Monday, March 26, 2012

5 things you can do to help the environment

You don’t have to be a hippy tree-hugging vegan animal activist in order to be kinder to the planet. It’s actually super-easy, totally relevant and incredibly important to do so. Slowly but surely, ‘regular’ people are awakening to the need to care for the space we live in, if not changing it. Here are 5 teeny-weeny itsy bitsy things you can do that won’t change your life, but may just change the future.

My two best mates
1. SAY NO TO PLASTIC BAGS AND BOTTLES - I couldn’t have written this without the shocking stuff I read in Peppermint Magazine a while ago. Stuff that told me that in just 1 year Australia produced 582.9 million plastic bottles and that 323 million of those ended up in waste. (I presume the others are making their way there). That to make 1 plastic bottle uses 400ml of oil, and to put 600ml of ‘pure’ water into that bottle requires 3 LITRES of water to begin with! Get a drink bottle, please! In fact, get 2! I stash one in my handbag and one in the car, and I’m (very) cool, hydrated and thirst-free all day long. You can be too.  As for the bags, I’m just going to say this: 1 bag = 1000 years to breakdown. 10 million used every day in Australia alone and 1923 marine animals and birds dead each day because of them. You know this. Get some hessian bags, or pull out the floral granny trolley and make a statement at your supermarket, or better yet, at your local market…

2. BUY LOCAL IN-SEASON PRODUCE – Preferably at a local market. They’re popping up all over the place, even in the big bad capital cities, so there’s no excuse.  Aside from the produce, there’s normally other organic and healthy stuff to try. Sometimes there’s music, clothes, bags, candles and other fun stuff to look at. You’ll be supporting local farmers, keeping Aussie dollars in Australia, and keeping those dollars local. You support real people, not massive corporations who don’t care what they put in or spray on your food. If you can’t go to a market, there are stacks of online delivery options. At the very least, you can buy in season; it’s healthier for you and for the environment as it hasn’t been refrigerated, flown and trucked across the globe, just so you can enjoy a pineapple in the dead of winter. This makes price whining unrealistic too. Some organic produce may cost a little more, but in-season foods cost way less than those internationally shipped pineapples. Get serious. Just think about where your food comes from.

3. COMPOST AND RECYCLE – I’m including recycling here because I’m amazed how many people simply can’t be bothered to separate cans, bottles and plastics, or newspapers, egg cartons and magazines. The hard work is done for you. There are special bins. It’s SO easy, and makes SUCH a difference. Just comply - it all helps. Composting is even better. We started composting a few years ago, and it cut our general rubbish in half. Every banana skin, vegetable peel, left over dinner and uneaten crust from every sandwich you lovingly made for your spoilt kids - all of it, in the compost. This does require a bit of work. Luckily my husband loves it. He takes the compost out, mooshes it around, turns it, looks at it, turns it over again, and eventually uses it to make a little part of the garden nicer. You can get special compost bins or worm farms (some councils give them away) and use them to make your own herb or vege garden. All keeping you away from the supermarket, saving a few dollars, keeping you healthy and doing that wee bit extra for Mother Earth.

4. CUT DOWN ON RED MEAT– There's so much information and environmental recommendations out there about this. The biggest problems associated with eating beef in particular are the levels of emissions it produces, the cost and energy used in grain/feed production and the deforestation and land degradation caused by producing all that feed. Put aside the nasty way animals are slaughtered, the hideous conditions they live in and the drugs they’re given to prevent disease, and consider this: the methane produced by cattle is responsible for up to 18% of ALL Greenhouse Gas emissions. It requires 8kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef. The land used to grow that grain now occupies almost 30% of the Earth’s surface. There go a few good rainforests. Astonishingly, it can take up to 100,000 litres of water to produce ONE KILO of beef! Then there are all the studies that suggest meat isn’t so hot for your health anyway. Not saying don’t eat red meat, just saying maybe not so often. You can start here:

5. HANG YOUR CLOTHES ON THE LINE – I’m pretty good with all of the above, but I struggle like crazy with this one. My ‘be nicer to nature’ side competes with my ‘I hate doing the washing’ side, and I wish the first team would win more often. This is one of those things that’s so simple, yet so hard to embrace, but here’s the deal; it’s better for your clothes to air-dry. It’s better for you to get outside and move. Yes…you bend over and get up again, several times, for ten minutes each day. It’s better for your hip pocket and it is SO much better for the environment. Them dryers suck lots of energy, and if you have a family, you’re using it all the time. If you live in a small place or if its winter, get a clothes horse! It’s annoying, it makes your home untidy and sometimes it can even smell, but it’s just something else, little, not time consuming better for you, better for the environment.

