Contributing to a Greener Earth

Recycling Symbol

It has become quite a trend and a reality check to take more care of our planet. After all, we only have one! It’s like your permanent teeth – you only get one set and if something happens to them you can replace them with dental implants, but it will never be the same. PROTECT OUR PLANET!

I have found it somewhat rewarding planning how our household will be reducing our environmental impact in and around the house. When I was younger it never even crossed my mind to start recycling and start saving the planet. But…. they say that with time comes wisdom (thank goodness!) and I have changed my outlook COMPLETELY! Contributing to a greener earth has become one of my passions in life and I enjoy educating people about their choices.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When it comes to adapting your lifestyle to live a greener life, there are three things to remember – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. If you look at all the things you buy and use, and how you consume and get rid of these items, you can apply the three R’s to make a difference. I have found a great example of how to implement the three R’s in your life (source: WWF Australia)

How we make a difference at our home

  • Recycling

Recycling has become a no-brainer in our house. My husband and I don’t even think twice about putting the correct trash in the correct recycling bin, we just do it. We began recycling a few years ago and I cannot go a day without doing it. We have three recycling bins in the garage at the moment – one for paper, one for plastics and one for glass. The odd times we indulge in carbonated drinks from cans, we put aside the cans to take with to the recycling depot. We also have a bin for general, unrecyclable waste. Our closest recycling depot is at the Lyttleton Hospice shop a few kilometers away. I normally take the recycling every few months when I see the bins are quite full and it is worth the trip. There are large sorting bags for all kinds of recycling at the recycling depot.

There are some things that I keep aside for our friend’s mom. She is a preschool teacher. My mom used to be a pre-school teacher so I know exactly what type of packaging material the kids use during arts and crafts. The teachers and kids get really creative with these items and hardly ever say no to donations. Some items that you can consider taking to a preschool are washed tins, supplement containers, egg cartons, toilet rolls, toothpaste boxes, etc. Get involved and help the schools out – after all, you would have just thrown it away.

When we visit friends and family and I see that people are throwing out perfect recyclable items in the garbage, it makes my blood boil! Just get a few bins and start recycling – you get used to it so quickly. Plus, it would save you on rubbish bags throughout the week. We only put out 1 rubbish bag in a week and half of the time the bags are not even full.

  • Reusable bags

This is most probably the easiest way you can make a difference in reducing your plastic usage at home. It is really worth investing in reusable shopping bags. You can buy reusable shopping bags from most grocery stores for about R 15.00. These bags are mostly made from recycled materials and can be cleaned and reused for years to come. This makes them much more durable than normal plastic or paper bags.

It is best if you could go to the local farmers’ market with your reusable shopping bag. This will make sure the least packaging has been used to get the fresh produce from the farmer to the consumer (you). Unfortunately, it is not always possible to get to the farmers’ market because of time or because of location. It would defeat the purpose of reducing your carbon footprint if you drive an hour to get to the farmers’ market just to save on some packaging material.

We take our reusable shopping bags with us to every shop. There have been a few times that I think I will just go to the grocery store for one or two items and end up buying WAY more than I thought and I am forced to buy a plastic bag. So, what I do now is take my own reusable shopping bag whenever I go to the grocery store, even when I think I am just there for one item.

If you have forgotten your reusable bag at home and you need to buy plastic bags, you can fold them into little triangles and keep them for future use – just don’t throw them away for no reason.

  • Repurposing Packaging Material

I keep most of the packaging material that our food is packaged in for later use. We use these containers to package food for people in need. Most evenings there is more than enough food for my husband and me and we give the security guard or beggar a warm meal. The preschool around the corner will also repurpose these containers.

  • Buying in Bulk

Normally I buy in bulk and repackage into smaller reusable containers. I also sometimes split the fruits and vegetables with my sisters. They can then repackage into smaller containers. If I see there are fruits that we will not be able to finish before they go bad, I cut them up and freeze them in small containers. We make fruit smoothies every day of the week. By freezing the fruit we make sure that nothing goes to waste. Buying in bulk saves on packaging material and is less expensive. It works great for us, but if you think you are going to waste more than benefit from this, please do not buy in bulk. Wasting perfectly good food just because you could not consume it before it goes off if just wrong and everyone should make it a habit of eating everything in the fridge.

Some of the items we buy in bulk and repackage into smaller containers include chicken, meat, fruits, vegetables, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, dishwashing liquid, washing powder, mince, etc.

  • Buying Refills

Wherever we can, we buy the refill sachets of cleaning agents, herbs, and spices, sauces, etc.

  • Using Water Wisely

As you all know, South Africa is experiencing its worst drought in decades. Water has become something that more valuable than gold, and beware of serious judgment for wasting it! Water is life and without water, we cannot survive, let alone do our washing. There are SO many ways that you can reduce your water consumption. These are the tips you should all know and be implementing at your house by now:

  • Only wash full loads of clothes in the washing machine.
  • Take a 2-minute shower instead of taking a bath.
  • Use your greywater to water your plants (and only after 18:00 to avoid evaporation).
  • Only switch the dishwashing machine on if it is completely full.
  • Use a bucket to catch shower water and use it for something else.

The list of saving water tips is endless and people have become really creative in their ideas for water conservation.  If you would like to learn more tips on water conservation, please visit the Rand Water Wise website.

When I work with water in the kitchen, I rinse fruits and veggies in a bowl that is filled with water. The bowl is then used to rinse ALL of fruits and veggies that I am going to use. I do this instead of rinsing it under running water.  After my food prep is done I pour the container of water over some herbs in our garden.  When I wash dirty dishes, I open the cold water tap to rise each item. This works better for me than filling the sink ⅓ of the way and rinsing the dishes in the sink. I place a large container inside the kitchen sink and let the water drip into it. I then reuse the water in the garden.

  • Takeaways

When you go for takeaway coffee, please take your own travel mug with. 7 million takeaway coffee cups are used EACH DAY. Say what?! This is shocking! Most of these cups are not even recyclable. Read more about this shocking truth here. Rather invest in a snazzy reusable coffee cup and start a trend in your little group of friends or among your colleagues. Keep it in your handbag, keep it in your car, but please just use it wherever you go!

The other MAJOR pollutant is plastic straws. Yes, it is nice to sip your drink through a straw and straws can be so damn pretty. Unfortunately, the consequences of using plastic straws are enough to make one’s hair stand up on the back of one’s neck. In the USA alone, more than 500 million straws are used every day! (insert shocked emoji here). A lot of these straws will just end up in the ocean and harm the ocean life. Invest in a reusable straw and start saying no to plastic straws. You can read more about this sad truth here and here.

  • Saving Electricity

Here are some of the ways we save electricity:

  • Switch the lights off if you don’t need them.
  • Unplug appliance from wall sockets if you are not using them.
  • The kettle should boil just enough water that you will be using – do not fill it with more water as it uses unnecessary electricity.
  • Don’t use the oven unnecessary as it uses a lot of electricity. Rather use a gas hob. If you really have to use the oven try prepping your meals so that you can cook a few things at once.
  • Cook enough food for two days. This will save electricity for the following day that you are not making use of the oven/stovetop.
  • Don’t make use of heaters or electric blankets. Rather use more blankets or clothes to keep you warm.
  • Make use of sunlight for drying your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer. In Pretoria (low humidity / dry air) we are fortunate that our clothes will even dry inside the house on a drying rack. We live in sunny South Africa – please reconsider making use of a tumble dryer. Stretch your legs and arms and hang your clothes in the sun.
  • Switch off your geyser if you go away on holiday.

 

I am not an expert in saving water and electricity. The above-mentioned tips are just from my own experience.

You can also make a difference – just start somewhere!

Easy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato Crisps

Easy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato Crisps

My Mama’s food knowledge is endless!

