Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DIY Compartmented Produce/Farmer's Market Bag + When Organic Matters

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I think organic and natural products are very important. I also feel that way about organic food!
The problem is, eating organic can be extremely expensive. For people on a tight budget, this means we'll have to make choices about when it's a good idea to go organic and when we can fudge it a little big.
EWG (environmental working group) releases a list every year of the "dirty dozen", the most toxic/pesticide filled produce on the market that year, and they also release a list of foods which are the safest.
I really appreciate the work they do, making it so much easier for me to make informed choices at the market.
Speaking of markets, our Farmer's Market opens in a few days and I can't wait to go! If you also enjoy a local farmer's market, please remember that while the food is grown locally (most nutrient dense), it isn't necessarily organic. You'll have to speak to the farmer about how s/he grows the food.
Generally, fruits + veggies with a thick skin or rind tend to have less pesticides because a) they're harder for pests to attack and/or b) the pesticides can't get through the skin to the fruit. However, to access the full list of DIRTY DOZEN and CLEAN FIFTEEN, and not just what I chose to put on my bag, from EWG click those links.
So- I can never remember what is on the list. Seriously. It drives me crazy. I thought about writing in my phone, but then a better idea came to me-- why not make a bag that has them proudly on display? The perks were numerous...
Raising awareness
Eco-friendly, reusable bag
Actually *remembering* to take my bag so that I have the list...
Totally customizable.
So that's what we did. I started with this massive tote from Hobby Lobby. It was $5. I was originally going to just write the lists on the totes, but then decided it would be even cooler to add little compartments to hold produce on the inside. I hate bringing home produce in the plastic bags from the store, so by making produce compartments, it was even more earth-friendly!
To create the compartments, start with an XL t-shirt. Cut up the sides, across the top and then through the middle to create 4 rectangles.
Cut little slits into the panels, this will give your produce breathing room. Next, pin the edges down all around and then sew. Now you have 4 clean panels, ready to attach to the inside.
Here's where it gets tricky. Turn the tote inside out. If you're going to machine sew, you need to make sure not to run the panels all the way top to bottom. Otherwise it will be really hard to attach them without sewing the bottom shut. You don't want that- it will be super frustrating. Mark where the tote folds in at the bottom (yellow pins in my picture) and don't let your pockets go down further than that. Pin in place and sew, leaving the top open.
You'll notice that there is a lot of extra room. I wanted them to be billowing so that lots of produce could fit inside, not tight against the tote. Note that I overlapped little folds all along the sides and bottom to create the billows.
Here's a close up shot of the pinning process.
And that's how they look once attached to the tote (the bag is inside out).
You can also choose to hand sew (or no-so, if you're extremely brave) the pockets and run them fully top to bottom. On the other side, that's what I did. I used Aleene's OK to Wash permanent fabric adhesive to attach the remaining two panels to the tote. I also mimicked the folding/overlapping from above, but it wasn't as drastic since these panels were being stretched more. If you're super brave, you can stop there. It does give a semi-strong bond, but I feel like it couldn't possibly last too long. You'd be better up to follow that (after allowing it to cure for a day or so) with a needle and thread, hand stitching it in place. 
Next it's time to label! I wanted to go with an interpretive look, so I made the "dirty" side a little more chaotic. Using a pattern marking pen/marker/pencil, mark out straight lines all the way across. I didn't follow the lines entirely, and make a more haphazard look by spacing the two sides differently. 
Next, stamp or stencil the words on to your tote using fabric paint (stamp) or fabric markers (stencil). I created a very, very subtle ombre look by starting with a bold green and then mixing white into it as I went along. Even that is haphazardly done, though. 
For the clean side, I repeated the straight lines across the bag with a pattern marking pencil/chalk. This time, I followed the lines more closely and kept everything straight to reinforce the "clean" idea. The ombre, while still subtle, followed a pattern this time. Top line is red, middle two lines are strawberry and bottom two lines are pink. "clean" is also done the same way.
At this point, you'll want to allow your project to cure for a few days and then clean off the pencil with water. I took the pictures pre-cure, so I just used a washcloth on the tote in open spots, but had to leave a lot of the pencil intact so that I didn't risk ruining the paint job. 
Here's the finished project! Now I'll never forget which products to buy organic and which to skip again :) I really should have done this last week for Earth Day... buuuut. I didn't, clearly.
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Properly Clean Produce + Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

