Happy Sweet 16 – 1996 McDonald’s Hamburger!

Hard to believe it was 16 years ago when I decided to purchase a burger from McDonalds to replicate an experiment I had heard about.  The full story of the1996 McDonald’s hamburger can be found here.  In the meantime, Happy 16th Year – you still look like the day I bought you!!

The Box I Keep It In – unrefrigerated, unfrozen, as is ….

The 1996 McDonalds Hamburger – September 2012. Looks Like The Day I Bought it!





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Donella’s Potato Salad

This summer we’ve been experimenting with different versions of potato salad.  So far, my friend Donella’s creation is my favorite

cube and boil 5lbs organic potatoes  – leave skins on, drain and cool.   Add a head of broccoli and a head of cauliflower – chopped. Add one bunch of fresh parsley and cilantro chopped,  and 2 bunches of slivered green onions.

Combine a 3 – 1 ratio of olive oil – plum vinegar ( I had never had plum vinegar before! WOW! It’s awesome!) Add fresh cracked pepper.  ( no need for salt )

Mix together. Top with sunflower seeds!


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Book Review – Kicking The Plastic Habit – Author Beth Terry

Who comes to my mind as the top influencer in shifting ones ideas to a more plastic free lifestyle.   Beth Terry!

My first impression of Beth?  Not so impressive. When I began reading green blogs I thought a LOT of them were too crunchy/weird for me.  The image of Beth, sitting in the middle of her living room surrounded by a years worth of her plastic use? I don’t think so.

I changed my mind about Beth thanks to the collective of amazing woman from Green Moms Carnival.  Not only did I get to know Beth Terry – I actually got to meet her!

I can speak volumes to the respect I have for Beth. The single thing that captivated me most about Beth is her genuine desire to explore how she could make personal changes regarding plastic use. This emotionally driven hobby of sorts, became a profound passionate and influencial personal expression.

Beth Terry’s book: Plastic Free :: How I Kicked The Plastic Habit And How You Can Too is an honest, practical and tremendously resourceful guide about ridding ourselves of the evils of plastic in our lives.

I was given a pdf version of Beth’s book to review – since finishing it I find myself thinking about the information in it ALL the time.

While I typically don’t buy books I feel this is a book I seriously want to have on hand.

I love that the book itself is constructed completely plastic free and shipped in an equally non-plastic manner

My five top take-a-ways of Beth’s book: 

ONE – Plastic is a synthetic coal derived substance that has been made into tens of thousands of “things”  that never ever existed before in nature – nature hasn’t a clue what to do with it all  

I love this description. 

TWO – Additives to make plastics color, strength,  and it’s significant character,  “leach”  causing harm to those who ingest it.   The presence of this harm is in our blood. The levels of these chemicals on our body is quite frightening.

THREE – Recycling is a bit of a farce – it’s a glorified solution that makes our consumption habits feel better by sorting our one – time use consumables into piles that somehow “go away”   The reality and the complexity of recycling is beautifully explained in Beth’s book.

FOUR – Beth champions many simple eliminate plastic from one’s life strategies;  like –> taking your own bag to the store, acknowledging that we have bottled water drinking problem, ways to be on the go and not create to go garbage,  and using a personal glass straw!  She introduces one to the many companies who take back their one – time use products and take on the responsibility of re-using their waste.  All of these ideas are simple and wonderful shifts one can easily make.  If using glass straws was the norm, we could eliminate the need for the useless garbage we create by needing to sip from a straw in the first place!

FIVE – Our addiction to bottled water  — an author friend of mine shared that there is a 5 million dollar advertising campaign convincing us we don’t have time to cook.   A similar campaign tells us we need to buy bottled water. The truth is we don’t.  We need to be re-educated.

Our Beth offers her readership the show your plastic trash challenge!   Basically she invites you to look at what your plastic waste trash is from a single week, and to share the results on her blog! She then encourages you to take that waste and find way to reduce the plastics in your life. Her book gives you every single solution you can possibly imagine !!

I love it.

Beth – thank you for opening my eyes and my mind.  I love how honest and enthusiastic you are !! I admire your tenacity, your grace and your generous sharing heart.   Knowing you personally I am also grateful for how you make me laugh!!  You are a wonderful resource for a tangible way to make a difference for this planet!

P.S. Beth – I hope you know how often you wiggle into my mind. Often when I am a consumer – I say to myself  “what would beth do?”

Karen Hanrahan and Beth Terry – Chicago BlogHer 2009

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Quality Soy Protein After Lap Band Surgery


Lap Band surgery is a surgical option for those who suffer from obesity.  It is a procedure that helps make the stomach smaller helping the patient lose weight.

