8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety

January 31, 2019 by  
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In the United States, approximately 40 percent of food is never eaten. Not only does this food waste damage your pocketbook, but it also has a major environmental impact. Changing your food habits is a great way to do your part in the battle against food waste. Shopping smarter, eating leftovers, improving food storage and donating to food banks are great ideas for reducing food waste. There is one obvious move you can make that many people don’t realize — you can stop throwing out parts of your fruits and veggies . Strawberries This fruit is a beloved summer treat that you can eat by itself, or as an addition to salads and desserts. Even though chefs remove the stems and leaves by coring strawberries when they add them to various dishes, those parts are actually edible. A strawberry’s leaves and stem are filled with health benefits . They are a natural digestive aid, and the leaves also have vitamins that can help with arthritis. According to Live Strong, “Strawberry leaves contain tannins, bio-molecules that bind to proteins, amino acids, alkaloids and other compounds with a low pH that may place excess stress on your digestive system. Strawberry leaves may help alleviate an upset stomach, and reduce symptoms of nausea, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhea.” If you want to use strawberry leaves, try brewing them in a tea or blending them in a smoothie. Carrots Have you ever thought about eating the leafy green tops of carrots? If you have heard that carrot tops are poisonous, that’s not true. Yes, a carrot’s leafy green top can be bitter, but it is also full of delicious nutrients. You can actually eat carrot tops raw in a salad mix. But because they are bitter, you should probably blanch them first. Another option is to saute the tops with other greens in olive oil and garlic or cook them into a soup. You can do the same thing with other root vegetables like beets, turnips and radishes. Potatoes The skin of a potato is where you will find a lot of the vegetable’s natural nutrition. Both the skin and flesh are filled with micronutrients. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, the skin has just as much Vitamin B, Vitamin C and niacin as the flesh. Additionally, the skins are a major source of iron, potassium and magnesium. Related: Follow this diet for both personal and planetary health Kale You might think that kale stems aren’t nearly as good as the leaves, and you are right. However, with a little work , you can make kale stems — which are full of fiber — quite tasty. Since the stems are tough and chewy, you don’t want to eat them raw. So, first you want to blanch them. Blanching is a process where you scald the kale stems in boiling hot water before plunging it into ice water. Next, saute or stir-fry the stems to make them easier to chew. You could also opt to fry, char or pickle your stems, and then add them to rice, salads or casseroles. Cauliflower This superfood is extremely versatile and loaded with vitamins. The florets aren’t the only edible part of this vegetable . You can also eat the stems and leaves . To be honest, the stem’s skin is quite tough, so peeling and discarding that does make sense. Try adding the stems and leaves to stock and soups, or grate them for salads and slaw. Pumpkin Every part of a pumpkin is edible . That means you can eat the flowers , leaves, stems, seeds and flesh, and each type of pumpkin has its own unique flavor. Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) Pumpkin flowers have a sweet, earthy flavor and you can eat them straight off the plant if you have them growing in your garden. You can also add pumpkin flowers to salads or chop them up and make them a garnish. You can use pumpkin leaves in recipes that call for spinach or another heavy winter green, and pumpkin seeds are a tasty, nutritious snack when you fry them in oil and add a little salt. Not to mention, the pumpkin flesh can easily be pureed and added to a variety of dishes and drinks. Watermelon Watermelon is 98 percent water and filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients. The pink fruit is delicious, but you can also eat the rind . Some studies show that eating watermelon rind can help lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance and help men avoid prostate cancer and boost their libido. You can pickle your watermelon rind, turn it into a jelly or grate it for coleslaw. Related: The Wally Shop is bringing zero-waste grocery delivery to Brooklyn Swiss Chard Kale gets all the love when it comes to healthy eating , but don’t forget about Swiss Chard.  You might know it as leaf beet, silverbeet, spinach beet, Roman kale or strawberry spinach. No matter what you call it, this superfood is nutrient dense, low in calories and high in essential vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, the best thing is that nothing goes to waste as you can eat the small leaves, stems and all. However, you will probably want to trim the larger ones because they are more fibrous. The texture of Swiss Chard is similar to celery, so you can use it in cooking the same way. Also, when eating it raw, you can use it as a substitute for spinach or kale. Images via Free-Photos , Pezibear , StockSnap , eKokki , ulleo , JACLOU-DL , Vivacia , urbanfoodie33

