Saturday, October 30, 2010

Know Your Ingredients #8

Skim milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, onion, cellulose gel, citiric acid, salt, sugar, mono- and diglycerides, hydrolyzed vegetablte protein, Romano cheese, sodium hexmetaphosphate, monosodium glutamate, cellulose gum, xanthan gum, natural and artificial flavoring, garlic, celery

Friday, October 29, 2010

Makers Diet: Eat your vegetables

Have you eaten any vegetables today? What about yesterday? Did you get at least 3 servings EACH day??

According to an ABC News report, “Overall, about a third of American adults ate at least two servings of vegetables daily during 2009, and about a fourth consumed at least three servings of vegetables daily.”

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Vegetables contain antioxidants and compounds that you cannot get anywhere else. You will find phytochemicals and biophotons. People with higher intakes of vegetables have lower risks of stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. They have higher scores on cognitive tests and higher antioxidants.

Dr. Mercola has a great chart of recommended vegetables.
His general rule is: the greener the better. He recommends at least 1/3 of the food you eat should be raw. Buy organic, locally-grown seasonable vegetables if possible. Carefully wash all conventional vegetables (non-organic), and remove peels and cores.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Product Review: Kiss my face bubble bath

In an effort to replace products with preservatives and toxins, our kids products were some of the first I looked at.  One of the things we enjoy using the most is bubble bath.  Most of the bubble baths I had bought were 5-7 on the EWG's Skin Deep database.  My goal is to get all of our products to less than 3 in one year's time.  I came across Kiss My Face's bubble bath and I love it!  It is called Orange U Smart, and it smells soooo good.  Here is what Kiss My Face has to say:

Obsessively Natural Kids Bubble Wash
No parabens

No artificial colors

No fragrances

pH balanced

100% biodegradable
Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Urtica Dioica Nettle Extract, Disodium Coco-Glucoside Sulfosuccinate, Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba (Guar Gum), Decyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Natural Blend or Essential Oils, Capric Acid, Glycerin, Panthenol, Potassium Sorbate, Glycine
Efficiency:  9--The kids love it.  I love the smell, and the kids come out squeaky clean!!  Big bubbles that last for a while!
Cost:  7--Usually this runs about $8 a bottle.  While that sounds like a very expensive bubble bath, the same bottle has lasted us for months.  It really only takes a small squirt to get a whole bathtub full of bubbles.  I think the cost is justified.
Green factor: 9--This is where the cosmetic database becomes very useful!  I don't know if capric acid is good or bad, but EWG ranks it as a 1.  Overall the product gets a 2.  However, the do not specifiy what essential oils they use.
Overall:  8.5--This is a great product.  I feel safe putting it on my children.  I am very sensitive to fragrances and this smells so good.  I love taking a bath with it, and it lasts a very long time.  The cost balances out because of the other changes we have made...baking soda/vinegar for our hair, no more hairspray, etc.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homemade ginger snap cookies

These cookies are fantastic and Kai LOVED making them with me. He got to dip the balls in the sugar and put them on the cookie sheet. I think a few of the balls of dough never made it onto the cookie sheet.

• 3/4 cup coconut oil, solid state

• 3/4 – 1 cup sucanat/rapadura

• 1 egg

• 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

• 2 cups whole wheat flour, sprouted is preferred (or replace 1 cup with unbleached white flour for a higher rise)

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 tablespoon ground ginger


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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sucanat/rapadura.

3. Add the egg, and whisk until incorporated and somewhat light and fluffy. Pour in the molasses.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add to the liquid mixture and stir until combined.

5. Scoop by tablespoon into small 1 inch balls. Dip each ball into additional sucanat/rapadura if desired.

6. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies have spread and tops have cracked.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Oh, and DEFINITELY dip them in the sucanat or brown sugar!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Know your ingredients #7 answer

Miracle Whip

Ewwwwwwwww.  This is not one of my favorite condiments, but especially not after reading those ingredients. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Know your ingredients #7

Water, soybean oil, sugar, vinegar, food starch-modified, salt, cellulose gel (microcrystaline cellulose), mustard flour, egg white, artificial color, sodium caseinate, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, spice, paprika, natural flavor, betacarotene (color)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Do you get enough sun?

