Friday, October 30, 2015

Black bean, kale, and hominy stew!

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Here’s a great recipe I adapted from the March 2013 issue of Cooking Light (I made this version a little more chunky, a little lighter on the spices).  Serve with Phil’s Cornbread – it’s what we’re eating tonight!

  • 11 oz jar of tomatillos, chopped very small
  • 4 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • the equivalent of 2 jalapeno peppers, from jarred jalapenos
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 8 oz. bunches of kale, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 29 oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar
  • cilantro

1)  Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add onion and jalapeno, and saute for about 5 minutes.
2)  Add garlic and cumin; saute for about 2 more minutes
3)  Add tomatillos, broth, water, salt, red pepper, black beans, and kale.  Heat for about 10 minutes, or until the kale becomes tender.
4)  Add the hominy for about 5 minutes and serve warm.
5) Garnish with sour cream, cheddar, and cilantro.
Serves a hungry family of five, with a little bit for leftovers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shakin’ and bacon

Have you heard the latest announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO), stating that processed and red meats increase your risk of cancer?  Not really new news, but now WHO is making the info a little more well-known.

But if you don’t want to eat less meat for your health, how about eating less meat for the environment?  Here’s a repost on that topic:

Why Eat Low on the Food Chain?

A great environmental goal is to “eat lower on the food chain.” What exactly does this mean? Well, let’s start at the beginning. When we talk about a food chain, we’re talking about a series of plants and animals that are related to one another through predation. Food chains always start with a plant (an autotroph, in ecological terms) which converts sunlight energy into energy that can be used by plants and animals. Plants are the source of energy and nutrients for all animals. As we move up the food chain, we’re looking at animals (heterotrophs) that eat certain plants. Moving further up the food chain, we’d see animals that eat the animals that ate the plants. A sample food chain would be:

Grass ---> grasshopper ---> bird ---> hawk 

So why do we want to “eat lower on the food chain”, that is, eat more plants and less meat? The way that our food is produced in our industrialized society, much energy goes into the production of food. The higher one eats on the food chain (meat, that is), the more energy that must go into producing that meat. So, if you eat a 2,000 calorie per day diet, a diet of vegetables will require much less energy input, than a 2,000 calorie diet that contains substantial amounts of meat. Another way of thinking about it -- for the same energy input, much more plant-based food can be produced. Eating lower on the food chain can also help to reduce greenhouse gases – the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that meat production is responsible for 1/5 of global greenhouse gases! 

Unless you live in an area with a very short growing season, a plant-based diet is a realistic goal. But many folks say they can’t or don’t want to go totally vegetarian. How about 1 night per week? The Utah State University Cooperative Extension website states that if “1000 people replaced one meat meal per week with a vegetarian option, it would save 70,000 lbs of grain per year!” That amount of grain would really feed a lot of people, with much lower environmental impact. Our family eats meat-free in our home.  Outside of the house, the kids and my husband eat whatever they want. Why not give it a try? Once a week, I will post a recipe that has been a success at our house. I’ll also include meatless products that I like, because people often ask me which products I like best, but you can substitute any brand that you like. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy “Meat-free Friday!”

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cabbage and Potato Soup

I made this one last night – don’t forget the thyme!  Perfect for a fall evening.



  • 1 small head of cabbage, coarsely chopped into 1 to 2 inch squares
  • 6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2  tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme (about 1 1/2 tablespoons if you’re using dried thyme)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water (I used a little more)


  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and saute the onion, potatoes, salt, and pepper for about 5 minutes
  2. Add vegetable broth and water; boil until the potato is just soft enough to mash.
  3. Using a hand potato masher, mash the potatoes in the soup until half the potatoes are mashed and half are still in chunks.  If you really like a smooth soup, instead of hand-mashing, use a blender to puree about half the soup.
  4. Add cabbage and thyme; cook until cabbage is soft.
  5. Makes about 4 servings.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My girl Myrtle!

Earlier this year, I adopted a sea turtle from the Sea Turtle Conservancy (Shelley).  Sadly, Shelley’s tag is no longer transmitting.  The folks at Sea Turtle Conservancy explained to me that her tag was last transmitting in the Gulf Stream, which is a little unusual for an adult turtle.  No telling what happened, so I’m going to believe that it fell off and Shelley is doing just fine somewhere in the Atlantic.

So I’ve adopted a new turtle.  Meet my girl Myrtle!

This happy turtle is a loggerhead who was tagged and released at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida on August 2, 2015.  Right now, Myrtle is in 5th place in the annual Tour de Turtles!