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8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety

Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable

January 21, 2019 by  
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Between planning meals , dragging home groceries, cooking and clean up, the kitchen is the hub of activity in most homes. That means it can also be a significant source of waste. However, there are lots of ways to make your kitchen more sustainable. If you’re looking for ways to cut back on disposables and instead invest in products that will serve you for many years, we have some ideas for you to consider. Cast iron skillets and Le Creuset If you have ever used heavy-duty cast iron, you know that a single seasoned pan will last for generations. With proper care, your children and their children will be using the same pans a hundred years from now. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas Peppermill Off the vine, peppercorn is round and looks like a tiny grape. Once dried, the freshest way to enjoy peppercorn is ground directly onto your food. Avoid the waste from the myriad containers your ground pepper comes in and use a traditional peppermill instead. Buy your peppercorns in bulk and bring your own jar to eliminate packaging altogether. Mortar and pestle All things worth enjoying require a bit of effort, and a mortar and pestle is the perfect example of that. Although it means manually mashing your herbs and other ingredients, a mortar and pestle eliminates the needs for other gadgets in your kitchen and produces a fresh result in your cooking. Stainless steel When it comes to sustainability, stainless steel is a good product to reach for. Not only does it consume limited resources during production, but it is a long-lasting material and completely recyclable at the end of its functionality. To make your kitchen more eco-friendly , skip the petroleum-based plastic products and reach for stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, microplanes, ice trays if you still use them, mixing bowls, strainers, shakers and compost bins. Knives This is one area of your kitchen worth the initial investment. Good chef’s knives will pay you dividends for a lifetime. As a bonus, this means less waste from cheaper alternatives that don’t make the cut. Ceramic, stone or glass Once again, it’s important to incorporate materials made from the earth and both ceramic and glass are great options. Think ceramic ginger grater, glass or ceramic pie dish and stoneware cooking sheets. Manual tools In the long-term, sticking with traditional tools in the kitchen will save electricity costs. Plus, you’ll gain added satisfaction in the simplicity of cooking with a metal potato masher, non-electric hand mixer, manual can opener, food mill (applesauce maker) and an old-fashioned knife instead of a food chopper or garlic press. Wood Wood is another material sourced from nature and eco-friendly. Shop for wooden salad bowls, wood spoons for stirring, bamboo steamers, cutting boards and serving bowls. Storage containers We all like to hang on to those leftovers and that’s a great way to reduce waste , but plastic and foil are both problematic for the environment so consider other options for your storage needs. For the refrigerator, purchase glass or stainless steel containers with interchangeable lids. While you’re at it, replace plastic wrap with bowl covers or beeswax sheets that mould around the container. Also consider your staple products and find see-through glass jars to house your flour, cereal, pasta, beans and sugar. Spices are easy to organize and use in matching glass jars. Mason jars are another great option for storing nuts, seeds, homemade salad dressing and much more. Towels and napkins We have become accustomed to the disposable society around us, which means you may not think about reaching for a paper towel to wipe up the spill on the floor. When you consider the chemicals and water usage required to turn trees into paper products though, an earth-friendly alternative is to use cloth napkins and towels. With a little practice you’ll realize why humans got by just fine on these options, sans the single-use waste. Beverage containers A few carefully-chosen beverage containers can replace thousands of disposable cups. Grab a high-quality stainless steel coffee mug and one of the many non-plastic options for your water to make a quick and powerful contribution to the health of the planet. Cleaning tools Kitchens are messy, so consider tools that will allow you to clean it up without having an adverse effect on the environment. Purchase natural dish brushes that decompose in the landfill instead of plastic options or sponges that both end up clogging the waste stream. There are very few things that some combination of baking soda and vinegar alone can’t clean. Also look into glycerin, salt and citrus as powerful aids in cleaning without the toxic chemical contribution. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners Shopping Remember that perhaps the biggest impact you can make toward a green kitchen starts with your purchasing decisions. It seems that everything these days is wrapped in plastic so seek out alternatives. It’s best to grow your own food, but another option is to attend local farmers’ markets. Bring your own reusable shopping and produce bags to the store. Select produce that has not been bundled in plastic bags and hunt down stores that offer compostable produce bags as an option. Also bring your own containers directly to the bulk section to further eliminate waste. Cooking practices Another fabulous way to cut waste is to make your own foods rather than buying pre-packaged options. Breads are quick and easy to make. Make granola bars and protein balls for school lunches. Cook up your own yogurt and ditch the individual plastic containers. Turning your kitchen into a simplified oasis of earth-friendly food production begins with evaluating the supplies you need and making decisions about the best options to fulfil those needs. Focus on conscientious purchases that combine wholesome food along with sustainable tools and you have a recipe for a long-term low-carbon-footprint kitchen. Images via Shutterstock

