Monday, May 30, 2011

BPA free receipts

You have probably heard of BPA (bisphenol A) and the dangers of it being a likely endocrine disruptor.  It has been removed from the majority of baby bottles and many other plastic products.  It is banned in Canada and some European countries.  Recently, there was a lot of attention brought by the media to the BPA contained in cash register receipts.  The concern is/was that you are handling these without washing your hands right away and potentially absorbing it directly through your skin.  Lots and lots of companies are switching to BPA-free receipts, and the cool thing is that you can tell right away if the receipt is BPA free.  The company that makes most receipt paper in America has put small red fibers in the BPA receipts.  At first, I was really excited about this but I couldn't resist researching it a little further. 

Apparently, these BPA free receipts contain bisphenol S, which is also a potential endocrine disruptor but even less is known about it than BPA.

Here are some tips from the EWG to reduce your exposure to BPA and potentially bisphenol S and other chemicals in receipt paper:
  • Minimize receipt collection by declining receipts at gas pumps, ATMs and other machines when possible.
  • Store receipts separately in an envelope in a wallet or purse.
  • Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
  • After handling a receipt, wash hands before preparing and eating food (a universally recommended practice even for those who have not handled receipts).
  • Do not use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts. A recent study showed that these products can increase the skin's BPA absorption (Biedermann 2010).
  • Take advantage of store services that email or archive paperless purchase records.
  • Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues from receipts will contaminate recycled paper.
  • If you are unsure, check whether paper is thermally treated by rubbing it with a coin. Thermal paper discolors with the friction; conventional paper does not.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Do you know about Pangea Free Fridays?  Every Friday Pangea gives away a free product.  Last Friday they gave away a year's supply of Pangea products.  I couldn't get it posted in time but check back this Friday to see what's next.  You do have to enter the contest through Facebook but prizes range from a free product to many free products to lots of free samples to share with your friends.  If you haven't heard of Pangea but are looking for a great organic skincare company, check them out!



organic & fair trade



petroleum-based ingredients

sulfates or detergents

synthetic preservatives

artificial colors or fragrances


Pangea Organics has received 50 awards for everything from Best Product Performance (29 awards), to Environmental & Social Responsibility (10 awards), to Innovation in Packaging & Design (7 awards).  Most of their products are packaged in plantable packaging that contains flower or plant seeds.  Very cool!

Monday, May 23, 2011

We have tomatoes!!

One of my dreams/goals is to have a food garden.  Well, I'd love a rose and flower garden, too, but I really want to grown my own fruit and vegetables.  We started to plan it out this spring but decided to wait until the fall and give ourselves enough time to plan.  I decided to go ahead and start little by little so we started with tomatoes.  Kai helped me plant them, and his job is to remind Daddy to water the "matos" while I am out of town this week.

I am so excited about feeding my family and growing whole food!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homemade chicken nuggets

My kids are pretty good eaters. They go through phases but other times they out eat me. Lee often prefers quantity of food over quality so when he compliments one of my meals I know it is good. Recently, all three of them have raved over a new recipe I tried…chicken nuggets.

This is a breeze. I have a few chicken recipes that Lee has liked (and he does not really like chicken) but he prefers this hands down. He gives me a hard time if I fix it on a night he is not there to enjoy it. My kids clean their plates!

Cut up 2-3 chicken breasts into bite size pieces (2 should be plenty but I feel like I feed an army and need 3 to have any leftovers. I use a pair of kitchen sheers to speed it up).

Melt 1 TBS butter for every chicken breast you use

Coat the chicken pieces with the melted butter

Mix 1 cup of bread crumbs, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, and 1 tsp garlic salt

Coat the chicken with the bread/cheese mixture

Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet (they can be pretty close together)

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min

*I like 409 brand bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. The cheese has no fillers or binders (ala Kraft) and the bread crumbs were the least processed that I could find at my chain grocery store.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bacteria on surfaces: Steering wheel

Ok, you probably think I went off the deep end or have become a germaphobe.  I assure you that my home is neither spotless nor my floors mopped in a very improper amount of time.  I made this discovery by accident.  I accidently got something sticky on my hand while I was driving and then touched my steering wheel.  When I got home I grabbed a wet wipe and wiped everything off...much to my horror...the wipe was almost black.  I am very strict about washing my hands when I get home from work [the hospital], but I realized I don't always wash my hands after driving home from Target, or the local growers group, or the grocery store.  Sometimes I do...but not always.

Here's your challenge:  wipe your steering wheel.  It doesn't matter if it's a clorox wipe, wet wipe, or baby wipe...I bet you're going to be surprised.

Here is my second attempt just a couple of weeks later...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bacteria on surfaces: Shopping Bags

I love, love, love my reusable Environsax shopping bags.  I see lots of people with reusable shopping bags now!  It is so much easier to carry in 4-5 large bags vs. 12 small bags with 1-2 items.  I have a pretty good systems of taking my bags to the laundry room as soon as I am done with them and then back out to my car the next morning.

It wasn't until I did my last post on bacteria on purses that I started thinking about my shopping bags.  They go from the floorboard of my passenger side in the car to the shopping cart to the grocery store belt to the shopping cart to the back of the car to the floor of my kitchen.  On the inside is unwashed produce, bags of meat, wrappers, boxes...and then all of that goes to shelves of my refrigerator, pantry, cupboards, or counters.

