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Posts Tagged ‘Living green’

Last year, Mr. LF came back from a business trip to Europe puzzled over Swiss grocery stores’ policy of selling the plastic one-use grocery bags. My response was GREAT idea! Finally California is catching on to the idea, the ban has passed the state assembly hope the Senate has the gusto to pass it too. It would prohibit grocery stores from offering plastic bags and would require customers to pay for paper bags by June 2012.

There is a joke about desis; that you can tell if you are a desi (from Southeast Asia) if you reuse grocery bags or the empty yogurt cups.  I guess because we are cheap. Better cheap than a polluter I say. So if they aren’t for FREE anymore, we will definitely reuse them.

This is such an easy way to go green. Imagine how many resources we can save. As Muslims, it is incumbent on us to protect the planet that Allah has given as an Amanah (trust). As Muslim moms, we are the ones who usually buy the groceries for our homes- how hard is it really to make it a priority NOT to use plastic single use bags, paper or plastic.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in the United States alone more than 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used each year. Worldwide, the number of plastic bags used is anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion every year. Meanwhile, Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute, as only 0.6 percent to 1 percent of them are ever recycled.

They choked up gutters, suffocated dolphins, accumulate in your drawers. It takes a 1000 years to biodegrade one. The little pieces of plastic act as a sponge for chemicals. They soak up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT), than the surrounding seawater (Reusablebags.com).

Marine life then eats these pieces and dies. It is estimated that over a 100,000 different birds, seals and whales die every year (Reusablebags.com). After the animal dies its carcass decomposes and the plastic is free to roam the ocean and kill again.

These days every store sells multiple-use bags for usually a dollar. They last so long, I have some that are a few years old and they still look the same. Just rinse them out from time to time. Otherwise use canvas bags, they are the best. No one will look at you like you are a weirdo any more than they already do.

Ask the clerk NOT to bag things that already come in bags ie. the bag of oranges, onions. And Milk and Juice jugs are easier to carry without a bag-ever had one burst because the bag broke?

It take just a bit of retraining our habits. Keep the bags in your car and return them to the car when you have emptied out the grocery! I have a big insulated bag (free from American Express) I that I keep in the car along with several reusable bags. Most stores even give you a nickel back for every bag you reuse.

plastic vs paper? NEITHER use an insulated reusable grocery bag

Reuseable grocery bags

Sometimes I forget to take the bags ( am so not perfect :P), that is when I ask the clerk to give me paper bags as a last resort. They are not that great (it takes one gallon of water to produce ONE paper bag) but at least it can go in your compost bin and you are much more likely to reuse them. You can make bookcovers, use it as craft paper or wrap a gift. Or if you absolutely must use a plastic bag- please RECYCLE them.

The next step for my house is getting rid of the single-use Glad garbage bags- I have heard of biodegradable/compostable ones  iA

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Day of the week to honor Meatless Mondays, when my family made a commitment to go veggie one day a week. So Boss found fresh, crisp okra at the desi store. We all love bhindi.

I am going to use my Ammi’s Bhindi Do Pyaza recipe, this is quintessential U.P. style cooking. You use a lot of onions to give the okra that sweet- salty taste. If made perfectly, its crunchy . When you chop the okra it seems like a lot but like spinach it tends to shrivel up. I make enough for a family of six.

  • 1 lb fresh okra, lady fingers, bhindi   (wash and pat dry BEFORE chopping into 1/2 inch pieces, don’t use tops, check out the picture for size)
  • Olive oil (or canola)
  • 2 med onions sliced finely ( I like using my trusty slicer @ .75mm)
  • few whole dried red chilli peppers
  • 1/2 tsp safaid zeera (cumin seed)
  • 1 tsp lal mirch (red chili powder) This is SPICY so adjust to your taste.
  • 1 tsp haldi (turmeric)
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon to cut the viscosity of the okra.
  1. Heat oil in a wok or chef’s pan-I have anemia so I try to use cast iron pans as much as possible
  2. Add zeera (cumin seeds) until  they pop
  3. Add onions until they turn color, adding salt at this point help make the onions crispier
  4. Add the okra
  5. Then the spices
  6. Stir fry till the okra is crispy
  7. Give it a good squeeze of lemon
  8. Serve with chappati

All the scraps go in to the compost pile. Hope you can make it an easy habit. Happy Eating!

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Seven years ago, when we moved to the lovely city we call home,  I was on a even greater environmental high-these were the pre-gas guzzler in my driveway days. I was planning my irrigation system, so I signed up to attend the water agency’s free class. They were hosting a composting workshop on same day and  were selling these composting bins for CHEAP! Check you local sources. I bought a worm composting bin too; that was too much work for me then- may be now that the kids are a little older, I should try it again.