If you want your own turtle to cheer on in the big race, be sure to check out the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s website.  You can see all of the valuable work this group is doing and adopt your own turtle!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mushroom Stroganoff

My dad sent me this recipe to try out and it was a hit at our house – perfect as the weather gets colder.  I hope your family likes it too! (photo:

Be sure to “like” Greenmomster on Facebook for meat-free Friday recipes and the latest environmental info.


  • 1  8 oz. package egg noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 2 ea. 8 oz. pkgs. sliced cremini mushrooms ( I used white, came out fine)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • parsley for garnish


  1. Cook noodles. Keep warm
  2. 2. Heat oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in large skillet. Add mushrooms and cook     5 mins. Stir in garlic and next 4 ingredients and cook 3 mins.
  3. 3. Add flour and remaining butter. Cook 2 mins., stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil and cook 5 mins., whisking constantly.
  4. 4.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve over noodles and garnish w/parsley.

Bon Appetite!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Non-Toxic Avenger

I’ve been lecturing this week about human exposure to chemicals such as phthalates and mercury, so I thought I’d repost this review of a related book – enjoy!  Be sure to “like” greenmomster on facebook!

The Non-Toxic Avenger: One woman's mission to reduce her toxic body burden

The Non-Toxic Avenger, by Deanna Duke, is the fascinating story of one woman’s attempt to find out how significant our exposure is to “everyday” toxins.  Spurred on by her husband’s diagnosis with multiple myeloma and her son’s diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome, Deanna Duke decided to take a look at toxins and determine whether it’s possible, or even desirable, to remove every toxin exposure from one’s everyday life.

The author begins by discussing the reasons for this project – her husband and son’s diagnoses, and her newly acquired knowledge that many chemicals which she believed were regulated by government agencies were not.  Her plan for the project is pretty simple.  She’ll get tested (both blood and urine tests) for specific chemicals found in our man-made environment, try to remove as many toxin exposures as possible over several months, and then get retested.  The first question is, does her daily life lead to any abnormally high toxic loads?  The second question is, can she reduce these loads by reducing exposure?  The third question is, can she live with the changes necessary to reduce the toxins?

The author leaves no stone unturned as she addresses the very high levels of various phthalates and parabens in her system.  She looks at exposures from food, indoor and outdoor air, clothing coatings (to reduce flammability), all the way to yoga mats, hula hoops, and Halloween costumes.  Did she succeed in reducing her exposure?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

The book is well-written with many humorous anecdotes.  Ms. Duke is definitely not anti-science and is willing to say when changes are simply not doable in her life.  The information on the lack of regulation regarding various chemicals, and the differences between the European and U.S. regulations was quite informative.  I must admit, I felt a little like a troll as I read about her attempts to find the right cosmetics and hair dyes (I’m obviously not keeping up in the beauty department).  And there were definitely times when I wanted more numbers – Ms. Duke often states that exposure to various chemicals can lead to birth defects, nervous disorders, etc., but I wanted the numbers for the exposure levels.  She does provide substantial footnoting for the reader desiring more detail.

The Non-Toxic Avenger is definitely worth reading – one woman’s adventure into reducing toxic loads.  You’ll come away from this book much more conscious of your everyday choices, from soaps to shampoos even to Halloween costumes.

Anyone else read any interesting environmental books lately?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

From Poop to Power!

Did you know that over 90% of Costa Rica’s power comes from renewable power sources?  Or that Denmark makes 50% of its energy at cogen plants?  Even iceland produces 25% of its electricity from geothermal sources! 

So how has the U.S. started harnessing its local resources?  Well the folks in Washington DC are turning lemons into lemonade!  Voters from every other part of the nation often accuse folks in Washington DC of being full of …..ahem…..number 2.  So now we’re turning it into power!  Check out this Washington Post article about how Washington DC is using sludge from its wastewater treatment plant to produce electricity.  This news is definitely reason to smile!



Friday, October 2, 2015

Jaska’s Gazpacho!

What to do with those last tomatoes in your garden?  Here’s a great gazpacho recipe from my mother-in-law, perfect for an early October Friday – enjoy!
2 stale rolls or 3 pieces or bread pre-cooked in a little water
1 thick slice onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1 clove garlic
3 or 4 peeled red tomatoes or canned tomatoes
2 tblsp wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1)  Put first 5 ingredients in a blender and add tomatoes to the top.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
2)  Chill in refrigerator several hours, until icy cold.
3)  Serve topped with croutons, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.  You can also add a dash of curry or chili powder to vary the flavor.