Apr 21, 2011

Flax Seed Crackers

Flax seed crackers are dehydrated crackers. Usually a dehydrator is needed, although you can try to make them in an oven and keep it under 120 degrees - if it has a fan in back. However that can take quite a few hours and would be a major drain on your electric bill. And I don't recommend it - it may be too hot and damage the enzymes that dehydrating at a low temperature is supposed to preserve.

Dehydrators use very little energy. If you're eating raw foods now and don't have a dehydrator you definitely should get one. I find it an indispensable piece of equipment for raw fooders. It will give you much more in the way to choose from in terms of the number of raw food recipes you can prepare.

There are many different raw recipes in the dehydrator - for example, cookies, other types of raw crackers, raw pizza, raw crepes, mushroom appetizers, appetizers, raw onion bread and much more. If you want to invest in a dehydrator get the big square one with the fan in the back, because those are the best and will not heat the food.

2 cup flax seeds soaked for 5- 8 hours or overnight - not ground up or you can use 2 cups of flax seeds unsoaked ground in a food processor
2 tsp sun dried sea salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups or more of pure filtered water

Mix together in mixing bowl and add more water if necessary. It should be very moist. Don't worry - it does not have to be perfect. They always turn out. Spread onto dehydrator trays about 1/4 inch thick.
Use a pizza cutter to cut into squares. Dehydrate at about 95 degrees for 12-24 hours or until they look dried and crispy. About half way through the process, re-score with the pizza cutter and place another tray on top and flip over and continue dehydrating.

**Now this is a very basic flax seed cracker recipe. But you'll want to add spices or additional ingredients to make them flavorful. Otherwise they will be bland.

Optional: 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning for a more pizza-like cracker or add 3 T caraway seeds for a caraway seed cracker or add 4 dates for a sweeter cracker or add 1 T coriander seeds or add 2 cups of unsoaked sunflower seeds that have been ground up fine in a food processor or any combination of any of these. You can also add 5 stalks of celery or the pulp from juicing carrots instead of some of the water as long as your final mixture is a little moist.

Apr 12, 2011

Spanakopita (& other version)

This is our Mom's greek recipe for spinach and egg pastries. They're so yummy!

1-2 bunches fresh spinach chopped (or frozen, drained)
3-5 eggs
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 t. dill  (opt., or cilantro) 
1/2 c. feta (or more) 
1 garlic clove (or garlic salt)
onion powder (opt. if didn't use onion above)

filo dough (pastry)
butter, melted (for dough; or half butter half olive oil)
lemon pepper (for topping)

1. Mix all ingedients together (except dough and butter)
2. Butter filo sheets (we normally use three layers at a time and cut in half so you have two long rows) and put a spoonful of the mix in the corner and fold the corner over into a triangle and then to the other side in a triangle (like the folding of a flag the army or boy scouts do).
3. Butter the ends and top. (you should have a completed triangle) Place on a tray.
4. Sprinkle all the tops with lemon pepper and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*simple version: Lay filo down in pie or casserole dish and butter some layers here and there. Add egg mixture and then put more layers of filo on top, buttering between layers (makes them more crispy). Then sprinkle with lemon pepper and butter on top. Cook about the same about the same amount of time--make sure the inside is all cooked when done.

Or use flour and do a puffier version...
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup all-purposeflour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bakingpowder
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 (10 ounce) packagesfrozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Pour butter into a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish; tiltto coat. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk eggs andmilk; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in spinach and cheese.Pour into prepared dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or untila knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes; cut intosmall squares. Serve immediately or transfer to a freezer container. May befrozen for up to 3 months.

*tip: To use frozen appetizers: Thaw in the refrigeratorovernight. Place on baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25-30minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nuts & Seeds: Benefits of Soaking or Sprouting

If you've started reading raw cookbooks, you've probably noticed that soaking nuts and seeds is a pretty common practice!

The main reason soaking nuts and seeds is so important is because they contain enzyme inhibitors. The purpose of these enzyme inhibitors is to protect the nut or seed until it has what it needs for growing. Nature allowed the inhibitors and toxic substances to be easily removed when the conditions (enough rain and sun) were met.
In nature, when it rains the nut gets enough moisture so it can germinate and produce a plant. The plant then continues to grow with the sunlight. By soaking nuts and seeds, you release these toxic enzyme inhibitors AND increase the life and vitality contained within them!

The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds
  • Enzyme inhibitors get neutralized.
  • The amount of vitamins your body can absorb increases.
  • Gluten breaks down so digestion is much easier.
  • Phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of vital minerals, is reduced.
Soaking times vary with the nut. Generally the more dense the nut, the longer the soaking time. Ideally, soaking should be done at room temperature.

Soaking and Sprouting Times

It's pretty basic and not an exact science. You just need a glass container (or you can buy sprouters) with something to strain on the top (I used clean nylons once, or linen, but I prefer the metal strainer lid I bought at a nutrition store that tops a mason jar). The goal is to soak , and then keep rinsing to keep them moist, but not wet or dry--balance.

