Friday, March 5, 2010

2 Dogs, 2000 Miles, 1 Goal

By Brianne Harrison

Just about every animal lover has lost a pet at some point. Most of us grieve when this happens, and remember the good times as we begin to move on with our lives. But others, like Luke Robinson, decide to do more.

Robinson lost his beloved dog, Malcolm, to bone cancer in 2006. Malcolm’s death inspired Robinson to set out on an epic 2,000-mile journey on foot from Austin, TX to Boston, MA, accompanied by his two remaining dogs, Hudson and Murphy. Their goal is to raise awareness of cancer and the vital importance of further research into the disease. Researching canine cancer could help develop treatments for human cancers as well, since the malignant cells in both species are similar.

Robinson’s journey, which began in 2008, has made him a celebrity—he’s appeared on CBS, ABC, Fox, and the Today Show—and has brought plenty of attention to his cause. He’s talked to pet owners, scientists, and oncologists all over the country. He and his “boys” are now in New York, just 250 miles short of their goal, which they expect to reach in mid-June. You can follow their progress at There, you can also make donations, and those who have lost a pet to bone cancer can have their name added to the Memorial Shirt Robinson’s wearing on his walk. You can also nominate your pet for inclusion on the 2011 “Cancer Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” calendar (submissions will be taken starting in mid-May.)

Now, as these things often do, this mammoth journey has inspired a new cause: 2 Million Dogs. The goal is to get 2 million dogs nationwide to walk 2 miles for cancer. Although the campaign is still in its infancy, anyone interested can visit to learn more and submitting their dog(s) and themselves for the walk.

In the meantime, see what Luke’s up to, and maybe plan a trip to Boston in June—there’ll be plenty going on for animal lovers!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homemade Beauty, Part I: Sugar, Sugar

By Brianne Harrison

Many of us are in full-on recessionista mode, trying to trim spending wherever we can. Since I, like so many others, spend quite a bit of money supporting the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry, I started to think that that might be an area I could save a little by rolling up my sleeves and making my own. As it turns out, I was right: you can make a startling number of beauty products yourself; in many cases, using ingredients you already have in your home!

I started simple with a sugar scrub that turned out to be luscious and quite effective. You can easily adapt this recipe to suit your tastes—take out the cocoa for a straight-up sugar scrub, add some lemon or orange zest, or the essential oil of your choice—the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Sugar Scrub
1 c natural sugar (you can substitute white or brown as well, particularly if you have some brown sugar that’s dried up and can’t really be used for baking anymore)
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
A few drops of the essential oil of your choice (I recommend lavender, vanilla, orange, or peppermint)
Enough light olive oil or grapeseed oil to make a paste (about 4 T)

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Store in a jar or Tupperware container (this doesn’t need to be refrigerated). Use liberally in the shower to slough off dead skin, especially on rough areas like elbows and knees.

Since this is made with all natural ingredients, you can also use it as a (delicious!) lip scrub.

Green Overload? Take it One Day at a Time.

By Jennifer Chaky

Green Green Green. That’s all you hear these days. From chemical companies touting “natural” cleaners to car companies saying their car is the greenest- you need a PhD in Greenology to sort through it all. I hear ya, it’s overwhelming.

As a green retailer, it is my job to decide what is truly good for the planet and what is “greenwashed” - and it does get confusing. But my reputation depends on making the right choice…and more importantly, so does the planet. The things we buy do have the greatest impact –good or bad- on our future. Every single time we buy something we are casting a vote for what kind of world we want. Do we want a healthy, fair, abundant world or a toxic, unjust, scarce world? It really is up to us. Every dollar we spend tells companies what we want. What we demand.

But where to start? It is hard to think of revamping all of your consumption and changing over all the products you use. So I recommend taking it one day at a time. Next time you are out of coffee, choose a fair trade brand. Out of toothpaste? Choose a truly natural brand made by a small organic company. Need a wedding gift? Choose a bowl made from recycled glass. Going to a baby shower? Start the newborn off right with a set of glass baby bottles. Do you need new boots? How about checking out a thrift store? Next time you buy beer or wine, ask your retailer for a local organic option. You get the idea.

Once you get going, before you know it you will have transformed your lifestyle- where the goods you buy truly back-up your principles. At first you may have to do some leg work to read labels and research the companies but after your initial efforts, you will become acquainted with some really great products and companies, and you will gain an intuition for what is greenwashed and what is truly green.

Here are some tips on what to look for when shopping:

• Keep it simple. Products with a simple list of ingredients tend to be better than those with long list of unearthly chemical names.

• Look for these Third Party Verification Seals: Energy Star; Certified Organic; Leaping Bunny; Fair Trade Certified; Green Seal; and Green E.

• Words like “natural,” “pure,” “nontoxic,” “cruelty-free,” and “biodegradable,” do not necessarily mean anything. There is no regulation regarding the use of these terms, so be wary.

