November 9, 2010

Canning Jar Lids Contain BPA Too


Many people grow and can their own fruits and vegetables in an effort eat healthily, as well as avoid BPA in the lining of cans. Many people have switched to drinking water from mason jars to avoid stainless steel water bottles made in China, as well as plastic. Unfortunately, canning jar lids also contain BPA. Natural News reports:
Bad news has emerged for those hoping to avoid exposure to the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) by canning their own vegetables: BPA can also be found lining the lids of canning jars...

Since canned food and plastic are major sources of BPA exposure, many consumers are now shifting to foods in glass and even canning their own vegetables. Unfortunately, the white underside of the metal lids on these jars is also lined with BPA...

People canning at home might try glass or BPA-free certified plastic lids. Meanwhile, Jacob suggests another action that all of us can take to help reduce our exposure: contact the FDA and ask for a ban on BPA.

Photo:   Attribution Some rights reserved by Leifheit USA

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

November 4, 2010

Chicago Dentist Offers Kids Money for their Halloween Candy

Halloween has come and gone, but the candy booty remains. In our family, we handle the overload by trading crappy candy for organic candy, as well as an item of choice (this year my daughter chose to exchange her candy for origami paper).

A dentist in Chicago has a unique approach to preventing cavities: offering his patients money in exchange for their Halloween candy. reports:

Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., dentist Mark Ligocki told the Chicago Tribune he will pay a dollar for every pound of sweets handed over by children he sees the day after Halloween.

The goodies will be shipped to U.S. soldiers through Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to troops overseas.

"It's a way to give back to the community, and it's a way to keep sweets out of kids' mouths and keep obesity down in an indirect way," Ligocki said.

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by ninahale

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

November 3, 2010

Sweet Sally's Homemade Baked Goods: All Natural, but not Organic

My grandmothers are both gone, and one of them clearly was a baker. She made the best cookies, and if I could order them and have them delivered to my door, I would. I miss the cookie care packages she would send me when I was in college. That's the premise behind Sweet Sally's: "Yesterday's Memories Delivered Today".

Sally Saltzbart Minier is a third generation baker and has been active in the kitchen since she was very young.

As a child, I learned the mathematical concept of "fractions" by working with measuring cups and was taught the basic "tricks of the trade" by my Grama Gracie and my Mom, Carrie. Grama Gracie was known for her Jewish specialties and Mom is famous for her world class Apple Pie, New York Cheesecake, Classic Spritz Butter Cookies and LBI Blueberry Buckle.

We tried:

  • Grama's Almond Dunkers (also known as Mandel bread): This pastry is similar to Italian biscotti, yet the dough is soft rather than crunchy. It's filled with jam, nuts and raisins and topped with cinnamon and sugar. Best when dunked in hot coffee or tea.

  • Right Size Chocolate Rugelach: A traditional pastry filled with chocolate, currants and jam; all rolled by hand into a three bite delicacy and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for extra sweetness. Just like Grama Gracie used to make.

  • Rachel's Raspberry Hamantashen: A triangle shaped pastry typically served during the spring holiday of Purim. Each is topped with a raspberry filling and dusted with powdered sugar for extra sweetness.

  • Awesome Apricot Squares: A buttery crust topped with apricot preserves and a delicous streusel containing coconut and walnuts.

These are all tasty baked goods, but to be honest, they are not the same as fresh from the oven. I also think they should be made with organic ingredients and greener packaging, although Sweet Sally's did use eco-packaging peanuts in the big box.

If you are not a baker, Sweet Sally's does make it easy for you to send delicious baked treats to friends and family.

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

October 29, 2010

Halloween Sweet Treat Alternative: Popcorn, Indiana

Ghosts and goblins will soon be overloading the sugar content of our children. Whether organic treats or not, popcorn offers a nice break from the sugary snacks.