Nut / Seed Dry Amount Soak Time Sprout Time Sprout Length Yield
Alfalfa Seed 3 Tbsp 12 Hours 3-5 Days 1-2 Inches 4 Cups
Almonds 3 Cups 8-12 Hours 1-3 Days 1/8 Inch 4 Cups
Amaranth 1 Cup 3-5 Hours 2-3 Days 1/4 Inch 3 Cups
Barley, Hulless 1 Cup 6 Hours 12-24 Hours 1/4 Inch 2 Cups
Broccoli Seed 2 Tbsp 8 Hours 3-4 Days 1-2 Inches 2 Cups
Buckwheat, Hulled 1 Cup 6 Hours 1-2 Days 1/8-1/2 Inch 2 Cups
Cabbage Seed 1 Tbsp 4-6 Hours 4-5 Days 1-2 Inches 1 1/2 Cups
Cashews 3 Cups 2-3 Hours 4 Cups
Clover 3 Tbsp 5 Hours 4-6 Days 1-2 Inches 4 Cups
Fenugreek 4 Tbsp 6 Hours 2-5 Days 1-2 Inches 3 Cups
Flax Seeds 1 Cup 6 Hours 2 Cups
Garbanzo Beans
(Chick Pea)
1 Cup 12-48 Hours 2-4 Days 1/2-1 Inch 4 Cups
Kale Seed 4 Tbsp 4-6 Hours 4-6 Days 3/4-1 Inch 3-4 Cups
Lentil 3/4 Cup 8 Hours 2-3 Days 1/2-1 Inch 4 Cups
Millet 1 Cup 5 Hours 12 Hours 1/16 Inch 3 Cups
Mung Beans 1/3 Cup 8 Hours 4-5 Days 1/4-3 Inches 4 Cups
Mustard Seed 3 Tbsp 5 Hours 3-5 Days 1/2-1 1/2 Inches 3 Cups
Oats, Hulled 1 Cup 8 Hours 1-2 Days 1/8 Inch 1 Cup
Onion Seed 1 Tbsp 4-6 Hours 4-5 Days 1-2 Inches 1 1/2-2 Cups
Pea 1 Cup 8 Hours 2-3 Days 1/2-1 Inch 3 Cups
Pinto Bean 1 Cup 12 Hours 3-4 Days 1/2-1 Inch 3-4 Cups
Pumpkin 1 Cup 6 Hours 1-2 Days 1/8 Inch 2 Cups
Quinoa 1 Cup 3-4 Hours 2-3 Days 1/2 Inch 3 Cups
Radish 3 Tbsp 6 Hours 3-5 Days 3/4-2 Inches 4 Cups
Rye 1 Cup 6-8 Hours 2-3 Days 1/2-3/4 Inch 3 Cups
Sesame Seed,
1 Cup 8 Hours 1 1/2 Cups
Sesame Seed,
1 Cup 4-6 Hours 1-2 Days 1/8 Inch 1 Cup
Spelt 1 Cup 6 Hours 1-2 Days 1/4 Inch 3 Cups
Sunflower, Hulled 1 Cup 6-8 Hours 1 Day 1/4-1/2 Inch 2 Cups
Teff 1 Cup 3-4 Hours 1-2 Days 1/8 Inch 3 Cups
Walnuts 3 Cups 4 Hours 4 Cups
Wheat 1 Cup 8-10 Hours 2-3 Days 1/4-3/4 Inch 3 Cups
Wild Rice 1 Cup 12 Hours 2-3 Days Rice Splits 3 Cups
Or look up others that may not be listed at www.sproutpeople.com

Soaking Nuts and Seeds
  1. Gather your raw, organic nuts or seeds.
  2. Rinse them in purified or distilled water.
  3. Place them in a glass or stainless steel bowl.
  4. Soaking Nuts
  5. Cover with twice as much water as the nuts or seeds. (1 cup of nuts to 2 cups of water).
  6. Cover the bowl with something breathable like a cloth towel.
  7. Drain and rinse the nuts or seeds every 3 or 4 hours.
The soak water will contain the enzyme inhibitors which is very acidic to the body so make sure to rinse your nuts and seeds well.

Sprouting Nuts and Seeds
  1. Follow the process above for soaking nuts and seeds.
  2. Place the soaked and rinsed nuts or seeds in a sprouting jar. You can get this online or at a health food store.
  3. Cover the jar with screening, cheesecloth, or sprouting lids.
  4. Sprouting Jar
  5. Put the jar face down, at an angle in a low light place. A dish rack or a high rimmed bowl works well because it allows the excess water to drain out.
  6. Rinse every 8 hours. To rinse: Fill jar with water. Shake vigorously. Drain. Repeat 2-3 times.
  7. Make sure you drain the jar well. Seeds that sit in water can spoil the whole jar!
  8. Once sprouting begins, place in a sun lit area. Don't place in direct sunlight though. Continue to rinse every 8 hours.
  9. Let the sprouts grow for the suggested number of days.
After the final rinse, let the sprouts dry completely! They should be dry to the touch. This is very important! Refrigerated produce dies quickly. The sprouts can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

Here's a little more about what you sprout:

Best grown in open trays these are mostly eaten raw.

Alfalfa – means ‘father of all foods’ in Arabic, a lovely mild taste means you can’t grow enough. Sensitive to heat, ready in 7 days.
Buckwheat – actually a herb, likes light, warmth and wet. Needs to soak for 12 hours and a larger mesh or holes to root into than normal, use black unhulled seeds. The hulls are susceptible to mould so rinse well, ready in 10 days.
Cabbage – very small seeds make rooting difficult, use a very fine mesh. Strong cabbagey flavour, ready in 6 days.
Clover (red) – like alfalfa but sharper taste and bigger leaves, ready in 6 days.
Fenugreek – Tall and bitter, prefers cool temperatures. Mix with milder sprouts to tone it down, ready in 9 days.
Garlic – expensive, but just as good as the bulb for health and taste, but with less odorous after effects. Seed jackets don’t come off easily, just eat them! The first week will see little growth, ready in 12 days.
Mustard – as you’d expect this tiny sprout is hot. Use the black type as it’s easier to grow. Too hot for mass consumption, better for spicing up other meals, ready in 6 days.
Radish – hot, rinse well, ready in 6 days.
Sunflower (in shell) – sprout black ones as the shells fall off more easily and rinse well as they are prone to mould. As buckwheat, soak long and use a larger mesh, they get big! Ready in 10 days.
Wheatgrass – looks like grass and must be juiced. Soak hard wheat grains for 12 hours and use a large holed tray or basket. Harvest with scissors, has a strong flavor and many health giving properties, ready in 12 days.

Best grown in bags, most of these sprouts are ready in 3 to 5 days. Sprouted beans and grains should be used as you would unsprouted, but with less cooking. Although sprouting increases nutrients and digestibility they are still essentially raw and eating large quantities regularly without cooking is not recommended. Smaller beans are easier to digest and can be eaten raw especially if you grow them long, light cooking is still advised for regular, mass consumption.

