the makeover editing team will have to work their magic.

Groovy Green Livin Green Living Makeover

After the Green Living Makeover

I was really excited to see Annie’s apartment after some of my suggested changes had been made. Stay tuned to see what happened!

While you’re waiting feel free to check out my other Manilla Mini videos:

  1. Green Your Kitchen in 4 Easy Steps! 
  2. 5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life
  3. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips and 
  4. 5 Ways to Go Green and Save Green
  5. The Benefits of Going Green

If you were offered a green living makeover what’s the first thing you would want to change? 

 

photo credit: simonk via photopin cc

March 10th, 2014

5 Ways to Green Your Spring

Groovy Green Livin Spring

I’m patiently waiting for a sign of spring. Any sign. Waking up to yet another inch of snow this morning certainly didn’t help.

I’m going to have to pretend that spring is almost here. 

Most of us associate spring with a time for starting fresh. Flowers start to blossom and the air carries that wonderful scent of new green growth.  For many spring simply means cleaning out the dirt, dust and disorder that have crept in over the past year.

Here are a few ways that I’m planning to celebrate a green spring when it finally does arrive.

Do a Cleanse

Colon cleansing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to clean out our bodies by removing built up toxins from inside the colon. There are dozens of options available for clearing the colon of this accumulated waste and it’s important to find the solution that works for you.

The cleanse I do each year is a liquid fast for 5 days.  I use a company called Blessed Herbs which puts together a kit with simple instructions for the cleanse. The kit comes in two flavors, ginger and peppermint. I prefer the ginger flavor, but it’s personal preference. There are a lot of  cleanse options out there and it’s important to find one that works for you. Make sure to speak with your physician before doing a cleanse.

Green Your Grilling

At our house it’s not uncommon to find us barbecuing year round. We have been known to trudge out to the barbecue on snowy days just for the sake of a juicy veggie burger. Now that spring is just around the corner break out that grill and make sure you have green grilling utensils ready for use. Also read up on the proper temperature for cooking meat and other food on the grill. Research has shown that cancer-causing compounds are formed when protein foods (meats, poultry, fish) are cooked at high heat.

Green Your Spring Cleaning

Did you know that cleaning product companies aren’t required to tell us what chemicals they use in their products? From cleaning your carpets to your every day cleaning supplies, it’s time to reevaluate what products you’re using and either make your own or invest in safe products from companies that are completely transparent with their ingredient lists.

Invest in a Few Houseplants

Spring is coming and soon the windows will be open. If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your indoor air qualityindoor house plants are the answer. Many common houseplants act as an air filter, removing toxins from the air we breathe.  Here is a list of the Top 10 Houseplants that Clean the Air.

Start Planning a Garden

Over the years I have been very diligent about planting a garden each spring with my three boys. Working together to create a vegetable garden has always been an incredibly rewarding process. Not much can compare to watching children tirelessly dig and craft a garden. If you are interested in planting a garden HERE are a few tips to get you started  this spring.

How do you get ready for spring? Are you going to plant a garden this year?

photo credit: HereIsTom via photopin cc

October 3rd, 2013

5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life – VIDEO

 

Groovy Green Livin Greener

Remember when I traveled to New York to film 5 short videos for Manilla covering the many ways we can all lead a greener life?

The first video is ready to share! I would love to hear what you think.

Simple Steps to a Greener Life

If you’re not a green king or queen, switching to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can be daunting. Fortunately, there are simple ways to reduce your environmental impact without drastically impacting your daily life.

1.     Phase out plastics from your home—especially those used for food storage:

Plastics can leak harmful toxic chemicals into our food, which can affect our long-term health. Switch to glass storage containers to ensure that your food stays fresh and you stay healthy.

2.     Switch to reusable bags:

The next time you visit the supermarket, bring along reusable bags. Leave them in the front seat of your car or in another visible spot so that you remember them. Not only will you be saving the environment, but you’ll also be reducing the clutter in your home.

