Cranberry Oatmeal Walnut Cookie Recipe

This weekend we had dinner at our friends’ house, and I was asked to bring dessert. I made a batch of whole wheat brownies, which I planned to bring, but wanted to bake something else since I wasn’t sure if their small children would enjoy the rich chocolately awesomeness of the brownies. I decided to make oatmeal cookies, which have some healthy aspects. The cookies came out wonderfully, and were enjoyed by the guests of all ages, so I thought I would share my recipe with you.

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of organic flour
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup organic fair trade sugar

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 cage-free, organic egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup organic milk or milk substitute (like almond, soy, rice or oat)

Final touches:
1 1/2 cups uncooked organic oatmeal
1/2 cup dried organic cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350º F. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet ingredients to make a dough. Then work in the remaining ingredients. Drop by the tablespoon onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake until the top and edges are lightly browned (about 10-14 minutes, depending on your oven).

Enjoy!

Have an Eco-friendly Valentine’s Day!

Herban Lifestyle Bath Bonbons made with Fair Trade Cocoa Butter

This post was written by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate

This Valentine’s Day, you can show your love for the people in your life and your planet with eco-friendly gifts and experiences. Herban Lifestyle offers a range of bath and body products that are made with natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients, which you already know from reading this blog. But what about some other Valentine’s Day treats and traditions? Here are some ideas for gifts that are kind to you, your loved ones, and the planet:

• For cards, go paperless with e-cards or get crafty and re-make some cards out of old cards or magazines. Another fun option is to send a grow-a-note card that has seeds embedded in the paper so you can send a card and flowers all in one! Greenfield Paper Company offers a huge selection, as do several Etsy sellers, including girl*in*gear studio, who has some gorgeous plantable Valentine cards. Petco also carries them as does Capitol Hemp, and My Organic Market.

image copyright girl*in*gear studio

• Flowers travel long distances to get to us, often from South America requiring a lot of fuel. Together with the pesticides needed to grow them, cut flowers can have a very large carbon footprint. This Valentine’s Day opt for a potted plant or an organic, local bouquet of flowers. Check out the very sustainable Green Space for bouquets and plants.

image copyright Divine Chocolate

• Show your love for the world and your gift recipients by going with organic and fair trade chocolate this Valentine’s Day. There are many brands with exquisite products, like Divine Chocolate. Mmmm, it’s orgasmic! Remember to look for organic and local wines while you are at it!

Herban Lifestyle Fuzzy Valentine Soap

• Save water, bathe together! And bring some of our earth-friendly bath products to add some sassy fun to the experience.

• For date ideas, check out the Eat Well Guide to find local and sustainable restaurants in your area or head to the local museums and parks via the Metro system.

• Plan a staycation in the DC area, its all the fun of a vacation only locally and definitely screams green both for the environment and your wallet! Plus, there are many wonderful Smithsonian museums with free admission, all of which are Metro accessible.

image copyright Smithsonian Museum of American Art

• If you do decide to travel, check into a green hotel that seeks to reduce their water use and have a low impact on the environment. You can search for green hotels using the “Green” Hotels Association webpage.

• Give cco lingerie: feel sassy and sexy in organic cotton, organic hemp, organic silk, recycled fibers, or Lenpur, a material made from white pine tree clippings. It’s the gift that satisfies you and your partner and is available for men and women. Check out Treehugger’s guide to sustainable lingerie here.

image copyright EarthSake

• Sleep on organic cotton or bamboo sheets. You’ll sleep soundly knowing that your soft as silk sheets have a lower impact on the Planet.

• If this turns out to be one of the most important Valentine’s Day ever, spare yourself from conflict by purchasing responsibly sourced diamonds and fair trade metals. Or go vintage: A family heirloom or beautiful antique ring makes a very romantic statement.

And, of course, check out the Herban Lifestyle website for our fun Valentine gift sets that will really get you in the mood!

Some great reasons to ride the Megabus in 2011

photo copyright Megabus

This post was written by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate

As a devoted public transit junkie who had to find her way to and from NYC on a regular basis for school, I became an expert of every conceivable way to make the ~170 mile journey. Clearly driving was not an option – the tolls alone cost over $20, then factor in gas and parking, and you have an expensive, time consuming journey. And while Amtrak is a sexier choice than most when it comes to public transit, I found myself spending average of $100 each way for the regular train (the Acela, which is about 20 minutes faster, has nicer accommodations and Wi-Fi, but costs twice as much). But the train is not always smooth convenient sailing. Out of the six trips I’ve made, I’ve arrived late three times: once I experienced a power outage between Philadelphia and Baltimore, once I had to wait while they arrested someone on the train in Newark, NJ, and once I sat on the train for an hour as we rescued passengers from another train that had broken down.

As a poor college student and now a recent grad, the train is something of a luxurious splurge, so an economic alternative would be to take a bus. Having taken the greyhound (one way $40 or $36 with a student advantage card, and even less if you purchase your ticket online), I have had a few problem-free experiences, but too many unpleasant experiences to consider it, unless it is my only option. A cheaper option, and a bit more pleasant, is the Chinatown bus, which rolls up with a different unmarked bus each time. The cost is $20 cash on the bus or you can pay online. The experience is not horrible, but the pick-up and drop-off spots are often pretty sketchy.

Based on these experiences, none of these options can hold a candle to the Megabus, a life-saver for the eco-traveler on a budget. For the general public, this is exciting because it offers rapid intercity travel with tickets starting at $1 (yes that’s right, $1!), plus a $.50 reservation fee. Now this doesn’t mean that every ticket is $1, they start at that price and go up depending on when you buy your ticket and how many people have already purchased a ticket. It’s something of a game of luck, and it feels like winning the lottery when you can score your all-time low ticket price (before last week my all time best price was $8 round trip from Baltimore to NYC). So if you can book your trip a month beforehand, you have a decent shot at finding the $1 fare, especially on weekdays. If not, a day ticket from Baltimore to NYC is on average $17. Another awesome bonus is the buses themselves, which are all brand new (double deckers when going to and from NYC), clean, comfortable and equipped with free Wi-Fi and power outlets.

For this transit junkie, the best part of this deal is that the Megabus’ Baltimore stop isn’t in sketchy downtown Baltimore but right off of I-95 in White Marsh. Two other sustainable bonuses are that the bus is a certified green coach and you do not need to print your ticket since all you need to do is show them your confirmation number. I keep mine on my phone, so it’s paperless!

But wait, there’s more! If you haven’t taken the Megabus yet, be sure to make 2011 the year you try it. The Megabus used to only service the East Coast (it’s in the Mid-West too and started out in the U.K.) by going to and from NYC from various cities (including Baltimore and Washington D.C.) with NYC asvthe main hub. But starting in December 2010, Washington DC became a major hub offering stops in Richmond, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Knoxville, Hampton, and Christiansburg. So, theoretically, one could take the Megabus from Knoxville to Toronto! Wow!

But yet it keeps getting better! Megabus is giving away 200,000 free tickets from January 12th until March 1st!  Check out the promotion here. The $.50 reservation fee still applies and you still need to use the same strategy of booking early to find the tickets offered for $0.00. I already booked my ticket for an interview in Connecticut that cost me $1.00 roundtrip from Baltimore to Connecticut and back – most exciting deal of my life!!!

So, if you haven’t hopped on a Megabus yet, jump on this deal and work on your Greener travel while on a budget resolution for 2011!