Weekly Wisdom Wednesday: Say ‘NO’ to Straws

Straws, what are they? They are small tubular items that are used to drink out of various glassware, bottles, cups, and array of other drinking apparatuses. I will say the inventor of the modern day straw, Marvin Stone, probably did not realize the impact straws would have on the environment. As time progresses so did the manufacturing of the modern straws. They were no longer paper, but soon became…plastic.

The plastic straw has become more of an environmental epidemic. These are single use, disposable items. We literally use straws in practically every facet of our lives. I, being a germaphobe, preferred the idea of drinking out of a straw at a restaurant because I did not believe the glasses were ever clean enough. However, as I age, I realize no matter how much of a germaphobe I am, I cannot justify the use of the plastic straw anymore.

Straws are used EVERYWHERE! Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Burger King, Paneras, hotels, gas stations, restaurants (big and small), small businesses, school events, movie theaters, theme parks, bars, and the list goes on! Can you imagine how many straws are used a day and thrown out!? According to National Park Services U.S. Department of the Interior, “Americans use 500 million drinking straws everyday.” This number does not even sound real. Now, realize that is just in America. That does not even include the rest of the world!

STRAW PROBLEM:

The problem with straws is that they are not biodegradable. They are a single use disposable item that litter the earth. They do not decompose in a timely manner. These items are polluting our planet at an alarming rate. Most recycling plants cannot process straws because they are too small for their machines.

Human Problem:

Not all home recycling areas actually collect straws. If you do throw your straws in, guess what? You could be contaminating all of your recyclable materials!

Also, as Earth911 so eloquently put it, “Straws are small and lightweight, meaning they will take up a negligible amount of space in a landfill. Many people use this thinking to justify using and throwing them away, but the waste will definitely add up.” This is the sad, sad truth. We are responsible! I know we are all guilty of this, but the issue is not just one person is being negligent. It is an entire population of humans, assuming others are doing the “right thing” so, they justify their bad behavior and still continue to toss out their non-disposable straws.

Wildlife Problems:

Straws are one of the most common items found on beaches, oceans, rivers, forests, springs, roads, gutters …need I say more? Straws are apart of the degradation of our planet.

Most importantly, they are harming innocent wildlife. These creatures have no control over what we do to the planet. They are the innocent bystanders, suffering irreparable harm. Straws are one of the most common items found lodged in the nostrils of turtles. When they are removed you can see blood coming from these animals. This impairs their breathing and ability to survive. See the video below from Plastic Pollution Coalition. 

 

Solution:

Say NO to straws. Do not use straws when you are out in public. I no longer use straws at restaurants. I, Lizzie, the germaphobe, drink out of glasses. (Side note, I try to avoid eating out as well…that is a bigger and different problem for the planet).

While at sporting events, bars, hotels, wherever, I try and bring my own bottle or reusable bottle. If those are not allowed, then I bring with me reusable straws!!! There is an awesome new straw that was on Kickstarter known as FinalStraw and it is a collapsable straw that fits on your keychain!! The game has changed. Now, it is your turn to make a difference in the planet.

 

 

Everyone should make the pledge!! Go to www.onelessstraw.organd sign the pledge!! Today I did!! (Actually I did April 19th, 2018.) Aluminum straws are a great alternative to plastic straws. Plastic straws end up all over the environment. They are difficult to recycle and majority wind up in landfills or the oceans. They are extremely harmful to wildlife. Please take the time to boycott companies that use straws, say no to straws at restaurants, buy reusable straws!! 

 #onelessstraw #1lessstraw#bethechange #saveourplanet #freedomandpreservationofthewild #saynotosraws 

 

Meatless Monday Chronicles: It’s Grillin’ Time!

Most of the time people think grilling is only for carnivores. Well, that is not true! Anything and everything can be grilled. I absolutely love grilling veggies. It equals zero fat. No oil, no butter (if you’re just vegetarian or trying something new). It is literally just the fire, some water in a spray or squeeze bottle.

