Everyday Environmental

Aviva's Blog

One Bag of Trash

How many bags of trash do you typically fill in your kitchen each week? Ever since we started composting, combined with weekly meal planning and vigilant recycling, we fill less than 1 tall kitchen bag of trash each week.  Why does it matter? • It means we’re wasting less food • We’re saving energy because less trash has to be hauled from our curb • We’re saving ourselves effort because we only take the trash out once a week (then again, we’re sacrificing steps to help us reach our Nike Fuel or Fit Bit goal…) • I suppose we’re saving a few dollars a year on trash bags If you’re a devout meal planner and Scrambler, you may have noticed that you are wasting a lot less food now that you shop with a list and a purpose. Hopefully you’re also finding that you’re saving money by wasting less food and eating home-cooked meals more often. Scramble member Amy Westcott also has minimal waste: “We do a lot of recycling here and I compost as...

I Have a Healthy EGO—You Can, Too! EGO Mower Cuts the Grass and Pollution

I was surprised to learn that mowing our lawns with gas mowers is a big source of air pollution, which is a significant factor in climate change. I suspect that in the future, many of us may move away from lawns altogether, as families in drought-prone states like California and Arizona have already done, toward more water-efficient landscaping.  However, in my neighborhood, as I’m sure in many of yours, the hum of mowers fills the air on weekend mornings as we all try to stay a cut ahead of our growing grass. After our old gas mower broke, Andrew and I searched for something more efficient and less polluting. First we bought an old-fashioned manual reel mower. But after one sweaty go around the lawn, we returned it because it was laborious to use, jammed easily, and didn’t cut the grass evenly. After consulting neighbors, friends and searching online reviews, we finally invested in an EGO cordless...

Can I Share My Environmental Pet Peeve? Turn Off Your Car!

As some of you Scramblers know, I’m a bit of a nutty environmentalist. I worry all the time about what we can do to protect our fragile planet, and I obsess over things like people taking 2 paper towels instead of 1 in a public restroom, kids taking 3 pieces of chicken from a buffet then only eating 2, our daughter Celia‘s long showers, and people throwing out plastic utensils at a picnic rather than washing and reusing them. I realize I can be pretty irritating, but I usually keep my thoughts about these things to myself. But the thing that lately makes my blood boil the most is when people idle their cars for long periods, polluting the environment and wasting resources, including the money in their own wallets! We spend a lot of time at soccer fields watching our daughter and her team play.  We have had one of the most beautiful springs I can remember in the DC area, with plenty of sunny, breezy days with temps in the 70s. ...

Why I Only Drink Organic Tea

Do you try to limit the chemicals and pesticides you and your family consume? Of course, chemicals are ubiquitous and there is no way, short of enclosing ourselves in a bubble (I just hope there are some raspberries, dark chocolate, good books and Netflix in there), to avoid them completely in the air we breathe, what we apply to our skin, or in our diets. But given the choice, I always opt for pesticide-free or certified organic products. My hope is that it will protect my family’s health, the health of the people who grow and produce them, and ultimately will positively impact our fragile environment. I drink green tea every morning and in the past I wasn’t too particular about the type I bought. That was, until I learned from my friend Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea (seriously, the absolute best organic iced tea on the planet other than homemade), that tea leaves are normally sprayed with pesticides in the fields and NOT rinsed before being dried and packaged and...

Fish Substitutions When you Can’t Fish your Wish

Fish is an excellent lean protein source.  It is brimming with nutrients and is a natural source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which is vital because our bodies cannot make omega-3s on their own.  Some seafood has also been shown in scientific studies to give us a feeling of fullness or satiation after eating it, which can help us avoid overeating later. It’s also quick and easy to cook if you have the right recipes. I’m sure we’ve all been in the grocery store before and found the fish we were planning on preparing that night for dinner is unavailable, too pricey or just not looking its freshest.  That’s why we’ve compiled this handy list of potential fish substitutions for a variety of fish grouped by texture and color.  Even better, we’ve kept the most eco- and people-friendly fish at the top of each list (fish that are good for you and good for the planet!) White, Lean and Firm:  Catfish, Pacific Halibut, Alaska Pollock, Haddock, Pacific Cod, Pacific...

