Ahh Green Spa
The Ahh-mazing Taco Soup

Normally I wouldn’t blog this. I mean, we’re a spa not a restaurant or foodie blog. But our Asst. Spa Manager, Kara asked me for the taco soup recipe that Brad & I make quite often to share for lunches (Brad & Kara take turns making a stew or casserole lunch to share for the week). I thought some of you might like it as well.

 

So here it is:

1-lb package ground turkey (give or take a little)

2 packets taco seasoning (we like the kind with less sodium)

2 packets ranch dressing mix (not the “dip” mix)

2 cans kidney beans (we like the low sodium)

2 cans black beans (again, we like the low sodium)

2 cans corn niblets (low sodium or low sugar is good)

2 big cans or 4 normal sized cans of diced tomatoes (petite, plum or whatever)

1 cup water

 

In a big ol’ pot, cook up your ground turkey with the taco and ranch mixes. We find we have to add a little olive oil b/c the turkey doesn’t have much fat to help moisten the dry mix!

Once your turkey is cooked, add all the cans (don’t drain them…add all that goodness!)

Add 1 cup water

Bring to boil, let simmer/boil gently for about 15-20 minutes.

 

Serve with your choice of: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, tortilla chips, etc.

Now to make it a little “greener”:

When purchasing the ground turkey, opt for certified organic or free range if possible. We’ve also tried ground buffalo and ground beef. We keep coming back to the turkey though. It just tastes right.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, obviously you can skip the meat.

With regard to the seasonings - I wish someone could share with me just what spices (and in what quanitities) are in the taco and ranch dressing mixes! Not sure how else to make it greener, so if you have ideas or suggestions, please share!

The canned beans - best I can do is recycle the cans! It’s been suggested to use dry beans, but we are often subject to a time crunch. Plus a friend of ours tried it once and said it didn’t come out as well.

Canned corn - again, you can recycle the cans. Or you could opt for fresh corn when in season. Locally/organically grown would probably be the greenest option.

Canned Tomatoes - Lately it seems there’s been a lot of talk about how bad canned tomatoes are. Not necessarily the tomatoes themselves, but the cans they are in. (http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/the-7-foods-experts-wont-eat-547963.html) I’d love to can my own, but in the meantime we’ll probably be switching over to Pomi.

 

This is one of our go-to recipes that we make 2-3 times a month. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s filling, it’s healthy, and it provides leftovers at our house!

Bon Appetit! :)

ghourliana:

The simple things in life make me happy, like finding affordable USDA certified organic laundry detergent (recommended by a trusted source!) where I work.
I guess I can’t completely hate you, Lowe’s.

 This is the same laundry detergent we use here at Ahh Green Spa. Found it at Lowe’s of all places! But it’s certified USDA Organic, and they recently started distributing it in 4x concentrated refill pouches. (Though we were recycling the plastic bottles anyway). I love that it comes in unscented - free, clear, no dyes, no frangrances. We use it at home for our own laundry too. And as stated above - it’s affordable! Which I love because it fits into our budget-conscious ways. :)

ghourliana:

The simple things in life make me happy, like finding affordable USDA certified organic laundry detergent (recommended by a trusted source!) where I work.

I guess I can’t completely hate you, Lowe’s.

 This is the same laundry detergent we use here at Ahh Green Spa. Found it at Lowe’s of all places! But it’s certified USDA Organic, and they recently started distributing it in 4x concentrated refill pouches. (Though we were recycling the plastic bottles anyway). I love that it comes in unscented - free, clear, no dyes, no frangrances. We use it at home for our own laundry too. And as stated above - it’s affordable! Which I love because it fits into our budget-conscious ways. :)

How are we “GREEN”? Let’s see…

The Basics – Our Space in General

 

1.) We’re leasing our space. While the building itself is older and was originally built using not-so-eco-friendly materials, we haven’t had to clear land to build new construction. We’re repurposing this once outdated office space! In doing so, we only had to finish constructing 2 half walls to make three of our sound proof rooms. And our landlord painted the rooftop silver to reflect sunlight and help keep the whole building cooler, cutting down our cooling costs.

 

2.) We used Zero-VOC Natura paint from Benjamin Moore. It was wonderful to walk into a freshly painted room and not be overwhelmed by that chemical stench you get with regular paint. No headaches here!

