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March 18th, 2015

Ask Lori: Should I Peel Cucumbers or Leave the Skin On?

Ask Lori: Should I Peel Cucumbers? Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been asked many times how I come up with topics to write about. Cucumbers for example-how did this make it to the top of the list? Here’s the answer: Readers submit questions all the time and I do my best to respond. I’ve mainly been responding via email. A week or so ago I was meeting with a colleague and she suggested that I use some of the fantastic questions submitted for blog post topics. And so here we are. Keep those fantastic questions coming. You never know, they could end up the topic for “Ask Lori” .

QUESTION: Should we be peeling the skin off cucumbers or just leave it on? I don’t know if pesticides were used in the growing of the cucumber so I’ve been peeling off the skin. What do you think? 

Did you know that cucumbers belong to the same family as melons? The first cucumbers are believed to have come from India. They’re fairly easy to grow here in the Northeast. I grow them every year in my garden.

Cucumbers are low in calories and high in vitamin K, anti-oxidants and potassium. Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.

I recently started eating  most vegetables whole, raw and with the peel on.  Sometimes they don’t look as pretty , but the taste is sweet and delicious. The peel stays put so I can reap the full benefit from the veggies-lots of fiber and nutrients.  Nature made them that way, and let’s face it- peeling is a pain.

There are a few situations where you SHOULD peel cucumbers:

  • If the outer skin or peel has a bitter taste.
  • When the cucumber isn’t organic and could be laden with heavy doses of pesticides. Cucumbers are listed as one of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”. The Dirty Dozen is a  list of 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides detected on the parts you eat, after typical washing.
  • If your digestive system can’t handle peels.

If you have an organic cucumber leave the peel on. You’re peeling away layers of nutritional value.

Vitamin K and unpeeled cucumbers

Eating an unpeeled cucumber adds to your daily vitamin K intake. Eating 1 cup of unpeeled cucumber provides you with 17.1 micrograms of vitamin K, while peeled cucumber slices contain only 8.6 micrograms.

Cucumbers and Vitamin C

Add unpeeled cucumber to your diet as a source of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid.  Each 1-cup serving of peeled cucumber contains 2.9 milligrams of vitamin C.

BOTTOM LINE: It sounds as though my reader’s cucumbers were not organic. I would suggest peeling the skin off since they are listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” and trying to buy organic cucumbers in the future.

Do you peel your cucumbers?  Are you willing to try eating them with the peel on?
photo credit: cucumbers en route to pickledom via photopin (license)

 


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March 16th, 2015

Introducing Frozen Yogurt Pearls from Stonyfield

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls Groovy Green Livin

About a year ago I had a few very special visitors show up at my door with a batch of Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls. I remember how excited I was to be one of the first to taste these delicious little treats before they hit the store shelves.

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls

And now I’m thrilled to let you know that everyone can enjoy these one-of-a- kind organic frozen treats. Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls are available across New England at Whole Foods Market (except Providence store) and are located in the freezer aisle at $3.99 for two.

WHAT ARE STONYFIELD FROZEN YOGURT PEARLS?

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls are scoops of Stonyfield’s decadent organic frozen nonfat yogurt wrapped in delicious, all natural fruit coatings. I’ve been eating Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt for many years so this was a simple transition for me.

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls Groovy Green Livin

Here are a few things I love about the Frozen Yogurt Pearls:

  • No spoons needed-these are handheld snacks.
  • They’re only 20 calories each.
  • The packaging is genius-similar to the skin of a grape.
  • Portion controlled! No scooping required.
  • They’re organic.
  • The company that developed the protective skin is local (Cambridge, MA).

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The patent pending WikiPearl® technology creates a protective skin from natural food particles. The skin protects the yogurt from the outside, enabling it to be washed (yes, washed!), carried and handled without being damaged. This technology was invented by Harvard professor Dr. David Edwards and his Cambridge-based company WikiFoods. WikiPearl and Stonyfield were recently the proud recipients of one of TIME Magazine’s Top 25 Inventions of 2014.

THE DREAM OF STONYFIELD CO-FOUNDER 

Thirty years ago, Stonyfield co-founder Gary Hirschberg set out to make Stonyfield a truly sustainable business, and ever since, they’ve led the way with countless innovations to reduce packaging. They’ve long dreamed of the day of a truly sustainable packaging, where after you eat the yogurt, you eat the cup too. Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls, a first of its kind, takes a giant step towards truly sustainable packaging.

AVAILABLE FLAVORS

    • Peach & Vanilla
    • Coconut & Chocolate (my favorite)
    • Strawberry & Vanilla
    • Strawberry & Chocolate

LOCATIONS TO PURCHASE

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls are available across New England at Whole Foods Market (except Providence store) and are located in the freezer aisle at $3.99 for two.

