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Rainforest alliance

So the other day, I was tooting my own horn about the “Rainforest Alliance Certified” coffee that I purchased at Whole Foods.

how could I say no to that adorbs froggy?

But to be honest, I had no idea what that meant. It could have been about as relevant as having “all natural” plastered across a product.  And that seal was the ONLY reason I bought it. I had my favorite coffee (Mocha Java- just as magnificent as it sounds) in my hand and saw that tiny seal, put it down and picked up the other bag hoping I wasn’t being duped by a marketing scheme.

Then when I got home, I did a little internet perusing to figure out what it meant, and this is what I found. (Majorly paraphrased this BTW)

1. Social and envornmental management system: basically, the farm needs to be efficiently and effectively run and that they must be evaluated to prove that fact.

2. Ecosystem conservation: the farms protect natural ecosystems as well as do things to help ones that have been harmed.

3. Wildlife protection: The farms protect natural areas that contain food for animals, as well as any habitats for reproduction and raising offspring.

4. Water conservation: They conserve water and monitor their waste water.

5. Fair treatment and good working conditions for workers: They do not discriminate, and pay equal to or above minimum wage. If housing is provided, it must be in good condition. They have access to medical services and any children living there have access to education.

6. Occupational and health safety: workers receive safety training to reduce the number of accidents and the farms provide the necessary equipment to prevent injuries.

7. Community relations:  they are good neighbors and contribute to local economic development.

8. Integrated crop management: It is encouraged that the farms do not use chemicals that have proven to harm people or the enviornment. The farms record the quantities of chemicals they use and work to lessen or eliminate their use. They also follow the country’s (where their farm is located )laws about the use of chemicals.

9. Soil management and conservation: The farms must prevent or control erosion or reduce the loss of nutrients and lessing the impact on bodies of water that are near. They use specialized fertilizer, and crop rotation, as little pesticide as necessary and Never cut forests.

10. Integrated waste management :  The farms must be neat and orderly and reduce the amount of waste they produce by recycling and reusing. Where they put their waste and the transportation they use to take the waste away must be as environmentally friendly as possible.

If youre interested, you can read the standards in full here.

I was not at all impressed with these standards. These are very basic things that ALL farms should be complying to. Farming responsibly could have such a positive impact on the environment, but its more expensive and takes more effort. More effort means more time, and time is money, honey.

It makes me wonder about the big name farm (Driscolls) where these babies came from:

And about the no name farm where these came from:

I know people make a big deal about purchasing ethically raised animal products (and I think thats great!), but what about responsibly farmed produce? At least with animal products they stick it right on the package. With fruits and veg, were really just buying it all blind.

Have a splendid day! :)

How do you feel about the standards that a farm must meet to become “Rainforest Alliance Certified”?

Do you think this will change the way you see produce? If it does, what are you going to do about it? For me, I’m going to make more of an effort to buy locally sourced and fair trade produce.

Herbaceous barley: hot or cold.

I heard Giada de Laurentis use the word herbaceous once and have been wanting to use it ever since. Haha :) But its the perfect word to describe my lunch and dinner.

Post breakfasting, I cooked some barley and put it in the fridge to chill out while I went for a short jog around my parents gorgeous neighborhood. My legs felt like cinderblocks, and it was so humid that you could have cut the air with a knife. Perfect.

When I got back I picked some fresh herbs from my garden:

Basil and thyme. Don't worry, I washed them first. :)

Then chopped some veg action including a whole tomato, some cucumber and some red pepper, then largely diced some homemade seitan (yum), and threw it all into the bowl with the cold barley + the herbs that I finely chopped.

Exquisite!

I topped it with some parmesan cheese and a hunk of avocado. Chewy from the barley and seitan, crunchy and fresh from the veg and creamy from the avocado. A bowl full of texture.

I loved this lunch so much that I used barley again for dinner.

It was gross and rainy out so I decided I wanted something hot, steamy and comforting. Enter roasted vegetable barley risotto.

Risotto is one of my favorite foods ever. Its SO versatile! Generally its made with arborio rice, but I swapped in barley to up the fiber/ protein and it worked like a charm.

Oh. Yes.

How did I do it?

Step one:  I chopped and roasted a big portabello mushroom cap and a zucchini in the oven on 400* for 30 minutes (You can use any veg that tickles your fancy).

Step 2:  Meanwhile I cooked 1/3 cup of barley on the stove using the directions on the package but added a little extra water (I used about 1+1/3 cup).

Step 3:  When the barley was tender, I threw the roasted veg in + some homemade seitan for some extra protein (substitute baked tofu, or even chicken) and then I added some parmesan cheese, maybe 2-3 tablespoons? Threw in some fresh thyme and oregano from my garden and called it dinner.

It deserved a close up. Excuse the lighting.

You will be seeing this again. I wish I had asparagus because it would have been phenomenal roasted and tossed in as well.

Since my oven is still hot, I might as well bake some cookies right? :)

Have you ever had risotto? What would you or did you put in it?