 

3.) The trim around the doors is FSC certified lumber, stained & sealed with low-VOC wood stain and sealant. As far as our research, we couldn’t find a wood stain that was zero-VOC. But low-VOC was a good start. Ironically, it smelled like chocolate milk as we were using it!

 

4.) Our carpeting is actually carpet tiles from a company in our neighboring state of Georgia. The tiles are overstocks from other contractors’ jobs, say for example from a casino redoing their carpet. They ordered too much, so this company in GA buys the overstock to re-sell to folks like us. The nice thing about carpet tiles is:

          A.) No Glue!

          B.) Easily installed by…us! (talk about cheap labor!)

          C.) Easy cleaning – just lift up and wash in the sink, let dry, & replace.

          D.) If a tile is ever stained, damaged, or otherwise needs to be replaced, you just lift it out and replace with another one (we have extras). No need to replace the whole wall-to-wall carpeting and filling up the landfill!

          E.) The tiles themselves are recyclable!

          F.) They love their dog, Biscuit and use him in a lot of their advertising. We love companies that are animal friendly, as we love our pets too.

 

5.) Porcelain tile in our foyer and bathrooms. Tile has long been considered “green” as it is made of clay (earth), durable so it doesn’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring alternatives, and it’s recyclable. We purchased our tile from a local company.

  

6.) Our reception desk is one that came with the space – reused! However, we had to do some modifications to make it look as pretty as it does. We ordered bamboo plywood (plyboo) to face the front of it. Bamboo is a sustainable “wood” resource. We used the same low-VOC wood stain and sealant on it as the wood trim on our doorways and baseboards. Then we found this great concrete composite kit for resurfacing countertops from a company in Charleston, SC.

 

7.) We installed a hybrid hot water heater that is 62% more energy efficient than a regular electric hot water heater. 

  

8.) A new HVAC unit needed to be installed. For the most part the newer systems are more efficient now. We also had four zones installed so we can control the temperature in the rooms separately from the reception area and relaxation room. 

  

9.) We installed an Energy Star washer & dryer. Instead of shipping our laundry out to a service that will use harsh chemicals, we do the laundry in-house. This allows us to cut down on transportation of our linens, as well as having control over what is used to wash them. We use USDA Organic laundry detergent and set our washer on the sanitizer setting. We also don’t use fabric softener or chemical-based dryer sheets.

 

The Bathrooms

 

10.) All of our toilets are WaterSense certified, meaning they use less water per flush. (Plus we made sure the lids are easylift, so they won’t ever slam down and ruin that quiet calm atmosphere we have here at Ahh Green Spa.)

 

11.) All of our sink faucets are WaterSense low-flow sinks.

 

12.) The bases for our bathroom countertops are made from recycled wood. 

  

13.)  You’ll notice we don’t have paper towels or an air dryer unit to dry your hands with. We decided instead to use dry washcloths. One is a perfect size to dry your hands well. They are single use – toss used ones into the larger basket on the countertop. We wash them all with USDA Organic laundry detergent using the sanitizer setting on our washer. We anticipate we’ll be able to reuse them for quite some time. Once they do become worn out though, they will be donated to a local animal shelter to use.

 

Furnishings

 

14.) Our massage tables were bought lightly used from another local spa that no longer had a use for them. These massage tables have been given a new lease on life instead of winding up in the landfill.

 

15.) The armoires, wooden tables and some of the chairs in each of our treatment rooms were found at local consignment stores. This furniture has been given a new purpose instead of winding up in the landfill.

 

16.) The furniture in the relaxation room was either purchased second-hand locally or bought new from IKEA, one of the Top 10 eco-friendly corporations in the world!

 

17.) Our lamps in the relaxation room and the treatment rooms are from IKEA and the light bulbs use CFL technology. Plus they are lower wattage to start with to give us that warm, soft, relaxing lighting. AND they are on dimmer switches, using even less energy. As more LED bulb options become available, we will be replacing the CFL bulbs.

 

18.) The artwork we have displayed is from local artists. Why not support our local artists? All artwork is for sale. Ask our receptionist for details.

19.) The cups and silverware in our relaxation lounge are the real thing – glass, ceramic, metal. No paper or plastic here! We wash all dishes nightly or as needed throughout the day so we can reuse them.