COUPON! Get 2 FOR $6

All Groovy Green Livin readers can download and print this coupon and take it into any participating Whole Foods market to get 2 packs of Pearls for $6. Save 25%! Click HERE.

I was very excited to find them at my local Whole Foods Market. Have you had a chance to try them?

 


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Disclaimer: I work in partnership with Stonyfield as a YoGetter Captain and blogger and I am compensated for my work. I did receive a sample for this review. The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. 

February 24th, 2015

Stonyfield YoBaby Turns Sweet 16!

YoBaby yogurt turns 16 this year (that's old enough to drive!)  Groovy Green Livin

I remember feeding that first bite of solid food to each of my boys. That scrunched up face and tongue that didn’t quite know what to do or how to chew. It was adorable and photo and video worthy. I’m sure those of you who have seen a child take their first bite of food can remember that very same moment.

YoBaby yogurt was always an easy option during those early years. Grabbing a few yogurt containers or tubes and throwing them in the diaper bag with an ice pack was part of the routine. They would reappear just before a meltdown on the playground or while dragging my poor third child to multiple sporting events. In retrospect he really was a trooper.

Happy Birthday YoBaby Groovy Green LivinMany times a spoon didn’t make it into the diaper bag, but that yogurt was still handed out in sheer desperation to any child who was about to lose it. It was truly a lifesaver. By the time we made it home on most days it looked as though we’d been through a war zone. But the kids were well fed and happy. That’s what truly matters, isn’t it?

Choosing organic foods was high on the priority list when my kids were little and still remains at the top of the list today. In a nutshell, products with an organic certification are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. There’s more good news when it comes to organic foods: USDA certified products cannot intentionally contain GMOs.

I’ve been working closely with one of my favorite brands, Stonyfield, for many years. I was a loyal Stonyfield customer long before our partnership began. It’s sort of an organic match, wouldn’t you say?

Happy 16th Birthday YoBaby!

I’m always up for celebrating a birthday. This year YoBaby yogurt is turning 16. It’s been a true pleasure watching this brand that I care so much about grow, mature and continue to serve up more and more organic products. It never ceases to amaze me when I find a Stonyfield product in a remote shop on the side of the road. Take a peek at my Instagram feed to check out a few of my Stonyfield sightings. Stonyfield is making quality organic products accessible to everyone and that’s something truly commendable.

Happy Sweet 16 YoBaby. My own babies aren’t quite old enough to drive, but soon enough they’ll be joining your ranks!


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


Disclaimer: I work in partnership with Stonyfield as a YoGetter Captain and blogger and I am compensated for my work . The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only work with companies I
support and think you, my readers, will like. 

photo credit: Baby Feeds Himself via photopin (license)

January 23rd, 2015

5 Healthier Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes

Healthier  Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes Groovy Green Livin

Now that my son no longer has a peanut allergy (stay tuned for this amazing story) nuts of all kinds have been a staple in our home. And there’s a good reason.

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found people who ate a daily handful of nuts (including peanuts which are technically legumes) were 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t.

So in honor of National Peanut Butter Day (January 24th, 2015) I’m going to share with you 5 amazing recipes from a few peanut butter loving bloggers.

But first this fact: Did you know that it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter?

Now it’s time to take a peek at these delicious recipes and if something floats your peanut-butter-loving boat click on the link to bring you to the full recipe. My only suggestion-use organic peanut butter without added sugar whenever you can.

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge by Chocolate Covered Katie

I was so excited to stumble across this recipe for Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge. Something so delicious without butter, heavy cream, or high fructose corn syrup.

Healthy Peanut-Butter-Fudge Groovy Green Livin

No-Bake Energy Bites by Gimme Some Oven

What got me with these delicious treats is the “no-bake”. And they’re incredibly easy to make. Take a peek here.

Peanut Butter No-Bake-Energy-Bites-Groovy Green Livin

Double Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting by Desserts with Benefits

This Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting looks seriously decadent, but it’s also healthier than most cakes, low sugar, high in fiber and high in protein.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cake Groovy Green Livin

 

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter and Avocado Pudding by Healthfully Ever After

Chocolate, peanut butter and avocado sounds like an interesting combo in this recipe. There are only 7 ingredients and the recipe is relatively healthy! This recipe calls for Greek yogurt and personally I like to add Stonyfield organic Greek yogurt to my recipes. I think you know why!

healthy chocolate peanut butter avocado pudding Groovy Green Livin

Flourless Chocolate Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Topping (Gluten Free!)by Nutritionist in the Kitch

This cake is flourless! Guess what holds it together? Sweet potatoes! Don’t worry, Christal assures us that you can’t taste the sweet potato for all you sweet potato haters.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE BROWNIES WITH SALTED PEANUT BUTTER TOPPING (GLUTEN FREE!) Groovy Green Livin

 Enjoy National Peanut Butter Day! What’s your favorite peanut butter recipe?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

November 26th, 2014

10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Thanksgiving

Groovy Green Livin Thanksgiving

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many. It’s a time to eat, indulge and spend uninterrupted time with family.

