Spinach, Mushrooms & More Melt

I love trying spinach melts, but they usually taste more like spinach and artichoke dip and are a bit too rich in my opinion to then make into a sandwich. However, after trying the spinach melt at Three Sisters Cafe I found one that I loved.

By the time I got around to trying to make it at home, I had forgotten most of the ingredients other than the spinach and gorgonzola cheese (yes, gorgonzola). I think they also included water chestnuts, but I never have those on hand. So instead, I sauteed the spinach with mushrooms. I then mixed that combo with some crushed walnuts and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. I put all of that on top of some artisan bread and baked it in the oven until it was a nice melted consistency.

The result was almost as good as Three Sisters, and is definitely one I will make again. The ratio of ingredients is up to you (I think I make mine different every time.) I also think that this would be a great heavy hors d’oeuvre to serve open faced on a mini toasted baguette.

Posted in Recipes by Rhaya on December 23, 2008 | Permalink | 1 Comment

Last Minute Gifts

For The Procrastinators

We’re in the home stretch now with Christmas less than a week away. Many online stores have passed the date you can order and receive by the 25th, and store shelves are starting to become more bare. Fear not, here are a few last minute ideas for those procrastinators out there.

Go local!
Support local businesses and find something unique by going to a store that isn’t a national chain. If you are in the Indianapolis area, check out Global Gifts, Celery Street, Silver in the City or Traders Point Creamery. If you are in the Columbus area, check out TehKu or the North Market.

Give a talent.
Great with kids? Good with a camera? Make a mean apple pie? Give a coupon that highlights your talents, whether it be babysitting, baking or photography.

Stop at the grocery or health food store.
Pair some organic wine or beer with a some other organic, edible goodies. Pop it in a basket or a reusable tote and call it a day.

Give the gift that gives.
Donations to a charity don’t have a shipping schedule. Give the gift of giving, and then make a card to let the recipient know which charity has benefited from a donation made on their behalf.

Get crafty. Fast.
You may have to burn a little midnight oil, but a homemade gift always comes from the heart.

Say it with a card.
A gift card that is! Gift cards are fast and easy, and have very little waste. So whether it be for iTunes or Whole Foods, a gift card is sure to be a gift that doesn’t go unused!

Share a CSA.
Your teacher always said “sharing is caring” so why not get someone a share in a CSA? Visit LocalHarvest.org to find one in their area.

Need more ideas? Check out our list from last year.

Posted in Holiday Gift Guide by Rhaya on December 19, 2008 | Permalink | 1 Comment

Give Chickpeas a Chance


This time of year, you are typically hearing about roasted chestnuts, but roasted chickpeas are a simple snack to serve for guests, or just munch on year round.

Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans) are a good source of fiber and protein. They are low in fat and packed with healthy vitamins and minerals. They are often associated with hummus, but these little protein powerhouses are tasty all on their own!

The chickpeas in this photo are Cajun flavored ones that I ordered from Feel Good Foods through Farm Fresh Delivery, but you can easily roast your own. Spice things up by trying some different variations such as Moroccan, Curry or Spicy.

Posted in Chew On This by Rhaya on December 18, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Meet Your Farmer

If you are anywhere near the Columbus, OH area this Thursday (12/18/08) be sure to stop by Tehku Tea Company for a “Meet & Greet” event with local farms including The Wayward Seed Farm, 2Silos, and Vanscoy Farms.

The event will give you the opportunity to learn more about Community Supported Agricuture shares and will fill you in on where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, and farm raised meat and dairy in the central Ohio area so you can start the new year off on the right track with a commitment to good food.  On Thursday you can also expect to taste some Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin Scones, Potato Soup made from Austrian Crescent Fingerling Potatoes, and, of course,  Tea!

The event takes place from 4-7 p.m. at Tehku Tea Company, 55 South High Street, Dublin OH.  Don’t forget to shoot an rsvp email to info@tehku.com and get your name entered into a drawing.

If you are not in the area but are still interested in finding a CSA in your area, check out LocalHarvest.org for a farm near you.