Adzuki – cousin of the mung bean, crispy, use in salads sparingly, ready in 5 days.
Barley – grows about 2 to 3 times the length of the grain, better cooked, ready in 2 to 5 days.
Chickpea – cook, makes good sprouted humus, ready in 4 days.
Lentil – very easy to grow, steam them or eat sparingly on salads, ready in 5 days.
Kamut – this ancient grain is more nutritious and used the same way as wheat if you can find it. Sprout till the shoots are half the size of the berry, 4 days.
Mung – the famous Chinese sprout, to get them long, grow under a heavy bag of water with a banana or two nearby, (it gives off ethylene gas, a plant growth hormone.) The seed hulls don’t move easily, let them float away by holding the sprouts underwater, ready in 5 days but you can grow longer.
Oats – use oat groats, you can eat sprouts raw, but better cooked, sweet. Ready in 3-5 days.
Pea (green) – like lentils, but bigger and needs cooking, ready in 5 days.
Sunflower (hulled) – sweet nutty taste, but gets bitter and moulds easily if you leave them too long, grow for 2 days, then eat.
Quinoa – Hard to find, untested.
Wheat – sprout this and use it to make sprouted breads, ready in 3-5 days.

I looked up wheat and sprouted it to use for salmon croquet recipe--not bad. Next time I want to sprout wheat and the dehydrate it and grind it for sprouted grain flour. I also soak my almonds sometimes to eat plain, but I like to use them for the almond milk recipe. Charise has done flax seeds and made crackers out of them in the dehydrator (soon to be posted under sensational snacks).

*Info from  http://www.raw-food-living.com/soaking-nuts.html

Apr 11, 2011

Detox and Heal with Psyllium Powder

“Every tissue is fed by the blood, which is supplied by the bowel. When the bowel is dirty, the blood is dirty, and so on to the organs and tissues.” Dr. Benard Jensen

This is why we need to detox and make sure our bowels are cleansed from toxic junk we put in. Here's some info about a great little natural powder that you can add into your daily life, a little here, a little there, to help cleanse your bowel without doing crazy and scary cleanses. Try adding it to your water or a smoothie.

About Psyllium:
Psyllium husk comes from the crushed seeds of the Plantago ovata plant, an herb native to parts of Asia, Mediterranean regions of Europe, and North Africa. In addition to its traditional use for constipation, psyllium has also been used topically by herbalists to treat skin irritations, including poison ivy reactions and insect bites and stings. It has also been used in Chinese and Indian traditional herbal systems to treat bladder problems, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and high blood pressure.

Similar to oats and wheat, psyllium is rich in soluble fiber. Traditionally, psyllium husk is used as a gentle bulk-forming laxative for constipation. Its ingredients include alkaloids, amino acids, oils, protein, tannins, flavonoids, and a variety of sugars and carbohydrates. It is used as a stabilizing and thickening agent in many salad dressings, soups, lotions, and creams. Psyllium seeds are oval-shaped, odorless, practically tasteless, and are coated with mucilage. Most commercial preparations consist of blonde psyllium. 

Used as a dietary fiber, psyllium makes stools softer, which helps relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids and other intestinal disorders. When psyllium husk comes in contact with water, it swells and forms a gelatinous mass that stimulates the transport of waste through the intestinal tract. It is considered a good intestinal cleanser in that it speeds waste matter through the digestive system, shortening the amount of time toxic substances stay in the body and thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer and other diseases.

Psyllium encourages the growth of healthful, "friendly" intestinal bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilous and bifidobacteria which are helpful in regulating bowel movements.
Good Psyllium Uses:

Detoxification of the Colon
The bulking effect of psyllium also works to rid the colon of toxic substances, including heavy metals, as it acts almost as a sponge to soak them off the walls of the intestine. This spongy action has a dual advantage as it can decrease hunger when taken with meals.

Studies have concluded that psyllium relieves constipation as it is believed to speed the passage of stool through the digestive tract by softening the stool and attracting water thereby producing more bulk (which stimulates the transit of waste through the gastrointestinal tract).

Psyllium can be used as a bulk-forming agent to relieve mild to moderate diarrhea. Psyllium soaks up a significant amount of water in the digestive tract, thereby making stool firmer and, under these circumstances, slower to pass. In other words, Psyllium acts to slow down a too rapid transit time. It appears to stabilize bowel movements and is often used in cases of alternating constipation and diarrhea.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Several studies have found that soluble fiber (including psyllium) helps regulate stool frequency and consistency in people with IBS. Psyllium also has the additional advantages over other sources of fiber of reducing flatulence and bloating.

Psyllium may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with hemorrhoids.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
In a study of people with ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disorder), psyllium seeds were as effective as the prescription drug mesalamine in decreasing recurrences of the disease. In addition, psyllium has been prescribed as a bulking agent for mild to moderate cases of diarrhea from either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Studies suggest that a high-fiber diet, which may include psyllium, can lower insulin and blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with diabetes. This type of diet may also help prevent diabetes in those at risk for the condition.

Psyllium Husk for High CholesterolStudies have shown that psyllium husk is effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Studies also found that a 1% reduction in total and LDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 2%.

In general, prescription drugs should be taken 1 hour before or 2-4 hours after psyllium, because the absorption and effectiveness of many drugs may be reduced.
Psyllium should always be taken with (at least) a full 8 oz glass of water. It is also important to drink at least 6 to 8 full glasses of water throughout the day or constipation may develop.

Do not take this product if you have difficulty swallowing. People with esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) or any other narrowing or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract should not take psyllium.
*** Do not give psyllium to a child. ***

Add 1/2 to 2 tsp of psyllium seed to 1 cup (8 oz) of warm water. Mix well, and then drink immediately before it becomes too thick to swallow comfortably. (Psyllium thickens rapidly when water is added to it.) If using a commercial product that contains psyllium, follow package directions.
For those not accustomed to taking psyllium, it is best to begin with a low dose (such as 1/2 tsp in an 8 oz glass of water once a day), then increase to 2 tsp in two 8 oz glasses of water per day, as needed.

DISCLAIMER - This is all info we've found online from veritable sites that we've sourced. But please talk to your medical professional about your needs.

