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Archive for the ‘General nutrition’ Category

 

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Happy New Year! I hope your holiday–no matter how you celebrated it, was merry and bright, and that you’re looking forward to embracing a new year.

Depending on how you lean politically, you may feel a bit of dread as you look to this new year. Or you may feel the pressure to make big plans and set high goals for yourself. We expect so much of ourselves these days–much more than other people expect of us if we stop and really think about it.

Lately, I have been chastising myself for not posting more recipes or product recommendations or summaries of scientific findings. But between caring for my children and serving as the interim executive director of my foundation (link), I haven’t had time for any of it except snapping off photos of some of my meals and daily adventures.

When the new year rolled around, my first inclination was to set targets on how many posts I should publish, how many projects I should complete for the foundation, how many miles I should run weekly, etc. But after some careful thinking, I decided that what my main goal should be is to slow down, ease up, be gentler on myself and more present in the lives of those I love. The “shoulding” is a slow killer. We are not superhuman–none of us.

I don’t want to appear sexist, but the “shoulding” problem appears to affect women more than men. If men do only one job, and they do it well, they are often generally satisfied with themselves. But women seem more prone to setting unrealistic targets across multiple areas of their lives, and this isn’t healthy or sustainable. The woman you may know who raises perfect, well-adjusted kids, stays amazingly fit, produces incredible creations from her kitchen, runs a company, serves on a bunch of non-profit boards, and stays up to date on current affairs, is paying the price in some way. Maintaining that level of achievement and busy-ness takes its toll. We are all just human, and the day holds only so many hours.

Doing too much makes us prone to all sorts of health problems that can present in an immediate and obvious way, like a cold or flu, or slowly wear down our defenses, making us vulnerable to more serious illnesses.

So during this winter season (at least for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere), when you suddenly think of one more thing you could/should be doing, stop. Make a cup of tea, take a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood, read a fun article in a meaningless magazine, and slow yourself down.

While the rain and snow do their thing outside your window, try making golden tumeric milk. It will warm and nourish your body and boost your immunity. Tumeric contains curcumin, a very strong antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, a friend told me over the holiday, that she was able to avoid a costly surgery for her elderly dog, after the dog tore its ACL, by feeding it high doses of curcumin, glucosamine (cushions bones at joints) and hyaluronic acid (collagen building).

This milky tea takes minutes to make, yet has lasting benefits. Depending on where you live, you can buy fresh tumeric from your natural grocer.

 

Ingredients

1 cup almond or other non-dairy milk

1 thumb-size piece of fresh tumeric, peeled and roughly chopped

Several grinds of fresh-ground pepper*

1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of your choice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

A healthy pinch of ground cinnamon

*Whether you’re making tumeric milk or taking tumeric supplements, make sure you eat black pepper at the same time. Black pepper contains piperine which significantly increases (2000%!) the absorption of curcumin. Curcumin is also fat soluble so always consume it with a meal or a drink like this one that contains healthy fats.

 

Preparation

Put the first three ingredients in a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix, and blend until deep gold in color and frothy. Pour the milk mixture into a small saucepan and heat just until hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour into your favorite cup and sip away.

Enjoy!

 

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I’ve loved caesar salad since my days wearing Sears Toughskin jeans and saltwater sandals. But the high calorie count with minimal nutrition of conventional caesar salads started to severely limit the number of appearances the salad has made in my life over the past couple decades… Until now.

This kale caesar salad is my new obsession. I first stumbled upon the salad at a local juice shop, Urban Remedy. I immediately fell in love with their vegan caesar salad, but couldn’t stomach the price or all the plastic packaging they serve the salad in (and the dressing, and the chickpeas, and the “cheese”), so I decided to figure out how to make my own version.

This salad contains the best of everything–crunchy romaine with the added heartiness and health benefits of raw kale, fiber and protein packed roasted chickpeas instead of nutrition-empty croutons from bread, a delicious and creamy caesar dressing that doesn’t use egg or dairy, and “faux parmesan” cheese.

I eat this salad at least three times a week now. It’s so delicious, tastes rich, never gets dull, and gives me a big boost of energy without making me feel too full, ever. It takes a little work to get the various components ready–like roasting the chickpeas and making the dressing, but once you do, you can store the extras in airtight containers in the fridge and prepare future salads in just minutes.

