While I occasionally bake, I am no Le Cordon Blue Chef. But Celine Fabre of Cuisine by Celine is. Chef Celine is a classically French-trained chef who helps people improve their diet for medical reasons — including leaky gut, diabetes, and cancer. Chef Celine and I aren’t exactly twinning in white chef hats and jackets, but we both share a passion for improving the health of others.
Many of Chef Celine’s clients cannot tolerate dairy and — let’s face it — that’s probably a good thing. Choosing plant-based milk alternatives is wise for your health, good for the environment, a no-brainer when it comes to animal welfare and a booming industry. Plant-based milk now accounts for 15 percent of total milk sales in the U.S., and that number is expected to rise over the next few years.
Speaking of rising, when it comes to baking with plant-based milk substitutes, it’s important to consider the flavor and texture you are seeking so your recipe doesn’t, errr, fall flat. Chef Celine suggests incorporating nut milks into baking since their taste aligns perfectly with sweet foods and tends to have a creamy consistency. First, take into account the dietary restrictions or health goals you are trying to achieve. Next, consider the nutritional aspects of each milk alternative. Lastly, consider the level of sweet or savory you want for your baked goods, and then choose your milk accordingly.
When baking with plant-based milk, in almost all cases, it’s best to stick with the plain, unsweetened, or original version. Chef Celine cautions against the sweetened versions since sugar is already present in a plethora of products today. “Skip the added sugar; most people easily over-consume the recommended daily intake or RDI,” she advises.
Chef Celine advises using plant-based milk when baking muffins or cakes. But she warns that these milks — especially rice and flax — tend to thin out when warmed on the stove for puddings or porridge, unless you plan to add a thickening agent such as flour. In addition, she suggests adding fruits to achieve or mask flavors from other ingredients in desserts. This can help compensate for the lack of fat, which normally brings crispiness and flavor to the finished recipe.
When it comes to creating savory sauces such as bechamel or purees, Chef Celine recommends using rice, pea, flax, or hemp milk. “I use them the same way I would use regular milk and adjust the quantity with the consistency I want to achieve,” says Chef Celine. She adds, “When the milk is the only variant in a traditional recipe [for example, no egg or gluten restrictions], these plant-based milks are just as good as regular milk and pretty neutral in flavor.”
Best Plant-Based Milks for Savory Dishes
Hemp & Pea Protein: Milks that are higher in protein fare well in baking and cooking; therefore, pea protein and hemp milk are great choices. Both types of milk are ideal in savory dishes due to their strong flavors.
If you wish to thicken the milk by curdling it with an acid such as vinegar, this will add flavor and thickness to your recipe. According to Veganbaking, vinegar activates baking powder and soda. This, in turn, increases the leavening (rising), which enhances the crumb quality of baked goods.
Rice Milk: Can be used for cooking and baking, although rice milk has the thinnest consistency. It’s best used in lighter, savory recipes like soups due to its watery texture. Rice milk is high in sugar, making it one of the sweetest milks, so it’s ideal for light dessert recipes.
Flax Milk: Great for baking or cooking, but its thinner consistency makes flax milk best suited for light, savory dishes.
Best Plant-Based Milks for Sweet Treats
Almond, Hazelnut, Walnut, & Cashew Milk: All of these milks can be used for cooking or baking. Due to their inherently sweet and nutty flavor, they are best in smoothies, desserts, and sweets or in any recipe where you desire a nutty or cheesy flavor. If you’re watching your carbohydrate and sugar intake, skip the hazelnut, which outweighs the others.
Most almond milk brands contain very few almonds — usually less than two percent. If you’re seeking a protein boost, skip all four and look for Orgain Protein Almond Milk, which harnesses the power of pea protein while providing a whopping 10 grams of protein per serving.