If you want to reduce bacteria in your home and reduce your exposure to infection, make sure that you aren't setting your shopping bags on your counter...and make sure that you wash them regularly.  Another great feature of Environsax is that they are extemely easy to wash and clean! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bacteria on surfaces: Purses

Due to the number of colds we have had this reason I have been paying careful attention to bacteria-prone items and natural disinfectants. 

A few years ago, ABC reported on the bacteria found on purses. A microbiologist tested the bottoms of purses and found hundreds of thousands of bacteria present on the bags. Every single purse tested had some bacteria, most had tens of thousands, and a few had millions. Half of the purses were positive for coliform bacteria (indicating the possible presence of human/animal waste). Another sample of 50 purses confirmed that 1 in 4 were positive for E. coli.

You may not think you touch the bottom of your purse often or could get sick from it but think about where it has been…into public restrooms, the floorboard of your car, at your feet in a restaurant, in the shopping cart at the grocery store…and most likely then set on your counter.

To decrease spreading illness: clean your purse or tote bag (including briefcases and backpacks) regularly, don’t set it down on any surface where food will be prepared or eaten (this means tables, kitchen/breakroom counters, desks), wash your hands after handling your purse.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kids lunches

Earlier this week I posted about being “that mom” and sending unusually healthy lunches to “school” with Kai. I say unusually healthy because of what I noticed most of the other kids eating. I only have to send lunch two days a week for Mothers Morning Out, and half the time Lee ends up having to pack it because I am too tired to pack it the night before. I completely understand packing an “easy lunch.” However, we have really tried to put a little more effort into it. Here are some ways you can quickly swap out some of the easy foods for healthier alternatives:

Containers: Find a good reusable lunch container. There are some really great options out there. Everything from BPA free to insulated to separate containers. Another option is reusable sandwich and snack bags. They range quite a bit in price but usually one bag costs the same as a months’ worth of plastic bags. I am trying to buy one each month instead of buying another box of Ziploc bags.

Bread: We have always used whole wheat but I am still amazed at how many grownups prefer white. Kids eat what they are taught. Make sure you buy bread made from “whole grains” not just wheat. Look for brands that contain no high fructose corn syrup and contain little or no added sugar. Better yet, make your own!

Juice: If you are going to send juice, send a thermos of 100% fruit juice instead of sugar-filled, expensive juice boxes.

Fruit: Instead of fruit snacks, send real fruit. It tastes better, is more nutritious, is more filling, and does not contain artificial colors and flavors. Produce like grapes, apples, and oranges have a longer shelf life so they can be bought ahead of time for lunches.

Snacks: Send crackers for chips. Look for whole grain baked crackers. Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm both have whole grain, healthier choices. Goldfish rainbow colors now uses all natural fruit and vegetable extracts for their colors.

PBJ: Almond, pecan, and cashew are great alternatives to peanut butter and less allergenic. Watch the sugar content of jellies.

Vegetables: There often are not any in most kids’ lunches! Add tomato and spinach leaves to turkey sandwiches. Send carrot sticks and hummus (Kai requests this often!). We love putting sweet cherry tomatoes in his lunch…and they never come back uneaten.

Dessert: Store-bought, processed snack cakes and pastries are full of some of the worst ingredients. I honestly do not send a dessert. Some healthier suggestions are JellO pudding cups or Greek yogurt with fruit. However, pudding cups are filled with preservatives and alternative sweeteners. Yogurt often contains tons of added sugar. I do not think Kai even knows what the word dessert means. Occasionally he wakes up asking for ice cream!! but that is about the only dessert he knows…and he usually only gets it for snacktime on the weekends.

Adapted from:  Healthy Lunch Box Swaps that are Good for Your Kids

Monday, May 2, 2011

"That Mom"

I know Kai’s teachers at Mothers Morning Out think that I am a fruit loop. I am THAT MOM. The mom that does not send juice or candy or much processed food for lunch. The mom that sends small toys for Valentine’s Day instead of candy. His teachers have even asked what some of the things are…like kale chips. They are super nice about it and rave about wishing it was their lunch…but I know they are teasing me.

Photo credit

They were so anxious to see what I was going to bring for his birthday lunch. Most parents bring cupcakes or cake, and I can always tell because Kai never naps. I did break down and bring Rice Krispy Treats, which is one of Kai (and Lee’s) favorites. I think his teacher’s were shocked that I brought a “dessert.” I think the other kids thought they were boring but it was definitely a treat for Kai. As I looked around, every single kid had juice boxes and most had highly processed foods.

I am that mom that sends fruit and vegetables. He might get a sandwich or crackers but over half of his lunch consists of whole foods like tomatoes, clementines, carrots. The best part is that he eats it! He does not know any different and those are actually some of his favorite foods. He has even turned down cookies before, and he would eat several clementines every day if I let him.

I am the mom that has never even given him a sip of Coke. For that matter we do not even keep it in our house. The choices are milk or water, and occasionally he gets organic juice for a snack if he needs more hydration. Orange juice for breakfast is a very special treat. Caitlin is 15 months and still not had juice (that I know of).

So yeah, I am that mom. I may very well be a fruit loop but I am so glad to have kids that eat healthy and love it.