1. Dagoba Organic Chocolate & the Rainforest Alliance

    Posted on June 22, 2012 by Allie

    My world is fueled by chocolate and coffee.  Both are products often cultivated at great expense to people and the environment, so I make an effort to find sustainable companies to support when I vote with my chocolate and coffee buying dollars.

    When I buy chocolate, I aim for quality over quantity.  The awesome thing about really good chocolate is that quality chocolate is satisfying in small amounts.  So while I may pay a little more for a bar of high quality sustainable chocolate,  it lasts longer, and I can curb my cravings with fewer calories.

     Dagoba has been one of my favorite chocolate brands for a long time.  And now Dagoba Chocolate’s full line is being made with cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.  Dagoba tells me that carrying the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal means:

    • High standards of environmental stewardship throughout the entire process of growing and cultivating cacao
    • Economic sustainability for cacao-producing farms
    • Safe working conditions and fair wages for farm workers
    • Access to housing, education and healthcare for workers and their families.
    And the chocolate is good!  Dagoba sent me samples of their Dark (59% cacao), Milk (37% cacao), and New Moon (74% cacao).  And I’m (ever so slightly) embarrassed to say that I started my reviewing process before I remembered to take a picture.  You’re not surprised, are you?
    Dark chocolate is my vice, and the darker the better, so the New Moon bar was heaven to me!  I like the way Dagoba bars break down into small strips of chocolate.  One or two strips went a long way at satisfying my chocolate craving.  The Dark bar was certainly no slouch, and I like the way the milk chocolate still had a strong chocolate taste and wasn’t too sweet.
    And, since this new partnership extends to all the products in the Dagoba line, it means two of my longtime favorites, xocolatl, and lavender blueberry are also Rainforest Alliance Certified.
    You can find Dagoba Organic Chocolate at Wegmans, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Publix, and many other stores, or buy online.

    Dagoba sent me this delicious chocolate to review, but my opinions are my own, and I regularly buy Dagoba chocolate.

     

     

  2. Going Green with Sir Winston Pugsalot

    Posted on June 21, 2012 by Ashley S

    My Poor Baby

    I didn’t exactly plan to start cooking for Sir Winston Pugsalot, but he became really sick about halfway through last school year. I worried that I killed him by feeding him some kind of tainted food or maybe by using clear plastic wrap over opened cans of dog food, but in the end Dr. Paws (our vet) explained that pugs are prone to developing elongated soft palates that can block their throats and cause them to choke and cough up food. Sir WP and I were extremely lucky, as the condition can be corrected by (very expensive) surgery. When I began to choke and cough at the estimated cost of Sir WP’s surgery, Dr. Paws suggested that I try feeding Sir WP a soft, homemade diet and see if it helped.

    When we got home, I scoured the Internet for easy home dog food recipes and ended up with a grocery list of ingredients. And then to my boyfriend’s amusement, I began to cook homemade dog food for Sir WP. While it didn’t happen immediately, Sir WP got better—a lot better. He stopped choking and he had more energy, his eyes brightened and his fur looked better than mine, even after a special hot oil treatment. I discovered, too, that Sir WP and I had stopped supporting some truly cruel and wasteful ways in which commercial dog food is manufactured.

    Benefits of Homemade Doggie Treats

    Unlike commercial dog food—the production of which frequently involves animal abuse, and the ingredients of which are usually subpar—homemade doggie treats are very beneficial for your pooch. These are almost always made of whole ingredients, rather than processed ones, which help to keep your dog svelte and healthy. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about possible contamination as has been evidenced lately with the seemingly never-ending pet food recall.  Finally, when you know exactly what is going into your pup’s system, you also know exactly what isn’t going in—namely, unknown, potentially harmful chemicals.

    Sir WP Follow-Up

    When Sir WP returned for a check-up, we were chastised for the state of Sir WP’s teeth. Unlike human dental insurance plans, which encourage regular oral check-ups, dogs’ dental hygiene is frequently ignored—guilty as charged. I was already making Sir WP’s meals once or twice a month and freezing them, so it wasn’t a huge leap to begin to make homemade dog biscuits designed to be crunchy enough to clean his teeth. He hasn’t expressed his opinion verbally, but his breath has improved and his teeth look a little cleaner.

    Sir WP Dental Balls

    Preheat your oven to 400°F.

    Mix 1/2 cup organic crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup organic butter, 2 organic eggs, 3 cups organic rolled oats, 1 cup organic applesauce and 1/2 cup frozen green peas into a paste. Roll into balls and place on nonstick cookie sheet. Flatten balls into a lump with the bottom of a large spoon. Bake until browned, about 6 minutes. Let cool and harden. Store in a cookie jar.