Our trusty compost bin

We save the scraps and dump it in here. I have the gardener put the grass clippings in it. I  used to turn it myself the first year but it is hard when you are perpetually pregnant, so I have the gardner turn and water it for me.  The soil that your harvest from it is so rich and smells so good, like EARTH.  I  don’t ever have to buy soil amendments.

Its great! got my in laws hooked too. At first they thought I was crazy but now Mr. LF’s uncle has a lovely little orchard that he amends with homemade compost too. Don’t put in meat, or bread become you don’t want rats or too many bugs- there will be bugs but when you turn it once in a while its not that bad.

This is where the kitchen scraps go

Layer it with old newspapers

Doesn’t this remind of of the ayah in the Quran:

See you not, that Allah sends down water (rain) from the sky, and causes it to penetrate the earth, (and then makes it to spring up) as water-springs and afterward thereby produces crops of different colors, and afterward they wither and you see them turn yellow, then He makes them dry and broken pieces. Verily, in this, is a Reminder for men of understanding. Surah Zumar

Turns into rich humusy earth

Use it as mulch, as soil amendment or fertilizer.

See the eggshells they prevent snails- double goodness


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Just read this somewhere

Fact: The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609
pounds per person per year, 3/4 of which is organic garbage that can be composted. Tip: Compost.

Ever thought about it but never followed up because it seemed too hard? I have been composting for the past 7 years Alhamdulilallah- I do it because its good for the Earth and we will be held accountable for our actions- not that I don’t have so many other facets of my life still needing fixin’. It really isn’t that hard, I swear. It takes a little effort.

I take my:

Tea bags

Fruit and Veggie peels and scraps

Egg shells- crush them first

Cardboard egg crates- wet and crush

Wet and crush

Get your kids involved-LF#2 is my composting buddy. She helps me crush up the egg crates and throw it all into the heap.

Crushed egg carton

And put it in THIS

My poor little composting container 🙂

It is just a tall plastic tupper ware kinda container with a cover- I need to get a new one (sheepish grin)

I saw these at the Corningware outlet but LF#2 said it was waste of money- 🙂 $ 29

This one is so beautiful and would fit my kitchen decor.This stainless steel one is available at the container store for 12 bucks-BINGO!

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We have decided to do Meatless Mondays in our home, from now on. Meatless Monday is a movement to cut out meat one day a week from your diet. At first the LFs were like “aww what no chicken!” So we talked about how we do it already, like spaghetti night ( they love meatless marinara). This way it will be a conscious effort. I told them how Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did not eat meat every day- that this is closer to Sunnah. Its healthier, better for the environment. Then I got a thumbs up.

The boss was surprisingly more motivated. I was expecting some ‘are we becoming vegans’ quip from him. But Alhamdulillah it went over quite well. I cooked Dal Chawal (rice and lentils), a desi staple and a household favorite.

Dal

Dal with tarka

Dal Chawal Rice with Lentils

Recipe: This will make enough for a family of six- we had leftovers

  • 1 1/2 cups kali dal (moong/urad lentils with skin) Soak overnight or at least 2 hours

  • 1 tsp Red chili powder (Lal Mirch) less if you don’t like spicy

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • a pinch of ground cumin

  • 1 tsp Amchur/Kahtai  (dried mango powder) a bit of tamarind works too

  • 1 heaped tsp crushed garlic

  • Salt to taste

  • 6 cups water

Tip: I cook this using a pressure cooker, it is quicker- a pot works fine. Use 1 cup dal:4 cups water ratio

  1. Get the water boiling

  2. Add the drained lentils, salt, garlic & spices.

  3. Close the pressure cooker and cook for 1 2 minutes after presure come on. Cooking time for dals vary. ( 1 hour in a regular pot)

Tarka or Baghaar ( Flavored oil to temper the lentils )

  1. 3 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)  or butter/ghee/canola oil

  2. 1/2 clove garlic (sliced)

  3. Fresh cilantro 1/2 bunch (washed and chopped)

  4. 2 green chili peppers (jalepenos, thai whatever is on hand)

  5. 1/2 tsp cumin seed

  6. some people like sliced onions too

Tip: Use a cast iron frying pan.

  1. Heat up the oil- make sure it doesn’t start to smoke

  2. Toss in the cumin seeds and after it pops, put the garlic in,

  3. Add the green chili peppers. Don’t over brown them.

  4. When the green chilis & garlic start turning color and smelling divine, turn down the heat and add the cilantro. The cilantro should crisp up.

  5. Pour this over the dal. Be careful.

  6. Serve with Basmati Rice.

Basmati Rice-

  • 4 cups rice

  • 1 tbsp Butter

  • Stick of Cinnamon

  • Ample water for boiling the rice

Salt to taste

Tip: Use basmati rice ( Zebra brand is my favorite)

  1. Soak the rice for atleast 1/2 an hour. Drain and wash.

  2. Heat the water to a rolling boil in a stainless steel pot, add the stick of cinnamon.

  3. Add rice and salt.

  4. Cook for 12 minutes.

  5. Check the rice – press a kernel between your thumbs. it should give way but not be squishy.

  6. Drain the in colander- this way you get rid of all the starch.  Don’t run water over it. Return to pot and let it set on low heat. Cover the pot.

