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Food

The Uncommon Life

3 Easy Meal Tips to Please Picky Kids

January 9, 2018

Your kid has yet to discover that broccoli is delicious and they won’t touch anything that isn’t an unnatural color with a ten-foot fork. It’s going to be OK. While letting your kiddo live on gummy bears and microwaved mac ‘n cheese alone certainly isn’t an option, sneaking some healthy good stuff in their favorite meals is. These tips make breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes healthier, but they’re still completely kid-friendly. Serve up each meal with our Construction Plate & Utensils and your little one might even ask for seconds.

Kid-approved Bake Goods | Breakfast | UncommonGoods

Breakfast: Kid-Approved Baked Goods

As the old saying goes, it’s the “most important meal of the day.” But if that meal is packed with sugar, your kiddo will crash before lunch. Start the day right by replacing the refined sugar in baked goods like mini muffins or waffle bites with a fruity alternative.

  • 1 cup of no-sugar-added applesauce easily replaces 1 cup of white sugar

-or-

  • Mash 3 medium bananas and add a splash of water to get the equivalent of 1 cup of sugar

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Will Our Dairy Free Cheesemaking Kit Impress this Curd Connoisseur?

December 15, 2017

Beloved Marketing Analyst Morgan warms up to vegan cheese… or so it seems.

Product

Dairy Free Cheddar, Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit

Research

As a self-proclaimed cheese connoisseur, I knew the moment I saw the Dairy Free Cheddar, Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit that it had to be mine. Melty mozzarella, creamy ricotta, tangy cheddar: say no more, you had me at melty. (Editor’s note: Morgan loves the Fondoodler, so her predilection for meltiness comes as no surprise to us.) I’ve dabbled in the realm of vegan cheese before, but as a non-vegan, I’m much more familiar with the dairy varieties of my favorite delicious treat. I decided to go to my local grocery store and sample their vegan wares and I was a little disappointed. The consistency and flavor just didn’t meet my exceptionally high cheese standards. Alas.

This is when I decided I was up for the challenge of creating a vegan cheese even the most dairy-loving person could enjoy.

Hypothesis

As a former research scientist, I hypothesized that my laboratory skills could help me concoct this vegan cheese masterpiece. I knew there were challenges, based on my prior vegan cheese sampling and dislike for its odd texture, but the images on the box of this kit looked delightful and I decided to judge a book by its cover.

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Gift Guides

Flavor Faves: 15 Foodie Gifts

November 17, 2017


Pretty much everyone appreciates good food, but “foodies,” as they’re known, are another breed entirely. We all know at least one spice hoarder that fits the bill, and finding a gift to please their palate can be daunting, especially when you’ve seen them tackle ingredients out of one of Chopped’s crueler episodes. Thankfully, we’ve selected 15 of our favorite food-themed treats to make your life—and your holiday shopping—easier. Whether you’re on the hunt for something wearable, hangable, or, of course, edible, our well-seasoned selection of gifts for foodies has something just for you.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Inside
Greyston Bakery

October 18, 2017

Even if you’ve never heard of Greyston Bakery, chances are good that you have, in fact, eaten their baked goods. Ever had a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, or spooned your way through a full pint of Half Baked? Congratulations! You’ve had a little bit of Greyston in your belly. And it’s no coincidence that both of those flavors made it to Ben & Jerry’s top 10 list last year—Greyston’s brownies, which you can now snag in four flavors at UncommonGoods, are mind-blowingly tasty.

That’s not all, though. Like UncommonGoods (and Ben & Jerry’s), Greyston Bakery is a proud B Corp, and it’s New York state’s first Benefit Corporation, too. Founded by Zen Buddhist Roshi Bernie Glassman in 1982 in Yonkers, New York, Greyston is best known for its unique hiring model, dubbed Open Hiring™. “Open Hiring is simple,” says Ariella Gastel, Greyston’s VP of Marketing and Business Development: “If you want a job, come to the bakery, sign your name on a list, and wait to be called. No questions asked. No resume or interview needed.” Designed to break down barriers for those seeking honest work, Greyston’s policy provides opportunities to Yonkers locals who might otherwise encounter difficulty obtaining a job, whether that means they’re single parents, have trouble speaking English, or once struggled with homelessness. “It is hard to imagine how many people want to work but can’t because of barriers,” says Ariella. “Our mission is [to] create thriving communities through the practice and promotion of Open Hiring.”

Though most of our real live visits are to artist’s studios, we couldn’t resist making the trip up to Yonkers to visit Greyston’s facility ourselves. The promise of brownies, of course, was a draw, but we were equally excited to see Greyston’s mission in action and to have the chance to meet Ariella and longtime team members Cece and Raymond. Armed with questions and juuust enough space in our tummies for a brownie or two, we set off for Yonkers from Grand Central Station, a mere half hour from our final destination.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Changing Lives and Cooking Dinner with the Non-Electric Slow Cooker

June 8, 2017

Sarah Collins, inventor of the Non-Electric Slow Cooker

Picture this: You want to cook a meal. In the US, this is an easy enough proposition, if occasionally tiring. You take a trip to the grocery store, prep your ingredients, and leave them to cook, whether in an oven, on a stovetop, or in a slow cooker. Before too long, you sit down and eat. Simple, right?

