Required equipment: Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker, Blender
Direct prep time: 5 minutes

1 cup dried organic garbanzo beans
1 organic lemon (meyers are best)
1 large clove garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini

Soak garbanzo beans in pressure cooker with filtered water overnight.
Rinse the next day, then add 3 1/4 cups water, 1/4 or one large pinch of sea salt, and a dash or 1/2 tsp of olive oil.
Stir, attach lid to pressure cooker, and boil until the top spins.
Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes, 30 seconds (set timer to 15:30)
Turn heat off right away and let sit until ready to open (i.e. perfect time to do other stuff while getting ready in the morning! These beans taste so much better than the canned stuff).
Pour garbanzo beans in blender. Squeeze both halves of whole lemon into the blender, then add 1 chopped clove garlic, a dash of sea salt, and a tablespoon of tahini. Stir.
Blend on high until pureed.
Chill and enjoy!  Yields about 3 cups.
After watching the Low Impact Man documentary and Bag It, I decided to begin a plastic-free diet which evolved into a No Trash Diet.  We are all aware of the environmental impact of plastics.  Fish are eating plastic soup instead of plankton, plastic bags and bottles are washing up on beaches, landfills are filling up and once they close people are building elementary schools and developments next to them, lead has been found in community gardens near former landfills, but let's not dwell on the negative.  Living trash-free should be fun and a positive, optimistic adventure!  I say "optimistic" because it is impossible to live completely trash-free, as it is impossible to ever be perfect.  For now, I have gotten my trash level down to 1 produce bag/week and plan to improve that even more.  Any reduction in trash production is better than none, so don't sweat the small stuff and make it fun.

Guidelines to Moving towards Zero Trash Living:

1. Carry a groceries survival pack in the car, consisting of:
  •     Reusable grocery bags
  •     Reusable cotton muslin bags of various sizes for produce and bulk items.
  •     Reusable glass tupperware containers for meat.

2. Grocery shopping:
  • Buy bulk items like beans, whole grains, nuts, salt, sugar/flour if needed, snacks, etc. and put them in reusable cotton muslin bags.  Put produce in reusable mesh bags. 
  • Buy dairy and eggs in recyclable containers (cardboard cartons or glass jars, not styrofoam).  You can even reuse the egg cartons to grow vegetable seedlings for the garden!
  • Use the glass tupperware for pasture raised meats and sustainable farmed/wild fish from the butcher's counter.  Wild urban animals tend to eat the plastic baggies that raw meat comes in, so this is important.
  • Recycle, only buy recyclable containers, and even better buy recycled products to feed the market for recycled goods.  Reuse glass jars for storage whenever possible and avoid buying plastic at all whenever possible. Recycling plastic usually involves sending our plastics to china (lots of fossil fuel) and exposing those workers to toxic fumes.  Plastics also down-cycle, so the recycled product is of lower quality than the original and more likely to leach into the food/water it contains.
3. Coming Home
  • Unload produce into the produce bin of the refrigerator.  Clean the bin regularly with a 50/50 blend of vinegar and water.  It is actually much "cleaner" to store produce in the raw than in plastic baggies!
  • Leave smaller produce like spinach, lettuce mixes, etc. in cotton muslin bags
  • Unload bulk beans, grains, sugar, and snacks into glass jars (ball or kerr jars, tomato sauce jars, almond butter jars, etc.)
  • Unload spices bought in bulk into glass jars.
4. Eating
  • Put vegetable, fruit, and plant-based scraps into a separate container.  My future goal is to get a worm bin! Worm bins are available at Solana Recyclers in Encinitas, or any Recycling Center, and are usually subsidized by the city to be very affordable ($35 at Solana Recyclers).  The best worms for the bin are Red Wigglers, but make sure they do not escape into the garden because they are ravenous and devour everything!  For faster decomposition of food scraps, blend them into a puree (may want to have a separate blender for this) before adding to the worm bin.  Worm bins also need cardboard or newspapers for a Carbon source.  Use the processed worm castings as compost for your garden, even if all you have is a window garden!
  • Another option is to feed food scraps to your pets.  I have a bunny and feed her my vegetable scraps, and feed my dog the animal product scraps.  Just don't feed them anything toxic or indigestible (no celery for bunnies as it is too high in fiber, no onions/grapes/raisins/chocolate/limited garlic for dogs).  Rabbit manure makes great fertilizer for the garden!  Research more on what your animal can eat safely before feeding scraps to your pets.
  • Feed coffee grains to your plants, or put it into the worm bin.  Blueberries, azaleas, camellias, and anything in the Ericaceae family loves coffee grains because it makes the soil more acidic.
  • Compost the food scraps, garden trimmings, etc. if you have the outdoor space.  Bins available for subsidized discounted prices at recycling centers.
  • Receipts: one example of don't sweat the small stuff! Go ahead and throw them away.  They frequently contain the same BPA found in plastics (some do, some don't).

