It is hot these days and getting hotter every single year. Fortunately, there are many different ways to beat the heat. But, if you don’t have air conditioning, a pool or live near high-elevation mountains, your options are a bit more limited.
One of our favorite ways to beat the heat is with a cool drink. Sure, you can grab an ice cold soda, but as we have seen, sodas are not very good for you. You could also grab a milk shake, but who wants all of those calories and fat? No, the best drink we have found to cool you off in the heat is a smoothie.
Not only are smoothies cool, but they can taste great and be packed with nutrition as well, if you make them right. We started making smoothies about a year ago and now make them pretty much every day. During that time, we have tried many different smoothie recipes, including some that are very bad and some that are so good that you won’t believe that it is a smoothie and not a shake.
Below are our favorite 3 recipes. We come back to them time and time again as they are healthy and delicious.
Canned foods. They are a staple of life nowadays. They provide a convenient way to store food so that it can be made quickly and easily.
However, we are all apparently paying a heavy price for that convenience, as the liners of most of the cans used for canned food contain Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a main building block for polycarbonate (PC) plastics and is a known hormone disruptor. In fact, you may remember the big controversy about plastic bottles containing BPA, especially baby bottles, that happened a while back. Due to the huge public outcry after that discovery, most manufacturers stopped using BPA in their plastic bottles. However, when it comes to canned foods, most of them still contain BPA.
So, what does that mean in terms of your health and what can you do to protect yourself?
We quit drinking soda a while ago (see our post on the dangers of soda as to why we quit). When we first quit, it was a real struggle to find soda replacements. We had been drinking soda for a long time and were used to drinking beverages that had some taste, so switching to plain water was not very viable for us.
So, we set out to find some good soda alternatives. We researched and tried hundreds of different drinks to find ones that we could drink regularly as a soda replacement. We wanted to find drinks that were healthy and natural, but that also tasted good. I mean, what is the point of replacing soda with something else full of nasty chemicals?
So, to evaluate all of the drinks we tested, we used a specific set of criteria. All of the soda alternative drinks we tested had to:
- Contain all natural ingredients. Organic, non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) and fair trade ingredients are even better.
- Not contain any artificial sweeteners.
- Have a reasonable amount of sugar.
- Taste good!
After trying out hundreds of different drinks, here are the 4 drinks that stood out above the rest and have become part of our daily rotation. Read more on Soda Alternatives – Our Top 4…
I have been a soda fiend for most of my life. When I was younger, I enjoyed two or three regular 16 ounce or 20 ounce sodas every single day. Occasionally, I would even head over to 7-11 for a Big Gulp once in a while. For those of you not familiar with the Big Gulp, it is 64 ounces of soda.
I kept this bad habit until I was in my late twenties. By that point, my life had become much more sedentary and I could no longer drink 40+ ounces of soda each day and not gain weight. So, like any good soda drinker, I cut out regular soda and switched over to diet soda instead.
I drank diet soda blissfully until about 3 years ago, when I became aware of all of the potential issues with consuming aspartame, one of the main ingredients in most diet sodas. However, even after learning how bad aspartame could be for you, I still kept drinking diet soda, mainly because I needed the caffeine to help me wake up in the morning (soda was my version of coffee).
However, with our recent move to grow our own vegetables, join a CSA, eat organic foods as much as possible and generally just consume better products, I could no longer reconcile my diet soda drinking with my conscious. But, weaning off of soda is hard, so to help myself with the process, I figured I would research why exactly soda is so bad for you. It turns out that both regular and diet soda are both bad for you and the environment.
We love eating out as much as any other family. However, eating out while still trying to be green and eat local foods can be very challenging. Most restaurants depend on the modern food industrial system, where they buy their ingredients from several different suppliers, who buy their ingredients from other suppliers, which are often located all over the United States, if not all over the world. So, when you eat a hamburger with french fries at a fast food restaurant or a regional or national chain restaurant, you are probably eating bread made from wheat that was grown in the middle part of the United States, beef from cows that were fed by corn that was grown in the middle of the United States and that were raised in the Western part of the United States and potatoes that were grown in the Western part of the United States. But that is not all. All of the wheat, corn, and potatoes had to be planted, fertilized and harvested using machines that use oil and gas or coal and the cow from which the beef came from had to be transported and slaughtered by machines that use oil and gas as well. Finally, all of it had to be processed as well, so it is all shipped from point to point around the country until it eventually ends up on your plate at the restaurant.
This process of creating, processing and shipping food emits HUGE amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment, so your simple hamburger and fries ends up having a pretty hefty carbon footprint. A 2000 report from Stockholm University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, called Energy Use in the Food Sector (PDF), calculated the carbon footprint of the average cheeseburger and found that it is between 3.6-6.1 kg of CO2-equivalent emissions per burger (the difference mainly depends on how much oil and gas was used versus coal in the production of all of the component parts of the burger). If you calculate that the average American eats 3 cheeseburgers per week, the total amount of carbon emissions generated just by the cheeseburgers Americans eat in one year is the same amount emitted by 19.6 million SUVs in one year. Wow.
So, if you want to go out to eat, but you don’t want to generate a huge carbon footprint when you do so, what can you do?
We had our first real local food meals last weekend. We picked up our first CSA basket on Saturday, which had a bunch of great local produce in it. Also, Steph’s parents were in town visiting from North Carolina and brought a bunch of food that they bought from local roadside stands with them. Finally, we were also able to use some vegetables from our backyard garden, making a good portion of the foods we used come from within about a 100 mile-range. Here are the details on what we had:
We headed over to our local nursery a couple of weeks ago and got our starter vegetable plants. We now had our vegetable plants and our raised garden bed, so we were ready to start planting. We gathered up all of our tools and plants and headed out to the garden. However, as this was the very first time we had ever planted vegetables, we realized that we did not really know how to do it. So, I spent some time doing research on vegetable garden planting and here is what I found out. Read more on Vegetable Garden Planting – Some Tips and Tricks…
This year is our first attempt at having a raised vegetable garden bed. We are complete novices to vegetable gardening, so we decided to start small by using a raised garden bed. Using a raised garden bed allowed us to set aside a very small space in our backyard to devote to our raised vegetable garden bed. This meant that our backyard could stay almost like it was and we did not have to clear out a bunch of space or pull up grass or make other drastic changes. We also have moles in our yard, so using a raised garden bed helped us protect the garden from them.
Obviously, if you want a raised vegetable garden bed you have to build it, so I set aside a few hours one weekend a few weeks ago to build it. It turned out that it was pretty cheap and easy to build, but there were several decisions that had to be made along the way that greatly impact how successful your raised vegetable garden bed will be. Read more on Build a Raised Garden Bed – A How To…
I am currently training to run a half marathon with my Mom. Yes, I said my Mom! She is 62 and has only started running two years ago. I could not be more proud of her. This will be my fourth half marathon in four years and you would think I would have the training figured out by now but I don’t. I still have a difficult time with my nutrition and hydration before and after a long run. I am continuing to search for an all natural energy drink for help during my long runs, but I think I have figured out my work out recovery drink. It is called the Green Monster and it has truly made a difference in my recovery, as well as my energy levels. Read more on Green Monster Smoothie…
Our family on the whole does not consume that much meat, but we are not vegetarians. That being said, we continuously look for ways to eat less meat. While I was searching around online one day, I found an initiative designed to help those who are looking to eat less meat. It’s called Meatless Mondays. Read more on Meatless Mondays…