Plastic Free July – Day 17


Chicken broth/stock always comes in tetra packs here. I always thought they were just cardboard, and recyclable – but that is not the case! They have layers of other stuff and most recycling facilities do not accept them because separating the materials is too difficult. So, the best solution is to make your own!

Whenever we roast a whole chicken, we either freeze the bones or put stock on that day. I planned this week’s menu around having a whole roasted chicken and then a soup that called for chicken broth. The broth can be made in a crock pot, so its super low maintenance.

All you have to do is add water, cook on low for several hours, and strain it when it’s done! We added a bit of onion and celery that we happened to have on hand to the stock, but just the chicken carcass will do. For a vegetable version, you can simply freeze useful bits of vegetables until you’ve got enough to start some stock!

Do you ever make your own stock? What do you put in it? Have you ever found it in a glass container in stores? If so, where?!

#PlasticFreeJuly -day 4

For #plasticfreejuly day four (a bit belated due to the holiday!) I bring you the #trashbag dilemma.


If trash isn’t bagged in the bin it runs the risk of spilling out everywhere and becoming #accidentallitter. But, trash bags are made of plastic which is bad in of itself. They are made out of a material that lasts forever and are simply thrown away. So, I’ve been buying these bags made of recycled plastic. But that was when my focus was on #zerowaste. This month we’re focusing not on less waste, but less plastic.

The plastic seals up your trash, giving it less of a chance of biodegrading. It’s all around a big plastic bummer. So for this month we are trying out paper bags. I skipped bringing my own bags to the grocery stores that offer paper bags and saved those to bag our trash (so the super best part is that they’re free!). They are smaller, but that’s ok because we don’t produce that much trash, and I don’t mind emptying it more often.  We compost our food scraps, so there’s no need for a leak free bin liner, but some layers of newspaper might help if you’re concerned with that. It’s been working great so far. I feel like this is a change we will stick with. Yay for stepping out of my comfort zone, yay for this challenge!

#PlasticFreeJuly – Day 1

On this first day of Plastic Free July, I’m going to talk about the four biggest offenders in the land of disposable plastics that many people use on a daily basis. But before we dive in to all of that, let’s talk about why I’m going plastic free this month, and why you should too.

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Most of the plastic that we use gets disposed of within minutes. Plastic bags, bottles, containers – they’re all made for the short term and yet they are made out of a material that lasts the long term, the way long term, as in forever. Plastic doesn’t break down, it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces becoming permanent pollution. So where does it go if it’s not breaking down? A lot of it ends up in waterways. Scientists predict that by 2050 there will be more tons of plastic than tons of fish in our waterways and oceans (plasticfreejuly.org). That’s a problem.

One of your big takeaways from this month should be that it’s not all about recycling anymore. Only 33% of recyclable materials actually get recycled (National Geographic), and when they do fossil fuels are used to pick them up and make it happen. The zero waste movement and initiatives like the Plastic Free July campaign are recognizing that when plastic is recycled – if it actually makes it to a recycling facility – it’s just turned into a low grade product (this is called downcycling). Recycling is a great alternative to the landfill – absolutely – but it’s not the answer to our waste problems.

Whew, I’m glad you’re still with me. All of that is kind of a downer. But don’t worry, we’re here to have fun. All of the plastic free alternatives are super cool, you’re going to love this!

Ok, remember how we were going to talk about the big four plastic things that we can give up this month, easy peasy? Right, these four things are: single use plastic shopping bags, plastic drinking straws, plastic disposable coffee cup lids, and single use plastic water bottles. If you can avoid these four things, you can make a huge difference in the amount of plastic waste that is created on a daily basis. Over the next few weeks I’ll be going into a lot of detail about some of these things, but for today – let’s just get the basics down.

IMG_4142Single use plastic shopping bags. If you’re not bringing your own bags to the grocery store, you’re behind the times! Even big ole Walmart sells and encourages the use of reusable shopping bags! I just got some smaller reusable bags that I love taking to the store. They don’t get as full and heavy as the set I was using. Whatever kind you’re into, go for it! I’ll admit, most of mine are made of some kind of plastic-y material, so they aren’t totally plastic free – but at least they are reusable! (I’m going to talk more about this on Wednesday – my grocery shopping day!)