In rural Africa, no such luck. For many women, making a meal is a long, costly process fraught with danger. Every day, women across the continent spend up to seven hours collecting firewood to use for cooking, walking between 3 and 6 miles, taking away time that could be spent working or bonding with family members, and risking sexual assault and attacks by animals along the way. Those who don’t collect firewood often cook with charcoal, a fuel that eats up a sizable chunk of a rural family’s income—think along the lines of one third. The actual cooking takes hours, and the use woodfuels combined with that of an open flame contributes to potentially deadly levels of indoor air pollution. In providing for their families, these women make sacrifices that are unimaginable to many, risking their health and livelihood for the sake of a single meal. A trip to a packed Trader Joe’s at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday pales in comparison.

For South African entrepreneur Sarah Collins, this was a key problem. Her lifelong mission to empower rural Africans has manifested in many types of work, from conservation to political action, but perhaps her most meaningful contribution has been the invention of the Non-Electric Slow Cooker, also known as the Wonderbag. Now available for purchase from UncommonGoods, Sarah’s slow cooker—made from patterned cotton fabric stuffed with repurposed foam—keeps food brought to a boil cooking for up to 12 hours simply by trapping heat. For every Non-Electric Slow Cooker purchased in the developed world, another is donated to the Wonderbag Foundation, an organization that distributes Sarah’s invention to communities in need throughout Africa. Because the Non-Electric Slow Cooker doesn’t require an open flame to keep food cooking, it reduces pollution and deforestation throughout Africa and keeps rural women and families safer and healthier, freeing up their time and money for work, play, and family bonding.

As a certified B Corp, UncommonGoods is committed to offering sustainable, socially responsible products. When we first heard about the Non-Electric Slow Cooker, we were intrigued—we’d never heard of a slow cooker made out of foam! Once we learned of its impressive effect in Africa, though, we knew we needed to hear more from its inventor. Read on for more of Sarah’s story—including advice on how to contribute to her mission, even from afar.

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Design

Nobody Puts Peanut M&Ms in the Corner: Meet the Candy Convertible

April 24, 2017

Candy Convertible - UncommonGoods

 

Perhaps you’ve never thought of the snack journey: That epic pilgrimage certain foods make from their cabinet confines to your coffee table. Find comfort in the knowledge, though, that Houston-based designers John Paul and Roya Plauché have.

“We were exploring the relationship of food and the snack journey from the kitchen to the living room,” John Paul said about the design process, which was a collaboration with the UncommonGoods Product Development team. “We had initially tried to identify the typology of foods that would be common for this type of transition, then build around them and their possible groupings.” The “typology of foods” they landed on: Sweetus Snackae. Street name: Candy.

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Design

The Couch Bowl: Taking Comfort Food to the Next Level

February 15, 2017

A background in engineering helps product designer Thomas Both visualize forms in space and think critically when contemplating his prototypes. It also leads him to ask some important questions: What’s the geometry at work? How might I build this? What’s the negative of that shape? What would that connection look like?

Sure, those are things an engineer would definitely ask when building a complex machine, but how does that influence something as seemingly uncomplicated as snacking? Well, when you think about it, snacking isn’t always that simple. We’ve all been there: balancing an overflowing dish and squirming around trying to get the blanket just right, while simultaneously looking for a video to stream and hoping that you’re not about to start a cheese puff avalanche. (You know that if one puff rolls off Snack Mountain, many more are sure to follow.) In this case, figuring out how to simplify the process of holding a dish, getting comfortable, and delivering that oh-so-tasty food to your face is actually a design problem. A problem that Thomas solved with the Couch Bowl.

Thomas Both

“The point of view is that almost all dishware (particularly in Western society) is designed to be used sitting at a dining table, yet often we don’t eat at a dining table,” Thomas explained. “We stand at a cocktail party, or sit in the living room, or lean against the counter in the kitchen–but we are using the stuff made for table dining. So what if we could create dishware designed for eating without a table?”

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: First-Time Fermentation

December 26, 2016


Research
Years ago, I came across Wild Fermentation, a book by Sandor Ellix Katz that turned me and millions of others onto the idea of home fermentation. I don’t remember how I came across it, or why I bought it. But I read the first few chapters and became enthralled with the IDEA of fermenting.


The book, published in 2003, made Katz a fermentation rockstar. (I’m not kidding, he really is) As for myself, as I read, I was all ready to leave Brooklyn and move to the author’s organic farm commune in Tennesee to begin my new, fermention-centric lifestyle. Because I liked the IDEA.

I successfully made delicious yogurt a few times. And I’ve made a lot of bread, though not sourdough bread.

But despite feeling totally gung-ho, fermentationally speaking, that’s as far as I went. Katz made a passionate, informed case for probiotics (and this was back in 2003, before it was a thing). Almost all store-bought sauerkraut, he said, is pasteurized, which kills the probiotics.

I wanted to make my own sauerkraut and achieve Total Gut Health. But I looked into buying a stoneware crock with a weight (to weigh the cabbage down), and for a beginner, they seemed rather pricey and heavy. I didn’t feel it was wise to commit to something like that without knowing I’d use it more than once.*

And I got stuck there. For years. Until I saw our DIY Fermentation Crock.

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