For years all we have heard about is sunscreen and skin cancer. I have several family members that have already had cancerous skin spots removed. However, the consequence of always using sunscreen is at least two-fold. One, sunscreens are filled with harmful ingredients. Two, as a nation, we are now vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, depression, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, diabetes, autism, decreased immunity and more. Research indicates that we really need a minimum of 400 IU daily and some research indicates up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Even though milk is now called “Vitamin D milk,” you would need 50 glasses of milk to get that much. Another problem is that most foods are not very rich in vitamin D. However, 20-30 min of sun exposure can produce 10,000 IU Vitamin D.

There are some pretty hefty studies going on concerning vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics has already recommended all breastfed infants be supplemented with vitamin D, and rumor has it that the government is considering increasing the RDA.

How do you reconcile that with the dangers of the sun? Well, for our family, I only use sunscreen if we are going to be out for more than 30 minutes. I do not put sunscreen on 30 min before sun exposure as advised. We put it on after we have been in the sun. I encourage 15-30 min of outdoor play at a time every day if possible (balanced with 100% humidity for much of the year where we live). We go for walks often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The power of sun

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Did you know that the sun is one of the most powerful and popular items mentioned on cloth diapering forums? It often comes up on a daily basis (yes, I know I am a dork for reading cloth diapering boards). Every couple of days or so someone complains again about getting all the stains out, or a particularly stubborn stain. Time and time again, others chirp in about the sun.

Not only does the sun have powerful bleaching properties, it also has powerful antibacterial properties. On the off chance your baby gets a diaper rash (esp bacterial or yeast), the sun is often all you need to rid your diapers of any culprits. It really takes first hand experience to be quite amazed. I had diapers that I knew the sun would not turn white, but it did!! I had diapers that just had little smudges that I didn’t even care about, but they were absolutely pristine after leaving them in the sun (yes, I described a diaper as possibly being pristine).

Cloth diapers have a pretty high resale value (50-80%) and often times moms will carefully describe if the diapers have been sunned or not before selling. It’s widely accepted that the sun is one of the most powerful cleaning tools. It is best to lay the diapers out wet and let them fully dry in the sun. If you have a particularly stubborn stain you can also use a little lemon juice (wash the diapers again afterwards). However, the sun has always taken care of every stain by itself for me. It also works in as little as 1-2 hours if you’re in a hurry, and it works on cloudy days, too

In summary, some of the benefits are:

--NO energy (but your own)

--gets rid of odor

--gets rid of stains

--gets rid of bacteria

--conversation starter

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chemicals before birth

I am becoming slightly overwhelmed about the number of chemicals we are exposed to and the daunting task of limiting our exposure. Even more overwhelming is the study the Environmental Working Group (EWG) did on cord blood.

The EWG tested the cord blood of 10 minority newborns. BPA was found in 9 out of 10 samples. Tetrabromobisphenol A was detected for the first time. TBBPA is a toxic flame retardant in computer circuit boards, fragrances, cosmetics, and detergents. Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) was also detected. PFBA is a member of the Teflon family so it can be found in non-stick coatings, textiles, and food packaging. Over 200 different chemical were detected in the cord blood of these 10 babies.

The cord blood came from 5 different states. EWG’s senior scientist and co-author of the report, Dr. Anila Jacob said they asked for minority cord blood because “in a sense our mission here is to map the degree of chemical contamination within the U.S. population. This is one segment that hasn’t been tested very much for chemical exposure—babies of racial or ethnic minority groups.”
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Another study by the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) tested blood and urine from pregnant women on the Pacific Coast. All of them had BPA and mercury exposure. Most had several types of phthalates (plasticizers linked to reproductive problems and asthma). Lifestyle did not seem to make any impact on the levels of chemicals. Each women had 2-4 Teflon-type chemicals in her blood.

