5/16/2011

Go green, eat green, green




Green is no longer just a color. Green has as many meanings as it has shades, and March marks the advent of everything green. In March, I encourage you to go green, eat green and be green! March brings us St. Patrick’s Day, a joyous celebration from the Emerald Isle, and celebrating might include a pint or two of Guinness. But before you let the party take over, think about turning your entire month into a veritable green celebration. Start by looking around you and noticing everything green – from shamrocks to sheets – and dare to take a step in a greener direction.

Go Green
“Going green” can start with simple changes. In this day and age where the idea of going green is everywhere, it may be difficult to decide where to begin. Here are a few ways:

SLEEP GREEN: This might sound crazy, but a Consumer Product Safety Commission study estimates that the average adult sleeping on a conventional mattress – meaning one that is most likely made with petroleum-based ingredients and treated with fire retardants – will be exposed to 0.802 milligrams of antimony, a heavy metal closely related to arsenic, and 0.081 milligrams of boric acid, a roach killer. While these amounts are deemed safe for those over 5-years-old, this is definitely not my idea of sleeping green. Go green with an environmentally friendly organic mattress. Choose a mattress made with non-toxic materials like wool and latex from rubber trees, which are both naturally fire-resistant. Organic mattresses may not be the cheapest, but the conventional ones make Mother Nature pay the price. If a new organic one is not in the budget, you can still be green the next time you dispose of yours by finding local mattress recycling centers in your area.

BREATHE GREEN: Houseplants are a natural way to clean (and green) your air. Grow herbs, such as basil, dill, chives, or oregano, near your windowsill for delicious, almost no calorie additions to salads and other dishes.

SERVE GREEN:
Pack your own reusable utensils for on-the-go meals. There’s no need to cut with a dull plastic knife then toss it in the garbage anymore. Try a reusable set such as The To-Go Ware set, which contains a fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks that are made from sustainably harvested bamboo. Take your green meal a step further by participating in Preserve’s recycling program, which transforms plastic containers, including yogurt cups and takeout containers, into eco-friendly toothbrushes, razors, and other products. National Whole Foods stores have collection bins for washed #5 plastics and used Brita filters. These initiatives support Preserve’s green goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Eat Green

Eating green doesn’t just mean literally eating green colors. It also means eating responsibly by choosing foods that are healthy for you and the planet. Always read labels and pay attention to where your food is grown, because the less it has to travel, the smaller the impact it has on planet earth. I suggest starting small and working your way up the green slope by buying local products as much as possible and, if money permits, buying organic products. Such pro-green actions will help the environment and improve your personal health.

Similarly, certain berries from South American rain forests that are touted as antioxidant powerhouses might eventually, in fact, negatively impact the native communities and their meager food sources if over picked. This is just another reason to change things up. Indulging in exotic berries has its place but also choose what’s in your back yard! Berries are packed with water and fiber, which will help you feel full and may contribute to weight loss. Buy local berries in season, which usually means late spring and summer for blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries that are grown in the U.S. Buying them fresh at farmer’s markets is best, so find out what’s in season in your area.

Now, how can you eat green literally? Great green foods include leafy greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans, green onions, kale, avocado … and the list goes on and on. Most green vegetables contain beta-carotene, folate, and lutein that keep your eyes, heart and muscles healthy. Dark, leafy greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that help fight free radical damage in your cells. And greens are not just for salads. Stir kale, Swiss chard, or spinach into soups just before serving, add to stir fry dishes, or saute with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes for a quick pasta sauce. All types of green vegetables have high water contents, which is why they are great “diet” foods. They fill you up with very few calories.

Also, you can use green foods to make topical cleansers such as the Go Green Face Scrub from my book, The O2 Diet. Just blend cup avocado, 1 teaspoon parsley and 2 tablespoons kosher salt in a food processor for 20 seconds. You’ll have a homemade, green scrub full of vitamin C and collagen-enhancing avocado oil for your skin with no wasteful product containers or packaging.

Be Green

As you embrace the month of March and its push to help you go green and eat green, you naturally take all the right steps to be green! Not every single green tip is right for everyone. By choosing to take March on in all its green glory, you are taking a step in a greener direction. Go ahead and sip some green tea as you celebrate this month by being a greener you.

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