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Archives for January 2013

Chicken Alfredo with Roasted Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash

Chicken Alfredo with Roasted Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash

Things you’ll need:

  • 3lb-ish spaghetti squash
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 lbs. of chicken breast
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ½ lb. block of parmesan cheese
  • 3 or more cloves of garlic
  • 1 box of chicken stock or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil or nutmeg (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350.

Turn your crockpot on high and place your chicken inside. Cover with water or chicken stock. I prefer to use chicken broth or stock because it helps the chicken stay moist as well as adding nice flavor. However this time I did not have any chicken stock so I covered with water and added some chopped up onion, garlic, and a little bit of olive oil. You’ll cook this on high for 2 hours.


After you have gotten your chicken into the crock pot you’re going to start on your spaghetti squash. Use a knife to poke holes all around your squash. Place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and bake for an hour and 15 minutes.

While you’re waiting for your squash to cool, break your broccoli into bite sized pieces. Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet or in the roasting pan. Turn oven up to 400 and roast the broccoli for about 20-30 minutes. The tops will be a bit brown, but not burnt. Set aside.

roasted broccoli

Press and finely chop your garlic cloves. It’s best to let it “air” out for at least 10 to 20 minutes. In a medium sauce pan melt your butter on low heat, then slowly add your cream whisking all the while. Turn your heat up to medium. Once the mixture is heated through, grab your block of parmesan and start grating your cheese into the pan. Stir every so often and continue to grate all of the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and some nutmeg or basil. I wouldn’t add both, but hey it’s your sauce. Turn your heat back to low and stir often for 10 minutes or so. I add my garlic at the end because it retains more health benefits the less it’s cooked.

homemade alfredo sauce

When your squash has cooled enough, cut it in half. Scrap out the seeds and middle part, discard. Use a fork, starting at the side and shred the squash. It naturally forms “spaghetti” like strands.

Spaghetti Squash

Your chicken should be done at this point. Take one piece out at a time, place on a large cutting board and use 2 forks to shred the chicken into large chunks. I divide the shredded chicken in half. I use half for this dinner and store the other half for another dinner or to snack on throughout the week.

Shredded Chicken

Now you just put everything together. Place some spaghetti on a plate, add chicken, broccoli, and cover with sauce. Enjoy!

Chicken Alfredo with Roasted Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash

This was so delicious!  It’s so good for you! Very kid friendly as well, not only did my children love it, my cousins, who are notoriously picky eaters, ate it all!

If you makes this recipe we would love to hear what you thought. Leave a comment below or comment on our Facebook page.

 

Oil-Spills into Lake Keystone

About 4,800 gallons of crude oil spilled into Lake Keystone after a tanker truck overturned on a rocky embankment Saturday morning. The tanker was driving over the Keystone Lake land bridge, U.S. Highway 412. The tanker was clipped by a car that was driving with a flat tire.

Clean up has continued today. However, the winds today have made clean up more difficult. And the oil has been spreading into Bear’s Glen Cove, though most of the oil has been contained in floating barriers.

The oil sheen is estimated to be about 15 by 1,000 feet. Both the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the state Department of Environmental Quality are both monitoring the situation. Workers will be monitoring the spill for a couple of weeks. So far there have been no reports of fish kills.


Thankfully, no public drinking water is taken from the lake. And clean up experts said they don’t expect the spill to have much of an impact on the wildlife. And the spill shouldn’t pose any risks to any people. The Keystone Dam’s power generation hasn’t been hinder either.

The video below from NewsOn6.com shows the spill on Saturday.
NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |

 

 

The Eastern Redcedar Problem

juniperusMany Oklahomans are finding themselves coughing, sneezing, and with itchy eyes. The cause is very high pollen levels of eastern redcedar. The eastern redcedar is an invasive species that is very hard to get rid of.

The trees were naturally controlled by fires before settlement. The fires were either naturally caused by lightning or intentionally set by Native Americans. The fires helped keep the trees from spreading as much and kept them more confined to canyons and other places where the fires were less likely to end up.

As the area began to be settled, these fires became less frequent. This allowed the redcedars to become more numerous, grow larger, and more resistant. Prescribed fires are more difficult now, as homes are much closer together and many homeowners are lacking the knowledge to do a proper prescribed burn.  And lately the ongoing drought has made fires too risky much of the time. The shift in land use has also lead to more passive land management.


