Remember when we learned that BPA leached from packaging into the foods we eat? Another chemical called PFOA – used as a non-stick coating in cookware and food packaging – could be just as dangerous. Maybe more so.
PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, and it’s great at preventing food from sticking to things. Conscious eaters already know that nonstick cookware is bad news, but that’s not the only place you’ll find PFOA and its toxic cousins. Heather wrote about perfluorinated chemicals in fast food packaging back in 2010. PFOA falls under that umbrella, and even that isn’t the end of the list.
So, who cares if there’s PFOA in my food?
Like many chemicals that we come into contact with on a daily basis, this one isn’t very thoroughly tested before being approved for use. Third party studies of PFOA have found links to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, high cholesterol, and even cancer.
Ninety eight percent of Americans have PFOA in our bloodstream, and almost all newborns test positive for the chemical. Since companies don’t have to label products that contain PFOA, there’s no way to know which packaged foods contain it and which don’t.
Obviously, a link – even a strong link – doesn’t mean that PFOA causes any of these diseases, but when it comes to health, I’m a big fan of the cautionary principle. Shouldn’t chemical companies have to prove that their products are safe before we ingest them?
Are you worried about PFOA in your food and in your bloodstream? Manufacturers DuPont and 3M are planning to phase the chemical out by 2015, but until then avoiding the cookware and foods listed below are a great way to keep PFOA out of your body.
Basically, if your food comes in a paper wrapper but somehow manages not to stick to the paper, chances are there’s PFOA in the coating. Here are some places where your food might be in contact with PFOA or other perfluorinated chemicals:
Once again, we’re seeing an example of the inherent benefits of cooking at home using whole food ingredients rather than eating packaged convenience foods. Need some ideas for easy alternatives to store-bought convenience foods? Check out some DIY convenience foods you can make at home instead!
Image Credit: Microwave Popcorn photo via Shutterstock
by Laura Hedlund
Got a healthy recipe that you’d like to share? Head over to our Submit a Recipe page!
Every day I am eating something I grew and posting on Food Freedom Radio’s Facebook. Chives grow like weeds, best early spring. Mix with free range chicken, mushrooms garlic & ginger.
(*to taste, note: chives grow like weeds and return every year so are a great source of free organic greens)
Food Freedom radio can be heard live on AM950 or via podcast here: http://www.am950radio.com/am950-podcasts/archives-of-local-shows
Got a healthy recipe that you’d like to share? Head over to our Submit a Recipe page!
Image Credit: Chives photo via Shutterstock
By choosing this 3L Premium Wine Cask versus 4 glass bottles, one can reduce packaging waste by at least 92% and carbon emissions by 55%. Eliminate heavy glass, expensive closures and corks (don’t have to worry about keeping the corks wet). With this package it is easier to store and more efficient to ship.
All true. Although its not clear exactly how sustainable Big Houses’ other practices are, they state that their wines ‘are created from hand-selected, individual lots’ and they strive to “stay true to the natural qualities of the grapes as much possible and make wines that are friendly both to foods and the people that consume them.” As much as possible… I’d like to know more. But boxing, oh sorry, casking wine is a great start.
I’ve often written about small, artisanal wineries that make their juice sustainably. But, for years the big players domestically have had a tough time of implementing sustainable practices. Bigger wineries that have done a great job include Hess and Coppola, but there really aren’t too many.
Now, from Red Truck, known for flavorful values, comes Green Truck—wines made from certified organic grapes. The award-winning Green Truck wine brand includes all-organic Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Green Truck Wines are produced by Red Truck Winery of Sonoma and marketed nationally. I haven’t tasted it yet, but its great to see a big brand create an organic line that doesn’t scare people away.
Memorial Day is coming up, and for most folks, that means firing up the grill. If you’re not used to plant-based cooking, it might be hard to imagine grilling without a slab of meat, but there are lots of ways you can cook up veggies on the grill!
Of course, I’d love to see folks totally eschew the animal products on Memorial Day, but if you can’t stomach a totally meatless Memorial Day meal, you can at least go meat-light by incorporating some plant-based recipes alongside the more conventional food you’d serve at a cookout.
Even just cutting back on the meat can make a big environmental impact, and if you choose to serve less meat, you can also spend a bit more to get meat that’s raised in a less environmentally detrimental way, since veggies are a lot more budget-friendly. Yay for saving money, helping the planet, and eating a bit healthier!