So today is going to be one part health + one part fall.
Welcome to Monday, ps... I hope it treats you well.
Anyway- yesterday, I was cleaning our produce (lettuce for taco salad, in case you're wondering) and had a total breakthrough. I have been cleaning our produce for years because JSYK- it's filthy. Unless you're buying organic, produce is coated in some nasty pesticides. I read that apples are among the worst with as many as 60 different pesticides residing on any old apple from the store!
Whoa, dang. That's a lot of chemicals.
Washing with water doesn't help, either, because the pesticides are stronger. They're made to stay on despite repeated rains, otherwise farmers would have to constantly respray after each storm which is costly both in time and finances.
So if you aren't buying organic (which I know can be tough in this economic climate!) you should really consider proper washing of your produce. All produce. (ps- here is a great list of what to buy organic and what you can skip).
Anyway- no mater what your washing method, they generally require filling a sink and putting the produce in it. I just really hate that. I don't like the idea of my produce just floating around in my sink- no matter how clean it is. Does that gross anyone else out? Just me?
I especially hate it for lettuce + berries. Ugh. It just bothers me... so here's what I did instead! (**see paragraph below steps for alternate options for larger sized produce, this method is best for things like broccoli, berries, leafy greens + other small veggies***).
(1) Prep it. Place a large mixing bowl in your sink (the bigger the better!). Then put a smaller colander directly inside of that.
(2) Produce it. Add in your produce
(3) Cover it. Soak with your cleaning solution. You can use a store bought kind or several other home washing like using 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar (this is what I like to do).
(4) Soak it. You really need to let it sit for an hour at least. The good news is that if you use the vinegar rinse, your fruit will really last much longer. Vinegar is a life saver for berries and fends off mold. Do you see all of the nastiness floating at the top? Yuck. Be sure to come by and jostle your produce every now and then if it isn't totally submerged.
(5) Strain it. Take the colander out of the bowl allowing it to strain the solution from your produce. Run it under some water and call it a day!

Pretty easy right? I like it better than just filling your sink. Plus, the amount of time needed to clean fruit leaves half of your sink inoperable for a long time. Using the bowl + colander allows you to remove the set up if necessary if you have to use your sink. Holla! If you have too much produce (like the apples), then just put it all in the large bowl and pour it through the strainer after soaking. If you aren't opposed to using your sink, you can always just place the colander directly in your sink.
Also- HERE is a recipe for an awesome Pumpkin Spice Latte- forget paying $5/cup! Make it yourself, yo!
That's all for today! Tomorrow starts our Downton Abbey series- so if you love the show (or Titanic or anything else from that time period...) be sure to check in! I have some fashion tips + tricks for bringing a little early 1900's style into your current wardrobe.
Have a fantastic day! All the best and as always, thanks for reading!
**NPR is the first source I can credit with 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Le Weekend, Hydration + Fruity Angel Food

So. We left my netbook charger at my parents' house this past weekend. That means I have to either blog from John's mac or the touchpad.
Both options are less than ideal because of keyboard issues. In fact, I'm typing this out for the second time! The first go was totally lost due to the aforementioned keyboard issues.You'll have to forgive any errors today... It's just going to be a little rough! Actually, all week.
Today I want to share 2 things plus some cute pictures of my niece from my family birthday dinner. The first is a fruity angel food cake and the second is flavored water.
fruity angel food cake:
1 angel food cake (bought or made)
1 can crushed pineapple
8 frozen strawberries, thawed + mashed
whipped cream, non-dairy whip or ice cream

Mix up your mashed strawberries with the strained pineapple. I put the mixed fruit in the center and then covered it with whipped cream because of my dairy allergy. If I had my way, I would cut the cake in half hamburger style and put a layer of fruit down. Then I would fill the center with ice cream, top with more fruit and then a layer of whipped cream. Yum. 
Flavored water isn't anything new but I thought I'd share a few of our recipes today. John has a serious sweet tooth and that includes pop. However, we don't really drink pop ... It's expensive and so bad for you! John would drink it occasionally but a recent minor health scare showed him that he needs to bid adieu forever to the sugary poison. That being said, the flavored water I keep in the fridge has been a huge help. We bought a glass pitcher from T.J. Maxx for 6.99 (twice. I break everything.). Every morning I fill it with water and then choose a combination of flavors. I wash, chop, add and then chill in back in the fridge! If you're big drinkers, just add more water throughout the day. Dump it all at night, wash and set aside for the morning.

1. Lemon + strawberry
2. Strawberry + lime
3. Strawberry + lemon + orange
4. Lemon + orange
5. Cucumber + strawberry (favorite!)
6. Grapefruit + strawberry
7. Mixed berry (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)
8. Lemon + cranberry
9. Kiwi + lime

If you're wondering how much fruit to use, I use one piece per for lemons, 6 strawberries, a handful of other berries, 2 limes, 2 kiwi, 1/2 orange, 1/2 grapefruit and 1/2 cucumber. There's really no limit to the combinations, those are just the most common at home! Pineapple, pomegranate, let your imagination soar! 
Lastly, here are some adorable pictures of my niece, Lilah. I wanted some of her older sister, Penelope, too but my favorite 3 year old is camera shy lately.
I have to get rolling! I'm heading over to a west Michigan blogger meet up with my girl, Meghan, from SPLIT THE LARK. I'll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned people, it's going to be a good week! I've got a fourth beach wrap designed and ready to blog about, courtesy of more requests. I LOVE requests, so if there's something you want, please let me know! As always, thanks for reading!