 

20.) Cloth napkins are supplied in the relaxation lounge. They are easy to toss in the washer with the hand towels and other linens, sanitize and reuse!

 

21.) The water fountain supplies cold drinking water or hot water to make your own personal cup of tea just the way you like it. The 5 gallon water bottle is BPA-free, refillable and recyclable! We refill it at a nearby filtered water station – 2 miles down the road on our way from home to the spa.

 

Our Products

 

22.) We use organic massage lotion.

  

23.) For our Sticks & Stones treatments we use reusable (renewable) bamboo sticks and  genuine river stones.

 

24.) Our facial line, Skin Organics by Ann Webb is made with organic, fair trade ingredients, is cruelty-free and packaged & shipped in recyclable materials.

 

25.) Our body scrubs and lotions from Bella Lucce are made with organic, Fair Trade ingredients, recycled content containers that are recyclable (again!), shipped to us using recycled boxes and packing materials, and are cruelty-free. 

   

26.) We offer Greenbug personal bug spray – a safe, all natural alternative to chemical bug sprays. It utilizes cedar oil to repel and kill insects. It smells good, doesn’t leave a residue and is safe for people and pets!

 

27.) We offer Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps now! Dr. Bronner is like the “Godfather” of all things organic and Fair Trade. Wonderfully gentle yet effective. We feature the handsoap in our bathrooms for your use and also have a selection of bars and liquid soaps, as well as lip balm for you to take home and enjoy!

  

Office Supplies & Cleaning Supplies

 

28.) We use recycled paper in our printer.

 

29.) We print both sides of the paper when we can.

 

30.) We reuse paper internally when we can (making small notepads).

 

31.) We recycle as much of our waste as we can. Most of our waste is paper/cardboard and plastic, which is easily recyclable. 

  

32.) For our basic cleaning supplies, we are experimenting with different brands - Method, Seventh Generation, etc. With so many choices out there we’re trying to find the best cleaner with the least “green-washing” at the best price. We’ll keep you posted on what we discover.

 

 

While we may not be the “greenest green,” we had to balance using eco-friendly products with what was readily available, affordable and keeping proper hygiene standards and criteria in mind. Some products we would’ve liked to use were either unavailable to us due to shipping criteria on small orders, or cost-prohibitive. Some products that aren’t organic or eco-friendly we MUST use due to state health regulations. We’re hoping as the green movement becomes more widespread, it will be easier and more affordable to get everything “green” as well as new innovations coming available down the pipeline.

In the coming weeks I’ll elaborate more on each of these items, why we chose what we did and any new information we learn about all these great products!

Who we be :)

A couple weeks ago I had one of my more frustrating weeks. I ALMOST blogged about that…But decided to find the positive and blog about that instead! Whew! A close call on that one!

My frustration was stemming from certain people who seem to want something fabulous for nothing, and the “marketing strategies” that encourage this behavior. I understand the economy is tough. And being that we’re a spa, we are very giving by nature. However, we have a business to run too – bills to pay, employees to take care of. I started wondering WHY people seem to forget that part or choose to ignore it altogether. My conclusion was that they don’t understand who we are, what our goals are and what our overall vision is for this small business venture and our community. So let me put it out there. J

Who we are.

We are a married couple still in our 30’s (barely). We live in a small 2BR condo with our 2 small dogs near the spa. This allows us to carpool (we only have 1 car) or ride our bikes to and from the spa. I still work my full time job with a local real estate company to support us while we work on getting the spa to a point of being able to “pay us” for the work we’re doing. That’s right, we’re working for FREE! Well, Brad works for tips too.

Not a lot of means between us, but we have passion. Brad has a passion for body work and helping people. While my role started out being the supportive wife doing behind the scenes bookkeeping and marketing projects, I’ve become passionate about the products we’re using, our role in the community and our effect on our community/environment.

Our Business Goals

Up front, our goals are to obviously make the business self-sufficient. I equate it to having a teenager. Right now, it needs some extra support and we’re helping it to prioritize what are “needs” and what are “wants.” And that’s ok. This is a learning process stage. It’s discovering what works and what doesn’t and what it wants to be when it grows up. It’s definitely on a path of service – customer service, quality body & skin treatments. But it’s also being eco-conscious and determining how to incorporate all these great and upcoming ideas into what we’re doing.

