I like to think of myself as pretty green, but I am fully aware that there is a lot of room for improvement. I certainly do the basics, like recycling, composting and conserving energy and water, and I am committed to trying to do more whenever I can. I even purchased cloth diapers for my third child, and we use them a good portion of the time. Where I struggle is reconciling environmental responsiblity with my natural frugality. It’s a constant battle within me – do I purchase the more expensive item because it is better for the environment, or do I let the miser in me win out? Sometimes one wins, sometimes the other, it really depends a lot on what I am purchasing and my mental state at the time.
I’ve given this issue a lot of thought lately, as I’ve been contacted by a number of companies to review their products, and a few of them have a more environmental bent. The first was Hefty Basics, wanting to know if I would try out their new line of unbleached, compostable paper plates. I really hesitated on that one, because let’s face it, the most environmentally-friendly paper plate is no paper plate at all. As a general rule, I don’t use them but I will admit that they are useful on occasion. And they really would have come in handy last year during the Boston-area Boil Water Order. You may have heard about this on the news. A huge watermain broke and 38 local communities were orderd to not use the water from the taps, for fear of contamination. Instead, we had to boil water for cooking, drinking, brushing our teeth and washing our dishes. For four days. Boy, that was fun!
So I agreed to try them out, and as paper plates go, these are quite good. They are firm and sturdy, and can be used several times over if they aren’t too dirty (that’s the miser in me talking!). As for them being compostable, it’s not exactly the right time of year for that here in New England. The few that we used are in our composter, but I won’t know until the spring whether they really bio-degrade or not. I will be sure to let you know. Hefty Basics is committed to planting 10,000 trees for every 10 “Likes” they get on Facebook, so head on over to the Hefty Basics facebook page and let’s get planting! I also happen to have three coupons to try out this new product for free, and will send them to the first three commenters who express interest. US addresses only.
The second company was one I had never heard of – Singing Dog Vanilla. Interesting name, certainly, so I looked them up. They are part of several brands owned by Kestrel Growth Brands, and they asked if they could post one of my recipes in exchange for some vanilla and cinnamon. They did not request that I review their products for my readers, which is a very smart marketing ploy indeed. Because of course I am going to, since I like both the products and everything the company stands for. The vanilla is certified organic and Fair Trade, in addition to being sugar and gluten free. The Red Ape Cinnamon is also organic, and 5% of all profits are doneated to protecting orangutan habitats. Did you know that I studied primates in grad school? Well I did, and I have a huge soft spot for the solitary orangutan, whose habitat is being destroyed on a daily basis. How could I not get behind a company like that? Additionally, a little note that accompanied the products indicated that the packing peanuts were made of cornstarch and were water-soluble. Intrigued, I took one and popped it into a glass of water, and watched it dissolve before my eyes. Now that’s being environmentally responsible! I will definitely consider purchasing their products in the future and would urge my readers to consider it as well.
To test out the vanilla and the cinnamon, I tried them out in a recipe I’ve been thinking of for a while – low carb graham crackers. Graham crackers have always been one of my favourite snacks, especially spread with peanut butter or nutella. I don’t know if I can truly my creation these “graham” crackers, since they aren’t made with graham flour or any wheat flour at all. This is yet another variation on the almond flour crackers I’ve made, this time with some sweetener, cinnamon and vanilla.
The Results: True graham crackers or not, these are really good. They are not overly sweet, but they have that biscuit-like flavour. They are kid-approved too. While they were baking, one child came running down the stairs asking for french toast, as that’s what they smelled like to her. I had to shoo her away so I could save enough for pictures. And when the pictures were over, I spread some with homemade peanut butter and had a little low carb feast! Oh graham crackers, how I have missed you!
Homemade Graham Crackers
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal (or another 1/2 cup almond flour)
1/4 cup granulated erythritol (Swerve Sweetener)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp dark molasses (optional but helps colour and flavour)
2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 300F.
In a medium bowl, combine almond meal, flax seed meal, erythritol, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and mix well.
Add in butter, egg, molasses and vanilla and stir until a cohesive dough forms.
On a large cookie sheet, roll out into a rough rectangle between sheets of parchment paper to desired thickness. Can be made very thin, but make sure that it is of even thickness all over so the edges won’t burn before the middle crisps up.
Remove top layer of parchment. With a sharp knife, score into desired size of cracker.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until just beginning to brown and firm up. Remove crackers and let cool 30 minutes, then break up along score marks. Lower oven temperature to 200F and return crackers to bake another 20 to 30 minutes, until crisp.
Makes 20 2-inch squares. Each graham cracker has 4.35 g of carbs and 2.61 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 1.74 g.
Food energy: 94kcal
Total fat: 7.57g
Calories from fat: 68
Total dietary fiber: 2.61g