How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner

November 19, 2018 by  
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Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family can be an overwhelming task. When you are providing a meal for a group of people, it is tempting to opt for things like pre-cut fruits and veggies, snack portions of cheese, store-bought pie and other modern conveniences to make it easier to get through the day. However, using these items can come at a price. When you buy things that are packaged in single-use plastic, it wreaks havoc on the environment. This year, instead of just focusing on eating all of the delicious food during the celebration, focus on the preparation, and commit to a zero-waste Thanksgiving. Here is how to do it. Choose recipes and menu items wisely A zero-waste Thanksgiving always starts with your grocery list, so when you are planning your Thanksgiving dinner, go through your recipes and choose menu items that will use up whole veggies and full containers of things like broth, cream or soup. For example, if you have a recipe that uses half of an onion, find another recipe that will use the other half. If you are using recipes that have special ingredients that you don’t use often, like buttermilk or fresh herbs, have a plan to use up all of these ingredients. If you aren’t going to use them entirely for Thanksgiving, do some research on how to store the items for the long-term, like freezing, or find some post-holiday recipes where you can use the remainder of the ingredients instead of throwing them away. Shop local Opting for the local farmer’s market to purchase your ingredients instead of a supermarket will get you off to a good start for a zero-waste Thanksgiving. Food at farmer’s markets is often unpackaged, and it is usually organic , meaning you can steer clear of harmful pesticide residue. If you do not have access to a local farmer’s market, choose a grocery store that sells unpackaged produce. Avoid buying anything that is already prepared. Whether you visit the market or the grocery, don’t forget your reusable produce and shopping bags to keep every step of your Thanksgiving feast free from waste. Cook from scratch When you are deciding on a menu, make sure to plan ahead to cook everything from scratch. If you have a small kitchen or don’t feel like you are going to have the time to cook everything on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members to each bring a dish. If you do this, get specific about what each person will bring, so you don’t end up with several green bean casseroles. Related: Make your own tasty vegetarian turkey for Thanksgiving with this recipe If you don’t have the patience or time to plan out everything ahead of time, chances are you will end up with leftovers or unused items. If this is the case, throw some cooked turkey, veggies and herbs into some extra broth or stock and freeze the mixture to use later. You can also keep your scraps while you are cooking, and use those trimmings, bones and peelings for homemade stock. Encourage smaller portions It is very easy to load up your plate during Thanksgiving dinner and have food leftover, because you can’t eat it all in one sitting. To stop food from going into the trash, set out smaller plates and serving spoons to encourage smaller portions. You could also supply storage containers (or, better yet, ask guests to bring their own!) that your guests can use to package their leftovers and take home. Be sure to use real plates, utensils, glasses and cookware, and if possible, use cloth napkins. This will greatly reduce your Thanksgiving waste and keep your garbage can from overflowing. Make your own decorations Instead of purchasing Thanksgiving decorations from a store, get crafty and make your own centerpieces and decorations. You can reuse your Halloween pumpkins and other gourds for a beautiful centerpiece, or buy new ones to use as flower vases or candle holders. You can also use tiny pumpkins in place settings. You can cook or compost the pumpkins after the holiday. Be a gracious guest If you are not hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, you can still be a mindful guest. Be prepared with your own reusable containers for leftovers, and avoid bringing dishes in disposable plastic containers or foil. Having a zero-waste Thanksgiving is all about intention. You can’t do everything all of the time, but if you have the mindset to start with one holiday, you can bring those ideas into your everyday life and start to really make a difference. Via Care2 , Mind Body Green and Sustainable America Images via Chinh Le Duc , Ja Ma , Pablo Lancaster Jones , Jess Watters , Priscilla Du Preez and Shutterstock

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1960s home remodeled with energy-efficient and non-toxic hempcrete

