Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Broccoli Soup for the Soul

Lately we've been in a broccoli phase - pasta with broccoli (delish!), raw broccoli, steamed broccoli... the days have gotten a bit colder here so I decided to experiment with broccoli soup. Yum!

The only thing is, I'm not much of a fan of cream. Cream of broccoli sounds heavy and not so good for a curl-up-on-the-couch evening (like many winter/spring evenings). So here's my super easy and yummy recipe for a...

Not-too-Creamy Vegetarian Broccoli Soup (vegan option included)

1 large carrot
1 onion (white for a sweeter flavor or red for a stronger flavor)
1 head of broccoli
1 cube vegetable broth (make sure it doesn't have glutamate in it!)
3/4 cup your favorite unsalted butter (or butter alternative, like Earth Balance)
2 heaping spoonfuls of heavy cream (or 3 spoonfuls of soy or almond milk)
3 heaping spoonfuls of flour
olive oil
salt and pepper
(optional: garlic clove - remove before pureeing)

1. In a pot with one half liter of water, add the cube of vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

2. Place the butter, chopped onion, carrot and broccoli in a pan and sautée for 5-7 minutes. Take off heat and put in three heaping spoonfuls of flour while the mixture is warm, stirring it thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add the cream (or soy/almond milk) to the vegetable broth, then pour the vegetables in. Cover the pot and let sit on low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes to simmer.

4. With a hand mixer, puree the mixture in the pot until it reaches a desired texture.

5. Take off heat, stir thoroughly, add a dash of olive oil and serve to two hungry (or three not-so-hungry) friends.

There are our two bowls of soup in the big white mugs (and homemade croutons in the middle!)

Happy cooking!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Biodegradable Shoes, Oh My!

I've been hearing rumors about biodegradable shoes for quite some time now, but haven't (until recently) done any due diligence to find out who makes them, what they're made of, and how I can get my hands on a pair or two. From what I've learned, biodegradable shoes aren't very common, but some major players in the shoe market are starting to catch on to the "green" trend (for better or for worse, let's just hope this is a trend that doesn't go out of style!).

So, the main question... why biodegradable shoes? 

For starters, we've become a culture that no longer fixes something when it's broken, we often find it easier to replace it. When it comes to the possibly billions of shoes thrown away each year around the world, we often forget what happens to these shoes after they depart our curb. Some are incinerated, but those that remain could sit for some 1,000 years before they would biodegrade. A thousand years! That's how long it takes rubber and plastic to break down, that means that shoe would live long after our generation and that of nine further ones. Why should we create such a burden for our environment?

... But won't they melt on my feet or something?

No, not even close. In order to biodegrade, shoes would need ideal conditions in order to start the process - water will not do the trick. Biodegradable shoes would break down completely in roughly 20 years, so you've got plenty of time to wear them out. (Let us not forget, our bodies are biodegradable as well but we do just fine under sun and water!)

I've found some great (and cute!) shoes that deserve looking into!

Form & Fauna's shoe production uses organic cotton, hemp, and charmeuse/hemp blended fabrics for their stylish shoes, water-based glues and scrap wood for heels, wedges, and platforms. Their collections are handcrafted in the USA! They do use a little rubber, so these shoes may not be totally biodegradable.
Form & Fauna's Sunset Wedge in Bluejay (with cork wedge heel)

Simple shoes has started making eco-friendly shoes, These men's Gummy shoes combine organic-washed cotton uppers, a removable recycled footbed, recycled PET laces and an outsole made of recycled carpet padding - what a good-looking shoe!

Brooks shoes give athletes of all kinds a way to do their part. They state,
Among our proudest achievements is the creation of the BioMogo midsole, one of the sporting goods industry’s most exciting environmental innovations ever. Traditional midsoles made of Ethylene Vinyl Acetate™ (EVA) are one of the least biodegradable shoe components, lasting up to 1,000 years in a landfill. We added a non-toxic, natural additive to our MoGo compound that encourages anaerobic microbes to munch away once the material hits an active, enclosed landfill. A five-year study found that BioMoGo degrades 50 times faster than the standard midsole in anaerobic conditions, and will save 29.9 million pounds of landfill waste in roughly 20 to 25 years. BioMoGo made its debut in the Trance™ 8 in 2009, and by 2010, was available in most of our men’s and women’s performance running shoes.
Last, but most certainly not least is OAT. This company really put some thought into their shoes - and the afterlife of their shoes! Not only are they cute and biodegradable, but if they end up underground... they sprout wildflowers! That's right. Seed packets are located in the tongue of the shoe and an instructional packet is included with how to plant your shoes (!).
What we do, what we say, what we make, use or throw out has an impact, however big or small. Every day you can choose what that impact is going to be. - Sprout's website

Remember, most natural fibers (cotton, hemp, etc) are biodegradable. Make sure you look at the material contents of shoes before purchasing to make sure you're not only making the best decision for your feet but for the environment as well.

Happy shopping!