Chocolate: Understanding the Types

RAW Chocolate is not bad!
How it all begins...
The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor.
After fermentation, the beans are dried, then cleaned, and then roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form.

In its raw state, chocolate has more than 300 nutritional compounds and is one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food on the planet!  Our bodies need antioxidants to 'mop up' free radicals that can damage our cells. 

The cacao bean is also rich in magnesium (an energy mineral and vital electrolyte that keeps our heart beating well into old age.)  Unfortunately modern diets lack this vital mineral due to intensive farming draining the soil of essential nutrients.  It is also high in calcium and iron

And yes ladies, chocolate is a hormone balancer, that's why we crave and love it so much! It improves sleep, promotes lovely skin and protects the body from pollutants.  Raw chocolate actually has appetite-suppressant properties and often added to weight loss products to help control hunger! Simply enjoy a couple of Raw CHOC's or add half a teaspoon of raw chocolate powder to a teacup of tepid water 20 minutes before a meal for a delicious, natural way to reduce your appetite.

*Personally, I like to dip my bananas in the Raw Cacao Nibs (I bought the bags on Amazon.com for a fairly decent price).  Try implementing them with your daily vitamins for a month and see if you notice a difference like I have!

My friend is a Xocai distributer and after going to one of her parties, I did a bit of research on raw chocolate vs. this company.  I find that it will be cheaper for you to buy your own RAW chocolate and get the same amount of antioxidants and healthful benefits without hurting your wallet.  But if you care to take a look at the Xocai website, I listed it here.  It was delicious chocolate, but I think I'll stick with whole, raw foods!   http://www.mxicorp.com/

Here are the different types of chocolate, but RAW is always the BEST option!

Chocolate liquor is cocoa mass liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients (so it's unsweetened). The liquor also may be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Unsweetened baking chocolate (bitter chocolate) contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.

**The rest of the chocolate types listed below get more and more processed--which means loss of nutrients and more extra ingredients added. It's best to get chocolate with close to 75% or higher cacao for antioxidant properties and nutrient value. 

Dark chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor (sometimes vanilla)
- Raw chocolate (raw cacao) is always dark and a minimum of 75% cacao.
- Bittersweet chocolate has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking.
- Semisweet chocolate is a dark chocolate with a low sugar content.

-Milk chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla

-White chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla
Because there are no cocoa solids, many do not consider white chocolate as chocolate.

All that said, there are mass producers of chocolate that use cheap and poor quality ingredients and substitutes to give us stuff that tastes like chocolate (though we won't mention names: esp. that rhyme with Persheys). Such ingredients include vegetable oils and artificial vanilla. Not to mention they undergo different processes that definitely lose more nutritional value....so be careful when choosing your chocolates.

*note:  whitish spots on the dark chocolate is called chocolate bloom and is not an indication of chocolate gone bad. Instead, this is just an indication that sugar and/or fat has separated due to poor storage.

Chocolate Substitute:
Carob comes from the carob tree (Mediterranean). It is the pod that comes dried or roasted and has a slightly sweet taste, in powder or chip form, and is used as an ingredient in cakes and cookies. Carob is sometimes used as a substitute for chocolate (one reason is because, unlike chocolate, carob does not contain caffeine), and was used anciently as a sweetener, before sugar cane. Apparently it has also proven effective in relieving diarrhea in infants.

I just bought some carob chips in the bulk section of a local grocery store (these had added nonfat milk powder though, and I prefer dairy-free). Or try any nutrition store--look for the powder form too.

TIP: • 3 TB cocoa powder and 1 T oil, instead of baking chocolate

*info from wikipedia

Lactose Intolerance: Dairy-Free

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Lactose intolerance happens when the small intestine does not make enough of the enzyme lactase. Enzymes help the body absorb foods. Not having enough lactase is called lactase deficiency.

Often occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after you eat or drink milk products, and are often relieved by not eating or drinking milk products. Large doses of milk products may cause worse symptoms. And there is no known way to prevent lactose intolerance. Symptoms include:
 What to do about it:
1. Decreasing or removing milk products from the diet usually improves the symptoms.
Most people with low lactase levels can drink 2 - 4 ounces of milk at one time (up to one-half cup) without having symptoms, especially when eaten with other non-dairy foods. Larger (more than 8 oz.) servings may cause problems for people with lactase deficiency.

These milk products may be easier to digest:
  • Buttermilk and cheeses (these have less lactose than milk)
  • Fermented milk products, such as yogurt
  • Goat's milk (but drink it with meals, and make sure it is supplemented with essential amino acids and vitamins if you give it to children)
  • Ice cream, milkshakes, and aged or hard cheeses
  • Lactose-free milk and milk products
  • Lactase-treated cow's milk for older children and adults
  • Soy formulas for infants younger than 2 years
  • Soy or rice milk for toddlers
2. Eat a good balance of foods during your meal, with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Ex: when eating lasagna, add lots of spinach, etc.

3. Add lactase enzymes to regular milk or take these enzymes in capsule or chewable tablet form.

Caution:Not having milk in the diet can lead to a shortage of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and protein.
Find new ways to get calcium into your diet (you need 1,200 - 1,500 mg of calcium each day):
Make sure you're still getting your calcium.

Yogurt made with active and live bacterial cultures is a good source of calcium for many people with lactose intolerance. When this type of yogurt enters the intestine, the bacterial cultures convert lactose to lactic acid, so the yogurt may be well-tolerated due to a lower lactose content than yogurt without live cultures. Frozen yogurt does not contain bacterial cultures, so it may not be well-tolerated.
Some products are fortified with calcium, but here is a list of naturally nigher calcium sources that are non-dairy:
Non-milk Products Calcium Content
Rhubarb, frozen, cooked, 1 cup 348 mg
Sardines, with bone, 3 oz. 325 mg
Spinach, frozen, cooked, 1 cup 291 mg
Salmon, canned, with bone, 3 oz. 181 mg
Soy milk, unfortified, 1 cup 61 mg
Orange, 1 medium 52 mg
Broccoli, raw, 1 cup 41 mg
Pinto beans, cooked, 1/2 cup 40 mg
Lettuce greens, 1 cup 20 mg
Tuna, white, canned, 3 oz. 12 mg

Calcium is absorbed and used in the body only when enough vitamin D is present. Some people with lactose intolerance may not be getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from food sources such as eggs, liver, and vitamin D-fortified milk and yogurt. Regular exposure to sunlight also helps the body naturally absorb vitamin D.