3.     Start using non-toxic cleaning products:

Conventional cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals that don’t belong in your home. Instead, try to find brands that don’t contain harsh chemicals like. ammonia, synthetic fragrance, chlorine bleach, parabens and phosphates, or consider making your own cleaning supplies.

4.     Replace your personal care items with safe, non-toxic alternatives:

The most eco-friendly way to a greener life is to replace items with environmentally conscious alternatives as you run out of them. When your shampoos or other personal care items run low, replace them with non-toxic products like those found on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If a product has a high hazard score, it shouldn’t be coming in contact with your body.

5.     Leave your shoes at the door:

While the Jones’ lawn might be green, it’s also full of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. All of those toxins march right into your living space when you wear your shoes from outdoors into your home. Create a space outside or in the garage where you can kick off your shoes until the next time you venture outside.

I would love to hear your steps for a greener life! 

The video is also airing on the Manilla blog and at Yahoo! Finance. More videos are coming so stay tuned! 

photo credit: epSos.de via photopin cc

May 14th, 2013

3 Cooking Tips That Will Rock Your Kitchen

Groovy Green Livin Cooking

There are so many fantastic cooking tips out there, far too many to include here. Over time I’ll keep adding more and more to the list. A few of my favorites have included how to clean stainless steel pots and pans and stainless steel appliances. Here are three more cooking tips that have really rocked my kitchen.

Easy Peasy Egg Shell Remover

If you use eggs to cook you know how frustrating it can be to get a piece of egg shell out of a mixture. There’s good news-no extra tools or fingers required. Simply use another piece of egg shell from the cracked egg to scoop it out. For some reason the extra shell cuts right through the egg and easily scoops up the annoying piece of shell. Try it and you’ll be amazed.

Get Rid of That Garlic Smell

I love garlic and all of its superpowers, but I can’t stand the smell it leaves on my hands after chopping. Here’s a trick to get rid of that stinky garlic smell: After working with garlic, rub your hands on your stainless steel sink or with a stainless steel utensil for 30 seconds before washing them. Bye, bye stinky garlic smell.

Chopping Onions Without Tears

Cutting onions and crying seems to go hand-in-hand for most of us. Here are a few tips for keeping those tears at bay when chopping an onion:

  • Sharpen those knives. Using a sharp knife means that less enzymes are released since the onion is sliced through, not crushed.
  • Cut or peel your onion under running water.
  • Dunk the onions in cold water for 15 minutes before cutting,
  • Refrigerate or freeze the onion for a few minutes before cutting or chopping.
  • Chop near a flame. The rationale seems to be that the flames sucks in many of the offending vapors before they reach your eyes.
  • Spray a little vinegar on your cutting board before you slice.

Do you have any simple cooking tips to add to the list?

 

March 26th, 2013

March Madness Dinner Party with One Bag of Trash

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Paying attention during March Madness is not high on my priority list, but if Wisconsin is playing and there’s a way to combine the games with good food and good friends I’m in. The Badgers didn’t last long this year, losing in the second round of March Madness to the Ole Miss Rebels. That didn’t stop us from having a dinner with friends and their families.

Our dinner was fantastic.

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Everyone brought something to share.

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Aren’t these basketball cupcakes da bomb?

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

We were given a challenge-to host a March Madness party with only one bag of trash at the end of the night.

That might sound easy on a regular day, but when you have 8 adults and 8 children eating together it becomes a challenge to stick to  greener habits. Many times when entertaining takes place eco-friendly habits fall by the wayside. According to the Clean Air Council, 43,000 tons of food are thrown out every day in the United States, and each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Those are some scary statistics.

Considering composting and recycling before throwing something in a trash bag makes it easy to reduce overall waste.  During our party our guests were instructed to place all of the food scraps into this Simplehuman Compost Pail. We also had recycle bins available. Making small eco-friendly tweaks to your party planning can ultimately have a big impact on the environment.

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Here are a few tips for keeping it green when entertaining. 

