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Natural Awakenings SW PA, Greater Pittsburgh

Eating Greener: Tips for Plant-Based Living

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Eating more fruits and vegetables as part of a plant-based diet is catching on. In 2019, more than one third of Americans said they plan to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets to achieve their wellness resolutions, according to data company YouGov. For those new to “green eating”—and even for veggie-minded veterans—lots of helpful information is available now on what to consider in buying, preparing, re-using and discarding food.

The Environmental Working Group makes it easy to research pesticide levels in produce. Check out the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen—the most toxin-free and toxin-heavy fruits and vegetables—along with related news and developments.

Home deliveries of local and organic produce can save time and gas consumption from shopping. Some of the leading regional services include Fresh Direct, Sun Basket, Green Bean Delivery, Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks and Territory Foods.

Composting combines food scraps with lawn and garden trimmings and more into a nutrient-rich, natural garden fertilizer. The Environmental Protection Agency has a useful guide to composting basics.

The phenomenon of food scrapping—using the parts of produce in recipes that are often thrown out—saves money in shopping, is easier on the environment and pleasingly leads to creative and innovative meals. A number of cookbooks are dedicated to the subject, including Cooking With Scraps: Turn Your Peels, Cores, Rinds, and Stems into Delicious Meals, by Lindsay-Jean Hard and Scraps, Peels, and Stems: Recipes and Tips for Rethinking Food Waste at Home, by Jill Lightner.

Plant-based foods can be swapped for traditional ingredients in countless recipes. Mother Earth Living explains how aquafaba—the water from a can of beans—can replace egg whites, even in meringues. Bananas, applesauce and ground flaxseeds or chia seeds can substitute for eggs to bind baked goods. Coconut oil can replace butter and nutritional yeast can do the job of parmesan when sprinkled on pasta.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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