“The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) estimates that eight million acres in Oklahoma are currently infested with at least 50 juniper trees per acre. The encroachment is increasing at an estimated rate of 762 acres a day or nearly 300,000 acres per year. In July of 2002, the NRCS State Technical Committee, consisting of a broad representation of agriculture and conservation organizations, named juniper encroachment the state’s number one natural resource concern. NRCS estimates that $157 million is needed to address current conservation treatments involving juniper control.”- A Strategy for Control and Utilization of Invasive Juniper Species in Oklahoma

The problems from the redcedars are numerous. The redcedars are harming Oklahoma’s wildlife by changing habitats resulting in wildlife species displacement. The redcedars have been known to displace an entire turkey flock when they invade a turkey roost site. It’s thought that the current rate of invasion could cost Oklahoma up to 5,680 bobwhite quail coveys per year.

The trees are also a problem for livestock. If left untreated, a range site with the potential to produce 4,000 pounds per acre of forage may become infested with 200 trees per acre and that number will continue to grow as the years go on.

These trees have extensive root systems and use a lot of water. They also degrade watershed quality by increasing the amount of bare soil and increasing the potential for erosion. Landowners talk about the trees invading the areas around their ponds and greatly decreasing the water in the pond or even draining it.

Redcedars are also a fire hazard as they contain an oil that is highly flammable when dry. The trees also tend to have branches all the way to the ground which increase the likelihood that they would catch on fire during a wildfire. If you have ever seen one of these trees catch on fire, you know that they go up very fast, almost exploding. Many firefighters compare them to propane tanks.

Oklahomans with allergies and asthma are likely feeling the impacts of the redcedars. The pollen levels from the trees are very high right now. The Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic has issued this alert for several days now,

“VERY HIGH RANGE: Allergy alert. The alert is due to cedar pollen. This is an extreme exposure situation. Severe symptoms may be expected in pollen sensitive individuals. The more seriously allergic people should be advised to stay indoors as much as possible. This is especially true if a person has pollen sensitivity or allergic bronchial asthma.”

The economic consequences of the continued invasion, if left untreated in Oklahoma by 2013 (according to the Oklahoma State University Rangeland Ecology and Management 2001) is as follows:

  • Catastrophic wildfire- $107 million dollars loss
  • Cattle forage- $205 million dollar loss
  • Lease hunting- $107 million dollar loss
  • Recreation- $17 million dollar loss
  • Water yield- $11 million dollar loss

The redcedars do have many good uses. It’s wood is highly valued, cedarwood oil is used for fragrance, medicine, and more, and they provide food and shelter for wildlife. In 2010, the Eastern Redcedar Registry Board was formed to promote management and utilization of the eastern redcedar. The goal is to create a market for the trees in hopes of slowing their encroachment into nonnative habitats.

Oklahoma Horizon shares how the redcedar is being used in some good ways.

Has the redcedar pollen had you suffering lately? What are your thoughts on the ways Oklahoma is working to use the redcedar to help our economy while helping stop the invasion. Post your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo Credits: Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota. US FWS photo
Sources: FAQs about Eastern Redcedar
A Strategy for Control and Utilization of Invasive Juniper Species in Oklahoma

 

8 Easy Ways to Conserve Water

water

The drought is continuing and it shows no signs of ending soon. We are finishing the driest May-Decemeber on record, January looks to not be record breaking but very close. The precipitation for the rest of the month doesn’t look good, February doesn’t look good either. With communities racing to find water as lakes and other water sources dry up, we must all do our part to help conserve the water we have. Conservation doesn’t have to be a lot of work or sacrifice and if we all do our part we can help reduce the strain on our water supplies.

  1. Turn off the water when getting ready. Instead of running the water while shaving, fill the sink a little bit, and turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
  2. Only run full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine.
  3. Check for leaks in your toilet. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and if you see any in the bowl without flushing then you have a leak.
  4. When replacing appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine, look for the ones that use the least amount of water.
  5. If you have water left in a glass or from boiling something like pasta or vegetables, use the cool water to water plants.
  6. If at all possible, don’t water your lawn. We all love green lawns but with this water crisis it’s not worth the cost. If you really must water, do it as little as possible and make sure if your city as water restrictions that you follow them.
  7. Take showers instead of baths and keep the showers as short as possible. If buying a new shower head, opt for a lower flow one that will help save even more water.
  8. Put low flow aerators on your faucets. These are cheap and easy to install. They can save thousands of gallons of water each year.