What other products contain lactose?

Milk and milk products are often added to processed foods—foods that have been altered to prolong their shelf life. People with lactose intolerance should be aware of the many food products that may contain even small amounts of lactose, such as
  • bread and other baked goods
  • waffles, pancakes, biscuits, cookies, and mixes to make them
  • processed breakfast foods such as doughnuts, frozen waffles and pancakes, toaster pastries, and sweet rolls
  • processed breakfast cereals
  • instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
  • potato chips, corn chips, and other processed snacks
  • processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and lunch meats
  • margarine
  • salad dressings
  • liquid and powdered milk-based meal replacements
  • protein powders and bars
  • candies
  • non-dairy liquid and powdered coffee creamers
  • non-dairy whipped toppings
Checking the ingredients on food labels is helpful in finding possible sources of lactose in food products. If any of the following words are listed on a food label, the product contains lactose:
  • milk
  • lactose
  • whey
  • curds
  • milk by-products
  • dry milk solids
  • non-fat dry milk powder
A Note about Yogurt!
I make my own yogurt, and I've noticed that some brands I can eat without problems, but others I can't. For example: No to Greek God's yogurt, but yes to Mountain Land. Here's why...

Eating probiotic food (which contains beneficial bacteria for digesting) or taking a supplement, the probiotic will adhere to the intestinal lining and digest the lactose, thereby easing the symptoms for lactose intolerant people. But, there are only certain strains of probiotics that work for lactose intolerance (which I didn't know).

If you're buying yogurt to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, it is these two classic "starters" - Streptococcus themophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus - that you're looking for rather than all the fancy bacteria with their trademarked names. You'll find these two in many yogurts - just ensure that it is live and active.

**Overall, I've basically realized that eating more natural, unprocessed and raw is the answer. (as it seems to be for many health problems out there! ) Sheesh

Osteoporosis in Women: Are you getting enough Calcium?

Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease and occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, when too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both.

Researchers estimate that about 1 out of 5 American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bones of the spine).

Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. But, each day you lose calcium through your skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces. Our bodies cannot produce calcium. That’s why it’s important to try to get enough calcium through the foods we eat. When we don’t get enough calcium for our body’s needs, calcium is taken from our bones. As you age, calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed back into the body from the bones, which makes the bone tissue weaker. This can result in brittle, fragile bones that are more prone to fractures, even without injury.

Usually, the loss occurs gradually over years. Many times, a person will have a fracture before becoming aware that the disease is present. By the time a fracture occurs, the disease is in its advanced stages and damage is severe.

What can you do about it now?
1. Eat High-Calcium foods:
- Cheese
- Ice cream
- Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and collard greens
- Low-fat milk
- Salmon
- Sardines (with the bones)
- Tofu
- Yogurt

2. Add some non-fat milk powder to typical foods you already eat: muffins, pudding, oatmeal, etc.

3. Get plenty of Vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium. This includes sun and food from these sources:
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon1,360340
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces447112
Mackerel, cooked, 3 ounces38897
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces15439
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup 115-12429-31
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies)10025
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV)8020
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon6015
Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces4912
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines4612
Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk)4110
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV)4010
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce

4. If you can't get enough in your regular diet, take a supplement; but be careful because your body might not have complete access to the amount of calcium the supplement says you're getting. It's always best to get nutrients from their natural source. *note: Calcium supplements made from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal or dolomite may contain lead or other toxic metals. Choose supplements that are made by known brand names with proven reliability for these types of supplements


What Should I Look for in Supplements for Bone Health?

Here's a list/article from webMD:
Given the vast selection, choosing a supplement for bone health can be confusing. Again, the best advice is to start with your doctor. He or she may recommend a specific type of calcium for bone health. Here are a few other things to consider when choosing and using a supplement.
  • Is it a brand name you recognize? Most brand name supplements should be fine, osteoporosis experts say. You can also look for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) label, which indicates that the product has met the USP's purity requirements.
  • What type of calcium is it? If you look on the ingredients of calcium supplements you might see different types, like calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Does the variety you get make a big difference? Probably not much, although vitamin experts aren't sure.

    There is some evidence that calcium citrate might be more helpful for people who have low levels of stomach acid (because they take medicines for gastric reflux or other conditions.) Theoretically, calcium citrate might reduce the risk of kidney stones, Schousboe says, but he stresses that there's no real evidence to prove this so far.
  • Is the calcium supplement easily absorbed? Any good calcium supplements for bone health should be easy for your body to absorb. But supplements that are liquid or chewable are often the easiest to take in, since they're broken down before you swallow them.
  • Should you take your calcium supplement with food? Generally, calcium carbonate should be taken with food, while calcium citrate can be taken with or without food. Taking some calcium supplements on an empty stomach may increase the risk of kidney stones, Schousboe says.
  • Does your calcium supplement cause side effects? Some people find that calcium supplements can cause side effects like gas or constipation. You may be able to control these problems by taking your supplement with more water, or upping the fiber in your diet. If this doesn't help, try a different supplement.
  • Does your calcium supplement contain other ingredients? Many calcium supplements for bone health also include other vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D. Is it better to get your vitamin D in the same pill as your calcium? It doesn't make any difference. Just keep track of what you're getting. If you're taking multiple supplements and aren't careful enough, you could get excessive doses of vitamin D.
  • Will you need more than one supplement a day? In general, vitamin experts recommend taking no more than 500 milligrams of calcium at once. Why? Your body can only absorb so much calcium at one time. Going over 500 milligrams at once won't give you the full benefits of the calcium.