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Plastic drinking straws. This is one that a lot of people are getting behind right now. It’s no longer totally weird to add “no straw please” to your drink order at a bar or restaurant. Many restaurants are even switching to a policy where customers may ask for a straw, but aren’t automatically provided one. If you aren’t sure if your drink is going to come with a straw, I recommend preemptively turning the straw down. There are lots of reusable straw options out there for those who just can’t live without one. I have stainless steel and glass, and love both! If you’re still not on board, just watch this.

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Plastic disposable coffee cups with lids. If you are someone who drinks to-go coffee, you probably do it once a day. Just think about how much plastic waste that is creating over the course of your coffee drinking life! I encourage you all to seek out a reusable coffee cup that you like enough to use daily. Some really excellent options are the cuppow mason jar lid and the yeti rambler (this is great if serious insulation is your thing). Most coffee shops will provide your coffee in your to go cup with a discount, and some forward thinking places don’t even offer single use cups any more. You guys, it’s the future bring your own cup!

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Single use plastic water bottles. Get yourself a cool reusable water bottle, there’s so many kinds and I already talked about the cuppow and yeti so I’m not going to bother linking anything here. I think that the disposable water bottle must appeal to folks who are anti-tap-water. I get it, the water in my city is pretty funky smelling when the lake turns and that’s super gross. Our fridge has a built in filter, so we use that to refill our reusable water bottles. Some other options are: brita filters (or something similar) or buying big containers of water for a water dispenser. Make your water bottle something that’s as glued to you as your cell phone and you’ll be a more hydrated zero waste water drinker who is never without a reusable cup.

Ok, so I feel like I need to address the fact that a lot of my alternative suggestions are still made out of plastic or have plastic components to them. I think that it’s great if you find and use plastic free alternatives to these big four. But, just making the changes listed here keeps a lot of plastic out of landfills (and recycling centers).

As the month goes on we’re going to get more in depth. I’ll dive into every plastic thing I use throughout July and you can learn right along with me. Stay tuned on instagram (@paigelorrabeth) and here on the blog. I can’t wait! Are you ready?

 

four snacks that are grain-free and sugar-free

If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know that I recently gave up sugar and am avoiding carbs in my snacks. So I’m here today with four of the snacks that have been keeping me going over these past few weeks without grains or sugar.

First for a substantial snack, I’ve been reaching for hummus and bell pepper. Instead of chips/crackers, I have been chopping red bell pepper and stashing it in the fridge (convenience is an important part of healthy snacking, having some pre-chopped is key). Then, I dip them in the excellent hummus that I found at our natural foods store (way better than sabra, though that would do) and enjoy.

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Next, a replacement of a usual go-to for a rushed morning at work, individual yogurt cups. Instead of the sugar-laden yogurts that we used to keep our fridge stocked with, I have been mixing frozen fruit, plain yogurt, and a little shredded coconut (optional) in small mason jars at the beginning of the week. You could also add a little honey for extra sweetness, but I’m being especially careful about my sugar intake and find that the fruit offers enough sweetness for me.

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Third, something that helps me with my sweet-tooth / sugar cravings. Frozen berries, shredded coconut, and whole milk. It’s like ice cream because the berries freeze the milk. There’s a lot of sweetness in all three of the ingredients (if you can’t taste that, your tastebuds are still numb from refined sugar). This one’s kind of weird, but I really like it.

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Finally, a snack for those times when there’s snacks out somewhere and you can’t eat any of them because those things are all full of sugar: mixed raw nuts. I have been keeping a small jar of nuts in my purse at all times. At work there are often sweet treats for all of the staff, and when I’m at a party there’s rarely anything with substance that I can eat. So these are a helpful backup.

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Any other snack recommendations? I’m still exploring, and will keep you updated with what works!

no gluten, no sugar, no snack time carbs.

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Feb. 1st marked my 3 year anniversary of eating a gluten free diet. I do not have celiac disease, so not eating gluten is a choice for me. I do however, have a thyroid disorder called Hashimoto’s. Strangely, eating gluten makes my arms break out in weird little dry patches. Three years ago, I read that there may be a link between that skin allergy, Hashimoto’s thyroid disorder, and gluten intolerance. So that’s where going gluten free started for me – I thought, “why not try and see if the arm thing goes away.” It worked, and here I am three years later, still avoiding gluten – for the most part.