How to Make Fruits and Vegetables Last Longer

Each Friday morning, while I’m still sleeping, we get a basket of fresh and delicious local fruits and vegetables delivered to our doorstep.  No, I don’t have an incredibly generous (and sleep-deprived) secret admirer, but I do belong to a local service called From the Farmer that delivers fresh local produce throughout the year. What makes this service better than any CSA I’ve tried is that I know in advance what will be delivered and can swap out things I don’t want or skip weeks when I’m traveling or just don’t need a delivery.  Also, the produce is delivered to us, instead of me picking it up at a central (but never quite convenient) location each week, and almost all the food that comes are things I will actually use instead of obscure or bitter vegetables or greens. (By the way, if you are in the DC area and want to give From the Farmer a try, use the coupon code “THESCRAMBLE” to get 20% off your first 4 deliveries [new customers only.]) Do you hate...

Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian: Review and Giveaway

When our daughter Celia was 11 she abruptly decided to become a vegetarian. We were pretty surprised. Although our family doesn’t eat a lot of meat, Celia had always loved it and on the rare occasions when we went out to eat, she almost always ordered a steak. Celia has adjusted well to going vegetarian and 3 years later, she still hasn’t eaten any meat or fish. As a parent, I’ve been vigilant in trying to make sure she understands what constitutes a balanced diet and am constantly encouraging her to get enough nutrients from nuts, seeds and legumes (beans, etc.). I’m also cognizant of this when preparing meals and snacks for her and the family.  While I am a proponent of meatless or low meat diets, I know it can be a challenge for many vegetarians to get enough nutrients, especially if they don’t eat a varied diet. That’s why I was thrilled when my friend Rachel Meltzer Warren, who is a food and nutrition writer, a registered dietitian, and a vegetarian since the...

Tired of Cooking? How about a Lazy Picnic Dinner?

I just hate wasting food.  It makes me so sad to see food that's been grown or manufactured, packaged, shipped, stocked on store shelves, and purchased with our precious dollars just to wind up in the trash. So I've devised a few strategies to use up odds and ends before I restock for the upcoming week. I've sometimes made what I call a 'Sixth Night Scramble', where I cook a pasta dish, a stir-fry, an omelet or frittata, or make a big salad with whatever vegetables, cheese, meat, etc. are left in the refrigerator at the end of the week. We've been enjoying a new family tradition, which we've deemed 'the lazy picnic dinner'. The lazy picnic dinner is in part inspired by a rotating tray (sometimes known as a Lazy Susan) made out of the top of a French wine barrel that my daughter Celia and I bought at a food and entertaining show. The name is also fitting because by the end of the week, after I have run through all my planned recipes, I sometimes feel too lazy to cook and...

#Freebie Friday: Define Bottles

Last week on PBS Parents Kitchen Explorers I featured 3 Kidpreneurs who started their own successful food businesses. One of them, Carter Kostler of Virginia Beach, VA has just launched a new product called the Define Bottle, which allows kids to make their own healthy sports drinks with water infused with real fruit (no sugar or artificial flavors or colors). These BPA-free, easy to fill and clean bottles are just hitting the market and Carter is going to let two Scramblers be among the first people to receive them. To win one of two Define Bottles (retail value of $30 each), please leave a comment here by Friday at midnight or on Facebook on Friday between 9 a.m. and midnight telling me how you plan to keep your kids healthy and hydrated this summer at the pool, camp or sports without added sugars or artificial flavors or colors. Winners will be chosen using random.org and will be notified by Monday, May 27th and must respond by Tuesday, May 28th or an alternate winner will...

Is Tuna a Healthy Choice?

Occasionally I share questions and feedback from Scramblers here in the newsletter. I welcome your thoughts, concerns and questions any time, as they help The Scramble improve and evolve. Please weigh in, especially on the tuna question below. Optional Ingredients Dear Aviva, I was curious about whether the optional ingredients (like the chicken, steak or beef in the Fiery Texican Casserole) are included in the nutritional information? Thanks, Sally W. Dear Sally, That’s a great question! Generally, the optional ingredients are not included in the nutritional information for the recipe, however, we are working on a way to indicate more clearly when they are. Warmly, Aviva Why Doesn’t The Scramble Include More Tuna Recipes?  Dear Aviva, Please add a few recipes for cooking tuna steaks.  I'm amazed that there aren't any! Thanks. J.R. Hi J.R., Thanks so much for your note and I appreciate your request for more tuna recipes. About 5 years back I decided...