Newsletter October 2020

It has been a while since I sent updates.

Since last time, I’ve added a page on how I made home made sponge from what i found in my house.

I’ve also tried to dry tomatoes with the left overs from the cherry tomatoes from the garden (it tastes excellent!), and I’ve just added the recipe of a pumpkin-carrot spread (“the pop-corn spread” as it is called by my children).

Soon, my sister will have a new book published (delayed by the corona-pandemic). I’ll also update it on the website as soon as it is out.

Feel free to share my mails or to follow me on Facebook (there you can directly see the new additions to my website). But most of all, try the recipes and enjoy cooking and eating your home made preparations! (unless you make the cleaning products ;-))

Anali

Newsletter

Hello,

This time no eco-recommendation….

But the link for the new page I made about my sister’s books on my website. She is illustrating children books and I love her style and the books; so I decided to write about it.

As written on the page, buying too many books is not so ecological of course, but if you do, then buy good ones 😉. Or if you want to be even more ecological, you can ask the library close to your home if they want to buy it so that other children can read it too. Or if you live in Antwerp, you can always contact me to borrow it.

Be safe and try to enjoy all simple pleasure of life,

Anali

Newsletter

Hello!

For those not following (yet) on Facebook, I’ve added a really easy bread spread: the “fake chicken-curry” (without chicken of course).

I’ve also started making my own yogurt… so easy!!! I should have started earlier!

And for the spread that my children call the “speculaaspasta“, I replace the quark by my own yogurt so I don’t have the packaging anymore… yey! (and I don’t add honey anymore).

Let’s hope that we soon can go “back to normal”, but a little bit greener 😉

Anali

Newsletter

Dear EcoWithKids Followers,

It has been a long time since I wrote a newsletter with new additions to the website. Of course the easiest to keep updated is to like/follow the Facebook page from EcoWithKids. But this way works also…with some delay.

Here are the last changes I made (see below for the pictures):

  • Sourdough bread (FR: pain au levain; NL: zuurdesem brood). It sounds complicated, but it is actually very easy. You don’t need a lot of muscles or a machine; you just need patience 😉
  • Water kefir to make a cider-like alcohol-free beverage which is excellent for your intestines!
  • Washable window paint (this was for Christmas… but maybe you can draw some eggs for Eastern?)
  • Gluten-free crackers. My daughters ask for it instead of cookies for school. Excellent taste, healthy and very easy/quick to make!
  • Vegetable chips (up till now 2: Jerusalem artichokes and cabbage)
  • Energy pralines
  • and last but not least… maybe the least ecological, but one of the best: the choco pasta! 😉

Enjoy!

And don’t hesitate to share the links for friends!

Anali

Blog Post 17: Bioplastic = eco-packaging?

Labels for bioplastic

Last year, Greenpeace Nederland launched a contest for the “most useless packaging” (article in Dutch). I love it!!! It forces, in a funny way, companies to look better at their packaging. The winner is a paprika, single packed, with a “bio-packaging” which couldn’t be recycled…

Even if you can recycle it (such as paper), packaging is usually not ecological. Don’t forget the amount of energy and water needed to produce (or recycle) the packaging and bring it to the final user! (That’s why Recycle comes after Refuse in the “5R of zero waste”).

The only exception could be the use of packaging to avoid food spillage. For example, it seems that cucumber conserve much longer if wrapped in plastic… however (sorry, for being critical…) this probably applies for vegetables who needs to travel for a while. If you get vegetable which are very fresh from the farmer close to your city, it will probably not get bad before you eat it.

So, what is bioplastic?

Bioplastic are packaging which are BIOBASED, or (OR not AND!!!) BIODEGRADABLE.

Biobased: “The term ‘biobased’ means that the material or product is (partly) derived from biomass (plants). Biomass used for bioplastics stems from e.g. corn, sugarcane, or cellulose.» (EB).

So, it can still contain plastic!

