Adventures in Greening: Cool-Off Throwback

By Catherine Moran

It’s hard to believe, but summer is slipping away, and it’s been an interesting one: really hot and humid for days, and then a bit chilly or pouring rain the next. For those chilly days, bundle up, and anticipate autumn!

For those hot days, take a peek at these tips for keeping cool in an Earth-friendly way.

Have a wonderful week, greenies!

 

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Pretty in pink

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By:  Kathleen Neafsey

If ever there was a cookie that could be considered refreshing, this is it!  Once again, my love for reading has carried over into the kitchen.  As I may have mentioned here before, or in Fabri-Kate, I enjoy mysteries whose main character is a chef, baker, foodie, etc. Some of my personal favorites include Diane Mott Davidson and her Goldie Shultz character, and Joanna Fluke and her Hannah Swensen heroine.  Not only are the books satisfying, but they include some great recipes, as well.
This recipe for Tickled Pink lemonade cookies comes from Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanna Fluke.  When I first read it, I knew I had to try it – and I was not disappointed!  I’ve made these cookies more than once, with few modifications, and everyone that has tried them has raved over them.  They’re the perfect summertime cookie; the lemonade flavor is not overpowering, and it’s just heavenly when your mouth recognizes the flavor. They’re definitely worth turning the oven on for, even on a hot day!
So here goes, let’s get what we need:

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Cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened (do not substitute)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
*1/3 cup frozen pink  or regular lemonade concentrate, thawed
pink food color ( I prefer gel food color, but liquid works too) – the amount depends on how pink you want your cookies to be
1+3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I always make mine with gluten-free flour, with no modifications, and they’re great every time)

* you may think that the batter needs more lemonade flavor, but I assure you, the frosting will give the cookie the extra spark!

Let’s begin:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

- In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy.

- Mix in the beaten egg, and lemonade concentrate.

Don’t let the picture fool you; I know it doesn’t look very appetizing, but it will get better. I guess the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” applies here.

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- Add food coloring.  When I use the gel color, I dip the handle end of a spoon (Don’t be jealous of my high-tech kitchen gadgets) into the color and then add it to the batter.  I find that end of the spoon works better because it’s flat, and it’s easier to get all the color off.

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- Briefly beat the batter to be sure the color is evenly distributed.  You can add more color if you want a deeper shade of pink. (Purely a coincidence that my nails match the cookies.)
- Add flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, not all at once.

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- Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased or parchment lined baking sheets.

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-Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, till the cookies are just lightly brown around the edges.
- Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about two minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

While the cookies are cooling, it’s time to make the frosting!

Frosting:
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1+1/2 – 2 cups confectioners sugar
4 Tablespoons pink lemonade (to start)
pink food color

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The funny thing about frosting, for me anyway, is that I generally start off using the recipe and then have to keep adding and playing around along the way, to get the right consistency.  This goes for any frosting I make – I rarely just get by with the actual recipe.  That being said, start off with the 1+1/2 cups of sugar, you can always add more if you prefer.  Also, in Ms. Fluke’s book, she mentions adding milk to the recipe if more liquid is needed.  When I read that, I could only think that milk and lemonade may not be the best combination so I opted for just adding more lemonade, and it hasn’t failed me yet.  It gives the cookie that little extra punch.

When the cookies are cool, frost your little heart out.  When you take that first bite you’ll be transported to a refreshing summer day – okay, maybe I’m exaggerating here, but your mouth will definitely be doing its’ own little happy dance.
Wouldn’t these be fun for a baby shower or a gender reveal party? Either way, I’m so happy that I discovered Ms. Fluke’s books, and her recipes!

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Till next time, enjoy the rest of your summer, have fun, stay cool, and remember to hydrate!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

Adventures in Greening: Link Love

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By Catherine Moran

So, I’ve been a bit exhausted the past few weeks, so sleeping has taken priority over researching and writing (sorry, y’all). In lieu of a lot of reading, I’m sharing some favorite links of late. Check them out, and have a great Monday!

