Sunday, August 19, 2012

Keurig Takes Over the World... and All the Landfills

There is one recent American consumer-based fad in particular that sufficiently demonstrates just how lazy we have all become. Let me introduce you to the Keurig, although I highly doubt you need introduction. Have our personal and professional lives really become that urgent that taking an extra five minutes to brew a pot of regular, old-fashioned coffee is out of the question? To me, coffee is more than just a means of kicking my body in gear for the day. It's a ritual. I cherish taking those first thirty-or-so minutes of my day to sip on a mug of freshly brewed coffee and savor a hearty breakfast. It's the one part of the day that I happily allow to transpire in slow motion. Do we honestly need our lives to happen at fast-forward like speeds for every waking second?

North American consumers go through roughly 2.5 million Keurig singles daily... daily! And almost 2 billion cups have been brewed since the company first started doing business in 1998. You can listen to them boast and brag about these statistics right here in their corporate profile. Also adding to the carbon footprint left by Keurig are the production and shipping processes that are required to deliver the machines and single coffee cups to households around the nation. 

In comparison, old-fashioned ground coffee can be composted, along with those paper coffee filters. Coffee beans make an excellent addition to compost for acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, blueberries, and azaleas. By reverting back to old fashion brewed coffee, you're not only saving on grocery bills but preventing thousands of those plastic-squandering Keurig cups from making homes out of landfills.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

I love a good homemade veggie patty. It allows me to use my creativity in the kitchen, and I also love being able to throw in whatever I happen to have on hand. Which in this week's case happens to be spicy peppers. I've got jalapeƱos and chili peppers dropping by the dozen in the garden, and I decided they would make a great addition to a black bean burger. These patties are hearty, healthy, and have a nice kick to 'em.


-1 cup dried black beans
-1 cup chopped onions
-1 cup chopped peppers
-1 cup bread crumbs
-1 egg
-3 cloves garlic
-1 Tbsp ground cumin
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-olive oil, for frying


1. Cook the black beans according to the package. They will make about 3 cups cooked black beans.

2. Mash the cooked black beans and mix together in a bowl with the chopped onions and peppers. Add the spices. Whisk the egg, then add to the dry mixture.

3. Form 6 individual flat, round patties.

4. Heat a lightly oiled pan or skillet over med-high heat. Cook each patty for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until slightly browned.

Enjoy in a pita pocket with spinach and guacamole, atop a bed of lettuce, or whichever other way floats your boat. You can also add a crumbly cheese like feta or goat cheese to the recipe to give it a little extra oomph. Leftovers can also be frozen for later enjoyment, so don't be afraid to make a big batch of them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Love List

(one) soy based 'mimosa' candle by KOBA (two) wood-framed shades by Shwood (three) marigold yellow organic tee by Loomstate (four) driftwood side table by Crate & Barrel (five) a fun DIY idea I found on pinterest (six) I finished this light, summer read in less than a day & a half... needless to say it's worth reading ;)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Des Artistes- a collaboration between art and sustainable fashion

The brand Des Artistes presents a fusion of art and eco-consciousness by collaborating with contemporary artistes to create unique and interesting graphic tees. Des Artistes uses organic and sustainable fabrics with "low-impact water-based" inks, and donates to a different charitable organization each season. The company operates out of Munich, Germany but is sold in Anthropologie stores in the United States.

1. Read My Mind by Kasia Jackowska // 2. Hanging Man by Ai Weiwei // 3. Miss Thang by Franco Mondini-Ruiz // 
4. Blank Canvas tee

Check 'em out:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Green Tip of the Day

It's no secret that we Americans consume far more sugar than is needed or healthy. I make no strides to hide my unrelenting sweet tooth, but I try my best to keep it under control and to choose the more sustainable options when choosing sweeteners. Sugar production is responsible for more loss in biodiversity than any other crop, and America and Europe are the two biggest culprits for excessive sugar production. Sugar farms use harmful amounts of pesticides and are accountable for the resulting polluted wastewater.

In my opinion, honey is the most sustainable option when it comes to natural sweeteners because it can be purchased locally almost anywhere. Honey produced from clover and wildflowers leave essentially no trace on local ecosystems. Clover is actually beneficial to the environment because it naturally fixes nitrogen in the soil. Although honey is higher in calories than white sugar, it is sweeter so you don't need to use as much of it. It also has added health benefits such as improving immunity, blood sugar control, helping with allergies, and is effective as a cough suppressant.

