Plastics, the Numbers Game

Plastics are really convenient, especially in the kitchen. However, there has recently been a lot of question about how safe it is for them to be in contact with so much of our food. The nation of Canada recently banned the use of PVC in baby bottles/cups, making it the first nation to officially acknowledge the growing body of evidence that shows plastics are making their way into our bodies.

Human hormones are nearly all manufactured (in our bodies) using fats, so it should come as no surprise that the addition of synthetic oils, such as plastic residues, can interfere with normal hormone processes. We would be wise to avoid these toxins much as possible.

Plastics of all types seem to leach into foods more when they are heated, subjected to harsh cleaning agents, and left in contact with wet or oily foods for extended periods. Some  safer ways to use plastics:

  • Never microwave. Ever.
  • Don’t place in the dishwasher, rather hand wash with warm water and mild dish soap.
  • Limit exposure to wet and greasy foods. Remember, plastic is made from oil (petroleum), so food grease becomes like a solvent for it, with the residue entering the food. Refrigerate/freeze wet or greasy foods in glass containers, rather than plastic bags.
  • When using plastic wrap over a dish, don’t allow the wrap to touch the food inside.
  • If you can “smell” plastic, you are actually smelling it off-gas. Avoid using actively off-gassing plastic with food, even dry foods.
  • Don’t store drinking water in a plastic bottle. Choose stainless steel or glass for your sports bottle.

Best Choices for Food Storage

The safest material for food storage is glass. Virtually non-leaching, it has stood the test of time. Fortunately, it is readily available, and inexpensive. Canning jars are an easy, flexible solution for pantry, fridge, or freezer. There are also several lines of glass products made specifically for food storage, some with snapping plastic lids (choose from the “safer” list on the lids, and avoid letting the food touch the lid).

Purchasing food canned in glass jars, rather than tin cans, is the best choice when available. Although tin is not considered toxic to humans (it’s a trace mineral we actually need in small amounts), most people in developed countries have elevated levels of this mineral, likely from tin cans. Of even greater concerns is the plastics used to line/seal tin cans; whether they are on the “safer” or “to avoid” lists below, it is likely that there was heat involved in the processing and the food has absorbed some amount of plastic.

Safer Plastic Choices:

Select safe plastics that use polyethylene (#1, #2, and #4) and polypropylene (#5), which require the use of less toxic additives. They also are non-chlorinated. Where do you find these numbers? Turn the item over and look for the symbol.

Plastics to Avoid:

Avoid choosing products that use polyvinyl chloride (#3), polystyrene (#6), and polycarbonate (#7) which often are found in baby bottles or sippy cups.

What to do with these unsafe plastics? If the containers are useful for storage elsewhere (garden shed, etc.) consider reuse, otherwise recycle before they can be accidentally returned to use in the kitchen (baby cups).

Detox Lifestyle in a Nutshell

The Bathtub
I like to think of my toxic load as a bathtub: water (toxins in this analogy) are flowing in at the tap, and flowing out at the drain. If the drain is plugged, the bathtub gets fuller. If the tap is turned up very high, the bathtub may be getting fuller even if the drain is working. In terms of the toxins stored in our “toxic bathtub” the goal would be to turn down the faucet as low as possible, and to make sure the drain is wide open and draining faster than the water coming in. If this is accomplished, eventually the bathtub will empty and only the daily toxins coming in will flow right on through.

photo credit: celebrategreatermound.com

Toxins Coming In
We live in a toxic world, and it’s pretty hard to completely escape modern day toxins. Even if we could, our own metabolic processes in our bodies create toxins to be expelled daily. If we weren’t detoxing all. the. time. we would die. Like, within a day.

Nonetheless, it seems prudent to avoid the toxins of:

  • Engineered chemicals in food, medications, and cleaners
  • Hormone mimickers in personal care products
  • Potent organic toxins like mold spores
  • Heavy metals which may accumulate in tissues/bones
  • Off-gassing of chemicals from household products
  • Chemicals and metals in our water supply
  • Die-off toxins from internal bacteria/fungus/viruses
  • Electromagnetic toxins
  • Stress from emotional baggage

Much of this blog has been dedicated to these topics.

Organ Systems and Cells
The toxins in our bodies are varied, and are stored in differing areas of our bodies. For example, an imbalance of bacteria in gut flora may be creating a significant toxic load in my colon, even without symptoms I connect to that organ of my body. I may have a high level of lead, stored in my bones. I may have petrochemical chemicals stored in my skin, along with parabens, pthalates (fragrance) and sunscreens (which can all act as hormone mimickers) from years of lotion and cosmetics use. I may have formaldehyde stored in my cells, fungal/yeast toxins and mercury in my brain. My fat cells may have antibiotic residues, chemical cleaners, medications, synthetic vitamins, pesticides, rancid/hydrogenated oils, and styrofoam. (Some researchers feel that cellulite may have a larger portion of these kinds of toxins, which the body has put in “cold storage” to protect itself.) Although not the kind of chemical toxins that are stored in the body, electromagnetic fields are toxic to our bodies while we are present in them, and may inhibit our detox pathways for hours after exposure. I recommend the book Zapped by Gittleman for limiting exposure to EMFs.

The organs and glands of the body may all be holding any of the toxins in the list above; often certain toxins have an affinity for specific organ systems.

There are 5 mains paths of detoxification: Colon, kidneys, liver (and thus through colon), skin, and lungs.

Where do we start?
I know, it can be overwhelming. First, congratulations that you’ve made it this far, even without much planned detoxing support! Next, make a plan.

