It’s time to kick the can!

I’ve kicked the can.   The BPA (bisphenol A) lined can that is.   image

BPA first came to my attention a few years ago when they decided that it was dangerous enough to ban it from baby bottles.   BIG sign that it’s probably bad stuff.    But the majority of food producers are still using this as a component in the lining of our canned foods.

So what is BISPHENOL A ?   Per Webster:  an industrial chemical compound C15H16O2 that is a component of several commercially useful types of plastic.

Where is it found?   The lining in canned foods, plastic containers (especially those marked with #7 recycling symbols, but in others as well) and even in the paper used for thermal cash register receipts.   It’s also found in some dental fillings.

Why is it so bad?  BPA is endocrine-disrupting chemical that has been linked to fetal/child development issues (possibly even ADHD and Autism),  heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease and liver issues.    It also thought to be linked to fertility issues, breast and prostate cancer and numerous other chronic diseases.   In fact, the World Health Organization has recently called endocrine-disruptors a “Global Threat.”

I encourage you to read “The Global Threat Lurking in Your Kitchen,”  published by Rodale.    This article further discusses BPA and other endocrine-disruptors and the effects that they are having on our bodies.

Some ways to avoid it

  • Limit or simply don’t eat canned food unless you know the company has a specific NO-BPA stance ( Eden Organics does.   Muir Glen is rumored to but does not specifically state it on their website.  My Trader Joe’s manager claims some of their products are, but that they do not label – so how can you tell!)
  • Avoid all plastics labeled with the #7 recycling seal.
  • Use as little plastic as possible around your food.   Consider switching food storage to glass or stainless steel.   If you choose to continue using plastics, make sure they are labeled as BPA free.
  • Don’t microwave in plastic.   Plastic may breakdown and leach components into your food.
  • Talk to your dentist about what’s in your current fillings and any new ones.  
  • Say “no thank you” to the receipt.   Especially at the gas pump or anywhere else that thermal paper is used.    You can absorb BPA through your skin too.

Resources / Further Reading
http://www.rodale.com/endocrine-disruptors?cm_mmc=TheDailyFixNL-_-1209228-_-02212013-_-The_Global_Threat_Lurking_in_Your_Kitchen_title
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/hormone_disrupting_20130219/en/
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=178
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bpa/AN01955
http://www.rodale.com/dental-fillings-mercury-and-bpa
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57473287-10391704/bpa-in-tooth-fillings-may-boost-kids-behavioral-problems/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A
http://www.rodale.com/topic/bpa-and-plastic

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Bake Your Own Bread? Yes You Can!

This is the post I’ve promised!

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I started baking my own bread about 4 years ago.    I needed to get rid of the preservatives in commercial bread and I had noticed that the companies I had trusted for years had begun to use artificial sweeteners (YUCK!).   At the time I was running a “healthy eating club” as part of my local MOMS Club.   One of the members suggested that I try baking my own bread.    I actually laughed out loud at her.   I had NEVER even thought about baking bread myself.    I had all these visuals of  being covered in flour and kneading dough.   I baked, but things like cookies, quick breads and the occasional pie.     Not anything hard – nothing that would take yeast!

She laughed at me and told me it was so easy Grant (who was 2 at the time) could practically do it.   WHAT?   I was really skeptical.   She promised she’d bake bread for our next meeting, I could try it and see if I ever wanted bread out of a package again.

A month later she showed up on my doorstep with a beautiful loaf of artisan wheat bread  – still warm.    It had a hard crust and insides that just melted in my mouth.    It was FABULOUS!    But I was still skeptical.    Could I do this?    Well, yes it turns out that I could and so can you!    The best part of the whole deal?   You can do it all in about 5 minutes of hands on time a day!   No joke.   It really is that easy.

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The secret comes from 2 wonderfully gifted people named Jeff and Zoe.    They have written a series of books based on the fact that you really can make Bread In Five Minutes a Day.     Now we are talking hands on time, that five minutes doesn’t include rise times.  But this is fresh, beautiful, DELICIOUS bread that you can make AND accomplish your to-do list too!   The one I use most frequently is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Here’s the gist of it.    You make up a batch of dough which will take you about 5 minutes.   You let it rise for 2-3 hours (depending on the recipe).    You put it in the fridge and pull out and use when you want bread (or pizza crust, buns, breadsticks)  within the next 2 weeks.   It takes about 3-5 minutes of hands on time to form a loaf and then you let it rise and bake it.    It’s super easy and extremely versatile.  Not to mention good for the budget!   Heck,  these guys even went so far to figure out how to cook bread in your crockpot so you didn’t have to turn on the oven in the summer!

So are you ready to try?

Artisan Bread in Five’s Basic Recipe

Artisan Bread in Five’s Whole Wheat Brioche Recipe  (which is to die for!)

Here’s the process in pictures:

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This plus some water is all it takes!

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Measure and mix.   It’s a good work out for your arms.   Sometimes I will use my hnds to get the last bits of flour worked in.