  7. Add the butter. Happy eating.


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As you have probably read before that I am an avid supporter of a whole food, traditional food lifestyle- it is closest to the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW), so I  leap at any chance to eat more nourishing food.  After my recent visit to the Middle East and Pakistan, I came back and nothing here tasted good. I had a hard time eating anything. Then I realized all the meat that my father handpicks from his neighborhood butcher in Islamabad is grass-fed- the goats roam the valleys searching for grass as do the cows. They are not fed corn or grain. That is not Allah (SWT) met for them to eat.

Albalagh’s article on animal feed and hormones in ‘halal’ animals prompted more research. Then found an article about how zabihah meat could be rendered un-halal based on the feed of the cow.

I asked my butcher “Uncle’ at Asia Spot and at first he was offended, then he bought out the box from his slaughter house, which said grain fed. So I’m satisfied but still hungering for the taste of meat from the old country. As Nourished Kitchen.com says,

Grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild caught animal foods are deeply nourishing.  Indeed, for thousands of years prior to the advent of industrial agriculture, these were the only animal foods we knew.  The manner in which an animal was raised does make a difference, not only to your health but to the health and vibrancy of your local economy and environment.  Grass-fed beef and red meat is a richer source of conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene and retinol than the meat of conventionally raised animals. Moreover, grass- and pasture-based ranching provides environmental benefits as well – nurturing the local fields, improving the diversity and proliferation of native flora and fauna.

I started researching grass fed options- so I looked in to greenzabihah.com. They are based in Virginia so are a great source for East Coasters. But shipping here wasn’t cost effective, so you ask Allah and viola- a local option for So Cal.

Zabihah Grass Fed Beef is now available at Farmers Markets in OC and LA.  Frank (the rancher) is at Farmers Market selling Halal Grass Fed Beef. He will start some time in mid April… if you need further information about this you can visit him at any of the farmers markets listed below..starting the week of April 12th. The plant does not  handle pork. Frank is not doing the slaughtering. His cows are slaughtered by  Paradise Ranch where Muslims do the slaughtering and packaging.

The prices are different depending on what you want. There are halal/zabihah labels on the meat as well.

You can get it at the following  four Farmers market locations:

San Juan Capistrano- Wed 3-7pm

Laguna Hills Farmers Market- Friday 9-1 pm

Irvine UCI Farmers Market-Saturdays 8-12 pm

Beverly Hills- Sundays 9-1 pm

Northern Californian have a great resource at Nature’s Bounty All Halal Farm in Vacaville, CA.

On a side note-NRDC estimates that if all Americans eliminated just one-quarter pound serving of beef per week, the reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four to six million cars off the road. Meatless Mondays anyone?

OK, this is the kind of boring part, but for those of you who are interested in your health or the health of your children, it may be compelling. Many studies have been done on the impact of eating meat from grass-fed vs. grain fed beef.

For expectant mothers and their babies:

Doctors indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital nutritional contributor to enhanced pregnancy health.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key part in pregnancy health, and in the healthy development of babies in the womb. The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids are clear. To summarize recent research conclusions, Omega-3s:

  • Offer critical nutrients for babies’ neurological development.

  • Promote the development of the fetus’s cardiac and respiratory systems.

  • Support the development of the fetus’s brain and eyes (development of visual centers).

  • Have been shown to increase the learning and cognitive functions of children, with effects measurable to age four.

  • Increase the attention spans of young children (a measurable component of intelligence early in life).

  • Support the pregnancy health of the mother, possibly reducing chances of toxemia (or pre-eclampsia).

  • May help prevent pre-term labor and premature delivery.

Studies have shown that babies are more likely to put food in their mouths when they see a parent eat it, and toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school kids are more likely to accept foods their parents like. Food preferences are initially formed in the womb and through their mother’s milk as well.

For those of us between 10 and 100:

Some of grass-fed beef’s benefits, in comparison with the grain-fed version, are:

  • 500% more CLA (Conjugated linoleic acids)

  • 400% more Vitamin A

  • 300% more Vitamin E

  • 75% more Omega-3 fatty acid

  • 78% more Beta-Carotene

Eleven out of eleven studies to date have found that CLA decreases cancer

  • Four out of five have found a decrease in body fat.

  • Two out of two have found decreases in heart disease.

  • Six out of six have found increased immunity to disease. Two out of two have found increased bone density. And three out of three have found a decrease in adult diabetes. While artificial CLA is now available in a pill form, natural CLA from animal products is 600% more effective in fighting cancer.


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