[Remember: I’m not a licensed health care provider, and I can’t diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Nothing you read on my blog is a substitute for advice from your doctor.]

1. Turn down the faucet. Start to remove as many toxic sources as possible. No, you can’t do it all this week, but START. Food always seems to be an obvious one to most people, but don’t forget that everything that touches your skin gets absorbed, without the benefit of stomach acid and your liver as a filter. So think laundry detergent, any lotions or creams put on skin, deodorant. Your lungs absorb so much of what you breathe in; so open your windows each night to air out your house. See, you’ve already made huge progress!

I recommend the book Homes that Heal as a good resource for reducing toxins in your immediate environment.

2. Flush. Drink all your water every day. Even if you can’t buy a really good water purifier this month, get a Brita which takes out some of the bad stuff. Everyone (unless your Dr. has you restricted) should be drinking half their body weight in ounces, every day (that means, if you weigh 150lbs, you are drinking 75oz water). Herbal tea counts as water, but add 8oz water for 8oz coffee or black tea consumed. Juice, milk, etc. don’t count for anything. Don’t drink soda. Just don’t.

3. Begin to cleanse the detox pathways, colon, kidneys, liver, skin, lungs, in roughly that order. I have read a lot of detox books/methods over the years, and done several types of cleanses. I recommend the book Inner Transformations by Deardueff as one book with several suggestions on cleansing each of these pathways, and even further into non-pathway systems. The author recommends some tried and true methods like Master Cleanse, veggie juicing, Candida diet, coffee enemas, Epsom Salt baths, skin brushing, as well as specific products to try.

4. Food. Yes, this is important. Not just to get clean sources (organic, grass-fed, etc.), but to have a broad spectrum of foods in fruit, veggie, proteins, and fats categories (dairy and grains not required for cleansing, and often inhibit cleansing). My experience has been that a Paleo type diet is a great jump start for food cleansing, but I recognize that Vegan diets are good cleanses too (think veggie juicing!). However, I don’t think that long term the Vegan approach supplies enough quality proteins/amino acids for some crucial metabolic detox processes. The book It Starts With Food is a good read if you feel helpless to change your diet.

Some foods that are super cleansers are fermented foods (homemade sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, etc.), dark leafy greens, the whole cabbage/broccoli family, the artichoke family, citrus, berries, and fresh fats/oils like coconut, cod liver oil, flaxseed, and avocado. But really, the fermented ones top the list.

5. Exercise/Sweat. I don’t love to exercise, but I feel more energetic and happier when I do. I use the T-Tapp 15 minute workout because it is very lymphatic; focuses on opening up the lymph channels and pumping lymph fluid (clear fluid in our bodies that does not have a pump like the heart pumps the blood). Any “pressing” type movement such as walking, running, or trampoline moves lymph, and this is very important for daily detox. In addition, when we sweat, we release toxins through the skin; terry-towel off that sweat if you’re not showering immediately.

6. Essential Oils. In the past year I have begun to study therapeutic vs. fragrance use of essential oils, and have begun to introduce them into our family as therapies. We have seen a few mild detox reactions, but I have heard and seen more dramatic reactions from others beginning EO therapy. Many EOs do have the ability to cleanse cells of petrochemicals and even do some chelation of heavy metals. Because EOs are absorbed directly into the cells, and can be within every cell in the body (even brain cells) in about 20 minutes, they carry huge potential for detoxification. Lemon juice squeezed in water has long been a detox standby, but a drop of lemon essential oil is far more potent and powerful than the juice; best to start very slowly before ramping up to one drop per glass of water (glass only, no plastic!).

Because of their ability to penetrate every cell in the body, it is very important to have absolutely pure essential oils, from a distillery which preserves every naturally occurring (balancing) chemical constituent. At this time I only recommend Young Living brand EOs (see my Essential Oils tab above).

Essential oils can also assist with emotional detox by opening up hormone pathways, and stimulating the lymbic area of the brain which stores memories and emotions (and is the area which receives signals from scents). I believe that Jesus is the true answer to the needs of our souls/emotions, and that Scripture which reveals Him is cleansing to our minds. I have found that repeating Scriptures to myself which relate to my emotional needs, within a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, have helped me to heal past hurts, depression, and unload emotional baggage.

Detox Reactions
Detoxing is good, but too much, too fast can create some uncomfortable detox side effects: rash, itching, headache, sinus drainage, feeling hot, feeling grumpy, restlessness, loose bowel, nausea, tiredness. It’s likely that the longer a person has been pursuing a detox lifestyle (has a less-full bathtub) the less they will experience these reactions. When these symptoms do strike, here are some things I have done to ease them:

  • Rest/sleep (it takes a lot of internal work to detox!)
  • Epsom salt baths (pull toxins out through the skin so it doesn’t all have to flow through liver/colon/kidneys)
  • Coffee enemas (no more than once a week, and only done in a safe way with electrolytes in the enema)
  • Cease heavy exercise; stretch instead
  • Go back over the list of toxins to find ways to “turn the faucet down” more
  • Consider backing off the detox of the moment, then ramp it up again more slowly.

Special Help
Although we should discuss diet/exercise/detox plans with our doctor anyway, there are some situations which require a doctor’s help for detox. These would include chelation for heavy metal poisoning, heavy industrial chemical poisoning, and advanced cardiovascular disease chelation. A doctor knowledgeable in environmental medicine would be worth enlisting in these cases; it’s likely that he/she will be recommending at least some of the ideas above, so the more educated a person is about home therapies for detox, the faster their progress will be.

