Five Kitchen Swaps to Reduce Waste in Your Home

The kitchen may be the hardest place in the house to be eco friendly. Yes, we have reusable straws and a compost bin, but paper towels and zipper bags are a hard habit to break. It’s tough to switch food products you’ve been using for years to one with recyclable packaging. Bringing your own bags to the grocery store is hard to remember. I have been trying to be less wasteful in the kitchen, and these are the products that are helpful in my household:

1. Reusable towels instead of paper towels

I’ll admit, I haven’t been able to completely get rid of the paper towels. There are a few types of spills with kiddos around that I still don’t want to use a reusable item on. I’ll get there, but in the meantime, we have dramatically reduced our paper towel usage with reusable versions. Click here for one of the top rated brands: https://amzn.to/2ZF5Yvv or here for some cotton towels with a cute blue stripe: https://amzn.to/3uqijBI.

2. Plastic or cloth sandwich and storage bags

Yes, even in the kids lunches. This one is definitely the hardest for me to stick to just because of how often we use storage bags. But keeping those little plastic suckers out of the landfills goes a long way towards saving the planet! Click here to purchase clear plastic reusable bags in several sizes and colors: https://amzn.to/2NNRert or here for some very cute, patterned cloth bags: https://amzn.to/3kpu1IB.

3. Sustainable replacements for plastic wrap

I know…it’s so easy to just toss a bowl in the fridge with some plastic cling wrap and toss it when you’re done. But creation of single use plastic items need to be reduced as much as possible, according to this report. Mighty Nest, a company that sells all sorts of sustainable and nontoxic home items, has several great options for this purpose. Not only are they totally sustainable made, they are super cute. Click here to shop!

4. Nontoxic cleaning supplies

It’s hard to let go of the bleach kitchen cleaner smelling vaguely of lemons, because we’ve used it forever and it does work. But these chemical laden cleaners are not only terrible for the environment, they are terrible for you! And they often come in single use plastic bottles, which as we discussed above, needs to stop. Mighty Nest sells nontoxic cleaners at really good prices and uses refillable containers to cut down on packaging waste. Click here to explore what they have to offer. If you prefer wipes, you can go nontoxic there too! Click here for wipes that are nontoxic and biodegradable.

5. Glass storage containers instead of plastic

This one is probably the biggest investment, if, like me, you store tons of leftovers and baked goods and had dozens of cheap plastic containers. Glass doesn’t leach out toxic chemicals and doesn’t fill up landfills when tossed. This set has four pieces and two sizes. Click here for a 24-piece set with cute colored lids: https://amzn.to/3aH4sPI. Click here to shop Mighty Nests wide assortment of glass storage. If mason jars are more your style, click here: https://amzn.to/3bwSd7K.

These five steps will have you on your way to kitchen sustainability! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I will post more ideas and products as I come across them. If you likes this post, follow me on Instagram @modernhippiekitchen for daily content!

Decadent Cadbury Gluten-Free Brownies (with hidden spinach)

Brownies are asked for all the time in my house. It is difficult to get just the right combo of chewiness and fluffiness – the ratios have to be just right to get them how you like them. I have probably made 20 different brownie recipes and experimented with several of my own. This one is a little chewy, a little cakey, very moist, and has a sweet and saltiness I love. It also includes my favorite chocolate bar in the world — Cadbury Dairy Milk — and two cups of spinach, which serves to cut the sweetness, add moisture, and force some nutrition into my picky children. If you have picky eaters like I do, these brownies feel like winning.

Ingredients

  • Two sticks of unsalted, grass fed butter. (Click here for the one I like)
  • One large Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate bar
  • 1 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarse sugar
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your pan. I like to use a 9×13 baking pan lined with parchment and sprayed with coconut oil spray. For a thicker brownie, try a 9×9 pan like this one. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir to mix it. Place the spinach in a blender and pour the butter mixture over it. Blend until totally smooth and there are no chunks of spinach.

Crack the eggs into a batter bowl and whisk lightly until they are completely blended. Slowly whisk in the chocolate/butter/spinach mixture. Once blended, slowly add in the sugar, flour, oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the extracts, and mix just until blended (don’t over mix).

Pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Bake about 28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (check it at 25 minutes because ovens vary).

Allow the brownies to cool at least 30 minutes. These do crumble a little bit when warm, so send the kids outside to enjoy them!

Blood orange vinaigrette

Sometimes lunch needs to be simple but leftovers are scarce and sandwiches are boring! This dressing (which is really kind of a salsa-dressing combo) really amps up an easy salad.