These are just a few easy tips to help us all conserve water while we deal with this terrible drought and water crisis. If you have more tips please share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


Photo credit- Maegan Tintari

 

 

Oklahoma’s Water Crisis

oklahomadroughtEven with the rain and snow this month, the whole state is in a severe to exceptional drought, most of it under extreme to exceptional. Between January 9th, 2012 and January 7th, 2013, Oklahoma got 25.37″ of rain, that’s -11.27″ below normal, making it the 7th driest year since 1921.

The drought is putting a real strain on Oklahoma’s water supply. Oklahoma City is looking to have to take water from Lake Canton as Lake Hefner, a major source of water for the city, is the lake’s level is at an all-time low.

Taking water from Lake Canton is a very heated issue, largely because it is 9 feet lower than normal and there are major concerns about taking more water from it.  One fear is that if the lake levels fall more that a “fish kill” could happen.


The drought monitor is showing that Oklahoma’s wettest months, March, April, May, and June are going to be less wet than normal, so it looks like the drought won’t be ending anytime soon. With this news cities are even more worried about the water situation. Many cities have issued mandatory water restrictions in an effort to help the situation. Oklahoma City believes their restrictions will be in place through the end of the summer.

Oklahoma City isn’t the only city in trouble, Payne County Commissioners have declared an emergency for their water supply needs. One community in Payne County’s water supply could dry up in less than two months. They get their water from Lone Chimney Lake and it’s now 11 feet below normal, its lowest level ever. Currently the cold temperatures are helping prevent a “fish kill” but if one does happen the water would be untreatable.

A pipeline is being built from Stillwater’s water treatment plant to Lone Chimney’s plant but that could take another five or six months. If things don’t get better soon, water may have to be trucked in to residents. Farmers are struggling to give water to livestock as many ponds are also dry, adding to the issues facing the area.

Things are looking to get worse before they get better. And as the drought continues, more Oklahoman’s may face water shortages.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo Credits: Al Jazeera English

 

 

The New Cement Standard’s Impact on Oklahoma

adacementLast month the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally issued new air pollution standards for cement kilns and industrial boilers. This seemed like good news but the rules were weakened, leaving many asking if they are enough. With three cement plants in Oklahoma, this is an issue that will impact the lives of many Oklahomans. The plants are in Ada, Tulsa, and Pryor. Both the Ada plant and the Pryor plant are High Priority Violators of the Clean Air Act.

The EPA says the rules will,

“…achieve extensive public health protections by slashing toxic air pollution, including mercury and particle pollution, while at the same addressing feedback provided by industry and labor groups, increasing the rule’s flexibility and dramatically reducing costs.”


However, the new standards are being delayed two or three years for cement plants. The EPA is also finalizing the definition of solid waste, this will allow cement pants to burn tires, railroad ties, and plastic bottles.

With asthma in Oklahoma already above the national rates, with an estimated 241,011 adults and 88,825 children living with asthma, these new rules will help but are they going to be enough? According to the EPA’s estimates, not having more regulations could cost up to 2,500 lives and more suffering for people living with asthma.

The American Lung Association is also concerned, talking about their disappointment in a press release,

“We are most disappointed by the new EPA standard to limit hazardous air pollution from cement plants. EPA had originally set strong standards to limit the second largest source of toxic mercury emissions in the country. Industry pressure resulted in weaker standards and delayed implementation. Public health will continue to suffer unnecessarily because of pollution from cement plants. The American Lung Association will continue to urge EPA to uphold its responsibility as required by the Clean Air Act and clean up air pollution from all sources and protect public health.”

With many Oklahoman’s lives at risk, you have to ask why we aren’t doing more to clean our air. Jobs are important but can we really put a price on clean air and human lives?

What do you think about the new rules, do you feel they are strong enough or not? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/stateprofiles/Asthma_in_OK.pdf
http://earthjustice.org/features/campaigns/interactive-cement-kiln-map
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-epa-issues-air-pollution-standards-for-boilers-and-cement-plants-20121221,0,5216031.story
http://www.lung.org/press-room/press-releases/boiler-cleanup-cut-pollution-save-lives.html
http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/89029633e913cf8985257adb005351e6!OpenDocument
http://www.momscleanairforce.org/2013/01/14/are-the-new-weakened-cement-standards-enough/

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

recycle

Many cities in Oklahoma offer recycling for many products but there are some items that you likely can’t recycling with your city. Thankfully many businesses are starting to offer some great recycling programs for harder to recycle items. Here is a list of ten of those items and where you can recycle them.

