Monthly Archives: February 2013

Hummus Without Tahini Recipe

Okay, so hummus without tahini isn’t exactly the way it’s supposed to be made. But if you’re like me, and no one locally carries tahini, but you’d like to try making your own hummus, you have to look at the alternatives. You do without.

It still comes out pretty well. I use a fair amount of lemon juice and a few spices to bring up a good flavor. There’s a lot of flexibility here too – more garlic, maybe some artichoke hearts, more or less of one spice or another.

Hummus is easy to make. Throw your ingredients in the food processor or blender, and run it until you like how smooth it is.

Hummus without tahini

As you can see, it just fits in my food processor. It’s easier to clean, so I usually use the food processor rather than the Vitamix for hummus. Doesn’t come out quite as smooth, but still very good.

Hummus Without Tahini

1 can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame seed oil
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
cayenne pepper to taste
paprika to taste
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor. Mix until smooth.

Consider adding artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers or sun dried tomatoes.

Use as a vegetable dip and enjoy!

Hummus with vegetables

7 Eco Friendly Home Business Ideas for 2013

I think it’s important for stay at home moms to earn money when possible. Doing this has gotten my family through some tough times in much better financial condition than we would have been in if we had relied on my husband’s income alone, especially when he was laid off a few years back. He found work again after a few months, but it would have been pretty awful if I hadn’t had an income to contribute.

7 Eco Friendly Home Business IdeasIf it’s an eco friendly model you’re after for your home business, you have to plan carefully. It’s not enough to start a business and have a few things be green about it – you need to think about what you’re doing overall. Otherwise the not-so-eco-friendly parts of your business can outweigh the more eco minded portions. Here are some ideas you can consider for 2013 and beyond:

1. Blogging

At first glance, it’s pretty easy to make a blog eco friendly. You can even choose a hosting company that uses renewable energy or otherwise makes an effort to be environmentally friendly. Beyond that, it’s the computer you use, and not much other equipment most times.

But if you get to where you can earn money from your blog, the next aspect comes into play: keeping your product recommendations green. There are plenty of companies you can choose from. I usually sign up through affiliate programs and choose companies that focus on eco friendly products, or carefully chosen products on Amazon, that being the biggest selection. Especially if you’re blogging about being eco friendly, it’s best to lead by example.

Will you get it perfect? Probably not, but you can put in your best effort.

2. Affiliate Marketing

You don’t have to run a blog to be an affiliate marketer. You can set up a website and just list eco friendly products for sale. You will want to make sure that your site stands out from others – using the same description as everyone else won’t make your website stand out from others.

3. Eco Friendly Network Marketing Companies

Now this one can get really tricky. You wouldn’t necessarily think so, but sometimes it’s really hard to be certain that a company that claims to be environmentally friendly really is, especially when it’s hard to find out what ingredients are in their products.

Here are a few companies to consider. Review them for yourself and see which meet your needs best. There are of course many more than these.


4. Sell Repurposed Products

If you’re good at repurposing old stuff, you can sell it. Etsy and eBay are easy choices, but you can also open your own online store using PayPal or another payment processor. If things take off for you, you will need to find resources for items to repurpose.

5. Sell Crafts

Use eco friendly supplies, and make products you can sell. Once again, Etsy and eBay are pretty good choices. You can make just about anything, depending on your skills – clothes, toys, reusable bags, and so much more.

6. Sell Local Produce

Here’s for you gardeners. It will take some time to find out what rules you’ll need to follow in your area to legally sell produce, but if you have a really successful garden you may be able to sell your excess. Farmer’s markets can be a great choice.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be fresh. If you make jelly or preserve your produce, you can sell that too. Make sure you know the food safety laws for your area. You’ll probably have inspections to deal with and may have to rent a special kitchen to work.

7. Be a Green Consultant

You can help others go green. A green consultant can help businesses or individuals find ways to be more eco friendly. You might check buildings to see if they’re energy efficient and recommend products. You might even help them plan events. This may take some training, as you probably can’t just walk in and recognize problems otherwise.

Before you start any business, check with your city to ensure that you can do so legally. Home businesses are often legal if there’s no impact to the residential area, but rules vary, especially by the type of business you open. Sometimes all you need is a license, sometimes nothing at all, sometimes much more. Your life will be much simpler if you know what’s relevant to you.

7 Green Valentine’s Day Ideas for Parents

Green Valentine's Day Ideas For Parents

Valentine’s Day is a fun time for parents to remind each other how much they care for one another. That makes it another holiday with the potential for a mess of stuff that will shortly be thrown out. Here are some more eco friendly options for Valentine’s day gifts for parents.

1. Fair Trade or organic chocolate.

Is this obvious or what? I don’t think much more needs to be said.

OK, so my preference is to make pomegranate truffles for my family. Whether you make your own chocolates or buy them, pay attention to the quality of the products you use. Fair Trade chocolate is a great way to go.

2. Fair Trade or organic flowers.

Of course, you could go with flowers from your garden, if you’re fortunate enough to have any at this time of year, but most people will have to buy flowers if that’s what they want to give for Valentine’s Day.

Think about drying any flowers you get, and using them as decorations. I have a huge jar full of every flower my husband has given me since we got married. We hung each bouquet upside down in a closet until the flowers dried completely. This way they remain a lovely and sentimental part of our home decor. If that’s not your thing, compost them.

Alternatively, choose potted flowers that can be added to the garden or grown indoors. I have a lovely miniature rose bush that my husband gave me a few years ago growing in our garden. He tried to sneak it in, but my youngest’s loud “WOW!” gave him away.

