Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Super Healthy and Sustainable Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the new healthy and tasty chocolate chip cookie recipe I use. It is an updated Olive Oil version of the Canola oil version I did back in 2008. I've determined that olive oil is better than canola oil for a variety of reasons (local, sustainable, healthy). It now also includes making your own brown sugar instead of buying pre-made brown sugar.


Ingredients

1 cup - Organic Unrefined Sugar (instead of brown sugar)
1 tbsp - Organic Molasses (instead of brown sugar)

1 cup - Olive Oil (instead of butter, my current favorite is California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin)
2 tbsp -Water (instead of butter)
(Alternatively use 1 cup of softened organic butter)

2 tsp - Vanilla Extract (either natural or artificial)
2 - Large Organic Eggs

2 cups - Organic Rolled Oats
1 1/2 cups - Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp - Baking Powder, Double-acting, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate
1 tsp - Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp - Salt

12 ounces (0.75 lbs) - Organic Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet

Optional: Also add some pecans or walnuts, up to 1 cup.


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

A stand or other electric mixer works best. Otherwise this is very, very good exercise for your arm. In a large bowl mix sugar and molasses until well blended (this turns it into brown sugar, it takes quite a lot of mixing to evenly distribute the molasses). Add oil and mix. Add water, vanilla, eggs and mix. Add flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Mix until well blended. Add chocolate chips (and optionally pecans) and mix until evenly distributed.

Drop tablespoons of cookie dough 1.5 inches apart onto baking sheets (greasing with a light coat of olive oil is optional). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Let stand on baking sheets for ~2-4 minutes before scraping cookies off baking sheet with spatula. Put on racks or plates to cool if desired.

Makes about 48 cookies.


Notes

The sugar, flour, oats, chocolate chips, pecans, salt, and cinnamon can be purchased from Whole Foods and possibly other supermarkets in bulk (bring your own container if possible to eliminate disposable packaging -- alternatively flour and sugar are typically sold in recyclable paper). Whole Foods and some other supermarkets also sell molasses in glass containers and 3 liter California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other olive oils) in metal containers. Even if you don't use organic ingredients for some or all of the above, it still is very healthy and minimizes trash. Double check to make sure the olive oil you are buying is really olive oil as many commercial brands have mixed in cheaper oils.


Copyright 2017 Tim Oey. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My favorite easy whole wheat waffle recipe

Why buy frozen waffles when you can make your own fresh ones or freeze them yourself? Plus in addition to these being zero-waste, they are healthier for you too. Here is my favorite easy whole wheat waffle recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron while making the waffle batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and oil.
  4. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. The batter may be a bit lumpy.
  5. Cook the waffles as directed in the instructions that came with your waffle iron. For my Cuisinart waffle maker I cook until the steam mostly stops.
  6. Yield: 6 round standard 6.5" waffles or 3 round deep-pocket Belgian-style 7" waffles.

I get my whole wheat flour, sugar, and salt in bulk in my own reusable containers from Whole Foods but even from a regular grocery store they are usually packed in paper which is pretty close to zero waste. I currently use California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil as my main oil -- grown and made in California near where I live and certified to be real olive oil (many other olive oils have been shown to be falsely labeled, google around for the latest on this). My baking powder is just from a local supermarket. My eggs and milk are usually organic from a local supermarket or a farmers market. While I can get milk in glass bottles it is somewhat more expensive and pretty heavy/fragile so I usually get standard milk containers that I recycle. Paper egg cartons can be recycled/composted or reused if you get eggs from a farmers market as I sometimes do.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why buy syrup when you can make it?

Here is a super easy and tasty syrup recipe. I use this syrup on pancakes and waffles and as an ingredient to my favorite granola recipe. It is much cheaper than store bought commercial syrup and has zero high fructose corn syrup. While I love natural maple syrup, it is extremely expensive and uses a lot of fossil fuel to ship it to where I live.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavored extract
Directions:

  1. Bring the water, white sugar, and brown sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in the maple extract; simmer 3 minutes longer.
  3. Store in a sealed glass mason jar in refrigerator (since it does not contain preservatives like store purchased varieties).

I buy the sugars in bulk in my own reusable containers from Whole Foods. However, even from a regular grocery store the white sugar is usually packaged in paper and the plastic bag for brown sugar can be recycled with other plastic bag. This is much less plastic than buying syrup in plastic bottles. The least expensive high quality maple flavored extract I've found was at https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B008OGD194 but availability varies.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

After a break, I'm back. And retired!