5. Cleaning
  • Only clean with food-grade ingredients and plant-based surfactants, not petroleum-based surfactants
  • Use cloth towels or old t-shirts not paper towels,  and plant-based sponges not plastic or petroleum-based sponges
  • Make your own cleaners and refill them in reusable spray bottles or glass jars.  Vinegar, baking soda, and alcohol work wonders!  There are also many vegetable based dish soaps available, and can often be refilled in bulk (Ecotopia in Encinitas provides this service).
  • Wash clothes in biodegradable, plant-based laundry detergent and refill containers when empty.  Or, even better, make your own!
  • After washing your hands, use a real towel to dry them or air dry instead of a paper towel.  I bring my own towel to work, along with my own mug for tea and water bottle.
Of course, treat yourself occasionally to treats that come in wrappers etc. but just make these the exception rather than the norm.  Follow the tips above, and move on to a trash-free lifestyle!

There is an illusion out there that organic whole foods are more expensive than conventional "cheap" junk foods, but in fact the opposite is true!  It is a beautiful truth that what is optimal for the health of the body is also optimal for the health of the planet and optimal for the health of your bank account!  Follow these guidelines for transitioning to a whole foods, organic, plant-based diet (not vegan or vegetarian however, unless you choose so) while spending over 50% less than you would at the cheapest grocery store around!

1. Buy in bulk. A huge variety of bulk beans and grains are available from top quality organic farms at under $2/lb.  And 1 lb of dried beans and grains will last you a long time, as it will yield 3-4 lbs cooked!  To cook beans quickly and efficiently, invest in a stainless steel pressure cooker.

2. For protein, use a combination of beans and whole grains (brown rice, millet, etc) as a baseline and add animal products to it. 

3. Transform the bottom of your food pyramid into a large serving of organic steamed or stir-fried vegetables plus a little fruit, the middle into a serving of beans and whole grains, and the top 1/3  into pasture raised meat, wild or sustainably farmed fish, dairy, eggs, and  healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil).

4. Eat organic fruit freely instead of candy, granola bars, or anything in a box.

5. Don't buy anything in a box or a can.   If it's made from a plant, eat it.  If it's made in a plant, don't.

6. Get a high quality, reverse osmosis water filter installed and use a reusable stainless steel water bottle.  If on the go, with no time to refill your water bottle, carry a gallon or two of homemade water in a glass apple juice jug stored in the car.  You'll save a lot of money by not buying bottled water!

7. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program via an organic farm (I use Be Wise Ranch in San Diego, CA) for tons of fresh, organic produce picked up weekly or every other week.  I spend $30/every 2 weeks and have more organic produce than I can eat as one person.  Or, shop at farmer's markets.  Either way, your money will go straight to the farmer and you won't have to pay the middle man (processing, grocery store, etc).

8. Cook large quantities of food at once for a more convenient lifestyle.  I cooked a big batch of beans, whole grains, steamed vegetables, and some pasture raised meat in the morning and then scoop it into glass or stainless steel tupperware to eat throughout the day.  Cooking 3 meals/day is too much work especially if you work full time.

9. Use kitchen products as cosmetics.  Check out my future articles on how to do this!

10. Use kitchen products to clean your house, not chemicals.  Stay tuned for more articles on how to do this!


    Greta Goforth, L.Ac, HHP
    Licensed Acupuncturist
    Holistic Health Practitioner
    Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine


    June 2012