I’m helping to #spreadYES because I am a lover and supporter of all things Jason Mraz. Check out this awesome new track, “Back to the Earth,” in which Mraz sings about how getting back to nature helps him deal with life. You go, Jason. Keep spreading the positive, Earth-lovin’ vibes.

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Purusha People is one of my favorite shops to buy yoga clothes. Hayley uses Fair Trade organic cotton in many of her pants. The environmental practices used in producing Fair Trade cotton encourage sustainability, which is, of course, awesome. And Fair Trade is better for those who are producing the cotton, so it’s better for both people and the planet.

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One of my favorite things these days is The Tiny Project, and other projects like it: people living in very small homes or trailers. You can’t have a lot of Stuff when your space is limited. Another blog I very much enjoy that is along those same lines is A Restless Transplant, who takes gorgeous photos of his travels.

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It might not be much, but that’s what I’ve got for you today, greenies. Till next time!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Of Trash and Ocean Patches

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By Catherine Moran

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fun and safe holiday weekend. You might have been lucky enough to spend some time at the beach during the long weekend. While there, you were hopefully thinking about snoozing on the sand, listening to tunes, and swimming until your fingers pruned. You hopefully weren’t thinking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or, if you were, you weren’t letting it bum you out too much. Why do I say that? After all, The Garbage Patch is a major bummer. But it turns out that it’s disappearing. Yay! But, hang on: Is this a good or bad thing?

We might be inclined to say it’s a good thing, because disappearing garbage means the ocean is free of this problem, but that’s not really the case. Where are the microplastics that make up the Patch disappearing to? One possibility is that some marine wildlife are attaching themselves to this trash (think barnacles on the bottom of a boat, only now they’re attaching themselves to, say, plastic bottles). This takes the plastic down to the deep fathoms below, and no one can say what changes it’s creating down there.

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Two other possibilities for what’s become of the plastic: it’s making its way to our shores in smaller pieces, or it’s being broken down by bacteria into extremely small particles.

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If this missing garbage wasn’t causing concern before now, brace yourself: if this plastic is broken down and becoming  teeny tiny, there’s a possibility that it’s being eaten by teeny tiny fish. Teeny tiny fish are eaten by bigger fish, which are in turn eaten by bigger fish, and then, somewhere along the line, people might eat these fish. This is bad news: plastic is not on the food pyramid.

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So, in conclusion, the disappearance of the plastic garbage patch might be worse than its existence in the first place.  Scientists can only speculate as to what is happening to this plastic, and its unclear if they will be able to come to a definitive answer. What’s done is done, but, going forward, we can continue trying to eliminate adding to these collections of trash by reducing our plastic usage and supporting such endeavors as bans on microbeads. For more reading on the disappearance of the The Great Grabage Patch, check out this article, or this one.

 

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen – Three cheers for the red, white, and glu(ten) free!

imagesBy:  Kathleen Neafsey

You probably wouldn’t think that a Rice Krispie treat would be reason to cheer, but if you haven’t had one in more than two years you may think differently. These treats are just one of many things that I haven’t been able to have for the past couple of years.  It’s not as if I was overly fond of them to begin with, but occasionally I would just have that odd craving for one.  While I always thought that Rice Krispies are safe for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance because they’re made with rice, not wheat, I was wrong!  Regular Rice Krispies are made with barley and malt – both of which contain gluten proteins.  I know, I know, such a learning curve! Just be sure to grab the right box at your grocery store – it’s the tannish / yellow box, not the familiar blue box that we all know and love.

Enough of that, now on to the fun stuff!  The recipe is the standard Rice Krispie treat recipe:

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6 cups of rice krispies

One – 10 ounce bag of marshmallows (about 40)

or 4 cups of mini marshmallows

3 Tablespoons of butter

Before you start, line a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish with wax paper.

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In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter.

When the butter is melted, add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.

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Remove from heat and all the rice krispies.  Stir until well-coated.