Did you know that the needs for protein post lap band surgery increases by 30%?

With meals limited to only 3 very small meals a day.  It’s a challenge for those post Lap Band Surgery to meet the protein needs to maintain health and well being.

Our Soy Protein is something many post lap band surgery patients swear by.

It is:  

low calorie

non-gmo soy

assimilates easy

a complete protein.

If you are considering Lap Band Surgery and seeking quality options  for what to eat after your surgery consider our Soy Protein and our quality multi-vitamin.

Comprehensive Why Protein Post Here

note:  this blogger is not recommending lapband surgery – merely offering a quality protein solution for those who have had or a are considering this procedure

image by Karen Hanrahan 





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Back To School = Sick Kids

This post is for this month’s green mom’s carnival hosted by Micaela Preston of Mindful Momma

The topic is Back To School.  It’s our 5th annual!! Wow!

Ever notice that when the kids get back to school they start to get sick?

Ever wonder why?

Could it be germs?

Ever think about them?

Ever think about them in relationship to back to school?

the doorknobs
the desks
the teachers desk
the pencils
the pens
the chairs
the computer key boards
the chalk
the eraser
the books
the drinking fountain
the lunch table
the lunch box
the milk carton
the cafeteria
the washroom
the gym
the locker room
the bus

need I go on ?

Everything mentioned above are items that are touched by EVERYONE over and over and over.

Would you agree that the germ factor in the school environment is HUGE?

My mom clients come out of the woodwork every back to school time.

I NEED some vitamins!! My family is already starting to get sick. “… the minute my kids get exposed,….” they say.

Breaks my heart.

What is it about school that makes my child sick?

Perhaps it’s the use of toxic chemicals in the classroom or around the school’s property, some states thanks to the Green Schools Initiative are making strides to remedy that.

Perhaps it’s because very little cleaning actually occurs in the classroom.

Add the average american diet, horrific school lunch programs, high sugar consumption and stress, not to mention in the fall there is a shift to cooler weather.

All of these things contribute to reduced immune function.

Reduced immune function equals sick

Oh don’t forget the germs. Lots and lots of germs.

I don’t advocate germ hysteria or paranoia

Basic hand washing will get many of us very far.

I personally feel that anti-bacterial stuff is a bunch of hooey

I will say this …

Consider a happy back to school gift for the teacher

Give them this handy dandy canister of non-toxic germ wipes.

They can use them to actually clean the door knobs and computer key boards or everything!

Best yet maybe the teacher would let you come in and do a “daily wipe “.

That way you know it’s getting done!

P.S.  It never hurts for you and your kids to take your vitamins too!!

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Green Top Grocery Starts Owner Drive

Remember that local seed starting campaign I shared a bit back?  Well,  proudly that little bit of asking yielded a whole lot of upfront starting capitol for this budding enterprise!!

How cool is that!? 

Since they have created a new logo

( which if i may say… the design of it makes me so happy!)

Our new logo conveys the friendly, welcoming nature of Green Top Grocery. The exclamation point adds excitement and whimsy. The exclamation point doubles as a “growing thing” with leaves, representing Green Top’s emphasis on freshness and a vibrant community.  Many thanks to Melanie Shellito of Artezen, LLC for this fresh and lively design! 

And so begins the first of many owner drives … check out this event that looks like a lovely way to spend a late summer evening!!

We hope you are planning to join us at Connie Link Amphitheatre in Normal on Friday, August 24, to kick off Green Top’s Owner Drive!  The Amphitheatre is located at 611 S. Linden St.,to the south of the Park Maintenance Building.  You can get more information about being a Green Top Owner during this event–and join if you’re ready. (You can also check out our Fact Sheet for more info about what it means to be an Owner.)

Here’s our schedule for August 24:

6:30 pm: Live music, picnicking, family fun, and Silent Auction of local food baskets

8:00(ish): FREE public screening of GROW! An inspiring 60-minute documentary that captures the energy and independence of a fresh crop of young farmers, aiming to solve some of the current system’s inequities by growing clean, fair food.  Free local popcorn, too!

Bring your own chair. blanket, and picnic!

Our initial goal is 500 Owners for Green Top.  When we reach this goal, our first 500 Owners will be invited to be participate in a photo like the one to the left to celebrate this major milestone in development of our co-op.  What do you think? How long will it take? Can we recruit 500 Owners in 30 days?

Green Top Grocery would like to thank PrairiErth Farm for their generosity in underwriting the cost of showing GROW! at this event.

above info source from green top’s newsletter. 