Additionally, some people have genetically faulty metabolic processes for detoxification; MTHFR gene defect, inability to methylate B vitamins, insufficient amino acid production, anemia of many types, thyroid and other hormone insufficiency, etc. A knowledgeable integrative doctor will be able to test for these types of disorders and recommend simple solutions to underlying causes. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the right form of a B vitamin.

Detox for Life
I’m not going to sugar coat this: if you are new to detoxing, it will likely be a year of intentional detoxing before you feel really clean, and then an ebb and flow of maintenance detoxing thereafter. But, the benefit of having more energy and joy, and feeling lighter (if not actually BEING lighter) will make it worth it. You may never know the health crises you’ve dodged by keeping your toxic bathtub empty.

 

Choosing Olive Oil

Q: In addition to using the test for fake olive oil, what comments do you have for all of
us on buying cold pressed olive oil?

~Heather

A: Oils and fats (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) is the category of foods which I prioritize as #1 for switching to organic. (See the Organic Food tab for my list.) So I’m always looking for that Organic seal when buying olive oil. However, if you can’t find an organic olive oil which hardens in the fridge, then the certification has been falsified (every system has cheaters I guess), so I would then look for an oil from a small family farm in the US. My reasoning is that family farms tend to make more conscientious choices, and sometimes have organic practices but can’t afford the certifications.

Also, you already mentioned “cold pressed olive oil” which is a great thing to point out: the processing of the oil does have an effect on the final product. Cold pressing avoids damaging the unsaturated parts of the oil, which would set it up for rancidity before it makes it to your kitchen. “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” is the first press of the olives; the subsequent presses produce a lower grade of olive oil, with fewer of it’s healthy properties…sometimes called “light olive oil” because it has less of the distinctive olive flavor. There is no difference in caloric value. I only buy cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Another thought is that glass is an inert material for the oil bottle…a large jug of oil in plastic isn’t a great idea, even if it’s one of the lesser toxic plastics. Most high quality EVOO that I see today is sold in dark green glass bottles, which can make it difficult to see the color/flavor profile, but which protects it from degradation/rancidity caused by light. Light and heat are what you should strive to protect your oil from as it’s stored.

Speaking of flavor profile…this seems to be it’s own art, like wine tasting. My (very!) simplified understanding is that greener means a sharper flavor and golden means a more mellow flavor. What you choose is up to your own palate!

The best way to enjoy olive oil is cold, as in salad dressing. I also like to pour it over steamed vegetables like broccoli, and top with Pecorino (a sheep cheese similar to Parmesan). Enjoy!

What To Feed The Baby

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Question, via email:

I’m the one with Lucky baby that had such a hard time with formula [after a forced wean from breastmilk]. So he’s eating pretty much everything under the sun, except I don’t do any dairy. I tried some goats milk on him and he didn’t really seem to like it so just havent again. I’m confused on how to eat myself let alone make sure I’m giving him what his body needs at 13 months. Some sites say low protein high healthy fats, some say paleo for babies is best, etc. So I really like how healthy you and your family are, love following your blog and wondering if you could tell my what type of foods you fed your babies? I don’t know if they should be having coconut pancakes, rice flour, barely those type of grains. It seems like since I don’t know I feed him a lot of fruit and veggies.

My Answer: (I am not a licensed health care professional, and this is not health advice. Just my opinion.)

Hi friend! It can be confusing with so many opinions out there on diet and nutrition. I think coconut pancakes and fruits and veggies sound great, although you want to make sure he gets enough of the animal proteins/fats too since they are super-foods! He may disdain goats milk, but if you offered him raw cheese he may just love it!

There’s a lot to say on this subject; here are some principles I’ve used as guides for feeding my babies 10 months and up.

What’s good for you, is good for baby.

If you are pursuing a whole food, nutrient dense diet, then the foods which you haul in from the farmer, cook up in your crockpot, ferment on your counters, or bake in your oven are going to be excellent, nutrient dense choices for your child.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that baby food is something to be bought in small containers, have no resemblance to adult food, and be fed to a child at a different time of day than adults eat (although of course this happens occasionally). Someday (soon!) this tiny person will sit at the table with us and eat what we are eating, so why not get them used to the routine and the food while they are still in their high chair? Plus, the idea of cooking two different menus makes me want to cry.

Breastmilk is Best, as long as you can

I like to wait as long as possible before introducing food at all, and even water unless the weather turns hot. My babies have waited for their first bite of any food until between 8 and 10 months. I look for their cues on hunger/lip smacking/saliva. My last baby, a girl, was quite interested at 8 months, but my largest boy was barely interested at 10 months. Their hunger for food usually arrives about the time their first teeth do. There is some thought that waiting until this time to give foods can reduce allergic responses to food.

The first foods I give my babies are: egg yolk from a soft boiled/over easy egg, butter, liver pate (it’s cooked), cod liver oil, banana, avocado, as these are all soft and nutrient dense. After a few weeks of these foods, they are usually ready to try more flavors, so I begin to offer what we are eating.

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Egg yolk!

Waiting for molars. . . think soft foods

Dinner is our main meal, and there is nearly always something that baby can eat, and often she can eat all of it. I invested in a small baby food grinder years ago, the hand crank kind (portable!), which can be used to blend up soft foods like spaghetti with meat marinara, roasted chicken and broccoli, anything made in a crockpot, the chunky parts of soup (add back to broth), beans, rice, and most cooked veggies. It only takes a minute, and the child gets to experience those flavors which he has been smelling while dinner was cooking. He’s eating what mom and dad eat. He’s eating it fresh, and not frozen or canned. He’s eating food that tastes good, and if he rejects it on first or fifth try, you can be pretty confident that at some point he will love it like you do.