 

Ingredients*

Greens:

4-5 kale leaves, washed, ribs removed, and chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch strips

4-5 romaine lettuce heart leaves, washed and chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch strips

Chickpea “croutons”:

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (I like this brand)

3/4 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Parmesan “cheese”:

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw hulled hemp seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp raw hulled sunflower seeds

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

Caesar dressing:

2 tbsp capers (vegan version) or 7 anchovies (jarred)

1 clove garlic crushed

5 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp worcesterhire

1 tsp Dijon

1 cup raw cashews

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

filtered water to thin

*The ingredients are for a salad for 1-2 people, but the dressing will make enough for 5-6 salads depending on size and how dressed you like your salads.

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375F (convection, if you have it).

Rinse and drain the chickpeas in a wire mesh colander. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with the cumin, 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Spread the chickpeas out on an edged cooking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes or until they start to brown nicely. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a food processor, pulse together 1/4 cup cashews and the seeds from the “cheese” ingredients until coarsely chopped. Toss together with the remaining “cheese” ingredients and set aside.

In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing except the water. Slowly add in a little water at a time to get a consistency you like. I like mine very thick, but you want to be able to toss the salad with the dressing and not have it stick in a lump.

Put the greens in a bowl, add in a little dressing and toss to coat. Taste and adjust amount of dressing as desired. Add in a handful of roasted chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of “cheese” per serving, and toss to coat. Serve immediately, although I find a good tossing helps soften and “break down” the kale, which I like.

Happy eating your greens!

 

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This is that salad–the one I can eat several times a week and never tire of. It somehow manages to perfectly balance the hardy structure of the kale with the silkiness of the spinach, and the chewiness of the cranberries with the toasted crunch and nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds, all with the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

I also love knowing that everything in this salad packs serious nutritional punch! Low calorie, high fiber kale for Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates, which help lower the risk of several major types of cancer, and 45 different flavonoids for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and the list goes on. Pumpkin seeds for heart healthy magnesium, immune boosting zinc and tryptophan for more restful sleep. Cranberries for Vitamin C, fiber and manganese as well as proanthocyanidins (PACs) for helping prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and protecting against certain types of stomach ulcers. And spinach for niacin and zinc, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K and a host of minerals. I know that if you’re a vegan or purest, you will likely take issue with the cheese, but I consider it a key component of this recipe, so let me know if you know of a vegan manchego cheese!!

I also appreciate how this salad can be made a little in advance, and still tastes great. If anything, the spinach and kale get even softer and more delicious when allowed to react longer with the dressing.

I hope you love this salad as much as I do!

 

Ingredients

(listed per person in case you’re just wanting a salad for yourself for lunch)

3 leaves dino kale, washed and ribs removed

1 large handful baby spinach

3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

3 tbsp aged manchego cheese, sliced into little “sticks” or shaved*

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp good quality Sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp honey

Kosher salt

Fresh-ground pepper

*I like a 12-month aged manchego made from raw sheep’s milk.

 

Preparation

Place the pumpkin seeds in a small oven-proof baking dish or ramekin and toast for 10-12 minutes or until you hear the seeds “popping.” Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, honey and vinegar in a medium-size bowl until completely blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the kale leaves into roughly 1/4-inch strips and add to the dressing. Toss to coat. Roughly chop the baby spinach leaves and add to the kale, tossing to coat. Add in the cranberries, seeds and manchego, toss, adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

 

Enjoy!

 

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Feeling tired too much of the time? Feeling pretty good in the morning, but fighting a serious slump in the afternoon between 2:00pm and 4:00pm? I’ve experienced days where I thought I could literally fall asleep standing up–and it usually hit me around 3:30pm. It’s one of the main reasons I did food-sensitivity testing, “went Paleo”, gave up gluten (95% of the time), etc. In the end, I think I was getting exhausted in the afternoon because my energy stores were simply too depleted by that time. My body essentially had nothing to draw on. I have taken specific and deliberate measures to change the situation, but I still have some pretty sluggish afternoon moments.

