Tips for Avoiding Plastic in the Kitchen

Not only is plastic detrimental to the environment, but it has some alarming health consequences as well.  Toxins from plastic containers and utensils can leach into the food that they come in contact with, especially if they are heated or used for hot foods.  It has been found that the majority of plastics release a chemical similar to estrogen which can disrupt normal hormone function.  There is now even research that shows that BPA-free plastics are no safer than any other plastics.   Fortunately there are plenty of plastic alternatives for the kitchen which are safer and better for the environment.

Utensils – Instead of plastic utensils, consider using wood or bamboo utensils.  Bamboo is a great material since it is completely biodegradable, stronger than wood, and stain resistant.  Stainless steel is another possible alternative.

Cutting boards – Plastic cutting boards can also be replaced with bamboo or wood cutting boards.  Again, bamboo is stronger than wood, doesn’t stain, and is much more eco-friendly.  Glass cutting boards are also safe, however they tend to cause knives to become dull more rapidly.

Food Storage – Glass, ceramic and stainless steel are the best ways to store food.  Mason jars work great, and they are inexpensive.  There is a wide variety of different shapes and sizes of glass food storage containers available.  Save glass jars from nut butters, jams, or other food products and repurpose those for food storage too.  Glass containers make great freezer storage as well.  Just remember to leave one or two inches of space for expansion.

Plastic baggies/plastic wrap – These can also be replaced with glass jars and containers or parchment paper.  A piece of fabric and a rubber band can also be used to cover food.

Cookware – Avoid all cookware labeled as non-stick.  The coating that makes the cookware non-stick contains carcinogenic chemicals.  Non-stick cookware heated to high temperatures releases a chemical that is known to cause death in pet birds and cause humans to develop flu like symptoms.  Replace non-stick cookware with cast iron or stainless steel.

Plastic Shopping Bags – Replace plastic shopping bags with eco-friendly reusable shopping bags.  Many bags are made from recycled materials, which is best for the environment.

Reusable Water Bottles – Plastic water bottles should be replaced with glass or stainless steel.  Avoid all plastic bottles, including those labeled BPA free.

Try to buy as many products packaged in glass instead of plastic whenever possible, or better yet make as much food from scratch as possible.  Farmers markets are a great way to buy foods with less packaging.

Considering that it can take up to 500 years for plastics to break down in a landfill, it’s best to try to recycle or find ways to repurpose your plastics whenever possible rather than throwing them away.  Check with your town to see which plastics can be recycled.  Get creative with the plastics that you are unable to recycle.  Plastic utensils can be used for gardening.  Old plastic containers can be used for craft projects, storing things like office supplies, or they can be used to organize closets.

Oil Pulling

The health of your mouth is directly tied to the health of your whole body.  When plaque forms on your teeth, it creates pockets under your gums that are too deep for your toothbrush to reach.  Bacteria forms in these pockets and gets trapped there.  The bacteria produces toxins which get released into your mouth and then in turn throughout your entire body whenever you swallow.  Oil pulling is a natural and effective way to remove the bacteria that forms under your gums.  It has been shown to noticeably whiten teeth and freshen breath.  In addition to improving oral health, oil pulling has been found to improve overall physical health.

Oil pulling is a more than 3000 year old Ayurvedic technique for improving oral health by reducing the amount of damaging bacteria in the mouth.  The idea behind oil pulling is that the bacteria gets drawn out by the process of swishing oil around the mouth, and then binds to the oil.  Oil pulling is most beneficial when it is done first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything, and before brushing the teeth.

Oil pulling is done by taking about a tablespoon of cold pressed oil in the mouth, and swishing it around the mouth or “pulling” the oil through the teeth for 20 minutes.  The goal is to really get the oil into every crevasse, between the teeth, over the tongue and over the gums.  The oil is then spit out, the mouth rinsed well, and the teeth brushed normally.  Coconut oil works well since it has a pleasant taste and has antibacterial qualities, but sesame or sunflower oil can also be used.  For even more health benefits and greater results, add in a few drops of protective essential oils.  Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, warming it slightly is helpful.  This can be done by warming it on the stove top or just by chewing in in the mouth until it liquefies.

It is important to practice this habit daily for optimum oral health.  Some people do this while in the shower, while getting breakfast ready, while doing light exercise or meditation, or just while doing their normal morning routine.  It is important to pull the oil for the full 20 minutes to give the oil the time it needs to break through the plaque.  The oil shouldn’t be gargled or swallowed since it is full of bacteria.  The oil should always be spit into the trash rather than the sink.  The oil can clog drains since it solidifies at cooler temperatures.

It won’t take long to start noticing an improvement.  It may feel a little awkward at first, so it might be necessary to work up to the full 20 minutes and the full tablespoon of oil.  The important part is to commit to doing it every day.  Remember, it takes repeating the same action for 21 consecutive days to form a habit.  Be patient and diligent and oil pulling can become a part of your daily routine for improved health.