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Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable

Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

January 16, 2019 by  
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According to new research from Temple University scientist Blair Hedges, the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is undergoing a mass extinction event, and the country is close to losing its rich biodiversity. Hedges — who has spent decades in Haiti’s rain forests — says that the results of his latest study are shocking. In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hedges and his co-authors revealed that Haiti , which was once full of lush trees and teeming with wildlife, has now lost almost all of its virgin forests because of deforestation, and is at risk of loosing more than half of its species by 2035. “Up until this analysis, nobody had any idea it was that bad,” Hedges said. “Haiti is in the middle of a mass extinction, and it’s already lost a large number of species because entire areas where unique species exist are no longer present.” Hedges and his colleagues used NASA satellite imagery to analyze Haiti’s current landscape and found that the country has about one percent of its primary forest left since people have resorted to cutting trees down in order to make way for farming and charcoal production needed for cooking. Related: Deforestation in South America causes extinction of 8 bird species He also explained that no one on his research team expected the forest to disappear so quickly. The team of researchers realize that Haiti is at a forefront of a global mass extinction as the country’s species are disappearing at the alarming rate of 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate. Haiti’s loss of wildlife and forestry is largely due to habitat destruction (cutting down trees), but that is just one component in worldwide mass extinction. Other factors across the globe include climate change , invasive species and other human-related activity. Hedges says people often associate deforestation as just removing plants and trees, but in reality everything is being removed. Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University, says that Hedge’s study is a “tragic and brutal” instance of the lengths of human destruction. Primm added that Haiti’s story should resonate, and should be a lesson that everyone should heed when managing wild areas, watersheds and rivers. Via Whyy.org Image via 753tomas

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Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

