The Many Names of MSG

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31st, 2011 by Lacey – Comments Off

Better Than Bouillon

Better than Bouillon image courtesy of Superior Touch

Recently, we ran out of bouillon which I use for my Whatever Soup. For at least a year I’ve been really enjoying Better Than Bouillon because it is so much more flavorful than other veggie bouillons. I also usually buy it at Whole Foods, which is a grocer who I probably over-trust, but I figured most everything there is probably bad chemical-free and okay for my family to consume in moderation. However, my husband made an interesting discovery when picking a new jar up for me: Better Than Bouillon has hidden MSG in it, disguised as something called “Hydrolyzed Soy Protein”. Also note that it is the second ingredient, right after vegetables. Very interestingly, their website claims up and down not to have any MSG in any of their foods. Here are the ingredients:

  • Vegetables and Concentrated Vegetables(Carrots,Celery, Onion, Tomato, Onion*, Potato*, Garlic*),
  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein,
  • Salt,
  • Yeast Extract,
  • Sugar,
  • Maltodextrin(from Corn),
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil,
  • Spice Extractive. *Dehydrated

As you can see, to add insult to injury, there are also trans-fats listed (“partially-hydrogenated” anything is a trans-fat). The FDA says that you can claim to have “0 grams trans fats” even if your product technically does contain them. Sneaky, sneaky. Apparently, this isn’t a new thing for manufacturers to get all sneaky with their MSG. I’d like to think, though, that smaller manufacturers are, as this article claims, being misled by the FDA…

I also am suspicious of Wikipedia’s entries on MSG because they don’t accurately reflect the public’s opinion. All the wiki articles I read were vague about the health implications of eating MSG and even claimed in some places that it is harmless. I know way too many people with MSG sensitivities to believe that people would let that go so easily…so be cautious about the info you trust out there.

Your little trivia tidbit of the day is that KFC apparently uses MSG in every single food item they have. Yum yum! More on that and other fast food favorites in this entertaining article.

So that very tasty bouillon: loaded with salt and chemicals I was trying to keep out of my family’s life. I should have known it was too good to be true!

St. Patty’s

Posted in Food and Recipes on March 17th, 2011 by Lacey – 1 Comment

St. Patty's cupcakes

Hang in there readers, I’m still here! I haven’t stopped believing in the message of this site, just taking a temporary break.

I sent my child to school with these mini vanilla agave-sweetened cupcakes with vanilla “buttercream” frosting, tinted green of course. They’re cute.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted in Food and Recipes on February 15th, 2011 by Lacey – Comments Off

Happy Valentine's Day!

Glorious pizza

Posted in Food and Recipes on November 8th, 2010 by Lacey – 2 Comments

Vegan pizza #2

Ever since we paid $25 for a lackluster large no-cheese boring basil pizza at a pizzeria last year, I have taken great joy in making my own pizzas from scratch. For $25, I make my own dough, my own sauce, decide my own toppings (and cook them the way I like), and I get to use Daiya cheese. Oh, and I can probably entertain as many people as I want within that budget. Glorious, glorious pizza.

I’ve tried only a few different pizza doughs, but Martha Stewart’s cornmeal crust is my favorite. It has a great texture and isn’t too bready. As far as toppings, pizza is a great way to clear out your fridge or pantry. This time, I used sundried tomatoes (soaked in water for about 30 min first) and fresh basil. On another pizza, I used colorful peppers, shallots, and black olives. (I always sautee peppers, onions, and mushrooms before putting them on the pizza so as not to dry them out, so be sure not to skip that step.) On another, onions, mushrooms, and olives. Any way you serve it up, they’re delicious.

Whatever Soup

Posted in Food and Recipes on November 5th, 2010 by Lacey – 2 Comments

About once or twice a week I make vegetable soup. It’s never the same twice, but there are certain things that, I’ve found, the soup must have in order to be successful:

- 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- vegetable broth (can come from bouillon)

All the other things are your call. They can be fresh or frozen or from a can. You can have starches or not. You can add beans or not. That’s the beauty of this soup…and it’s seasonal!

My favorite iteration of Whatever Soup.