Make a little room on the grill for these tasty, plant-based recipes:
1. Classic Veggie Burgers – you can buy these pre-made, just check that ingredients list! Some brands, like Morningstar Farms, are full of mystery ingredients, but you can find frozen veggie burgers that are pretty healthy, too. Sun Burgers are a good brand, if your grocery store has them. Of course, you can also make your own veggie burgers, too!
2. Grilled Portabellas – I like to marinate my ‘bellas in store-bought salad dressing, like Annie’s Sesame Vinaigrette. It saves so much time! Or, you can check out Tanya’s grilled portabella mushroom recipe right here (#6 on that list).
3. Grilled Eggplant – Just like portabellas, sliced eggplant is perfect for the grill! You can slice, marinate, and grill for 3-4 minutes per side on high, or get fancy with these grilled eggplant stacks instead.
4. Maple-Chili Grilled Tofu – Tofu cooks up beautifully on the grill, and this grilled tofu topped with fruit salsa is such a crowd-pleaser!
5. Kebab It – Skewers are a pretty classic grilling staple, and veggie skewers are super delicious. The best part? You can really use whatever veggies you have handy! I like to combine mushrooms, cubed pineapple, onion, and tomato. Just brush with a little oil and vinegar, and grill for a few minutes on each side.
No cookout is complete without some delicious side dishes. Here are a few yummy sides that are perfect for completing your cookout:
6. Dill Pesto Potato Salad – Sure, you can make a plain ol’ potato salad vegan by choosing vegan mayo instead of the egg-based sort, but this dill pesto version is seasonally delicious!
7. Grilled Tomatoes – Take Mary’s advice and make a super yummy grill pouch with fresh tomatoes and veggies. Get the details here (under “Slice ‘Em”).
8. Kale Salad – Instead of a boring lettuce-based salad, try Scott and Andrea’s amazing raw kale salad. Raw kale might sound kind of weird, but it’s all about massaging and marinating – the marinade breaks down the tough, raw kale and makes it the perfect texture!
9. Macaroni Salad – I have nostalgic feelings about macaroni salad – we had it almost every time we cooked out when I was growing up, but macaroni salad usually has an egg-based mayo base. Jessi shares a super yummy recipe for classic macaroni salad with no animal products in sight!
10. Grilled Fruit – There is something so special about fruit hot off the grill. You can grill so many different things: pineapple, plums, or whole skewers of fresh fruit. Need some fruit grilling inspiration? How about some sweet grilled peaches?
Do you have a favorite vegan recipe for the grill? Tell us about it in the comments!
Image Credit: Memorial Day Recipes photo via Shutterstock
My husband and girls adore a good bowl of salsa. We buy Mi Cocina‘s stuff in quart-size containers, and it disappears speedily. So yesterday, I tried a new recipe for a homemade version. Twas mighty tasty, so I thought I’d share with y’all…
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
This recipe delivers a garlicky, hot, not-so-tomato-y salsa, which was muy delicioso. Consider the following variations to get the taste and texture you prefer:
A bit of chile trivia: The chile de árbol (Spanish for “tree chile”) is a Mexican pepper. It’s also referred to as the “bird’s beak chile” and the “rat’s tail chile”. I learned its heat index is between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville units, compared to a jalapeno with a heat index of 3,500 – 8,000.
If you crave more, check out these other salsa recipes from the Important Media network:
Image Credit: rossination via flickr/CC
New research shows that people report that organic junk foods taste healthier than their conventional counterparts. When trying food – even junk food – with an organic label, participants guessed that the snack was lower in fat and calories than snacks with a conventional label.
The trick? The food was all the same – just the label was different.
The study provided samples of junk food like cookies and chips to passers-by in a mall. They told random tasters that some were organic and some were not and asked a series of questions about how the food tasted and whether it was healthy.
So, how can you tell the organic junk food from the good-for-you organic foods? Here are a couple of quick tricks:
Of course, if you’re going to eat chips and cookies anyway, you’re definitely better off buying organic. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, and high five if you opt for treats that don’t contain GMOs, pesticide residues, and any of the other problems that come with conventional junk food!
Just remember the lesson from Cookie Monster: cookies are a sometimes food. Even if they are organic.