So many of us find ourselves overstretched on our commitments and overtaxed on everything else, especially in America where most jobs don’t abide by the 9-5 rule. Whether real or perceived, many people I know feel they’re expected to work 70+-hour weeks. Commutes have become longer and more stressful. I think mothers suffer the most… In many cases, even if they’re career women, they’re expected to work full-time and take care of the kids and the home, participate in school, etc. And moms who have quit or taken a break from their careers aren’t exempt. They’re often expected to volunteer significant hours at school, serve on non-profit boards, plan fundraisers, while raising the kids and taking care of the home.

Daily and chronic fatigue can result from many things, and what other expect of us and what we expect of ourselves is another discussion, but consider these common, relatively easy to remedy, causes of tiredness:

Dehydration

One of the most common causes of fatigue, is also one of the easiest to remedy. When your body doesn’t have enough fluid in it, your blood thickens making it harder for your body to get oxygen to your cells for ultimate functioning. Aim for 8-11 cups a day of filtered water, herbal tea or natural coconut water. Just take care to avoid too much caffeine (the relatively small amount in green tea is fine) or caffeinated drinks enjoyed too late in the day where they could disrupt your sleep. And beware of drinks containing too much sugar–including many juices and some smoothies, which will only cause your insulin level to spike and your energy to crash.

I like energy-boosting teas, such as Yogi Tea’s Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy with black tea, green mate, ashwagandha root and ginseng.

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Snacks

Snack on whole foods that provide quick energy along with plenty of nutrients. For example, pumpkin seeds give you…. I’m not a huge fan of seeds, but spiced pumpkin seeds are delicious, and offer just enough saltiness and zing to make them practically addictive. Try the recipe below from the ZenBelly Cookbook. A banana is a perfect mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up snack. In addition to three natural sugars, bananas contain fiber so you get an instant and sustained boost of energy.

Unless you’re strictly Paleo, be sure to consume a healthy portion of whole grains at lunch–barley, millet and quinoa are all good choices (unless, of course, you have an allergy to quinoa like I developed three years ago). Whole grains offer a sustained source of energy.

Have a low-sugar and nutrient-dense bar or slice of bread on hand for when he hunger pains strike or you start to feel drowsy. I like to make my own food, so I rarely buy “energy” bars, but there are some good ones available now that provide plenty of protein and fiber without a ton of sugar. I prefer to have a slice of grain-free bread such as the “loaded banana bread” from the ZenBelly Cookbook. I’ll be posting my modified recipe in the next few days.

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Sleep and body function

If you constantly feel overly tired, consider getting tested for thyroid dysfunction or hormonal imbalances. Avoid any screens at least an hour before you aim to go to sleep or buy yourself a pair of amber lenses that block blue light (and use them!). Also be sure to fall asleep by 10:30pm–latest, to work with your circadian rhythms for improved sleep and brain function.

Exercise

Make sure you get regular exercise, which studies show improves energy and sleep quality. Regular exercise also boosts mood, helps balance hormones and serves as a great stress reliever. So many people think they can’t make time for it, but exercise enables you to do more more efficiently–in other words, it uses time but actually buys you time. And even though my friends would call me a hypocrite to hear me say this, make time to relax and recharge your inner batteries.

Spiced Pepitas

Recipe from Zenbelly, although I slightly upped the amounts on all the ground spices.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp lemon, orange or lime juice

3/4 tsp finely ground sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp chipotle powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp coconut sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven the 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Toss well to combine.

Spread on the prepared sheet and bake for 5 -7 minutes, or until the seeds become crisp and slightly puffed. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The seeds keep for weeks, but if they lose a little crunch, you can reheat them in a 350F oven for 2-3 minutes.

Be well and full of energy!

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You might recall a post from last year in which I described how I took a food sensitivity test that told me I’m highly sensitive to eggs, green peppers and pineapple. I also discussed how this type of test gets mixed reviews, but it continues to be very popular among alternative practitioners.

Well my daughter has been suffering from a mildly stuffy and/or runny nose for months. When I first noticed it last summer, I assumed she was getting an out-of-season cold–just a fluke. We were traveling in Europe, and I figured the long flights and significant time change were making her susceptible. When the mild “cold” came home from Europe with us, I assumed she must have seasonal allergies, or that she had developed an allergy to dust mites (covering all those millions of tiny Lego pieces strewn across every surface in her room) or pollen or something along those lines.