You’ll need:

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced into thin half-moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small pkg sliced mushrooms (white or bella)
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes
  • 4c vegetable broth
  • 1c fresh or frozen sliced okra
  • 1/2c fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 zucchini, sliced lenthwise and chopped into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1/2c fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 14-oz can navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pasta (optional starch)
  • 1 small potato, cubed (optional starch)


  1. If you are using boullion, prepare your veggie broth. In a large pot (doesn’t need to be a deep stock pot, just a big pot will do), heat the oil on high. Add the onions and sautee for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue sauteeing until the mushrooms exude their juices and the onions are translucent. Reduce the heat to med-high and add the garlic, continuing to sautee so as not to burn.
  2. Open your can of tomatoes and pour the juice from the can into the pot. Then–this is the fun part–crush each tomato with your hand(s) over the pot. Do this slowly to savor the stress relief, but also so as not to squirt tomato juice/seeds all over yourself. Add the vegetable broth.
  3. If you’re using the optional potato and or pasta, add these to the pot. Add everything else, reduce heat to medium.
  4. When your zucchini are kind of translucent and your carrots are soft, this soup is done. Spice to your liking (usually the boullion takes care of it for me, but you may require more or less). Easy peasy!

Usually, after serving my family, I have about 20oz of this soup left. I put it in a glass spaghetti sauce jar because I can easily take it to work and pop it in the microwave without worrying about harmful plastic chemicals leaching into my food.

Enjoy your soup!

Surprise, you like brussels sprouts!

Posted in Food and Recipes on November 4th, 2010 by Lacey – 5 Comments
brussels sprouts

What brussels sprouts look like for reals, photo credit Beth Wodnick (this is not my toddler)

Tonight I returned from a work trip to San Diego to find that the lights in our kitchen had burned out. Or, dimmed out? Something like that, I’m not very handy. So, I prepared dinner in our very dimly-lit galley kitchen. I decided to make the Herb Scalloped Potatoes and Cornmeal Marsala Roasted Brussels Sprouts (from Veganomicon) with a side of lightly pan-fried tofu–we have a ton of potatoes I purchased from Costco and then I kinda went out on a limb and bought the brussels last weekend. The tofu I made for the protein since I didn’t think 3tbs of chickpea flour in the brussels was going to satisfy my toddler.

I actually hate brussels sprouts. I used to hate all cabbage as a kid actually, but lately I’ve been warming up to cabbage in both raw and cooked forms, so I thought I’d give these little guys another try. And, they’re undeniably cute, aren’t they?

Herb Scalloped Potatoes

Herb Scalloped Potatoes. Meh.

Without seeing the meal with the lights on, I didn’t notice until I put it all on the dining table how ….yellow everything was. Golden potatoes, browned tofu, and cornmeal-encrusted greens. Honestly–the potatoes were kinda boring, the tofu was nothing special, but the brussels…man, they were good!  The brussels were gone so fast I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture! The cornmeal texture was really fun, and the garam marsala took the edge off the cabbagey smell.

So in lieu of the brussels, I leave you with a picture of the potatoes. They were pretty, but mediocre? Next time I’ll just add more butter. :)

More brussels sprouts recipes to try:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Ina Garten)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (in a cast-iron skillet with lemon juice and garlic, sub nooch for the parmesan)

Yummy Vegan Donuts

Posted in Food and Recipes on November 2nd, 2010 by Lacey – 2 Comments
Vegan YumYum donuts

Vegan YumYum mini-donuts

Whenever my toddler has a holiday party at school, I get a little note asking to bring a “special treat to share.” I translate this as “make something cool” and usually try to bake. So, when I got the little orange note for her Halloween party, I decided to make the Vegan YumYum mini-donuts.

They were very cake-like, not as much donut-like…but still, very cute and delicious. In lieu of the sprinkles or total dunking, I decided to melt some vegan chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave and dip the tops. Not totally gorgeous, but quite delicious!

Note: She came home with a bag full of little bags of Halloween candy, so I think the other parents brought that. My donuts container came back empty so…I guess they were shared!

Vegan Mofo

Posted in Being Green on October 28th, 2010 by Lacey – Comments Off

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. My day job has been going through some changes and I’ve been focused on that, plus I have a 2.5 year old! Sleeping and cooking generally take up whatever time is left. However, I’ve made a commitment that will, at least for the month of November, populate this blog with a lot more posts. I’ve joined the Vegan Month of Food–or better yet, Vegan MoFo!