I’m lucky enough that I don’t have celiac disease, and can eat gluten when I really want to or feel like it’s worth it. For instance, at the Indian place down the street, they serve the most amazing naan with garlic on it that I always have at least a bite of. Or when I’m out somewhere and get caught at a meal time with no gluten free options, I can eat what’s available to me. And, as a result, my arms will break out a day or two later with a weird little dry sore or two. If I’m really heavy on the gluten, my stomach gets upset – but I suppose that’s just from not having eaten it and not being acclimated to it anymore. Does kind of make you think though, maybe we’re not meant to eat something if we have to acclimate to it? That’s a whole rabbit hole school of thought that I try to avoid though.

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Now I’m trying something new. I am pregnant, and so I had a routine test for gestational diabetes that I did not pass. When I got the call with those results, I was extremely upset. I felt like I had let my baby, and his father down. I wasn’t the epitome of health that I was supposed to be. I read a little bit about gestational diabetes from some reliable sources, and learned a lot. It’s something that usually goes away when your baby is born, and can be treated with a careful diet and exercise regimen. So I read about what that diet looks like, and decided to make some changes. The next day I gave up refined sugar, and decided to avoid carbs as snacks. I had two weeks before I went in for the follow up test to ensure that I did indeed have gestational diabetes, but I didn’t feel like with just months left in the pregnancy, I could spare two weeks risking my baby’s and my health. The follow up test is a more fail-safe test that involves fasting and getting your blood tested four times over the course of three hours. Luckily, I passed that test. Am I sticking with the new diet anyway? Absolutely.

Until this time I had never really confronted my sugar intake, and it was high. I was eating a bowl of sugary cereal (usually Lucky Charms – damn that gluten free seal on the box) at least once a day. And I tended to have a consume all of the chips in the bag or no chips at all problem. Hence the new, no carbs for snacks rule. I have a family with a history of diabetes, and have just watched my mom make some major changes in her diet (she eats no grains and no refined sugar) for preventative reasons over the past 6+ months. So, I feel good about sticking with these choices for the long run.

The crazy big takeaway that I have from these new dietary changes though? It’s that sugar is absolutely, without question, a drug. And that I was addicted to it. Giving up gluten was hard, but as it became trendier, more alternative options appeared and now I can eat pretty much anywhere with all of the gluten free options that are available in not just grocery stores but also in restaurants. Giving up sugar was completely different. I absolutely felt like an addict coming off of some kind of hard drug. I craved lucky charms, and sugary treats in a way that I had never craved food before. I went through withdrawals that made me a crazy person for at least two or three days. One night I couldn’t sleep because I was crying uncontrollably for no apparent reason. (Just ask my boyfriend who got to have a screaming fight with me in public because of it. He’ll tell you, it was bad.) I would attribute the craziness to having reached the notoriously hormonal third trimester of my pregnancy, except that it leveled out after about five days and I feel totally better now. I wholly believe that it was the sugar, or lack thereof.

If you’re still with me, either you’re oddly curious about my personal diet – or you are relating in some way. If the later’s the case, stay tuned tomorrow for some excellent tips on gluten free, sugar free snacks that I’ve been enjoying over the past several weeks.

I don’t really get on the everyone should avoid gluten bandwagon, it works for me but I think that’s because of some really specific stuff about my makeup. Sugar though? I believe it’s poison. You should stop eating it. Just try giving it up for a week. See how that makes you feel, I think you’ll be shocked to find that you were addicted. Then stick with it because you’ll be better for it. And really, if you make it through the withdrawals, you might as well stick with it!

DIY Reusable Cloth Cleaning Wipes

In my ever-growing desire to be more and more waste free, I have found an excellent reusable solution for yet another disposable that I thought I couldn’t live without. The disposable was: the clorox wipe. They are so extremely convenient and good at what they do! I used them all over the house to wipe up small messes. But then, I threw them away! Ugh. For a month or so, we’ve been trying out using reusable cloth wipes instead. And it turns out, they aren’t just as good – they’re even better!

the containerHere’s how it works; I’ve got a clear plastic container with a watertight seal. I really wanted something that it wasn’t gross to reach down into the bottom of. Clorox wipes that lost their little catcher to hold them up at the top were always a nuisance, and these cloth wipes wouldn’t work that way anyway, so I knew I’d need something I could put my hand in to the bottom of comfortably. We just had one of these around already, but I am making a set for my mom and found the same container at Walmart.