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The mixed dough will still be pretty wet.   That’s OK!

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This stuff really grows!

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The risen dough will become flat on the top.

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Form  your loaves.   You can make them as big or as small as you want!  And let them rise again!

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Risen loaves, washed, scored and ready for the oven.

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And 30 minutes later you have this!   YUM!

The recipe that I baked today is  “100% Whole Wheat , Plain and Simple”  from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I was lucky enough to get to take a class with Jeff before we moved from the Twin Cities.    This was just before the release of their third book Artisan Pizza and Flat Bread in Five Minutes a Day.     It was a wonderful class and the breads of course were divine.      Type A me learned a great lesson from him to!

A Lesson from Jeff – It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I was working hard to make everything look like it came from the grocery store.    Make the pizza crust perfectly round.    Shape the loaf of bread just so.     Jeff reminded me that people are much more concerned with how the food tastes than how it looks (with in reason).     Does anyone in my house care that their pizza looks more like an amoeboid than a circle?    Not at all – I actually score more points with my kiddo when they look weirder!   Same goes for the breads.   So what if no two loaves look the same.    It’s ARTISAN baking, therefore take each loaf as it’s own piece of art!

A couple of notes:
Don’t feel like you have to go buy a lot of equipment to do this.   Any big covered tub (I started with a Rubbermaid) will work just fine.    I still don’t own a bread wisk.    A baking stone is essential if you want the hard artisan crust, but if you don’t have one just use a cookie sheet.   Your crust won’t be quite as hard but the bread will still be great.    Until you have a stone, the peel doesn’t matter.   If you have a stone but no peel,  just use a cookie sheet!

 

So what are you waiting for – go bake some bread already!

 

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesdays and a Box of Good

DSC_3889Tuesday has become my favorite day of the week.    And yes, it has something to do with food.    I get my farm box, my “Box of Good”, delivered to  my door step at some point during the day.    I’m sort of like a kid waiting for Santa.   Is it here yet?   Is it here yet?  I drive Grant crazy on Tuesdays.

My “Box of Good” is just that, a box packed full of all of the best organic and GMO free produce  that’s in season provided by the wonderful folks at Klesick Family Farm.

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We we moved to Washington last winter, I had an angel guiding me to these folks.    I’ve used and loved traditional CSAs and the past but Klesick’s has taken it a step further to give you tons of flexibility AND they deliver.   That so totally ROCKS!

But when I think about it, I think I love the people behind this food as much as the food itself.   Tristan, the owner, has a passion for what he does.    He’s part of the change in the food movement.    The group of people at the farm have the same beliefs about food that I do – that it should be organic, GMO free and REAL.    It feels really good to know that the people providing my food agree with me.  It’s empowering and my  “Box of Good” is a weekly inspiration.

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How pretty is this!

So my wish for each of you is to find your own farmer.     Here are some resources to help you get started.

Finding a CSA
(What is a CSA?  Community Supported Agriculture.  You buy into a portion of the farm for the season and the farm provides you with a weekly share of what  is produced.   Prices vary depending on area of the country – as will the produce provided.)

Now is actually a great time to start researching CSAs as many start selling shares in January and February.

Local Harvest – searchable database for farms, CSAs, farmers markets and all things organic close to home.

Eat Well Guide  – searchable CSA database

How to Find & Join a CSA – great article with all the questions you should ask yourself before joining.

And don’t hesitate to ask around at your local farmers market.    A lot of these people run their own CSAs.  If they don’t, they  most likely know who you should talk to.

p.s.   No promotional fee has been paid for this post.  I just really believe in them and what they do.   If you would happen to sign up with Klesick’s,  I do get a free bag of coffee. 😉

©Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A (Bi) Weekly Review – October 26, 2012 / November 2, 2012

Here’s the best of what I read for the last 2 weeks!

More to Watch

CEO of Stoneyfield on Bill Maher for Just Label It!

New Prop 37 TV Ad

More Great Reads

Interview with Doctor: Food as Medicine – 100 Days of Real Food

Arsenic & Rice – A Deadly Combination –  Fooducate Blog

Yummy Looking Recipes (not tested)

Beet Root Fries – Food Babe

Homemade Cheez-its – Eating Rules

Gingerbread Apple Crisp – Elana’s Pantry

Cinnamon-Oat Brown Rice Crispy Treats – Attune Foods

Healthier Oreos – Chocolate Covered Katie

Hallie’s Grain Free Almond Pecan Cookies – Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom

Resources

What’s all the Buzz about GMOs? – Food is a Journey

Real Food FAQs – you asked, we answered – 100 Days of Real Food

Re-Runs Worth Reading

What is that? – Fooducate

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cows Eating Candy? REALLY?

Warning, I’m going on a rant here…..candy

Often times I think my kid might be one of the smartest people on the planet.   I’m partial, of course, because I’m his Momma.   But the thing is – he gets stuff about food that our politicians, food producers, and a good deal of America just don’t.