Macadamia Milk: High in monounsaturated (good) fat, macadamia milk is a wonderful source of something you may never have heard of: palmitoleic acid. This omega 7 is rare and virtually impossible to find in animal products. Macadamia milk is rich and perfect for decadent desserts and sweet treats. In fact, the Milkadamia brand recommends their vegan creamers in “everything from soups to sweet potato casserole.” They also recommend their Latte Da Milkadamia to create the perfect latte foam when steamed. Sold (they had me at foam).
Coconut Milk: You can use coconut milk in cooking or baking. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have a strong coconut taste; rather, it’s versatile and rich. According to Chef Celine, “Coconut milk is great for custard, but takes a lot more time to set compared to regular milk.” In this case, canned coconut milk might be a better option; it’s much thicker and is ideal in curry dishes, sauces, and for thickening liquids. Alternatively, concentrated coconut cream contains just coconut meat and is great for desserts such as whipped cream or pudding.
Oat Milk: Oat milk is great for cooking or baking as the flavor is very mild, but the texture is thick and hearty. With a combo of texture and a slightly sweet flavor, oat milk can be used in soups, sauces, or baked goods. Look for the gluten-free Oatly brand’s unsweetened version. Or, for my fellow froth lovers, check out their Barista Editions. “Oat milk does not break as much and keeps much of its creaminess,” explains Chef Celine.
If none of the above milks work for you, water lentil milk will soon be coming to a store near you. Or, try pecan milk. Chef Celine makes homemade pecan milk for a client who can’t tolerate any of the milks on the market. She uses it in quinoa porridge, cookies, muffins, and pancakes. “Pecan milk works well and I use fruits such as berries and bananas to achieve pleasant flavors,” she says.
Do you know the steps for recycling these common household and automotive products? Test your recycling how-to knowledge in this week’s quiz.
If this quiz raises questions or presents ideas you’d like to talk about, start a conversation with the community in the Earth911.com Forum.
Making smart sustainable choices requires practice. Earth911’s weekly sustainability quiz helps you hone your ability to recognize earth-friendly products and services. Through your daily choices — from transportation mode to purchases to waste disposal — you can make a positive difference.
Climate change is a hyperobject, that is, something so “massively distributed in time and space relative to humans” that we can’t easily wrap our minds around it. But unlike the distance between stars, we ignore climate change at our own risk. Fortunately, these contemporary books rooted in the tradition of environmental classics use solid research and clear language to enable educated action.
Dig into these essential books that will help you get your head around climate change and the challenges it presents humans as they charge into the future.
The Discovery of Global Warming
Spencer Weart, 2003 (updated 2008)
Sometimes the easiest way to understand complicated science is to follow the historical narrative of its development. The Discovery of Global Warming traces the history of research and discovery that led to scientific consensus on climate change.
The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change
Charles Wohlforth, 2004
Human beings naturally prioritize immediate rewards over long term goals. Until recently, the impacts of climate change seemed distant enough for most of us to ignore. Wohlforth was one of the first to document the immediate impacts of climate change. The Whale and the Supercomputer follows two groups in the Arctic — scientists and Native people — navigating a radically shifting landscape.
This Changes Everything
Naomi Klein, 2014
Klein’s meticulous journalistic approach is brought to bear on the relationship between economic systems and environmental destruction in This Changes Everything. Klein argues that the changes required to respond to the climate crisis should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a fortunate catalyst to transform broken economic systems that harm people as much as the planet.
The Great Derangement
Amitav Ghosh, 2016
Ghosh takes a break from writing novels to examine our inability to grasp the issue of climate change in his nonfiction book The Great Derangement. His awareness of climate change began with a tornado on a Mumbai street. Ghosh considers how literature, history, and politics each fail to address the climate crisis. The failure is so egregious, future generations will think we must have been deranged to ignore so something so significant.
Edited by Paul Hawken, 2017
The subtitle for Drawdown claims the book contains the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, and that claim may be close to the truth (even if global warming is not the most accurate term to describe the problem). Using meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers, Drawdown attempts to measure the collective potential of a broad range of solutions.
