Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Agave-sweetened, lavendar-infused martini — at RT's?!

The husband and I have both had some busy times at work lately, so we've been eating out more than usual. This always leads to the inevitable burnout of our standard dining establishments. So, when I got a BOGO entree offer from Ruby Tuesday's, I thought, yes, that's a good idea for a change of pace.

I had tried their "handcrafted fruit teas" (with free refills, thank you) and they are divine. Not too sweet and full of juicy mango, berries or peach. But I was really surprised to see that their drink menu included a selection of "fit and trim" drinks with fewer than 150 calories and no artificial sweeteners. I chose the Skinny Lavendar Lemon Drop martini and it was really quite delicious. It's sweetened lemon juice (I'm told that's with agave nectar) and Absolut Citron, infused with lavendar tea. Delicious and beautifully presented. For just six dollars.

In addition, they offer a great assortment of healthy sides on the kids' menu, which I really appreciate. Fresh grilled asparagus, zucchini or green beans; mashed cauliflower, sugar snap peas, broccoli, spaghetti squash or sliced tomatoes. Really! There's also the salad bar, with the usual suspects, plus edamame and peas, which please my kids. For dessert, they offer sensibly small cupcakes: red velvet or carrot cake with cream cheese icing. The red velvet cupcake I shared with Timo was not the highlight of the meal for me, but I appreciated that it seemed homemade, fresh and not too big.

When I went looking for an image to place in this post, I found a great article from "Tampa Bay Food Monster" that goes more in-depth about the Ruby Tuesday revival. Worth a read, too.

Before you judge me and raise your eyebrows, check it out. They are not perfect, but they are among the few chains making real strides toward healthier options and portions. You might just be pleasantly surprised. (Unfortunately, their site is all in Flash, so I can't link to specific items, but it's a nice site so you can take a look around before you try it for yourself.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

PVC-Free School Supplies

Today, from GreenAmerica, comes this great article, I wanted to share:

CHEJ Releases Fourth Annual Guide to PVC-free School Supplies
US Capitol "Children are not 'little adults,'" says Mike Schade of the nonprofit Center For Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ). "Their developing brains and bodies, their metabolism and behaviors make them uniquely vulnerable to harm from toxic chemicals released by PVC." 

That's why CHEJ is releasing the latest version of their PVC-free back-to-school guide, to help parents avoid products – like plastic backpacks or lunchboxes, or three-ring binders coated in plastic – that might contain PVC. 

To download the newest guide, go here. You don't need to sign up to get the download. Use the little link at the bottom that says, "you can also just download the guide here."

It's quite comprehensive and explains how to look for PVC in labeling, why avoiding PVC matters and actions you can take if you want to help rid the world of this nasty toxin.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's in that children's pain reliever?

So I was at CVS yesterday trying to get some ibuprophen to have on hand for the boys. I started reading labels and saw things like "sucralose," "polysorbate 80," "butylparaben," and "propylene glycol." Seriously? I asked the pharmacist if there were any other options. He came out and looked and concluded that, no, just the dye-free varieties.

I vowed to come home and write a blog post (and try to find something that is better). First I searched and found lots of other green bloggers having the same issues I had with ingredients. But I found no alternatives. Shocking, really. Then again, what I'm saying is that big pharma is not listening. And that is not surprising. Sigh.

Here are two of the best articles I found on the topic:
Surprise, there are parabens and other additives in my children's medications
The FDA Panders to Poisons

Sadly, I did not find any mainstream pain relievers that contained more natural ingredients. So, try to ride a fever out, I guess, or find a Chinese herbalist (TCM) or Homeopath (both should be credentialed and experienced, of course). If anyone knows a good resource or directory to find these providers, please share.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My sister outgreened me: the legend of Mythic Paint.

My sister is decorating her nursery and after much research into paint, concluded that Mythic Paint is the most eco-friendly and high-performing product on the market. While in town for her baby shower, she asked us to stop in at Fresco Green Building Supplies on Commerce Drive in Lancaster, Pa., to pick up some samples. I didn't even know this place existed and it's been there for 18 months. Sigh.

I am not ashamed to say that this new mother (to a healthy preemie, thank goodness) outgreened me, her eco-evangelist sister. I have heard of Mythic Paint through The Land of Nod site, but almost five years ago when we were painting our rooms, I did not have it in my consideration set. They claim to be "the World’s first high performance, zero-toxin, zero-VOC paint." And they are less expensive than low-VOC version of mass brands such as Benjamin Moore's Aura or Sherwin Williams Harmony. It's not a fair comparison because those both contain more VOCs than Mythic, as well as kaolin, which some believe has negative health effects. Green Your Decor did three green paint reviews that are mostly favorable (Olympic, California and Mythic), for anyone looking for additional opinions.

I am anxious to see how Mythic performs for them in their new nursery and will report back.

I will also be doing a follow-up interview with the nice guys with the beautiful Fresco Green store. They are a great resource for people in Central PA who want to decorate using eco-friendly materials, from carpet to cement stains to flooring and even LEED consulting. Stay tuned for that.