However, eventually it will need to grow up and start paying its own rent and learn to take care of itself. “Mom & Dad” can’t take care of it forever. We’d also love to see it support a “family” at some point – employees & staff.

Our Vision

Our overall vision for our spa is of a place where everyone feels welcome and at home. Are you a consummate spa-goer? You’ll find all the professional services you’d expect in a spa. Never been to a spa before and not sure what to expect? Ask us! We’re happy to answer all your questions and put you at ease so you can actually relax and enjoy your experience with us. (See previous blog about Meet Brad!) Come in and relax in our lounge. Have a cup of tea. Relax. Ahh….

We also envision a place where our employees and staff feel valued not just for the work they do, but also as individuals. Where they can share ideas and make suggestions openly in an effort to make Ahh Green Spa the best it can be. Where our therapists can grow in their profession, learning new techniques and modalities.  

These two visions then converge and flow into our vision for our immediate community and beyond. Because we’ve been working on being as “green” as possible, we’d like to see ourselves as a resource for finding other “green” businesses locally and exploring living a “green” lifestyle on a budget. While I admit we’ve been learning as we go, we’d like to share what we’ve learned so far and also hear from you about your experiences and ideas. We’d like to see local small businesses banding together to share ideas, help market each other, and form that sense of community that so many people complain of lacking in recent years. I feel there are so many creative opportunities for growth, of all kinds.

So setting up our new Tumblr blog and they say to post a photo. Meet Brad! Ahh Green Spa is his baby, even though technically I “own” it. (The wife owns everything, right? lol) He’s been a licensed massage therapist for over 10 years now and gave me my very first massage when we met, almost 6 years ago!
We met online. (Match.com anyone?) After a week of spending HOURS on the phone, he drove up to see me. We were able to spend the day together and he just happened to have his massage table with him in the back of his car. He offered to give me a massage and I thought, “Sure buddy. Like I haven’t heard that one before!” But what the heck. If he does anything stupid, my jack russell Mae would eat him! haha So he explained the draping and how I would never be more uncovered than I was comfortable with…and he was a perfect gentleman! (One of many reasons I decided to keep him.) BEST MASSAGE EVER!!! And I’m not just saying that cuz I married him! haha He’s very knowledgeable about body mechanics and how we use (or mis-use) our bodies and how the muscles compensate for our poor posture and bad body habits.
For those of you who may never have had a massage or wonder about a male therapist, know that they are first and foremost professionals. Like going to see a doctor. They aren’t judging your body or “checking you out.” They are looking and feeling your muscles and where they connect and deciding how best to relieve the tension within.
I thank my lucky stars every day that I met Brad. He introduced me to the most fabulous, least invasive and relaxing way to fix my body with my cramped shoulders and tight neck. And he’s helped many others too! <3

So setting up our new Tumblr blog and they say to post a photo. Meet Brad! Ahh Green Spa is his baby, even though technically I “own” it. (The wife owns everything, right? lol) He’s been a licensed massage therapist for over 10 years now and gave me my very first massage when we met, almost 6 years ago!

We met online. (Match.com anyone?) After a week of spending HOURS on the phone, he drove up to see me. We were able to spend the day together and he just happened to have his massage table with him in the back of his car. He offered to give me a massage and I thought, “Sure buddy. Like I haven’t heard that one before!” But what the heck. If he does anything stupid, my jack russell Mae would eat him! haha So he explained the draping and how I would never be more uncovered than I was comfortable with…and he was a perfect gentleman! (One of many reasons I decided to keep him.) BEST MASSAGE EVER!!! And I’m not just saying that cuz I married him! haha He’s very knowledgeable about body mechanics and how we use (or mis-use) our bodies and how the muscles compensate for our poor posture and bad body habits.

For those of you who may never have had a massage or wonder about a male therapist, know that they are first and foremost professionals. Like going to see a doctor. They aren’t judging your body or “checking you out.” They are looking and feeling your muscles and where they connect and deciding how best to relieve the tension within.

I thank my lucky stars every day that I met Brad. He introduced me to the most fabulous, least invasive and relaxing way to fix my body with my cramped shoulders and tight neck. And he’s helped many others too! <3