Monday, March 30, 2009

Heartwarming Black Bean Soup

Here's a delicious recipe we thought you'd enjoy:

* Heat 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil in a 4-quart pot.
* Add 1 medium (finely chopped) onion, and 2 (finely chopped) celery stalks, and 1 (chopped) red bell pepper.
* Sauté vegetable mixture until onions become translucent.
* Add 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed.
* Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, and the juice from 1/2 lime.
* Add 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (or 3 cups fresh diced tomatoes) and 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
* Add 2 cups vegetable broth.
* Garnish with scallions, chopped raw onions, chopped fresh cilantro, or sunflower seeds.
* Add fresh jalapenos or hot sauce if you like it spicy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Neat Loaf Sandwich Menu and Recipe

This Week's Photo

Neat Loaf


* Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry
* Whole Grain English Muffin
* Neat Loaf (Try this amazing nut roast recipe.)
* Dijon Mustard
* Steamed Beets

Preparation Notes

This vegetarian "neat loaf" is amazingly flavorful and rich. It takes time to prepare but will keep well for several days in the refrigerator. Pack it as a stand-alone item one day of the week and with sandwich fixings another. (English muffin, mustard, and fresh cilantro are pictured in the photo here, but sprouts, sliced tomato, cheese, ketchup, sliced red onion, lettuce, and spinach are among the many other possibilities.)

Prepare the bok choy and mushroom stir-fry for dinner and save some for lunch.

Steam the beets.

Spoon some mustard into the dip container.

Slice the English muffin.

At lunchtime make a sandwich and enjoy the stir-fry and beets on the side.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Big-Bellied, Text-Messaging Trash Cans?

Here's an interesting example of using technology to address environmental issues:

Big-Bellied, Text-Messaging Trash Cans?

By Laura Shin [From the NYT’s greeninc blog]

BigBelly The solar-powered, self-compacting BigBelly trash can handle up to 180 gallons of refuse. Soon, it will send a message to haulers when it’s full.
In the ongoing struggle against climate change, enter the texting trash can.

This month, Somerville, Mass., will install text-messaging technology in about 50 public trash cans located in high-pedestrian and far-flung areas. The idea is that the cans, made by BigBelly Solar, will transmit text messages to a central database, notifying haulers that they are full and allowing town managers to maximize collection efficiency.

Somerville has about 50 BigBelly cans – a handful purchased in early 2007 and the rest last April. Like the robotic trash collector popularized in Pixar’s film “Wall-E,” BigBelly units compact trash as it is deposited, and obtain the energy to do so from the sun — via a photovoltaic panel on top.

BigBelly says its smart cans — which cost over $3,000 a pop — each hold 180 gallons of trash, compared to 30 gallons for a normal can. And by compacting trash themselves, they can reduce garbage collection trips by 80 percent.
Somerville will now be the first to add the text-messaging feature.

Michael Lambert, the chief of staff to Somerville’s mayor, Joseph Curtatone, says the technology will allow the barrel to radio a signal to city hall, alerting a customer service representative that it’s full.

“So we don’t have to check it anymore,” Mr. Lambert said. “We just have to go whenever needed.”

Whatever savings are derived from the move will come atop those already expected from the BigBelly units. The city recently decided to “saturate” its most highly trafficked area, Davis Square, near Tufts University, with six BigBellies.

“We had been visiting that area three times a day to empty the traditional bins, and now we go there twice a week,” Mr. Lambert said. The city has saved on gas, vehicle maintenance and labor costs, Mr. Lambert reported, and the cans have helped reduce traffic in an already congested area.

From just the six cans at David Square, Mr. Lambert said, the city expects savings of $14,000 annually.

Estimates vary, but one oft-quoted statistic puts the number of garbage trucks in the United States at over 130,000, collectively burning over 1 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year. Reducing the number of trips they make could provide significant fuel savings, as well as reduce emissions.

But not everyone is keen on the BigBellies.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed using $21.8 million of stimulus package funds to put thousands of BigBelly units in all of the state’s parks. “It’s projects like these that make people suspicious of the entire federal stimulus project,” State Representative Vinny M. DeMacedo, a Republican, told The Boston Herald late last month. “They might be nice, but how are they creating jobs?”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Video for Picky Eaters

Looking for some quick tips for dealing with a picky eater in your family? Check out this very informative and to-the-point Cookus Interruptus video:

For more picky eater tips, visit

Are you struggling to feed a picky eater? Share your experience.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yogurt and Mango Lunch

This Week's Photo

Yogurt and Mango for Lunch


  • Yogurt

  • Fresh Sliced Mango

  • Pistachios

  • Veggy Crisps

Preparation Notes

This is one of those quick and refreshing lunches that can be thrown together in just a few quick minutes. Minimize the cost by purchasing your yogurt in larger containers and your dry goods from bulk bins.

Scoop the yogurt into the container.

Peel and slice the mango.

Add a handful of pistachios.

Add the veggy crisps.

Hit the road!