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Using a spoon or spatula, pour the mixture into the lined baking dish – Be careful not to touch it with bare hands as it is very hot and sticky.

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Once it is in the pan, spread it out using a large mixing spoon or an offset spatula if you happen to have one.

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Let cool, and cut into two inch squares……

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DSCF4231……..or you can use cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes.  I did some stars for the 4th of July, and drizzled them with chocolate.

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What a fun way to bring a treat to a friend’s BBQ!

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Enjoy a wonderful, safe holiday – and all the goodies that go with it!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Adventures in Greening: Vacation Time!

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By Catherine Moran

I’m in Salt Lake City for some Life Events this week, so this post is short and sweet. In honor of seeing my friend Sara, I’m linking you to the guest post she wrote for Adventures in Greening back in 2012. I’m looking forward to experiencing some of the green things Sara has found in SLC.

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Have a great week!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Back to the Future

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By Catherine Moran

I’m pretty excited to say that I am, for once, on top of an electronic advancement. Well, sort of. I’m not calling myself Nostradamus, or anything (but I will share ::cough:: humblebrag ::cough:: that a friend of mine did deem me so when he passed along the article below), but it looks like some green technology that caught my eye awhile back might actually become real. tumblr_mhjr2iuhXz1rwz799o1_500

In September, I wrote about Phonebloks, a company that has created a design for a phone with replaceable parts. The Phonebloks phone would revolutionize the cell phone: rather than upgrading and getting rid of your phone after a certain number of years, you could switch out specific pieces for, say, bigger memory or better speakers as they become available. In essence, it’s the anti-planned obsolescence model.

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So, Phonebloks is a great idea, and I’m not the only one who thinks so: Google seems to have a phone in the works that seems to function similarly to the Phoneblocks model. It’s set to launch in January, for $50. Hey, now! That pricing is…reasonable! tumblr_m601jjuJrR1qhcq3b

From the article linked above: The barebones base model will have the frame, screen, a limited CPU, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Purchasable add-ons would build that base model into a highly personalized, fully functional phone. It would be a phone that can easily upgrade to new technologies, such as camera improvements, without having to pitch the base device. Of course, this sort of device won’t appeal to everyone, and it might take awhile to catch on. And, in the long run, this may not be a more eco-friendly alternative to other smartphones, but it’s definitely a step forward in letting consumers decide if they want to continue purchasing items that are designed to become outdated in a matter of years. If this is real life, I will, no doubt, leave my iPhone when it’s hit its planned obsolescence run time (though that won’t be for a few years yet, so I’ll have to seek out friends who try this new kind of mobile device). Who’s with me? tumblr_inline_mr9zl8IgE21qz4rgp Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Sweet and spicy, and easy as 1-2-3

By: Kathleen Neafsey

If you’re like me, you don’t like walking into a friend’s home empty handed.  A couple of years ago I was invited to a barbecue and I asked what I could bring – to which they replied, “nothing”. Sorry, that’s not me; I don’t show up with “nothing”. I was taught that if you were visiting someone you should have to ring the doorbell with your elbow (because your hands are so full). I was trying to think of something I could make that was easy, most everyone would eat, and would could be transported with little fuss.

Behold my idea of sweet and spicy chicken:

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Rarely does it get any easier than this.  Literally three ingredients:

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2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs, if you prefer)

One bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s Buffalo hot sauce

One (20 ounce) can crushed pineapples

You can do this two ways – I’ve made it both ways with favorable results each time.  First: You can throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker, leaving the chicken cutlets whole. Cook on low for four hours or on high for two hours.  Remove the chicken from the slow cooker onto a cutting board and pull (shred) it using two forks, as I did in this post for pulled pork. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and combine with the remaining ingredients.

OR……

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and put it in a large saucepan.