Image Credit: Junk Food photo via Shutterstock
We met about three years ago, on my birthday. I’d checked out his profile, and knew he was interesting… but I never dreamed how well we’d hit it off! I’ll never have a dehydrator-free kitchen again, if I can help it – here’s why.
10. Dog treats. Little-known fact: if you slice seitan roast into strips, and dry them overnight in the dehy, they become crunchy dog treats much-sought-after by 4-legged snacking enthusiasts!
9. Potato chips. Boil organic potatoes, season to taste, and thin the mixture to a pourable consistency with water. Line dehydrator trays with parchment paper, pour potato mixture onto trays, and spread to about 1/8″ thickness. Dry overnight at about 145 degrees. Break into pieces, and voila! Perfect non-GMO non-fried potato chips!
8. Cashew yogurt. Temperature is crucial for making home-made yogurt. I love the cashew yogurt recipe from Artisan Vegan Cheese, but my first efforts failed. Then I used a kitchen thermometer and my dehydrator (with the ‘front door’ open) to ensure a constant 110 degree temperature — now my yogurt turns out perfect every time, I save bucks by making it from scratch, and by not buying pre-packaged yogurt I’m using less plastic… plus, it’s delicious. It’s a win-win-win-win!
7. Never waste fresh herbs again! I love fresh herbs, but used to have trouble getting through a whole bunch of cilantro or parsley before it passed its prime – now I dry half the bunch, and store the dried half in an airtight container in the fridge until I need it. Presto: no more wasted herbs!
6. Tofu jerky. Back-packin’ kayakin’ road-trippin’ nom! Drain and press 2 blocks of firm or extra-firm tofu, slice in 1/8″ to 1/4″ slices, and marinate overnight — find two good marinades for jerky here (double or triple recipe to cover tofu) or here (I like it with a bit less soy sauce and real maple syrup instead of brown sugar). Dehydrate at about 145 degrees for about 8 hours… Makes some seriously yummy fast food, when you don’t have time to stop (hiking/ driving/ working/ paddling/ whatever)!
5. Unchicken tofu filets. My favorite path to chickenless salad runs straight through the dehydrator! Drain and press 2 blocks of extra-firm tofu, slice crossways into eighths, and marinate in unchicken broth (or prepared vegan no-chicken bouillon) overnight. Dehydrate 6-7 hours at 150 degrees, flipping slices once if possible. Filets prepared this way develop a nice firm texture with minimal effort, perfect for use in salads, sandwiches, wraps, and casseroles.
4. Kale chips. HOLY GOODNESS, you guys: if you haven’t tried kale chips yet, you are simply cheating yourself! Yes, technically you can make them in the oven; but it’s soooo much easier in the dehydrator. In the oven — for me anyway — it can be tricky to achieve even cooking; I tend to end up with a few leaves perfectly crisp, a few still soft, and a few burned. Not so, with a dehydrator! Just wash a kale bunch thoroughly, and tear leaves into chip-sized pieces. Toss well with about a tablespoon each of cider vinegar and olive oil, plus dry seasonings to taste… I like salt, cayenne, garlic powder, and about 1/4 cup of nooch. Put kale leaves on dehydrator trays in single layers, for about 4 hours at 145 degrees, for crisp crunchy happiness with no tending a’tall!
3. Chickpea crunchies. Same deal as kale chips: in theory I can make them in the oven, but in reality my results were discouragingly inconsistent — they need careful oven-tending to avoid under- or over-toasting (and I don’t excel at careful tending!)… Instead, now I just marinate cooked chickpeas (I like one of the same marinades on chickpeas I use for tofu jerky), spread ‘em over parchment paper on dehy trays, and dehydrate overnight on about 150 degrees. They make an easy, portable, nutritious, delicious snack — again, with almost no effort!
2. Fast food for camping, hotels, or busy days. Soups, stews, chilis, dals, and curries dehydrate well for ‘fast-food’ later. So if I make potato soup, say, we’ll eat half the batch and then dry half (in thin layers on parchment paper) and store it in single-serving Pyrex bowls. When we’re camping or road-tripping, all we need is boiling water to revive it. For more on camp-ready cooking with your dehy, be sure to check out Backpack Gourmet (not all-vegan but very veganizable, and extremely helpful for learning to use a dehydrator for camp cooking) and Lipsmackin’ Vegetarian Backpackin’ (I don’t use the ‘cook in ziplock bag’ strategies authors use, but embrace the many vegan or veganizable camp-cooking recipes). Good food cheap and fast, trail-and-hotel-friendly!
