Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Snack TAXI

One thing that I am super crazy about is reusing plastic bags as much as possible before they are simply deteriorating to beyond functional. I have been known to patch up small holes in the bottoms of plastic grocery bags and even rinse out Ziploc bags so they can be reused repeatedly. Yep. My mission is to keep things out of landfills as long as possible!

You can imagine I also own a lot of Tupperware and other reusable containers, but those things tend to take up a lot of space and also not always be the best option for transporting things like snacks around in. So, when I received a free SnackTAXI reusable sandwich bag from my Green Fest goody bag, I was more excited than Lily when I give her M&Ms. Not only are SnackTAXIs clever and totally functional, but they're super cute! Look at the one I got–


They are machine washable, although I always just rinse mine out in the sink and leave it to dry in the dish rack. The outside of the bags are made of conventional cotton or organic cotton, and the inside material is polyurethane-coated nylon. According to the SnackTAXI website, all materials are BPA-, lead-, and phthalate-free! All bags are made in the USA, are sold throughout the USA, and you can also order them online. 

Lily running around with her SnackTAXI

One of the things I like best about SnackTAXIs is that they were invented by a mom, just like me, who was sick of sending her kids off to school with sandwich-filled plastic bags that would just end up in the trash. It's wonderful how the things that happen in real life are what always offer us the inspiration to create something new. SnackTAXI also offers options to use their products as fundraising materials for schools and other non-profit organizations.

As for what the SnackTAXI hits on the Greensumer Tier of Truth...

This product is:
Made in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner
Made from sustainable, eco-friendly materials 
USDA organic 
Animal cruelty-free 
Super awesome!
Purchase your own SnackTAXI product here
polyurethane coated nylon.
polyurethane coated nylon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nature's Earthly Choice Three Continent Blend

A week and a half ago, I attended a meditation retreat in the peaceful woods of south Jersey. I had the privilege of working with a vegan chef and instantly became inspired to get creative in the kitchen after returning home. I did some grocery shopping, and purchased a new grain blend by Nature's Earthly Choice called Three Continent Blend. This blend includes amaranth, red quinoa, white quinoa, wild rice, and brown rice. I got it at the bargain price of $3.99 for a 14 oz. package. The recipe for what I made with it is below...

Mixed Grains with Lentils
makes about 6 side servings

1 cup Earthly Choice Three Continent Blend grains
1/2 cup lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cilantro, chopped
Salt and garlic powder or minced garlic to taste

Rinse the lentils well under cold water, then place in pot covered with one inch water. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and garlic powder to your taste, then bring to a boil. In a separate pot, heat the remaining olive oil and saute the shallot in it for about 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed into the shallot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Pour in grain mix, and bring temperature down to low and cover the pot. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and grains are chewy and tender.

When grains are cooked, stir in the lemon juice and lentils. Serve alongside fish, or salad to keep it vegan, topped with some of the freshly chopped cilantro. This side dish also tastes good cold.

Citrusy Cilantro Dressing

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp agave syrup or honey
1/2 tsp freshly ground sea salt

Place all ingredients into a food processor, then process for 20-30 seconds until smooth. Add more ingredients to your taste. Serve over salad. I had this over red leaf lettuce, radish, and cucumber.

I had never tried Nature's Earthly Choice before, nor even heard of the brand, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised. I have been trying to incorporate more healthy grains into my diet and my family's diet, and I have tried quinoa many times, but in this combination, it really shined. The addition of the white wine in this recipe made it especially tasty and savory. 

The one thing that disappointed me about Nature's Earthly Choice was that I could not find any information on how the grains are harvested. I wanted to know if their farmers were paid fair wages, if they supplied from small farms, what their labor standards are, if they are grown using Earth-friendly means, etc. There was nothing on their website, the Environmental Working Group didn't say anything about Nature's Earthly Choice, and no one got back to me after I left not 1, but 2 emails with their customer service, AND left a voicemail on their customer service line. Hmm. Yes, I am not pleased.

That being said, I almost didn't want to blog about this product, but I feel it is even more important for consumers to know when a product may not be as completely fabulous as it seems. Yes, this is a quality product that tasted very good, and is clearly a healthy source of food. But, it's not organic (although Nature's Earthly Choice does offer some organic products as well), and I'd like to know if it's GMO (probably is). It would be nice to have this information easily available to customers and potential customers, and it would be nice if SOMEONE could respond to my emails. 

The only tier this product hits on the Greensumer Tier of Truth is that it's vegan! There was a brief testimonial located here that said "all of their food products are non-GMO", but no where else on the site was that confirmed. Very suspect.

So, the choice is yours, dear readers! Whether you decide to purchase this product or not, you are now informed!