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Add about three-quarters of the bottle of hot sauce to the chicken.  Reserve some of the hot sauce and decide upon first taste if you want to add the remainder, or just leave it on the table so people can add the extra on their own.Drain the juice from the pineapple DSCF4158

and add the pineapple to the chicken and hot sauce. DSCF4162

Stir, and simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Serve  over rice or on a bun, or with a side of cole slaw and potato salad!  It’s pretty versatile and can be paired with so many side dishes!

Considering that this was a recipe created on the fly, it has become one of my family’s favorites! It’s a great take-along dish to a summer barbecue, and offers a little something different than the typical burger and hot dog fare. I’ll meet you back here with another fun recipe just in time for July 4th!  Till then, enjoy this glorious weather, and don’t forget your sunblock!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Adventures in Greening: Memorial Day!

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By Catherine Moran

My, oh my, how time does fly! We’re back to another Memorial Day weekend. You may already be out and about today, but if not, think about making your long weekend a bit more eco-friendly.

• If you’re going to be outdoors, do something with a low environmental impact. Planning a picnic? Pack your sandwiches beforehand in reusable baggies, and bring stainless steel pint glasses (Klean Kanteen has some nice options), reusable utensils, and cloth napkins. The idea is, when you leave, you leave nothing behind that indicates you were there at all: not even the trash barrels will have been touched!

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Don’t forget the bug spray, either. How about Meow Meow Tweet’s all natural spray? Keep the bugs away, while reducing the number of toxic chemicals we spray onto ourselves and into the environment.

• If you’re going to the beach, make sure you’re protecting yourself from UV rays. Sunglasses and hats are a must, as well as sunblock. Beth Terry has a great recommendation for a brand of sunblock that I have yet to try, but I plan on giving it a go this summer.

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• If you’re staying in, open windows to avoid running the AC or fans all day.  Consider reading a book, or playing a board game with friends, and leave the electronics off. Maybe even stage a picnic in the living room!

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Whatever you do this holiday, stay safe, and have a great day!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: The Green Book

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By Catherine Moran 

It’s been awhile since the last book review, so today’s post is a few words on Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen’s The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time.

This book came out in 2007, which dates a lot of the information found within it. Not only have the Whats we consume changed a bit since then, but the Hows have changed, as well. For example, the section “money and finance” lists a lot of green options that were, at the time, good ideas, but are now the norm: receiving electronic bills, doing your banking and filing your taxes online. Some of their suggestions are slowly being made easier, such as forgoing an ATM receipt. I’m one who likes to keep a record of my banking transactions, so I always took a receipt. These days, I have the option to have my receipt emailed to me, so now I have no problem opting out of a printed receipt and emailing the transaction to myself.

Outdated information aside (there are tips for how to set up voicemail in lieu of having an answering machine), I wasn’t too blown away by this book. The formula bored me fairly quickly: if you do X, we could do X with what we saved. For example: “If 80 percent of students did so [used a binder made from recycled materials], the materials saved could build a binder with an area of 1,240 acres­––larger than the entire campus of the University of California at Berkeley.” I guess that’s a neat visual, but these statistics quickly became something that I glossed over in my reading. I get it. We could do a lot with the things we don’t really need to use. But to continually hit the reader over the head with these “shockers” made me feel slightly insulted after awhile.

Another aspect of this book I didn’t enjoy were the celebrity highlights, which each featured a celebrity sharing why they have bought eco-friendly cars or started using reusable bottles. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not going to change any habits just because I read that Tyra Banks thinks you should go green. None of these celebrity voices offered prescriptive advice (that was left to the body of the book), so I wasn’t sure of their purpose, other than to give themselves a pat on the back. And, I suppose, convince some people who might be on the fence about switching up their habits that if a celebrity can curb his exorbitant lifestyle, you can, too (I’m poking fun here.)

In short, I’d deem this a pass. If you’re looking for a good green read, I’ll always recommend Beth Terry’s Plastic Free. It’s still that good!

Have a great week, greenies! Spring is here – go out and enjoy the green.