DIY Cloth Cleaning WipesIn the container, I fold up a bunch of squares of fabric that I’ve hemmed the edges of. I used an old painters cloth that I had laying around because I thought the durability would be nice when scrubbing the counters or sink. It’s turned out to be excellent fabric for the job, but if you peruse the rest of the blogosphere you’ll find people who use old t-shirts, cotton, and all kinds of other fabrics. The squares are cut to about 8 or 9 inches. It was important to me that the square be at least as big as my spread flat hand so when I’m wiping up sticky messes I don’t have to touch the sticky-ness. I used a serger to hem the edges of mine, but any kind of hem will do. If you do go with a regular zig-zag stitch on this kind of fabric, make sure it’s tight. These tended to fray a lot before I gave them a proper hem.

DIY Reusable Cleaning Wipes

With the wipes in the container, I add a small amount of a multi-surface cleaning concentrate. Right now I have Mrs. Meyers Clean Day in honeysuckle scent, but Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap would work, as would plain old white vinegar. It just takes a little, and then I add enough water to moisten all of the wipes and dilute the soap.

Now the wipes are ready to be used! They are especially nice because you can shake crumbs out in the sink and give them a rinse and keep going. Once you’re done with a wipe, just add it to your laundry pile. I wash mine along with my towels, but they could go in any load. As they come out of the wash, I’ve been stacking them in a little container. It turns out they are kind of nice to have on hand dry too! You can use them to dust, or wash windows, and for other stuff you might do with other kinds of cleaners. When the wet ones are all used up, I throw the stack of what’s clean in the plastic container and start over. You could also just put the clean ones right in the container and keep it going that way, adding water and surface cleaner as needed.

 

Do you have reusable cleaning wipes in your home? Any pro-tips? Are you dead set on clorox wipes? Would you give these a try?

 

#NWARKcares about National Friendship Day

I’m a part of a really great group of regional (Northwest Arkansas) bloggers who have banded together to use our voices to share causes that are important to us. This is our second year of #NWARKcares-ing and I’m so excited to be starting it off with this important day – National Friendship Day. I want to share four things that are true for me about friendship in your mid twenties. And let me know in the comments if these are/were true for you, or what other things are! Friendship is hard, we can all learn from each other to be better friends and to be better at making new friends!

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Four things about friendship in your mid-20’s:

  1. Your college friends become ‘old’ friends – the best kind of friends. Old friends have been around for awhile and you don’t have to worry that they’ll ditch the friendship anymore. No matter how far away you live, you can text them for advice – and visit them – and be grown ups together. Not just the grown ups you thought you were when you were 18,19, and 20 – but real ones with jobs and interesting lives and thoughts to share with each other. My newly old friends are my best friends because they’ve known me long enough that I know I can share anything with them and they’ll stick with me.
  2. You can stop being friends with people obligatorily. In your younger years you are friends with people to be nice. My mom used to ensure that I invited my whole class to parties and gave everyone in my class a valentine. You could have favorites, but you had to include everyone. It’s a good thing when you’re young to learn to get along with and appreciate everyone. But when you start to grow up, you can be choosier with the people you hang out with and that’s a good thing.
  3. Hanging out is harder. You aren’t in shared living space, on the same campus, or sharing similar schedules. You have to make an effort and plan things and connect with people on a regular basis with some amount of effort. It’s harder, but the friends are higher quality than those friends you had out of convenience.
  4. Meeting new friends is harder and more ‘specialized’. Seeking out potential friends means leaving your house, joining groups, spending time with strangers – and trying to find ones with similar interests.

Before I leave you with that sort of sweet and sour list of things about friendship in your mid-20’s, here’s some cool ways that I’ve made friends lately that you might try (at any age):

  • Join a meetup or two. There’s groups with all kinds of interests on meetup from professional groups to outdoor adventurers to weird swinger folks. Find something that you’re into and go to the next meetup that group’s having. You might end up on a bike ride with a bunch of geriatric (and very nice) people with killer quads – but you might also meet your next best friend!
  • Join a church. I’m a super atheist, but I’m also a member of the Unitarian Universalist church and have met my most like-minded friends there. Here’s a pretty awesome way to find out what religion your beliefs align with: Belief-O-Matic. (There’s also meetup groups for religious-ish interests.)
  • Volunteer doing something that you think is cool. Volunteering might sound cheesy, but it’s really a good way to get to know other people with similar interests and passions. You might end up standing in a parking lot and freezing your butt off while you try to corral hundreds of cyclists, but you’ll also meet a whole bunch of other people who think bikes are cool!

