Archive for the ‘green tips’ Category

Summer’s Here: Take It Outdoors

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

This is the official first day of summer (is anyone else tired of explaining to their kids that it isn’t quite summer yet after June 1? can’t we just align the seasons to the calendar already??) — and the biggest item on our family’s summer checklist: eat outdoors. We may have to string some bug netting around the yard to do so (grr mosquitoes!), but picnics by the river, dinner in the backyard, fresh berries on the farm and cook-outs are definitely in order.

the boy prepares to challenge mosquitoes ... with a bat, naturally

Yesterday when I arrived to pick the boy up from school, he was busy making a popsicle with black and red blocks. “Strawberry and burnt marshmallow” flavor, he explained. I realized he’s never roasted marshmallows before, and started trying to explain the concept of s’mores to him. (And mentally added s’mores roasting to our weekend agenda!)

And if you need more ideas of things to do outdoors this summer, here are two:

The Great American Backyard Campout is this Saturday, June 25 — sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and REI. Visit their website for events near you or just camping tips you can use this summer. … Speaking of REI, when we stopped in to buy our summer sandals, I was delighted to find this nifty — and free — Kids’ Adventure Journal to help little ones document their summer adventures. (And spur them off the computer and out doors!) If you don’t have an REI store near you, you can download the journal from their website.

KaBOOM is launching a Park-a-Day challenge — asking parents and kids to visit as many parks as they can this summer. Why? To get your kids active, of course, but also to find new playspaces in your neighborhood while helping KaBOOM create a map of parks and playgrounds and highlight areas where playspaces are lacking or in need of improvement. Visit their website to find a playspace or submit your reviews.

The foodie tot is already getting excited about this. “Will we go to a playground we’ve never been to before?” he asked eagerly. (And yesterday, “Can we go to a swimming pool we’ve never been to before?” Why not!)

Stay tuned for some Foodie Tots’ picnic-friendly recipes. In the meantime, what’s your favorite thing to eat outdoors?

Grow Green for Earth Week (5 links for Friday)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I have a special Earth Week-themed collection of links to share today, but first a few pieces of personal news. I was too wrapped up in bake sale prep last week to share this with you all, but I’m thrilled that FoodieTots was listed on’s Top 50 Mom Food Bloggers list! If you haven’t already, check out the full list for more great blogs to follow.

And, I have also been selected as a featured contributor at I’m really excited to share my love for healthy cooking with a great group of fellow fungi-lovers — so stay tuned for my first post over there in a couple weeks.

And now for our regularly scheduled links for your weekend reading. This week marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. For those of us who try to make every day Earth Day, here are five links to help you Grow Green:

  1. Pamela at Red, White & Grew has a registry of gardening bloggers by state, perfect to find local inspiration or someone to call on for advice if you’re a rookie gardener like me.
  2. If you don’t have space for a kitchen garden, You Grow Girl shares how to grow salad-ready microgreens on your kitchen windowsill.
  3. Growing green indoors can help improve your home’s indoor air quality. Find tips for selecting the right houseplants at Simple Organic.
  4. Putting more green on kids’ lunch plates — through school gardens and a farm-to-school program — is just one goal of the DC Healthy Schools Act, which is headed for a final vote by the full DC City Council on May 4. If you live in the District, read more from the DC Farm to School Network and please contact your council member today. (And forward to anyone else you know in DC!)
  5. I love love love this idea for a “Home for Wayward Weeds” from Laura at Chicken Counting. The foodie tot is so excited about his new gardening tools that he constantly wants to dig, rake and pick — this is perfect to keep him busy and our young seedlings protected!

And a bonus #6. Katie at goodLife {eats} put together a great list of Mother’s Day gift ideas for edible gardening, and is giving away a set of her selections, too.

Food Independence Day (a Locavore’s 4th of July)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

You may have seen this floating around the internet lately, but the intrepid locavores who spearheaded the White House Organic (WHO) Farm movement have moved on to encourage all 50 states’ governors (and Washington’s Mayor Fenty, I presume) to serve local and sustainably sourced foods this Independence Day. Take a moment to sign the Food Independence Day petition and see if your governors have responded. Locally, Kim O’Donnel reports that Maryland Gov. O’Malley’s July 4th menu will feature, naturally, Chesapeake Bay crabcakes and salad greens from the first lady’s vegetable garden. Join the cause by declaring your own independence from the industrial food system (seen Food Inc. yet?) and plan your own locally-sourced July 4th meal.

5 Tips for A Local 4th of July Cook-out:

local grassfed burger

  1. Make those burgers local and grassfed — and avoid worry over the latest e.coli beef recall.
  2. Buy the buns from a farmers market vendor or local bakery — they’re fresher and most likely made without the high fructose corn syrup and preservatives of most supermarket brands.
  3. Stick with seasonal veggies — sweet corn is just beginning to appear here, along with fresh from the field tomatoes, garlic and plenty of herbs for a homemade fresh salsa.
  4. Skip the made-in-China, flag-covered disposables — take sheets outside or have the kids decorate a (recycled) kraft paper banner to use as a tablecloth — local and green.
  5. Nothing’s more patriotic than domestic beer or wine; just skip the (now Belgian-owned) Bud Light and search for a local craft brewer or vineyard, or stir up a red, white and blue sangria with berries from the farmers market. (And reserve some of those berries for a family-friendly cobbler for dessert!)