Biodegradable: “Biodegradation is a chemical process during which microorganisms that are available in the environment convert materials into natural substances such as water, car bon dioxide, and compost (artificial additives are not needed). The process of biodegradation depends on the surrounding environmental conditions (e.g. location or temperature), on the material and on the application.”(EB)

So, yes, you read it well…you can have “biodegradable” bioplastics which can only be degraded in special conditions (so if they are not degraded in dedicated industrial conditions, they will have the same environmental impact as “conventional plastic”!).

Different type of Bioplastics, biobased and/or biodegradables. As you can see, you can have biodegradable material made from fossil resources (and the other way around). (EB)

What to look for?

ORIGIN: Fossil resource (source of what we call plastic), versus renewable resources (biobased plastic).

WASTE: environmental pollution versus biodegradable material.

How do I know it is BIOBASED?

Based on the percentage of renewable raw materials (% Bio-based), the product can be certified as one-star-bio-based, two-star-bio-based, three-star-bio-based or four-star-bio-based.

Source: EB

How do I know it is BIODEGRADABLE?

There are not (yet) international labels. The OK Compost label is used in Belgium (below, Left) and the “Seeding” label (Below, right) is used in Europe. At the end of this document, there is a lot of national and international certifications for composting.

OK compost or “Seeding”: it means that it can be composted in the INDUSTRIAL green-waste (Belgium: the one they pick up at your door or you bring to the container park), BUT NOT in your own compost!!!!

To be degraded, it needs a certain temperature for a certain amount of time.

OK Compost Home: If you want to compost in your own compost, you need the look for the specific label: “OK Compost Home”.

So what do i do with my bioplastic?

Summary on how to dispose bioplastic (Belgium).
Source: OVAM and EB

I hope this helps you to understand bioplastic and to sort them appropriately 😉

Blog post 16: Free “cider”?

Home made “cider-taste drink (left) and “ginger ale” (right) from water kefir.

Are you dreaming of free, tasty, slightly sparkling, alcohol free “cider”? It would be nice if this would also be excellent for your intestinal flora, he?

Here is one solution:  WATER KEFIR

I received it from a friend of mine who is expert in alimentation (orthomolecular medicine). She is explained me that if your intestines are always “irritated” (inflamed by light intolerance or imbalanced bacterial flora), you can feel continuously tired. And she was convinced that by modifying a little bit the way of eating, it could be better! I must admit that I didn’t believe her at the beginning… but we tried… and know she is our hero! (there are some interesting recipes on her website)

What is Kefir? Kefir is a mixture of yeast and (probiotic) bacteria who work together (symbiose). They “eat” the sugar and produce lactic acid, ethanol (0,1% => considered alcohol-free), and carbon dioxide (making it sparkling). This process is called fermentation (as in beer).

You’ll find online many sites selling water kefir, but don’t buy it, just ask around, use social media to ask friends who can give you some! (If you live in Antwerp, contact me).

You’ll also find a lot of recipes; where you have to weight all ingredients. But we want quick and easy recipes, right? So, let’s not be exact (no problem for this recipe) and let’s take it easy. Your final product will always differ anyway, even if you add exactly the same amount of ingredients.

What do you need?

  • A glass container (that you can close, but not obligatory sealed)
  • Sugar: I use cane sugar, but you can experiment with all kind of sugar, except honey as honey will kill your kefir (antibacterial).
  • Sweet dried fruits NOT TREATED (or biological). I use figs, but you can try with apricots, raisins, dates,…
  • A PLASTIC sieve (NL: zeef; FR: passoire). Do not use metal as the kefir gets bad from it (I use my old plastic juicer).
  • A NON METALIC spoon

Recipe (3 min + 2-4 days waiting):