Case in point – last month’s article about cows being fed sprinkles, gummy worms and other junk because corn prices have skyrocketed.  (Did you miss it?  Click the link above to read it.)   I laughed out loud when I read this (and not in a good way).   And because I was laughing he ran in to see what was happening.   I gave him the gist of the story and I instantly got the “ick” face.      And then this response:

“Don’t the farmers know that’s not good for the cows?   Won’t it make them sick from eating too much sugar?”  Then came my favorite “Will the cows make rainbow milk from all that food coloring?”    Yes, we talk a lot about food in our house.  Can you tell?   But here’s the point, doesn’t common sense tell us not to feed animals junk food?   Even if it was organic junk food (which I’m sure it’s not), I wouldn’t be for this idea!   The thought of all those additives, preservatives and artificial colors – YUCK!

Would you feed your dog gummy worms?  I wouldn’t, and I am ashamed of the farmers that would not only treat their animals so poorly but then sell the American people the beef and dairy products produced from these animals.   That’s NOT what I want to eat, that’s for sure!   And honestly, I don’t think the farmers should be allowed to sell them.   Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way against farmers.  I respect their hard work immensely.   I know they need to feed their cows at a reasonable price – but all I am saying is that we REALLY need to help them find better options.

As an American culture, we have moved away from making our food sacred.    For the majority, it’s about what’s fast, easy and readily available.   Lots of kids don’t know where real food comes from (and there’s already a post in my brain on that one).   We have allowed what is easy to overtake what is real.   As long as we can pick it up at the store, we assume that it’s safe.    It isn’t any more.   There have been LOTS of food recalls lately – even on natural and organic foods.   We need to pay more attention.   We need to demand more of those that produce and regulate our food.

So I ask you – do you care what the cows eat that churn out the milk for your morning cereal?    I do, and this has pushed me a step further to buy all organic dairy from sources I trust.   We eat very little beef, but I can assure you that will be organic, grass fed from here on out too.

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Challenge #2 – Pour One Out Today

Put down the soda, juice, sports drink or even the (gasp) mocha .    We are consuming way to many liquid calories as a nation.

I gave up soda over 3 years ago and don’t miss it now.   But it did take time.   Today, see if you can go without any type of sweetened beverage.    I don’t care what it’s sweetened with (I’ll rant on artificial sweeteners another day).   For today, watch this video and then pour one out.

And think about if you could keep the challenge again tomorrow.

Visit The Real Bears 

What’s all the buzz about GMOs?

With the election quickly approaching the buzz about GMO is increasing by the day.    Prop 37 in California could make a revolutionary change in our food.  But do you even know what a GMO is?   I’m finding that a lot of people don’t.   And I’m talking about REALLY smart people.

So what is a GMO?

A GMO is a genetically modified organism.   GMOs are made by combining or “splicing” the DNA of two unrelated organisms together.     No, I’m not talking about cross pollination to create a new variety of apple.   What I’m talking about is taking the DNA from a fish and inserting into the DNA of a tomato to make it more cold resistant.   No, I’m not kidding.

Now that tomato didn’t stay around long.  It had other issues that caused it to be pulled of the market (it didn’t hold up under shipping).    But this same technique is constantly used to build herbicides and pesticides into our food.   Yep, there’s corn out there that has bug killer built in.    (insert collective EWWW!)

Here are a couple great sites with in-depth explanations of GMOs:

NON GMO Project
CA Right to Know

Crops with the highest levels of GMOs include corn, soy, canola and sugar beets.   It’s estimated that up to 80% of conventionally processed food (anything in a package)  contains GMOs.      Are GMOs safe?    The jury’s still out and there’s lots of debate on both sides.    In the meantime I don’t want to be a lab rat  and I sure don’t want my kid being one.

Prop 37 isn’t about banning GMOs.  It’s about labeling them.   It’s about giving us the right to know what is in our food.   This is a right that a majority of the world has,  even Russia and China, but not here in the US.   Here’s the map of countries requiring GMO labeling.

What’s really crazy to me is how much money big food manufacturers and the grocery industry are spending to not let us know what is in our food.   It’s averaging over a million a day.     Want to see  who’s playing on each side?  Check this out chart from The Cornucopia Institute.   I’m shocked and disappointed at who is fighting against our right to know.    It WILL affect my buying habits.

What can we do to avoid GMO’s?
The NON GMO Project has launched the NON GMO Verified campaign.     They have worked with producers to certify that GMOs do not exist in these products.

You can look for this label when you shop and search for verified products on their website.

When looking at fresh produce – avoid anything with a 5 digit code starting with a 8 on the label (note: 5 digit codes that start with (9 signify organic).   Since it’s not required – the standard 4 digit produce code could still contain GMOs.
gmo-code

Buy organic from those you trust (like your local farmers!).    The National Organics Program  (NOP) standards state that “Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”  However,  the NOP does not test to verify products do not contain GMOs before certifying them organic.

It’s all complicated – something food shouldn’t be.    You’ll continue to hear more from me on the topic.   Until then,  I leave you with resources to dive in further if you choose.

RESOURCES

SOURCES

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.