Monday, May 16, 2011


On the BPA-free plastics: do you know that the new plastics touted as "safe" because they are BPA-free haven't been tested for toxicity? I am guessing that in a few years we will know if they are actually better, worse or the same as BPA.

I ran across the Safer Chemicals Healthier Families blog on how to reduce BPA by 60% in 3 days. I guess I'm behind. I thought BPA was only found in plastics. However, they list the top 10 canned foods to avoid to reduce the amount in your home (and your body). What? Indeed, it is used to line the cans. Uhhh! In the small amount of research I just did, it appears there  isn't a BPA-free can alternative (yet) so perhaps that's why it isn't talked about much. The alternative is to wean ourselves off canned food. There is a limit to how much you can eliminate (or worry about). Fortunately we don't eat a ton of canned food.

So weaning myself (and hopefully my family eventually) off plastics.... I just bought these super-cute glass bottles. Amazon currently has the 16 & 9 oz sizes in their latest 4 for 3 promotion. I got suckered-in & bought 4! Super-cute & glass so no risk of BPA (or other chemicals produced by plastics), no nasty metallic taste & they go in the dishwasher. So I'm feeling pretty proud of myself--since I grab a water almost every time I run out the door I'm certain I'm going to save myself from the bulk of chemicals I'm putting in my body on a daily basis. Also, I feel like I'm drinking out of a mason jar with them. I LOVE drinking out of a mason jar! My first experience brings me back to wonderful memories hanging out at great granny Duck's house in the hills of Tennessee (no, it wasn't moonshine). I also have a good friend who serves cocktails out of mason jars and it's always a good time. There's just something so fun about it. So, if you don't want to spend the money on these cute bottles, just get mason jars!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Safe Chemicals Act of 2011

There's a new act being proposed to congress that will help us keep our kids and families safe from chemicals that we know are harmful and those that are suspect. You can read more about the act here. It will overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act that was established 35 years ago (it determined chemicals were innocent until proven guilty). Apparently the old bill has only been used to regulate only 5 chemicals or chemical classes. With as many chemicals that have been introduced into our environment in recent years, it's about time the regulations caught up with the technology! The bill will require the EPA to define the "worst of the worst" chemical substances and require basic health and safety information for all chemicals entering or remaining on the market. Sounds like its a win-win to me (unless you're a business producing these harmful substances).

To get this bill to the floor & voted on, it needs co-sponsors. Write to your senators and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. At the bottom of this page, you can enter your zip code and it will automatically generate an email you can send (or alter) to your respective senators. It just took me about 10 seconds. It's easy!

Monday, May 9, 2011


I mentioned in an earlier post that I can't live without my breadmaker. My kids have 2 choices for dinner: eat it or don't. But I try to have at least one item on their plates that they like, often that means rolls. Rolls are so easy if you have a breadmaker with a "dough" setting. I was fearful of this for years. I finally tried it & now I'm not sure what took me so long! I also make bread & pizza dough in the breadmaker (those recipes to come later). The trick is timing.

1. Throw all the ingredients in (in order)
2. Put the breadmaker on the "dough" setting.  My breadmaker takes 1.5 hours.
3. Then you kneed it (I sprinkle flour on a clean counter & roll the dough over a few times, mostly to get the air bubbles out
4. Make it into rolls & put in a greased pan, cover with a dish rag or plastic wrap
5. Let the rolls rise for an hour in a warm spot. For the "warm spot"- you can heat a mug of water in the microwave & let the rolls sit in the microwave with the warm water for an hour (just don't warm the water with the rolls already in there). Works like a charm.

My friend Missie introduced me to Wheat Montana brand flour. Some of the HyVee grocery stores carry it in the health food section. It's unbleached & their "Prairie Gold" is a "white wheat". It's lighter than your normal wheat flour, but has all the same nutrients. This is what I use & I think it makes a difference. Each of my roll recipes makes roughly 19 rolls.

"Easy" Potato Rolls (these are my fav & are consistently eaten in record time)
1/3 C shortening (trans fat, I know. I'm going to try equal amounts of softened butter & I think it'll be        close to the same)
3/4 C warm water
1 1/4 t salt
1/3 C sugar
1/2 C cooked & mashed potatoes
3 1/4 C flour (I use 1/2 white & 1/2 wheat)
1 egg
2 full t dry yeast (or 1 package)

See the steps above. After it rises for an hour, bake 375 for 12 min or until tops are golden. I rub the tops with butter when they come out of the oven.

Betty Crocker's Homemade Pan Rolls
I also make these in the breadmaker. Just follow the steps above & make sure to put the "wet" ingredients in first. Note: I have substituted equal amounts of butter for shortening & it works just fine. I also do half white & half wheat flour. My oven may be hotter than most, but I bake these for 9 min vs. 12.

Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Rolls (my kids gobble these up too & I love the added vit A!)
1/2 C warm water
3 T softened butter
1 t salt
1/2 C mashed cooked sweet potato or pumpkin (pumpkin from a can is easy & good)
2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/3 heaping C all purpose flour
2 T sugar
2 eggs
1 pkg or 2 t active dry yeast

After the dough is made & the rolls rise for an hour, bake 375 for 12 min (or until tops are golden). I rub a little butter on the tops when they come out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First trip to the CSA

Last night I picked up our first return on our CSA investment. We invested in one that is made up of 6 farms, all organic & we pick up our share of produce each week at the local community college. When I arrived there were 4 sections with food, each section had a couple choices and you grab your pick. I ended up with a yummy mushroom pate, baggie of lettuces, purple lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes and a cookbook with lots of ideas for what is surely coming down the road. We're paying $17 per week. Did I get $17 worth of food-absolutely! If I would've gone to the grocery store, would I have spent my $17 on these things-no (though yes to a couple items). However, we're eating things we normally wouldn't. And last night I made a salad with the lettuce blends & some left over steak & veggies & it was delish! Better than the stuff you buy in the store.

This does lead me to another food idea for kids.... Since we have so many salad-type fixin's, I decided to cook, puree the spinach & freeze it so it won't go to waste. I will use it for orzo with spinach down the road, but mostly I'll use it to make "green eggs & cheese". My younger child won't touch an egg unless it's hidden in bread or cake, but my older guy loves eggs. "Green eggs & cheese" are off-and-on his favorite meal!

I freeze the cooked & pureed spinach in an ice cube tray (each cup about 1/2 full). After it's frozen, I move the cubes to a baggie & store in the freezer that way. To make the green eggs & cheese, I pop a cube in the microwave, whisk it with 2-3 eggs & a little milk & then cook it like an omelet. He loves it & it's the only time he knowingly eats anything green.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spicy Chicken "fried" Rice

Here's another recipe that has been a big hit in our house...and it's healthy! My hubby with the super-sonic taste buds typically doesn't go for things that are too healthy, but he actually likes (and often requests) this one.

The sauce:
2/3 C soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 t dark sesame oil
1 t crushed red pepper
1 t chili garlic sauce

The rest:
2 T canola oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 T peeled & grated fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves
4 C cold cooked brown rice
2 C diced cooked chicken
1/3 C peanuts

Combine ingredients for the sauce, wisk well. Heat canola oil in wok over med-high. Add bell pepper & diced onion. Stir fry 3 min. or until tender. Add ginger & garlic & stir fry 1 min. Add rice & chicken (I have to do this in 2 batches). Stir fry 5 min stirring gently. Add sauce, cook 2 min, tossing to coat (again 2 batches). Mix it all together & sprinkle peanuts on top before serving. It says 5 servings, but only if you have 5 teenage boys in the house! Enjoy!