USDA Invites You to Vote for Your Favorite Recipes for Healthy Kids

image copyright Recipes for Healthy Kids finalist South Education Center Alternative

In an effort that would make Jamie Oliver proud, last September, the USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition. The goal of this program is to encourage the development of creative, nutritious, and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus.

Entries were accepted from September through December 2010. From among the 340 entries submitted, five were selected in each of following categories: whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas. These finalists will be visited by a team that includes a USDA official, an American Culinary Federation chef, and a school nutrition professional to narrow it down to the three finalists (one from each category) who will participate in a national cook-off event this summer.

You can see the finalists on the Recipes for Health Kids website, check out all the yummy-looking recipes, and vote for your favorite. Voting for the Popular Choice Award closes on May 15.

Meatless Monday: Chickpea Meatless Loaf

One of my favorite vegetarian meals is chickpea loaf. It’s simple to make, and hearty, yet light. Chickpeas are full of fiber and I love their rich, creamy taste and texture.

  • 1 cup dried organic chick peas
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 organic free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 stalks organic celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small organic onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • sea salt, to taste
  • organic ketchup (optional)

Soak the chickpeas in water for at least 4 hours (I threw them in a bowl, covered them with water, headed off to a meeting and when I got home, they were ready!). Drain the water, then place the chickpeas in a saucepan with 3 cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook, covered, for about 1 hour or until the chickpeas are tender and most of the water has been absorbed.

Remove the chickpeas from the stove and mash them with a fork or potato masher until they are all broken up into little pieces. Stir in the eggs and blend well. Then add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Place in a greased baking dish and cook uncovered at 350°F for 1 hour. Serve warm with a side salad or cooked greens. In the photo, I have a side of kale chips seasoned with curry and garlic, decorated with fresh violet flowers.

It can be a bit dry, so if you like, you can serve it with organic ketchup.

Make Like a Tree and…Emit Zero Emissions

I recently had the pleasure of test driving the soon-to-be-released Nissan LEAF™, a fully electric car. It has great pickup, and a super smooth ride. And it is surprisingly spacious inside. My husband, who is 6′ tall, had plenty of leg room in the back, which is rare for a compact car. In addition to the creature comforts, this car offers lots of other advantages. Besides the obviously huge cost savings in fuel, you will save money on car insurance because, unlike regular cars, you aren’t toting around flammable liquids, and the engine has no moving parts to break down. Plus the break pads don’t wear out because the car slows itself down.

It can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge, and can go up to 90 mph. Because its maximum speed is 90 mph, which is plenty for most roads, this also reduces your insurance costs.

My husband was very impressed with the fact that it has 100% torque available at 0 RPM. I liked the fact that if something goes wrong with the battery, you don’t have to replace the whole thing. It comes in components (I think there are about 100 battery units within the battery case), which can each be diagnosed and addressed individually.

The battery charging stations are compact and fit easily into any garage. You can also use the same type of outlet you would use to power a washer and dryer, it just takes longer to fully charge the car. Already, companies like Kaiser Permanent, Whole Foods, Walgreens, and Cracker Barrel have plans to install charging stations. The car comes equipped with sensors that tell you where the nearest available charging station is!

There is also an App, which you can download and play with to see how the features work, even if you aren’t yet an owner of a Nissan LEAF™ . You can use the App to: check the level of your battery charge, begin charging, see when the battery charge is complete, see your estimated driving range, and even turn the climate control system on or off – on cold days, you can warm up your car from inside the comfort of your home!

Originally scheduled to ship in September, production has been delayed due to the recent catastrophic events in Japan. However, they expect to ship the first cars in December. The waiting list has been closed, but you can sign up on the Nissan website to be notified to be on the next waiting list. In the meantime, to find out where you can take a test drive, check the Drive Nissan LEAF™ website.

The cost for the LEAF™ will range from $32,700 to $33,700. However, with rebates and tax incentives, the actually cost can range from about $23,000 to $25,000. Not bad, especially considering the fuel cost savings in just one year.

On April 1st, the White House announced the green fleet initiative, which ensures that by 2015, all new vehicles purchased for U.S. federal agencies will be electric, gas-electric hybrid, or alternatively fueled. Given the wild fluctuations and rising gas prices, it seems that the electric car is an idea whose time has finally come.

Sprint Unveils New Green ID App Pack

On Friday, Sprint announced its newest smartphone feature, Green ID Pack, which is available on select Android devices for their customers. The platform provides customers with apps and mobile content that gives them easy access to information on sustainable living, including content from Team Eco Etsy and Green America.

Using the Green ID pack, customers can customize their smartphones with eco-focused apps and widgets in a single download. The Green ID pack offers mobile content from Green America (who certified Herban Lifestyle as a sustainable business), EcoEtsy (of which Herban Lifestyle is a member), TreeHugger.com, the National Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Green ID pack is free to download with Sprint’s Everything Data plan. For more details, including a full description of the Green ID pack’s contents, see Sprint’s press release.