2016 was busy, hectic, and I ran out of time to post on this blog. However, after working at Harvard UniversityBank of BostonFidelity Investments, Apple ComputerSun MicrosystemsAdobe Systems and Silver Spring Networks (all world class companies), I decided to retire early at the end of 2016.
  1. To spend more time with my wife, family, friends, dogs, reading, writing, and outdoor activities. We'll rarely remember how great it was to work late, but we'll always remember the great times we had with family and friends.
  2. To do more to make our world a better place by helping:
  3. Trump shock:
    • I was shocked my country could elect someone so unqualified and harmful to the American values I hold dear: science, environment, health, education, children, equal rights, truth, justice, and professionalism. I realized that money was now less important to me than time and doing the right thing.
    • I chose to devote my professional skills and energy full time to make our world a better place rather than just making money -- to counter the evil in the Trump and Republican agenda.  
Thanks for reading! I hope to post more regularly going forward.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Zero Waste Resource List

I'm maintaining a resource list of good books, websites, and blogs on my website at http://www.timoey.com/articles/zero-waste.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Current Progress: Trash to Curb Once Every 3 Months

While I have not posted in a while, we have made excellent progress overall and it really has not been all that difficult to achieve either -- mainly forming new habits.

Currently we take our black 35 gallon trash toter to the curb once every three months. In 2015 it was usually once every two weeks. Our current goal is once per year.

Our green yard waste container goes out about once every two months (same as in 2015).

We take our green/blue recycling split cart toter (mixed paper on one side, glass/metal/plastic containers on the other) to the curb about once every two months -- used to be every two weeks like the trash toter but we have reduced our recycling as well as our trash stream since we are very focused on Reduce and Reuse.




Monday, February 15, 2016

BYOC - Bringing Your Own Container

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to bring your own clean reusable containers to stores.  This post expands on my previous one No More Disposable Plastic!

Some places like farmers markets, butchers, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Zanotto's, and Starbucks understand the value of reusable containers (saves both them and you money, reduces waste, helps environment) but others do not yet. If we all keep pushing, this will become increasingly accepted.

While cardboard ice cream containers are compostable in some municipal composting programs (but not in home composting),  composting them is still more waste than using a reusable container. Plus the cardboard ice cream containers do have some plastic in them.

I am currently waiting for responses from Baskin Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery to see if they will allow me to bring my own quart containers to their stores to get fresh packed ice cream. Cold Stone also makes its ice cream at their stores. I've had some shops say I could bring my own container while another said I couldn't. This ice cream is a about the same cost as Ben & Jerry ice cream and similar quality.

While I try to avoid plastic as much as possible, reusable polypropylene (#5 plastic) containers are my current favorites for shopping since they are inexpensive, light, nest compactly, do not break easily, can be frozen, recycle reasonably well when they do wear out, and are dishwasher safe. Glass is more recyclable but it is voluminous, heavy and breaks too easily. Stainless steel containers are very expensive and hard to find in the right sizes.

I do avoid microwaving in plastic because it can melt and it increases the risk of chemicals moving from the plastic into my food.

My current favorite reusable plastic containers are:

Glad Entree 3-1/8 cups containers -- They are square, compact, readily available at grocery stores, inexpensive, a great size for a sandwich or an individual portion for lunch or dinner or restaurant left overs. They also have a reasonably good seal. At Safeway they are listed as "disposable" but I've gotten about as many years of use from these as I have heavier plastic polypropylene containers.

Glad Containers Family Size Square 13 cups -- These are a larger version of the above and great for bulk foods (cereals, etc) as well as larger portions. They fit 3 pints of strawberries well when I visit the farmer's market. Prices for these at Safeway tend to be less than what Amazon charges.

Reditainer Extreme Freeze Deli Food Containers with Lids, 32-Ounce -- a standard round quart size that seals and freezes well. I hope to use these when getting ice cream in the future.


5/9/2016 Update #1: I found out that both Basking Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery allowed me to bring my own container.


5/9/2016 Update #2: California Food Code (a derivative of the US Food Code) explicitly allows consumers to bring their own containers to be refilled! Yay!

CALIFORNIA RETAIL FOOD CODE 
Excerpt from CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE 
PART 7. CALIFORNIA RETAIL FOOD CODE 
Effective January 1, 2016

CHAPTER 5. Cleaning and Sanitizing of Equipment and Utensils

Page 64

114121. 
 (a) Except as specified in subdivisions (b) and (c), returned empty containers intended for refilling with food or beverage shall be cleaned and refilled in an approved facility. 
 (b) Consumer-owned containers returned to the food facility for refilling may be refilled and returned to the same consumer if the container is refilled by an employee of the food facility or the owner of the container if the dispensing system includes a contamination free transfer process that cannot be bypassed by the container owner. 
(c) Consumer-owned containers that are not food specific may be filled at a water vending machine or system.



Waste reduction summary:
  1. Matter (material):
    1. Big win. The reusables last a long time before needing to be recycled.
  2. Energy
    1. Big win. No more disposables to manufacture, transport to me, and transport to dump/recycling. Washing uses a bit of energy but is sustainable.
  3. Time
    1. Neutral once you change your habits. Just need to be prepared and have your reusables on hand.
  4. Space
    1. Big win. No more disposable plastics clogging landfills or filling recycling/trash trucks. We already had space in our house for reusable containers.
  5. Money
    1. Overall seems to net out. Some things cost more some less.
  6. Environment/Health/Life
    1. HUGE win. Greatly reduces plastic use/waste.