Food Makeover

Does your pantry look like this?

(And I’m not talking about crowded or unorganized, but the foods in it.)

And maybe your doctor, or your friend, or your nutritionist, or your conscience has recently told you that you need to change over to healthier eating. But maybe you are overwhelmed?

If so, take heart.

My pantry looked similar to this a few years ago, and I have made significant changes to the pantry and our diet, even as a busy mom with a limited budget. Remember the CleanGreenStart Approach:

  • Start because every change to a healthier product is a step in the right direction
  • Read labels, including ingredients and processing info for food
  • Replace the most toxic products immediately as your budget will allow, but commit to change over the rest as you use up/repurchase them

In the coming weeks (months?) I’ll be adding tips on switching out foods in the “Standard American Diet” (the SAD diet) for healthier choices. And we’ll come back and take a look at this all-too-familiar looking pantry for inspiration.

(This is not my pantry. . . and the owner will remain anonymous. The cute baskets are a great idea, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll “cute up” my pantry a bit and show you what it looks like sans Cheese Nips, etc.)

A New Year: Make It a Clean Green One

Happy New Year!

Making changes to a clean, green lifestyle can be overwhelming at first. But a few successes arms you with confidence to keep making healthy changes for your family. And a schedule of topics can help you to know you’re covering all your bases.

That’s why I’ve put together a year’s worth of healthy habits for you. It’s on the tab (top of the page) title Healthy Habits Series. Think of each month’s topics as a challenge to make a clean green start, or take it to the next level. During that month, I’ll be writing articles to coincide with the topics, and I’d love to help you in any way I can to succeed in a major overhaul, or in fine-tuning. (Just send me and email! I’d also love to hear how you’re doing in comments sections of each post.)

Lifestyle changes are hard for me; but I’ve found that I can form new habits when I understand how important the change is, and only concentrate on a few things at a time. So we only have a few topics each month But, if you follow along, you can significantly improve the quality of life for yourself and your family in just this year.

Let’s make 2011 our healthiest year yet. Are you ready to make a clean green start?

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).

Step 1: Preclean Toilet

As the dirtiest part of the bathroom, the toilet should take first consideration on a precleaning. Your goal is to wipe up any gunk, hair, and yuk that you can SEE, before you come back and WASH the toilet in a few minutes. As you wipe, keep folding the paper towel to use an unsoiled area of the towel, discarding the towel when fully soiled.

  • Using the vinegar spray and paper towel, start with the top of the tank and the top of the lid (this is mostly dusting).
  • Move to spraying and wiping the area behind and around the lid bolts.
  • Then spray and wipe all around the outside of bowl including where it is bolted to the floor and the immediate floor around it.
  • Open the lid and spray and wipe the seat, under the seat, and top of bowl.
  • Lastly, spray into the toilet bowl all the surfaces not under the water, and wipe away any gunk you can see.
  • Throw the soiled paper towel(s) into the trash and flush the toilet.
  • Prepare for washing the toilet by sprinkling the toilet lip and inside of bowl with baking soda.

Go to Step 2: Preclean Vanity.