I took her in for an allergy skin test which showed she has very sensitive skin but isn’t allergic to any of the usual suspects. On the doctor’s recommendation, I later took her in for an allergy blood test. Once again, it showed she isn’t allergic to any of the common allergens. I eventually took her to see an MD who’s also a Homeopath. After asking me a lot of questions about my daughter’s diet, her mucus and various other bodily functions, the doctor concluded she must have a food sensitivity and ordered the IgG test. The doctor suspected a dairy allergy, which I was secretly hoping for because I already substitute coconut and almond milk for dairy in most of my cooking.

Several weeks later we learned, that according to the test, my daughter is, like me, highly sensitive to eggs. Of course eggs would turn out to be the culprit! After all, I feed my kids eggs every day. My whole family loves eggs. I love to bake and nearly every favorite recipe calls for eggs. And we have three chickens. Not to mention, I consider the egg one of the most nutritionally perfect foods available. But alas and alack, no eggs for three months, said the doctor.

Since I never did give up eggs even after my igG test indicated I was highly sensitive to them (I just began eating them less frequently), I decided to not eat eggs for three months in solidarity with my daughter.

Here’s where you can envision the fingers drumming on the table and the foot tapping impatiently… We are three weeks into our 3-month sentence, and it’s tough going. Eggs are in everything–at least nearly everything we love. And I’ve practically stopped baking since it’s pretty difficult to bake anything decent without using eggs.

But I have discovered that there are some surprisingly good eggless versions of some of our breakfast standbys. For example, this pancake recipe is remarkably good, and just as easy to make as my oatmeal pancakes. I’m also experimenting with eggless waffles. When I get the recipe right, I’ll share it here. In the meantime, if you have an egg sensitivity or simply want more eggless options, try these delicious, surprisingly light and fluffy pancakes.

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Ingredients (for approximately 6 4-inch diameter pancakes)

1 cup whole-grain spelt flour

2 heaping tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cup milk (cow’s or almond work best)

1 tbsp water

3 tbsp coconut oil melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preparation

Whisk together the dry ingredients.

Pour the milk into a 2-cup measuring cup. Add the water, vanilla extract and coconut oil to the milk.

Whisk the wet into the dry until just combined. Do not overstir. Let sit for 2-3 minutes.

Heat a large cast-iron or other griddle pan over medium heat. Add in a little butter or coconut oil and spoon in your pancake batter. Cook approximately 2 minutes or until golden brown before flipping over.

Serve with love.

 

Enjoy!

 

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I’m forever looking for different ways to eat more kale. After all, I do rank it as one of the best things you can eat, along with avocados, apples and eggs. Consider all the good kale can do for you… It helps lower cholesterol, it lowers your risk of at least five types of cancers, including prostrate, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder. It detoxifies the body and it provides at least 45 different flavonoids for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. What’s more, I love that unlike most lettuces, with kale you can freeze it, blanch it, massage it, as well as treat it like any other leafy green by chopping or blending it.

I ate a version of this salad at a local restaurant and have tried several times to replicate it. This comes pretty close, although the restaurant must use some sort of emulsifier in their dressing because I can’t get mine to have the same almost frothy consistency.

You will like the mixture of greens–curly kale, frisee and radicchio, combined with the crunch of the slivered almonds and apple and tender sweetness of the raisins. This makes a great lunch salad or side to any grilled fish or meat.

 

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Ingredients

Salad:

1 bunch curly kale, washed, dried, ribs removed and roughly chopped

1 small head radicchio, tough core removed, washed and roughly torn

1 small head frisee, stem removed, washed and roughly torn

1 Granny Smith apple, seeded and cored and chopped into cubes

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup slivered almonds (skin on)

 

Dressing:

1 small garlic clove, smashed

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

3 tablespoons sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp fresh-ground pepper

 

Preparation

I put most of the instructions next to the ingredients, so at this point, it’s all pretty straight forward. Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over the salad. Toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy!