In celebration of the release of the Green ID pack, and my membership in two of the organizations featured in it (EcoEtsy and Green America), I am offering a Sprint Special Sale –a 20% discount in my Etsy shop or Herban Lifestyle online store! Just email a screen shot of your phone with either the EcoEtsy or Green America logo on it to: sales [at] herbanlifestyle [dot] com I will email you the discount code enter code SPRINTGREENID at checkout [Please note these revised instructions]. This offer is good for online purchases of merchandise (shipping and tax are not included in the discount) through May 31, 2011.

Please Join Us at the Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh!

I am super excited to be a vendor the The Handmade Arcade, which will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Hall D, at the corner of Penn Ave. and 10th Street, in downtown Pittsburgh.

The Handmade Arcade has been around since 2004, the first indie craft show of its kind in Pittsburgh. It features a variety of inspired DIY including “innovative jewelry, scary and sweet stuffed creatures, knitted accessories, silk screened prints and tees, felted fashions, hand bound books, spun yarns, stationery, ‘zines, housewares and lots more.”

Admission is free, but the show is very well-attended, so you may want to purchase an Early Bird Pass to get a chance to buy your favorite one-of-a-kind crafty items before they get snatched up!

Adams Morgan Very Cherry Pop Up Shop

From March 27 to April 16, you can visit the temporary art and retail spot, the Adams Morgan Very Cherry Popup Shop, featuring the work of several DC-area artisans, including Herban Lifestyle and my new alter ego brand, Snarkyama. Located at 2421 18th Street in the very fun and funky Adams Morgan neighborhood, the store will also have a variety of music, demos and other events.

image copyright Adams Morgan Main Street

The opening of the store was scheduled to coincide with the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  As a community event Cherry Blossom partner, the Pop Up Shop brings together a diversity of artistic styles including original art, photography, ‘green’ artisans, jewelry, sculpture, pottery and accessories.

The Pop Up Shop is open Sunday through Thursday, from noon to 9:00pm, and Friday and Saturday, 11:00am to 10:00pm.

Ballston Arts & Crafts Market Opening Day is 4/9

I am happy to announce that Herban Lifestyle will be part of the 2011 Ballston Arts & Crafts Market! Held every Second Saturday from April  through October, this is Arlington, VA’s premier 100% handmade indie art Market. It is conveniently located in Welburn Square (between North Stuart and North 9th Streets) across the street from the Ballston Metro. The market runs from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Herban Lifestyle will be participating in the April, May, July, September and October markets.

This year’s Market features lots of talented artists, live music, free demos and much more. For more details, and a schedule of each month’s vendors and musicians, please visit the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market blog.

The April 9th Opening Day Market also offers:

* FREE admission

* FREE live music by jazzy duo, Stone/Wright (noon – 2 PM)

* FREE eco-friendly bags to the first 50 visitors, generously provided by ArlingtonVirginia.com, Arlington’s Social Media Community

* FREE lampwork beading demos throughout the day

* Offerings by St. Coletta Shops featuring a variety of crafts by artisans with intellectual disabilities

* Delicious made-to-order crepes by local favorite, Solar Crepes.

So, please stop by the 2011 Ballston Arts & Crafts Market to support your local artists. I hope to see you there!

It’s Time for Eco Etsy’s Handmade for Earth Day Auction 2011

Today bidding opens for Team Eco Etsy’s  annual Handmade for Earth Day Auction, which raises money for non-profit organizations. The items for the auction were all donated by an incredibly talented team of eco artisans. This year, all proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity Japan to help the disaster relief efforts in Japan.
Team Eco Etsy’s Handmade for Earth Day Auction
WHAT: Handmade for Earth Day Auction sponsored by Team Eco Etsy will feature treasuries filled with eco-goodies that Team Eco Etsy members donated for different categories listed below. A bidder will be able to bid on as many categories as they want.

WHY: To celebrate and raise awareness about Earth Day, Team Eco Etsy proudly sponsors “Handmade for Earth Day Auction” and the proceeds from the auction is donated to a non-profit organization. This year, the proceeds will be donated to Habitat for Humanity in Japan to support the relief effort, to help rebuild and to aid Japanese earthquake survivors.

WHEN: The auctions will begin today, Monday, April 4, 2011 and will end on Sunday, April 24th, 2010. The winners will be announced on Monday, April 25th, 2010.

WHO: Auction is open worldwide.

WHERE: All auctions will be posted on this site, where bidders can post their bids in the comment section for different assortments of eco-goodies.

For full details, and a list of contributing crafters, please visit the Team Eco Etsy website.

I have contributed 1 Lime in the Coconut Soap, 1 Beer Here Soap and 1 Solid Lotion (pictured above). Bidding for the Kids & Beauty auctions start on April 18th. Hope you’ll join in the fun. And please spread the word about this great event for a great cause.