Popcorn, Indiana makes authentic, all-natural kettlecorn. Unfortunately, it is not organic, but it is tasty. It comes in many varieties:

My favorite flavors are the aged cheddar and gourmet, but I am too fearful to try the bacon ranch. It just sounds gnarly to me. It does not list bacon as an ingredient, so I am not sure if it is vegetarian. "Natural flavor" can mean anything.

Popcorn, Indiana is a real place (population 42 says the sign).

We are wildly fanatical about healthier, whole grain snacking. Our mission is to make the best tasting better-for-you snacks on the planet. We have our own facility, filled with honest-to-goodness corn that is specifically grown for popping. We have special kettles that are filled, by hand, one scoop at a time, by real people, who are carefully producing, oh-so-lovingly, the greatest popcorn you've ever had. That sentence had a lot of commas, so you know we're serious.

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

October 28, 2010

Top 30 Natural Food Company Take Overs: Who Really Owns Your Favorite Organic Brand?

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I recently had the pleasure of defending one of our favorite natural foods brand to a friend, who mistakenly thought it was owned by a grocery giant. When seeking proof for Nature's Path's independence, I came across the above chart.

Such information is always so disheartening. To discover your favorite organic brand is actually owned by a company you have no faith or confidence in to uphold organic standards can be depressing. From Horizon using feed lots to Silk Soymilk choosing GMO Chinese soy over organic American farmers, rarely does a corporate acquisition mean good things for natural food. Although this chart is two years old, the information is important for consumers to reflect upon thier brand loyalty.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 27, 2010

Really Natural Cookbooks: Greek Revival: Cook for Life

Greek Revival.jpg
I love Greek food! It is one food I craved when pregnant, and any chance I got to dine out on Greek food, I took. 

 I've never been one to make Greek cuisine at home, other than the occasional salad. That's all about to change!

Greek Revival: Cooking for Life by Patricia Moore-Pastides is a beautiful cookbook filled with delectable recipes and incredible photographs.

From Booklist

Down-home Greek, even Mediterranean cooking is best experienced as a meat-light peasant diet, embracing olive oil, grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits as its main ingredients. No wonder that public-health professional (and first-time author) Moore-Pastides, Greek by marriage, not only provides 87 authentic recipes but also promotes this healthy way of eating through frequent references to current scientific research. Many of these diet's benefits are widely recognized, especially protection against heart disease; other features, like the avoidance of highly processed foods and the use of omega-3 fatty acids, are well documented within her text and in the appended references. Each recipe, though simple to follow, doesn't emulate modern cookbooks in its format; instead, all are written in a narrative, surrounded by the author's stories of living in Greece and Cyprus. Color photographs and occasional sidebars also help cooks complete dishes successfully, whether a traditional gyros or saganaki or a special-occasion moussaka or tava (slow-cooked lamb stew). A foreword by Dimitrios Trichopoulos, from Harvard School of Public Health, emphasizes the goodness of Greek eats. --Barbara Jacobs

From roasted cumin carrots to stuffed eggplant and zucchini, there are plenty of recipes to please any palate from vegetarian to omnivore.  

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

October 21, 2010

New Study: Sugar, Salt, Fat Biologically Addicting


A new study may reveal why so many Americans are overweight: foods full of sugar, salt, and fat are actually addictive! I've always recognized I have a chocolate addiction, but for many Americans, this research explains why they might binge on an entire bag of potato chips or box of cookies. Dr. Hyman writes for the Huffington Post:
Our government and food industry both encourage more "personal responsibility" when it comes to battling the obesity epidemic and its associated diseases. They say people should exercise more self-control, make better choices, avoid overeating, and reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food. We are led to believe that there is no good food or bad food, that it's all a matter of balance. This sounds good in theory, except for one thing...

New discoveries in science prove that industrially processed, sugar-, fat- and salt-laden food -- food that is made in a plant rather than grown on a plant, as Michael Pollan would say -- is biologically addictive.

