plastic-free

Homemade peanut butter granola

I used to be a real granola fan. But as it’s pretty much impossible to buy loose granola, I gave up my brekkie favourite. Unfortunately I couldn’t stop craving it. That’s probably not suprising – store-bought granola does not only come in plastic packaging, it’s also full of sugar, That explains why I was so hooked on it.

The good news is: There is a much better alternative you can make in less than 5 minutes – homemade granola. That’s granola minus the excess sugar and packaging. Plus you save heaps of money.

Here’s my favourite peanut butter granola recipe – for all those who wanna ditch store-bought granola and eat better!

You need:

160 g of oats

2 TS of flax seed

1 TS of chia seed (optional, can be substituted by another TS of flax seed)

a pinch of vanilla

a pinch of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

50 g of peanut butter

40 g of agave juice or other sweetener

30 g of margarine

Mix the dry ingrendients in a bowl. Heat up the wet ingredients in the microwave or a pot and mix them well. Add them to the dry ingredients and mix again. Then bake everything in the oven for about 15-20 min at 160°C. Let the granola cool down and store it in an air tight container.

And now: Enjoy!

granola

P.S. You can of course use any other nut butter in this recipe, too – for example cashew, hazelnut or almond butter.

 

Advertisements

Long time no see

Hello again,

after vanishing from the blogging world for the last couple of months I finally found the motivating to write again. I do have to admit I got a little lazy, but I needed some time off to regain my creative energy after an exhausting start of the year. So instead of blogging I moved houses, went on holidays and spent lots of fun nights with friends.

One of the most memoreable ones took place about three weeks ago when I went to the first “Schnippeldisko” of my life. The event was organized by Slow Food Youth Düsseldorf and intended to raise awareness for food waste. So my friends (read Amanda’s beautiful article about it) and I spent the night dancing, drinking and chopping heart-shaped potatoes, weird-looking radishes and bent carrots. The food came from a local farmer who explained to us it wasn’t perfect enough for supermarkets, so it would normally have to get thrown out – a thing that is just absolutely outrageous and sad, especially if you take into account that nothing was wrong with the food apart from its shape. The “Schnippel-dinner” proved that: The ingredients were used to cook delicious soup, a yummy side salad and a fruit salad as dessert for everyone.

Schnippeldisko

As a result of this night I’m trying to avoid food waste even harder which led to some crazy combinations on my dinner table. For example I’ve been eating nothing but asparagus for dinner for the last five days (asparagus with hollandaise sauce turned into asparagus soup turned into asparagus pasta sauce turned into asparagus sauce for German dumplings) – and suddenly my creativity is back 🙂 So before I vanish from the blogging sphere again (I decided not to overdo it, so I won’t post as regularly as I used to), I want to share an easy summer recipe with you – gazpacho soup.

It’s a great leftover recipe for using up old bread and it’s really super-quick. For 4-6 portions use:

1-2 stale bread rolls or slices of bread

5 medium-sized tomatos

1 green or yellow bell pepper

2/3 of a cucumber

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp of lemon juice

1 TS of balsamic vinegar

salt

black pepper

parsley for decoration

optional: 1 tsp of sugar (only if the soup is too sour for you)

Soak the bread in a bit of water and let it get all soaked up for about 20 to 45 minutes (depending on how stale it is). Pour hot water over the tomatos and peel them. Then chop everything up and blend it together. Add the bread and blend again. Use tomato cubes and parsley for decoration.

Enjoy!

Gazpacho

 

Plastic to go

Coffee, anyone?

I love my coffee even when it doesn't come with a delicious "Pasteis de Belem"

I love my coffee even when it doesn’t come with a delicious “Pasteis de Belem”

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed was my coffee to go. In the cold German winters it was probably one of my favourite guilty pleasures – meaning I was aware of how bad it was for the environment, but tried to ignore my bad conscience.

So I definitely feel better now that I don’t throw away empty cups anymore. My simple alternative: A thermos cup I had been thinking of using for ages (I was just too lazy to look for it in the chaos of my cellar room). I guess it’s probably not a 100% plastic-free (though it’s mainly made out of other materials), but as I didn’t have to buy a new one, it’s a good enough compromise for me – and it’s refillable after all, which is the most important thing.