I know I have not been on in a week and I apologize! My life kind of took over and I needed to focus on some outside matters. Trying to get my posts where there recurring frequently on their own! Woot woot, trying to be tech savvy.

Today’s menu: Grilled veggie skewers, grilled corn, smashed potatoes and a grilled veggie burger! Yum-a-licious and protein packed.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Broccoli and Cauliflower cut in big chunks
  • 2 ears of corn (or more if you’re doing a larger group)
  • 1/2 pound of petite creamer potatoes
  • 1 Boca Burger Veggie Burger
  • handful of small baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 wood skewers for shikabobs (Soaked in cold water- the longer the better!)
  • Dill weed (dry seasoning)
  • salt and pepper

 

Process:

  • Turn your grill on to medium/hight heat!
  • Turn the stove on and fill a large pot with water and bring to roaring boil.
  • Add the potatoes to the boiling water.
  • Meanwhile, take the ears of corns and peel the harder husk away, leaving a thin layer.
  • You always want to put the corn first on the grill because it takes a longer time to cook.
    • *cooking tip: If you are pressed for time, boiling corn is the fastest way to cook them!
    • *cooking tip: If you don’t have a grill, but still want to infuse flavor. Peel the corn entirely and coat with olive oil and some seasonings then wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes!
  • Now, grab your skewers that have been soaking in cold water.
    • *why!? to prevent the skewers from burning! Typically you want over 2 hours of soaking, but a good 15 minutes soak works as well.
  • Take your rinsed, clean veggies and stack them up on the skewer.
  • Now, put them on the grill, near your corn that is still cooking.
  • By now, you may be freaking out because the husk has caught on fire. That is OKAY! Just grab your spray or squeeze bottle of water and saturate it. This will also help with the steam effect to help cook the corn.
  • Also, great time to add your Boca Burger to the grill (spray lightly with cooking spray so it does not stick or fall apart when you flip. Make sure you use a spatula and not tongs-I learned the hard crumbly way lol!)
  • Don’t forget your potatoes that are boiling! (Isn’t cooking fun!)
  • Stab them with a fork to see if they are tender, if so, strain them in the sink! (Good way to get some anger out!)
  • Throw the potatoes back in the pan and get potato masher and just do a quick hard smash. Here, I added the dill weed with a little salt and black pepper. (you can add butter here if you want or some olive oil).
  • Cardio time! Run back out to the grill. Your corn, skewers, and Boca Burger should be done!
  • Best part…ASSEMBLE and Eat!!

 

I hope you find my recipe fun and entertaining. Yes, I do speak the way I type with excitement. It truly is my personality! Let me know how you like this simple, grilling creation.

 

Check out the pics belowwww!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wisdom Wednesday: World Penguin 🐧 Day!

In honor of #WorldPenguinDay #knowyourpenguins !! Many of these amazing creatures are losing their homes due to climate change. Their food source is disappearing. Many are at risk or danger of their species being threatened or the verge of extinction. We need to stop our government from wanting to drill in the Arctic. Global and climate change are very real and having a drastic impact on the environment. We have to do our part to reduce emissions and greenhouses from emitting and warming the earth at an alarming rate.

Ways to mitigate that?! Your car emissions! Get your vehicle to follow the Vermont or California car model. We can be the change to save our planet.

The low emission vehicle standards help in promoting clean air goals by reducing emissions produced by vehicles. Many new cars this program and infrastructure has already been implemented. However, not every state has required vehicle inspections. Both Vermont and California have these strict vehicle inspections to ensure cars are in compliance. We need more state governments to get involved and utilize these procedures to ensure low quality emissions.

#bethechange🌎 #saveourplant #worldpenguinday2018 #climatechange #globalwarming

Meatless Monday Chronicles: What’s that Quinoa Thing?!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late start, or late post. It has been one heck of a Monday! I have been a little under the weather, so my food is kind of like comfort food today.

Today,  I used quinoa. I know what is this weird grain thing that all veggie and vegan people eat. I literally put it in everything from, “fried rice”, pancakes, eggs, brownies, I mean pretty much anything. It truly is a fantastic grain. It has a lot of antioxidants, which are great for your skin and fighting free radicals in the body. There is also a lot of protein in this enriched, ancient grain. The ancient people of Peru utilized this grain.

