Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Best Things in Life Are Chocolate

What better way to celebrate the first day of Winter than a cup of hot coco? Last year I discovered the most delicious hot chocolate. Vitasoy's Peppermint Chocolate soymilk will make you never even look at another hot chocolate. Even those who don't normally drink soymilk love it's chocolaty flavour with a hint of candy cane. I think it's best when heated up on the stove and then poured into mugs. I've only seen it available for the holidays and it's usually located where the other shelf stable soymilk products are.

Monday, 15 December 2008

10 Tips To Green Your Holiday

  1. Reuse wrapping paper, tissue paper, tins, boxes, bags, ribbon and bows. This year think twice before you throw that wrapping paper into the recycling. Just because you recycle it, doesn't mean trees weren't used to make the paper in the first place. Why not collect all your holiday gift wrapping and store them with the rest of your decorations? That way, next year when you get it out, you'll remember to re-use your wrapping paper, and thus save a tree. In our house, we each have a gift box with our name on it. Every year our gifts are put in the same box and kept to use again the following year.

  2. Send an e-card instead of a paper one (no more stamps either!) Check out Care2, a free site that will make a donation to a ecological organization for preservation of the rain forest for each card that is sent out.

  3. If your gift requires batteries, buy rechargeable ones.

  4. Replace your ancient lights with new LED (light emitting diode) string lights. LED lights use up to 85% less energy than conventional lights. Most brands make indoor and exterior versions. Some are even solar powered!

  5. When you hit those holiday sales, take your own bag. Don't we all have enough of those branded store bags?! And if you forget them in the car, just go out and get them before hitting another sale.

  6. If you're hosting a holiday gathering, skip the disposable plates, cups and cutlery. Instead ask a neighbour or friend if you can borrow some of theirs for your party. Use cloth napkins instead of disposable paper ones.

  7. Arrange a carpool with family and friends to mutual holiday gatherings and save money and CO2 fumes.

  8. Resist buying holiday themed trinkets and do-dads. How many singing Rudolphs does your aunt really need? Your gift is less likely to end up in the landfill if it's something that the recipient can actually use/eat.

  9. Electronics are popular gifts this time of year, but what to do with the older, now less attractive version of your MP3, digital camera or laptop? With programs like Sony's upgrade & save, you can trade in your old electronics for discounts on new products.
  10. Set a New Year's resolution: to live healthfully in harmony with nature.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

What to do with Leftover Pineapple Rinds?

In my previous post I included a recipe for easy vegan pineapple rice that was served in a hollowed out pineapple. But after the rice was all gone, I began to wonder: what can I do with the rind that's leftover? It seemed such a shame to just throw it out. To google I went! After a few seconds I found that many people in the Caribbean use the pineapple rinds and core to make a pineapple infused drink. I picked out a recipe and tried it out that night. The result was a delicious fruity drink with just a hint of pineapple. Here is my process:

  1. Wash the pineapple rinds and cut into long strips.
  2. Place the rinds (and core if you still have it) into a large pot and fill it with enough water to cover the rinds.
  3. The recipe I used called for 1/2 - 3/4 of a pound of dark brown sugar, but I found that was way too much (the pineapple itself is quite sweet). When I make this drink again I am going to use only 1/2 cup of sugar. This will give people the option to add more sugar to their individual drink if they desire.
  4. Add your favourite spices. I used a few cinnamon sticks, a piece of fresh ginger, a dash of cloves, cardamom seeds, nutmeg and all spice (if I had some star anise I would have used that too).
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and then simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Strain and reserve the liquid.
  8. I drank it hot, but you could chill it and serve it cold as well.
  9. The next day I put the rest of the drink into ice cube trays and froze them. You can use the cubes in drinks to add an extra spice to sodas, juices and waters.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Easy Vegan Pineapple Rice

I was first introduced to pineapple rice in Shanghai when one of my co-workers had a dinner party and served it in a hollowed out pineapple. A lot of the restaurants also serve it this way. Last night I attended a vegan potluck dinner so I decided to try to make it. Well the results were great! Everyone raved about it and it was gone so fast. It's so incredibly easy to make, I thought I would share my recipe:
  • 1 cup rice (use your favourite kind)
  • 1 whole pineapple
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp saffron 
  • 1 tsp diced ginger
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 4 sage leaves
Begin cooking the rice according to the directions. Add all the ingredients except the pineapple to the rice water. Meanwhile, slice off one side of the pineapple and scoop out all the pineapple from the inside. Discard the core. Dice the remaining pineapple and set aside.

When the rice is cooked, add the diced pineapple and mix thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed out pineapple.  I love how the pineapple looks like a boat for the rice and after the potluck, no dishes!  Just toss the pineapple in the compost.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Eco Gifts Guide 2008

The best gifts to give this holiday season are GREEN. Check out some of my favs:

  1. Organic cotton tote from Roots - made from 100% organic cotton, this tote bag is made with material grown in harmony with nature. An added bonus: it comes with a detachable change purse. Available in two colours (black coffee and dove) $38

  2. Solar LED exterior string lights from Noma - These solar powered lights will save on energy while still allowing you to show your holiday spirit. Available in multi-coloured and white. $24.99

  3. Music/movies/audio books from iTunes - Eliminate the resources needed for the production and shipping of a CD, DVD or book by buying electronic versions. Gift certificates available in many stores in various denominations.

  4. Eco jeans from Levi's - Although there aren't many styles to choose from, Levis has launched a new eco Levi's collection. Choose from either 100% organic denim or recycled cotton jeans.
  5. Digital picture frames - Never print another photo ever again! With digital picture frames you can display all your photos, and some models play accompanying music. Various retailers sell at varying prices.

  6. Candy Canes from Pure Fun - Certified organic, kosher, vegan, fair trade, non-GMO candy! Perfect for your green holidays. They're almost too perfect to eat ... almost. $3.99
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