Posted in Going Local by Liz on December 16, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Smaller Gifts for Whomever

Stocking Stuffers

These little gifts are perfect for stocking stuffers or people you don’t know as well (like your Secret Santa at work or your child’s teacher.)

Wrap-N-Mat – $6.95 – Great for students and co-workers, Wrap-N-Mat eliminates the need for always packing that sandwich in a ziploc bag.

The Bubble Roome Goodness Bar – $7.00 – Choose from Clementine & Cedarwood, Grapefruit & Tangerine, Lavender & Geranium, Spearmint & Eucalyptus – These 100% Goodness Soaps are made using the cold process method and they have no synthetic fragrances, preservatives or dyes.

Staple-less Staplers – $12.00 – A unique and useful gift… perfect for a co-worker or college student.

Poo Poo Paper – Prices Vary – For a recipient with a sense of humor, this paper is made from naturally-dried elephant dung!

Felt Birds: Red and White – $18.00 – These 100% eco-certified felted wool birds make lovely holiday decorations, that may end up staying up well past the new year.

Organic Peppermint Bark – $19.00 – This seasonal treat is 50% off. A great gift for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Need more ideas? Check out our list from last year.

Posted in Holiday Gift Guide by Rhaya on December 16, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Charitable Gifts

The Giving Gifts

For recipients who prefer to give rather than receive, consider make a charitable donation to one of the organizations below. For more ideas, don’t forget to check out our list from last year.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund – Adopt a gorilla (or two) for the animal lover you know. The adoption allows “courageous trackers and anti-poaching patrols to continue to protect the 380 critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Virungas seven days a week.”

Make-A-Wish Foundation – This well-known organization has been granting wishes for almost 30 years.

The Nature Conservancy – The Nature Conservancy has a variety of gift options, from trees in Brazil to an acre in Australia.

Mercy Corps – Pick out a Mercy Kit that will help someone in need – whether it be a food kit for a family who just survived a natural disaster or a women in a developing country who is starting her own business.

Carbonfund.org – Give your eco-minded friend or family member the gift of carbon neutrality.

TisBest – Too many charities to choose from? Get a gift card from TisBest, and let the recipient decide.

Posted in Holiday Gift Guide by Rhaya on December 14, 2008 | Permalink | 1 Comment

Homemade Gifts

Do It Yourselfers

Hand-made gifts really do have a personal touch. Master one skill (like knitting) and you’ve got hundreds of ideas to choose from. Or, try a new skill with one of our suggestions below.


Almond Roca – Satisfy their sweet tooth with this decadent treat.

Double Dark-Chocolate and Ginger Biscotti – Another sweet treat. Pair this with some fair-trade coffee for a flavorful gift.

All-Purpose Spice Rub – Leave it to Martha to give us this all-purpose spice rub. Give it in an (reused) glass jar with a handmade label, and the recipient will think of you each time they use it.


Recycled Paper Ornaments – You don’t have to be in grade school to give a homemade ornament as a gift. I love that these are colorful and one-of-a-kind.

Paper Beads – Beads made from recycled paper are certainly in style, so why not make your own?

Repurposed Notebooks – Another way to re-use paper. If I could make one that looks even remotely as good as the ones in the photo, I would consider this project a huge success.

Homemade Beach Soaps – When it comes to the art of reusing, Danny Seo is pure genius.


Organic Cotton Man Scarf – This simple and eco-friendly scarf is great for guys and gals.

Messenger Bag – Rather than the typical tote, this messenger bag (made from plastic bags) looks too nice to use for groceries.

Textured String Bracelets – Don’t forget you can make something with all that leftover string!

Need more ideas? Check out our list from last year.

Posted in Holiday Gift Guide by Rhaya on December 9, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Pampered Pets

Woof and Meow

For some of us, our pets are part of the family and are not forgotten in our holiday shopping. If you do your shopping online, check out Paw Luxury for all your eco-pet needs. BONUS: If you enter the code: FIRSTFREE on the last page at checkout you will get free shipping on ANY order, even dog beds!