Betty the Foster Dog

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If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then surely you’ve seen Betty, our first ever foster dog. She is a sweet, older pit mix who will dance if you ask her if she wants to go on a w-a-l-k (I can’t say it out loud unless we’re really going so we’ve started spelling it in conversation)  and sleep for hours by your side. If you’re looking for the companion of all companions, Betty’s your gal. She’s well trained, and kind to everyone she meets.

Betty is house trained, sits and stays on command, is easy to bathe, and won’t chew anything but food. If you have any questions about her behavior, just ask!

We think Betty is sweet, and the perfect dog for a student or older person – someone who might not have the time to exercise a younger dog but needs some love!

She will be at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market in her little vest on Saturday mornings until she gets adopted, so come meet her there or send me a note to arrange a meet and greet with her. You can also contact Fayetteville Animal Services with any questions about their adoption process.

Quick Guide to Eating Gluten Free in Fayetteville

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A friend recently asked where she could take a gluten free friend out to eat and have more options than a salad. I realized that I have learned a lot through trial and error that I should probably share with the world! I stick to a pretty strict gluten free diet, but I do not have Celiac disease – so many of these restaurants may not be suitable for someone who needs gluten free foods cooked in a dedicated gluten free environment. You decide what works for you, and here’s a list to get you started!

  1. Deluxe Burger has gluten free buns for their burgers. They’ll charge you a bit more for the substitute, but it’s so worth it to be able to go out and eat a delicious burger with the bun (like a “normal” person). General gluten free burger eating tips: If you are elsewhere and want a burger, it’s usually pretty easy to order one without a bun. They’ll usually serve it on a piece of lettuce or two and you can munch away with fork and knife. The greasier/cheaper the place, the harder it is to extricate the burger from the bun – so beware.
  2. The Arsaga’s on Church & Center that serves toast has a house made gluten free bread that’s phenomenal and can be subbed in on any of their amazing toast options for just .50 more!
  3. Arsaga’s at the Depot has a gluten free crepe that you can sub in to wrap up any of their delicious options (even their sweet crepe offerings). It’s their buckwheat crepe, which despite it’s name is actually wheat and gluten free.
  4. Eureka Pizza actually makes my favorite gluten free pizza. Their crust has honey in it to act as a binder and it’s just perfect. Plus, it’s pretty cheap – as far as a gluten free pizza goes!
  5. Woodstone Craft Pizza has a gluten free crust as well, and is a good option if you’re looking for something a little more upscale and unique. The crust is usually both rubbery and burned at the same time – but the toppings are so good that it’s worth trying anyway.
  6. Apple Blossom Brewing Co. has two excellent naturally gluten free options: cheese fries (of a few varieties) and a polenta dish with roasted vegetables.
  7. Khana Indian Grill‘s basmati plates are naturally gluten free. I have tried each one and love them all. The dish is served with naan, so you might ask to leave that out – or give it to someone else at your table (I might have tasted it once and discovered that it’s really, really good).
  8. Hammontree’s sometimes has gluten free bread available to sub in on any of their sandwiches. It isn’t on the menu, just ask.

I want to know what you know about eating gluten free in Fayetteville. I’m not eating out this month, but I’ll take all of your suggestions and seek them out in September!

be my accountabilibuddy

Help! I have three big health goals for August and I need your help holding me accountable. Well, you don’t really have to DO anything. I just believe that sharing your goals keeps you more accountable. I’ll check back in here at the end of August to let you all know how my goals were through the month, and that ought to be enough.

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Each of my goals are pretty health related, though not eating out is also a financial goal. I aim to do these things for the month of August in hopes that the actions will help me build better habits and be able to use moderation more in the coming months.

What kinds of goals do you have for yourself? Comment here with them and check back in at the end of the month. I can be your accountabilibuddy too, see?