Kick your cold to the curb with these natural cold remedies

January 16, 2019 by  
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Have you ever wondered if natural cold remedies really work? When you catch a cold, chances are you are going to be sick for a week or two. But you don’t have to be miserable. There is no cure for the common cold, but there are natural ways to help yourself feel better faster. Here are some of the most common natural cold remedies that actually work, and what they do to help ease those cold symptoms. Vitamin C There is no proof that vitamin C prevents colds, but it does boost your immune system. Studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce a cold’s lifespan. The best way to get vitamin C is in your diet from fruits like oranges, cantaloupe, grapefruit and kiwi. You can also get a high dose of vitamin C from wild rose hips . One hundred grams of wild rose hips has more than 1,250 grams of vitamin C, which is 30 times the amount in citrus fruits. You can make a rose-petal infusion by immersing the plant in hot water and letting it simmer (or steep in a slow cooker), and it will soothe a sore throat and reduce swelling. If you opt for vitamin C supplements, be careful. They can upset your stomach or cause kidney stones. Related: How to make your own herbal tinctures Cinnamon Cinnamon has antifungal and analgesic properties, which makes it a fantastic natural cold remedy. Dr. Patrick Fratellone, a registered herbalist with the American Herbal Guild, said that cinnamon is warming for the body and dilates blood vessels, plus it lowers blood sugar concentration and improves insulin sensitivity. When you get a cold, try making a tea by putting the cinnamon into a mug and pouring boiling water over it. Drink the cinnamon tea two to three times a day. You can also sprinkle cinnamon on your food, or add a little bit to your morning coffee . Water, sleep and an extra pillow The best way to naturally recover from a cold is to drink a lot of water, get plenty of rest and sleep with an extra pillow. When you stay hydrated, it allows your body to naturally flush the germs out of your system, and drinking more water keeps the mucus thin and flowing.  Sleeping gives your body the chance to fight off the infection, and the extra pillow under your head helps your sinuses drain. Oregano Oregano is an antioxidant that is antibacterial and antifungal. The herb is perfect for treating a bad cough. You can take oregano capsules two times a day with a meal, or make an oregano tea. To make the tea, all you have to do is mix 8 ounces of boiling water with a teaspoon of dried oregano and let it stand for about 10 minutes before drinking. To make the tea sweeter, add a little bit of honey. If you can drink two cups a day, it will make a big difference. Related: Make your own simple herbal remedies Garlic Not only does this plant make your food taste way better, but garlic is also antibiotic, antimicrobial and antibacterial. Clinical herbalist Steve Sietos said that the perfect time to reach for garlic is when you have yellow or green phlegm. “It’s highly antiviral, immune stimulating, and it’ll kill any upper respiratory infections,” Sietos said. To make a garlic elixir, press or chop a clove of garlic and let it sit for 15 minutes. The chemical reaction of garlic hitting the air will allow the clove to become a powerful antibiotic. Another recommended remedy? Garlic bread. Spread garlic and olive oil on a piece of bread and enjoy to help ease an upper respiratory infection. Soups and hot liquids Hot soups and liquids will help reduce mucus buildup, and chicken soup in particular has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a natural weapon against colds. According to a study in the Chest medical journal , the ingredients in chicken soup (like onion and garlic) help reduce inflammation and reduce congestion, plus the hot liquid will keep you hydrated. Hot liquids will also relieve nasal congestion and soothe the inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. A hot toddy, which is a cup of hot herbal tea with a teaspoon of honey (a natural cough suppressant) and a shot of whiskey or bourbon, will reduce severe congestion and help you sleep. Just be careful with the alcohol, because too much can inflame the membranes and worsen your symptoms. Nasal irrigation Dry and cracked nasal passages can inhibit the skin’s protective barrier against viruses. Nasal irrigation with a neti pot can help keep those nasal passages hydrated. There are a few things to remember. First, never use tap water; if it is contaminated, it could cause a rare but deadly brain infection. Instead, use a saline solution of 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 8 ounces of warm water (boil it first, then let it cool). Use a neti pot to pour the saline solution into one nostril and out the other. This will clean out your nasal passages and thin the mucus, which will reduce swelling, congestion and nasal irritation. Be sure to talk with your doctor before using the neti pot. Get well soon! Via Reader’s Digest , WebMD and Piedmont Images via Brooke Lark , Ulleo , Sylvie Tittel , Ariesa66 , Public Domain Pictures , Biopresto , Rawpixel and Shutterstock

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Kick your cold to the curb with these natural cold remedies