 

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Is it squash? Is it spaghetti? Fear not, it’s both!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

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Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve purchase spaghetti squash in the past, with the intention of creating a tasty, healthful meal only to see them get tossed away before I had the opportunity to use them.  Truth is, I was somewhat intimidated by this yellow orb of wonder; but not anymore!  I bought, I baked, I conquered! Turns out, it was one of the easiest, most delicious things I’ve ever made.

Traditionally, spaghetti squash is considered a “winter” squash, harvested mainly in the fall and winter, it is available year round.  You may have to look a little harder for it in the summer months, but it’s well worth it!  Oddly enough the term I would use to describe the flavor of this dish is “fresh and summery”.  Okay, enough chit-chat, let’s get on with this and you can decide for yourself!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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One- two pound spaghetti squash

One- medium onion, thinly sliced

Three- medium plum tomatoes, diced

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, oregano to taste

Shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

First: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

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Next: Remove the seeds and the strings, as you would when carving a pumpkin.

Then: Drizzle the squash with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking/cookie sheet and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Turn the squash over so the cut side is now facing up.  Using a fork, gently pull the strings of the “spaghetti” toward the middle of the shell.  If it doesn’t pull easily enough you can put it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Fluff up the strings into the middle of each shell.

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Divide the tomatoes and onions between the two shells, and top with the shredded cheese.  Return the cookie sheet to the oven, and broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

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This can be served as a meal in itself, or a side dish.  I left mine in the shells, and served it as a side with grilled chicken.  We passed the dish, and everyone helped themselves to their own serving of squash – and I have to say – it was a huge hit!

This is so incredibly easy and tasty – and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – it’s fat free, cholesterol free, and gluten free. It’s definitely a winner in my book, and now that I’ve conquered my fear, I’ll be making it often!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

Adventures in Greening: How about a burrito?

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By Catherine Moran

I am writing about Chipotle today because I ate there last week. I didn’t really know much about Chipotle’s business practices until this video aired in 2011, followed by this video in 2013. Both videos take on the idea that factory farming is not the way our food should be getting to us. I applaud that idea, as I’m a big fan of farm to table proponents.

According to their website, Chipotle supports sustainable farming practices and family-owned farms whenever they can, steering clear of animals raised on hormones and antibiotics if possible. These are good practices for the environment, especially if Chipotle is honoring the declaration that they buy local when they can. For the chain, buying local means buying from locations within 350 miles of a Chipotle.

Chipotle pays employees more than the minimum wage, and employees can work their way up the management rungs, no matter where they start. Way to go, Chipotle!

Now, onto the really exciting news for greenies: Chipotle makes their burrito bowls using recycled materials From their website:

We try to use packaging materials that have minimal effects on the environment. Our burrito bowls are made from 93% recycled material–mostly recycled newspapers. And our aluminum lids are made of 95% recycled materials, including aluminum cans. Our lids reduces [sic] energy consumption by 96% compared to using lids made of new materials.

Their napkins are also made from 100% recycled content, hurrah! When you get your items to go, there are no extra napkins or utensils thrown in the bag (at least not in the NYC locations I’ve been to). You can pick up these items at a separate serving station. I can walk in, grab a burrito in a paper bag (or say no to the bag, in fact!) and be on my merry way, and no extra future trash has to make the trip with me.

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Now, a lot of this info came directly from Chipotle’s site, so it should be taken with a grain of salt (at least the sustainable farming commitment clams). The company page stresses that Chipotle uses fresh, organic, or sustainable ingredients wherever possible, but that means that sometimes it’s not possible. So, while it is frustrating to not know if the food you are consuming actually does fall within those parameters, I have to applaud Chipotle on their efforts. I may be naive in saying this, but I believe that they are making an effort; at the very least, they’re using buzzwords in a way that few other chains do…so they can have credit for that!

In conclusion: I don’t often eat from chains, but when I do, I’m happy in the choice of Chipotle. Now I’m hungry….

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Do you know about any other large chains that try to use sustainable practices?

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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