Some favorite summer cook-out recipes from the archives, for added inspiration:

My son has requested that we spend the holiday at the Farmers Market and the pool, and I’m happy to oblige — with perhaps a few minutes spent getting a fresh Pennsylvania cherry pie in the oven. What’s on your plate for the holiday?

(Submitting this to Fight Back Friday over at the Food Renegade – go check it out!)

Organic Christmas Trees

Friday, December 5th, 2008

On a seasonal if not food-related note, I wanted to share some tips on finding an eco-friendly Christmas tree. I am a firm believer in real trees – they absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, are replanted and biodegradable, and support green spaces that could otherwise be developed into new subdivisions – but I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t really thought of going organic with our holiday tree despite having first-hand experience with Christmas tree pesticides as a child. I grew up in the Christmas tree capital of the US, Oregon. On a mountain, in fact, with Christmas tree farms just across the road. We used to sled down the access road whenever it snowed, and there were beaver ponds at the bottom where we would glide around on the ice when they froze over. (Hope my mom isn’t reading this, I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to go on the ponds! They rarely froze that solidly…) Anyway, that’s all well and good but a couple times a year they were sprayed by plane, and my mother would chase us down and confine us to the indoors for a couple days while we waited for the spray to settle. So while your Christmas tree may not have a high level of lingering chemical residue, since it does gradually wash off with rain, choosing organic is still beneficial for the health of those who live near Christmas trees! Not to mention the run off into our water and soil.

I started searching after a Twitter friend mentioned ordering a certified organic tree from North Carolina. This terrific guide notes farms that are certified or low-spray; personally, certification doesn’t matter so much to me, I’m just happy to know that we can get an eco-friendly tree without having to drive too much farther than we normally do. I’ll report back on Monday about our experience at our local natural tree farm.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no we didn’t get free Christmas trees in exchange for the inconvenience of living next door to a farm. I’m not sure the owners of that farm even lived in the area. We did have a family-owned tree farm up the road (which did their spraying by hand and kindly informed the neighboring parents to warn us not to play there), and it kills me now that we thought their $15 dollar trees were expensive. Let’s just say we pay several times that here on the other, less tree-populated coast. My tree-hugging mom (yes, it runs in the family), objected to cutting down trees for pleasure so we had to choose our scraggly trees from under the path of the power lines, where they were destined to be trimmed anyway. We had a high (30 feet) ceiling in our living room and had some of the biggest, ugliest trees you could imagine. At least we always talked my mom out of her lighted dead branch hanging from the ceiling idea. But I’m sharing it with you as another option, in case you also share an affection for trees remaining in the ground and don’t want to expose your family to toxic lead/petroleum-based artificial trees…

A Greener Jack o’ Lantern

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

There are many ways to have a green Halloween, from making your own eco-friendly decorations to handing out fair-trade Endangered Species chocolates to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Here are three steps to greening your Halloween Jack o’ Lantern.

3 Steps to a Green Jack o’ Lantern

1. Buy a locally-grown pumpkin. Just like with the food we eat, buying locally-grown pumpkins supports the local economy and the environment, especially if you can find an organic pumpkin patch. Many small family farmers depend on their Halloween pumpkin patch festivities to supplement their normal farm income. Some farms have rather over-the-top festivals with rides, bouncy pumpkins, corn mazes and more, which are of course great for entertaining your kids, too. Remember to buy extra, smaller pumpkins for eating (see step 3).

2. Use non-toxic soy or beeswax candles. Parrafin wax, which most candles are now made from, is derived from petroleum and emits carcinogens when burned — producing some of the same toxins as burning diesel fuel (contributing to indoor air pollution), while the artificial fragrances can irritate asthma and allergies. Soy candles are cleaner burning and often use natural fragrances if any, while old-fashioned beeswax candles are the purist choice and are also clean-burning and drip-free. I found beeswax votives and tea lights at a local home goods store, Bungalow. The Big Green Purse has links to a few other places to find soy or beeswax candles.

3. Eat your pumpkins! Many farmers sell smaller sugar pumpkins, or other varieties, which are ideal for cooking. The green pumpkin pictured above is a Cushaw pumpkin, a traditional pie variety. Large carving pumpkins have rather tough meat, but of course you can still roast the seeds. To make your own pumpkin puree, bake the whole pumpkin at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Allow it to cool, then peel, remove the goop (reserving the seeds for roasting), and mash or blend the pulp until smooth. You can freeze the pulp for later use, and simply use it in your favorite recipes in place of canned pumpkin. (Avoiding that BPA-lining in canned foods.)

For more ideas, visit Green Halloween, Nature MomsEco-Friendly Halloween, or Green Me’s list of HFCS-free Halloween treats. And if you really want to shock your friends, check out these anti-environment costume ideas.