Earth Friendly Cooking Tips

by Courtney on July 24, 2015 · 0 comments


Save Time and Energy

When cooking pasta, place your dry noodles in a pot of boiling water, then covering the pot and turning off the flame. Let the pasta sit in the hot water for a bit less time than package directions suggest if you prefer your pasta al dente. Or the exact directed time if you prefer your pasta a bit more cooked.

More Bang for Your Baking

No wonder your kitchen gets so hot when you bake, up to 94% of the heat from your oven is wasted. (Source) Try to prepare many dishes at once, which require oven use and load it up. If you only have a few small items to bake, try using your toaster oven instead.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The thinner and smaller you slice veggies and meats the quicker they will cook. Thus saving time in cooking and the energy of natural resources to cook them with.

Sink Surprise

Did you know running a fully loaded dishwasher uses less water and energy than doing dishes by hand? For an extra bonus, if your dishwasher has the option – use the “air dry” feature instead of “heated dry” feature to save energy.


Violets Are Blue Beloved Deodorant

by Courtney on July 22, 2015 · 0 comments

Violets Are Blue is a line of beauty products created without harsh synthetic fragrances, parabens, sodium laureth sulfate or propylene glycol. They also offer a secondary “Beloved Line” of fragrance free products specifically created by Cynthia Besteman, a breast cancer survivor.

The Beloved Line gives “Chemo Care” packages to women who are beginning their treatment at Mount Sinai’s Dubin Breast Center in New York City. This care package was created because many who are in their treatments find themselves overly sensitive to more mainstream products that contain harsh chemicals. Violets Are Blue care packages help to put their mind at ease about what they are putting on their bodies.


Their Beloved Line Deodorant is something I was excited to use and very please with its scent of lemongrass and tea tree. I am always on the lookout for natural deodorants that work as hard as mainstream ones do at keeping me stink free. This deodorant is good about that except in extreme heat.

During humid days in the sun I seemed to not smell as fresh I would have liked. Though if I had the deodorant with me, I’m sure reapplication of it would have helped the situation, as the product says apply as needed. That is just something I would need to remember to carry with me. Otherwise I was pretty pleased with this deodorant and still have it in my current rotation. Give it a try for yourself and check out their Beloved Line of unscented natural skin care products, in the white bottles.

I also had the chance to sample the face and body lotion, which felt like silk going onto my skin. It seemed slightly oily but a good type that felt more hydrating than standard mainstream lotions. Their foot salve was very thick and creamy. This company does great things to help others and that’s already a great reason to support them.


Killer Vegan Diner and Delicatessen

by Courtney on July 20, 2015 · 0 comments


My trip to Killer Vegan began all because of a Facebook post a friend was tagged in. Those in that post raved about this awesome new vegan place they had lunch at, that simple recommendation made me very interested to take a trip myself to try it.

Located in Union, New Jersey – which isn’t really known for vegan restaurants. I’m happy to see that is changing now, this restaurant is open for lunch Monday thru Thursday, lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday with the 1st and 3rd Sundays offer brunch each month. I was able to grab dinner on a late Saturday night and I wasn’t the only one with that same idea. It was rather busy for an after 8pm dinner hour despite thinking the dinner rush would be over. Crowded with entire families and couples this was clearly a hotspot in Union’s center of town.

When you walk into this cash only restaurant, you get the feeling you are in a relaxed coffee shop style place. As you walk in you find yourself at the counter full of bar stools and a large full size wall menu of meatless options. The wall menu was a bit difficult for me to read easily that far away, so I grabbed a paper menu from the counter.


Since this was a vegan restaurant it was great to scan the menu and not have to worry about avoiding meats or meat products. I try to stick to a mostly meatless diet at home, though I have not pigeon-holed myself into titles of “vegetarian” or “vegan,” I just try to avoid meat when I can. So I was excited to compare Killer Vegan’s foods to what I would make at home.

My choice for dinner was the KV Burger – a house-made burger with all the toppings on a whole-wheat bun. I also added …And Mac and Cheese for All, as my side, which was gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free. My friend who was with me, doesn’t avoid meat in his diet, happily ordered the Sausage and Peppers sandwich. He was very please with his Sausage and Peppers sandwich, mentioning that it was hard to tell it wasn’t meat.


The KV Burger itself was super tasty, even resembling the look and texture of a meat burger. Possibly made with lentils or black beans, I had no problem polishing it off with the addition of some organic ketchup. The ketchup was an unexpected bright spot of my meal, since I now avoid ketchup in restaurants because they usually have Heinz brand and it always has High Fructose Corn Syrup. My burger came with a side of flavored chips, I’ve never cared for anything but plain chips but these weren’t too bad. It was hard to place the actual flavor, perhaps just herb style chips.

My Mac and Cheese side dish had good flavor but the majorly overcooked noodles left something to be desired. Figuring they could have been brown rice noodles, those cook extremely fast and can be overdone so easily, I suspect that is what happened here. I normally don’t order pasta at restaurants for that exact reason, since I am an al dente pasta kind of gal. I did like the addition of paprika to the top of the mac and cheese.


