Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Post - Do your bit for the Environment and Cycle!

After Christmas and the New Year celebrations, it is normally this time of year when the January blues start to set in, and most people start setting resolutions as they promise themselves to detox and get fitter.

So, there is no better time than now to start thinking about how these resolutions can not only help your own well-being but also the environment.
Nowadays, we are all becoming more environmentally focused, trying to do our bit wherever we can and live a greener lifestyle, whether that’s re-using carrier bags in supermarkets, buying organic produce or recycling effectively at work and at home.

Primera Sports - a leading bike retailer - is going to outline for Reduce Footprints how taking up cycling this New Year can not only fulfil your resolution to get fitter, but will also help save the environment. Primera Sports readily tries to encourage people to cycle and educates them about the environmental benefits that go with taking up this sport. Here they explain why cycling can help make your life a lot greener and provide top tips for anyone looking to get into cycling this New Year.

The Facts

In this day and age, most people own a motor vehicle which they use regularly for trips; trips that could easily be undertaken in a more environmentally friendly manner. One option to reduce your carbon footprint would be cycling for these trips instead, therefore avoiding the harmful emissions from being released into the eco-system.

Cycling in rush hour traffic is a low carbon way to travel that will not only reduce your queuing time, but will also improve your fitness levels. By taking your car off the road you will cut the level of CO2 emitted, as a vehicle in traffic will produce three times the amount of emissions than one travelling at a constant speed!

The Kit

So if you want to hang up your car keys and cycling sounds like something you would like to take up then you will need the appropriate equipment to ensure you are safe and to also improve cycling performance.

Firstly, you will need to choose a bike that suits the type of cycling you will be undertaking (whether that will be road or off road), and that the bike fits your body; if you are not comfortable on your own bike this will hinder your ride as well as deter you from cycling in the future.

A great range of bikes to check out if you are looking to get a new bike is the Specialized range. Specialized bikes are expertly designed by people who understand what makes a great bike. Their innovative designs enhance performance because of their lightweight frames and augmented characteristics. With a bike for every terrain you may encounter, you can be assured you will find a Specialized bike to suit you.

At Primera Sports we also offer customers a bike fitting service to ensure every bike is properly fitted, making every mile more comfortable!

Next you will need to think about the cycling clothing and accessories, especially if you are thinking about using a bike to commute into work. There are many reputable cycling brands on the market such as Assos and Endura clothing that craft cycling clothes perfect for any budding cyclist. You need to ensure that the clothing you pick combines insulation and breathability; this makes it more versatile and allows you to wear it in various different conditions.

When cycling you must consider your safety; if you are going to be riding in the dark then make sure you can be seen by others by having lights installed onto your bike and wearing high visibility clothing. A helmet along with other protective clothing should also be worn at all times to prevent injury, or reduce the severity of the injury if you do have an accident.

We hope this post has been informative and will encourage you to take up cycling in 2013. At Primera Sports we are committed to encouraging people to get into this sport and enjoy the numerous benefits of bike riding, not only for the environment and to improve fitness but also for the fact that cycling is a fun hobby to have!

If you would like to find out further information or would like to have a look at a great range of cycling clothes, accessories and equipment (along with the ones mentioned in this post) then take a look at http:///

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, why not give cycling a go?

This piece was written by Roger Knott who works at Primera Sports, where his true passion for cycling shines through. With years of experience and knowledge of the sport, Roger along with all of Primera’s staff are able to provide their customers with expert advice on all different aspects of cycling. As an avid cyclist Roger is committed to getting more people interested in the sport, and working at Primera helps him to achieve this.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Guest Post:
Lowell Milken Center - Finding Hidden Heroes

The Lowell Milken Center grew out of vision that that through diligence and proper use of resources it is possible to foster teaching excellence and high quality student performance in American schools. The Lowell Milken Center strives to change the world by developing projects that include the concepts of respect and understanding in the curriculum of American schools. Their innovative projects address various under-recognized aspects of the education system and work to change those elements as they encourage both students and teachers to spread respect, understanding and recognize the accomplishments of hidden heroes.