Funny how almost everything that makes the environment a bit healthier seems to make us a bit healthier too, ain't it? 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

5 Things you should eat every day

Branded as fattening by Western diet ‘experts’ the following foods are often avoided. In truth, the fats they contain are incredibly healthy and vital for normal body function including the absorption and transportation of nutrients. Weirdly, they may actually help you lose weight (true story!) It’s all about the molecular structure of the fat (if you’re interested, research medium chain fatty acids/medium chain triglycerides), but for now, eat these!

Delish!  My Raw Cacao & Coconut Balls

1. COCONUT – The flesh, oil and juice are all super-rich in nutrients and have amazing health implications for the body. The fats help protect against heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They increase metabolism, are easily absorbed quickly used by the body, so they’re less likely to stick around and be stored on your arse. That’s just a start. There’s a plethora of other health benefits from improved diabetes health to better skin and hair, plus protection from common illnesses through antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Coconut water is gaining popularity too, with many athletes using it to replenish energy in place of ‘sports’ drinks. Coconut water can replace electrolytes for people who have had a bout of illness (like gastro) and has even been used to intravenously hydrate critically ill patients when saline/blood plasma is unavailable. Make sure your coconut water is young and preferably fresh, and your coconut oil is extra virgin and hexane free. Compromising on quality compromises the benefits!

2. AVOCADOS – Another awesomely nutritional food labeled ‘fattening’ and often avoided by westerners. Truth is, the fats in avocados actually help to digest, transport and absorb the real goodies – the carotenoid antioxidants that are abundant in the vegetable. It’s a perfect combination in a neat little package. That’s nature showing off again. Avocados contain vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, folate, selenium and zinc. They are associated with reducing inflammation in the body, with eye/macular health, heart health and lowering cholesterol. If you think cost is prohibitive – grow a tree! They take really easily from a replanted seed.

3. OLIVES – Yep, they're fatty too, but again, they are ‘good’ fats, essential for normal body function. The fats in olives are associated with reduced cardio illness, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reduced inflammation in the body. Olives are a great source of antioxidants including lutein, which strengthens eye-sight, fights free radicals and helps prevent premature ageing. Olives are rich in B vitamins as well as Vitamin A, E and K. They are mineral rich with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium , zinc and selenium, all of which are absorbed more easily by the presence of the olive’s fatty acids. There are loads to choose from, but again, pay attention to how they’re produced and where they come from. Organic is best!

4. CHOCOLATE (yes, chocolate!) – Celebrate! The antioxidant and flavonoid content in Raw cacao is said to be higher than that found in red wine, blueberries, green tea or any other food! In this pure form, chocolate is rich in magnesium, iron, copper, sulphur, calcium, potassium and manganese. It contains Vitamins A, B, C and E, amino acids and a myriad of elements vital for healthy body function. These nutrients have a range of benefits for heart health, and the high levels of magnesium support healthy brain function. Cacao also contains a range of plant chemicals such as anandamide and dopomine that stimulate mood and decrease stress levels, hence chocolate’s frequent association with love and pleasure. It’s a super healthy food, not a treat! But beware - mixing chocolate with sugar and milk ain’t the way to go, and raw, organic cacao definitely is. You can find a million articles and recipes for raw cacao online. Yum yum!

5. NUTS – I’m nuts about them. Walnuts and almonds especially, but we’ll include hazelnuts, pecans and cashews here too (unsalted, raw of course!). The health benefits make this whole post somewhat repetitive – antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Are you hearing me? In the fats! Again, it’s protection from cardiovascular illness, high cholesterol weight gain and other related illnesses; metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes. Yes, nuts are high in calories. But they are also high in Vitamin E, Calcium, magnesium, selenium and iron. They are mega rich in antioxidants for vital health, cell function, regeneration and repair and the fats in nuts are actually associated with weight loss, not weight gain.
Still want that bag of Doritos? Think again.

Happy munching!