Monthly Archives: April 2014

Spaghetti Squash

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about spaghetti squash ever since I started eating it at home and I always tell people how easy it is to cook. I roasted one today and took photos to show you guys just how easy peasy it is!

Spaghetti squash looks like a regular squash on the outside.

IMG_1553

IMG_1559

The magic happens when it’s cooked. I just split the squash into two pieces, took the seeds out, sprinkled it with a bit of olive oil, and stuck it in the oven for 40 minutes in 375 degrees.

When it’s fully roasted (you can tell if it’s cooked all the way by sticking it with a fork), let it cool for a bit and with a fork, “comb” the inside flesh and tada~ the flesh breaks apart into long strands like spaghetti!

IMG_1567

I use it just like I would a pasta. Today, I sauteed up some ground turkey, onions, corn, and spinach with some canned tomatoes for a sauce, mixed in the spaghetti squash and layered whole wheat rigatoni, mozzarella, and the sauce for a casserole.

IMG_1569

Healthy, hearty, and really yummy! Last time I didn’t add the rigatoni but my husband and I are running a 10 mile race this Sunday and thought we needed to maintain our carbs this week :)

IMG_1573

{CPL Challenge} Goodbye Plastic Bags!

plasticbags

Sorry, no pretty photos today! Today it’s all about plastic bags…

It just so happens that today is Earth Day and I’m writing a post about plastic bags. I promise I didn’t plan it! For me, every day should be earth day so today being the “official” earth day doesn’t warrant a special post or special action. In fact, I wish people, companies, and the government will spend less energy publicizing that today is earth day and more energy on actually living an earth-friendly life.

Plastic bags have been on my mind a lot lately and I’ve been meaning to launch an official CPL challenge to reduce my (and hopefully your) plastic bag usage. Whenever I know I’m going to make a trip to the grocery store or any store, I take my reusable bags to make sure I don’t bring any plastic bags home with me but on those random, spontaneous trips when I don’t have my trusty reusable bags on hand, I end up walking out of the store with plastic bags in hand to add to the bijillion I already have at home.

Who doesn’t have a pile of these at home?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I do (sadness). A couple months ago, I dumped a whole bunch in the plastic bag recycling bin at the neighborhood grocery store with a resolve to never have to do that again by never compiling so many plastic bags. Being religious about using my reusable bags for all my shopping needs was my plan. Well, that plan has had a success rate about 50/50 so far. Hence the again growing pile of plastic bags, most of them from those trips when I had forgotten the reusable bags. But even if I don’t bring plastic bags home from the grocery, I’ve noticed they end up finding their way in through other ways, i.e. through people who visit us and bring stuff in plastic bags or through us visiting others and bringing stuff back in them. Things just tend to travel in plastic bags in our society…

But again, I believe small actions can make a big difference when all those small actions accumulate. So!!! Here’s the very first CPL challenge! I challenge you, dear readers, to minimize (and eventually eliminate) your plastic bag pile. If you’re taking me up on my challenge, how you’re going to make that happen is something you might have to think about. In specifics.

For me, I’ve found it’s about working towards changing my habits even more. Apparently, bringing out the reusable bags when I think I need them isn’t enough. I need to cultivate the habit of always leaving some in the trunk of the car and of keeping a small foldable one in my purse at all times (for those spontaneous impulse buys). And not least, be brave enough (and not embarrassed) to tell family and friends “no plastic bags for me, thanks!”

As I’ve been learning, eliminating plastic bags from my life won’t happen overnight. There will be times when I forget and will have to use them to bring groceries back. But rather than guilt tripping myself, I’ll just have to file those moments away towards furthering my resolve and making concrete steps towards my goal. Plastic bags, be gone!

Homemade citrus vinegar cleaner review

photo-23

It’s been a while but continuing my last post on green cleaning, here’s an update on the citrus vinegar cleaning solution that I said I was going to make and try out!

Here’s what it looked like after about 3 weeks:

IMG_1258

Method: I strained the orange colored vinegar above and diluted it with water in a 1:1 ratio into an old spray bottle. The quart of vinegar and water filled the spray bottle up and there was about a full cup of the non-diluted solution left.

Color: The clear vinegar started turning yellowish after about a week and ended up a bright orange color. The solution had been sitting on top of my fridge for about 3 weeks when I finally “made” the cleaning solution, aka, diluting it with water. Can it get easier than that?

Smell: Vinegar in its pure form does have quite a potent smell but after being “marinated” in citrus peels for about 3 weeks, the potency was noticeably diminished. While I did get slightly vinegary whiffs when I sprayed out of the bottle, I’m happy to say it smells mostly like citrus and the slight vinegar smell doesn’t really linger and goes away pretty soon after you wipe down whatever you’re cleaning.

Effectiveness: I first tried cleaning the bathroom with this solution and it did everything that my old cleaner did, WITHOUT all the chemical fumes that used to make me cough and my eyes water. The tile floor, the ceramic sink, and faucet were all clean and shiny when I was done. I also tested it in the kitchen, on the carpet, shelves, and floors, all to my satisfaction. I was especially surprised at how easy it was to wipe down my crusty stove after letting the vinegar cleaner sit for about 10 seconds. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and degreaser without the toxicity of the store bought cleaners. Really, what’s the need to overuse chemicals that’ll, in the long run, harm us more than protect us?

Cost: A quart size vinegar bottle at the supermarket costs around $1.50 so for the cost of a couple oranges (which you can eat as a snack after you use the peels to “marinate” the cleaner solution) and about $1.50, you get almost a bottle and a half of cleaner. Saving $$$? No chemicals to inhale?? Yes, please!

If you want a healthier home for the fraction of the cost of a name brand chemical cleaner for most of your household cleaning needs, I definitely recommend trying this cleaner out. I won’t be browsing down the cleaning section of my local Target anytime soon, that’s for sure. There’s tons of other uses for vinegar around the house which I’ll be looking into and sharing with you all. I also bought a huge box of baking soda the other day to experiment with. More green cleaning trials to come!