The dark truth of quinoa’s ever growing popularity, is that this food source was once a staple in Peru. However, today this grain now costs more than rice in their country because it is of only high demand in the United States and other more advanced countries. This has hurt the populations because they now lack access to their own natural food source. How do you make the right choice? Look for free-trade brands when you are shopping. It is the best for the environment and the surrounding people. Remember this is all our planet and we all deserve the riches she provides.

Enough of my soap box. What do you do with quinoa?! Well, you can cook it as the package instructs with water. This is best when you are going to use the quinoa for some other purpose. Such as pancakes (I’ll teach this recipe soon!)

For today, I used it in its normal form, a grain or a starch for my meal. Let’s start!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Quinoa 1 cup
  • Vegetable broth 2 cups
  • 3 big Idaho potatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of a diced onion
  • half a bunch of asparagus

Seasoning for Potatoes (Perfect side as wedges/fries)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • you can always add more if you prefer more flavor!

 

Process:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees for the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes long way to make nice even strips or wedge shape.
  • To prevent from turning brown, place potatoes in a bowl of ice water. This helps remove a lot of starch and helps in the cooking process.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Place your wedges on the sheet and add the seasonings.
  • Mix them up with your hands and then throw in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip and return for 15 minutes.

 

  • While the potatoes are cooking let’s move on to the rest.
  • Chop your onion and throw in a medium sized skillet.
  • Peel the carrots and cut on a diagonal and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  • Then rinse the carrots and asparagus.
  • Bring the onion to a nice sauté and then add the rest of the veggies.
  • Meanwhile, in another medium size saucepan. Heat some olive oil.
  • Add the 1 cup of quinoa to the pot and let it get toasted, like you would pasta or rice. Gives it an extra earthy flavor.
  • Then add the 2 cups of vegetable stock. This also adds new flavor to the quinoa, which is a lot like a sponge and absorbs what ever flavors you put in it.
  • Let it boil and then simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

Serve:

  • Throw the quinoa at the bottom of your dish.
  • Add the veggies on top and the potatoes, there is your quick and easy  beginner quinoa meal!!

 

Check out some photos of the process. Let me know what else you like to put quinoa in!

 

 

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Earth 🌏 Day is Everyday

Celebrating Earth Day 🌏 does not have to be an extravagant celebration. Nature is majestic in her simplest form. You just have to look outside, look to the skies and embrace her beauty. Hopefully, today you were able to just appreciate your existence in this world. The ability to co-exist with sentient beings is breathtaking all by itself. Thank you for giving us the ability to bring forth life.

 

https://fighttofreedomandpreservationofthewild.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/img_4724-1.mov

Plant a Tree with your Phone!!

www.forestapp.cc

Absolutely love this app!! Whether you’re studying or just need to get a project or work assignment done, this is the best way to not touch your phone!! You are actually able to plant a real tree if you do this enough!! Today is Earth 🌎 Day and I was able to plant a real tree!! Download this app!! It is called Forest. 🌲🌳

Weekly Wisdom Wednesday: Earth Week 2018!

One of the best weeks out of the year! It is a time to celebrate the planet that gives us all life. The planet that nourishes our very existence. To this beautiful planet called Earth, we owe our thanks. Not all planets are able to sustain life, such as ours. We must be grateful for the gifts she has given us.

Take this week as a time to meditate on ways you can help our planet. For she is now dying by our hand. The amount of pollution and destruction we have caused, it is said if we continue on our current path, our planet will cease to exist.

What are some simple things you can do to honor the planet?

  • Plant something!
    • Examples:
      • Plant potatoes if they start to grow roots, you are recycling and growing your own food!
      • Plant the bottom ends of lettuce instead of throwing them out.
      • Plant the tops of a pineapple
  • Host a recycling drive:
    • Have people bring their recyclables to you if they do not have access to recycling. My first apartment complex did not recycle. I would bag up all my plastics and fold all my cardboard and take them to the right place. Just because my apartment did not have a recycling aspect did not mean I was not going to do my part because it was not convenient.
  • Host an event to raise awareness about plastic pollution and how it is harming our environment!
  • Attend a local event at your park on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2018!