The nucleus of the Center began in 1992 when philanthropist Lowell Milken and educator Norman Conrad were looking for ways to collaborate on their shared goal of promoting a strong and vibrant American school system. Milken and Conrad agreed that educational projects that stimulated students to think and produce quality research were vital to promoting excellence in education and for the spreading of tolerance and respect. In 2007 they established the Lowell Milken Center (website: from where additional programs could be launched into America's schools.

Individual students as well as groups of students are invited to develop their project with the Lowell Milken Center. The projects may include a documentary, performance, website, exhibit or essay which focus on unsung heroes. Students are required to keep records of their research which should include a thesis, data analysis, project outline and research involving both primary and secondary resources.

One of the Center's first projects, a student-based research assignment, morphed into the acclaimed Lowell Milken Center Discovery Awards. The Discovery Awards are a pioneering innovation in which students from around the United States are invited to develop quality projects that focus attention on "unsung heroes." Prizes are awarded for these endeavors. To date the project has reached over 625,000 American students and produced numerous additional projects which may then be studied by other students and teachers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tips For "Amping" Up Our Green Routine

On a recent POLL we asked everyone to rate their green living efforts. A few people said that they are are just beginning the journey ... the majority said that they are doing a lot but feel there's more to be done. That got me thinking about how people who are living a predominately Eco-friendly life could amp things up. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you feel there's more you could be doing, begin by first determining what those activities are. Once you've determined what needs to be done, start planning. There might things on your list which are totally out of the question ... things like building a new home. On the other hand, perhaps something like building a home isn't an impossibility ... it might even be a dream. Whatever the activity, big or small, determine how you'll achieve it ... and then begin taking steps to make it happen.

  • Start a green living blog, write a regular Eco-feature on your existing blog or search out companies looking for articles on the environment. Nothing kicks up our efforts more than talking about them. As you research and investigate issues, you'll be amazed at how much you'll learn ... and that translates into positive changes to your green routine.

  • Do a home audit. This can be professionally done or you can do your own audit. To do it yourself, you'll want to start with a baseline ... something which tells you where you're at compared to similar structures in your area. The Energy Star site has an interesting TOOL to help. Follow that up with their HOME ADVISOR which includes a lot of great information for "fine tuning" your home. If you have an old or historic home, check out the EPA's ADVICE. Conduct a HOUSEHOLD WATER AUDIT. Once you've completed your audits, prioritize the improvements, taking into consideration the cost and time involved, the necessity (a water leak may be a higher priority than a programmable thermostat) and whether or not you'll do it yourself.

  • Become an activist. Most of us agree that our government officials need to take the environment seriously ... CONTACT your representative and voice your concerns. Sign environmental petitions from sites like Care2 or take one of the actions listed at ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND. See a restaurant, business, market, etc. doing the wrong thing? Write to them and encourage them to make positive changes. Becoming an activist moves your green efforts out of the home and into the world.

  • Join a local environmental group. Being part of a green community can open doors to new ways of living green. It's also a great way to become aware of efforts in your neighborhood ... things like cleaning up rivers or starting a recycling program.

  • Take a class. Nothing generates enthusiasm quite like learning ... and there's so much to learn in the environmental field. I did a quick search using the term "environmental classes Asheville" and found a number of offerings. If you'd rather learn from home, check out free online courses like the ones listed HERE.

Living green isn't a one-time activity ... it's an ongoing process. By expanding our vision and dreaming big, we can infuse our green living activities with energy and excitement.

How will you amp up your green routine?

Image courtesy of ponsulak /

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tempeh Neatballs Recipe & The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe Review

When I first became vegan, I immediately tried to recreate my favorite meat dishes into meatless meals. It didn't go well! In fact, it's a true testament to my stubbornness that I didn't give up the whole vegetarian idea ... those early meals were that bad. Oh how I wish I would have had The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe by Mark Reinfeld. This book is terrific! Mark Reinfeld and his contributing chefs, people who really know what they're doing, have come up with plant-based makeovers of the classics from France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, United Kingdom and more. These are the foods which many of us grew up with ... foods like Cacciatore, French Onion Soup and Bangers & Mash ... foods which, before now, many vegans had pretty much given up hope of ever eating again.