Whats your favorite type of cookie?  I’m a boring old chocolate chip girl. Or chocolate chocolate chip. But lets be real, I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like.

Carb monster Grandma.

Gardening.

Maybe its for Grandmas with their straw hats and pink gardening gloves. Maybe it sounds miserable to you. Maybe its a lot of work. Maybe getting dirt all over yourself isn’t appealing to the normal 21 year old.

But it holds a special place in my heart. I can remember being 6 and sitting in the dirt in my moms garden, snapping peas right off of the plant and munching them and pulling her baby carrots out of the ground, wiping the dirt off of them and eating them.

Gross? Probably. Best carrots I’ve ever eaten and peas I’ve ever eaten? Certainly.

Its SO rewarding to eat something that you have worked hard to grow and have it taste phenomenal.

I walked outside this morning to check water my garden (which is still semi pathetic right now and still in progress) and saw this:

Baby tomatoes! AHHHH!  Yes, I squealed. Don’t judge me.

A closer look

I’m mostly growing herbs: Cilantro, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, and Lavender (honey lavender biscotti anyone?)

Thyme. So versatile.

Basil. Hellooo pesto.

but since I eat multiple tomatoes every day, I decided to try my hand at them.

I cannot wait till they are big red and juicy! Holy yum.

This morning I woke up STARVING. Yes even despite yesterdays epic snackage, so I made a MONSTER bowl of oats. Were talking 3/4 of a cup here people. I love carbs.

I use 1/2 cup generaly speaking (none of this 1/3 cup business) but todays monster bowl was 3/4 cup. Carb monster.

Along with a giant mug of rainforest alliance certified coffee.

Yes that mug has paw prints on it. Were big University of Kentucky Wildcats fans around these parts. :)

And now I’ll leave you with a gem I found on the internet. What you don’t google search your blogs name just to see what pops up? :)  (DO IT!)

Have a great day and be kind to yourself and others!

Do you like to garden?

Whats your favorite herb?  Im going to have to go with basil. So fragrant.

Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Shout out to Mr. Rogers! I used to love that show. Even the creepy puppet people..

Moving right along..

I woke up bright and early this morning to sun shining through my windows. I get up around 6:30 naturally every day and I LOVE it. When I’m up at school, my roommates are still asleep and when I’m at home, the rest of my family is still asleep, so I get to make and eat breakfast and enjoy the peace and quiet for a bit before starting my day.

As per usual, I woke up next to my favorite boys:

The boys: My moms puppy named Palmer and my cat named Igor. They're the best of friends. Its adorbs.

Went down stairs, put on a pot of SUPA strong coffee and immediately got to work on breakfast. Brace yourselves.. Its different today!

Chocolate banana oats with cashews. Scarfed in warp speed immediately after this picture was snapped.

Alright, alright its not THAT different. I’m taking baby steps here, people. :)

As I scarfed my dessert, er, breakfast, I pondered what I wanted to do for a morning sweat sesh.  I opted for some biking around town. We have some killer hills around my parents city so I definitely got a great lower body + cardio workout.

The usual workout garb. Dri fit saves my life when I'm in the south. Fo realz.

I lunched, got clean, and lounged by the pool with a nice book.

Loungin in the sun.

Insert large amounts of snackage including another one of those delicious Alvarado St. Bakery sprouted wheat bagels + cream cheese + some cheese and crackers (I could live off of carbs and cheese alone. Fact.)+ handfuls of cashews.

I’ve been super snacky today, but I’ve just been rolling with it. Usually I eat around 6 times per day but today I’ve already eaten like 8 times. A while ago, this would have made me really uncomfortable, but now, I know that I can trust my body so when it says “feed me!” I happily oblige! Food is fuel! The fact that its scrumptious is just a bonus. :)

Have a great Saturday night!

Are you more of a snacker or a “three square meals per day” kind of person?  Normally I’m in between and eat three main meals and three or so snacks.

Do you have any pets? What are their names? The only one that is mine is my cat Igor or “Iggy”. My mom has a little dog named Palmer and we also have a giant German Shepard named Dash. Yes, like the kid from the incredibles.. :)

Its the little things..

..Like…

...doing something you never thought you would. Or could. Yes, thats really me.

..Coffee in its iced form on a hot summer day.

...tea parties! Complete with cheesecake of course.

..being a goof. Even in public.

...freshly baked cinnamon swirl bread

...eating refined sugar. I promise.. It won't kill you.

Laughing at yourself. (Don't judge the night gown haha)

Taking fashion risks. Yes. Those are, in fact, rain pants. I didn't know they existed either.

Letting your hair down. Er... Up?

Stopping to smell the.... peonies.

Okay okay. Stopping to smell the roses. But its going to take a while.

Its the little things that make life so enjoyable and fun! Doing something spontaneous, being rewarded for hard work, doing something you love, spending time with the people you love, time to yourself, getting a compliment from a stranger, giving a compliment to a stranger, indulging your cravings, taking the time to notice the beauty in nature..

So many things can bring us joy, but often we are too busy to notice and appreciate them.

Be mindful today! Notice the little things and notice how they affect your mood.