Some foods are hard for a baby to eat: salad, anything really chewy or crunchy. However, these foods are innately difficult to digest as well, so your diet should be filled with lots of other foods he is able to eat. That said, I will sometimes give baby a teeny tiny piece of lettuce with a homemade dressing on it. . . or the cranberry in the salad. . . or a feta crumble. I stick it right in their mouth and wait for the face. These are strong flavors, and I want the baby to experience them, along with some psychological coaching: “yum, yum, yum!” They are shocked, they spit, we all laugh.

If we are eating steak, I try to cook it medium rare, and then shave off very small pieces (no need for chewing) and feed them to baby. Yes, steak! My babies have loved this. I have also heard that indigenous mothers chew food for their babies, which begins to break down the foods with mom’s saliva enzymes, before transferring it to baby’s mouth.

We love taco salad; baby can eat the ground beef, beans, avocado, sour cream (if no reaction), tomatoes (if no reaction), cilantro, and lime.

Soups are messy, but we eat a lot of them in the winter, and if they have a bone broth base it’s awesome nutrition. We have a plastic pocket type bib which really helps contain the mess when spoon feeding baby, or the IKEA toddler smock which is full coverage for when baby feeds herself.

Good Fats = Good Brain

Brains, especially growing brains, need fat. Healthy, saturated fats. Besides water, that is what the brain is mostly comprised of, so it only makes sense that babies need a healthy dose of saturated fats daily for the significant growth of their gray matter.

Butter (grassfed/naturally yellow is best), avocado, egg yolk (soft boiled or over easy), coconut oil, nut butters, animal fats found with the meat, liver (organic animals) olive oil (cold pressed and uncooked), and heavy cream with or without the milk (raw from grassfed cows is best) are all great ways to feed baby’s developing brain, and keep baby satisfied for longer between meals (or at night!). Some of these are a meal or snack by themselves: egg yolk, liver, nut butter, avocado, ground meat. Others can be toppings for other foods: butter, coconut oil, olive oil.

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Butter!

Balancing Food Groups

We all need protein, and carbohydrates, and fats. Babies are no exception. I try to give my baby foods from each food group during a day, with a special emphasis on protein/fat at each meal. I personally feel better when I limit my sugars/starches, so my children’s diet roughly mimics my own, but they do eat more grains and fruits than I do.

In the US, toddler fare is universally offered as grain and sweets based. Look at any kids menu and you will see breads, pastas, crackers, fruit cups, sweetened dairy products, and downright candy as the leading act. Most foods marketed to/for kids fall into this category as well. Rather than rant about the lack of protein and fat, and the sugars that push kids toward addiction, set them up for diabetes or worse (OK, I just ranted), I’ll just advise: do not copy this diet in your home.

Do you feel better, have more energy and fewer ailments, sleep and perform exercise better, and feel more satisfied on mostly protein, mostly carbs, or somewhere in between? If you have never given this any thought, The Metabolic Typing Diet may help you (gives self-test checklists) to determine this for yourself. And have your spouse take the test too, as your child will likely pattern after one or both of you. Adoptive parents will have to watch carefully for mood/behavior in their baby following different meal ratios.

Depending on your metabolic type, you may feel better on more carbohydrates than I do in your diet, and your child is likely to do well with this diet as well. In this case, your healthy diet would contain more whole grain breads and porridge (soaked grains are best), starchy veggies like potato, yam, and corn, and fruits than mine does. But you should still be fighting the “goldfish at every snack” mentality for your child, since these are just not whole foods.

Regardless of how much of each food your baby eats, it is difficult to get a child to eat much of anything if they start off a meal with fruits, since those sugars are absorbed into their bloodstream quickly and their hunger signal turns off. It usually works better for me to serve “courses” starting with the protein/fat portion of the meal, and finishing with a few fruit pieces.

Allergies and Introductions: Every One is Unique

My husband and I have few allergies, but the few things which I am sensitive to (chicken eggs, cow dairy as a toddler) I have been wary of introducing too early to my children. I am also gluten intolerant, and after two of my children have tested positive as well, we have assumed it is hereditary and have put all our children on a gluten free diet.

Since every one is unique, watch for reactions when introducing the “common allergens” and acidic foods like tomato and some fruits. I’ve found that a baby may need to avoid a food, but a few months later they will be able to eat it without reaction. The most common reactions are loose stools and rashes at mouth or bottom. Vomiting, constipation, eczema, or histamine responses (swollen eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing) are more severe reactions to a food, in which case it may be much longer before a child can handle that food again, if ever. You should contact your child’s doctor with a severe reaction, as follow-up testing may be advised.

One largely overlooked component to allergies is imbalance of intestinal flora. Babies usually have flora similar to mom’s, since they acquired their first dose from her in the birth canal and received daily probiotics in her milk. If you question your own gut health, or you/baby have a history of yeast or antibiotics, your baby may need some supplemental probiotics. I have used the Klaire Labs brand of Infant Formula probiotics. Homemade sauerkraut juice or yogurt are other ways to support baby’s intestinal flora.

Quality is Key

Eating an organic diet is expensive . . . but so is illness. Avoiding unnecessary chemicals on our foods is always a good idea, but even more crucial for the developing bodies of our children. Choose organic and grassfed whenever you find it and can budget it. Here is my prioritized list of foods to source organically, starting with oils and fats, and all animal products. Fruits and veggies are further down the list; you can download a free guide to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” on Enviromental Working Group’s site, or download a free app to your smart phone which will allow you to look up produce item by item while at the market.

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Roasted Veggies!

Meal Ideas: These are all foods my babies and toddlers actually eat.