  • In the glass container, add 2 spoons of kefir with one spoon of sugar. Add water (about 10x more than the kefir). Add dried fruits (for this quantity of kefir I would add 1 fig). If you close the lid hermetically, DON’T FILL COMPLETELY the glass container (or take a bigger one).
  • Put the lid on it (can be loose; be careful if you close it that you don’t forget it…it produces gas and could explode…)
  • Let it sit for 2-4 days (I do open it once in a while as I’m scared of the gas production 😉). Room temperature, no direct sun (can be in the dark too). From day 2: the dried fruits will be “swimming” and some “foam” will be at the top. If you stop after 2 days, it will be sweeter and less sparkling.
  • Filter
    • keep the liquid to drink (you can keep it for some time in the fridge)
    • rinse the kefir grains with cold water
    • keep some kefir to make new one or keep it in the fridge (See scheme below).

Comment:

  • Water kefir and milk kefir are 2 different kefirs grains. You cannot keep a culture of water kefir using milk, neither the other way around.
  • Some people add lemon (together with the dried fruits). I didn’t try it yet.
  • If you want ginger ale, add candied ginger (NL: gekonfijt gember, FR: gingembre confit) to the filtrated kefir (the liquid) and let it sit for one more day.
  • If you leave it too long, it will get more bitter.

Blog post 15: Are essential oils sustainable and safe?

…more than 330 roses needed for 30ml rose petals essential oil…

I’ve just had a friend visiting me who I would call “advanced” in her ecological and sustainable life (I would rate me “very motivated beginner”) and expert in herbalism. We were discussing about many things out of my blog, website and life. (NC, you will recognize yourself, he?)

She opened my eyes!!! Did you ever think critically on essential oil? I did not… and I feel a little bit stupid now.

Do you have any idea how many plants do you need to produce a drop of essential oil?

Of course, it depends on the type of essential oil. An example: to produce 28gr of rose essential oil (I guess about a bottle of 30ml), you will need….10.000 rose petals! (According to google, roses have 20-40 petals per flower… so you need about 333 flowers!).

What about the resources?

Yes, you have to think about the water used to grow the plants, fertilizers, the eventual products (pesticides?) used to keep plants alive and fit. Don’t forget the energy consumption to produce it (by distillation, or extraction) or the solvent use for the extraction of some essential oil (some flower-based oil). The it has to arrives to you… (transportation)

Is it bad for the environment?

Some plants can be found locally, and sometimes you can find alternatives from local distilleries. Otherwise, you can have a look at the list of “united plant savers” where they have a list of wild medicinal plants that are currently the most sensitive to the impact of human activities (deforestation because the demand is higher than the growth rate). And some essential oil in high concentration can be toxic for the environment or can contaminate ground water.

How do you need to dispose the bottles?

I thought this was an easy question… but apparently, commonly used essential oil (lavender, tea tree) are highly inflammable and can cause a danger to workers in recycling industries… At my next visit to the recycling park, I’ll ask them if I have to bring it to them (hazardous products)…

And at last, is it safe? For Palmarosa, I’ve searched the scientific literature, and didn’t find anything about it. But apparently (and I do believe it is true as essential oils contains so many components and possible allergens), if you use pure essential oil for some time, you are at risk to develop an allergic reaction to it, from which you’ll never get rid of. So, it is actually advisable, if you still want to use essential oil after ready this post, to use it in very small quantities in beauty products, or dilute it on plant-based oil (almond for example; or another one which doesn’t smell too much) if you use it on your skin.

ALTERNATIVE?

I’m a positive person, and if I don’t like to criticize without offering possible solutions… So, I’ve been trying to find alternatives.

If you use oil or vinegar for beauty or cleaning products, we want the smell of the essential oil (most of us do), not specially all the other characteristics.  Why not add some flowers/plants/leaves (fresh or dried) in it so that it can gives some smell? Hence, you don’t need to add any additional essential oil! To make lavender-vinegar, I’ve read that you need to add 1 volume of flowers (fresh or dried) for 4 volume of vinegar. I’m going to try it!!!

If you don’t have the time or energy for it, you could buy hydrolats (water with water-soluble components obtained after distillation of the plant).