This kitchen in a box makes it easy to cook in micro-apartments and tiny homes

July 6, 2018 by  
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Young professionals living in micro-apartments and tiny homes can soon install a fully functioning kitchen in their residences, without the need for additional space or even complicated hardware. A recent graduate of Britain’s Royal College of Art has unveiled her capstone work titled Assembly – a single-package, flexible cooking set for millennials. The complete kit is about the same size as a toaster oven, but it contains everything an individual living in a micro-apartment  or a tiny home would need for a functional kitchen. Yu Li, the designer of Assembly, envisions the set as a “one-package solution that covers the whole cooking and dining process for one.” Related: Kenchikukagu: 3 tiny portable rooms from Japan that open like a suitcase Assembly contains a tablecloth, two pans designed to work with an included induction cooktop, a cutting board, cooking utensils and a single set of plates and flatware. When unpacked, the pieces work together as a full kitchen setup , ready to prepare and serve meals. The induction cooktop surface works with both pans and has fully-functioning temperature controls. The hotplate also has a timer feature, which gives aspiring chefs control over how long it stays powered. After dinnertime, the container that holds plates doubles as a drying rack. Between meals, everything is stored in this container, which can be put away for future use. Li says the “kitchen in a box” concept is designed for recent graduates and young people living in small urban apartments or competing for kitchen access with roommates. “The idea is to trim the original kitchen space down to a few minimal elements,” Li told Dezeen. “So space can be designed simpler , neater and transformed into other purposes to increase the space utilization.” Assembly was one of several designs on display during the 2018 Graduate Exhibition , which closed on July 1. More than 800 students showed off their work at four locations in London. Although the self-contained kit gathered plenty of attention, a manufacturer and distributor have yet to be announced, and the price for the Assembly set is still to be determined. + Royal College of Art Via Dezeen Images via Yu Li

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This kitchen in a box makes it easy to cook in micro-apartments and tiny homes

Switzerland rules lobsters must be stunned before they are boiled

January 11, 2018 by  
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Lobsters may not really scream when you boil them – they don’t possess vocal cords – but research shows they can feel pain, and Switzerland’s government decided to do something about the common culinary practice of boiling lobsters alive. According to the government order, the crustaceans “will now have to be stunned before they are put to death.” Lobsters in Switzerland now have to be stunned before chefs plunge them into hot water to cook them. The government banned the practice of boiling live lobsters amid concerns the creatures might be able to experience pain. Research from Queen’s University Belfast seems to back them up – a 2013 study on crabs discovered they’re likely to feel pain. Since then, researchers have called upon the food industry to reconsider the treatment of crabs and other live crustaceans like prawns and lobsters. Related: 132-year-old lobster returned to ocean after living in tank for 20 years Switzerland’s new rule is part of an overhaul of animal protection laws that goes into effect on March 1. Swiss public broadcaster RTS said the accepted stunning methods are electric shock or mechanical destruction of the creature’s brain. The government is also outlawing the practice of transporting live crustaceans like lobsters in icy water or on ice, saying they must “always be held in their natural environment.” Some people have contended crustaceans like lobsters can’t feel pain, since they only possess nociception, or “a reflex response to move away from a noxious stimulus,” according to Nature ‘s news blog . Animal behavior researcher Robert Elwood doesn’t agree. He said there’s strong evidence crustaceans do feel pain. Via The Guardian and Nature News Blog Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Switzerland rules lobsters must be stunned before they are boiled

Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

August 24, 2016 by  
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®Flickr/ David Edwards The cucamelon,  Melothria scabra , is similar to a cucumber with a crisp bite and an aromatic, citrusy flavor. Its petite striped appearance lends it a number of alternative nicknames, from ” Sandia de Raton” (” Mouse Melon”) to “Mexican Sour Gherkin.” Image via Underwood Gardens Can’t find cucamelons at your farmer’s market? While August is probably too late in the summer to start growing your own (unless you live in Hawaii or the very warmest parts of the Southern US), you can bookmark these green cuties in your favorite seed catalog and look forward to starting the seedlings early next spring . Cucamelons are reputedly easy to grow and even if your garden consists of containers on a balcony, you can still grow them up a trellis or inside a tomato cage. RELATED: 30 easy and delicious popsicle recipes While you might be tempted to Instagram them instead of cooking, you can slice up tiny cucamelons to make a refreshing, colorful radish salad. If you don’t want to slice up the adorable baby watermelons, you can also serve them whole as a garnish on a summer cocktail – try spearing a cucamelon on a swizzle stick and serving it with a refreshing mint julep. Image via Snaplant Cucamelon-Radish Salad Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need about 14-16 cucamelons, 5 radishes, rice vinegar, fresh dill, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Step Two: Slice and mix Slice the cucamelons lengthwise and add them to a salad bowl. Slice the radishes into thin rounds and mix in. Drizzle the salad with about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. Toss with a generous pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Garnish with fresh dill fronds and serve. Serves 4. RELATED: 6 super easy gardening projects to do this weekend Can’t find any cucamelons to cook with? Try one of these refreshing summer recipes made with watermelon or cucumber instead, and bring along to your next BBQ or picnic. Image via Pixabay Frozen Watermelon Smoothie Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need one small seedless watermelon, or about 4 cups of diced watermelon with seeds removed, 2 bananas, 1/2 cup coconut water, and 1 one-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger root. Step Two: Freeze Pop cubed watermelon in the freezer for a couple hours, or until completely frozen. You can prepare extra frozen watermelon in plastic bags or food storage containers so its ready to use later. Step Three: Blend Fire up your blender and drop in the coconut water and peeled ginger. Blend until the ginger is well chopped. Add the 2 bananas and blend. Finally, add the frozen watermelon and blend until creamy and smooth. Serve in a glass with a straw and enjoy! Serves 4. Image via Wikimedia Yogurt-Cucumber Dip Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need: 2 cups of Greek yogurt, 2 large cucumbers (or 4 small Persian cucumbers), 1 small clove garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill. Step Two: Grate and dice If you’re using regular large grocery-store cucumbers, you’ll need to peel the thick, bitter skin off first. If you’re using thin-skinned Persian cucumbers, you can simply wash them and chop off the ends. Using a box grater, grate all of your cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumbers gently and drain off any excess water and juice. Finely dice the small clove of garlic. Step Three: Mix dip In a bowl, mix the two cups of Greek yogurt with the grated cucumber, diced garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, and chopped dill. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and some ground black pepper and taste, adding more if desired. Let the dip sit in a covered dish in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or freshly warmed baguette or pita bread.

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Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

6 Meal planning tips to reduce food waste

January 18, 2016 by  
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DIY Gift Idea: 7 Herbed Salts and Sugars for Cooking and Baking

November 26, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of DIY Gift Idea: 7 Herbed Salts and Sugars for Cooking and Baking Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: basil , cinnamon , cooking , gomashio , herb , herbs , lavender , lemon pepper , Rosemary , salt , seasoning salt , SPICE , Spices , sugar , summer savory , thyme , vanilla

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DIY Gift Idea: 7 Herbed Salts and Sugars for Cooking and Baking

Roaming Charlie Cart Brings Healthy Cooking Lessons to Classrooms

November 26, 2014 by  
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Teaching children about nutrition and eating well may be a logistical nightmare for some schools, but with a new concept called The Charlie Cart it doesn’t have to be. Inspired by the chuck wagons of American pioneers, the roaming cart is a fully-stocked mobile kitchen packed with enough equipment , lessons and training materials to get kids cooking in the classroom. Read the rest of Roaming Charlie Cart Brings Healthy Cooking Lessons to Classrooms Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Carolyn Federman , cooking and nutrition programs , Edible Schoolyard Project , food education , healthy education , kitchen classroom , mobile kitchen , mobile kitchen kickstarter , The Charlie Cart Project

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