Like any cookbook, the recipes in The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe are the "stars". But this book is so much more. In a section entitled "How To Use This Book" the author discusses various dietary choices and how the book accommodates them. There's a section for those who are gluten free, those who have given up sugar and those who have adopted a raw-foods lifestyle. I've recently chosen to go oil-free in my cooking and was happy to see that the author shares information on how I can accomplish that when preparing his recipes ... or any recipes, for that matter.

The last part of the book contains valuable information, including a conversion chart ... important for those who are more comfortable with the metric system. It also includes one of my favorite parts of the book ... grain and dried bean cooking charts. Both of these charts include a wide variety of items and offer cooking times, ratio of water to grain/bean and approximate yield. And finally, under "Supplemental Information", one will find discussions on on topics like preserving the environment, going organic, and GMOs.

Now for the "good" part ... I've tried several of the recipes in this book and they are delicious. Each one was easy and quick to prepare. I have the pleasure of sharing one of them with you today. Let's get the legal stuff taken care of:

From the book The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe by Mark Reinfeld. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012.

I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe!

Serves 6 to 8


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
16 ounces tempeh, diced finely
1/4 cup oat flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or other soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground fennel (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Oil for sauteing
1 (12-ounce) jar pasta sauce or Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce (page 35 in the book)

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the oil for sauteing and the pasta sauce, in a large bowl and mix well. Form into ten equal-size balls (think golf ball size) and set aside.
  2. Pour the oil into a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh balls and cook until slightly crispy and browned, about 7 minutes, gently flipping to ensure all sides are cooked.
  3. Lower the heat to simmer, add the tomato sauce, and cook for 5 minutes, gently stiring occasionally.

  • You can also bake the tempeh balls. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the balls on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Gently flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes. If you wish you can flip every 5 minutes, rolling the balls on a different side with each flip.

To order this book (including ebook versions, domestic & international orders and options to order both online & offline) click HERE.

I received a copy of "The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe" in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the material reviewed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reduce Footprints is back (so is #CTWW & #MtaGt)

Happy New Year and welcome back to Reduce Footprints. We have a new look and some exciting activities planned for 2013.

Last year, before leaving for hiatus, I asked readers the following question: "What would you like to see on this blog in 2013?" I got some great responses and plan to incorporate them into this year's activities. Here are a few changes we'll start with:

  • Challenges will no longer include a requirement to return to this blog for an update. You'll simply be asked to accomplish the task. However, since I believe we learn from each others experiences, you are always welcome (and encouraged) to come back and update us on your activities ... it just won't be a requirement. Similar to last year, I'll continue to promote your participation via social networks.
  • I'm going to try to increase the impact of our challenges by including political pressure. Some of our challenges will ask that we sign petitions, write letters or accomplish other tasks designed to let our government and corporate leaders know that we want to "green-up" the world. If you have any other ideas on how we can do this, please let me know!
  • Some of you have asked for product reviews and favorites. So, I'll be sharing my thoughts on various Eco-friendly products and will be accepting requests for reviews of the same. Also, you are invited to share your thoughts with Reduce Footprints' readers. If you're interested in having your review featured, just drop me a line HERE.
  • It's been suggested that I include some topic posts this year so ... I'm going to get back to writing. Stay tuned!
  • This year we're going to include some surveys. Perhaps we'll ask you to imagine the world in 20 years and answer questions about how green you think the world will be ... maybe we'll ask about various green activities and find out why or why not you're embracing them. Hopefully it'll be a fun way to evaluate our environmental commitment.
  • We've had a request for more vegan recipes and since it's one of my most favorite subjects ... I'm happy to oblige. I'll be searching out delicious meals and even, perhaps, creating a few of my own.
  • Last (but certainly not least), I've been asked to include more pictures ... mine, yours ... possibly pictures of our green lives. I'll admit, I'm not good about pictures but I'll give it a try. If you have pictures that highlight something green in your life and would like to have them featured on Reduce Footprints, send them to me along with a descriptive paragraph or two.

So what do you think? Sounds like fun, doesn't it!!

Let's kick things off with a survey. Please answer the question using the poll gadget and then leave a comment elaborating on your answer.

Do you feel your green efforts are

Don't forget ... use the comments section below to tell us why you chose your answer.

Thanks everyone ... see you next time!