My mother made something very similar when we were visiting them earlier this year (read about our trip to KZN here). That specific evening we hosted a big get-together for our friends we have not seen in ages. Needless to say, everyone enjoyed this dish, especially my vegetarian friend, Henelle. Watching my mother cook this dish, I noticed how simple it was to prepare. My mother gave me the recipe, but somewhere along the line, it got lost. I played around with this dish a few Meat-free Mondays and came up with my own version.

Easy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato Crisps

Never a Dahl moment with this dish

The last time I served this dish to my husband he told me that this dish is pretty much Dahl. I have never heard of Dahl before and he had to explain to me that it is a dish (stew, curry, soup) prepared with pulses. It is also spelled Daal, Dal and Dhal. My husband travels to many countries throughout Africa and ordered Dahl for dinner one Meat-free Monday whilst in Tanzania.

As we all know and love to do, curries are normally eaten with either rice or naan bread or in a roti. My favourite of the lot is naan bread, especially sweet peshwari naan. Pasta and bread is something that is only eaten over weekends in our house, so I had to think of something else to serve this red lentil curry with. The sweet potato crisps are PERFECT to scoop up all of the deliciousness in your bowl without adding too many carbs.

Tip: If you have never dry cooked your spices before you add it to any curry, you are missing out on some serious flavour. Be sure to try this next time you make curry – it really intensifies the flavours.

This is a simple dish for Meat-free Mondays and it is Vegan and Gluten-free.

Let me know what you think.

xxx

Easy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato Crisps Easy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato CrispsEasy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato Crisps

Easy Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato Crisps

Yield: 4

Ingredients

    Red Lentil Curry
  • 1 – 2 Teaspoons Oriental Masala (depending on the intensity you would like / your tolerance to spicy food)
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon Tumeric
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • ½ Teaspoon Chopped Garlic
  • 4 Large Tomatoes, Chopped
  • ½ Teaspoon Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
  • ½ Cup Red Lentils (no pre-soaking necessary)
  • 500ml Vegetable Stock Liquid
  • Squeeze of Lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • Plain Yogurt (garnish - leave out for a vegan dish)
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves (garnish)
    Sweet Potato Crisps
  • 2 large orange sweet potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

    Red Lentil Curry
  1. In a small pan, over medium heat dry cook (without oil) the masala, cumin and turmeric until the flavours are released – about 2 minutes. Make sure to stir it with a wooden spoon to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  2. In a medium pot or a pan with high sides, heat a dash of olive oil and cook the onions over medium heat. Make sure the onions do not burn.
  3. Once the onions are soft, add the garlic, ginger and the dry cooked spices. Cook for another minute, stirring to make sure it does not burn.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and mustard seeds and cook with the lid on. Stir every now and then to make sure it does not burn.
  5. Once the tomatoes are soft and has lost most of their shapes, add the red lentils and the stock liquid. Cook covered until the lentils are soft, but has not lost their shapes. Make sure to stir every now and then to prevent burning. If you see the red lentils are not soft yet and needs more liquid, add a little boiling water at a time.
  6. Add a squeeze of lemon and the sugar.
  7. Season it with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide into 4 bowls, add a dollop of plain yogurt to each bowl and top with fresh coriander leaves.
  9. Serve with sweet potato crisps on the side.
    Sweet Potato Crisps
  1. Line an oven tray with foil.
  2. Cut the sweet potato crosswise into very thin slices. Place the slices onto the oven tray in a single layer.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake in a 180°C pre-heated oven for 10 – 15 minutes then turning the sweet potato around. Bake for another 10 minutes until the sweet potato turns into crispy rounds.
  5. Serve immediately as the sweet potato may lose its crispiness and become soft again.
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Peppermint Crisp Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peppermint Crisp Ice Cream Sandwiches

Heritage Day 2017

Heritage Day is just around the corner – 24 September and I have the easiest treat to serve in celebration of this day. Let’s be honest, we, us South Africans, find Peppermint Crisp tart irresistible. It’s one of the most familiar and simple go-to desserts and it is most certainly ALWAYS a hit!

This special treat has taken the ordinary Peppermint Crisp tart to the next level, and it could not be easier to prepare. CONTINUE READING