I know many people purchase toaster ovens because they want to be more "green." They love the energy efficiency a toaster oven can provide. With that in mind, I will be sharing some tips with you on how to "go green" without spending a ton of money. These tips may not be directly related to a toaster oven, but rather to the lifestyle many toaster oven owners are looking for. Enjoy!
There are countless reasons to eat organic food. It is the best choice for your health and the health of the environment. So why doesn't everyone go organic? There is a higher cost associated with organic food. It costs more to produce food naturally and that cost is passed on to the consumer. There are, however, some things that you can do to make the switch to organic less costly.
There are four basic things you can do to go organic for less money: grow what you can, spend your food dollars wisely, make most of your food from scratch and don't waste anything. Each article in this series will address one specific change you can make in each of the four areas.
Grow What You Can
If you have the outdoor space, think about edible landscaping. Edible landscaping utilizes a largely igrored resource: the great American yard. Plant a fruit tree on the south side of your house. This will do two things for you. First, you'll have fresh organic fruit year after year. Fruit production starts out slowly but your patience will be rewarded in years to come with lots and lots of fruit. Second, planting the tree (or trees) on the south side of your house will provide shade during the summer from the sun's hottest rays. The leaves of the fruit tree will fall off during autumn, letting those same hot UV rays get through to heat your home throughout the cold winter months.
Spend Your Food Dollars Wisely
Skip the fruit juices, even if they are organic. Many juices have as much sugar (or more) as soda. When you juice a fruit, you get all the sugar but none of the fiber. The fiber in fruit slows the absorption of sugar. Without it, you get a huge spike in your blood sugar from the juice, and that isn't doing your health any favors.
Instead, choose fresh, whole fruit with all the fiber and nutrients Mother Nature put there in tact. You can save money by either growing your own or buying locally grown organic fruit while it is in season.
Make clean, filtered water your drink of choice and use freshly brewed organic green tea when you want a change of pace. You'll get a much bigger nutritional bang for your buck.
Make Your Food From Scratch
The other day I saw a $5 bag of popped popcorn at the market proudly advertising that it contained nothing but organic popcorn kernels and sea salt. While the lack of questionable ingredients is admirable, the $5 price tag is not.
Organic popcorn kernels cost about $1 a pound. Each pound will produce several bags of popped popcorn. Making your own organic popcorn is clearly the economical choice. As a bonus, freshly popped popcorn tastes a whole lot better than the bagged version sitting on a shelf.
You can buy a popcorn maker; several inexpensive models are available. Many thrift stores have second hand popcorn makers available for very reasonable prices. You can also make popcorn in a heavy bottomed cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid, but you'll have to add a small amount of oil to the mix. Heat one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over low heat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add 1/4 cup of organic popcorn kernels, turn the heat to high and cover. Shake the pan over the burner (without lifting it off of the heat.) After a minute or two, you will hear the kernals popping. When the popping stops or slows to almost no popping, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt while warm.
Don't Waste Anything
My last tip is one that is sure to be controversial. I don't waste fat; including the excess fat that comes from bacon or sausage. I know that bacon fat is considered by some to be one of the most unhealthy items you can consume, but I disagree. My bacon is organic and has no nitrates added to it, other than the nitrates naturally occurring in beets and celery. It has no msg or other chemical enhancers. It costs more than traditional bacon and I intend to use every bit of it. I don't think that saturated fat is the villian it has been made out to be. Rather, I belive most of our saturated fat comes from horrible sources, such as factory farmed meat. I think it is THAT saturated fat that is bad for you.
When I cook anything that requires the drainage of fat, I put that fat into glass jars and keep it in the refrigerator. When it comes from organic bacon or sausage, there are a lot of high quality spices already in that fat. That flavor can be transferred to whatever food you want. The culinary possibilities are truly endless. A couple of my favorites are potatoes roasted in chorizo sausage drippings or Brussel sprouts sautéed in bacon drippings.
I hope I have inspired you to look at ways you can go organic for less. Thanks for reading, see you in part 9!