The prices were about the same as any normal chain restaurant, so our bill for two entrees, a side dish and an organic canned iced tea was around $30. I find that pretty reasonable for a good and healthy meal made with real ingredients. At the end of our meal we were contemplating ordering dessert, as we could see several options under cake domes on the front counter. I the end we opted to pass on dessert and save it for our return trip. Besides the homemade baked goods (I only saw cake), they also offer milkshakes in several flavors as well as smoothies with soy or almond milk.

I think it’s a great place to stop for simple no-nonsense food that is animal-free. I only wish they were open for dinner during the week, more of an opportunity that I would eat there for dinner during the week than on a weekend. Check out their full menu on their website and their Facebook page for weekend specials.


Conscious Step Socks

by Courtney on July 17, 2015 · 0 comments


When I attended the NYC Green Festival in April I had the opportunity to stopped by the booth for Conscious Step to see what they were all about. They offer socks that are produced to “fight for causes that matter.”


Each different sock pattern identifies that sock with a certain partnership with a non-profit to donate a portion of sales to benefit that specific non-profit. I was a bit disappointed to find that only a portion of the sales goes towards the non-profit. The amount of that portion was not disclosed, nor does their website offer that information. If you like socks with fun patterns, while helping do some good, these could be for you, but first find out where your money is going!


Charm School Vegan Chocolate

by Courtney on July 15, 2015 · 0 comments


I don’t have a very big sweet tooth, but the occasional sweet treat is always welcomed. Quality over quantity has always been my motto with most things in life and that most certainly applies for the food I eat. So I prefer a really great quality treat when I do have one and Charm School Chocolate (CSC) certainly fits that requirement!


I first tasted CSC’s Coconut Milk Chocolate at NYC Green Festival in April and found it to be so very creamy and rich. It easily became my favorite of all the flavors. They also offer a Vanilla Bean White Chocolate, as well as 70% Dark Chocolate bar. The dark chocolate was very bitter to me and I wasn’t a fan, though have never been a fan of true dark chocolate because of that exact bitter taste.

Plain chocolate bars get dressed up with a variety of additions such as rice crisps and jalapeño nibs with sea salt. If a chocolate bar is too simple of a treat, look no further than CSC’s chocolate covered nuts and espresso beans. For the first time ever I tried a chocolate covered espresso bean, to me it tasted like eating coffee. Since I’m not even a coffee drinker, it’s not something that I could see myself enjoying regularly but would be great for those that enjoy that sort of flavor.

All of CSC’s chocolates are non-dairy and certified vegan. They also use organic ingredients as much as possible though they are not officially certified organic at this time. For sweets you can enjoy in small portions, grab a bar or container of treats from Charm School Chocolates. Find a store near you that carries these delicious delights, click here.


Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp

by Courtney on July 13, 2015 · 0 comments


Discovered at the NYC Green Festival in April, Butter Beans is a food education community located in New York City. They offer children and their families the opportunity to learn about the food they eat; where it comes from and how it is grown. Since the knowledge of farming may not be something so easily understood in an urban setting.

Throughout the spring, April to June they offer culinary adventures, which include foraging for wild edibles in city parks, creating internationally inspired meals and cooking with the flavors of the season.

Currently they offer two of their three food & garden summer camp sessions in Manhattan and Brooklyn, which run for two weeks at a time. Campers explore farmers markets, create jams, cheeses, breads and pickles while learning how to become master composters, urban farmers and chocolatiers. Here are the session schedules, for more information contact


Hydro Flask Food Flask

by Courtney on June 17, 2015 · 0 comments


Bulk foods are known as great buys because of their low cost and lack of cumbersome and wasteful packaging.  But how to get these great buys home with you, without packaging?  Bring your own container!  With foods like freshly ground coffee, some of these bulk items benefit from being sealed for freshness.  As with coffee, you can seal in that great flavor as soon as the beans are ground when you take them home in Hydro Flask’s 12 oz. Food Flask.  It’s airtight, BPA-free lid can help keep your foods hot or cold for up to 3 hours as they claim.

I’ve used this food flask to keep milk cold for cereal for a bit more than 3 hours (though in late winter) and found the milk to be just as cold as if I just took it from the fridge.  I had no worry at all about enjoying it, knowing that there is no way it would have spoiled.

I have reviewed another insulated food flask from Kleen Kanteen and was happy with its performance at the time.  However in terms of its effectiveness, Hydro Flask is far better at keeping foods cool as needed.  Neither the previously reviewed flask nor the one from Hydro Flask really kept food warm enough as per their suggested timetable (Hydro Flask 3 hours).  Hydro flask did keep my food warm, however it didn’t keep food hot as I expected it would.  Though being slightly warm after 20 minutes in travel is better than being cold.  Kleen Kanteen also had the same problem of luke warm food after 20 minutes.  Both food flasks were a bit disappointing in that aspect but are still wonderful containers because they allow you to reuse them countless time and keep items of the landfill as well.

Hydro Flask Food Flask comes in two different colors, Classic Stainless and Tahoe Blue, both in 12 oz. sizes.  The Tahoe Blue version I was sent has a slight texture to the container, which I really enjoyed.  It made the container easier to grip and hold onto.  The wide mouth container has been leak-proof against spills and easy-access to allow you to eat directly out of the container if you wish.  This container is great to take on the go for quick dry snacks or along with you for your longer travels to keep foods cool.


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