Breakfast

  • Scrambled eggs with butter (can season with homemade sauerkraut juice), blueberries (this is a meal they can feed themselves)
  • Unsweetened goat yogurt (or drizzled with honey after 12 months), or kefir smoothie, whole grain bread with almond butter
  • Soaked oatmeal/honey/butter/raisins with finely sliced natural breakfast sausage on the side
  • Sweet Oven Souffle, cut into squares, grapefruit wedges
  • Protein waffles, butter (syrup is just too messy for babies!)

Lunch

  • Veggie soup made with bone broth, avocado and/or Creme Fraiche (whipping cream cultured with yogurt starter for 24 hours) on top, can add sauerkraut juice after it has cooled a little in the bowl (home fermented or Bubbies brand are alive with probiotics)
  • Grassfed hot dog link, finely sliced, small pear pieces, cooked carrot medalions (another self-feed meal)
  • Hummus with olive oil, dabs of liver pate or avocado, applesauce or pumpkin souflee
  • Canned tuna/salmon/chicken with homemade mayo and raisins, thawed or cooked peas on the side
  • Dinner leftovers

Add a large salad to any of the above, and you’ve answered what to feed yourself for lunch as well.

Snack

  • Slices of raw cheese and a few raisins or apple slices (portable)
  • Goat yogurt with honey drizzle
  • Glass of raw milk (goat best for many babies) and a homemade muffin with butter (whole grain or almond/coconut flour, can have carrots, zucchini, or fruit in it) (also somewhat portable)
  • Banana and almond butter (peanut butter if no reaction)

Dinner

  • What you are eating!

Bountiful Baskets

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The fruit half of one week’s conventional Bountiful Basket.

Have you heard of Bountiful Baskets? It’s a food cooperative delivering fruit and veggie baskets, as well as add-ons like whole wheat bread and granola, to many cities in the Western US. Their website is: bountifulbaskets.org

The idea is that by pooling resources, and with some volunteer labor at the drop-off location, fresh produce can be made more affordable. All the ordering is done online, and -here’s the kicker- can ONLY be done between about noon on Monday and 10pm on Tuesday, Mountain Time. And, if you don’t show up to collect your produce within the 15 minute window, it could be donated (I did forget the first time I ordered, but the lady at the drop was kind enough to call me and Mr. Wonderful dashed out to get it for me. Phew!). So if you order, take some advice from the experienced and set yourself an alarm on your phone for the day it arrives!

The whole concept of co-oping is a great idea, and I was pleased to learn that a drop point started in my town in December. Although I hadn’t ordered that week, I ran down to the drop point on Saturday morning and snapped a few pictures of what was being handed out to those that had contributed.

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Each participant gets a basket (literally a plastic laundry basket) with fruit, and one with veggies. They then transfer those to their own bags, or some of the boxes for recycling, and take home the goodies. Above is a picture of two boxes…I’m thinking that each must be one share (having both fruit and veggies) from that day. The conventional produce basket is $15 and upgrading it to organic puts your contribution at $25.

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In addition to your basic basket, you can order add-ons, like this guacamole bag, with onions, cilantro, about 5 avocados, tomatillas, jalapenos, garlic and limes, which runs about $8.50. Also available in December was a Gingerbread House Kit; fresh baked house pieces and fresh icing included. This week, I saw a “Juicing Pack” available with a description of “hoping for apples, chard, carrots, cucumbers, celery, beets, blood orange, ginger.”

And “hoping” is part of this commitment. There aren’t any promises of what you will get. You just find out what comes when you get it. This might be frustrating for some; for others it adds some excitement to meal planning.

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Here’s a picture of the bread pack add-on. These packs of 5 loaves are generally $10; a great deal if this was on your list anyway.

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Here again is someone’s produce basket contents (fruits and veggies in there) with a Granola Pack. I believe I saw the granola listed for $10, with excellent ingredients if granola is part of your diet.

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Most of the produce seems to be standard family fare; persimmons or multicolored carrots is about the extent of the exotic produce.

So…the week after I checked out the goods, I made my first order.

Order #1 -Late December

I chose the organic basket ($25), and there is also a handling fee of $1.50 for every order, organic or not. Additionally, there is a one time fee of $3 to purchase a plastic basket for organization at the drop. Here’s what I got:

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Pineapple, baby carrots, red potatoes, celery, tomatoes, green beans, avocados, pears, 2 kinds of apples. It was late December, so you can hardly blame them that the tomatoes weren’t ripe. The avocados were on the small side, but most of the organic ones I’ve seen are. The pineapple took a couple weeks to ripen. The apples and pears were all delicious, if on the small side. You can see by the packaging on the produce that they came from national organic brands. Also, since this was the “organic box” vs. a conventional produce basket, it came shipped as a box. It was not divided out with the other produce, but shipped from Arizona as a whole box.

I think it was a good price for what you get. Not amazing: local sales on all these products could give better savings, but you’re unlikely to get them all on sale in the same week. I felt that the food was in good condition, and all delicious, or would become delicious with ripening.

Order #2 -Early January

I ordered again, and this time no organic boxes were available, so I went ahead with the conventional ($15). Thankfully I did not forget this time (I tell ya, set an alarm on your phone!) and so I headed down to my local elementary school for the pickup. It was lovely to see so many families coming out on a frosty winter morning to gather fruit and vegetable baskets. And here’s what I got:

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Veggie half of the basket.
Fruit half of the basket.
Fruit half of the basket.