What is a parent to do???? Some of the best ways to decrease exposure to these chemicals is to avoid canned foods (the lining of almost all cans contains BPA), do not microwave in plastic (avoid microwaving as much as possible), use only BPA-free baby bottles (or glass).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

20 small green steps

Here are a few steps I came across that can make a big difference:

1. Clean your refrigerator coils every 6 months to use less energy and save money (going home to do that tonight. Pretty sure they’ve never been cleaned, unless you count moving)

2. Unplug TVs, DVD players, and computers when not in use. Even when turned off their standby consumption is about equal to a light bulb left on continuously.

3. Switch to fluorescent bulbs. You can save up to $60 in energy bills over the lifetime of the bulb.

4. Reduce flush water waste by switching to a low-flow toilet or flush mechanism. Put a brick or milk jug filled with pebbles to reduce the amount of water needed. Approximately 40% of the water used in your home goes down the toilet!

5. Fix drips and leaks. A slow, steady drip can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day. Replacing faucets and showerheads with low-flow versions can help a family of 4 save 20,000 gallons of water in a year!

6. Use your dishwasher. Today’s dishwashers can save up to 20 gallons of water a day by waiting until it is full vs. washing by hand. You can save more by letting the dishes air dry. Most likely you don’t need to use the prerinse if you scrape off most of the food before loading (saves another 20 gallons!).

7. Washing clothes in cold water eliminates 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions (EcoMom Alliance).

8. Cleaning the lint trap before every load reduces energy use by 30%.

9. Turning the thermostat up 2 degrees saves a lot of energy and money. Recommended settings are 68 in winter and 72 in summer.

10. Keeping your tires properly inflated saves gasoline and reduces emissions.

11. Walk instead of drive whenever possible.

12. By avoiding sudden breaking and acceleration you can increase your fuel efficiency as much as 40%. The recommended highway cruising speed is 55-60 mph (oops!)

13. Use cloth baby wipes. Most baby wipes can take several hundred years to break down. Each baby needs about 5000 wipes. If you need disposable wipes, rip in half. Cloth wipes are much more efficient at cleaning up messes and make sense if you’re already cloth diapering.

14. Bring your own reusable shopping bag.

15. Use a BPA free, stainless steel, or glass water bottle. Bottled water is usually not any better. About ¼ of bottled water comes from the tap.

16. Buy recycled paper. Reuse and recycle.

17. Recycle. 69% of Americans still do not recycle.

18. Have a kid swap party. No, not the kids…the toys!!!

19. Grow a garden.

20. Write a letter about environmental issues to your senator or representative.

Adapted from:  1.

Friday, October 8, 2010

No Shampoo!

We have already looked at the dangers of shampoo chemicals, and we briefly looked at a few options. I am going to share with you how to get rid of your shampoo, with only 2 (TWO!!) ingredients.

The purpose of shampoo is to strip sebum from your hair. Stripping it tells your follicles to secrete more and more. The more we strip away the natural oils, the more demand we are creating and the more oils our bodies will make. With the method I am going to share with you, you don’t need different shampoos and conditioners for different hair types. You just slightly modify the ingredients to meet your needs. Most people find that they can eventually use these ingredients only 1-2 times a week!

You may very well think I am crazy but I only use baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair now. Not at the same time, mind you. There is actually a lot of information on the internet about this “no ‘poo’” method, and much of it written better than this post. However, I like simple. Simply put, the baking soda is a base. It eats organic matter. The purpose of the vinegar is to condition and restore that pH balance. I will warn you that if you suddenly stop stripping your hair with shampoo, there may be a transition period from about two weeks to two months. I have not noticed an oily transition period, but I have also taken a SLOW approach. I am still frequently cleansing my hair every other day and using water on the days in between. The longer you go without cleansing, the quicker the transition period.
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I LOVE my hair this way. No complicated, expensive beauty products. No toxic ingredients. My hair is so soft and thick. I wouldn’t say it is the silkiest it has ever been I’m also not relying on artificial ingredients for shine and gloss. I think I have spent a total on $2 on this routine in the last two months for 2 adults. Yes, Lee decided to do it on his own!! I thought this would be the last of my crazy stunts he would go along with. Even he says he could not tell any difference with his hair, and he has always been a big proponent of a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.


