Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Have Vegan Bananna Bread!

I am not crazy for bananas. I like the flavor, but I rarely eat them. If I eat them plain, I like for them to be green, instead of yellow, and I won't chow down on a banana that has brown spots. There is something about the change in the flavor from green to yellow that makes me want to skip this fruit. The more brown spots, the mushier the banana and the more I am grossed out. Those of you that know me, know that I am strange about some food textures.

John loves snacking on bananas and he will eat them when they are yellow and have brown spots. There is a point, however, where even John won't touch a banana.

One week, I noticed that we had three bananas t
hat had gone past their prime and neither of us would touch them. I hate wasting food, so I threw them in the freezer and figured I would use them later. Well, later came. We were invited to a February birthday, trivia night for a friend that was potluck style. The event was vegetarian, but I knew that there would be many others bringing vegan dishes and so we settled on dessert.

I could not remember ever having a vegan banana bread, so I started looking online. I came across several recipes that I considere
d, but one from Post Punk Kitchen caught my eye. The recipe looked very tasty, but I felt that the fat and sugar could be reduced. I decided to try this recipe and cut down the sugar and the margarine. I also wanted to add some chocolate, so I took a reviewers suggestion and added a cup of vegan chocolate chips to the recipe.

I mixed everything and put the loaf into the oven and decided to clean up. Vegan baking is so awesome. Not only is it better for our bodies, the animals, and the environment- you can also eat the batter raw because there are not any eggs. So, I got out the spatula and scrapped any goodness from the sides I could find. One word describes the flavor- MMMMMM!

The recipe says to bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, but when the time came around my bread still needed to bake. I think it was more like 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Our home smelled heavenly and I wanted to break into the bread before our potluck. I was good and waited until the potluck. As you can imagine, I headed for the desserts first.

All night, we received rave reviews on our bread from vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. I think we found a winner.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Before and After

I blogged in an earlier post that I was going to cut my hair and donate it to an organization called Children With Hairloss. Well, I finally got around to picking a hairstyle and went through with it. Thank you to everyone that helped me choose a style!

I ended up going with a Katie Holmes inspired bob. I had a hard time getting used to it, but all of the positive comments from family and friends has helped me like it.

My before and after

Side view of my hair

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Less Impact Progress, Reducing Package Waste

It has been a month or so since I finished reading and watching "No Impact Man." I started blogging about my own little side project to reduce my/our waste. John and I have been doing well with our reduction in the time that the TV is on. We need to continue to improve, but it has been a good start. It is time to incorporate more life-long changes.

One thing that struck me the most about the book was the impact to the environment because of throw away products and individual packaging.
I looked around on the internet for statistics on this because I remember some type of statistic in the book. While I could not find exact numbers, I did read that the EPA says that packaging makes up about 32% of trash in a household. So, basically a third of your trash comes from food packaging. I imagine that if a formal study was conducted, we would find that the number was a lot higher.

I looked around on the internet to try and inform myself of the issue. I did not find all that much. I guess this is a topic that we are just ignoring. Well, not me, not any longer. I came across a website called Earth911 and an article that had green shopping tips. The tips are helpful not only for the environment, but for our wallet. While it is a good place to start, I think the effort has to go much further. I don't know how to get the packaging industry to change, so I have to change my own habits.

I thought about how the No Impact family did it and decided to make some serious changes ourselves. Therefore, we have decided to reduce the amount of individually packed items that we buy and plan to buy in bulk where possible.

We do not purchase many individually packaged items, but we do buy them. One such example is organic oatmeal. Every week, I used to purchase a box of organic, prepackaged servings of oatmeal in a variety of flavors. I always felt I was doing a good thing because I was buying vegan and organic. After reading the book, I had second thoughts.
Let's say that one box lasts me about two weeks. That means that I buy about 26 boxes and throw out about 260 oatmeal packets in a year. One person, me, wastes 260 packets of oatmeal wrappers in a year! WOW! I recycle the 26 boxes that the oatmeal comes in, but I have no way of recycling the individually packaged oatmeal packets. The 260 packets are just thrown away and end up in a landfill. This is only one product. I also sometimes buy vegan raw or energy bars and again, that packaging cannot be recycled.