What does this mean? It’s means a bunch of new entries about vegan stuff. Let me be clear in saying that I do NOT believe that it’s necessary to be vegan to be “green,” but for me it does play a part and well, this is my blog.

So get ready! If there’s anything anyone is interested in learning about, lemme know. I’m @agreenerlifeorg on Twitter.

Green Soup

Posted in Food and Recipes on July 8th, 2010 by Lacey – 2 Comments

Being vegan for us is first about healthy eating, second about animal rights. We do believe that animals are treated inhumanely, for the most part, before they are slaughtered and made into products for us to consume, but we know that’s not always the case. Also, the ethics of meat-eating is pretty gray in my opinion, so it’s not always an open-and-shut matter.

This all being overly-said, I digress. The first reason we’re vegan is for health reasons. We are of the belief that one can simply consume more nutrients thanks to a vegan diet. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

And as any person who likes to eat knows, it’s good to get a variety of types of food in your diet to feel satisfied. Even though Myk and I don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs, we definitely feel satisfied that we are experiencing a full array of delicious, satisfying foods. Among many other things, we’ve made delicious golden tofu, stir-fried colorful veggies, tempeh and greens, quinoa and chickpeas, black beans with a cornbread crust, and let us never, ever forget the soups.

Because soup is, if not the backbone, definitely an important rib in the vegan skeleton, I’ll share this awesome recipe for Green Soup which my dear husband invented.


  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1c. frozen okra, chopped
  • 1 small bunch asparagus
  • 1/c. water
  • 2c. broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 1/2c. green beans (frozen okay)
  • 1/2c. frozen corn
  • 2c. frozen spinach
  • 1 avocado, cubed (optional)
  • 4c. unsweetened plain non-dairy milk
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 5 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2 scant tbsp of Vegi-Zest or Veggie Base by Vogue (available @ Whole Foods)
  • 2-3 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos, or to taste
  • 1/2c. pepitas

Sauté garlic in a splash of olive oil in a stock pot. Before it turns brown (maybe 1 minute), add water, okra, and asparagus.  Boil/simmer over high heat with the water until the water is nearly boiled away, the okra is bright green, and the asparagus is tender (but not yet mushy..that will come later). Okra is kinda slimey, so this helps it break down a bit.

Turn down the heat to medium.  Add the splash of olive oil and the other frozen veggies (and optional avocado–leave this out for a lower-fat version). Slowly add the milk and bring the soup back to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes until things start to look nice and soupy.

Now, I’ve never used an immersion blender, but I imagine now would be a fine time to use one, if you’re so inclined. In other words, if you don’t like your soup chunky, you better blend this stuff up. We are totally fine with chunky green soup, but I can definitely see the appeal of blending.

Add the yeast and the Bragg’s, stir to incorporate. Sprinkle a few pepitas on each bowl of soup. You’re done! Enjoy your green soup!

Image courtesy of (Dr.) George Hatcher.

39 TV-free activities for you and your kids

Posted in Being Green on June 8th, 2010 by Lacey – 17 Comments

Rain-splattered 2 year old art (awesome!)I’ve been wondering lately when life got so complicated.

I started noticing a couple of weeks ago that every time I took my daughter out to the playground when I got home from work, I was messing with my iPhone, checking Twitter, using the Facebook app, just doing mindless things to pass time. Why wasn’t I just playing with her? Was she not stimulating enough for my already overly-stimulated brain?

What I SHOULD have been doing was playing with her and trying to recall what it was like to be a child and play with glee on the playground.

We’ve fallen into these routines in our house that involve a lot of computers (we have at least 6 in the house, 2 are non-functional), a lot of television (3 half-hour episodes in the AM, maybe one or two in the evening, a movie in between perhaps…sometimes more, sometimes less), and just a lot of busy-ness overall. It was with a shock that I realized last week that this was a grotesque amount of tv to expose a 2-year-old to and I needed to make things right before she grows up (and is gone, sniff!). My fear is that she won’t want to be with Myk and I when she’s older because she’s so busy communicating with the outside world. Seeing that that’s likely inevitable in some form or another, I want to savor the time we have together now and hopefully show her that it’s great to unplug and have fun.

