Posts tagged vegetarian

BOOK REVIEW: Skinny Bitch

Skinny Bitch

Even though it doesn’t sound like an off-grid living title , read this book! Let me repeat: Read this book! It won’t take you more than an afternoon or two, and if it’s straight talk you need to scare yourself healthy, well, these gals have plenty of that. Written by a former agent and a former model who met at Ford models, the book is officially geared toward the female health and diet crowd. But the diet talk is minimal, and the text is full of totally gross-you-out quality secrets that the government and food industries can’t afford for you to know. ‘Cause, trust me, once you know, you won’t look at their products the same ever again. I finished the book yesterday, and suddenly, my morning tea had scary ingredients today. Liquid carcinogens, artficially processed sweeteners. Oh, boy, it’s not even 8 am yet.

Besides an excellent (graphic) discussion of the meat industries and another on food additives, the highlight of the book to me was the focus on applied action. Rory and Kim implore you to make a decision today… right now!… to change at least one habit that isn’t doing your body or life any good. Then, once you’ve mastered that, take on another item. This is the strategy that has worked best for me when trying to change habits. For example, want to quit smoking? Don’t scare yourself thinking I’ll never be able to smoke again! Instead, train your focus on “Don’t buy another pack”. It’s a specific action that takes effort (and a financial transaction!) to complete anyway, so it’s easier to regulate than reaching for a single ciggy. Concentrate on that, and by the time you’re moving on to “don’t smoke” (ie. you’re getting tired of bumming smokes off your dragon-breathed buddies), you’re already in the habit of thinking about your action: you’re halfway there!

Anyway, back to the book. Authors Rory and Kim have recently expanded their line of Skinny Bitch offerings to include Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (a cookbook) and Skinny Bastard (for men). So no matter what information you’re jonesing for, there’s a book for you. If you think you know a lot about what’s in your food, these ladies likely know a whole lot more. But even though they’re straight talkers (to put it politely), they never talk down to you. It’s like having two big sisters who kick you in the ass, but you know it’s because they love you and for your own good. They are very careful to explain the difference between an awesome vegan Skinny Bitch and a skinny bitch, which no one wants to be. As for me, after waiting months to get this book from the library (which arrived with curious “shelve with fiction” stickers all over it… huh? I WISH it was fiction!), I’m once again on the waiting list, this time for the cookbook. Read Skinny Bitch today and start feeling better tomorrow!

If you want to preview the book, check it out here at Google Books.

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Hope You’re Thirsty!

Water, water everywhere! As you already know, water, the fresh, drinkable kind, is an increasingly scarce resource these days. Which is why you take short showers, water gardens at non-peak sun hours, and put off washing your car every week (at least it’s a great excuse!). But did you know that every 8 oz. cup of joe you slurp down in the morning uses 140 liters of water? Or that every cup of tea uses 35 liters? Better hope you’re thirsty!

Cuppa Joe

You see, the real water use of a product includes not only the eight ounces of H2O that you put into the coffee maker, but also the water used in the growth and processing of the plant that becomes your morning wake-up potion. Even if you make a habit of conserving water directly, your buying habits can make a HUGE difference in the amount of actual water your lifestyle consumes. To find out more about your REAL water consumption, visit www.waterfootprint.org and use their handy water calculator to determine whether that weekly BigMac is using more than it’s fair share of your budget (trust me, it is: 1 lb of beef requires a staggering 8,000 liters of water to produce!).

While you’re there, check out the data on the nations of the world and how they score on their water footprints. Compare the nations’ abilities to limit their consumption to domestic supplies. You’ll probably be surprised.

So next time you’re at the market, consider buying more foods that have a minimal water footprint, rather than water-heavy meats and processed foods. And if you need a jolt in the morning, try tea instead of coffee, or even better, an alternative combination like fresh fruit and a morning walk. After all, with so many of the world’s population literally running out of potable water to drink, it’s one of the most effective ways you can help to share the wealth.

As a parting shot, take a look at this booklet, produced by the World Wildlife Fund, concerning agriculture and the environmental devastation caused by “thirsty crops”.

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Vegetarians Rejoice!

“Our finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, coupled with the evidence on the potential health benefits of a vegetarian diet, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life.”

