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Friday, November 8th, 2013
“When my daughter wakes up, she opens her eyes and asks ‘What’s for dinner?’”
“I wish I was kidding,” Alex Guarnaschelli laughs. ”By the time she’s eating breakfast, I better have an answer for her.”
Like moms everywhere, this Food Network star faces The Dinner Question. (And thus, trips to the market and food storage tasks.)
Alex, the author of Old-School Comfort Food and mother to a 6-year-old, is the executive chef at Butter in New York City. Last year, she became one of Food Network’s Iron Chefs, and she is a regular judge on Chopped.
Every morning Alex goes to the kitchen to plan her entire day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.
Making a plan of attack on your groceries will save time, money, and cut back on waste, she says, which is why she partnered with Glad for the Save It Sunday campaign. The movement, which encourages participants to protect and preserve food, centers on the Sunday ritual of grocery shopping.
“It’s the one day of the week when you can commit to setting aside time: for shopping, cooking ahead meals, and storing other items—it’s about starting the week on the right foot,” she says.
Alex does a lot of her cooking on Sunday, which is why the pledge really speaks to her. But it also goes a step further.
“Ironically, the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook—because I’m doing it all day everyday and by mid-week I’m fried,” she says. “Taking that time on Sunday, and getting joy from it, is wonderful.”
A proponent of reducing waste, Alex is extremely conscious of the issue both at work and at home.
“When I talk to my team about how to prep and store 100 pounds of beans for the restaurant, the same thing applies when I go home and make braised short ribs for my daughter,” she says. “You have to be very proactive.”
According to a 2012 study by the National Resources Defense Council, the average American household throws out 25 percent of the food purchased—roughly $1,500 worth each year.
Try Alex’s tips for saving time, money, and reducing food waste:
• Make a meal plan.
“Figure out what you are going to do with everything you buy,” she says. “It’s a pleasure to have an agenda—you’ll feel like you’re pulling a fast one on everybody because it’s so easy!”
Read the Parents meal-plan guide to get started.
• Stop thinking about leftovers as, well, leftovers.
“Instead of looking at packaging as something that lets you recycle and throw back in the scraps no one ate, think about it as a new beginning,” she says. “And, by making a plan, you’re actually ensuring there aren’t any leftovers.”
Plus, “leftovers” can be better than the first time around: “Growing up my mom would make a big batch of meatballs and sauce and, to me, the sauce tasted better two days later,” she says. “It’s not a leftover—it’s something you created that got better with age or other ingredients.”
• Don’t be hard on yourself.
“Some weeks, I don’t have my act together,” she says. “As a busy working mom, there are nights when I have to say, ‘Guess what kid, it’s fried eggs tonight.’ And that’s okay.”
• Reorganize your fridge.
“The crisper can be the kiss of death. Don’t put your fruits and veggies in there,” she says. “Instead, fill it with club soda and put your produce on display. My favorite thing to do is put herbs in a jar of water on the top shelf, or sometimes right on the kitchen table.”
• Buy different ingredients.
“Challenge yourself to use new items—like a bunch of thyme or mint—by taking one little step each day for a week. In order to use it up, you’ll find creative ways to add the ingredient to dishes.”
To join the #SaveItSunday movement, visit glad.com. If you pledge, you’ll be entered to win a meal prepared by a personal chef.
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alex guarneschelli, cooking, expert advice, family dinner, food storage, food waste, glad, going green, grocery shopping, how-to, meal plan, meal planning, reduce waste, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, save it sunday, save money | Categories:
celebrities, Doing Good, Food, GoodyBlog, Green, Solutions, Your Life
Thursday, October 25th, 2012
When you head to the polls on November 6, there may be an item on your ballot that you haven’t heard of before. Californian voters will have the option to vote on Proposition 37, a bill that would require foods with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) to be labeled for consumers. A GMO is a food that has had specific changes to its DNA by genetic engineering techniques. The purpose of these genetic alterations is to make crops more resistant to rain, drought and pests.
