Inspiration for the weekend

Why food waste matters, and how to prevent it in your kitchen.

Zucchini fritters recipe. Add some feta and they’re so delicious!
Apparently, other countries are catching up to the U.S. when it comes to obesity and sedentary lifestyles. This tool call “Where are you on the global fat scale?” compares your BMI to people across the world. Pretty interesting.
It’s finally tomato season! Here’s a summer side salad recipe that I found in a random cookbook I was looking through at the store:
  • 1 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 t salt (or more if desired)
  • pinch black pepper
Stir and enjoy! 

Inspiration for the weekend

Here are some things I came across this week that stuck with me…

How to simplify your life a bit.

More and more farms are being built on rooftops.

Reuse Tuesdays: Ideas for projects from recycle materials.

The meal I make basically once a week.

Why knowing the names of plants is less important than making time to play in the forest

Reading helps us grow.

Why killing time isn’t a sin

The author of Zen Habits, one of the blogs I read about simple living, has a pretty awesome policy that anyone can share or reprint his blog entries if they so choose. He calls it an “uncopyrighted” policy. So when I saw his post this morning about killing time, I decided to repost it since it really resonated with me. I realized that I am definitely the type of person that views killing time as a bad thing. I’m always thinking about how I can be more productive. If I’m watching a movie, I’ll try to answer emails at the same time. If I’m in the car, I’ll try to listen to podcasts so I can learn more. If I have an unexpected day off work, I think about all the things I can complete that day. Those tendencies aren’t necessarily bad, but they can border on unhealthy when I realize that I can’t relax when I have down time. Thus, as part of my quest to live a healthier life, I’m going to think more about making time to just relax. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.

Why Killing Time Isn’t a Sin

Post written by Leo Babauta.
I recently read a travel tip from someone who reminds himself that “killing time is a sin”, and so makes the most use of every bit of downtime, even on an airplane: “read a good book, learn a new language with Rosetta Stone, write to my friends around the world who haven’t heard from me in too long”.
I have no objections to reading books, learning languages, or writing to friends. It’s the idea that downtime must be put to efficient use that I disagree with. While I used to agree with it completely, these days I take a completely different approach.
Life is for living, not productivity.

Make the Most of Every Minute

There is a tendency among productive people to try to make the best use of every single minute, from the minute they awake. I know because not too long ago I was one of these folks.
Got time on the train or plane? If you’re not doing work, maybe you can be enriching yourself by learning something.
Got time before a meeting starts? Organize your to-do list, send off some emails, write some notes on a project you’re working on.
Driving? Why not make some phone calls or tell Siri to add a bunch of stuff to your calendar? Why not listen to a self-help audiobook?
Watching TV with the family? You can also be answering emails, doing situps, stretching.
Having lunch with a friend? Maybe you can talk business to make it a productive meeting.
This is the mindset that we’re supposed to have. Every minute counts, because time’s a-wasting. The clock is ticking. The sands of the hourglass are spilling.
I used to feel this way, but now I see things a bit differently.

Is This What Life Is To Be?

It might seem smart and productive to not let a single minute go to waste (they’re precious, after all), but let’s take a step back to look at the big picture.
Is this what our lives are to be? A non-stop stream of productive tasks? A life-long work day? A computer program optimized for productivity and efficiency? A cog in a machine?
What about joy? What about the sensory pleasure of lying in the grass with the sun shining on our closed eyes? What about the beauty of a nap while on the train? How about reading a novel for the sheer exhilaration of it, not to better yourself? What about spending time with someone for the love of being with someone, of making a genuine human connection that is unencumbered by productive purpose, unburdened by goals.
What about freedom? Freedom from being tied to a job, from having to improve yourself every single minute, from the dreariness of neverending work?

An Alternative

Killing time isn’t a sin — it’s a misnomer. We’ve framed the question entirely wrong. It’s not a matter of “killing” time, but of enjoying it.
If we ask ourselves instead, “How can I best enjoy this moment?”, then the entire proposition is reframed.
Now we might spend this moment working if that work brings us joy. But we might also spend it relaxing, doing nothing, feeling the breeze on the nape of our neck, losing ourselves in conversation with a cherished friend, snuggling under the covers with a lover.
This is life. A life of joy, of wonderfulness.

Quote of the moment

We don’t need a law against McDonald’s or a law against slaughterhouse abuse — we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse.
– Joel Salatin (farmer, author, Polyface Farms)

 Source: Earth Eats

2012 Bike Challenge

Shortly after writing my recent post on biking in the U.S., I got an email from a friend who works for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin about this year’s Wisconsin Bike Challenge. The challenge asks you to form a team with your coworkers, or participate as an individual, and log the miles that you ride your bike from May 1 to August 31. You can log the miles online or on your smart phone. It’s a really easy way to motivate yourself (and/or your colleagues) and to keep track of how well you do. I’m always more likely to do something if I know I am going to write it down and look at the results. My personal goal? To bike to work at least two days per week this spring. The place where I currently work is four miles away, so that should mean I log 16 miles per week! And the Bike Challenge also has prizes for participants – even more motivation.

The Bike Challenge was started by the Wisconsin group, but it’s a national challenge now! So, no matter what state you live in, set a goal for yourself of biking to work, the grocery store, or anywhere that you normally drive to, and click here to sign up for the Bike Challenge!

Teaching your kids how to live a healthy life

This post is written by Ashley Smith, a totally inspirational mother of two that has been a friend of mine since middle school! Their family raises chickens, grows their own food, and has a farm share, all things they do to help their children live healthy lives.