The Secret Lives of Glaciers
M Jackson, 2019
As a geographer, glaciologist, and National Geographic writer, author M Jackson has the scientific chops to write a book on climate change, but in The Secret Lives of Glaciers she takes a more human-centered approach to understanding an overwhelming subject. Her stories of locals living near Iceland’s glaciers illustrate the anthropogenic transformation of Earth’s systems.
Bill McKibben, 2019
No list of climate crisis books would be complete without Bill McKibben and his brand-new book. Almost exactly 30 years ago, he wrote The End of Nature, arguably the first wake-up call. In his newest book, Falter, the 350.org founder has produced a grim “I told you so,” that documents the current results of ignoring that early call and critiques the belief that technology will save us. Though depressing, Falter provides strategies for minimizing the damage going forward.
Do you have other recommendations for good nonfiction books on climate change? Share the titles with the community in the Earthling Forum.
Every tire on every car, truck, bus — and even bike — you see on the road will have to be replaced one day. It’s a fact. Thankfully, those hefty rings of rubber make some great crafting materials when it’s time to upgrade tires for safety reasons.
Considering you often have to pay a fee to recycle tires, too, wouldn’t it be great if you could repurpose them on your own? You can, with theseunique and innovative ideas perfect for any skill level or crafting ability.
1. Chairs & Ottomans
Turn a tire into an easy seating solution either indoors or outdoors. Perfect for outdoor weather, tires can be painted in bright colors or left as-is for an industrial look. For the seating area in the center of the tire, cut a piece of wood in a circle to fit over the tire’s open interior. Cover with a weather-resistant foam and fabric for a decorative accent. Indoors, tires make great ottomans and unique chairs for entertaining, too, and are especially ideal for kids. Cover them with a thick sisal rope or string for chic style.
The heaviness and sturdiness of tires, even when stacked, makes them a great material for end tables. Put a few on top of each other, add a top of glass, wood, or even granite, and you’ve got a piece of furniture that’s sure to bring on some comments from friends and family.
3. Tire Swings & Climbing Towers
Before the days of designer play sets, kids used to have fun on old-fashioned tire swings. There’s still nothing wrong with tire swings today and, in fact, tires can be used for all sorts of repurposed playground equipment. For a different kind of vertical challenge, build a climbing tower of tires.
4. Teeter Totters
Teeter totters can be created out of half of a tire and a piece of wood for younger children.
For more leisurely play, fill a tire with sand for a self-contained sandbox for the kids.
In the garden, why not use tires as hanging planters? Using some heavy duty rope or chain, attach the tire to a tree, rafter, or hook on the wall for a unique vertical planter.
7. Raised Garden Beds
Tires also make excellent raised garden beds, too. Simply set down the tire flat in the yard or garden, fill with potting soil, and add plants. Stack several up on top of each other for easier-to-reach raised gardens, or for plants with deep root systems.
8. Yard Art
Yet another way to use tires in the garden is to create works of art for personalized “sculptures.” Using some paint, and maybe a saw, tires can be transformed into dragons, caterpillars, frogs, ladybugs, and snowmen, as well as intricate sculptures.
What connects us all? Nature and our shared relationships through nature. Print or share We Earthling posters to inspire others with your stories. Would you like to share a photo and story? Drop by the Earthling Forum to contribute your photos and ideas.
Whether upgrade your home or build a new house from scratch, the recommendations below will help you create your dream green home.
1. Verify the Materials Your Builder Uses
Everyone talks about using eco-friendly materials in new constructions, but how will you know that’s what your builder is using? Don’t just take your builder’s word at face value. Ask them for a list of materials they’re going to use to build your home. Then, research those materials to find out if they’re truly environmentally friendly.
Before you hire a builder, discuss your eco-friendly preferences with them and find out which building materials they will use. If they aren’t willing to work with eco-friendly materials, look for a builder who is. As more consumers demand sustainable building options, we can expect a corresponding growth in builders who use them.
