Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Going Green...for $1

So, I've decided to make the switch. Don't get me wrong, I have been "green" for quite some time now. Using products that don't harm the environment simply makes sense to me.  I've even gone to the extreme at times, poring over ingredient labels and choosing only the cleanest of the clean.  It seems like I hear more and more about how the ingredients in the products we use everyday, such as household cleaning products (409, Lysol, Cascade) and even most of the personal care products we use on a daily basis such as lotions and shampoos can cause cancer,  hormonal mutations, and suppress the central nervous system (and that is just the start of the list!).   The instances of autism, asthma, and cancer are at an all time high and are continuing to rise! It seems to me that it is time to examine the things we as humans are doing that could be causing this huge rise in disease.

Indoor air quality is generally much worse than outdoor air. A recent 15 year study showed that women who work in the home have a 54% higher of getting cancer than women who work outside the home, and this has been linked to the increased exposure to the toxic chemicals out-gassed by the cleaning products used in our homes. This out-gassing occurs EVEN WHEN THE BOTTLES ARE SEALED. Have you ever noticed the smell in the cleaning product aisle in the grocery store?

So the problem is, how do you know what is safe and what is not? You probably didn't know that the government doesn't require ingredient disclosure on products designed for family, personal, or household use, nor does it regulate or require safety testing on cosmetics or other personal care products. The FDA itself has stated, "The [Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act] contains no provision that requires demonstration to FDA of the safety of ingredients of cosmetic products... prior to marketing the product."

Pretty scary!

You have a choice, though!  You can do what I did for years. Read every ingredient label (on the products that list them, anyway) and then research all the different ingredients and then figure out which products are safe to use.That's really time consuming, though!

Another option you have is to have safer, greener products delivered straight to your door from a company that is committed to manufacturing all the products you use on a day to day basis using quality ingredients that are not only effective, but safe for you and the environment and affordable as well.  Membership cost is only $1 until December 22, so it's a great time to switch your house over to green products! I <3 these products!

My question for you today is, what do you already do to "green" your home on a daily basis?

To your health,


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kefir Culture

I've always been a fan of (wild) fermentation.  There's something exciting about taking a food and culturing it and watching it become something different.  While some might turn their noses up and say that I am simply letting perfectly food rot (now that would lead me to the topic of compost, but I'll save that for a future post), more often the result is a more nutritious product that is filled with living, beneficial cultures.  In fact, many of the foods you already eat have been fermented (think bread, cheese, chocolate, tea, beer, wine, soy sauce), although many of these have also been pasteurized, a process that kills the beneficial bacteria.

For those who don't know, kefir is a fermented milk product somewhat similar to a drinkable yogurt that originates from the Caucasus Mountains.  Although powdered kefir starters are widely available from grocery and health food stores, to make authentic kefir one must acquire the living kefir "grains", which are a dynamic symbiosis of Lactic acid bacteria, vinegar producing bacteria, and yeast strains. The grains are comprised of a mixture of protein, amino acids, fats, and polysaccharides which, unlike yogurt, ferment milk readily at room temperature. [Note: The powdered starters contain only a few strains of bacteria isolated from the authentic  kefir and are NOT capable of creating nor sustaining this symbiosis, and therefore cannot be used to culture on going batches of kefir.]

I had been buying Lifeway Kefir regularly for some time when(ironically, just a couple days after stocking up on store bought kefir at a recent sales event) a friend asked me if I might be interested in making kefir. She proceeded to scoop a couple spoonfuls of these gelatinous, translucent white globs into a small container of milk, and sent me on my way.  I hurried home to start my first batch, dumped the grains into a jar, added milk, and eagerly waited.
I must admit that I was, at first, a little disappointed by the texture of my homemade kefir.  After only a week, I discovered that I had developed a preference to my slightly tangy and effervescent kefir over the mild tasting Lifeway.  After two weeks, I found that I was pretty much hooked.

The nice thing about kefir is that not only do the "grains" last forever and produce batch after batch if kefir with minimal care, they also grow, which allows people to share the wealth of these "probiotic gems" with others!  Kefir can be consumed as a drink, as is or seasoned, used in smoothies, and substituted in any recipe that calls for buttermilk.  It can be made into cheese. It also has numerous external applications as well (it is excellent for the skin and I have heard that it can remove warts).

I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to kefir!  If you are interested in finding out more, or maybe culturing kefir yourself, feel free to contact me!

In the meantime, please leave a comment! What is your favorite fermented food or drink?

To your Health,


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pecan Praline Cookies

I had a craving for candied nuts the other day and came across a fabulous recipe for pecan praline cookies.

These are so delicious and easy and perfect for the holidays!

2 egg whites
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Beat the egg whites until they are frothy.  Fold in brown sugar, flour, vanilla and pecans. Drop by teaspoonful onto a greased pan, flatten a bit with your spoon and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.  (I used stoneware and baked them for about 15 minutes). Let cool before removing from pan.