It is certainly time for a change. No more packaged oatmeal for me! John and I decided to buy oatmeal in bulk and I have been making my own oatmeal concoctions in the mornings for weeks now.

My creations have been delicious! To my rolled oats, I have added yellow raisins, almonds (bought in bulk), flax seeds (bought in bulk), preserves, cinnamon, and other goodies found in our pantry. Every morning it is a little different but, loaded with flavor. In fact, it is better than any packet of oatmeal I have ever purchased.

You are probably wondering about the packaging I use for my bulk items. Well, we have mesh bags that we use for produce and they are a contender for bulk items that are larger. For the small items, such as flax seeds and oats, we have been using plastic bags. We don't ever get new produce bags from the grocery store, but we rinse out and dry our old ones (we stopped getting plastic produce bags years ago). We use the bags until they get holes and then we recycle them. I am on the search for reusable mesh bags with meshing that is small enough so that flax seeds won't fall out.

We are also continuing to examine the products that we buy or already have in packages to see if we can make the switch to bulk. We are fortunate enough to live in a place that has Earth Fare, Whole Foods, local health food stores, and co-ops that have bulk sections. Not only is bulk better for the environment, it is better for our wallet because we won't have to pay for the products packaging. So far, this change is an all around winner!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Small, Abundant Garden

It is summer here (well, not officially) and everything is growing fast! By May, we were hitting temperatures in the 90's. This could have caused drought conditions, but we have received an abundance of rain. Our little garden couldn't be happier and we have a large supply of rainwater waiting in our rain barrels.

Since I have taken these pictures, the lettuce has begun to bolt. Those of you not familiar with lettuce, that means that they have shot up several inches and are preparing to seed. This is our first year growing lettuce so I can't miss the opportunity to collect the seeds and save them for next spring. While it is preparing to seed, we can still eat it, but it is beginning to get bitter.

I am so anxious for our tomato and pepper plants to begin bearing fruit. Since this picture was taken, the stalks have grown about 5 inches. We have one cayenne pepper and the rest are bell peppers. This is our first year growing tomatoes in the ground and we forgot to take note of the variety of tomatoes. Luckily, we like all varieties of tomatoes.

When we start the garden next year, we plan to do some things differently:
  • Start earlier. This depends on the weather, but seeds can be germinated indoors.
  • Take note of all of the varieties of fruits/veggies that we plant.
  • Eat our lettuce before it starts getting so hot out.
  • Group our tomato and pepper plants together. I tried to do this, but I did not do so well. :)
  • Label the name and location of each row of seeds. It is hard for us to determine the weeds, since we did not make clear, distinct rows.
All in all, I think this was an awesome first attempt! We have used organic soil and mostly organic seeds. I am pleased with the results.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Am A Featured Artisan on EtsyVeg This Week!

I made one of the featured artisans on the EtsyVeg blog this week! Yay! I have been neglecting my store a bit, but hopefully this will give me the motivation I need.

Thank you EtsyVeg Team!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Love Life As Much As You Love Dessert

I recently became one of the author's on the EtsyVeg blog. I decided to sign up for this because I need something more out of life. I tried starting an Etsy store several years ago and it is not going as I had planned. I need to get my passion back, promote my store, create more products, and put up for sale the products I have. I have not been motivated and have been lacking confidence.

I do not know how to get either back, so I decided to take things in other directions. Two such things have been baking vegan cupcakes and writing for the EtsyVeg blog. As you know by my blogs, the cupcake baking started about six months ago.

I have enjoyed every second of it and feel a passion. Recently, I learned of some news that might stop or severely stunt my pledge to bake these cupcakes. I am trying not to be down and depressed, so I had to find something else. The opportunity to write for the EtsyVeg blog came along and jumped in. I have had a slow start, but I posted my second blog for the group today titled "Love Life As Much As You Love Dessert."

Like everyone else, I just want to be happy. As of late, my emotions have been impacted and I have a feeling that I can do and be more in life. I do not know what the more is, but I want to find it. I am on a mission to find what my more is.

I have cut and donated my hair because part of finding my more has to be giving to others. I know that it includes giving, but I don't know what else. Maybe I won't ever find it, maybe I will get lost along the way, maybe I will find something else. I just know I have to try.