SAVE (Gifts under $25)

Jump ‘n Sit Bits – $5.35 – These all-natural treats are great for training or just giving as little rewards in general. Healthy ingredients and the small size make these a great alternative to larger treats with more calories. Have a cat? Check the “We Pity the Kitties” treats!

Eco Cat Toy by West Paw – $8.00 – This toy is made from recycled bottles combined with organic catnip. Have a dog? Check out the Eco Bone Dog Toy!

Woof Wild Natural Dog Balm – $10.00 – Protect your dogs paws with this all-natural balm. Also treats cracked paws, sore noses, hot spots, minor cuts and scrapes. Pure ingredients and no added scents make this a great product for pooches with sensitive skin.

RecycleBone – $12.00 – This durable bone is made entirely from rubber materials that would otherwise be discarded.

SPEND (Gifts from $25 to $100)

Canine Heritage XL Breed Test – $99.95* – If you are like me and got your dog from a shelter, you probably wonder (or are asked) “What type of dog is that?” (We get that question a lot with our dog Skyler — seen here taking a bath.) This DNA test will give you the answer! In addition to satisfying your own curiosity, knowing the genetic background of your dog can also give you any insight about their breed’s health and personality. * After Dec. 8, this price goes back up to $119.95

SPLURGE (Gifts over $100)

A Loving Home – Priceless – Perhaps you need a pet to pamper! There are so many cats and dogs in need of a good home. Introducing a pet to your home and family is a big commitment, but if you have the attention, time and finances available to commit to a furry friend, spend some time determining what pet is best for your home. (Two great sites are ASPCA.org and the Humane Society web site). If you decide you are ready to give a pet a loving home, visit your local shelter or PetFinder.org and give a dog or cat a second chance at a happy life.

Need more ideas? Check out our list from last year.

Posted in Holiday Gift Guide by Rhaya on December 5, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

Significant Others


You can check out the Lovely Ladies or Manly Men categories for ideas, or use some of the suggestions below.

SAVE (Gifts under $25)

Floral Cut-Out Picture Frame – $20.00 – This fair-trade photo frame is made using cast-off remnants from garment factories to produce the paper. Insert a photo of you and your sweetheart. Have a family? Consider supporting a local photographer and have some family portraits taken in the new year.

Glass From The Past – $22.00 – This pair of wine glasses is made from recycled windshields. Take the gift to the next level by adding some local and/or organic wine and cheese.

SPEND (Gifts from $25 to $100)

Grounds for Change: Coffee of the Month Club – $59.95 (3 month, 1lb.) – If you and your loved one both love a good cup of joe, consider becoming a “Coffee Explorer” with this fair-trade and organic cofffees.

America the Beautiful – National Parks Annual Pass – $80.00 – For those who love the outdoors, this annual pass is a great way to see all that our national parks have to offer. Great for families too!

A Romantic (and Local) Dinner for Two – Prices Vary – Take your sweetheart out to dinner at a restaurant that uses local ingredients. Look for one in your city at LocalHarvest.org or SustainableTable.com.

SPLURGE (Gifts over $100)

Vers 2X Sound System – $179.00 – The Vers 2X is a compact, all-in-one system with full-size sound and is the most sustainable iPod speakers around. Choose from bamboo or fast-growth eucalyptus, the Vers uses screws vs. toxic glues, uses no formaldehyde in the wood bonding, and they’ve have eliminated all plastic except where necessary or required. And the adapter and amplifier use up to 70% less energy than traditional speakers.

Volunteer Vacations – Prices Vary – Gear your next trip towards one that not only will help out a charitable cause of your choice, but will also leave you with more than just a tan when your return.

Time Together – Priceless – Skip the gifts and the wrapping and pick a day, evening or weekend to spend some time together. Consider supporting a local business and pick an activity you would enjoy to do together. From yoga to golf lessons to a weekend away (or in town!) at a Bed & Breakfast, time spent together is most often the best gift of all!

Need more ideas? Check out our list from last year.

Posted in Holiday Gift Guide by Rhaya on December 2, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments