July 28, 2011

High School Students Find "Unlisted" Ingredients in Herbal Teas

When you buy a food or drink item, it is law that all of the ingredients be disclosed to protect those with food allergies and to help consumers make choices. Kashrut.com explains:

The FDA balances these interests by requiring that all ingredients be declared while granting a few narrow, but significant, exemptions. For example, absent on ingredients labels is the proportion, or percentage, of each ingredient. The regulations require only that food labels list the ingredients in descending order of predominance according to weight.

High school students in Manhattan found variations between actual ingredients and those listed for many herbal teas. Medical News Today reports:

Take a second look at your iced or steaming tea. Guided by scientific experts, three New York City high school students using tabletop DNA technologies found several herbal brews and a few brands of tea contain ingredients unlisted on the manufacturers' package...

The unlisted ingredients included weeds such as annual bluegrass and herbal plants such as chamomile. The surprise ingredients are mostly harmless but could affect a tiny minority of consumers with acute allergies. Three (4 percent) of the 70 tea products tested and 21 (35 percent) of 60 herbal products had unlisted ingredients.

For example, DNA testing showed that an herbal infusion labelled "St. John's wort" (Hypericum perforatum) included material from a fern in genus Terpischore. A DNA "barcode" obtained from another herbal tea labelled "ginger root, linden, lemon peel, blackberry leaves, and lemongrass" matched annual bluegrass (Poa annua), a common weed unrelated to lemongrass. Four herbal infusions yielded sequences identical or nearly identical to the tea plant, C. sinensis but none listed "tea" as an ingredient. The most common non-label ingredient, found in seven herbal products, was chamomile (Matricaria recutita).

It makes you wonder what other products are not accurately labeling or testing their products to ensure ingredients match those listed.

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by Khairil Zhafri

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 20, 2011

Green Back to School: Stainless Steel Bento by PlanetBox

In less than a month, my kids go back to school. As the school year starts earlier and earlier, it's time to prepare.

School lunches are notoriously unhealthy, and we have tried a variety of plastic bento boxes and lunch bags. Last year, we discovered the PlanetBox. This stainless steel bento style box is perfect, so perfect we ordered another one for our son!

Looking for an eco and easy way to pack healthy lunches for your kids? PlanetBox is the safe, non-toxic alternative to plastic. Not your old fashioned metal lunch box, PlanetBox delivers lunch transportation for the green generation.

Super easy to clean, super easy to pack, and super fun to use! My kids love their PlanetBoxes!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 19, 2011

Nutrition Research: Dried Fruit Improves Diet and Reduces Weight

According to a new study published in Nutrition Research, eating dried fruit improves one's diet and reduces weight. Specifically dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium were affected. Researchers report:

Dried fruit consumers had improved MyPyramid food intake, including lower solid fats/alcohol/added sugars intake, and a higher solid fats/alcohol/added sugars score (11.1 ± 0.2 vs 8.2 ± 0.1) than nonconsumers. The total Healthy Eating Index 2005 score was significantly higher (P < .01) in consumers (59.3 ± 0.5) than nonconsumers (49.4 ± 0.3). Covariate-adjusted weight (78.2 ± 0.6 vs 80.7 ± 0.3 kg), body mass index (27.1 ± 0.2 vs 28.1 ± 0.2), and waist circumference (94.0 ± 0.5 vs 96.5 ± 0.2 cm) were lower (P < .01) in consumers than nonconsumers, respectively. Dried fruit consumption was associated with improved nutrient intakes, a higher overall diet quality score, and lower body weight/adiposity measures.

My favorite dried fruit is 100% Organic Bake-Dried Mango!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 15, 2011

Klean Kanteen Reflect: Shiny Stainless Steel and Bamboo Lid Water Bottle for a Plastic-Free Life

Klean Kanteen has been my standby for reusable water bottles for as long as I can remember. It would seem there is not much to reinvent with a stainless steel bottle, but Klean Kanteen has done it several times with colors, insulation, and now the Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Reflect Water Bottle (Stainless Bamboo Cap).

The Reflect raises the bar. Again. The Mirror finish is shiny, but we chose the name for a different reason. It symbolizes our deep commitment to continued innovation, and our promise to you to deliver value and quality with integrity. The first of its kind. The Reflect is crafted using just sustainably harvested bamboo, food-grade silicone and stainless steel. Beautiful in its simplicity and deliberate in its design, what you don't see on the Reflect is as important as what you do. No paint. No plastic. Just three materials united to create the ultimate expression of our ongoing crusade to change the way people think and drink. The Stainless Unibody Bamboo Cap. Fashioned from a single piece of stainless steel, the cap is extremely strong and durable. The stainless steel bail is firmly attached, providing a handy attachment point. Together, they deliver unparalleled strength and durability, beautifully finished with bamboo. Laser Etched For Life. The logo is laser etched onto the bottle, replacing paint. With nothing to scratch or wear off, it's as durable as the Reflect itself. A Fine Finish. The Reflect is available in two finishes, our traditional Brushed Stainless and Mirror. To achieve the Mirror finish, the bottle goes through an additional electropolishing process to make it extra shiny.

NO PLASTIC! That is amazing! This bottle is aesthetically pleasing, and truly green (except for being made in China). I love my Reflect bottle!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 13, 2011

Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Products: Solar Powered and Delicious

Goat milk is very delicious, as long as the goats are not allowed to simply eat strong flavored weeds as happens with non-commercial herds. It is easier to digest than cow's milk, and it makes great dairy products like yogurt and kefir.

Redwood Hill Farm has been making award winning goat milk products since 1968. Recently, they won an award for solar power!

Redwood Hill Farm has demonstrated sustainability leadership here in Sonoma County by installing a 586 kW DC solar electric system, providing 100% of energy used at our Sebastopol organic creamery. The solar system covers nearly 2 acres of roof space using 2,500 solar panels made in California. The CO2 reduced annually is equal to 110 acres of trees saved, 54 cars off the road, or 76 homes powered. Our Certified Humane® goat dairy is solar powered too.

Not only are the goats treated ethically and the power renewable, but Redwood Hill Farm products are delicious! Live and active cultures keep your gut healthy, and your taste buds won't complain either.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 5, 2011

Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Yogurt

If you are lactose intolerant but love dairy products, Green Valley Organics has the solution for you!

Peace & Harmony In Your Stomach.

Dairy power to the people, especially the lactose intolerant people!

For you and your family, we've created rich, creamy Green Valley Organics™ real dairy yogurt and kefir. Unlike other lactose free options there is no compromise on taste. They're simply delicious by any standard. Made from organic ingredients, our fresh and flavorful, lactose free dairy foods will make you feel good inside. And with all their protein, calcium and Flourish™, our proprietary blend of 10 live & active cultures, they're as good for the body as they are for the soul.

Our company has been committed to digestive health for over 40 years.
So when we say it, you can believe it.
Give peace (in your stomach) a chance.

I am not lactose intolerant, although I have had trouble with casein. This yogurt is delicious, especially with raspberries and granola, and you would never know that it was lactose free from the flavor.

These dairy products start from milk on humane, small farms, and then is cultured in a solar powered facility.  

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 29, 2011

Twist 'n' Grate Anything From Chocolate to Cheese

I hate to grate anything. I always scrape my knuckles and end up bleeding into whatever I am grating, and the alternative of using a food processor involves more effort in clean up than its worth.

Microplane Twist N Grate Dual Sided Grater offers a patented solution.

Sleek and space saving, the Microplane Twist N Grate - Dual Sided Grater is designed to easily come apart when not in use for compact storage in a drawer or cabinet. Comes with two Microplane blades, Fine and Extra Coarse. Microplane's signature grating blades are engineered to quickly and efficiently grate a wide range of foods, from hard cheese like Parmesan, to softer cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella, as well as assorted vegetables and fruits, including onions, potatoes, zucchini, apples, pears, etc. The Fine blade can also be used to zest the peel of citrus, such as lemons, oranges and limes.

I admit I was perplexed by this grater at first, but I like its sleek design. Unfortunately, the round design caused my hubby to scrape his knuckle on first try.  As a result, we prefer your standard grater. 

There isn't anything eco-friendly about this product, other than it is made in North America rather than China, cutting down on transportation emissions.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 28, 2011

Will Congress Limit Antibiotic Use in Livestock?

The overuse of antibiotics is a real health concern as disease resistance becomes more common in humans. The use of antibiotics in dairy and meat are also of concern, as living conditions of factory farms are so unhealthy animals need regular injections to stay "healthy".   Finally, Congress is looking at the problem.

Treehugger reports:

It's a problem that's only getting worse with the expanded overuse of antibiotics. It's this practice that a Senate bill is looking to limit with the re-introduction of The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA).

According to Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the primary sponsor for PAMTA, reported on Civil Eats. "[t]he effectiveness of antibiotics for humans is jeopardized when they are used to fatten healthy pigs or speed the growth of chickens. This is a basic food safety initiative that would phase out the misuse of these drugs so that food in supermarkets across America will not spread strains of drug-resistant bacteria."...

According to the FDA, 80 percent of the antibiotics produced in this country are used in animal agriculture. This amount is estimated to be more than four times the amount of drugs used to treat human illness.

Wow, that's a crazy statistic!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 24, 2011

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Organic Honey Stinger Energy Chews

When you need a little pick me up, whether you are exerting energy or at the office, Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews Limeade and Pink Lemonadeare naturally caffeinated with white tea.

Honey Stinger Organic energy chews are formulated specifically for health-conscious individuals and athletes seeking a great tasting energy snack.

  • First energy chew to provide naturally occurring fiber and protein that's derived from tapioca syrup and honey
  • Provides the right amount of carbohydrates to keep you going without excessive calories
  • Chews are certified USDA Organic and provide 100% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C
  • Gluten- and dairy-free product
  • Backpacker April '09 says, "In the real world--miles to go, tank on empty--flavor makes the fuel. And these gummi bear-like blobs beat all comers in the taste department."
We've tried out the original Honey Stinger Waffles and Chews, and not really being a fan of gummy type candies, the waffles are still my favorite.  The chews are sweet and chewy.  My daughter likes them.

I love that these products are organic, unlike many energy products, and they do pack easily. They have Lance Armstrong's endorsement, which doesn't really win me over one way or another, but the man does know about needing energy.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 23, 2011

Deadly German E. Coli Sprout Outbreak NOT Linked to Organically Grown

sprouts.jpgDeadly outbreaks of E. coli in our food is scary considering you need to eat to survive and what you eat can kill you. The current crisis in Germany was originally linked to organic sprouted seeds, but German officials no longer believe that is the case. The Cornucopia Institute reports:

One of the suspected factors in this tragic outbreak of foodborne illness (now preliminarily cleared) was sprouted seeds from an organic farm. There's a history of pathogenic contamination of fresh food, including sprouts. Correcting statements made over the weekend, the German government stated on Monday, June 6 that it has not found conclusive evidence that the deadly E. coli outbreak can be linked to sprouts from an organic farm.

Regardless of which food turns out to have been contaminated with deadly E. coli, it is important to remember that the underlying cause of new, highly toxic strains of foodborne pathogens seems to be the relatively new practice of raising beef and dairy cattle in highly concentrated factory farm conditions, instead of on pasture...

Moreover, studies have shown that organic farms and organic foods are safer than conventional foods. Not only are they much less likely to be contaminated with chemical residues, pesticides, and fumigants, they are also not as likely to be contaminated with manure...

Recall data from the US Food and Drug Administration shows that there have been 10 recalls of sprouts in the past 2.5 years (since April 2009), and 9 were because conventional sprouts tested positive for foodborne pathogens (90% conventional, 10% organic). Several outbreaks in the US in the past couple of years have been linked to sprouts, but none were linked directly to organic sprouts.

Yet another reason it is safer to eat organically grown food.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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