Monthly Archives: October 2013

Easy Ways to Avoid Eating BPA for Dinner

BPA bottles

The federal Food and Drug Administration barred Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and children’s cups in June 2012 but it is still prevalent in food packaging and in our bodies. In fact, BPA is found in detectable levels in 93% of Americans over the age of six according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this article we’ll cover what it is, where to find it, and easy ways to avoid it.

So, what the heck is BPA?…

It was first synthesized in 1891 and has become a key building block of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester. In the U.S. alone, more than 2.3 billion pounds is manufactured annually.

How it gets in your body…

That number makes a lot of sense when you factor in that it’s found in common products most of us have in our homes like hard plastic water bottles, food containers, canned food and soda/beer cans. The BPA leaches from the plastic containers and linings of canned goods into the food inside and then we ingest it.

In 2011, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies compared to when they ate fresh soup daily.

Higher temperatures such as those achieved by microwaving, using the dishwasher, or leaving plastic water bottles in a hot car can increase the rate of leaching by as much as 55%.

Why it’s dangerous…

You’ve probably noticed an increase in products labeled “BPA free” in recent years as more and more people become aware of the dangers. BPA is a known hormone disruptor, even in small amounts, due to its estrogen mimicking effects in the body.

BPA exposure has been linked to:

• Obesity

• Low sperm count

• Infertility

• Diabetes

• Heart disease

• Changes in brain development

• Predisposition to breast and prostrate cancer

Is “BPA free” a safe alternative?

Good question. When scientists conducted lab tests on more than 20 top-brand baby bottles along with more than 450 plastic food and beverage-packages, virtually all leached chemicals that acted like the hormone estrogen, even though many were free of BPA.  Minimizing your plastic exposure is really the best bet and it’s not as hard or expensive as it sounds.

How to decrease your exposure…

Canned-Food Ideas:

  • Avoid canned foods when possible by substituting non-canned variations from the frozen/bulk section or in tetra-pak containers (the cardboard box)
  • Look for canned food with BPA-free liners. There are several brands that have committed to BPA free liners such as: EcoFish, VitalChoice, Wild Planet, Eden Organic (beans only)
  • Buy beverages like sodas or beer in glass
  • Buy your tomatoes in glass jars or a tetra-pak (acidity increases BPA leaching)

Food Storage Ideas:

  • Swap out your plastic food storage containers for glass ones and avoid food contact with plastic lids – you can get a starter set for just over $20
  • Drink tap water or buy a reusable stainless steel/glass water bottle as opposed to plastic bottled water
  • Avoid microwaving and dishwashing plastic containers
  • Swap out plastic baby bottles/cups for glass or stainless varieties – common brands are Pura Stainless, Lifefactory, and EvenFlo but there are many more if you do a search.

Other ways to reduce exposure:

  • Switch your plastic coffee-maker for a French press or ceramic drip
  • Use real metal utensils instead of plastic – including those you cook with like spatulas and big spoons
  • Avoid food packaging with recycle codes 3 or 7
  • Say no to receipts when possible (many are coated with BPA)
  • Instead of looking for BPA free, simply avoid plastics when you can help it (especially anything that touches your food)

The bottom line…

While it may not be possible to eliminate BPA from your life entirely, decreasing the amount that comes into contact with your food will decrease BPA in your body and family in a big way. BPA will exit your system pretty quickly (in hours or days). The trick is to quit letting it back in. You got this!

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Filed under Clean Living Tips, Cut the Crap Series - 10 Fast and Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Lifestyle, Healthy Eating!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Image

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

This recipe is courtesy of Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and tried and tested by me. You will not be sorry you tried this one and your friends will ask for the recipe.   

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