I know many people purchase toaster ovens for the purpose of being more "green." These eco-conscious people 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 an infinite number of reasons to solely eat organic food. It is without a doubt the best choice for your health and the health of the environment. So why doesn't everyone eat only organic foods? 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 food strain your wallet a bit less.
There are four fundamental things you can do to switch to organic food 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
Organic basil is a great option for a backyard garden. Not only do you get a delicious herb with endless culinary possibilities, but basil is also a great natural pest deterrent. Basil is incredibly easy to grow; it is actually considered a weed in parts of the world where it never gets too cold.
A packet of good organic basil seeds costs about the same as two ounces of fully grown fresh basil. You can get several pounds of good quality basil out of each packet of seeds. Instead of dedicating a specific spot in your garden to basil production, plant the seeds throughout the garden. I put two basil seeds at the base of each bushy plant, such as tomatoes or peppers. The strong scent of the basil masks the smell of the other plants. Insects that are normally attracted to the garden can't smell the plant they desire and are likely to move on to your neighbor's garden instead.
Spend Your Food Dollars Wisely
When buying organic vegetables, go for the ones that pack the most nutrients and antioxidants. Focus on leafy green vegetables and herbs, and supplement with colorful fruits and vegetables. Purple cauliflower and potatoes tend to cost as much as their white counterparts, yet they contain high levels of anthocyanins (a powerful antioxidant found only in purple foods.) You won't need as many expensive supplements and vitamins if those nutrients are present in your food supply.
Make Your Food From Scratch
Pesto is one of those gourmet items with a hefty price tag if you buy it prepared from the market, especially if you want it to be organic. Pesto is also difficult to find organic in the first place. Making your own organic Pesto is quick and easy, if you have a food processor. If you grow your own basil, this sauce can be made for a very reasonable price.
Take 1/3 cup of the nuts of your choice and put them in your food processor work bowl fitted with the multipurpose blade. Pine nuts are the usual nut of choice in Pesto, but you could substitute a cheaper nut such as pistachios and still end up with a great Pesto. Pulse until well chopped. Add three large cloves of garlic, pulse until chopped. Add two cups of fresh basil leaves. Pulse until chopped. Turn the food processor to "on" and slowly drizzle 1/3 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil through the feed chute. Add 1/2 cup of a grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan or Romano. Pulse until combined. That's it! Now you have a delicious and healthy Pesto for a fraction of the cost!
Don't Waste Anything
Most recipes that call for basil utilize only the leaves. The stems are often thrown away even though they have a considerable amount of flavor just waiting to be extracted.
I like to make basil tea. I take the stems and steep them in hot water for two minutes along with a little lemon zest. I strain the tea, then add a little bit of lemon juice and honey. Basil tea is great hot or iced.
You can also use the stems to flavor homemade stocks and broths.