Supporters of the bill say that GMO’s have been linked to allergies, organ toxicity and other health problems. Fifty countries in the world, including all of Europe, Japan, India and China, already require labels on GMO’s. Over 400 nationally renowned chefs have signed a petition in support of the bill saying that consumers should have a right to know if their food has been genetically engineered.
Based on those facts, passing Prop 37 may seem like an easy decision. However, its opponents firmly believe otherwise. According to No Prop 37, GMO’s are products of biotechnology— a safe anti-pesticide process that has been going on for nearly two decades. Opponents believe that by banning the sale of millions of common grocery products unless they are repackaged or made with higher cost ingredients would increase government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs.
To research both sides further, visit CA Right to Know and No Prop 37.
Do you think GMO foods should be labeled? Let us know in the comments.
Image: Woman checking food labeling in super market, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 4th, 2012
As I posted the other day, I was worried that the bad forecast would literally rain on my parade as I walked my children to school in honor of Walk To School Day. This was a big deal for me–my work schedule prohibits me from driving the girls to school, much less walking them, but I was able to work at home yesterday. Happily, the weather was fine, and not only did I walk with the girls, we even picked up two of their friends along the way. It took less time than I expected, there was no complaining, and all four kids seemed very proud of themselves when we arrived at school. More than 3,700 communities across the U.S. held events to boost participation, and next year I’m definitely going to lead one in our town.
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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
October is International Walk to School Month, and tomorrow, October 3, is Walk to School Day. The aim is to build awareness for the need for walkable neighborhoods and to promote all of the benefits of walking to school. I’m sure you can guess what they are: Walking helps kids (and their parents) be more active, it fosters a sense of community, it’s better for the environment and your gasoline budget, and it cuts down on traffic.
A great site created by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (yep, there is such a thing) gives all kinds of fantastic information, including a directory of all of the Walk to School Day events taking place around the country. As of this writing, there are 3,794 events happening all over the U.S. You’ll also find safe-walking tips and ways to map your route to school.
Tomorrow’s forecast in my town isn’t looking promising, but I have every intention of walking my girls, ages 4 and 7, the 9/10 of a mile to their school in the morning. I’m so curious to see how they do–I can’t remember the last time either of them walked that far. Fingers crossed the rain holds off…
If you walk your child to school tomorrow, please let us know how it went!
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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
They've got a beautiful online baby registry!
You don’t have to be a “green” mommy to love eco-friendly baby products. Sometimes the earth-friendly stuff is just ridiculously adorable. That’s how we found AbesMarket.com some years ago. We were looking for something new and different for a nursery-storage story in the magazine, and found the $70, completely recyclable, no-screws-necessary Beehive Bookcase. And we were hooked!
We’ve since gone back to them a bunch of times. We showed one of their $68 organic baby blankets in a layette story, for instance. And here I’ll give up one of my editor’s secrets, which is that I sometimes refer to them as a sort of cross-check. Lots of companies promise that they are eco-friendly, but because I know Abe’s Market does a serious amount of research before taking on a product line, I’ll sometimes just peek and see if a product that says it’s green is on their Web site. (I do these kinds of cross-checks with Whole Foods too, but they’re tougher, because you can’t shop Whole Foods online!)
Also, if you just like to read about where your baby products come from, you’ll like the company overviews. Check out this one about Green Sprouts. You can learn what they make, where, and with what materials! If you’re not careful, you’ll turn into a product geek like me.
I’m finally working around to their new news: AbesMarket.com launched a baby registry! It’s presented in a gorgeous online magazine format and is a pleasure to browse through.
To help them celebrate and spread the word to moms and moms-to-be, we’re giving away a $100 giftcard to AbesMarket.com. Just leave a comment here (you can comment up to once a day) and let us know what your favorite eco-friendly baby product is. You can comment through Wednesday May 9th; on the 10th, we’ll randomly chose one winner. See the complete rules here. Goody luck!
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What would you buy with $100 at their site?
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
The new study about perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) has parents concerned once again about immunizations, but not for the usual reason: Research shows that PFCs may affect how well children’s bodies respond to vaccines. The theory is that this chemical interferes with the immune response once a child is vaccinated. This is just an association for now–not a cause-and-effect–so the word is not final, but it has lots of moms and dads worried about how often their children are exposed to PFCs. And the unfortunate answer for most families? A lot.