If I were ever to buy another one, I would get it secondhand from a flee-market. But those things tend to last for ages, so I guess I don’t need another one any time soon.

Best thing about this: Filling up my thermos cup at home instead of buying a coffee to go on the way saves me loads of money.

Cheese Louise!

Or where to find more packaging-free groceries

I found a stall at my local market selling little blocks of cheese. So there is no plastic foil or anything involved. And it comes from a cheese farm just a few kilometers away from me. Score! On top of that I found out that most market stalls that sell cheese also sell soft cheese out of buckets. So if you bring your own container, they just fill it up. And my experience at markets has always been great and people appreciate my effort to live without plastic packaging.  So I went home with a container full of soft cheese with pepper and some hard goat’s cheese with garlic and herbs.

Hello....!

Hello….!

So try it out and get some cheese from the market. It tastes better anyway!

Participate!

I’m always happy when people tell me that they are just as sick of the way plastic is just given out for free as me. This weekend I heard about two really promising projects, which I wanna tell you more about:

”Plastikfasten” in Bonn

My dad sent me a picture of a flyer he spotted in a shop in Bonn. http://plastiktüte-nein-danke.de/, a network of people based in Bonn, wants to convince customers that they should go without plastic bags for 40 days.  On the flyer they give you some interesting facts (For example that the production of one bag of plastic requires 40 liters of oil, that every German uses 65 bags of plastic in a year and that as there are about 80 million Germans, that makes 5.2 billion bags a year.) The project wants to initiate a discussion about the use of plastic bags, which it puts into effect by providing a platform on facebook where everyone can share their experience. So check it out (or try it out yourself)!

Like!

Like!

”Unpackaged” in London

The other thing I learned about was a shop in London called ”Unpackaged’‘. They are an organic refill shop where you can bring your own containers. I wish I still lived in London, then my experiment wouldn’t be anywhere near as hard as it is here (Although I would be a lot busier refusing all the free bags that get thrown at you).  When I checked out their website I just couldn’t believe my eyes: They pretty much sell everything I’m badly missing at the moment: all kinds of fruit and veg, coffee and tea, oils, wine, spirits, toiletries, cleaning products and cheese and dairy products. But as my city is not exactly known for being one of the most progressive cities in Europe, I guess I still have to wait for a similar thing here. The only thing I know of in this area is a chain called ”Vom Fass” that specializes in selling oil, vinegar, spirits and wine from kegs.

So I’m quite happy to see that there seems to be a certain level of awareness at the moment (I’m also thinking of the many documentaries on TV at the moment and the youtube clip “You will not believe your eyes” going viral) . If you want to increase it and make more people aware of it, talk about it!!!

Lesson learned: Spread the idea!

R.I.P.

Rest in peace gummy bears, chips, tortilla chips, pretzel snacks, lollies, chewing gum, marshmallows, cereals, muesli, muesli bars, chocolate bars, chocolate spread, custard, dried fruits, fresh tofu, veggie mince, pepper, risotto, wholemeal pasta, chilli sauce, dried herbs, Thai curry paste, Indian spice mix, asian noodles, rice paper, cottage cheese, ”Quark”, gnocchi, halloumi cheese, butter, margarine, deep-frozen pizza and other ready meals. I miss you toilet paper. Bye bye cordial, coffee to go, sour cream, creme fraiche, canned coconut milk, maybe we’ll meet again. Farewell free samples, lipstick, conditioner, shampoo, softener, hairspray, washing-up liquid, kitchen foil, q-tips, cotton pads, all-in-one cleaner, make-up wipes, nail polish.

Notice something? I used this stuff everyday before I started my challenge. Suddenly it was not an option anymore and I asked myself how I could replace it. That’s when I realized how much plastic I consumed ”with” my food and everyday items. This is also shown in Plastic Planet, a movie I can highly recommend. I also watched some interesting documentaries about plastic on TV recently. If you want to check them out (available in German only):

„ZDF zoom: Eingeschweißt und abgepackt“, ZDF (27.02.2013)

„Plastik – Alleskönner oder Teufelszeug“, WDR (18.02.2013)

I will post a proper list of links including English ones soon!

Without my homemade lemon cakes I would never get rid of my candy cravings.

Without my homemade lemon cakes I would never get rid of my candy cravings.