 

Be apart of the change!! Save our planet. If you have other great ideas, please share them!

 

Meatless Monday Chronicles: Quick Veggie Sandwich!

What is it like being around people that eat meat?! Well, I think it is more difficult for them than it is for me. Lol. I am perfectly with not eating any meat. I can pretty much form a great meal out of anything!

Today, had family come over. My significant other is a meat eater and so is his family. They try really hard to work with the way I eat,  and I greatly appreciate that! It was a grill day for them with burgers, but I didn’t have any veggie burgers. That is okay, I had some yummy Morning Star Buffalo Chik Patties in the freezer. I was able to pull together a quick meatless dinner.

We were supposed to see the SpaceX launch today in Florida, but it was canceled last minute, which is why we were having a family gathering on a Monday lol. The weather was perfect for it too, but they have not released any information as to why it was not launched. (Yes, launching “things” is space is an environmental hazard. I will be posting about the effects it has on the environment in a later post. Is it still cool to see, most definitely, do I agree with it…not sure…still have a lot of research ahead of me!)

Back to the food!

Time: 20 minutes

Prep: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Morning Star Chik Patty (Or any other brand of veggie patty, Gardein, Beyond Meat, Boca and more!)
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1 slice of your favorite cheese (regular or vegan- this is meatless Monday, not vegan Monday; everyone can do this!)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Season Salt
  • 1-8 ears of corn (Depends how many people are eating)
  • 1 package of buns for burgers (we had pretzel buns)

 

Cooking:

  • Get the water boiling for the corn.
  • Turn the oven on to 375 degrees to cook the Chik Patty (follow package).
  • Turn a medium skillet with the olive oil and sauté the onion with the season salt.
  • Cook the corn for minimum of 10 minutes.
  • I like my buns toasted, so throw on the grill or put in the oven.
  • Everything should be done at the same time!!
  • Assemble!

Below are some pictures, not as clean cut as I would like, but hey, not bad for a fast meal because we thought we were about to run out! Literally, just grabbed some ingredients in the house and put it together! Yummmm and super filling! Let me know what you think!

 

Weekly Wisdom Wednesday: Everyday Pollution

Pollution. The definition according to Webster’s dictionary is : “the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste.”

Ah, there’s the key word – “man-made waste”. Everything humans create is not natural to the planet, i.e. pollution. Majority of the products created throughout mankind’s history are not from natural resources. From the inception of humans we have always formed and created tools from either things in nature or now, in a lab or a factory. Many of the items we have grown to become accustom to in our everyday lives are actually the very products that are leading the epidemic of pollution.

For example, plastic water bottles. These items are created for individual, one sale use. The demand for single use items has grown exponentially over the years. however, the demand is not only by the “industrialized nations”, such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and so on and so forth. There is a plethora of single use water bottles in “third world” countries all around the world! Why? Well, if the “better” nations are doing this and leading by example, then we must follow suit. The issue is simple: these items take 450 years (yes, you read that correctly, that is FOUR centuries!)

What is the other problem with plastic water bottles? The amount of oil used to create them! So, we are using a non-renewable resource to create something that will not decompose in any of our lifetimes. Some have said it is roughly over 1.6 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is unable to provide a real number for the amount of crude oil that is used to produce plastic. Then whom is responsible for knowing these specific amounts? ( I will do some real legal research and come back and update this post).

The purpose of this post was to show that we are responsible for pollution. Everything that humankind has created is with a single purpose. Once those items have fulfilled their purpose they are literally thrown away! There is not even a thought to repurpose them, recycle them, or reuse them in another fashion. This is for glass, plastic, cardboard, paper, napkins and the list goes on!

Collectively, we need to find a way to reduce the DEMAND for single use items. Imagine a world where all you saw was trash every step you made. Oh, wait… we already live in that world.