For me, this research explains why the cycle of obesity repeats itself throughout generations and continues to expand greatly. Until grocery stores stock more whole foods, and the sugar, salt, and fat-ladened foods are few and far between on the shelves, the American addiction will continue. Dr. Hyman continues:
Environmental factors (like advertising, lack of menu labeling, and others) and the addictive properties of "industrial food," when added together, override our normal biological or psychological control mechanisms. To pretend that changing this is beyond the scope of government responsibility or that creating policy to help manage such environmental factors would lead to a "nanny state" is simply an excuse for Big Food to continue its unethical practices.

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by Tobyotter

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 19, 2010

Urban Garden Movement in Richmond, CA Turns Vacant Lots Into Food


Richmond, California is one of those East Bay towns that can be sore on the eyes. Industry has left, and crime is an issue, but citizens have found a unique way to beautify and feed this economically depressed region by taking over vacant lots and turning them into gardens. Truthout explains:
Once a month, Latino and African American families-often people who live just a few blocks from each other but rarely had a chance to meet in the past-gather at the garden and have a barbecue. Tomatoes, chard, and corn grow in raised beds across the street. Muslim families from the local mosque just a few blocks away pluck fresh mint from the garden for making traditional Arabic tea. The garden is the work of Urban Tilth, one of the dozen or so groups at the center of Richmond's urban garden movement. It was built by community members, often young people, and is tended in part by students and teachers from the elementary school next door. And it has become a community gathering space...

People rarely get a say in what happens to land when their city falls apart. But in the last five years, some Richmonders have taken matters into their own hands. Often with official permission but sometimes without, they have planted more than two dozen gardens in public lots and school grounds all over the roughest parts of town. Urban Tilth calls them "farms," and last year grew 6,000 pounds of food, which went to dozens of local families.

This is an amazing story that should be replicated across the country. From upscale neighborhoods to ghettos, urban gardening brings communities together, reduces crime, and provides healthy local food.

Photo:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by anarchosyn

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 18, 2010

Handcrafted Organic Herbal Bitters by Urban Moonshine Aids Digestion

The tradition of taking bitters began in 1824 when a German physician in Venezuela discovered their effect on curing sea sickness and stomachaches. Urban Moonshine has brought the Old World tradition to modern times using organically-grown herbs.

Cultures around the world have long believed that bitter flavors are essential to good health because they stimulate the digestive system. Thus began the tradition of steeping bitter-tasting roots, leaves, berries and fruits in alcohol and serving the mixture before or after a meal. Often the formula was accompanied by more pleasant tasting carminative herbs such as ginger, fennel, cardamon, or orange peel.

Whether brewed according to secret recipes by medieval monks or concocted according to oral tradition by wise women, the first bitters had medicinal purposes. Over time, the theory, if not the recipes, passed into the hands of apothecaries and on to the makers of 19th Century patent medicines. After bartenders discovered that bitters softened the often harsh liquors of the day, the cocktail was born. Until the late 1880s, any drink called a cocktail contained bitters--this includes such classics as the martini, the Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned. Only in the 1950s did the taste for bitters fade.

Now, whether you enjoy them as an apertif, digestif, or as a remedy to settle an upset stomach, calm a hangover or gently cleanse the liver, bitters are back!

We tried out two flavors of Urban Moonshines handcrafted digestif bitters:
 Urban Moonshine supports local farmers and is a member of United Plant Savers, whose mission is to "protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come".

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

October 13, 2010

Green Halloween Treats: YummyEarth Organic Gummy Bears are Gluten-Free

Halloween is just a couple weeks away, and one thing I hate about this holiday, is all of the crappy candy my children collect. We make a deal in our home to trade the bad candy for good, and of course, we only hand out organic candy to the children we see trick or treating.

YummyEarth Organic Gummy Bears are certified organic, gluten-free, soy-free, contains no corn syrup, made from real fruit juice, peanut-free, etc.

Organic Rice syrup, organic cane sugar, gelatin, organic carrot juice, organic aronia juice, organic black currant, organic curcuma, natural flavor, citric acid, ascorbic acid, organic sunflower oil.

These organic gummy bears also contain 100% Daily Vitamin C.

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

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