  3. No Yard? No Problem — You Can Still Grow a Great Garden

    Posted on June 20, 2012 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jessi.

    There is something to be said about growing, picking, cooking and eating something from your own garden. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of having a full garden in their back yard. A lack of a back yard does not mean you cannot have a garden; a lack of a back yard means your garden is on a much smaller scale. Small gardens are also a great way to get kids involved in the cycle of growing plants, learning responsibility and healthy eating.

    Commercially, there are several containers for growing your own herbs that are designed for growing in a small, controlled environment. These containers will fit on an average windowsill and herbs growing in these containers need very little care outside of water and sunlight. Herbs also grow continually so you can have fresh herbs all year long; however, be sure to take caution with them in winter especially if you live in an area where snow is prevalent.

    Gardeners interested in growing something larger than herbs should think smarter, not bigger. Various vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers can grow in relatively small areas. While you may need large buckets for adequate space, you can still manage to grow vegetables easily. Small vegetables such as carrots and peppers can grow in cut and well-cleaned bleach jugs. Read more…

  4. Meatless Mondays: Spaghetti Squash

    Posted on June 18, 2012 by Courtney

    Who needs pasta for spaghetti? This recipe is low-carb, vegetarian, and delicious!

    Ingredients:

    1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
    3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
    3 tablespoons sliced black olives
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

    2. Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

    3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.

    4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

    Recipe courtesy of All Recipes

  5. 6 Composting Myths Debunked

    Posted on June 13, 2012 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Daniela.

    Environmental Protection Agency statistics from 2010 show Americans composted and recycled over 85 million tons of trash. That’s a lot of trash, but it’s not even half of the more than 250 million tons that were generated in 2010. Perhaps more Americans don’t recycle and compost simply because they don’t know much about it, especially composting.

    If you’ve been thinking of starting to compost but suspect it’s too hard or requires too much space and time, you might be surprised. Here are six of the most common myths about composting that often turn people away from this simple, rewarding way to go green.  Read more…

  6. Meatless Mondays – Grill Up Some Veggies

    Posted on June 11, 2012 by Allie

    Now that summer weather is here, the last thing I want to do is heat up my kitchen by turning the oven on. My favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon is grilling up some veggies for the week. I slice a variety of veggies – usually yellow squash, zucchini and eggplant – toss them in a high heat friendly oil and throw them on the grill. I make a huge batch and cut them up for calabacitas, or leave them in long flat strips and layer them with cheese and sauce like a noodle-less lasagna.

    It doesn’t get much easier to go meat-free.

  7. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

    Posted on June 6, 2012 by Allie

    The Green Life posted an amazing peanut butter cookie recipe for Memorial Day, and I’ve made them twice already. Who knew that peanut butter cookies really don’t require flour? Since they’re basically peanut butter, sugar and egg, they aren’t exactly low calorie, but I’ve been enjoying them as a protein bar substitute, which means I’m eschewing wrappers for something homemade. And the peanut butter jar is easily recyclable.

    They’re super easy to make. Plus, they’re a gluten-free food that anyone will enjoy, so I don’t feel like I have to make a flour-full batch for J.

    The recipe is here.

    And I noticed that The Green Life just posted a recipe for Vodka Rhubarb Ginger Iced Tea. I may have to give that a try too!

  8. Meatless Monday: Cucumber and Tomato Salad

    Posted on June 4, 2012 by Dianne

    Cucumber and Tomato Salad

    It’s that time of the year…

    The time of year when veggies start coming in slowly, but surely…

    Tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers, oh my!

    In fact I picked my first ripe tomato of the season on Saturday. The farmer’s market has all sorts of fresh ingredients and it’s fun to play around with local food. It’s also fun to eat cold food! Sometimes when it’s really hot outside I don’t want to eat anything warm. I like to eat cool salads and fruit instead.

    This salad Is just perfect for a light summer meal, and really hits the spot on a way too hot and sticky day! It’s simple, easy to put together, yet very delicious. This is also perfect to take to picnic, or served at your backyard barbeque. If you like tomatoes and cucumbers this is the salad for you!

    Oh and P.S…Not only is this vegetarian, it’s vegan too!

    Let’s dig in!