Here are some images from my stroll in Port Canaveral, Florida this past weekend. I was abhorred to see the amount of trash I did in every single turn!

 

I was disgusted and disappointed. I could not fathom that I descended from one of the “most” intelligent species to see such disregard for the environment. For those of you that are not familiar with Florida’s geography. Port Canaveral is of course near NASA, but it is also the major Port for cruise vessels. That means the ocean is right there!

Below is an image of my location.

Screenshot 2018-04-11 21.02.28

One of the biggest causes of sea life death, pollution! So, if you are littering all over near the ocean, odds are majority of this trash is going to wind up in the ocean.

What can we do? I will admit, I did not see a lot of recycling or trash receptacles. However, that does not mitigate our duty to do our due diligence and pick up and throw or recycle items!

We only have one planet, please take care of it. If you have any other suggestions or things you have seen work, please feel free to comment!

 

Meatless Monday Chronicles: Butternut Squash Soup!

I am still figuring out this whole blog website thing…however, I want to create a recipe corner! (Just not sure how to make the menu thingy work). I am always concocting new creations. I have been obsessed with the kitchen since I was five. My mother said the first thing I learned was to push the dining chair into the kitchen and get to the counter. She would catch me peeling and stuffing boiled eggs in my face.

Then elementary school summer break came along, guess who loved reading books of all kinds?! Yup, cookbooks too. Very first, unsupervised thing I made was fudge. Boy was it delicious! My mom was impressed, yet terrified because I was cooking and boiling hot sugar…of course, I did not do that unsupervised again. I did learn to be really messy in the kitchen, which did not go so well with mom either. What can I say, I live by organized chaos! (I’ve learned to clean more haha).

My inspiration for this recipe is my mom. She has been vegetarian for over 30 years, maybe longer. As I got older, I perfected meat dishes for my dad (do not cook meat anymore), but I wanted to create unique things for my mom too. So, I combined a lot of my favorite orange things and thus called it soup!! Yup, as creative as it gets sometimes lol.

My mom is from the beautiful small island of Trinidad and Tobago, so, making a “Butternut Squash Soup” was definitely not a normal thing, but she was excited to try it! I have been making it the same ever since!

# of ingredients: 5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Butternut Squash (1/2 pound)
  • Sweet Potatoes (2 medium size)
  • Carrots (3, peeled)
  • Veggie Stock (homemade or store bought – 3 cups)
  • Olive Oil Spray (or mister if you have one)

 

Directions:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots into similar size chunks.
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  • Place all the orange veggies on the sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Use a long wooden skewer to pierce the veggies. If it goes through, they are ready to come out of the oven.
  • Heat a pot with 1 1/2 cup of veggie stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add all your veggies, (here, you can add some other fresh veggies like onion or fennel to give a different flavor!)
  • Bring to a nice simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn the stove off, and get your blender ready! I have a NinjaChef, which was an awesome Christmas present!
  • I used the soup setting first and yes it will look like small lumpy mashed veggies, that is okay!
  • Don’t forget that reserved vegetable stock! Start to add that liquid to your veggies to help them move around the blender.
  • I do it in half portions to not exceed the “hot liquid” warning and to ensure smooth soup texture!
  • Once, all has turned into mush, add the last 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to the blender and put on the puree setting!
  • It is like magic, no more mushy, just silk smooth soup!
  • You can store in a freezer proof container for up to a month! I always divide my portions for lunch, dinner, and a lazy day in the future, i.e. freezer.

Below are some pictures from my Meatless Monday Chronicles! Tune in next week for another fun creation!

Remember, there is nothing to being an amazing home chef! Healthy meals are quick, simple, and low maintenance ingredients, they also do not have to break the bank!

Notice, there was no salt or sugar in this recipe! You get all the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes and the carrots. Also, the butternut squash gives you amazing flavor and texture. This is a sure fire healthy meal, whether you are on a diet, trying to be vegetarian or vegan, or just want to try something new!

 

Hope you enjoy!! Come back for more Meatless Monday Chronicles!!

 

~Elizabeth Gosein-Vasquez