  1. CFLs– CFLs have mercury and should never go in the trash, thankfully you can recycle them at Home Depot. If there isn’t a Home Depot near you, contact your city to find out how you can recycle them.
  2. Cosmetic Containers- Origins recycles cosmetic jars, bottles, and tubes. They will recycle any brand.
  3. E-Waste- Gazelle has a great e-waste recycling and sell back program. You can also take e-waste to Best Buy. And be sure to check with your city, they may also provide recycling. The city of Ada is one city offering free e-waste recycling.
  4. Styrofoam– This is one type of recycling that is normally very hard to find but thanks to the Choctaw Nation, many Oklahomans now have some place to saving dispose this item, without taking up valuable landfill space. There are many drop-offs around the state, contact the Choctaw Nation for more information.
  5. Brita Filters- Whole Foods accepts Brita Filters for recycling through the Gimme 5 recycling program.
  6. #5 Plastic- #5 plastic is also accepted through the Gimme 5 program at Whole Foods.
  7. Gift Cards- Best Buy accepts gift cards for recycling.
  8. Plastic Bags– Many grocery stores offer plastic bag recycling, check with your local stores to see if they do.
  9. Plastic Bottle CapsAveda recycles plastic bottle caps that can’t normally be recycled. They have a great guide to show you what you can take there and what can’t be accepted.
  10. Inkjet Cartridges- Best Buy and Staples will recycle inkjet cartridges.

Do you know of more places to recycle hard to recycle items? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


 

Favorite Green Finds of 2012

We asked some Oklahoma business owners and bloggers for their favorite green finds of 2012. And they gave us some amazing answers, check them out below.

favorites2012

“I love LaviShea because it really moisturizes my hands. I work with wool a lot, so the moisture really gets pulled out of my hands. This stuff is like magic… And it’s all natural and also vegan!”- Shauna of Bouncing Woolies


Rubbermaid Reveal Mop – No more wasted refills or harsh chemicals. I can now feel better knowing I can refill it with items right out of my pantry and I’m doing my part to help the environment. For more green tips check out Earth Day Tips 2012 “- Melissa of Consumer Queen

“My favorite green find of 2012 is Theraganics’ Shea Butter Cream. It’s such a rich and creamy product with limited ingredients. It’s great for my dry skin during the winter but not to heavy for summer use as well.” – Lisa of Retro Housewife Goes Green

“The Hygeia breast pump, is the only eco-friendly pump as they have a recycling program.” Taryn of Spirited Doula

“The vintage costume jewelry collection at Antiques Etc on Main Street in Ardmore, incredible vintage turquoise rings at Stash in Norman, the Lavender spritz & salts from Tall Grass Praire Soap Company & Marion’s Multi FowerHoney, Stratford, Ok.” – Dondi of Greenhouse and Muse Studio Vintage 

“I love Kleynimals. They are food grade stainless steel play keys for babies. They are completely free of lead, phthalates, BPA or cadmium. They are made in the USA and are assembled by a non-profit organization that gives jobs to developmentally disabled adults. I love them because I don’t like to give plastic toys to my kids, and real keys can have harmful chemicals. This is a great alternative, and babies love them.” – Elizabeth of The Changing Table

We would love to hear about your favorite green finds of 2012 as well, just share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photos are all property of the store owners.

A Journey into Cloth Diapering

We decided to dive in…to the world of cloth diapering, that is.  My husband and I decided this after our newborn gift stash of disposable diapers from our baby showers was gone and I went out to buy our first pack of diapers.  After paying 40 dollars for a bit more than 200 diapers, I knew something needed to change.

We have been flooded with all the questions in our heads: How will we ever learn the lingo, the types of diapers, and how to make this work for an average middle class family?  Not to mention questions from family members and friends: You have to touch poop?!  (Spoiler alert: You have to touch poop with disposables on occasion, too!) Isn’t your washing machine going to be gross with all the waste in there?  (Another spoiler alert: With a newborn, almost every outfit gets poopy and is thrown in the washer anyway).

As a disclaimer: I am a newbie, a first timer.  I do not claim to have any expertise on the subject other than being an active participant.  My husband and I mulled over the idea of cloth diapering for months.  After meeting several parents who have chosen this route and taking a class, we decided to try this out for ourselves.