I never pictured myself living out in the country, raising farm animals, or growing my own food. I grew up in the suburbs in a bubble, and didn’t picture life differently until I had my own kids. I have two daughters, ages one and two.  It’s important to me that my kids have experiences that help them appreciate what they have and an understanding of how this world works together. 

Don’t get me wrong: we go to the grocery store like anyone else. We treat ourselves to our favorite foods and have lazy days, but my girls know plunking down in front of the TV with a bag of chips is an occasional thing, not our everyday routine. Most of our free time is spent exploring outside, going for walks in the woods, tending to our animals, or simply strolling through the garden. I could argue there’s nothing my oldest daughter loves more than running through rows of corn!

The girls and I participate in a farm share, which is a great experience. Much of our produce from June-October comes from a farm five miles away if it’s not straight out of our garden. Every week we go pick up our box of all kinds of fruits and veggies and I have to hold back eager children who can’t wait to tear into it.  If you don’t have the time or the space to grow your own, this is a great way to get fresh quality (usually organic) produce for a good price!

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We are currently getting our garden ready for this season, planting seeds and looking for worms. There’s nothing like picking a handful of fresh strawberries out of your own backyard for an afternoon snack. There are sure to be many more adventures for us in the future, and I hope that I can raise happy, healthy, well rounded children in the process.


How I convince myself to go running

So, I love running. But I usually don’t love running until I’m all done running for the day. Sometimes it can be really, really hard to make myself get out the door. I thought I would share a few things I do when I feel like any excuse will prevent me from going for a run…

  1. Picturing how I feel when I return from a run. The feeling of exhaustion and accomplishment that I know I’ll have when I come back is sometimes enough to get me moving.
  2. Saving up good podcasts for my run. You could do this with podcasts, music, or books on tape. Pick something that you love to listen to, and only let yourself listen to it while you work out. It’ll make exercise something you look forward to.
  3. Making a checklist. I use one of the calendars from this website to write down how much I want to run during the upcoming week. After I complete the run for that day, I check it off. It’s a little thing, but the satisfaction of having a full week of checks helps motivate me.
  4. Picking two days of the week where I don’t worry about exercise. Yes, I know, I should get 30 minutes of exercise every day. But my job is active enough that I don’t have to sit down constantly. So I give myself two days a week where I don’t worry about going for a run.

It also really helps to be working towards something like a half marathon or 10K. But I don’t like to always worry about a training schedule. Instead, I just want to run for the sake of running. Some days this works, but other days I need a little more motivation.

Local highlight: food and garden education at the Allen Neighborhood Center

one of the greenhouse’s customers

Lately I have been volunteering at an awesome place called the Allen Neighborhood Center on the east side of Lansing. They do a lot of amazing things to bring food access to this part of the city, including holding one of Lansing’s few farmers markets, offering cooking and gardening workshops, and helping neighborhood residents get health care and food assistance. They also have a beautiful greenhouse in a nearby park, where staff and volunteers work to grow vegetables for a CSA.

CSAs are a great idea in general, because they offer fresh fruits and vegetables all spring and summer. But it’s often hard for families to purchase one, since they require paying several hundred dollars at the beginning of the growing season. Allen Neighborhood Center’s CSA attempts to eliminate that financial barrier, by offering several payment options, including monthly payments throughout the growing season, a reduction in price by volunteering in the greenhouse, and use of your Bridge card (aka food stamps).

And! My favorite part is the youth education that goes along with the growing of vegetables. The  center offers a free program twice a week after school, right in the greenhouse, called KidsTime. Neighborhood kids in grades K-5 can come, free of charge, to learn about healthy eating, exercise, and the food system. I’ve been going on Tuesdays to help out, and it’s usually the highlight of my day. Last week their fabulous lead educator led the kids in a great activity – they split into groups to create their own smoothie recipe, then opened a “business” making and selling their unique smoothies to each other (using Monopoly money as currency). Afterwards, they reflected on why smoothies are a healthy snack, as well as the challenges of running a food business.

In past weeks kids have played vegetable Twister, made worm compost bins, and learned how to read nutrition labels. These activities are very similar to the ones I used to teach with Seven Generations Ahead, as well as in a class I taught in New York called “You Are What You Eat.” As I’ve said before, food education is a vital part of getting kids to eat (and love) healthy food. These are the kinds of programs that need to be a regular part of classrooms across the country, not just in optional after-school classes. But until that’s a reality, we need to continue to support wonderful initiatives like Allen Neighborhood Center’s KidsTime. For more information on how to support them, see their website.

Photo source: Allen Neighborhood Center

What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

I came across this video a while ago called 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? It’s a bit long (nine minutes) but it stuck with me. If you don’t have time to watch it, the basic message is that thirty minutes of exercise a day will make a huge difference in your health. It’s hard to find the time, particularly in the winter with days getting dark by 5:00. I’m so much less motivated to run after it starts getting dark. But this video was a good little push to help me realize it’s worth it.


Fifty people answer: What’s your favorite memory?

There are a lot of sad things going on in our country right now. Just this morning, in ten minutes of reading the news, I came across awful stories of bullying and teen suicides, tragic executions, simultaneous hunger and obesity. But then I came across this video, which made me feel better about life. Sometimes, learning to live a healthy life means (temporarily) forgetting all that’s wrong in the world…and remembering that there are so many beautiful, happy, wonderful people out there. For a little cheering up, watch this sweet video of people sharing their favorite memory. Then try to recall your own.