1. Dissolve 1 TBS baking soda in 1 cup of water. Pour slowly over scalp in a circular direction. Massage scalp starting at crown and moving out. Let sit for 1 minute. Rinse well with warm water.

o Other options are to use just enough water to make a paste. If your scalp starts to itch, use less baking soda or more water to dissolve it.

2. Dissolve 1 TBS apple cider vinegar (my favorite is Bragg’s) in 1 cup of water. Pour over back of hair and on ends of hair. Rinse well with cooler water to help seal the cuticle.

o If your hair becomes greasy, try using less vinegar or more water. Apply it just to the very ends. Use a comb instead of a brush. Try lemon or lime juice.

o For frizzy hair, try scrunching just a little bit of coconut oil on the ends.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Safer shampoo options

Check out the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database

Good Guide

USDA certified organic seal products

If you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want to put it on your body. Ask yourself if you could eat it.

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Look for fragrance-free and pay attention to the order in which ingredients are listed.

Make your own!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's in your shampoo?

Most people use shampoo at least a few times a week if not every day. But what are you actually putting on your scalp? Did you know you have 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, and 1,000 nerve endings in your scalp.

Surfactants: necessary for the lathering, cleaning, degreasing effects of shampoo. Conventional surfactants (sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, cocamide DEA, and ammonium xylene sulfonte) are potentially harsh on
Photo credit                                                                   your hair and strip away fatty acids.

SLS is actually a surfactant, emulsifier, and detergent used in thousands of cosmetic products. You can find it in almost all shampoos, toothpastes, hair color, body washes, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, and laundry detergents.

The manufacturing process results in contamination with 1,4 dioxane (carcinogen). It is rated by the Environmental Working Group as “moderate hazard.” Research has shown SLS is linked to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and possible mutations and cancer.

Dioxane is rated as a “high hazard” by the EWG and it can even be found in baby shampoo. On the CDC website, it is described as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

DEA is in approximately 42% of cosmetics (shampoos the highest). It readily reacts with nitrite preservatives and contimants to create NDEA (known and potent carcinogen)

Preservatives: main function to ensure long life. None are completely benign. Conventional preservatives (iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazonlinone, parabens) are stronger, more allergenic, and potentially irritating over natural preservatives (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and alcohol)

Propylene glycol is a common preservative in shampoo but in can also be found in engine coolant, antifreeze, airplane de-icers, tire sealants, rubber cleaners, paints, adhesives, and enamels. Material safety data sheets (MSDS) warn users to avoid skin contact with it as it is a strong irritant, potentially causing liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Parabens have shown several links to cancer. They can also affect your body like estrogens. Researchers have found traces of parabens in every sample of tissue that was taken from 20 different breast tumors. The EPA links parabens to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, neurological disorders.

Next we will look at our options!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Know your ingredients answer #6

Seven Seas FREE Ranch Nonfat Dress (Fat Free & Cholesterol Free)

I'm sorry.  I still don't know what other to say...other than...YUCK!

Kai has entered the world of “soft.” That’s what he cause sauce…applesauce, BBQ sauce, etc. It is definitely becoming harder to serve “healthy” choices when all he wants is condiments. Condiments just aren’t very healthy when bottled off the shelf. Propylene glycol, corn syrup, MSG?!!! Veggies and dips sound very healthy but not when you start reading the labels! I haven’t quite figured out how to avoid these “softs” when I can use them to my advantage to literally get my toddler to eat anything with them. I don’t exactly have time to boil and simmer sauces, and some of the homemade recipes are soooo bland. What’s your favorite condiment? Would you eat it if you looked at the label first?