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Local Photographer Helps Launch Kickstarter Campaign

My ideal photographer scenario is to work with projects that resonate with me and create images that tell story.  This came to life and launch yesterday thanks to something called Kickstarter.   Are you familiar with Kickstarter?  I know I wasn’t.    Kickstarter is a crowd sourcing medium for raising funds for creative start ups and projects.  Basically guys like “The Blokes”   set up a profile.  They share an idea/ concept  “Two Blokes And A Bus”  and decide on a dollar amount they want to raise.  They then send it all in to Kickstarter and if approved they get 30 days to market their idea online and on FB !! It’s absolutely fascinating.   Kindly click on and read what these clever and talented gents are up to,  be sure to view the video – at the end are some very funny bloopers.  It is optional to donate, of course if you do that would be wonderful.  It’s also super cool to share this with folks who you know – getting the word out will help these blokes bring essential street food to our community!!

Who might you know who could benefit from my image telling services? I am actively seeking projects!!

image by karen hanrahan 

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Natural Digestive Issue Solutions

Your summer travel tummy ache solutions could include these medicinal herbs:

Acidopholus/ Bifidus: Travelers diarrhea is more common than one might think – This particular brand guarantees half a BILLION live beneficial bacteria directly to the small intestine. A balance of healthy bacteria has been shown to boost the body’s natural defense capabilities.

Peppermint/ Ginger: Perhaps you get an upset stomach from driving, flying or boating.  Plan ahead for motion sickness. Using a blend of herbs including peppermint and ginger this product will ease motion sickness and it’s accompanying queasiness and nausea.

Senna: Constipated?  The herb Senna, which has been used for thousands of years is a natural laxative.  Senna and several other herbs provide a gentle and effective colon flush – it does not cause “emergency” trips to the bathroom – just a gentle encouragement of the muscles of the colon to get things moving again. This product is a “signature” formula for this particular company.

Plant based digestive Enzymes: Gassy? Bloated? Enzymes assist the digestion of all the foods you eat – many enzyme products are animal based – but this brand is a multi action plant based product – better digestion means better absorption of your food.






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Manufacturing Your Own Food

This post is for Green Moms Carnival hosted by Abbie over at Farmers Daughter.  

The topic this month is Food Independence.

I’ve never bought into buying ready made food.  Boxed this, frozen that, spaghetti sauce in a jar.  ick.   I didn’t want to spend the extra $ for prepared food.  AND I wanted my food to taste good.  To me manufactured food just didn’t taste that great.  Plus I wanted control over what I put into my body.  I decided to cook scratch to avoid things like excessive salt, sugar or food additives.

I realize when someone shifts from purchasing pre-made foods to cooking scratch the “Oh I have to actually make it”   moment is pretty alarming.

What’s the secret to manufacturing your own food?

A well stocked pantry!

A pantry is unique to everyone.  I can only example my own and hope it helps you!  Often a good cook book will offer tips for a well stocked kitchen – Moosewood was an inspiration for me as well as American Whole Foods Cuisine

Having ingredients on hand makes it easy to throw a meal together.   If you want to create a salad dressing from scratch and don’t keep olive oil around you may feel frustrated.

Here is typically what I have on hand in my pantry:

Oils:  olive, coconut and sesame.

Vinegars:  balsamic, apple cider and sherry

Spices:  dried – gosh, this depends on what you make,  my spices are eclectic – cayenne and crushed red pepper are a staple for me.  I have a mild yellow curry, and italian seasonings – i am a fan of thyme,  cardamom, star anise, etc … I use fresh – parsley, cilantro, basil and dill as often as possible.   I love a course kosher sea salt, and have a black and white pepper mill for fresh ground. Real garlic is a must!

I keep various seeds, nuts, grains, dried beans and pasta around. Right now I have:  dried garbanzo, white and black beans, sunflower and flax seeds,  wheat berries, raw almonds and pecans, wheat flour, a local organic corn meal for corn bread (!), wheat and spinach fettuccine etc

I often make and freeze soup stock but I also keep tetra pak’s of veggie, chicken and beef stock at hand. The same goes for tomatoes.  In season I will buy tomatoes fresh and simmer them for sauces.

I stopped buying food in cans a year ago to avoid BPA – formerly, I kept quite a bit on my shelves in cans – tomatoes, beans, tuna, hot peppers etc.  Now I buy items fresh or look for the item in a glass jar,  artichoke hearts are an example of something jarred I keep on hand.  I like to add them to an anti-pasto, egg salad, or for my homemade pizza. YUM!  Sun-dried tomato and dried mushrooms can add a little oomph to all kinds of dishes.

In my fridge one will almost always find: lemons, limes – seasonal fruits,  green onion, celery, carrots, potatoes and seasonal veggies.  These items again are crucial to have around for making.