    So for instance, if you need to take 1,000 milligrams, your doctor might recommend splitting up the dose into 500 milligrams twice a day.
As for other distinctions among calcium supplements, they don't really matter. Although some manufacturers claim that coral calcium -- made from exotic fossilized coral reefs -- has benefits over other formulas, the experts are unconvinced.
"Many of us just think it's a clever marketing ploy and nothing more," says Schousboe. "But if people feel better taking coral calcium, that's fine. What's important is that they get enough calcium. If they waste a little money doing it, that's OK."

"I usually just recommend that people stick to getting adequate calcium and vitamin D and eating a good, healthy diet," Amin tells WebMD. 

What is Gluten and Celiac Disease?

To put it simply, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This seemingly harmless protein triggers an immune response in the small intestine of people with gluten intolerance and those with celiac disease. This means the body creates antibodies to fight the gluten, thinking it is a foreign invader. In the process of fighting the gluten, the antibodies also attack the villi of the small intestine, creating all sorts of gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms and discomfort. Actual symptoms vary, and some afflicted with celiac disease suffer no symptoms at all. Some signs of celiac include:
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Distended abdomen
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Delayed growth in children
  • Failure to thrive in infants
  • Tooth abnormalities
  • Migraines 

Gluten is found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often hidden under "dextrin".

A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy. Additionally, a gluten-free diet may exclude oats, which are frequently cross-contaminated in milling facilities with wheat or other gluten-containing foods.

Here is a list of the more common gluten-free grains and flours to use for substitutes: (however, because they don't have gluten, they may not substitute exactly for regular wheat type flours, so you'll need to double-check recipes for how to substitute the flours correctly)

  • Almond flour
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Bean flour
  • Brown riceand flour
  • Buckwheat
  • Cassava
  • Corn flour, meal and starch
  • Dal
  • Flaxseed
  • Millet
  • Pea flour
  • Polenta
  • Potato flour
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, rice flour
  • Soy flour
  • Tapioca flour
  • Taro flour
  • Teff

Basic Facts to Eating Better

If you eat the right foods, you can actually still eat a lot. It's when you try to diet and eat the wrong things that you gain weight and interrupt the natural processes in your body from digesting efficiently. Create a good metabolism for youself by helping your system! :)

The LIVER's function...
1. Break Down Fats
2. Get Rid of Harmful Substances
If your body is too busy trying to do #2, it can't focus on #1.

Here are a few tips for where to start in the process of eating better...

A) Carbs
UNHEALTHY (they quickly turn to sugar in body and lead to added weight gain)
-certain breads

HEALTHY (don't quickly turn to sugar, so less likely to gain weight)
-sprouted grain breads
-sweet potatoes
-any fruits and vegetables

B) Good fats
-olive oil
-coconut oil
-butter (yes it isn't bad for you)
-whole eggs

C) Bad fats
-margarine and fake butters
-canola oil
 D) Processed Foods

-hydrogenated oils
-processed soy products
-High Fructose Corn Syrup
-Artificial Sweeteners

-Foods containing only one ingredient
-Not processed much

Are Microwaves are Harmful? Yes.

Ok, I know this may sound hokie, but I read the entire article and then this summary made sense as being a viable condensed version. So be careful not to microwave too much, and if you do, please at least microwave on a lower power (on mine, I press "time cook" and enter a time, then push "power level" and type in something between 1 and 10--10 being the worst. (I generally use 3 or 4) Keep in mind, your food will take longer to cook the lower the levels; but will be safer) Or, just use a toaster oven instead! (see this article for why)

Here's picture of an experiment involving microwaved vs stove-boiled water that were heated and cooled to the same temperatures and then given to  the plants in the same amounts. They started the same, but ended with the one using microwaved water looking quite dead, versus the non-microwaved one looking very healthy.

*my first reaction was "this is stupid. How do they know?" But then I read their studies. Here are their results...

1. Microwaved Foods Cause Tumors
The following effects have been observed when foods are subject to microwave emissions.
  • Effects on the foods themselves
    Meats: Heating prepared meats sufficiently to ensure sanitary ingestion creates d-nitrosodiethanolamine, a well know cancer-causing agent.
    Proteins: Active-protein, biomolecular compounds are destabilised.
    Increase in radioactivity: A "binding effect" between the microwaved food and any atmospheric radioactivity is created, causing a marked increase in the amount of alpha and beta particle saturation in the food.
    Milk and cereals: Cancer-causing agents are created in the protein-hydrolysate compounds in milk and cereal grains.
    Frozen foods: Microwaves used to thaw frozen foods alter the catabolism (breakdown) of the glucoside and galactoside elements.
  • Resulting effects on the human body
    Digestive system: The unstable catabolism of microwaved food alters their elemental food substances, causing disorders in the digestive system.
    Lymphatic system: Due to chemical alterations within food substances, malfunctions occur in the lymphatic system, causing a degeneration of the body's ability to protect itself against certain forms of neoplastics (cancerous growths).
    Free radicals: Certain trace-mineral molecular formations in plant substances - in particular, raw root vegetables - form cancer-causing free radicals.
    Increased incidence of stomach and intestinal cancers: A statistically higher percentage of cancerous growths result in these organs, plus a generalised breakdown of the peripheral cellular tissues and a gradual degeneration of digestive and excretory functions.

2. Microwaves Reduce Food Value
Microwaves exposure caused significant decreases in the nutritive value of all foods studied. The following are the most important findings to date.
  • Vitamins and minerals made useless: In every food tested, the bioavailability of the following vital nutrients decreased: vitamin B complex, vitamins C and E, essential minerals and lipotropics.
  • Vital energy fields devastated: The vital energy field content of all tested foods dropped 60-90%. Digestibility of fruits and vegetables reduced: Microwaving lowers the metabolic behaviour and integration-process capability of alkaloids, glucosides, alactosides and nitrilosides.
  • Meat proteins worthless: It destroys the nutritive value of nucleoproteins in meats. All foods damaged: It greatly accelerates the structural disintegration of all foods tested.