2. Be Willing to Pay for Energy Efficiency
While the majority of people build green homes to save money, some people do it strictly to reduce their impact on the environment. There’s no right or wrong reason to build an energy-efficient house, but be clear on how far you’re willing to go to save money and reduce your impact on the environment.
For example, will you give up running hot water in favor of a gravity shower out on the deck? Will you make your home so green that it doesn’t use any energy at all? Will you get out your rocket stove to cook all your meals? Where will you draw the line?
You don’t need to sacrifice modern comforts to save money and increase energy efficiency. Instead of eliminating a water heater to save money on electricity and water, consider installing a propane tank in your yard and hooking up a propane-powered water heater.
Although a solar water heating system — or a home solar power system — will cost you more up front, it will pay for itself over time. Going green is an investment that takes time to mature. Be willing to spend the money necessary to build a comfortable, green home.
3. Find Energy-Efficient House Plans
Despite the growing popularity of “going green,” green homes aren’t abundant on the market. Most new construction isn’t green, as sustainable homes are more expensive to build than standard homes. Until there’s a large market for green new homes, home builders won’t have an incentive to prioritize eco-friendly plans — which would eventually bring the cost down.
However, some builders have started offering eco-friendly house plans, and it’s becoming more common. For example, The Plan Collection provides a resource for sourcing house plans that consider the environment by using natural resources, recycled materials, and new technologies. The designs are simple and make use of all the space in the home. For instance, many plans feature large windows that take advantage of the sun’s natural light and heat.
4. Go Directly to an Energy-Efficient Builder
Some builders have partnered with the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program to build verified energy-efficient houses. This program uses a third-party to verify homes are at least 40 to 50 percent more energy efficient than typical new homes. Partnership requirements are strict, so you can be sure you’re connecting with experienced energy-efficient builders.
To find a builder who will create an energy-efficient house from plans, search the program’s database by state or by DOE partner, if you already know who you’re looking for. Partners of the program include builders, verifiers, training partners, lenders, architects, designers, and innovation partners.
5. Plan To Recapture Usable Water
A significant portion of the water you use in your home can be reused. Used water from sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines, called greywater, can be captured for reuse. Some people reuse greywater in gardens, while others reuse it to flush the toilet.
You can have your builder install a greywater recycling system in your new home, or you can build one into an existing home. If you’re building a new house, it’s easier to install it from the beginning so you get the exact system you want and don’t need to create workarounds.
Green Is Going Mainstream – Slowly but Surely
New green home construction isn’t the standard yet, but the day is coming when it will be. Until then, it’s up to you to source the right builder, the most efficient and sustainable materials, and modify traditional systems as you see fit to get your energy-efficient house.
Part of the fun of shopping with Mom was hearing the arguments that she sometimes had with the storekeepers on the avenue. She knew good produce and she knew her price. No one was going to make a fool out of her by trying to pass off anything that was substandard or too expensive.
Mom would pick up a bunch of grapes and make a face while inspecting it. She would then taste one to see if it was good. I remember her making a big deal about the price: “Ridiculous!” she’d proclaim. All under the watchful eye of the seller, who knew he could not get away with anything with this lady.
Shopping Wisely to Prevent Food Waste
In her later years, Mom would shop with three or four friends. They shared what they bought and depended on her to get the best price and quality. If a bunch of celery was too much for any one of them to use alone, they would each take some home. Or, if she wanted a watermelon, she and her friends would share the fruit and the expense. And there was no concern about excess food going bad.
While I have never had Mom’s flair for the dramatic, there are some really good lessons here: Get the best value for your money and prevent food waste. By knowing what is in season, what good produce looks and smells like, and knowing your price, you’re more likely to get the best quality at the best value.
Another vital part of preventing waste is knowing how to store produce — especially if you have more than you can eat before it spoils. This is where the grower or the produce vendor comes in.
Tap Into Your Food Vendor’s Knowledge
The other day at work, a man noticed my under-ripe banana. “That won’t be ready to eat for at least three days!” he told me, explaining that he knows this from his past experience as a produce man. He also warned me not to store bananas in the refrigerator; they would not be as tasty and sweet as when they can ripen on the counter.