November 19, 2018 by  
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When homeowner Pam Bosch was looking for ways to remodel her 1960s home in Bellingham, Washington, she was determined to renovate the older home with energy efficient and non toxic materials. Through her research into various potential sustainable materials, she found that hempcrete, a hemp-based render made out of a mixture of hemp, lime and water, would be the best option. Working in collaboration with Matthew Mead from Hempitecture , the now solar-powered Highland Hemp House was reborn and constructed with an insulative hempcrete thermal envelope. When inspired to renovate her home using sustainable , eco-friendly and non-toxic materials, Bosch decided to work with hempcrete, a bioaggregate building material that is derived from the woody core of the industrial hemp stalk. When combined with hydrated lime and water, it solidifies by absorbing carbon dioxide, resulting in a concrete-like material. However, when compared to concrete, hempcrete is a more sustainable and affordable material, which is estimated to absorb about seven pounds of CO2 per cubic foot. Related: The tiny solar-powered hemp home with a green roof To begin the process of remodeling the three-story home , Mead worked with local contractors to create a new framework suited for a hempcrete wall system. Once the home was primed for its new envelope, the next step was to create the hempcrete material by mixing 12,000 pounds of hemp aggregate with 23,000 of lime binder. When mixed at a specific ratio, the material solidifies, creating a concrete-like texture. The material was then cast around the home’s frame, forming a monolithic wall. From a distance, the home’s construction process may look like any other home renovation. However, in working with hempcrete , Pam Bosch’s madeover Highland Hemp House is insulated with a material that is fireproof, breathable, resistant to mold, pests, and regulates moisture. Additionally, the new thermal envelope of the home is estimated to sequester about 15,372 pounds of CO2. + Hempitecture Images via Hempitecture

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12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner

November 15, 2018 by  
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For many people, Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without a turkey on the table. But with diet trends turning toward vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism , people are starting to break away from the traditional turkey dinner for health, animal welfare or environmental reasons. Luckily, there are amazing plant-based dishes that you can prepare for a mouth-watering Thanksgiving feast, making it easier than ever to skip the turkey. Here are some ideas for main dishes that will replace the turkey on your table, plus some side dish and dessert ideas that will keep the food at your celebration completely plant-based. Main dishes Classic seitan roast Forget the tofurkey — try this basic meat substitute for a savory, meaty main dish that you can use for Thanksgiving day, and any extras will be perfect as salad toppers or sandwich fillings. This recipe comes from One Green Planet , and it does have an involved process. But the results are totally worth it. Seitan pot roast Another idea from One Green Planet , this recipe is not the traditional pot roast your mom would make, but it is the perfect recipe for a large Thanksgiving dinner. The biggest plus about this dish is that you make it in a slow cooker. Just throw everything in the pot, and let it cook while you make your other dishes. Related: 6 vegan and vegetarian turkey alternatives for Thanksgiving Lentil shepherd’s pie This recipe from Plant Based Cooking is perfect for picky eaters, vegan or not. Lentil shepherd’s pie is loaded with mushrooms, carrots, peas and garlic mashed potatoes, and you can easily refrigerate or freeze it. Vegan lentil loaf with gravy Perfect for the holiday season, this recipe from Vegan Heaven is easy to make, super healthy and beyond delicious. You will impress your family with this main dish, which takes a little over an hour to make and bake. Vegducken This is a vegetable main dish that will have your family and friends talking long after Thanksgiving is over. This recipe features roasted butternut squash stuffed with eggplant, zucchini and whole scallions. Then, you layer it with a puree of sautéed mushrooms, red onion, chickpeas, scallions, red lentils and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Side dishes Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing with gravy You might be able to skip turkey at Thanksgiving, but no one can live without the stuffing. This delicious vegan recipe from One Green Planet takes a little time to make, so you might want to prepare it a day in advance. Vegan pumpkin biscuits Free of dairy , egg, corn, soy and yeast, these pumpkin biscuits from Vegan Richa are easy to make and perfect for any guest at your Thanksgiving dinner. They feature fresh sage and thyme, and they are a savory side dish that is crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Buttermilk vegan mashed potatoes Who says you need dairy products to make fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes? This recipe from The Vegan 8 calls for just eight ingredients to make creamy mashed potatoes that are full of flavor with a buttery taste that comes from apple cider vinegar. They will be one of the most-loved dishes at your Thanksgiving dinner. Smokey maple roasted carrots with lemon thyme drizzle If you are looking for an easy side dish that you can throw together, try this recipe from Veggies Don’t Bite . Not only is this carrot dish loaded with flavor, but the lemon thyme sauce will make you want to lick your plate clean. Related: The best in-season veggies to buy at your local market for Thanksgiving dinner Vegan green bean casserole This casserole is so creamy that you won’t believe it doesn’t contain dairy. Using raw cashews, unsweetened almond milk, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, flour, EVOO, mushrooms, white wine, soy sauce, salt and black pepper, this dish from Hummusapien will be so good, no one will know its vegan. Desserts Vegan pecan pie This recipe from the Center for Nutrition Studies is a healthy, vegan alternative to the popular holiday dessert . It is decadent, but not too sweet, and it is gluten-free and soy-free. Chocolate ganache mousse pie If you want to add a chocolate dessert to your menu, here is a delicious option that has a cookie crust and light filling that will make any chocolate lover happy. Images via Pixabay and Shutterstock