3. Biological Effects of Microwaves
Exposure to microwave emissions also has a negative effect upon the general biological welfare of humans. This was not discovered until the Russians experimented with highly sophisticated equipment and discovered that humans can be adversely affected without even ingesting the food that have been subjected to microwave emissions. Merely entering the energy field of the food causes harmful side-effects that the Soviets outlawed all such microwave apparatus in 1976.
Here are the effects observed in humans having "direct" exposure to microwaves, that is, without their having consumed the irradiated food substances:
  • Life-energy field breakdown: Persons near microwave ovens in operation experience a breakdown of their life-energy fields which increases relative to the length of exposure.
  • Cellular energy decreases: The cellular-voltage parallels of individuals using the apparatus degenerate - especially in their blood and lymphatic serums.
  • Destabilized metabolism: The external-energy activated potentials of food utilisation are both destabilised and degenerated.
  • Cell damage: Internal cellular-membrane potentials during catabolic processes into the blood serum from the digestive process degenerate and destabilise.
  • Brain circuitry destruction: Electrical impulses in the junction potentials of the cerebrum degenerate and break down.
  • Nervous system: Nerve/electrical circuits degenerate and break down while energy-field symmetry is lost in the neuro-plexuses (nerve centres) in both the front and rear of the central and autonomic nervous systems.
  • Loss of bioelectric strength: The bioelectric strengths within the ascending reticular activating system (the system which controls the function of waking consciousness) go out of balance and lose their proper circuiting.
  • Loss of vital energies: Humans, animals and plants located within a 500-metre radius of the equipment in operation suffer a long-term, cumulative loss of vital energies.
  • Nervous and lymphatic systems damage: Long-lasting residual magnetic "deposits" become located throughout the nervous system and lymphatic system.
  • Hormone imbalances: The production of hormones and the maintenance of hormonal balance in both males and females becomes destabilised and interrupted.
  • Brainwave disruptions: Levels of disturbance in alpha-, delta- and theta-wave signal patterns are markedly higher than normal.
  • Psychological disorders: Because of the disarranged brain waves, negative psychological effects also result. These include loss of memory and ability to concentrate, suppressed emotional threshold, deceleration of intellective processes and interruptive sleep episodes in a statistically higher percentage of individuals subjected to continual range-emission field effects of microwave apparatus, from either cooking apparatus or transmission stations.

*side note....cell phones also use the same waves as microwaves (so there may be similar worries with long-term use). There hasn't been enough research done on this to really know exact effects. Just remember not to be fanatical. We all use them and have been for awhile. Just keep in mind moderation, and maybe try other approaches if you can.

Whole Chicken- Frugal Cooking

I found this great post about how to make the most of chicken for a meal--a whole chicken. I've never bought a whole chicken before, but I was inspired by this article to try.

I'm won. I can make a lot of meals out of just one chicken by using the whole chicken and it's parts. IT's smart because I can do it by scratch if I have to, it could be frugal if I buy on sale, and it's more healthy to cook it slowly from scratch this way and to have nourishing bone broth that gets a full range of nutrients (from the bones and the giblets), including vitamin D which you can only otherwise get from the sun.

Here's my process of crockpot cooking a whole chicken, with tips and some meal ideas.

Slowcook the Whole Chicken
Place the whole chicken in the crockpot, breast side up.  Keep giblets inside cavity if desired, but make sure all packing is removed (I prefer to only use giblets if they are organic, so free from pesticides and other toxic things). Season the chicken (I sprinkle salt and parsley on top...a general flavoring so it can be used in multiple meals) and place other things in if desired (onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, etc.). Cook high for 1-2 hours, then low for 5-8. Then pick off the chicken once cooked.

MEAL 1: Chicken with potatoes and gravy and green beans

Strain the Juices -- keep Gelatin/Chicken Fat
After the chicken is cooked you can strain the juices from the bottom of the pot and pour into a dish. Place in fridge and let it set. Once set there will be two distinct layers. You can scoop off the top layer--chicken fat (which is great for sauteing)--and then use the remaining gelatin as concentrated broth. It should last a few weeks. I generally use the remaining gelatin for 1-2 soups (one half for each weekly soup). Or you can give the gelatin to your baby...it is probably the best, most nutrient-dense fat for baby!

Leftover Chicken Meat
I do a quick pulling off of remaining meat I see and put that in a container in the fridge--lasts at least a full week (or freeze for a few months). If I know I want shredded chicken for a later meal I will just shred it then. And don't stress about getting all the meat, because you have another chance to find more later after the next step, which will be the next day.

MEAL 2: Leftover Chicken Meat
One Pot Wonder (various types of spaghetti and such)
BBQ Sandwiches
Zucchini Tostadas
Pot Pie
Caesar Wraps
Chicken Salad,

Slowcook the Bones (and giblets, optional)
Once the chicken is picked out, leave the giblets and bones in the crockpot and cover with water. Cook all day in the crockpot. (The author mentions to put a splash of vinegar in the pot so it can help withdraw more nutrients from the bones into the broth! Cool tip.) Discard bones when done and either make a soup with the broth, put in the fridge to let it get gelatinous (the post says you can use that for healthy fat baby food) to use for later, or freeze for even later.

MEAL 3: Chicken Broth Type Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup (just add onions, carrots, chicken, noodles and salt and pepper)
white chicken chili

MEAL 4: Chili
Cut up the giblets and disguise them in a hamburger type chili. Giblets are a nutritional powerhouse!

If you don't want to do the crockpot, here is the alternative Oven Method:
Place into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees to seal in the juices, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F and cook for approximately 1 1/2 more hours. You can check for doneness by pulling away the thigh, if the juices run clear the chicken is done. Some people also like to use a meat thermometer. I never do, but if so, you will want it to read 180 degrees in the thickest part of the breast or thigh. 

Sprouted grains vs. Unsprouted

Sprouted Grain: Benefits

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects:
1) sprouting activates food enzymes; 
2) sprouting increases vitamin content, and 
3) sprouting neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.  

When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat; moreover, it contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain and as a further boon, it is lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues.

Furthermore, sprouted grain and sprouted flours – having been effectively “pre-soaked” do not need to undergo further soaking or souring and are therefore suitable for quick breads, cookies and cakes in a way that sourdoughs and soaked flours are not.  (Learn more about soaking grains, beans and legumes.) For those who do not wish to take the time or effort to sprout grain or mill flour at home, you can always purchase sprouted grain flour online (see sources).