PFCs are found in the coating of Teflon pots and pans. In the lining of microwave popcorn bags. On coated paper plates. In Scotchgard spray and treated fabrics. In Stainmaster carpets. Gore-Tex clothing. The Environmental Working Group has a quick worksheet on how to avoid exposure, and it’s helpful, but the fact is, PFC is a tough thing to avoid.
We tackled the tough topic of chemicals in Parents, and one of the most useful parts of the story was our section on “Safer Swaps.” While we didn’t address PFCs, we covered other troublesome sources of chemical exposure, including phthalates and BPA. Take a look–you may be pleasantly surprised by how much you can do to protect your child.
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chemicals, Environmental Working Group, EWG, immunizations, PFCs, toxic chemicals, vaccines | Categories:
Babies, GoodyBlog, Green, Health & Safety, News, Your Child
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
Are your kids sick of splashing around with the same old rubber ducky? They’ll love cozying up to the cuddly critters that decorate eco-chic designer Danny Seo’s new collection of bath linens ($2.99–$7.99). Your waterbabies can dry off with woodland creatures and friendly crocodiles. Visit your local HomeGoods store to turn every bath into a walk in the woods or a savannah safari.
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Friday, November 18th, 2011
The new Simmons Pampering Nights mattress—green and saves you green!
Dr. Alan Greene, the pediatrician behind the book Raising Baby Green, once told our editors that if you’re only going to make one “green” purchase for your newborn, it should be a crib mattress. His argument was that a baby spends more time sleeping in her crib than anywhere else. Traditional mattresses are covered in a plastic that often contains phthalates. Phthalates are associated with cancer (that’s why they’ve been taken out of so many skincare products) as well as asthma. Crib mattresses are sometimes coated with a toxic fire-retardant, too. Of course, despite all these scary facts, there’s no scientific proof that the chemicals in a crib mattress have ever actually harmed a baby.
But the green-crib mattress movement was born, and Dr. Greene’s enthusiasm for it stuck with us, even though the prices of eco-friendly mattresses used to be prohibitive. The first ones that we saw were from brands such as NaturalMat (NaturalMatUSA.com); they make beautiful, handmade crib mattresses with materials such as organic lambswool and natural latex, and they start at $400. The Nook crib mattress (NookSleep.com) is hands-down the most gorgeous mattress we’ve ever seen; vibrant colors, all natural materials—but $550. Fantastic choices, but only if you can afford them. NaturePedic (NaturePedic.com) seemed like the best bet, pricewise; the mattresses are a high quality, and $260 to $400.
Eventually, lower-priced brands launched greener versions of their crib mattresses. Also, the GreenGuard Environmental Institute stepped in to help make it clear that the products aren’t just being “greenwashed.” GreenGuard is strict about monitoring products for indoor air pollution (GreenGuard.org), so look for their seal of approval on a crib mattress—it’s a big deal. NaturePedic has it, and now so do some even cheaper brands. The Colgate Eco Classica I is $190 (Colgatekids.com). And Simmons now has three GreenGuard-certified crib mattresses: Superior Rest ($130–$150), Pampering Nights ($140–$160), and Sunny Day ($180–$190), now at Amazon.com (buy Pampering Nights here) and coming soon to Babies “R” Us. (Very soon: Look for them on BabiesRUs.com by the time this giveaway ends.) It was the folks at Simmons who turned us onto the fact that you no longer have to pay top dollar to have a crib mattress that’s chemical-free. (And their mattresses are made in Wisconsin; we love things that are American-made!) We’re so excited by all this progress that we’re going to give two of the new Simmons crib mattresses away to some lucky parents!
To enter, just post a comment below between now and the end of the day Tuesday, November 22, 2011, and we’ll randomly choose two winners for a Simmons crib mattress (which will also fit a toddler bed). For full rules, click here. Goody luck!
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baby, crib mattress, Giveaway, GoodyBlog, green crib, green mattress, shopping, simmons | Categories:
Babies, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Green, Health & Safety, Shopping & Gear, Solutions, Your Child