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5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now

October 30, 2018 by  
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Food waste is a huge problem worldwide, with one-third of all globally produced food ending up wasted. Americans throw away about 43 percent of the food they buy, and the organic matter in landfills emits methane, which is a major factor in climate change . We are enticed into wanting our food to look perfect, and we also don’t want to spend much on it. Americans generally spend less on their food compared to other nations, and because of that, many people don’t value it or think much about throwing it out. So what can the average person do to fight back? Here is a list of ways that you can reduce your food waste right now. Start meal planning This may seem like common sense, but it is one of the easiest and most important things to do. Plan out your meals in advance, and then make a detailed list of ingredients you will need. Then, when you get to the store, stick with the plan. This will help you avoid buying too much food. Plus, it also saves you time and money at the store. If you buy only what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all. Also, be sure to check your cupboards and refrigerator before going to the grocery store or farmers market , so you don’t buy things you already have on hand. Store and prep properly It is easy to buy fruits, vegetables and other perishable items and then forget about them. But if you store and prep everything properly, it can significantly help you reduce your food waste. When you get home from the market, take the time to wash and prep your fresh food, then store it in containers for easy  cooking  and snacking. Put items you plan to use in the next day or two in the fridge, and put the surplus in the freezer. Eat leftovers If you cook too much or have extra after going out for dinner or enjoying takeout, save your leftovers to enjoy later. Invest in quality food storage containers, because they will keep your food fresh for longer. Come up with a labeling system to help you keep track of how long the leftovers have been in your fridge. Almost half of extra restaurant food alone is thrown in the trash instead of boxed up and taken home, so learn to love leftovers for the sake of minimizing food waste. Watch your portions Speaking of restaurant leftovers … they occur because restaurant portion sizes are significantly larger than they should be. You can’t force restaurants to give you a smaller portion (although you can embrace the leftovers), but you can control your portions at home. Large portions have made their way into many kitchens, leaving more opportunities for food waste. Use smaller plates when you prepare food at home, and then save the leftovers for later. If you notice that you are constantly making too much food, cut down your recipes. Ignore expiration dates Expiration dates contribute to tons of wasted food each year, but you might be surprised to learn that expiration dates on food mean absolutely nothing to consumers. Except for baby food, expiration dates, sell-by dates, guaranteed fresh dates and use-by dates are all used by manufacturers and have nothing to do with government regulation or any kind of set standard. This means that a lot of food isn’t spoiled, even though it has gone past the expiration date. Trust your senses of smell, sight and taste. Unless the food has obviously spoiled, don’t be so quick to throw it out. Most people don’t realize just how much food they throw away on a daily basis. By taking just a few easy steps, you can reduce your food waste , make a major impact and help conserve resources for future generations. Via Mashable , Time and Stop Food Waste Images via Shutterstock

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How to cook and enjoy 10 types of squash other than pumpkin