So I risked public scrutiny for letting my 2-year-old watch so much tv and put it out there on Facebook:

Anyone: how do you entertain your children for long periods of time without using a television? Wanting to stock up on ideas.

I was not expecting to receive DOZENS of responses. They were so great that I wanted to give them a permanent home here on Greener Life. This list couldn’t come at a better time since so many kids are on summer break now. Enjoy!

  1. Listening to music
  2. Playing with empty paper towel tubes (swords!)
  3. Twister
  4. Blocks/Legos
  5. Coloring
  6. Mud (!)
  7. Stickers
  8. Playing with water–moving from one receptacle to another
  9. Play-Doh
  10. Puppets
  11. Making forts/tunnels/tents out of tables and chairs covered with bedsheets
  12. Books
  13. Big, empty cardboard boxes
  14. Join a playgroup
  15. Watercolors
  16. Sidewalk chalk
  17. Bubbles
  18. Obstacle courses out of regular (safe) household items
  19. Playing outside!
  20. Swings
  21. Balls
  22. Bike/tricycle
  23. Kiddie pool/sprinkler
  24. Poker (!)
  25. Play food in a play kitchen
  26. Sand
  27. Going to the park
  28. Giving a recording device to the child to allow them to make their own news broadcasts
  29. Pots and pans to bang on
  30. Floor puzzles
  31. Keeping a garden
  32. Picnics
  33. Pretend grocery shopping with Daddy’s wallet (hehe)
  34. Kid yoga
  35. Baking bread and washing up together afterwards
  36. Finger knitting
  37. Conga line
  38. Dancing and singing
  39. Pretending/playing “office” using home office supplies

I remember loving to play by myself as a child, and later with my brother after he came along. (I remember my brother and I playing a game we called “Meteors” that involved both of us pretending we were orphans drifting through space in a lonely spacecraft (ie, his crib). It was so depressing though, I don’t know why we liked that game.  I digress.)

As you can see, there were a lot of great suggestions. I can always turn to this list now (and so can you!) for inspiration. I do have to share with you what I felt was the most poetic response from a friend, former colleague, and design mentor, Bob Reddy. Bob and his wife Kathy raised two amazing kids who are now immensely talented adults, and here’s what he shared:

We built skylines out of cardboard blocks and then swung a wrecking ball (tied to the ceiling) at them. We make people and animals out of playdoh or clay and then slammed large meteors into them and then excavated the fossilized remains. (Do you detect a bit of a testosterone-influenced agenda here?) We set up stores and then bought cookies from each other. We rolled steel marbles down long metal tape-measurer tracks. We blew large bubbles made from dish soap and glycerin and water. We climbed into boxes. We made a net across the living room and played balloon volleyball. We made up words and used then in ridiculous sentences until we were laughing too hard to continue. We made paper airplanes and flew them. We drew stories on paper as they unraveled in our mouths. We invented ways of blupping wet sand through our fingers. We accidentally affixed jello cubes to the ceiling.

Then later he shared:

Here’s another one I forgot to tell you… Go to the bathtub and fill about 30 water balloons with warm water and leave them in the tub (you may use assorted sizes and shapes for added interest). Then fill the tub with warm water for your kid’s bath. The balloons are neutral-buoyant, meaning that they sort of co-exist with the water and hang out “all casual-like.” This provides a spectacular arena for three dimensions of squishy fun. Narratives about fish, atoms, cells, planets… At the end of the bath – you get to pop them all in the empty tub. We once used the very long thin balloons and a few big 14-inchers. They are very heavy if you were to take them out of the water, but perfectly playable in the water!

How awesome is that?!

This past weekend we had a completely tv-free weekend (with the exception of a snippet of the George of the Jungle movie while at a social event…we needed Navab to simmer down for a while while a serious discussion was happening). I have to say: I was terrified of the prospect of having to entertain her or provide her with ideas for entertainment for the WHOLE WEEKEND (normally I drop her off at school and let them do that part) but you know what? I loved it and she didn’t ask to watch tv. Not once!

Now you have no excuses–get moving parents. Unplug for a while and enjoy your kids!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...