It’s also a time for reflection. A time to think about what we’re thankful for and a time to think about how the choices we make impact our families and the planet.

Although every day provides an opportunity for reflection and change, Thanksgiving stands out as the perfect day to kick off a few new habits that will effect the longevity of our planet. If each of us revamped our consumption and waste habits by slightly adjusting what’s already in place, the overall impact could be huge.

Here are a few tips for the Thanksgiving holiday that will reduce our carbon footprint and help keep the planet healthy for generations to come.

Shop Local 

Shop locally this Thanksgiving and lend your support to the little local business rather than the big box stores. Go for holiday supplies that don’t need to travel far to get to your Thanksgiving table.

Buy Organic

Organic food typically requires 30-50% less energy during production than it’s conventional counterpart. Make the shift this Thankgiving to a table with more organic food choices. Knowing that your food isn’t sprayed with pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified is enough reason to incorporate organic foods into your menu.

Turn the Heat Down

Watch your home heat up on its own as your Thanksgiving guests arrive and as the oven is turned on to warm the food. Rather than opening windows to cool off the space remember to set the thermostat a few degrees lower before the celebration begins.

Don’t Use Disposables

Make the switch to reusable napkins, skip the paper towels and pull out the good dishes this Thanksgiving. It’s a bit more effort at the end of the evening, but it’s worth it. Each person in the United States uses 749 pounds (340kg) of paper every year. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world. The industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution.

Reduce the Amount You Buy

Reducing is the first of the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. When planning your Thanksgiving celebration try making some slight alterations to your shopping list. Give some extra thought as to whether or not you truly need those items on your list and reduce the amount of food and decorations if possible.

Compost Table Scraps

Did you know that a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year? That means about 1.5 lbs per person a day in the United States. Food scraps generated by all households in the U.S. could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. Compost those vegetable scraps and watch your garden thrive.

Fill Your Dishwasher Before Running

Fill your dishwasher to capacity before running a cycle. You’ll end up saving water, energy and detergent.

Green Your Turkey

A Cornell study shows it takes 14 units of fossil fuel to produce a serving of turkey. If you’re planning to have turkey try to make it a little greener by purchasing it from a local market or farm.  If the turkey is traveling a long distance to get to your table that’s adding to your carbon footprint. Best option-skip the turkey!

Clean with Non-Toxic Cleaners

Make the switch to non-toxic cleaning products. When making the switch to green cleaning products 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.

Stay local

According to USA Today, it’s predicted that 24.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally between November 21st and December 2nd this year. That’s a 1.5% increase from last year, or 31,000 more passengers on average a day. For many of us traveling is a long-standing tradition and needed to visit with our family. Use this handy calculator from The Nature Conservancy to help you calculate the amount of carbon you emit and offer ways of offsetting those emissions.

If your plan is to drive make sure your tires are fully inflated and your car has been properly serviced. This will help reduce your carbon emissions and improve your gas mileage.

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Benjamin Chun via photopin cc

October 28th, 2014

Find Out What’s Really In Your Food With a New App

Groovy Green Livin food app

We all know how confusing and time consuming it can be at the supermarket when we’re on a quest to find  healthy, non-toxic food for our families. Going aisle to aisle reading labels and deciphering ingredients is an ongoing challenge for many of us.

Well get ready-there’s some exciting news on the food front!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, an easy-to-use food database and mobile app that will rate over 80,000 foods from about 1,500 brands in a simple, searchable, online format.

This scoring system factors in not only nutrition, but also ingredients of concern, such as food additives, and contaminants. It also estimates the degree to which foods have been processed.

EWG’s Food Scores is hoping to guide people to greener, healthier, and cleaner food choices. Users can find an overall score, from 1 (best) to 10 (worst), for every product in the food database.EWG’s product profiles include highly detailed information on how each food stacks up in terms of nutritional content and whether they contain questionable additives, such as nitrites or potassium bromate, or harmful contaminants, such as arsenic and mercury, and which foods have the lowest and highest processing concerns. They also identify meat and dairy products that are likely produced with antibiotics and hormones and highlight the fruits and vegetables that are likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues.