Celery, multi-colored carrots, brusselsprouts, sweet peppers, avocados, tomatoes, grapefruit, bananas (small), oranges, apples, strawberries. A very good deal for $15. They were all in good condition upon arrival, except for the brusselsprouts which seemed to have encountered frost as the edges were slimy as if frozen. I had heard tales that the delivery truck encountered snow and barely got through, so chalk it up to that? The strawberries were not ripe, and after leaving them on the counter for a day, we ate them anyway, since they were going to mold soon. Strawberries aren’t a winter fruit.

In general, I try to eat what is in season. It tastes better, it’s more likely to be grown in the US (avoiding the fumigation upon arrival in the US), and I’m more likely to find organic foods at reasonable prices. Of the foods above in the conventional basket, I regularly buy avocados, brusselsprouts, bananas, oranges, and grapefruit conventional, because they have less pesticide residues. All the rest I only buy organic, as they are heavily sprayed and/or retain their pesticides after washing. You can download a free guide to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” on Enviromental Working Group’s site, or download a free app to your smart phone which will allow you to look up produce item by item while at the market.

Bountiful Baskets is for you if:

  • You buy conventional produce anyway, or if you would like to buy organic produce, but you don’t have any health food stores near you that carry it.
  • You don’t have picky eaters of specific veggie/fruit allergies in your family.
  • You can remember to order and pickup at certain times each week.
  • You aren’t gluten intolerant, so you can take advantage of all the great deals on bread, etc. which gives you more value for the time you spend ordering and picking up.
  • You have time to volunteer occasionally an hour before pick up time.
  • You enjoy the challenge of working a broad selection of produce into your weekly meals.

Bountiful Baskets is probably not for you if:

  • You want to buy mainly local, in season, or small-footprint organic.
  • You have fruit or veggie intolerances so you’re not able to eat some of what comes each week.
  • You cook “month at a time” style, or in other ways which require certain specific ingredients.
  • You can’t remember to order or pick up. 🙂

Quiche and Kale Salad (Honey Bunny Salad)

Have I really never posted the recipe for Kale Salad? Hmm… Shame on me. We call it Honey Bunny Salad -a thinly veiled attempt to entice the children to eat mouthfuls of vitamin-K-rich Kale. They actually do like this salad pretty well.

I served Honey Bunny Salad beside Quiche for Tuesday’s dinner this week; it seems like such a nice contrast of flavors. Since we are doing SCD (no grains or starches), I made an almond flour crust for the Quiche, and it’s fine but doesn’t steal the show like a regular white flour crust. So I made sure what was in the pie was super yummy.

Bacon Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Prepare pie crust earlier in the day, at least 30 minutes before assembling quiche. (See below.)

Grate 2 cups of cheddar cheese, and spread 1 cup in the bottom of the pie crust, reserving one cup. (New Zealand Grassfed is what I used; it took about half the block.)

Fry 4 oz. bacon, snipped into bits, in large fry pan on stove, until crisp. (I used natural pork bacon from Trader Joes. There is a tiny amount of sugar in it, which we can handle, but you might look for bacon from Applegate Farms if you avoid even this small amount.)

Add 8 oz. washed and sliced Crimini mushrooms (button will work, but don’t have as much flavor)

When mushrooms are nearly soft, add half a bag fresh spinach leaves. This will overfill the frying pan, but will soon wilt down.

While the filling is cooking on the stove, whisk together:
7-8 eggs (depending on size)
1 cup SCD kefir or yogurt
1 tsp. good salt (Himalayan Pink is what I used)
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper (Trader Joes Flower Pepper grinder)
2 shakes nutmeg
1 shake paprika

Spoon fried bacon, mushroom, spinach mixture into pie crust, on top of the cheese. Do this when the spinach has just wilted. Leave any excess water in the fry pan. Pour egg mixture over filling; this should just cover the filling, and not spill over the edge. Cover with reserved cup of grated cheese.

Bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to set 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

SCD Pie Crust (savory)
In food processor, blend together:
1 cup fine blanched almond meal
1 T. coconut flour
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (pure, no fillers)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. soft butter
Add:
1 egg
1-4 tsp. water, just until it all incorporates smoothly

Press into a large buttered pie dish, using plastic wrap to smooth it evenly on bottom and up sides of dish. Bake in 350 preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.

And here is the amazing Kale salad recipe.

Honey Bunny Salad

1 bunch Kale, snipped with kitchen sheers to bite sized pieces, large veins removed (or do Easy: grab a bag of chopped organic Kale as is now available in Trader Joes. Downside: a lot of veins left in there. Hope you like crunch.)
3 handfuls raisins (go for organic!)
2 handfuls raw sunflower seeds, or pine nuts (I used a blend of sunflower seeds and almonds this week)

Dressing: whisk together the following with a fork until emulsified:
1/4 cup honey (mine is raw, and is now crystalized, but it works just fine without heating)
1/8 cup EVOO (the new term for Extra Virgin Olive Oil; always buy organic)
1 tsp. salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed (chopped garlic in a jar won’t work; you’ve got to use fresh)

Pour dressing over salad, mixing very well until it is coating all the leaves, not just the top. This is more like massaging than the proverbial tossing. Don’t worry, it’s gonna taste awesome, and your kids are going to eat kale! (And you are too!) This keeps well in the fridge until the next day.

Great Customer Service from Seventh Generation

Message sent to Seventh Generation question box, via their website:

The dishwasher packs have been reformulated, and now come in a resealable bag.

Hello, this isn’t a question, but unfortunately a complaint.