In my fridge: Eggs – these i buy from a known farmer. Cheeses – some purchased local – typically I will carry a parmesan, a fresh mozz, feta and occasionally a sharp cheddar, manchego, or gorgonzola..  Other dairy I have on hand includes: butter, half and half, yogurt (all organic)

I eat a salad – centric meal just about every day — details about the anatomy of a salad can be found here.   To me this is as basic as it gets.  In my fridge now for salad making:  spinach, cooked beets, swiss chard, purple cabbage, cucumber, radish, kale and arugula, carrot, celery, sunflower seeds, plus my homemade salad dressing.

In my freezer one will almost always find meat, bread, sauces and cooked beans. One can do just about anything with a homemade spaghetti, and or curry sauce, cooked garbanzo beans for a quick hummus, cooked black beans to mash for quesadilla!!  Right now I also have pick me up juice popsicles,frozen fruit for smoothies, and edamame for snacking.

Breads:  ezekial brand sliced bread, tortilla’s and english muffins,  local whole grain bread artisan breads cut into smaller loaves to use as needed, foccacia bread for grilled pizza  ( all kept in my freezer)

Beverages:  water, water and water, wine, and in the summer I make a sun tea, sweetened with juice. ( in the fridge now is a pomagranite green tea with unsweetened cranberry)

Condiments:  I keep a dark mustard around, a safflower mayo – i used to make these, i use them so rarely, I opted for shelf life.  A black bean paste, thai red curry paste, sardine paste, tamarind paste, home made marinades, tamari, again my home made salad dressings. See my many archived recipes. for ideas of what to make and how!!

Planning:  Basically you are planning for three meals a day plus snacks,  you need to have all the things you actually eat available and or prepared – so that when life is full or grab and go, you are not scrambling.   This is where manufacturing comes into play – if you are not buying ready made food someone has to make it!!

Keep in mind local and seasonal.

Let’s take breakfast and add the seasonal and local element.  Right now in the summer I rotate my breakfast choices:    yogurt and fruit, granola and fruit,  wheat berries and fruit, a fruit smoothie, something eggy or toast w/nut butter or avocado.  Notice the pattern ?  Peaches and blueberries are awesome right now!!  Notice that I also do not eat the same thing day in and day out.

Keeping with the seasonal idea,  in autumn I will switch to oatmeal and top with cubed squash and nuts.  My smoothies might be heartier with peanut butter and a dash of espresso powder.  The combo potential is endless.   This is done with each and every meal.

The point is to get to know what is at your farmers market and cook with what is growing now. This was an adjustment for me in the way I planned and shopped.  I now start with the Farmers Market – get what I can and need there and fill in the rest of my needs at the grocery store.

Confession:  If I was super industrious I’d make my own yogurt and my own granola.  For me now? single?  In this stage of my life?  I buy these items.  Choice regarding any of this is super important – make what you can,  buy what makes sense otherwise!  It should feel good to you.

When to manufacture?  I am in such a habit of making my own that I don’t think about the when anymore.   If you are a working person an evening a week might be a good time to manufacture stuff. For others a sunday afternoon or perhaps early on saturday morning works well.  The point is to decide and then allot this time consistently.  Making foods requires a plan and steady grocery shopping. Again more planning.  But worth it!! I do a monthly “stock” shop, simply because grocery shopping is not my favorite task.   I fill in the fresh needs weekly. From May – October you will find me at the Farmers Market, I go here yes to buy what i want and need, but I also go because it’s super important to fuel this economy. The more we purchase locally the better!

What to make ? It’s completely up to you! This week I made a batch of beets, steamed a bunch of green beans,  made two summer salads, a marinade for beef, and a stir fry.   It’s been so hot — the cold salads have been perfect to just graze on.   refreshing and effortless.

In the winter I will make a new soup a week, stews, casseroles – usually 1/2 to eat, the other 1/2 to freeze. I will sometimes make my butter ( yes  – i make my own butter!)

Is this helpful??

What foods would you like to manufacture??

image credit Karen Hanrahan





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Collage – Simple Summer Activity

today’s super too hot you’ve got to be kidding it’s 103 outside today day,  found my daughter and I doing a simple inside summer activity.  

Collaging, inspired by the writings of Julie Cameron and Artists Way,  is something we’ve done, she and I, for many many years.  it’s simple, therapeutic and insightful.  quite often the collages are just beautiful.  i continually marvel at how relaxing collaging can be! 

supplies:  file folder, old magazines and catalogs to tear, scissors and glue stick.   allow about 90 minutes.

images by karen hanrahan 

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