Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day Thoughts

This Wednesday, April 22nd we recognize Earth Day 2009. This year to honor the planet I want to address an issue that, I think, is sometimes overlooked by even the most caring and seemingly aware citizen. This issue seems to disguise itself as a harmless habit, one that as an American motor vehicle driver, many of us practice daily as we choose a favorite song on our i-pod, send a text message then wait for a return text, or just wait for a buddy to run into the grocery store for a quick snack or drink. But this 'harmless' habit isn't at all. It releases unneeded harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere-a situation that most (I wish I could say all) of us want to avoid, don't we? You guessed it, it's vehicle idling. Here are some idling facts I've gathered from the 'Idle-free VT' website I feel we all should pay attention to:

IDLING CONTRIBUTES TO CLIMATE CHANGE. Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, including carbon dioxide (CO2), causes climate change. A serious threat to the planet, overwhelming scientific evidence links climate change to the earth's highest ever average annual temperatures, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, increasingly severe weather events, and threatens many plant and animal species.

IDLING EMISSIONS CAN AFFECT OUR RESPIRATORY HEALTH It should go without saying that when breathing, the cleaner the air, the better our lungs and nasal passages (that sit against and open up into the brain) will fare. And do I even need to mention the health of our children? Younger children's lungs are right about at the level of these toxic tailpipes as they walk by.

While modern light-duty gasoline vehicles are designed with advanced emission control technologies that have come a long way in reducing the emissions of harmful criteria air contaminents (CACs) such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and benzene, there are several factors that can inevitably cause increased emissions at idle: vehicle age, how the vehicle is maintained, wear of emission control components and their resulting diminished function, the warmed up state of a vehicle, and how cold the weather. In addition, light-duty diesel vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles have increased emissions

3. IDLING WASTES FUEL. While gas prices have decreased of late, the general trend is inevitably headed upward. Needless idling burns our hard earned dollars through the exhaust pipe. An idling vehicle gets 0 miles to the gallon. And remember that fossil fuels are being depleted in the face of ever increasing world demand.

Under a new administration that takes climate change and energy conservation seriously, please consider contacting your US Senator to team up with Sen. Bernie Sanders--VT, a U.S. Senate Environment Committee member, to work with other members of this committee (Sen. Barbara Boxer--CA, chair) to advocate for a federal program of idle-free awareness, as Canada has been doing for years. Also ask him/her to push automobile manufacturers to increase their mileage standards by adopting the Auto Stop-Start system for U.S. vehicles. This system, now utilized on certain European models, allows conventional vehicle engines to automatically shut off and restart seamlessly at stoplights, just as hybrids now do. To locate your state's US Senator, log onto:

For more information on idling, log onto

This Earth Day could be a great day to begin your intent to be mindful about shutting off your motor vehicle's engine whenever you:
- park your car and plan on being parked for more than 30 seconds.
- decide to wait at the drive thru at the bank, fast food stop, pharmacy, etc.
- drop your passenger off to run into the convenience/grocery store for 'just a minute'.
- decide to run into the store yourself for 'just a minute'.
- oh, and wear outerwear appropriate for the weather so you won't feel the need to keep the engine running to keep warm.

...and make every day Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vegan Carrot and Apple Muffins

This one was passed around at our last Ocean State Herbal Association meeting and was a big hit.
I thought you all might be interested in it. Again, these muffins are full of fiber, something we all need on a daily basis. In fact, the more fiber you eat in the morning, the longer you'll stave off hunger until lunchtime. So, forget those Dunkin Donut muffins! Try these for a change of pace!
They are YUM-MY!


Yields 12 regular sized muffins, 6 large muffins.

1 1/2 cups organic unbleached or whole grain flour
3/4 ground flax seeds
3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup brown sugar (I substitute date sugar or fructose sometimes)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt (I omit this)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups carrots-shredded
2 apples, shredded
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1 cup nuts (if desired)
3/4 cup soy/rice/hemp/almond/coconut milk
1 large, RIPE banana to replace 2 eggs or egg replacer (try ENR-G brand) to equal 2 eggs.
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together flour, ground flax seeds, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Stir in carrots, apples, raisins and nuts.
Combine 'milk', banana or egg replacer, and vanilla.
Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix.
Fill oiled muffin tins 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degree F for 18-20 minutes.

Leave in tins for a couple of minutes than turn onto a cooling rack.

Freeze extras if there are any left.