I have been thrilled with so many of the Seventh Generation products, from diapers to laundry soap, so I was disappointed to find that the Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Packs were terrible. (SKU# 732913227907 and box code of AF 09050 xxxxxxx 1)

I bought these at Walgreens in the spring, hoping for something to throw in alongside the SG automatic dish detergent when I had an especially dirty load. However, the granules in the packs only seemed to get baked onto all of my dishes! I still have most of the box of packets, which I tried to take back to Walgreens, but it seems that I bought it just before they discontinued and deleted it from their system and they can’t refund it now.

So I wanted you to know that this product does not do as promised on the front of the box: “Gets Dishes Sparkling Clean”.
Thank you for your time,
Bronwyn Deiter
cleangreenstart.wordpress.com

 

Reply from Seventh Generation:

Hi Bronwyn,

I was sorry to hear of the less than stellar experience you had with our dishwasher pacs. I am sorry for the inconvenience & extra washing they caused you.

When you mentioned a box of dishwasher pacs, I said to myself “oh no, those are old.” The lot code you provided indicates the box was manufactured in 2009. The dishwasher pacs have been reformulated since 2009 & now come in a plastic see-through, resealable pouch.

I would be happy to compensate you for the dishwasher pacs. Do you prefer a voucher for a free dishwashing product or a refund? In either case, I will need your mailing address. In the case of a refund, I will also need to know how much you paid.

And now for the reason why you were using the dishwasher pacs … if you have an especially dirty load, I recommend you add a bit more detergent than usual. I suppose that is what you were actually doing when you added the dishwasher pacs but because they were old, they didn’t work well at all. The American Cleaning Institute (a website that is a treasure trove of info … http://www.cleaninginstitute.org) recommends you use dishwasher powders/pacs within 2 months of purchase, otherwise they can cause small particles (food or detergent) to be left behind. If you do a search on their website using the word “dishwasher,” you’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about dishwasher problems & their causes.

Thank you for purchasing our products and giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. I will look for your reply about the voucher or refund.

Deb Lane
Customer Service
www.seventhgeneration.com

 

My Reply:

Hi Deb,

Thanks so much for your thorough reply, and offer of compensation. A voucher is best for me, as that will save me from digging out my receipt. I have been quite happy with the liquid automatic dishwashing soap, and would love to just replace it with that.

Thank you again,
Bronwyn Deiter

Organic Diet Step 1: Oils and Fats

When making a clean green start in your diet, the most important place to start (in regards to your health) is with the oils/fats you consume.

Clean Starts

  • Change from margerine and conventional butter to organic butter or imported grassfed butter (Kerrygold) (conventional butter was listed recently on a list of top ten most toxic foods, yet organic butter has been consumed liberally by some of the healthiest people groups on the planet)
  • Change from hydrogenated oils (crisco, deep frying, or in prepared baked goods) to organic coconut oil, organic palm oil, organic butter, or organic lard/tallow
  • Change from vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil) to olive, coconut, peanut, and sesame oils for low heat sauteeing, or use walnut, olive, avocado, or flaxseed oils for salad dressings (all organic cold pressed)
  • Supplement Cod Liver Oil and Flax Seed Oil for essential fatty acids, and inflammation reducing Omega 3 oils (buy from a company which tests CLO for purity, and keep oils in the refrigerator and use quickly as they become rancid easily)
  • When thinking of oils and fats, remember that most prepared and processed foods have some type of fat in them. Read labels so that you can avoid toxic fats such as hydrogenated oils and vegetables oils heated to high temperatures. Even at cool temperatures, long shelf lives of some prepared foods mean that good fats have gone rancid before you open the box.

Buying Tips

When buying oils, look for glass containers, as plastic leaches into oils/fats at a much higher rate than even into water based foods. Colored glass is best, as light will cause oils to become rancid as well as heat.

Trader Joes has an excellent price on quality/organic butter, and a good price on organic olive oil. I have found the best price on organic olive oil at the Grocery Outlet, although it can be hit and miss.

Tropical Traditions is an excellent source for organic coconut and palm oils, with the best price being a large order to split with friends. In the the Portland are, the Alberta Co-Op is a good place for this quality and price on coconut oil.

The Why

Bad oils are toxic for the body, as they:

  • contain concentrated amounts of pesticides and other toxic and hormone disrupting chemicals
  • contain improper balances/deficiencies of omega fats (good, inflammation reducing fats)
  • have already been damaged molecularly by high heat (or will be if you cook them)
  • soy, corn, and canola oils lead the pack in tons of pesticides and bleaching agents used in production

In contrast, Good Oils are health promoting, as they:

  • Allow us to absorb the important fat soluable vitamins from our food and the sun (vitamins A, D, E, K)
  • Allow us to absorb the minerals in our foods (mineral deficiency is common, with obesity/cravings an indicator of body need)
  • Give a wonderful sense of satiety and slow carbohydrate/sugar absorption which helps to avoid blood sugar spikes and leaves you fuller on less

In recent years, the vegetable oil lobbys have “framed” butter and other natural saturated fats as unhealthy. Don’t believe the propaganda…it is for their profits, not your health. You can get the real story at the Weston A Price foundation.

Gluten Free Bread/Tortillas/Buns/Pizza

I’ve been enjoying great tasting gluten free bread, tortillas, hamburger buns, pizza crusts, and flatbread, all made from one basic recipe (this makes it easier to only shop for these basic ingredients). I am using the refrigerator rise method given in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (their website is: artisanbreadinfive.com). The recipe has several modifications to make it to my liking:

Gluten Free Basic Refrigerator Dough

Whisking together the flours. This is the only picture I had for this, although I don't rise bread in a metal bowl.

in a large (6 qt +) glass, pottery, or plastic bowl, whisk together:
1 cup organic brown rice flour (decrease to 1/2 cup if making sourdough)
1 cup millet flour
1, 1/2 cups sorghum flour
3 cups tapioca flour
2 Tb. xanthan gum
1 Tb. fine sea salt
2 Tb. yeast (omit if making a sourdough)

beat slightly, then stir in with wooden spoon:
4 large eggs

melt on stove top, then add:
1/3 cup butter (may substitute coconut oil or ghee)

heat to tepid on stove top, then add in divided parts:
2, 2/3 cups filtered water (reduce to 2, 1/6 cups if using sourdough starter)
2 Tb. honey (dissolve in water)

This is my dough which has raised on the counter for 2 hours.