    What You’ll Need:
    6-8 cups of cucumber rounds, cut in half
    4 cups of grape of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    2 large onion, cut in half and sliced, segments separated (Note: I used a Vidalia onion, but red onion will work as well, or any sweet onion)
    1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
    Sea salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Thyme and/or rosemary (optional)

    In large glass bowl toss together cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Set aside.

    In a separate bowl or a canning jar stir or shake together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, a generous pinch of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. You can also add in a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary if you want, but that’s totally optional.

    Pour liquid over vegetables and toss to coat. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

    Cucumber and Tomato Salad

    Notes: You can add in some grated Parmesan cheese if you like, or other veggies such as shredded carrots, snow peas, chunks of grilled bread, etc. Shake it up!

  9. Meatless Mondays: Spaghetti with Broccoli and Lemon

    Posted on May 21, 2012 by Courtney

    We have a difference of opinion about this dish in my household: I think it’s a great main course if you’re in the mood for a light dinner; my boyfriend thinks it’s better as a side dish. No matter how you serve it, it’s delicious!

    Ingredients:

    12 ounces spaghetti (3/4 box)
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    1 1-pound package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    kosher salt
    1 lemon, zest finely grated and juice squeezed
    1 cup grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

    Directions:

    1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.

    2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

    3. Add the broccoli, red pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

    4. Add the broccoli mixture, lemon juice, Parmesan, and reserved pasta water to the pasta.

    5. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until combined and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and serve.

    Bon appetit!

    Recipe courtesy of Real Simple.

  10. Meatless Monday: Spinach and Black Olive Quinoa Calzones

    Posted on May 14, 2012 by Dianne

    IMG_5878

    When I was asked if I wanted to take a look at the cookbook Quinoa Cuisine, 150 Creative Recipes for Super-Nutritious, Amazingly Delicious dishes by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser I jumped at the chance! I’m a big fan of Quinoa, but I don’t use it this often and thought it would be fun to find some other things to do with such a versatile, healthy ingredient. So today for Meatless Monday I’m going to share with you a recipe from the cookbook for Spinach and Black Olive Calzones made with Quinoa flour and let me tell you these are fabulous!

    They also have some really great sounding recipes for things like Hummus, Thai Summer Rolls, Spicy Chicken and Waffles, Mushroom Soup, Grilled Quinoa Cakes, Chile Rellenos, Eggplant Parmesan and even desserts like Triple-Chocolate Bundt Cake and Funnel Cake Bites all incorporating quinoa! But for now sit back grab a fork, and let’s talk some Calzones!

    What You’ll Need for the Quinoa Pizza Crust:
    1 1/4 cups of warm water (about 110 to 120 F)
    1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
    1 tablespoon of honey
    2 to 2 1/2 cups bread flour, as needed, divided
    1 teaspoon of kosher salt
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    1 1/2 cups quinoa flour

    1. Place the warm water in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast, honey, and 1 cup of bread flour. Let sit in a warm place until foamy, about 15 minutes.

    2. Stir in the salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and quinoa flour. Gradually add the remaining bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough forms a slightly sticky ball. Turn out onto a well-floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed. The dough will be slightly sticky. Form into a ball.

    3. Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil into a clean bowl. Place the ball of dough in the bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour. Use in your favorite pizza or calzone recipe.

    What You’ll Need for the Spinach and Black Olive Calzones:
    2 recipes Quinoa Pizza Dough (see above)
    Cornmeal or semolina flour, for baking sheet
    4 cups of prepared pizza sauce
    2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess water
    1 cup sliced black olives
    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

    1. Prepare pizza dough according to the recipe instructions, making a double batch.

    2. Preheat the oven to 450 F; if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven before preheating. If you don’t have a pizza stone, sprinkle a rimmed nonstick baking sheet lightly with cornmeal or semolina flour. Heat the pizza suace in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

    3. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the other pieces covered with towel or plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, use your hands to pat and stretch a piece of dough into a flat oval about 12 X 8 inches. Arrange a quarter each of the spinach and black olives on half the oval, leaving a edge of about 1 inch uncovered. Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and drizzle with about 1/4 cup pizza sauce. Fold the dough over the filling and, beginning at one end, roll the edge to seal. Tuck the rolled edge under the calzone. Carefully transfer the finished calzone to the baking sheet or slide onto the hot pizza stone in the oven.

    4. Repeat with the remaining dough and the filling. Bake the calzones until the dough is golden and they sound hollow when tapped, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with the remaining pizza sauce spooned over.

    Notes: I used sea salt instead of kosher salt. I also sprinkled the tops of my calzones with oregano and Parmesan cheese.

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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