What are the little things that can brighten your day?

The [not so] great salad debate.

Do I like salad?  Sure. I love vegetables and I think its a great way to get ’em in your diet if you have trouble doing that.

Do I think a salad is a meal? No. They just don’t satisfy me. And there is a 95% chance (never say never) that you won’t see me eat a salad as a meal. Maybe as a side dish to cram some extra veg action in, but not as my main dish.

Today I had a debate with myself about what I wanted for lunch. I knew what ingredients I wanted: avocado and tomato.

Perfectly ripe avocado? Yeah pass that puppy over here.

I just debated whether I should have them in salad form or in sandwich form. Sure, I probably still would have had two pieces of toasted sprouted bread on the side, but why would I want to do that when I could have all of the ingredients I wanted in between that delicious bread?

Then I called myself crazy for even debating and made a phenom ‘which.

Perfect

Half of an avocado, cream cheese, a whole big tomato, butter lettuce, sprinkled with sea salt, between two slices of Alvarado St. Bakery sprouted bread with salsa to dip it into. Uh.. Yeah. If its at all possible, its better than it sounds.

+ Some  Fage 2% on the side.

Because its superior to 0%. I buy it in giant tubs in an attempt to reduce my waste. I go through a lot of this stuff.

Then tragedy struck. I was about to reach my hand in the cashew bag, but it was missing! (I’m visiting home right now so someone in the fam ate them, they didn’t just disappear) So, I immediately got into the car to go to get more cashews. Naturally.

Crisis averted.

I obviously didn’t eat enough for lunch becaue about 2 hours later I was haaaaangry again.  So, I rectified that immediately with a snack:

Bagel with almond butta.

You’re wondering if that’s a “bagel thin”? Absolutely not. If I want a bagel, which I often do, I want a bagel with a chewy outside and soft doughy interior. And bagel thins just don’t get the job done. Plus, they have a laundry list of ingredients.

Alvarado St. Bakery hasn’t failed me yet. These are redonkulous.

Do you eat salads for meals?

Bagel thins vs. bagels: which one wins for you?

Tweakin.

Let me start off by saying that being a vegetarian is NOT for everyone.  I do not try to convince people to completely stop eating meat, nor do I tell them that meat is gross. Its a personal choice.

Not reasons to become a vegetarian: To lose weight, because your friend is, because its trendy, because Alicia Silverstone is, and shes fabulous. (Yes she is, but its still not a reason)

Reasons to be a vegetarian: Ethical, environmental or religious reasons.

For me personally, its ethical reasons, with environmental reasons being the cherry on the preverbal sundae.

With the exception of my sister and I, my family eats meat. My sister is a new vegetarian- a little less than a year, I think, and I’ve been a vegetarian for about 4 years.

My sister and I. Riding a fake camel. Its normal.

I still lived at home when I decided that I was fully committed to nixing meat from my diet and at first, my family wasn’t very supportive. They couldn’t understand my reason for wanting to stray from the way I had been eating for years. They were concerned that I wouldn’t be getting the right amout of calories and vitamins that my body needed. I explained to them that it was a personal choice and that I was going to be fine and still eat like I had always been eating, but with a few tweaks.

These tweaks are things that you could try if you wanted to be full time vegetarian or if you are trying to cut back your meat intake for any reason.  Perhaps for meatless Mondays? Or a couple meat free meals a couple nights per week?

Before          ->             After

Beef tacos         ->      Black bean and avocado tacos

Turkey sandwich    ->   Hummus and vegetable sandwich

Hamburger        ->  Curried chickpea burger

Nope, I don't miss the real thing when I can make these babies.

Fried Chicken    ->   Fried tofu (pressed tofu drizzled in Braggs liquid aminos, rolled in nooch and pan fried. Yum)

Meatloaf            ->   Lentil loaf

Chili                   ->  Three bean chili or vegetable and crumbled tofu chili

Ham sandwich   -> Seitan sandwich

Seitan sandwich: Holy yum, definitely a staple in my household

Beef + vegetable soup  -> Lentil vegetable soup

Plain old chicken w/ veg ->  jazz that up with an equally healthy stir fry

Old stand bys that are already vegetarian:

PB+J, grilled cheese (+tomato for me, please), egg salad sandwich, cheese ravioli with marinara, most breakfast foods, homemade mac n’ cheese and SO much more!

There are also many meat substitutes at the grocery store from tofu dogs and veggie burgers to lunch “meat” to “turkey roasts” that you can try out. I tend to stay away from those because of how processed they are, but they are excellent in a pinch. Just don’t expect them to taste like meat. I don’t care what anyone tells you- they don’t really taste like meat.

Going meat free one day or a couple meals per week is easy peasy! In fact, I bet some of you do it without even noticing!

Make someone smile today! (Making yourself smile counts.) :)

Do you eat meat free without noticing sometimes?

What is your absolute favorite meal? (vegetarian or not) When I ate meat, would have said pepperoni pizza or beef and broccoli. Now, its wild mushroom risotto with tons of cheese in it…. oh yeah.