  • Email your invites. I actually didn’t use formal invitations for this party. We just kept an online dialogue going about timing and menu.
  • Buy what you can in bulk. Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store can be a great way to save money on your grocery bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. I like the ability to buy only what you need and decreasing the chance of creating excess waste.
  • Use reusable napkins. We have 5 people in our family-if we eat just one meal a day at home using paper/disposable napkins we are using 1,825 paper napkins per year. That statistic was enough to make me switch to reusable napkins. Making the switch is a simple way to help the environment and save yourself a few pennies in the long run.
  • Go for real dishes, reusable water bottles or cups and flatware. Not only do they look nicer, but you’ll be doing the earth a favor. Using reusable dishes, cups, water bottles and utensils prevents disposable paper or plastic from unnecessarily entering a landfill. If you don’t have enough dishes for the party consider borrowing from a friend. 
  • Donate leftover food. This never seems to be an issue for us. We have a family of healthy eaters! If you have leftovers check with your local food pantry for donation options.
  • Have recycle containers and a compost bucket ready for action. Show your guests where to place their refuse. Every city and town has their own recycle system in place, so follow along with their guidelines. We are novice composters over here, but we have a compost bucket that can handle any food scraps.
  • Use a compostable garbage bag to collect your one bag of trash. As most of you who follow this blog know I’m on a mission to reduce the amount of plastic in my life. With 5 people and a dog our garbage bags can get pretty messy and runs the risk of leaking. The best alternative I’ve found is a compostable garbage bag by Glad which is made with a vegetable-based material that’s 100% biodegradable and compostable. If a plastic bag is needed for garbage, they’re a much better option than true plastic bags.

Here’s what we were left with after everything was recycled and/or composted. Not bad for 16 people!

Groovy Green Livin March Madness

Do you think you could have a One Bag party and throw away only one bag of trash?

Stay tuned….I’ll be posting a giveaway in the next few days for a One Bag party kit so you can give it a try. You can also enter for a chance to win $10,000 toward your own personal One Bag party through March 31, 2013 HERE.

photo credit: iandavidmuir via photopin cc photo credit: thecocoacakery via photopin cc

Disclosure: I did receive compensation in exchange for having a one bag party and sharing my experience. The content and opinions are 100% my own and always will be. Promise.

February 1st, 2013

Groovy Green Livin on the News!

Groovy Green Livin on the News

I don’t watch the news that often. I find most of the stories depressing and a sad commentary on the state of the world-something that I’m already well aware of. This week was a different story: on Wednesday night I watched the news from start to finish.

Let me back up for a minute before I get to why I watched the news. As many of you know I started  a petition over at Change.org demanding that Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) strip a harmful cancer-causing chemical out of Tide Free & Gentle®. The petition went viral. Over 78,000 people signed, demanding that Procter & Gamble change the formulation of their Tide laundry detergent. After almost a year Procter & Gamble realized they could no longer ignore our concerns. Victory! Procter & Gamble agreed in a California court to reformulate its detergents to reduce levels of 1,4 dioxane by September of 2013!

Now I can tell you why I watched the news.

I received an email on Wednesday from Amalia Barreda, (a local Boston reporter shown with me in the photo above) asking if she could interview me about the Tide victory.

I remember from my last two television interviews that the turn around time was very quick. This was no different. They showed up at my doorstep in an hour an a half.  Somehow I managed to pull it together by shoving a lot of stuff in cabinets and closets. My house had the outward appearance of being somewhat clean .

They came in and we began casually discussing the Tide petition. I barely noticed when the cameras started rolling.

SONY DSC

What I loved most about this interview was the casual tone that Amalia set. It was as though we were having a friendly conversation. Her questions were insightful and clear. We spoke for a bit and then they filmed some footage of me doing my bloggy thing-working on my laptop!

Here’s the clip if you missed it. The quality isn’t fabulous for now, but hopefully you can hear most of it!

Thanks for tuning in. Have a fabulous weekend! 

Any big plans?

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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Lori on ABC World News

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