Sprouted Grain: Preparation

While it may take a few days to sprout grain, it’s not as labor-intensive of a process as it might seem.   All grains and seeds can be sprouted following these basic instructions though the germination time may vary from grain to grain.  Take care to choose only organic, untreated grains as they tend to sprout more evenly and reliably.   In our kitchen, we sprout several cups of seeds at a time; however, you can sprout smaller amounts depending on your needs and how you will be using the grain.

 How to Sprout Grain

  1. Start with clean grain, so take care in sorting through it to make sure all pebbles and grains with poor appearance are adequately removed.
  2. Rinse grains thoroughly.
  3. Add grain to a ceramic or stainless steel crock, pouring filtered water over the grain until the grain is completely submersed under several inches of water.
  4. Soak the grains overnight in warm water.
  5. In the morning, pour the grains into a fine mesh sieve and rinse them well.
  6. Throughout the day, rinse the grains multiple times taking care to stir them so all grains are rinsed evenly.
  7. Continue rinsing the grains for two to three days until the grains have sprouted to your liking.
  8. Rinse the grains one last time, drain them and either refrigerate them or dehydrate them to grind into flour.

How to Make Sprouted Flour

  1. Start with grain that has been sprouted for only a day or two – until the sprout barely emerges from the end of the kernel.  The longer it sprouts, the more difficult it is to grind and use in baking.
  2. Pour the grain into a thin layer on a mesh screen for your dehydrator and dehydrate at about 105 ° – 110 ° F until thoroughly dry (this low temperature is what you should normally dehydrate at, because it keeps more nutrients in the sprouts, rather than a higher temp.).   Alternatively, spread it on a baking sheet and set it in an oven set to the lowest setting you can manage.  * Note that sprouted grain dried in an oven has inferior baking qualities as compared to  that which is dried through the more reliably low temperatures of a dehydrator.
  3. Once the grain is thoroughly dry, simply add it to the hopper of your grain mill and grind as you normally would.

Sprouted Grain: Uses

Sprouted grain can be eaten in its raw form, cooked or ground into flour and baked as previously mentioned.  Take care to note, however, that cooking damages the grain’s micronutrient profile as many of its vitamins are fragile and not heat stable; however, sprouted flour still packs a more comprehensive nutritional punch than regular wholemeal flour and is significantly easier to digest.

Sprouted grains and sprouted seeds can be delicious when eaten raw and otherwise unprocessed.   Try serving it raw as a salad and gently seasoned with salt, pepper, unrefined olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.   It’s also tasty mixed in with other vegetables in salads or served on sandwiches.

You can also eat sprouted grain cooked or baked in addition to raw.  It can be used in a 1:1 ratio for white flour or whole grain flour, and is also well-suited to porridges and warm breakfast cereals.

Here's a great website you can go to for learning about how to sprout anything! (Nuts, grains, etc.)

*from http://nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-grain 

Canned Food linked to PBA

BPA levels in families who ate fresh rather than canned or plastic-packaged food for three days dropped by an average of 60 percent, according to a study released today by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute. Bishphenol A (or BPA), which is used to line food cans, has been linked to breast cancer, infertility, early puberty and other health problems.

The five families in the study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, avoided canned foods and drinks and meals prepared outside the home in lieu of freshly prepared organic meals in glass storage containers. During the three days that the families ate the fresh food, their BPA levels dropped on average by 60 percent. When families returned to their regular diets, their BPA levels climbed back to the higher levels.

The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute offer the following suggestions for reducing exposure to BPA and DEHP:
  • Cook at home with fresh foods
  • Avoid canned foods. (The Breast Cancer Fund found that BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty canned foods such as coconut milk, soup and vegetables.)
  • Choose glass and stainless steel food and beverage containers.
  • Never microwave anything in plastic. Use ceramic or glass instead.
  • Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.
  • Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).

Keeping BPA Out of Food and Beverages

In addition to the potential health risks, there are many more reasons to reduce your use of plastic food containers, dishes and cutlery. Plastics consume resources that are largely nonrenewable (crude oil and natural gas), their use contributes to needless waste, and their production and degradation create pollution. Here are a few BPA safety tips for food and drink.
  • Can the cans. “Canned foods are likely to be the highest contributor to BPA in our diets, not plastics,” says Vandenberg. Also, she says parents should buy powdered rather than liquid infant formula, because the former has less exposure to the BPA lining the can.
  • If you use plastic wrap, try to find one that doesn’t contain BPA. Vandenberg says the trouble is that companies are not required to tell you what’s in plastic wrap, adding, “Studies show that many stretch wraps contain BPA and other endocrine disruptors.”
  • Warm and store food in ceramic or glass containers. The label “microwave safe” on a plastic food container only means that the plastic won’t melt. If the product contains BPA, it will leach into your food faster when warm.
  • Make sure baby bottles, pacifiers and toys for infants and toddlers are BPA-free.
  • Avoid bottled water, especially in plastic bottles. According to Food & Water Watch, bottled water is more expensive and no safer than tap water. In fact, it is often bottled tap water.
  • Use metal or wooden utensils when you cook. Use wooden rather than plastic cutting boards, and clean thoroughly after use.
  • Bring your own, BPA-free containers for leftovers and take-away foods.
  • Recycle. Plastic containers and packaging are clogging our landfills and leaching endocrine disruptors into groundwater, plus marring the landscape and injuring wildlife.

How to Avoid Phthalates

Avoiding phthalates is challenging because manufacturers aren’t required to list them as product ingredients.
  • Look for “phthalate-free” on the label of personal care products (especially nail polish). For information on product ingredients, check the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
  • Use fragrance-free detergents, cleansers and personal care products. Artificial fragrances commonly use diethyl phthalate (DEP).
  • Avoid products made of vinyl plastic usually labelled as No. 3 (raincoats, shower curtains) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC pipe, other building materials, some lawn furniture, and some children’s and pets’ toys).

For additional tips or to download a shopper’s guide, visit www.breastcancerfund.org, and check out our guide to safer plastics and Natural Home & Garden’s Five Steps to Avoiding BPA.