Ingredients (to dress and top two salads)

  • One blood orange, peeled and diced
  • Two tablespoons avocado oil
  • Two tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • One jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • One tablespoon honey

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Allow to sit for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle. Drizzle the juice over your salad and top it with the orange and pepper mixture.

Homemade Spicy Green Chile Salsa

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know I am originally from New Mexico and that I use green chile a lot. Like – a whole lot. I love it and when I can get a big quantity of it I’m all in. I found this 3 lb. bag of it recently and tucked it away in my freezer for just the right occasion. I woke up last weekend craving a big bowl of green chili salsa, so I figured the time was right. The heat of this salsa obviously depends on how hot your green chili is, and it can really vary. I usually find that it is not as spicy as a jalapeno or a chipotle salsa, but if it’s too spicy for you, it can be tamed by cutting it with a can of tomatoes or some roasted tomatillos for a true salsa verde. My recipe is pretty basic and goes well with everything. This made enough to fill several jars at my house, so it’s great if you want to make someone a homemade gift or freeze some. I did link to the exact green chili I used in this recipe and it is an affiliate link.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs chopped and peeled green chile (Click here for the kind I used)
  • 2 large onions
  • 3-4 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic (or about four to six cloves)
  • Juice of two limes

Directions:

Chop the onions finely and saute them in the avocado oil in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat for about ten to fifteen minutes, until they are very soft. Add the green chili (defrosted if yours was in the freezer like mine). Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow it to cook for at least 25 minutes, or until the chilis and onions are soft and most of the liquid is gone. About ten minutes in, add the garlic and the salt. Once it is cooked thoroughly, add the lime juice and stir.

This would go great with chips but we liked it as a veggie dip. This salsa shines when you put it on top of eggs or on a baked potato, too!

Five Kitchen Swaps to Reduce Waste in Your Home

The kitchen may be the hardest place in the house to be eco friendly. Yes, we have reusable straws and a compost bin, but paper towels and zipper bags are a hard habit to break. It’s tough to switch food products you’ve been using for years to one with recyclable packaging. Bringing your own bags to the grocery store is hard to remember. I have been trying to be less wasteful in the kitchen, and these are the products that are helpful in my household:

1. Reusable towels instead of paper towels

I’ll admit, I haven’t been able to completely get rid of the paper towels. There are a few types of spills with kiddos around that I still don’t want to use a reusable item on. I’ll get there, but in the meantime, we have dramatically reduced our paper towel usage with reusable versions. Click here for one of the top rated brands: https://amzn.to/2ZF5Yvv or here for some cotton towels with a cute blue stripe: https://amzn.to/3uqijBI.

2. Plastic or cloth sandwich and storage bags

Yes, even in the kids lunches. This one is definitely the hardest for me to stick to just because of how often we use storage bags. But keeping those little plastic suckers out of the landfills goes a long way towards saving the planet! Click here to purchase clear plastic reusable bags in several sizes and colors: https://amzn.to/2NNRert or here for some very cute, patterned cloth bags: https://amzn.to/3kpu1IB.

3. Sustainable replacements for plastic wrap

I know…it’s so easy to just toss a bowl in the fridge with some plastic cling wrap and toss it when you’re done. But creation of single use plastic items need to be reduced as much as possible, according to this report. Mighty Nest, a company that sells all sorts of sustainable and nontoxic home items, has several great options for this purpose. Not only are they totally sustainable made, they are super cute. Click here to shop!

4. Nontoxic cleaning supplies

It’s hard to let go of the bleach kitchen cleaner smelling vaguely of lemons, because we’ve used it forever and it does work. But these chemical laden cleaners are not only terrible for the environment, they are terrible for you! And they often come in single use plastic bottles, which as we discussed above, needs to stop. Mighty Nest sells nontoxic cleaners at really good prices and uses refillable containers to cut down on packaging waste. Click here to explore what they have to offer. If you prefer wipes, you can go nontoxic there too! Click here for wipes that are nontoxic and biodegradable.

5. Glass storage containers instead of plastic

This one is probably the biggest investment, if, like me, you store tons of leftovers and baked goods and had dozens of cheap plastic containers. Glass doesn’t leach out toxic chemicals and doesn’t fill up landfills when tossed. This set has four pieces and two sizes. Click here for a 24-piece set with cute colored lids: https://amzn.to/3aH4sPI. Click here to shop Mighty Nests wide assortment of glass storage. If mason jars are more your style, click here: https://amzn.to/3bwSd7K.

These five steps will have you on your way to kitchen sustainability! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I will post more ideas and products as I come across them. If you likes this post, follow me on Instagram @modernhippiekitchen for daily content!