3. Serve organic wine.

Whatever your romantic dinner may be, select a bottle of organic wine. Look for the USDA organic seal.

4. Organic lingerie.

A nice piece of lingerie is such a classic gift for couples. Think about the materials it’s made of, but still have fun.

5. Eco friendly jewelry.

Most jewelry is pretty bad for the environment, and often bad for social issues as well. Just think about blood diamonds.

You can do better. Companies such as GreenKarat will take your old gold to make new jewelry. Others focus on ethical origins for their supplies.

6. Rethink the card.

You don’t have to buy a Valentine’s Day card to express your feelings for you. Instead, make your own. You can write poetry, a haiku or even just a few quick sentences to show how you feel. Print it up or say it out loud.

7. Plan a spa day.

Check out your local spas and find one that focuses on environmentally sound practices. You can go together or just give your loved one a day to relax. SpaFinder is an easy way to get a gift card that works at many spas. Check to see if the spa you’d prefer accepts gift cards from them.

4 Green Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids

Kids love Valentine’s Day. Mine always want to give out valentines that include some candy and yes, sometimes I let them. It’s hard to make they always go against what all the other kids are doing. But there are some really wonderful projects kids can make for Valentine’s Day that are a bit more eco friendly and still fun.

Valentine's Day Ideas for Kids

Obviously, when you’re talking about valentines to hand out at school, you’re talking cheap. No one wants to spend a ton of money making somewhere over 20 cards per class. If your kids are like mine, they also don’t want to be the only ones giving out plain cards without treats. These days it’s pretty much expected. Fortunately, there are ways to keep things just that little bit more green.

Sadly, I can’t recommend homemade treats, as many schools have rules against such things.

1. Make homemade Valentine’s Day cards.

It’s really not easy to find classroom packs of Valentine’s Day cards made from recycled materials, but you may be able to make your own. Look around for any appropriate paper and cardstock you may have. There are plenty of printable Valentine’s cards available too. Add a crayon or so if it’s made to be colored in.

2. Make crayon hearts.

If you have a bunch of crayon pieces, melt them into heart shaped molds, and let your child include those with their Valentine cards instead of candy.

3. Add candy to your Valentine cards.

Rather than buy the cards with candy already attached, you can pick out your own candy and attach it yourself. Punch a hole or two through the card to make it easy to add a lollipop. There are all kinds of amazing ideas out there for lollipop Valentines.

4. Give pencils.

I don’t know why it is, but even kids too young to write love getting pencils. Put some heart decorations on them, and you have a really cute gift that kids might actually use.

Is Your Garbage Disposal Eco Friendly?

A garbage disposal is a common feature in many homes. We didn’t have one when I was growing up (caused too many clogs and was removed, as I understand it), but my husband had one, and still loves to use it. They seem like a nice way to cut down on the food waste you throw in the garbage. But are garbage disposals environmentally friendly?

Depends. What Are You Comparing Them To?

Are garbage disposals eco friendly?When it comes to being eco friendly, a garbage disposal can’t really compare to composting. Composting is a much better option if it’s available to you. There are a variety of ways to make composting easier, such as keeping a container available for food scraps in the kitchen, and dumping it into an outdoor compost bin when it gets full enough or it’s just convenient. You can buy a container for the purpose, or just use an old coffee can or something similar for it.

Bokashi composting systems can work indoors. They can be easier to deal with than with systems that rely on worms. Bokashi composting is anaerobic, and should not stink, making it a good choice if you can’t compost outside.

Of course, composting correctly takes some effort, and you can have problems if you don’t manage your compost correctly. But done right, it’s a wonderful, effective choice.

Using a garbage disposal can’t really compare to these options. It takes power and water to make a garbage disposal work. Sometimes they clog, and that can be a huge mess.

Better Than Throwing Food In The Trash?

Food waste makes up a fair part of municipal waste, about 13.9% before recycling, according to (2010 data).  That’s pretty significant.

According to Insinkerator, an average household garbage disposal costs about $0.50 a year in electricity to operate, and makes up less than 1% of that household’s water consumption.  By sending food waste down the drain, it goes to the wastewater plant rather than to the landfill, and may (depending on the wastewater plant) be a part of the plant’s energy generation as methane gas. Biosolids from wastewater may be used as fertilizer. The Insinkerator website has links to studies showing how environmentally effective garbage disposals can be.  Hauling food waste to the landfill is, unsurprisingly, not a very environmentally friendly way to handle it.

Of course, in some places that less than 1% of household water consumption may not be something you’re willing to spare. There are plenty of places where you really want to think about how much water you’re using. If that’s too much, composting really is going to be your best bet. As usual.

What About Clogs?

The one problem I sometimes have with the garbage disposal is that it clogs up sometimes. Usually in some way my own fault. There was the time I sent too many cucumber peels down at once – my disposal didn’t chew them up much at all! They just slid on through and collected in the pipe just below. Fortunately, it was easily cleaned up by hand. I just had to unscrew the couplings on the pipes and pull them out. A gross, stinky job, but no harsh chemicals needed, just a bucket under the pipes to catch the water and mess.

You need to be careful about how much you put through your garbage disposal. Mine is bottom of the line – we had a plumber comment that he didn’t know that brand made them that low a horsepower. That’s rental homes for you. But even more powerful garbage disposals can only handle so much at once. Make sure you’re giving everything enough time to get through.

Also don’t put anything greasy down the drain if you can help it. Grease doesn’t just clog your pipes; it encourages clogs further down the line.

All in all, while your garbage disposal isn’t your most eco friendly option, it’s possible that it isn’t too bad, especially depending on the alternatives available to you. Take a look and dispose of your food waste the as best you can.