I hope I did not demotivated you… but at the contrary that next time your neighbor will cut his lavender plants, that you’ll ask for the flowers and make liters of free laundry softener.😉

Anali

PS: thanks to those who like my posts, share the website with friends or follow me on my Facebook page. It makes me happy to know that other people share my interest, and it makes me dream that you all make small changes in your life 😉. Thanks!

Blog post 14: Zero waste presents?

Present from my daughters for their father (birthday)

I don’t like to feel obliged to give presents, although I like giving and receiving them when I’m sure the person will be happy with it.

Some people started the concept of “Green Friday” to fight the “consumption fever” of the Black Friday 😉 I love it!

Idea of the Green Friday: Think different:

More ecological, more sustainable. Where was the product produced and how does it comes to me? Which material is it made of? Is it durable or cheap-breaking-after-2-hours? Is there a more sustainable alternative (not too expensive)? Can you find it in second hand?

The most difficult is to find ideas of zero-waste/sustainable/eco presents. And don’t get fooled by the increasing market using those words to sell their products… We don’t need 100 reusable of cotton bag, nor 30 straws of all kind, so many reusable cans or bottles… It also costs a lot of energy to produce them!

I’ve been looking for some idea for you ;-):

  • Some activities (cinema, museum, overnight in B&B, excellent meal at your home,…
  • In summer: Zero waste flowers or fruits where you can pick up the flowers or fruit you like in the field, and just pay what you take (based on trust of course!)
  • Chocolate in your own container: I usually go to the pralines shop with my own box; they love it! (my husband and kids; as well as the shop who saves some money).
  • Bake cookies! I’ve a lot of quick and easy to make recipes; but there are for sure plenty as tasty on the internet!
  • Home-made beauty or cleaning products? For beauty products, you have to go to other sites than mine (promise, I’ll search for easy and quick recipes, but not now…); the website from the list of my favourite blogs/website have plenty of recipes. Give some home-made laundry with the recipe so that they can make it themselves! (it is as giving a win-for-life as they will save so much money with it!)
  • Cooking lessons or book: seasonal vegetable or vegetarian dishes. My favorite books (in dutch: “de moestuin van Mme zsazsa”, the “Lekker ecologish” van Velt.
  • Reusable stuffs (bottle, straw, tea bags, toothbrush, ear bugs, lunch box,…). But check first if this is the 23th reusable bottle that the person will receive, or is there something that he/she would really like or use frequently. My favourite is the reusable baking paper. It is very cheap, and you can use it for years (I’ve mine more than 10 years!). You can also use it to protect your oven for spilling, to lay under a pizza in the oven, to grill vegetables,…)
  • If you know what you will and you have time, you can search in second hand shops.
  • Or if you need more inspiration, I found a website with 101 ideas, even for kids.

IF this is too difficult, why not try to reduce the packaging by wrapping it in fabric left overs? (you take them back afterwards for next time). Or even old t-shirts or home-made gift bags?

Enjoy giving and receiving presents!

Anali

PS: Please, if you have some excellent ideas, feel free to post them here below (it doesn’t appear directly as I’ve to approve the comment first).

PPS: Follow me on Facebook if you want to be updated for nice tips, extra recipes, order washing products,…

Sourdough bread

I always thought that sourdough bread (FR: levain; NL: zuurdesem) was something very complicated… I never thought that I would be baking bread one day; nor that I would write a post on it on my blog. 😉

I’ve added a new page on Sourdough bread where I explain how I’m doing (of course, I’m keeping it easy). I’m applying the recipe that my godmother gave me… and it works perfectly!

Newsletter

Dear EcoWithKids Followers,

I realized that if you are not following me on my Facebook page, you are not updated about the important changes on the website (unless I write a new post).

Let me try this mean to keep you updated once in a while without invading your mailbox.

The last changes that I think might interest you (and that I remember of…):

I would love to hear if you have already tried something! So don’t hesitate to post in on my Facebook page, or to leave it in the comments.