Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green Toys for a Green Planet!

Green Toys Indoor Gardening KitWe received the Green Toys Indoor Gardening Kit as a gift a few years back because my son likes to help me in the garden.  I had seen Green Toys in stores but never really checked them out.  Reading the package for the gardening kit then going to their website, I learned that these toys are not only made from recycled milk jugs but also made in the USA - double bonus!  It is so hard these days to find toys made in America and with the economy the way it has been, I'd much rather be supporting American companies and workers.  Green Toys are BPA free and do not contain Phthalates or lead.  Also, their packaging is also very earth-friendly (and people-friendly - no twist-ties or hard, impossible to open plastic).  They use recycled corrigated cardboard to package their toys - that's it!  So they are also totally recycleable! 

These are all great qualities to me but what about the toys?  The Gardening Kit I received is very durable (still planting herbs in them over 2 years later!) and has withstood digging, banging, collecting things like stones (when they didn't have plants in them).  The kit came with a trowel, 3 pots and a base, seeds (basil, sunflowers and zinnias) and soil disks.  It was very easy to start our own window garden (even at age 2!).  This kit is very cute - the colors are bright and cheerful.  You would expect recycled plastic toys to a little dull, but not these!

Green Toys Tea SetSome of the other toys I have purchased or checked out include the Tea Set - super adorable and just what every little girl must have for tea time with the dolls; the Sand Play Toys - durable and ready for a summer full of beach and playground days; and the Tool Set - a must have when it's time to fix things!
Now Green Toys has feeding plates, bowls, forks and spoons , for "real" food in addition to their great line of "pretend" food cooking and service wear

They also have a good line of vehicles and boats for land and water play.These toys are made to last, manufactured with care for our
children, our country and our planet, and most importantly - they're fun! 

Search for Green Toys

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nothing says Summer like Homemade Salsa and Natural Chips!

Salsa is great all-year-round, but making it fresh with local or even home-grown ingredients is just something to look forward to every summer.  Fresh salsa is just the best!  I actually almost always make my own because it tastes so good fresh and is super-easy to make.  This year I am growing Roma tomatoes, Cherry peppers and cilantro in containers on my 6'x20' balcony right here in NYC! (along with lots of other things).

But first, I have to tell about my NEW favorite chip...Green Mountain Gringo Tortilla Strips!  These chips ROCK! We are kind of tortilla chip snobs and have tried just about every kind of chip lately looking for something that is lower priced, more natural but still taste good. These chips taste great - perfectly salted (not too salty and can be enjoyed plain), have excellent crunch and corn flavor and best of all - have an awesome shape!  The long rectangular shape are the perfect size for dipping and are just thick enough to hold any dip or salsa.  Because they are thicker, they also do not fall apart or break much during packing, shipping and displaying at the store - so more chips for dippin!  Best part - they are made with only 4 natural ingredients!  Masa Harina Corn Flour, Non-hydrogenated Canola Oil, Salt.  They have no preservatives, are cholesterol free, Gluten free and made from GMO free corn.  They taste like a tortilla chip is supposed to taste like - not greasy,  or with a hint of any flavor... just crispy corn flavor.  They also come in Blue Corn Tortilla Chips - my personal fav!  Buy these in bulk because if your house is like mine, they go really fast!  Amazon's price also cannot be beat!

So now that you have a great chip, here is a quick easy recipe for great salsa:
  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small or 1/2 larger onion (depends on your taste), chopped
  • 1-2 small hot peppers (Cherry peppers are milder, Fresno & Jalapeno peppers are med-hot), chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (more or less depending on your taste) - fresh cilantro gives it that great summer-fresh flavor but you can also use dried (maybe a tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of hot pepper sauce or dried hot pepper flakes to taste (if you like a little heat)
  • Other things you can add if desired: chopped green or red peppers either raw or roasted or chopped tomatillo

If you like chunky salsa, just chop everything and mix in a bowl - chill for at least 30 mins.
If you like smoother or medium chunky salsa (I do!) put everything in a food processor or blender and just give it a little quick blending - or longer for really smooth salsa.  Chill for 30 mins.