Oat flour pancakes, a gluten-free breakfast idea

Pancakes are a holiday staple around our house, but they always make me feel a bit sluggish—even gluten free ones. I discovered that oat flour doesn’t have that effect on us and this recipe is a little bit indulgent with the almond extract and salted butter.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups oat flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Salted butter (for the griddle)
  • Pure maple syrup (for serving)

Directions. Combine all of the dry ingredients thoroughly in a batter bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour four-inch circles of batter onto a hot griddle or pan, flip when batter becomes bubbly. These will cook just a minute or two, depending on your pan. I used a cast iron griddle and biscuit forms to make these perfectly round, but any pan will do.

Perfect Carrot Cake with Chocolate Chips: A Gluten-Free Dessert With Low Sugar

It’s almost spring, and to me, that means carrot cake. My six-year-old told me that carrot cake is her “favorite way to eat carrots,” which, is totally valid. I wanted it to be a little healthier than your typical cake, but I didn’t want to pretend I enjoyed a brick made of almonds and dates either. So this recipe was me compromising between something more like a bran muffin and an actual cake. However, it doesn’t taste like compromise. This cake is moist and somehow fluffy at the same time, was easy to make and is downright decadent. My husband, who is typically not a carrot cake fan, loved it (he said it’s the best carrot cake he’s ever eaten). It’s gluten free and can be used with any cream cheese frosting recipe, like this one.

Wet ingredients:

  • 4 medium to large large carrots, shredded finely in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 stick grass fed butter, melted

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 c gluten-free flour mix, cup for cup with xantham gum. I used this kind.
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • generous dash of salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients except chocolate chips thoroughly in a large bowl. Mix all wet ingredients in another bowl with a whisk. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a large spoonful at a time and mix by hand until combined. Add the carrots and chocolate chips and combine thoroughly. Spread the batter evenly into a greased 10-inch springform pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Honeybee Sour — A Version of the Bee’s Knees Gin Cocktail

This is basically a fancified Bees Knees cocktail. I’m calling it, “Honeybee Sour.” We used grapefruit gin, lemon juice, almond extract, honey, an egg white and some club soda. This would have been great with some thyme or rosemary as a garnish but I didn’t think of it in time. There’s always tomorrow!

For two:
Grapefruit gin (click here for one we love)
Juice of a whole lemon
About two tablespoons honey
1 tsp. almond extract
1 egg white
Shake all of the above ingredients with a couple cubes of ice. Pour into glasses like these and top off with club soda. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Brownies (with hidden spinach)

Brownies are asked for all the time in my house. It is difficult to get just the right combo of chewiness and fluffiness – the ratios have to be just right to get them how you like them. I have probably made 20 different brownie recipes and experimented with several of my own. This one is a little chewy, a little cakey, very moist, and has a sweet and saltiness I love. It also includes my favorite chocolate bar in the world — Cadbury Dairy Milk — and two cups of spinach, which serves to cut the sweetness, add moisture, and force some nutrition into my picky children. If you have picky eaters like I do, these brownies feel like winning.

Ingredients

  • Two sticks of unsalted, grass fed butter. (Click here for the one I like)
  • One large Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate bar
  • 1 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarse sugar
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your pan. I like to use a 9×13 Pyrex lined with parchment and sprayed with coconut oil spray. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir to mix it. Place the spinach in a blender and pour the butter mixture over it. Blend until totally smooth and there are no chunks of spinach.

Crack the eggs into a batter bowl and whisk lightly until they are completely blended. Slowly whisk in the chocolate/butter/spinach mixture. Once blended, slowly add in the sugar, flour, oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the extracts, and mix just until blended (don’t over mix).

Pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Bake about 28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (check it at 25 minutes because ovens vary).

Allow the brownies to cool at least 30 minutes. These do crumble a little bit when warm, so send the kids outside to enjoy them!

Caipirinha with a twist

After several hours of yard work yesterday, I was craving something light and fresh. This is a take on the classic caipirinha, with a mix of different citrus flavors and some added herbs. I also rimmed the glass in a combo of sugar, salt and tajin for a little more of a kick. Recipe below: (this post contains affiliate links).

For two:
4 oz cachaça liquor (if you don’t have this, some people sub rum, but I think it tastes more like tequila)
2 oz lime juice
2 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz simple syrup
4 mint leaves
Several sprigs of thyme
Lime flavored lacroix water to top off

For the glasses (I love these)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp tajin
1/2 tsp salt
Mix together on a small plate

First, wet the rims of the glasses and coat them in the tajin mix.
Place the liquor and the herbs in a shaker and muddle them well, until you can smell the thyme and mint. Add the juices and the simple syrup and a cube or two of ice and shake for at least 30 seconds.

Strain into glasses over an ice cube. Top off with lacroix. Garnish with lime or another mint sprig.