1. Farmer’s market power: activate! By using my dehydrator to preserve my farmer’s market harvest, I can shift more of my food dollars to local growers. I buy in-season produce in mondo quantities, dry it, and store it in the freezer, refrigerator, or pantry (depending on food type and space available). It saves me money, reduces packaging waste, and supports small-scale organic farmers in my community. Who could ask for more, from a kitchen appliance?!
As I’ve explored and experimented with my dehydrator over the years, I’ve come to understand and appreciate that old adage: truly, love is a many-splendored thing!
Image credit: modified Creative Commons photo by ljguitar.
Earlier this month, three Senators submitted a bill to require the FDA to report on data about the use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock.
The Antimicrobial Data Collection Act (S.895) intends “to improve the ability of the Food and Drug Administration to study the use of antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals”.
Currently, drug companies, farmers, and feed mills report to the FDA the drugs that are added to the feed of livestock. This bill asks the FDA to compile that information into reports in order to study the relationship between “…the sales, distribution, end-use practices of animal drugs containing an antimicrobial active ingredient in food-producing animals and antimicrobial resistance trends.” The bill also asks the FDA to provide recommendations for preventing antimicrobial resistance.
It’s important to note that the bill would not require extra effort by anyone outside the FDA. The reporting requirements for farmers and others involved in the feeding of livestock would not change. Within the FDA, the information is already gathered and sorted. It simply isn’t reported with much detail and it isn’t studied to find any relationship with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in humans. With antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food on the rise, this legislation is timely.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Dianne Feinstein, and Susan Collins sponsored the bill. A similar bill has been submitted to the House of Representatives by Representatives Henry Waxman and Louise Slaughter.
Livestock antibiotics photo via Shutterstock
Oooh, it’s that time of the year! Farmers markets are reopening and going strong as early spring produce comes of age. But as I’ve started to buy more of this good stuff, I’ve noticed an increase in my food waste. I bought fresh spring onions and tossed the green tops (guiltily). I didn’t use all of the greenhouse-grown tomatoes I bought at the farmers market — a few went to waste. (Crap.)
So at my house, we will start paying more attention to the ends we cut off zucchini and carrots and the bits of produce we normally wouldn’t eat, like onion tops, celery stumps, and assorted stems. Think of it as “nose-to-tail” cooking for fresh produce. Let’s seek to use all parts of the vegetable.
Here are two no-fail ways to turn waste into wonderful:
For more ways to use the “unusable” parts of your produce, read this post from Andrea at our sister site, Vibrant Wellness Journal. We’ve written a lot about reducing food waste, but it bears repeating now that spring is bringing us the good stuff.
What’s the most unusual way you use produce parts people normally don’t eat?
About 200,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the United States this year. The disease will kill nearly 40,000.
Texas researchers are studying how compounds found in mango affect may help lower those numbers.
Scientists at the Institute for Obesity Research and Program Evaluation at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, studied how the polyphenolic compounds found in mangos act to fight cancer cells and reduce inflammation. Other studies have already shown that bioactive compounds, like phenolic acids, flavonoids, and carotenoids in mangos display anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Bottom line — mangos are good for you.
This particular study used polyphenolics extracted from mangos to treat non-cancer and cancer breast cells in vitro (outside their normal biological environment). It showed that at a certain concentration, the mango polyphenols decreased breast cancer cell proliferation by about 90 percent while decreasing the proliferation of non-cancer cells by approximately 20 percent.
Dr. Susanne Talcott, director for research at the institute and assistant professor, nutrition and food science department, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences stated the research has ”moved us closer to determining whether mango polyphenols will have cancer-fighting effects on human beings.” She also notes: “So far, the indications are positive, but a lot of work will have to be done to determine the actual concentration of mango metabolites in target tissues.”
Our bodies are designed to eat natural, whole foods — not manufactured, overly-processed crap.
Fresh mangos of various varieties are available year round. Watch this National Mango Board video to learn how to select and prepare a nutritious, delicious mango. Try it in a mango banana smoothie or a mango black bean salad. And please share your favorite mango recipes in the comments below!
Image and Video Credit: National Mango Board