 

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What’s your reaction to “Meatless Mondays”? Does it seem like a reasonable suggestion? Do you already practice it? Or does it instill a sense of dread that you’ll be subjected to a meal lacking in flavor and texture? Do you consider it purely a marketing ploy by some sector of our food industry? Are you simply wondering why I’m asking since I’ve often labeled my own diet “modified-Paleo”?

Well consider this… If every American went meat-free, just one day a week (or one extra day if he/she already abstains from meat at least one day a week), more than a billion animals would be spared each year from a factory farm life. A billion animals!! That’s insane, right? Furthermore, according to the Humane Society of the United States, “Half the world’s grain crops are fed to the world’s 65 billion farm animals—when more than a billion people suffer from hunger.” That last factoid is the reason I gave up eating mammals for 24 years.

Giving up just one pound of beef, (the most my family of four now eats in a week–by design), saves 1850 gallons of water, contrasted with a pound of vegetables which uses 39 gallons on average. We raise about 75 billion land animals globally for food each year. That raising causes a significant portion of the three largest greenhouse gas emissions–disrupting our normal weather patterns, increasing ocean temperatures and damaging ecosystems. And lest you forgot what an ecosystem is, it’s a biological community of interacting organisms and their environment–meaning, if you adversely affect one thing in the interconnected system, all the others in that system could also be adversely affected, and the entire ecosystem could eventually die.

For the sake of the environment and animals, consider adopting Meatless Mondays in your home. It will help our environment and save you money!! And if you’re already meat-free at least one day a week, consider going meat-free two or three days each week.

And I should clarify what I mean when I say I eat a “modified-Paleo” diet. (Several of you have asked because you’ve noticed I cook and eat many non-Paleo dishes.) Basically, by “modified-Paleo,” I mean I avoid grains and most legumes at least 75% of the time, and I avoid gluten more than 90% of the time. I consume very little dairy, and I try to eat only pasture-raised animals from local farms. I do not believe the Earth can sustain a majority of people eating a strict Paleo diet, which involves the consumption of relatively large amounts of livestock. However, I think a little red meat is sustainable, and I think it’s still environmentally responsible to eat moderate amounts of other meats, (poultry and seafood) depending on what species, where and how it was raised, etc.

I worry whether my family will get enough protein if I serve mainly vegetarian meals, so I am always on the lookout for good meat substitutes. I actually detest that expression, “meat substitute,” as it sounds like something a lab technician would use or a label tossed around by actors in a bad sci-fi movie. I prefer “faux-meat.” I also find myself wary of soy-based faux-meat products, since I’ve read so much literature on the adverse effects of the over-abundance of soy in many Americans’ diets.

I recently discovered Beyond Meat products, and I think several make good faux-meat options. While some of their products use soy as the base, the ground-beef substitute (“Beefy Crumble”) uses pea protein which I think shows a lot of promise–not to mention, it’s high in protein and fiber. Try my recipe for a basic pasta sauce with the added benefits of Shitake mushrooms. If you want meat, try making this dish using ground turkey–cooking it in a little olive oil before you saute the onions. If Shitake mushrooms aren’t readily available, substitute Cremini.

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Ingredients

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup Shitake mushrooms, brushed clean and finely chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh-ground pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 28oz can stewed Roma tomatoes

1 1/2 cups Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble

Pasta of your choice*

*My new favorite is Organic Red Lentil Rotini by Tolerant Foods, even though I photographed the bolognese sauce over a spaghetti-style quinoa, brown-rice pasta I also like. Tolerant’s Red Lentil Rotini is made from only non-GMO organic red lentils, give you a whopping 21 grams of protein per serving (and 13 grams of fiber), and provides large percentages of many important vitamins and minerals, including Calcium, Thiamine, Folate and Zinc.

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Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan or large cast-iron skillet. Add in the chopped onions and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms. Add in the spices, sugar and vinegar. Cook until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes more. Pour in the tomatoes and bring to a soft boil. Turn the heat to simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta of your choice according to instructions.

Add the Beyond Meat, ground-beef substitute, to the sauce mixture and heat thoroughly, about 3-5 minutes. Adjust salt as needed.

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Serve over your noodles with a little grated Parmesan if you’re not avoiding dairy.

 

Enjoy while savoring the thought that you’re saving 1850 gallons of water, spared an animal’s life and reduced green-house emissions!!

 

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