We took a class at a local store, Green Bambino, when our daughter was about two months old.  The class was a couple hours long and they went over all the different types of cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and how to care for your cloth diapers.  After taking this class, we decided to start with what seemed to be the easiest (and cheapest) route: prefolds and covers.  Prefolds look a bit like kitchen rags and can be folded up like an old-fashioned cloth diaper and closed together with a Snappi, or they can be folded into thirds and put inside a cover.

diaper illustration

When it came time to make our resolutions for the New Year, my husband and I decided that fully diving into cloth diapering should be our number one goal for many reasons.

  1. The most obvious reason – cloth diapering is better for the environment.  Yes, you are using water and energy to clean and dry them, but the impact is minimal compared to a landfill of dirty diapers.  Also, you can line dry your diapers if you want to cut down the impact of using a dryer.
  2. We want to save as much money as we can and disposables end up costing thousands of dollars for the two years plus that you will end up using them.
  3. They are cute and can make a mundane task, such as changing diapers, entertaining.  (Entertainment is key for the stay-at-home mom!)
  4. There are so many options.  All-in-ones, all-in-twos, prefolds, flats, pockets, and so on.  There is a diaper for every occasion!

After the start of the New Year, we went to The Changing Table to set up our diaper trial.  We were able to pick out the types of diapers that we wanted to try out to see if we like them.  I gravitated towards mostly all-in-twos because I figured I could get the most all-day use out of them since as long as the waste doesn’t hit the shell, you can snap out the inserts and replace with a new one.  We, of course, decided that we needed to try more than one type of diaper so we were loaded up with a combination of all-in-ones, all-in-twos, pockets, nappies, prefolds, and covers.

We are now on Day 3 of our trial and have officially gone more than 48 hours in cloth without so much as touching a disposable.  I am looking forward to our future in cloth.

Are you interesting in cloth diapering or have you already started? We would love to hear your thoughts and tips, just share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

Featured Business: Greenhouse

Greenhouse is a great multiple business cooperative in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It’s such a great place to for anyone looking for green places to shop. We got the change to talk to Dondi with Greenhouse, and here is what she had to say.

GO: What was the inspiration behind starting Greenhouse? 
Dondi: Greenhouse was born from my first business Muse Studio Vintage, I developed the Greenhouse cooperative to house & incubate multiple small eco-friendly businesses like Muse. We grow together, we learn together, we share resources & talents. Greenhouse is prototype that we will be expanding on in other communities in the future.

greenhouse2


GO: Why is it important to you that your business is eco-friendly? 
Dondi: If most Americans look in there house and closets, more than 90% (in most cases)of the contents are manufactured outside of the USA. I am very passionate about making long term, sustainable choices so that we don’t leave a legacy of debt, and diminished resources to our children.

GO: What’s the best advice about going green you have ever gotten? 
Dondi: The best advice I’ve ever gotten about being green is “it’s a choice”. Living as a good steward is a choice, and we make that choice all day long , every day. We can do simple things like recycle our trash, or larger things like store rainwater, or install solar panels, but mostly we need to realize that every dollar we spend, every cup we throw away & every leaf we bag instead of mulch – has a long term impact.

greenhouse

GO: Why do you feel it’s important to support locally owned businesses? 
Dondi: Small businesses sustain our communities, when we buy outside of our town, state & country- that money goes where it is spent! As a retail provider, we have a commitment to only buying & selling local, organic, or recycled- that’s it- we don’t buy cheap stuff from outside the US and pretend like we are doing ourselves or our community a favor by selling it to them. If it’s not made in the USA,  it’s a dealbreaker for us. So many small businesses still buy cheap goods from outside of our country, we challenge them to take a sustainable approach and buy local as well.

GO: What is your favorite thing to do in Oklahoma? 
Dondi: Ah! So many fun things to do in Oklahoma! I love to walk down Ardmore Main Street in the evening hours, when shops are closed and everything is quiet, and I love to visit Sulphur and Davis- especially love the Chickasaw Cultural Center, it’s so beautiful and serene.

If you would like to learn more about Greenhouse, please be sure to visit their Facebook page, and don’t forget to tell them we sent you.

We hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about Greenhouse and the face behind the business. Be sure to let us know about other local green businesses you would like to see featured. Just post in the comments below, on our Facebook page or email us at gogreenokla@gmail.com.

All photos are property of Greenhouse.