October 26, 2018 by  
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‘Tis the season for pies, soups, breads and fall produce. Whether you roast, puree, bake or sauté it, squash is one of the few fall/winter options for cooking with fresh produce , thanks to its tough outer skin that shields it from cold temperatures. While pumpkin steals the show this time of year, there are many other options from which to choose. From butternut squash to sweet dumpling squash, there are endless varieties of this amazing vegetable, and even more delicious ways to prepare it. To help you add squash to your cooking repertoire, here is a guide that will allow you to incorporate several types of squash into your diet all winter long. Butternut squash One of the most popular and common types of winter squash, butternut squash is ideal for roasting. This foot-long, bell-shaped squash has a thin, butterscotch color with a sweet, nutty flesh. It is great for creamy soups, ravioli filling and sauce for gnocchi and risotto, and it pairs well with flavors like cinnamon, balsamic vinegar and smoky bacon. There are so many ways to cook butternut squash  that you could use it in a different recipe every day. Spaghetti squash This type of squash is oval and yellow. When you cook it, spaghetti squash has a stringy flesh that looks like, well, spaghetti, and you can use it as a substitute for pasta . They typically weigh between 4 and 8 pounds, and those that are larger will have the best flavor and thicker “noodles.” If you are trying to reduce your carb intake, spaghetti squash is a perfect addition to your diet. It absorbs cheese and sauce and can easily be enhanced with butter and herbs. Sweet dumpling squash This type of squash tastes like a sweet potato and is the perfect size to be used as a soup bowl or to stuff with rice and veggies . You can also use sweet dumpling squash the same way you would use a sweet potato — bake, roast or mash it for soups. Because it is one of the sweetest varieties of squash, it is perfect for a puree . Related: How to cook and serve pumpkin soup in a tureen made from its own shell Hubbard One of the largest and thickest-skinned squash varieties, you can use hubbard in the dead of winter with no problems. Because it weighs between 8 and 20 pounds, hubbard squash does require longer cooking times, but it is a fantastic substitute for pumpkin in pie. They vary in color from orange to grayish blue, and beneath the tough skin is a savory and sweet yellow flesh. Hubbard is high in sugar, and that means it is best mashed or pureed as a pie filling. Banana squash Named after the fruit because of its color and shape, banana squash has a sweet, orange, meaty flesh perfect for soups or thinly shaved in salads. You can even use it as a substitute for butternut squash in a stew. Acorn squash Ideal for roasting and stuffing , acorn squash is mild in flavor and features a dark green exterior with a firm, yellow flesh. You can use it as a natural bowl for fillings like apples and chestnuts. Just remember, peeling acorn squash is difficult, so cut it in half or slice it for roasting. Carnival squash Because it is a combination of acorn and sweet dumpling squash, you can use carnival squash as a substitute for either one. The flesh is sweet and great for soups, or you can spice it up and bake it for a side dish. Calabaza Also known as West Indian Pumpkin , calabaza squash has a sweet, juicy, golden-orange flesh with a similar taste and texture to butternut squash. Perfect for baking , calabaza does have a tough rind, so you will need to use a cleaver to cut up a whole squash. Kabocha New to the American market and sometimes called a Japanese pumpkin, kabocha is an Asian winter squash that has a sweet flavor with strong nutty and earthy elements. It has a moist and fluffy texture, with a taste often compared to chestnuts. Puree kabocha to add a buttery richness to a thick and creamy soup . You can also bake or steam it with delicious results. Delicata Another squash that is similar to sweet potatoes because of its creamy flavor and texture, delicata can be baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed  or stuffed . You can even eat the skin, so peeling isn’t necessary. Delicata is long and thin, and has an incredible umami flavor that makes for an excellent  side dish . There are definitely more members of the squash family, but these 10 are versatile and can be used in many different recipes. So the next time you hit the grocery store, try incorporating at least one of these types of squash into your meal planning — you will be happy you did. Via Food Network , Real Simple and Plated Images via Blair Fraser , Ulleo , Alberto Trevino , Aaron Burden , Linda N. , Gennie Bee , Amy G ,  Rafael Saldaña , Green Mountain Girls Farm and Shutterstock

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Germs Gone Wild: 4 Natural Cleaning Recipes To Drive Away Dirty

October 19, 2018 by  
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Many store-bought cleaning products contain toxins, such as synthetic fragrances, … The post Germs Gone Wild: 4 Natural Cleaning Recipes To Drive Away Dirty appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The Seasonal Food Guide helps you store, cook and enjoy seasonal produce

October 18, 2018 by  
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When you cook at home, there is nothing better than using fresh, seasonal produce as ingredients in your recipes. But it can be difficult to remember what is in season near you throughout the year. Luckily, there is an app for that, thanks to GRACE Communications Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to boost awareness and support for sustainable food initiatives. Last year, the foundation launched its Seasonal Food Guide app (available for Android and iOS) just before National Farmers Market Week (in August each year). When you download it, the app will update you on the seasonality of everything from apples to zucchini in your own state. The guide is free, and it uses data from the Natural Resources Defense Council as well as the USDA and state departments of agriculture. When using the app (or the website), you can search for what is in season at any time of the year in every state. It is billed as the “most comprehensive database of seasonal food available in the U.S.” Related: Everything you need to know about online farmers markets “Today, people want to know where their produce is coming from, how long it will be in season and available at their local farmers market or grocery store, and what’s in season at other times of the year or in other neighboring states,” said Urvashi Rangan, GRACE’s chief science adviser. “We built the Seasonal Food Guide app to put those answers right at your fingertips.” This app will help you in your efforts to eat as much local produce as possible, which not only helps you increase your fruit and veggie consumption, but it also helps local growers and the local economy. The money you spend on local produce stays in your community, and it is reinvested with other local businesses. Why should you eat seasonally? If you haven’t had a lot of experience with eating fresh produce, it is definitely worth a try — it is ripe and flavorful and less bruised and handled, because it is transported locally. You can often taste it before you make a purchase, so you know what to expect. During peak harvest times, there is usually an abundance of fresh produce, and that means lower prices. You can also get “seconds,” which are slightly blemished fruits and veggies, for a major discount, and you can eat them right away or preserve them for a later time when they aren’t in season. This is an extremely frugal way to help you eat healthy all year long. Related: 5 mouthwatering plant-based fall recipes When you purchase seasonal food, you get a fresher, tastier and more nutritious product compared to the foods you would buy in the store. The best time to eat produce is shortly after harvest, and the only way to do that is to buy your produce from a local grower. Plus, when purchasing your produce from local farmers , you can talk to them about how they grew the food and the practices they used to raise and harvest their crops. Another benefit of eating seasonally is that it tends to lead you to cook at home more often, which is a great thing to do for your health. Taking control over what you put in your body — from what oil you cook with to how much sugar you add — helps you to consciously make better choices. Cooking is also a great way to bond, and it is a fun activity to do with your family and friends. Eating seasonally will also challenge you to be creative and come up with new ways to use your local produce. Buying local food is a benefit for the environment, because it helps to maintain local farmland and open space in your community. Direct-to-consumer produce is also less likely to have pesticides or herbicides. Eating seasonally can be intimidating. What is at its peak this month? How do you use that strange-looking vegetable you spied at the market? How do you store your abundance of fruits and vegetables so they do not go bad before you use them? This is when the Seasonal Food Guide comes to the rescue. Recipes, storage tips and more If you need some help with what to do with your local produce, the Seasonal Food Guide has a “ Real Food Right Now ” series to give you tips on cooking with food from your local grower. There are ideas for everything from asparagus to okra, and there are also tips for which seasonings and oils will complement your produce. The Seasonal Food Guide also explains the history of each item, giving you a chance to learn more about the food you are enjoying. Each fruit, vegetable, nut and legume is also broken down into its nutritional value and its environmental impact, meaning you can see how your produce is affecting the land. The guide also aims to curb food waste by teaching users how to properly store produce and how long it typically remains edible before it needs composted. The comprehensive app teaches users a wealth of information about the foods they eat, while also making it easy to experiment with new, unknown produce items. Get the Seasonal Food Guide app Check out the Seasonal Food Guide on your phone or computer, and get the best information about what is available in your state this month. You’ll find information and tips for about 140+ veggies, fruits, nuts and legumes. You can also set a reminder for your favorites, so you don’t miss them when they are available. Because the app provides photos of each item, you can also quickly identify that strange fruit or vegetable you passed at the market and learn more about it. This guide makes it incredibly simple to eat local, seasonal foods you love as well as find new favorites to experiment with in the kitchen. To see the web version click here , or download the iOS or Android apps here . + Seasonal Food Guide Images via Seasonal Food Guide , Caroline Attwood and  Maarten van den Heuvel ; screenshots via Inhabitat

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The Seasonal Food Guide helps you store, cook and enjoy seasonal produce

All Natural Beauty: 4 Simple DIY Natural Skin Care Recipes From Mother Earth

October 2, 2018 by  
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Transforming your body care products from harmful to homemade doesn’t … The post All Natural Beauty: 4 Simple DIY Natural Skin Care Recipes From Mother Earth appeared first on Earth911.com.

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New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

August 17, 2017 by  
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We know food waste is an issue, but often it’s all too easy to forget about that bag of lettuce in the back of your refrigerator until it rots. It turns out 40 percent of the salad British families buy each year ends up in the trash – but a new refrigerator camera could help slash that waste. The Smarter FridgeCam helps people monitor expiration dates and even suggests recipes – for far less than the price of a smart refrigerator. London-based company Smarter says their FridgeCam can turn any refrigerator into a smart one for £99.99, or $129.50. The wireless FridgeCam allows users to monitor what’s in their fridge from anywhere using an app . But the product doesn’t just snap a fridge selfie. It also tracks expiration dates, notifies users when it’s time to buy more of a product, and offers recipes to help them use up food . Related: Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future Smart refrigerators can cost thousands of dollars, but according to Smarter, the FridgeCam could save users as much as £400, or around $518, every year – meaning the device pays for itself in around three months. The company says their product will work with any refrigerator on the market right now, and their app works for iOS and Android. Smarter founder Christian Lane told The Guardian, “The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed. People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialed this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way.” The FridgeCam is currently available for pre-order here . It’s slated for a September launch, and Smarter says free shipping is available for the United Kingdom and United States. + Smarter FridgeCam Via The Guardian Images via Smarter Facebook

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IKEA’s new cookbook cooks your food for you

July 5, 2017 by  
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You probably have that one friend who visits IKEA just for their Swedish meatballs, but now the furniture giant is showing how creative you can get with those meatballs at home. They just rolled out the IKEA Easy Recipe Series cookbook in Canadian stores, which makes dinner easier to cook with parchment paper pages that resemble a paint-by-numbers sketch – and they do much of the hard work for you. IKEA has made well-designed furniture more accessible, and now it seems they’re working to make food more accessible too. They got a little help from the Leo Burnett Toronto advertising agency to come up with the Cook This Page campaign. All users have to do is fill in the pictures of food on the parchment cooking pages, put it in the oven, and pull out a dinner that assembles far easier than an IKEA bed frame or bookcase. Related: IKEA’s new app will let you preview furniture in your home before you buy IKEA’s cookbook pages don’t simply come with a list of ingredients. The pages have spaces on which to place the food, drawn with food-safe ink in the approximate sizes of the precise amounts of items like one minced garlic clove or one eighth of a teaspoon of black pepper. Users place ingredients on the pages and roll them up to cook. The pages recently popped up in Canadian stores during the IKEA Kitchen Event. People could see exactly what food and kitchen equipment they’d need, and shop for the items at the store before taking the pages home to bake homemade meals. According to a video on the campaign, IKEA realized some folks are intimidated by new food and recipes , and “wanted to show people that getting creative can be deliciously simple.” Leo Burnett won two Gold and two Bronze Cannes Lions at this year’s festival for their work on the campaign. Via Fast Co.Design Images via screenshot and Leo Burnett Toronto

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