Continue to stir with wooden spoon until all flour is combined. Cover, and set on counter for 2 hours, or until dough has risen. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Dough is ready immediately, or develops a better flavor, great digestibility, and fewer carbohydrates with a longer “soak” during several days in the refrigerator. You will not knead the dough when removing it from the fridge, just carefully break off the amount of dough for baking.

Bread: allow to rest baking stone/bread pan for 1 hour, covered, then bake approx. 1 hour in 350 degree oven, or until the internal temperature is 200-210 degrees. Directions for crusty bread are given on the Artisan Bread In Five site. Cool completely before slicing. Yields 2 medium loaves.

Buns: Let rest 1 hour on baking pan/stone, then bake at 325 for about 35 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. Yields about 12 hamburger buns.

Pizza Crust: place about 1/4 of dough on a large square of freezer paper. Cover with another square of freezer paper. Roll to the size of

Rolling a tortilla between two sheets of freezer paper.

a pizza pan, then place in freezer, for up to a month. When frozen, the crust can be removed, the paper stripped from it and immediately placed on a pizza pan or stone. It will then melt and be ready to bake by the time you have toppings on it. (I preheat my stone to 500, and bake the pizza for 10 minutes.) Yields 4 pizzas.

Flat Bread: using the freezer paper method above, roll the dough to the size of a tortilla, then fry on medium in a cast iron skillet with a Tb. of butter for each side. Yum!

Peeling the paper from a frozen tortilla; ready to cook on the stove top.

Tortillas: Omit yeast from recipe; I also reduce eggs to 1, but it works with 4 as well. Place the amount of a small fist of dough on freezer paper, cover with freezer paper, and roll to a round tortilla, just as in the method above for pizza crust.  I keep stacks of these in the freezer. Heat cast iron griddle or skillet to medium heat, then remove tortilla from freezer and paper, cook without oil for about 2 minutes, until  you can see the underside has cooked. Flip to cook other side. These are delicious and flexible! Yeild 18-20 tortillas.

My sourdough starter, developing on the countertop.

Sourdough: I have recently been making this bread recipe with a GF brown rice sourdough culture which I purchased from culturesforhealth.com. To do this, I omit the yeast, and substitute 1 cup of active sourdough starter (from a jar on my counter) for 1/2 cup of the brown rice flour, and 1/2 cup of the water. All the other instructions for bread apply.

Essential Oil Blend for Head Lice

A friend called this week to say their family just had head lice, and they kicked it with a blend of essential oils in olive oil. (This friend lives a long way away from the Portland area, in case any of you local readers are starting to feel your skin crawl already.)

A lice infestation is gross, and makes a mother feel like a louse of a clean person (pun intended). But having lice just means one of your children hugged, wrestled, or traded a hat, coat, or scarf with another child who had lice. Children with good mothers get it, and pass it on to other children with good mothers.

So if your kids get it, don’t feel guilty. But also, don’t reach for Uber-Toxic over-the-counter lice shampoos until you try this blend. (And there are reports are that lice are now showing resistance to the OTC and prescription insecticides.)

2 cups olive oil
1 tsp. each: essential oils of tea tree, eucalyptus, oregano, peppermint, cinnamon
Note: the cinnamon seemed quite “hot” to the skin, and was too strong for the little boy in the family whose skin is sensitive. The mom thought it could probably be left out and the blend be just as effective.

Mix well, apply to head and scalp, massage into all the hair. Leave on for 1 hour, then shampoo out with normal shampoo.

The olive oil seems to dissolve the nits from the hair shafts, while the essential oils do a number on the parasites themselves.

I hope this is one recipe you (and I!) never have to use!

Update from the Mom whose family had lice:

I didn’t get to finish telling you this the other day, but the essential oils washed out a lot of the nits, but not ALL of them. To get them out, skip the plastic nit combs from the drug store or that come with the toxic lice shampoo, and go right for the Nit Terminator.

http://www.amazon.com/Terminator-Professional-Stainless-Treatment-Removes/dp/B000HIBPV8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1293934455&sr=8-1

It is sold for about $8 on Amazon, but I found it locally at my Ulta store for double that, $15.95. I didn’t care that it was twice as much money, once I found out we had lice I wanted to start the war THAT DAY and not wait for a package from amazon!

I have gone over everyone’s hair with this comb and the first day it produced quite a few bugs and nits. Ewwww. But on successive days I would only find one or two nits, some days none at all. None the less, I have continued to give everyone a combing each day and will do so until the end of the incubation period, so that if I did miss a nit I know I can brush out the bug.

My plan was to reapply the essential oil mix if I found any live bugs, but I haven’t. My husband has called me the TSA because of my unresonable inspections, but I don’t care. I’m not messing around with this!

Also, I was worried that maybe our long haired inside dog could have caught lice from the children, since she often snuggles with them and sleeps on the furniture. However, a quick search online revealed that lice only live on human blood, and can’t live on dogs or cats. I’m glad I don’t have to start doing lice inspections on her!