• Truly green companies do not over-package their goods.

I also highly recommend reading Diane MacEachern’s book Big Green Purse to learn everything you need to know to become a lifelong lean, clean, and green consumer.

Jennifer Chaky is the owner of Go Lightly, Montclair New Jersey's green-living store. She lives in Montclair with her daughter and menagerie of rescued animals.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise

By Gerard Bochese

If you’re interested in losing weight and have been doing a lot of cardio exercise to achieve your goals but have found you’re not achieving the results you want or have hit a plateau, then it’s time to switch from aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is slow, steady state exercise that requires oxygen and can be done for long periods of time. Anaerobic exercise is short bursts of strength and power (weight training, plyometrics, high intensity running intervals) that last only 30-45 seconds and require a chemical in our body (ATP) to perform.

Why the switch? Aerobic exercise is designed to improve your heart and lungs (which is extremely important) but it is not efficient for fat loss. Aerobic exercise decreases the amount of muscle you have. The only tissue in your body that can burn fat is muscle; therefore, we want to have more of it in order to burn fat and increase our metabolism.

Aerobic exercises train your muscles to use fat more efficiently, which causes them to burn less of it. The more you train, the easier the exercises get, and your body burns even less fat.

Anaerobic training is more effective and efficient for weight loss. It’s still cardiovascular, but you’re working at a greater intensity than aerobic training. Your heart and lungs get a workout because of the demand from the muscular system, rather than the reverse—your muscles moving because of cardiovascular demand. Anaerobic training requires greater muscular demand than aerobic training, thus elevating your heart rate and building fat-burning lean muscle. A bout of high intensity anaerobic training will also allow you to burn more calories for a longer time following your workout—a definite bonus!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Health and Fitness Challenge

By Brianne Harrison

March has arrived, which means spring is right around the corner—and bathing suit season comes right after that. Time to start thinking about getting fit and finally shedding those winter hibernation pounds, but where do you start? The sheer amount of information available can be overwhelming—what’s right and what isn’t? What should you be eating? What exercises are most effective?

The answers to these and many, many other questions can be found at the 2010 Asbury Park Boardwalk Health and Fitness Challenge, a 12-week program of free introductory fitness, nutrition, and health classes. Participants can learn more about how to get healthy from local professionals, and be entered to win a slew of great prizes! This weekend, you can learn how to decipher the labels on your food and discover new exercises with kettlebells, presented by Jamie Pigman. Next weekend, discover the best ways to keep the weight off and burn some calories on a waterfront bike ride. The whole program culminates with a Boardwalk Body Fair on May 15—a day-long event that spotlights the latest and greatest health, wellness, and art for the body.

The Health and Fitness Challenge takes place every Sunday through mid-May. Nutrition classes start at 2 p.m. and fitness classes start at 3 p.m. For more information and videos of the sessions, visit

Monday, March 1, 2010

“The Conscious Cook”

By Pat Tanner

Tal Ronnen is a chef who started out, as he writes in his cookbook “The Conscious Cook” (William Morrow 2009), loving “steak, hollandaise sauce, and rich wine reductions.” In his teens he turned to vegetarianism and eventually to veganism, all the while refusing to give up beautiful, flavorful, rich, and filling foods. He has become renowned for his sophisticated, fine-dining vegan cuisine.

I put the cookbook’s recipes to the test first with his Caesar salad. It’s hard to imagine a good one without eggs, anchovies, and Parmesan, isn’t it? Ronnen manages to capture the flavors and textures masterfully. His recipe introduced me to Veganaise, a surprisingly good vegan mayo. I also prepared a main dish of cornmeal-crusted tempeh with smoked tomato sauce, green chile relish, black bean puree, and braised kale. Also delicious.

Although the recipes deliver excellent results, the book itself is flawed. The index is practically useless, and instructions can at times be sloppy. The tempeh recipe, for example, instructs the cook to reserve the broth (which is superb) that the tempeh braises in. Yet it never says what to do with it. Another recipe is for Asian Tacos with Kinpira. Kinpira is never defined. (According to Wikipedia, it’s sauteed root vegetables).

These shortcomings are frustrating because this could have been the first vegan cookbook to make an impact in the vegan-hostile world - as you’ll discover if you give the following recipe a twirl. Note: the brackets are mine.

[Vegan] Caesar Salad with Focaccia Croutons

1/4 loaf plain focaccia, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Veganaise)
1 tablespoon white [or yellow] miso paste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tablespoon light agave nectar
1 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small heads romaine lettuce, shredded
Caperberries [optional]

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the focaccia cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.

2. In a food processor, mince the garlic and capers. Add the mayonnaise, miso paste, nutritional yeast, agave nectar, and 1/2 cup water and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream. Continue to blend until emulsified, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place the lettuce and croutons in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss well to coat. Garnish with caperberries and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings [with plenty of dressing left over].