The food database also has a unique, interactive function that allows users to customize each product’s Nutrition Facts panel by their age, gender, and life stage, including pregnancy. Users can also limit their searches to find only certified organic, GMO-free, or gluten-free foods.

EWG also released its first full analysis of the more than 80,000 foods in the database. It represents a snapshot of products that carry a barcode in a typical grocery store, from bagged spinach to yogurt to tortilla chips. Overall, EWG found that only about 18 percent of products scored best (1-3.5), 57 percent scored in the middle range (4-7), and 25 percent scored worst (8-10).

While we know that Americans are eating too much sugar, EWG’s analysis shows how truly ubiquitous added sugar is across supermarket shelves. Nearly 60 percent of the foods in EWG’s database contain at least one form of added sugar, and in some food categories added sugar is shockingly pervasive. For example, EWG found that 92 percent of granola and trail mix bars in the database contain added sugars. In some cases, almost a third of the bar’s weight is sugar.

Other food categories with surprisingly high percentages of added sugar include stuffing mixes (100 percent), stuffing (96 percent), deli meats (74-98 percent, depending on type), salad dressings (86 percent), peanut and other nut butters (68 percent), and crackers (63 percent).

“We developed EWG’s Food Scores in recognition of two trends,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president and cofounder. “First, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about excessive amounts of sugar, salt, fat and other unhealthy ingredients in supermarket food. Second, they no longer trust big food companies or popular brands to put health before profits, not even the health of our kids. With EWG’s Food Scores, shoppers can quickly see what food companies are really putting into their food.”

EWG’s Food Scores is built on data gathered by LabelINSIGHT®, an independent product label database and analysis platform, which provides details on packaged foods that carry a barcode.

EWG’s Food Scores is available as a free mobile app for iPhone users. Click here to download the app. With the app, consumers are able to scan barcodes of products with their smartphones to get rating information while they are grocery shopping. They are able to compare a product’s score to that of similar products, right at their fingertips, and find comparable products with better scores.

“Whether they’re making a shopping list or using a smartphone to scan items in the store, EWG’s Food Scores will empower people to shop for healthier products and reward the companies that make them,” added Cook. “We feel confident that this tool will drive the marketplace towards greener, simpler and healthier products, just as hundreds of millions of product searches in EWG’s Skin Deep database have changed the market for cosmetics and personal care products.”

 My Thoughts

A big thank you to EWG for working hard on this much needed information. Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, will be a fantastic guide that we can use while shopping for our families. But remember, it’s only a guide. We still need to continue educating ourselves so we can make informed decisions at the market. We need to keep pressing for full transparency from food manufacturers when it comes to GMOs. This database is a great start, but we still have a long way to go.

Have you tried the app? Can’t wait to hear what you think.

photo credit: Brother O’Mara via photopin cc

July 31st, 2014

Top 3 Reasons to Eat More Tomatoes

Groovy Green Livin Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a favorite in our home. This year we planted a few tomato plants in our garden. They were growing and thriving until the deer discovered them and decided to eat a few of the plants. There are plenty left, but I would love any suggestions on how to prevent this next year.

The remaining tomatoes aren’t quite ready to pick. We’re waiting impatiently. There’s nothing like fresh plum tomatoes straight off the vine.

Groovy Green Livin tomatoes

Did you know that tomatoes aren’t vegetables? They are a citrus fruit.

Whether large or small, they pack a powerful punch by way of nutrients and health benefits. They are truly a super-food.

Here are the top 3 reasons to eat more tomatoes

Keep Cancer Away

The tomato’s beautiful red color comes from a phytochemical called lycopene. According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown that risks for some types of cancer are lower in people with higher lycopene levels in their blood. 

I was a bit surprised to learn that tomatoes that have been crushed and cooked appear to be a better source of lycopene than those eaten raw. Apparently mashing, pureeing  and cooking releases more of the lycopene from the tomato, making it easier for our bodies to absorb. 

Ward Off Heart Disease

study by scientists at Tufts University found regularly eating lycopene, found in tomatoes, over many years can have a powerful positive effect on heart health. In another study a supplement of lycopene improved function of the the inner lining of blood vessels in volunteers with cardiovascular disease. 

Strong Bones

Vitamin K and lycopene, both found in tomatoes and tomato products, help prevent bone loss. A serving of tomatoes provide 18% the daily value for vitamin K, which promotes bone health. Lycopene, a potent antioxidant found predominantly in tomatoes and tomato products, helps to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.

Time to eat those tomatoes! Stick with organic tomatoes whenever you can.

What’s your favorite way to eat tomatoes? Mine: roasted with garlic and olive oil. 

photo credit: Pieter Musterd via photopin cc  and arbyreed via photopin cc

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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