I was grateful for his advice, and it occurred to me that experts like this man are a valuable source of information. Since then, I have tapped into his knowledge about such things as what to do with a bunch of celery or a gigantic head of green cabbage (cook it and freeze it, then find recipes!). So, I can buy these foods with confidence, knowing that they won’t wind up in the compost pile or the garbage.
It is a good idea to talk to your produce vendor or the growers from your farmers market or CSA. Learn how to recognize excellent produce and learn what is in season now — particularly in your region.
I think that most vendors would be glad to share their knowledge and to teach you how to store perishables and how long they will stay fresh. You might even get some good recipes!
You can then buy with confidence, enjoy your food, and prevent food waste!
A common misconception is that you can’t garden and make your own compost if you are limited on space. That’s simply not true! Anyone can take small steps to living more sustainably. And that includes gardening and composting your food scraps — even if you live in a small space.
Take the first step by picking up a packet of herb seeds and try container gardening. Or, join a community garden where you can have your own plot to grow whatever you’d like. No matter how big your garden is, you’ll want to start composting. Compost provides a great source of nutrients to your growing fruits and vegetables. And it’s easier than you might think!
While you can build your own compost bin, there are plenty of ready-made compost bins to help you jumpstart the process. And some are even designed to work well in smaller spaces. Let’s take a look at four options.
Earth911 teams up with affiliate marketing partners to help fund our Recycling Directory. If you purchase an item through one of the affiliate links in this post, we will receive a small commission.
The Compostio Indoor Composter is a stylish composter that will fit right in with your high-end kitchen. Unlike traditional composters, the Compostio needs to be plugged in. The electricity allows it to generate enough heat to break down even meat, fish, and dairy. And you get your compost in just two weeks. Measuring in at only 20 x 12 x 20 inches and weighing 22 pounds, the Compostio is great for apartment dwellers and others with limited space.
Does the idea of watching food compost make you a bit squeamish? Then the Mr. ECO Kitchen Composter with hideaway tumbler just might be the right choice for you. The patented lid locks in odors and hides food waste from your sight. Just dump your scraps in, turn the tumbler, and they’re gone. At 11 x 8.5 x 20 inches and weighing just 3.5 pounds, it’s small enough to place on a counter top. And it comes with mounting hardware so that you can hang it from the cabinet door under your sink. Note that the unit does use compostable liner bags.
Unlike the Compostio and Mr. ECO, the Envirocycle Mini Composter is designed for outside use. But with a small profile at 19 × 18.75 × 21.5 inches, and weighing less than 14 pounds, it works well on small decks, porches, or patios. It has a 4- to 6-week compost time, so even though it’s a smaller composter, you can produce enough compost to nourish a small garden. And it comes fully assembled, so you can start composting your food scraps right away.
The Worm Factory 360 Worm Composter. Image: Amazon
Vermicomposting is a great way to compost your kitchen waste as well. Worm castings provide rich nutrients for your soil. There are many vermicomposting systems on the market. The Worm Factory 360 by Nature’s Footprint has a profile that works well for smaller spaces. Measuring 17.9 x 17.9 x 14.9 inches, it can be tucked away out of site while it turns your food scraps into great compost for your garden.
Earth911 is getting ready for summer! Join Evelyn, Sarah, and Mitch to talk about preparations for a more sustainable summer. We can all make improvements in how we garden, cook, travel, and make changes in energy use. We start off in the garden with ideas about how to build DIY birdbaths, as well as how to use combinations of feeders and nativar plants to fill your yard with wild birds. While you’re enjoying new feathery friends, turn down the air condition with these ideas: window treatments, using fans for real cooling effects (don’t leave them on when you leave a room), and lower energy costs. We can also reduce our watering in the yard by embracing vertical gardening and arbors. Keep household and garden pests in check with natural repellents and remedies, including our list of natural oils and herbs that help prevent infestations.