Hidden Sources of Gluten

Many people are deciding to eliminate gluten from their diet, whether it has been advised by their healthcare practitioner, or they have done the research and decided that eliminating gluten from their diet will benefit them.  Many sources of gluten are obvious – the bagels and muffins, the pasta and cookies.  Yet gluten hides in the sneakiest of places.  In order to be truly gluten free and reap the health benefits of a gluten free diet, it is critical to recognize and avoid not only the commonly known sources of gluten, but the hidden sources of gluten as well.

Here are the most commonly discussed sources of gluten.

  • Wheat products
  • Rye products
  • Barley products

Here are some not so obvious places where gluten is present.

  • Bran
  • Couscous
  • Durum
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Graham flour
  • Malt, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar, malt extract
  • Matzo
  • Oats, unless labeled gluten free
  • Orzo
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Tabbouleh
  • Triticale

Here are some places where gluten may be present.  If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer or avoid the product altogether.

  • Artificial flavors and colors
  • Beer
  • Breading
  • Broth
  • Caramel color or caramel flavor
  • Cereals
  • Emulsifiers
  • Flavored coffee and tea
  • French fries
  • Hot dogs and sausages
  • Hydrolyzed proteins
  • Imitation fish or imitation bacon bits
  • Lunch meats
  • Medications
  • Modified food starch
  • Natural flavors or natural colors
  • Pie fillings
  • Rice mixes
  • Rice pilaf
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces and marinades
  • Seasoning mixes
  • Smoke flavoring or liquid smoke
  • Soups
  • Soy sauce
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes
  • Worcestershire sauce

 

Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught Fish

farmed fish

When it comes to seafood, there is a real difference between farm raised and wild caught fish.  Wild caught fish is significantly healthier than farm raised fish, and it is better for the environment.

Farm raised fish are typically raised in tanks or pens in rivers, lakes, or the ocean.  Since they live in such compact and confined spaces, they contain more hormones, toxins, pesticides, antibiotics, fat, and diseases than fish that are allowed to be in their natural habitat.  Farmed fish have more than three times the saturated fat as wild.  Sea lice are common in farmed fish.  Since wild fish can swim near the fish farms, sea lice can infect the wild fish in the area, killing many juvenile fish.  Farmed fish are frequently fed antibiotics to try to control sea lice infestations and other diseases.  They are frequently given hormones to increase breeding and growth.  Farmed fish have been found to contain high levels of polybrominated diphenyl ether, or PBDE, which is a chemical used as a flame retardant.  PBDEs are thought to contribute to cancer.  Farmed fish have also been found to contain polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in levels 10 times higher than in wild caught fish.  PCBs are another potential carcinogen.

Wild caught fish swim the oceans, lakes, and rivers and therefore seek their own food.  This means that they are usually free from toxins, antibiotics, and hormones.  They also have much lower incidences of disease than are found in farm raised fish.  Their activity level also makes them lower in fat.  Wild salmon has 32% fewer calories than farmed salmon.  Wild caught fish are higher in protein and contain more Omega 3 fatty acids.

While it is true that farm raised fish is less expensive than wild caught fish, it is beneficial to your health and to the environment to make the choice to purchase only wild caught fish.

The Importance of Gratitude

“I have noticed that the universe loves gratitude.  The more grateful you are, the more goodies you get.”  – Louise L. Hay

People who make a habit of noticing and being grateful for the positive things in their life are generally happier than those who don’t.  They are usually more compassionate and kind, feel more positive emotions and think more positive thoughts, and even have a stronger immune system.  Living a life of gratitude raises your vibration and the positivity you exude makes other people take notice and want to be around you.

There are some simple ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily life, and with regular practice you will find yourself living a life of gratitude.

  • Start each day with the intention of appreciating all that there is to be grateful for.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  Each night before bed, write down at least 5 things that you are grateful for.  It can be anything in the world that you appreciate and the list is endless.  Reread each statement three times and really feel the gratitude.
  • Practice mindfulness.  Breathe.  Use all of your senses.  Be in the moment and you will notice all the things around you to be grateful for.
  • Turn a negative thought into a positive thought.  If you find yourself thinking about something in a negative way, recognize something positive about the situation and focus on that.
  • Say thank you and be sincere.  Expressing gratitude out loud is a very powerful thing.
  • Share what you are grateful for.  Make gratitude a part of your vocabulary.  If you are interested in sharing what you are grateful for, there are a number of websites and apps for people to publicly affirm what they are grateful for.  Looking at what other people are grateful for can put your own life into perspective and help you see what is positive in your life that you might be taking for granted.  You can also post what you are grateful for on the Advanced Nutrition and Energetics Facebook page.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  – Oprah Winfrey