I managed to make a lot of the things I’m missing from scratch like chips, various sauces, curry paste, gnocchi and dried herbs. I also use cake to make up for my lack of candy (If you need recipes including vegan or gluten-free versions, let me know… Would love to share recipes) Unfortunately some things are extremely difficult or incredibly time-consuming to make. However, I’m getting better at making my own things and I also found some alternative places to buy certain things. It just takes a bit of effort – I have to plan my meals more in advance, shopping takes a lot longer, the bags I carry are a lot heavier so that sometimes I have to go somewhere twice just to be able to carry everything and ordering food has become increasingly difficult. But aside from that I feel like I’m not only getting used to my new lifestyle, I’m even enjoying it (Apart from the fact that I still don’t have any ”real” toilet paper at home). And the sight of my (plastic) rubbish bin, which I haven’t had to empty since I started my project, gives me hope.

Lesson learned: I can get used to this. And also: The world would be a dark place without cake.

Excuse me…

obstacles, dilemmas and choices

Ever since I ditched plastic I was confronted with obstacles. To name a few: plastic-free alternatives that didn’t exist, people offering me free plastic or accidentally buying something with ”hidden” plastic foil. Today I went to the biggest bakery chain in this area where a few days ago I still got my bread in nothing but a brown paper bag. Today I opened the bag and noticed that the girl behind the counter must have used some kind of plastic layered paper to take the bread out of the shelf and put it in my bag. I didn’t even notice her doing that, as I was busy counting my coins. There is another chain that does exactly the same thing (and they even have a big range of so-called ”eco-friendly” products), which is why I stopped buying my bread from them. So instead of using tongs or gloves (which I know are disposable in most cases, but at least they normally get worn for more than just one bread you take out of the shelf), the people behind the counter have to throw out a plastic layerd piece of paper everytime the put something in a bag. For some reason, there seemed to be no need for this, so why now? I decided I wanted to ask next time.

The corpus delicti

The corpus delicti

Despite of the numerous obstacles and dilemmas I am confronted with everyday, most things have become a little easier. As time is going by, I’m getting more inventive (Been using tissues instead of toilet paper now, made my own potato chips last night and tried out a whole bunch of ”cosmetics” out of my fridge…), more observant and more creative with polite excuses.

Yes, yes, yes… I know…

However, one of the biggest obstacles is that despite the ”You will not believe your eyes” clip about is going viral on social networks at the moment, some people repeatedly try to convince me my project is hopeless and ineffective. Their main argument is that there are things I cannot possibly avoid or influence – water coming through plastic pipes, the seats on the tram or the bus being made out of plastic, the veggies I buy from the market being presented in plastic boxes, the bread I buy being transported in plastic containers, my dentist using latex gloves, the medicine I hopefully won’t need during my quest being wrapped in plastic and so on – according to that I’m not only cheating by still using buses, trams etc., but my 40 days without plastic are also a big waste of time.

Someone also raised the matter of glass bottles and jars containing invisible plastic layers inside (Not only in the lids, but also inside the bottle), which is something I could not really find out about online, so I don’t even know if it’s true, and if so, if it actually goes for all jars and bottles. But even if it did, as I said, glass bottles are reusable and can be used lots of times before the actually have to be melted again (I’m referring to the German ”Pfandflasche” here that might lack an equivalent in other countries) and glass jars are at least reusable for personal use at home. Of course and unfortunately all the mentioned examples represent something I can’t do anything about unless I move to the woods, stop writing this blog and start growing my own food (But I bet someone could still come up with something made out of plastic I would or could use if I did so.). But I CAN reduce the amount of plastic waste I produce!

So once again, this blog is about raising awareness for reducing packaging. Plastic pipes don’t get thrown out right after setting them up, tram seats don’t get thrown out after the first ride, plastic boxes transport more than one portion of bread, medicine is something healthy people don’t take everyday and all those who have to take it everyday don’t have other choices. And this is what this blog is about: choice. Sometimes I don’t have one. If I do, I try to make the right one. Everyone has to find out which choice is the right one for them. But this is the right one for me. Sorry this had to be said again – Official end of my rant 🙂

What else?

By the way, to all my German or German speaking friends: There is a documentary about plastic packaging on ZDF at 22:45 tonight. It’s called ”Abgepackt und eingeschweißt”.

Lesson learned: I’m sticking with it!