Next time you run out of that bag of white sugar sitting in your pantry, stop by your local farmer and pick up a jar of honey and use it to sweeten your tea, stir into your oatmeal, and substitute in the kitchen when making baked goods.

Other (more) sustainable options:

1. Coconut palm sugar
2. Brown rice syrup
3. Maple syrup
4. Agave nectar

Just keep in mind that most of these sweeteners are not produced locally for most of us, so the fuel it requires to have them shipped all around the country leaves a pretty hefty carbon footprint. It's not necessarily the process that makes them less sustainable options than honey, but the need for them to be transported after they have been produced.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Green Tip of the Day

Readers, allow me to introduce you to 'Green Tip of the Day.' From now on I will be posting daily tips that will help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Green living may seem a daunting lifestyle change when tons of information is shoved down your throat all at once. The reality is, just making small individual changes really do add up. Taking baby steps and making small tweaks to your day-to-day routines will ultimately impact the environment for the better.

Alas, the first Green Tip of the Day.

I thought this tip to be especially appropriate in the midst of these beautiful summer months. 
I understand, you're just trying to do favors for your waistline when you pound out a six mile run on the treadmill at your local gym. However, you're most likely going through gas to transport yourself to the gym and then using up electrical energy on those cardio machines. A treadmill averages 600-700 watts of energy. By taking your cardio to the outdoors for 150 minutes per week, you are saving an annual 110 pounds of carbon emissions... Even more if you factor in the televisions that many cardio machines come equipped with these days.

Even if it's just once or twice per week, try to run or walk outdoors whenever the weather permits. The Vitamin D fix will boost your mood and you can fight boredom with frequent changes in scenery. The website Map My Run allows you to search for popular running routes in your local neighborhood, as well as track your mileage and calories burnt. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Banana Nut Bread

I'm really not much of a baker- cooking is my more thing. A good 70% of my baking attempt are total flops. However, I needed to do something with our overripe bananas that were quickly en route to the garbage can, so yesterday I whipped up a loaf of banana nut bread. This bread (which is really more like cake) is by far the biggest success I've experienced in the world of baked goods. It's perfectly moist and just the right amount of sweet. I used this recipe, but doubled the amount of chopped walnuts (what can I say?... I like it nutty!) and substituted pure stevia for splenda. 


The best thing about this recipe is that it's not even all that bad for you! The use of plain yogurt and mashed bananas are what make it so moist, and when you use calorie-free stevia extract, it's less than 200 calories per serving. The ultimate non-guilty pleasure.


I enjoyed a warm piece of bread, fresh out of the oven, topped with some creamed cinnamon honey that we picked up from a local winery on the way back from Walkins Glen on Thursday. My taste buds probably think they died and went to heaven.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Walkins Glen State Park

I'm counting down the days until I officially relocate my life down to Charleston from upstate New York. I'm beyond psyched, but it's somewhat bittersweet to think that I'm forever leaving behind the place that holds 18+ years of memories for me. I may rag on Rochester for its less-than-ideal climate, but the truth is there is really a lot of beauty that upstate NY has to offer. People travel from all over the world to gawk at the Niagara Falls, wine & dine on the Finger Lakes, and hike the glens and gorges of the area. I love that you can drive ten miles in one direction and find a plethora of fantastic restaurants and boutiques, yet if you drive ten miles in the opposite direction you run into acres of farmland, lakes, and sweet, serene emptiness.

My mother and I drove down to Walkins Glen State Park today for a hike up the gorge and lunch on the water. Walkins Glen holds a special place in my heart for several reasons; I grew up going to the races in Walkins Glen with my Dad back when he raced Formula Continental cars. His car was yellow with polka dots and was always the easiest (and most exciting) one to pick out from the sidelines where we camped out for days. The state park offers one of the most beautiful hikes I've been to, which is what my mom and I decided to occupy ourselves with today on our days off of work.


After working up a sweat climbing the 800+ stone steps to the top of the glen we walked through town, perused a few of the antique shops, then stopped for lunch on the water. We each enjoyed a delicious salad- mine was topped with chicken, grilled apples, pecans, and almonds. An excellent combination that I will definitely be recreating in my own kitchen soon. 

I look forward to spending my last week home saying goodbye to all of my favorite Rochester-specific restaurants and hot spots. Hope you all enjoy another lovely summer weekend!

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