This is news from a 2006 study done in England on many individuals, correcting for things such as social class and educational levels of attainment.  It clearly showed that people who reject meat products tend toward a higher IQ, and that this relationship can be demonstrated early in life simply by testing a child’s IQ.  Wow!  As a semi-vegetarian, but someone who does try to think about food choices, this is great news.  Be sure to read the full article here, because I’ve barely scratched the surface of their particular study, and upon hearing such good conclusions from the scientists, I’m feeling a sudden craving for a salad…

IQ Booster

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Organic Farming Learning Opportunities

If you are planning a garden, I can’t recommend enough that you go organic in your approach. After all, since 50% of all pesticides used in America are sprayed on cotton (and therefore your clothes!), you’ve likely already got a lot of toxins to offset in your life! However, the topic of organic gardening can be a little intimidating at first, as it is so large.

If you want to get your feet wet, while learning from experts in their field, why not volunteer at a working organic farm in your area? The originator of all organic exchange websites, WWOOF.org has many such opportunities to do just that. And it’s sorted by area, so you’ll be able to find something local. Also, try OrganicVolunteers.com for similar invitations. Most of the opportunities listed allow for you to sample or take home some of the produce you help to tend for a taste test. It’s like a free grad school education with an excellent cafeteria!

Do you know of any other great sites? Post them here!

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Wilderness lessons: Plant Taste Test

If you’re into off-grid living, then it’s quite possible you also like to escape to the great outdoors every once in a while. And though you’re super smart and careful, you may find yourself in a position one day when you need to literally go back to nature for some food. Even if you don’t find yourself in this unenviable position, it’s valuable to know what in your environment is toxic, and what plants are edible. It makes for great conversation when you can pick up a plant off the side of the trail and offer it to a friend! Read this survival tip from simplesurvival.net to help you understand the risks and processes for testing the flora of your area for edibility.

You can also learn a lot by reading books on Native American traditional cooking from tribes local to you. Though there are not always a wealth of cookbooks out there, several websites catalog user contributions on the topic. Here’s an interesting example with a few recipes and a different interface from most. NativeTech.org is another good site. Look out for salad recipes and vegetable side dishes. They often include native plants that are uniquely well-suited to grow in your area. These would be excellent candidates for planting in your own home garden. Finally, when you do have a crop of something native, experiment often with cooking it different ways (bonus points for cooking with solar or alternative energy sources!), and share that knowledge with others. You can do it here if you like! That way, the wondrous internet can do its job in spreading the word about native plants. And we can all enjoy an exotic meal together without ever hitting the supermarket. Yum!

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WooHoo!

I did find my soldering iron the other day and was ready to get started on the solar panel repair. And then I remembered, of course, that it uses a plug. Which, if you’ve read my other posts, is a problem, as I don’t use electricity at home. So, FINALLY, today, I unearthed a handy tool that I’d forgotten about – a little pocket blowtorch that fuels up like a refillable butane lighter. Sweet! Now there are no excuses.

Real life (yes I know, we bloggers aren’t supposed to have one of those) has been intervening this week, making shop time scarce. So, in the mean time, I concentrated on my first COMMITMENT, eating less fast food. It’s much harder to do than I’d imagined, given that my daily food budget is something like five dollars, and I have no kitchen (yet).

Here’s the report: Total elimination of fast food burgers is a step in the right direction. CHECK. However, not to starve while greening up my own kitchen, I did eliminate two foods from the “nasty list”: bean and cheese burritos and side salads. I’m sure many of you out there could point me to a million reasons why these two foods should disappear as well. Yeah, I know. But my stomach doesn’t speak green quite yet. And my pocketbook definitely doesn’t either! =)

Carrots, yum! In the interest of not boring people with “what I ate for lunch today” syndrome, I’ll spare you the details of what replaced what. But with lots of veggies taking over main food duty (I forgot how much I love carrots!), suffice it to say I’m feeling a little better already. Next up, eliminating caffeinated sodas from the repertoire. Baby steps, people! I’m currently waiting for a copy of Skinny Bitch: A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous! to arrive at the library. You can read a good review of it at Vegsource.com, itself a great resource. From all indications, it’s going to be a boot camp guide to eating right and saving the planet. Just what the fast food junkie ordered.

What do you eat to snack healthily?  Favorite easy vegetarian meals?

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