Friday, March 2, 2012

SNM's Blueberry Muffins

Yes, I'm still here! Today I had a hankering for blueberry muffins and decide to try my hand at cleaning up a recipe. It took two tries, and I think these are just about perfect! They are healthy, tasty, and super quick and easy to make. Let me know how you enjoy them!

[i wish i could take beautiful foodie photos!!!]
Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, whisk together

1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

In a two cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/3 cup milk (almond milk would be yummy too)
zest from 1/2 lemon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in a generous 1 cup of blueberries.

Spoon into a greased or lined muffin pan and bake approx. 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pediatricians Call for Better Protection for Littles

(Reuters Health) - The U.S. is not doing enough to protect kids from exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals, pediatricians said in a new statement released today.

The policy paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics explains that a law meant to inform the public about the risks of different chemicals, and to give the government the right to intervene to keep dangerous chemicals off the market, has largely failed to achieve those goals.

And, writes Dr. Jerome Paulson, part of the AAP's Council on Environmental Health, the consequences of that may hit kids the hardest, and in unpredictable ways.

"Children are not little adults," Paulson, of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told Reuters Health. "Their bodies are different and their behaviors are different. That means that their exposures to chemicals in the environment are different, and the way their bodies (break down) those chemicals are different."

Kids may be especially vulnerable to chemicals during important periods in development, when their brains and bodies are changing quickly, Paulson added.

He said the goal of the report is to include the voice of pediatricians in current discussions about the need to update the Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976 with the intention of protecting the public against exposure to hazardous chemicals.

That law has only been used to regulate five chemicals or types of chemicals, Paulson writes.

That's because it gives the companies that make chemicals an easy out, according to the report, not requiring them to research chemicals for safety before those chemicals go on the market.

And without safety data, the Environmental Protection Agency can't prove that any of the 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S. are risky enough to require regulation.

Paulson said that even without more stringent laws on chemical use, the lack of information about just how risky different chemicals are makes it hard for people to avoid those potential risks.

"The reality is, we live in a chemical world, and some of them are benign and some of them aren't, and we don't know" which are and which aren't, Paulson said.

"It makes it impossible for us to understand what people should do to try to protect themselves or their children."

Noting recent surges of concern about bisphenol A in baby bottles and flame retardants, Paulson said that "we can't really deal with these kinds of issues one chemical at a time. We need a better system for screening chemicals before they're introduced into the marketplace, trying as best we can to identify ones that could be problematic ... while at the same time monitoring those that do come on the market."

Michael Wilson, who studies chemical policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said he was "thrilled" to see the new policy paper and that "it's a powerful statement, it's overdue and also timely."

Two weeks ago, New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg introduced for the second time a bill that would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"The problems that we're experiencing today that are very concrete problems ... all of those problems are going to broaden and deepen in coming years," Wilson, who is not connected to the AAP's council, told Reuters Health.

A spokesperson from the American Chemistry Council told Reuters Health in an email that the chemical company representative agrees that the Toxic Substances Control Act needs to be updated, and that the chemical industry is also working with the government to protect kids' health through other means.

Reform of chemical laws would "send a whole new signal to the industry" that the health impacts of its products, especially the impacts on vulnerable babies and kids, are just important as their function and price, Wilson said.

Then, the council pointed out, companies would have incentives to produce safer products, instead of having incentives not to measure health and safety risks at all.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, online April 25, 201

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Go-To-Works-For-Everything Bread Recipe

I make this recipe weekly. One batch will yield a small loaf and some burger buns or dinner rolls. I use my bread machine's dough cycle. If you don't have one, proof yeast, mix dough, and rise once. Then skip to ****

Set out 1 1/4 cups of milk, 2T of butter, and 1 egg. Allow them to come to room temperature.
Add these ingredients and the following:
Scant 1/4c honey
1tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2tsp yeast

When cycle completes, remove the dough.


For loaf, shape and place in loaf pan. For round (hamburger) buns, roll and cut with a cutter or canning jar ring. For hoagie rolls or hotdog buns, roll and cut with a sharp knife into rectangles. Shape dinner rolls by hand. You get the picture.

Let rise one hour. May be frozen at this point.

Bake on 350 until golden.

Repost: Naturally Sweet and More Thoughts

A little over a year ago, I wrote this post:

I've been trying to reduce the amount of refined sugar we eat. I cut out devilish HFCS, but the yummy white stuff isn't angelic either. I'm trying to save it for occasional treats like birthday cake or other special desserts.

For more everyday-type baked goods (muffins, quick breads, etc) I replace oil with applesauce and reduce sugar by 1/3 to 1/2. If I'm leaving out brown sugar, a little added molasses maintains that warm sweetness. I sometimes use honey, depending on the recipe.

For breads, I always use honey.

Popsicles, yogurt, and oatmeal are sweetened with fruit purees or juice.

I usually don't sweeten my coffee, but I had an itchy tooth for a sweet cup this morning. I glanced at my sugar bowl, then opted for a drizzle of real maple syrup. Oh My Goodness. It is delightful! Try it!

Here's a list of sweeteners in pure form that I've tried:

Honey- Remember, if you buy local, you get great allergy protection! And for a touch of fun, check out my adorable new-to-me vintage honey pot!

Maple Syrup- The real stuff. Pancake syrup is sketchy. This is one of those things you probably want to buy organic...many brands contain formaldehyde. Gross. Did you know that maple syrup has more calcium than milk? For use in baking, sub 1c maple syrup and 1/4t baking soda for 1c sugar and reduce liquid by 3T for every cup used.

Fruit Purees- Applesauce is easy, but be adventurous! Purees have the added benefit of moisture, so you can replace oil or egg yolks in baked goods.

Fruit Juice- Juice is sweet on it's own, and concentrate is even sweeter. Many commercial concentrates are stripped of any nutrients, so I recommend making your own by bringing juice to a boil and simmering until reduced to 1/4 the original amount.

Edited to add: While minimally processed, fruit juice concentrates are high in fructose.

Molasses- Made from cane juice and high in calcium, potassium, and iron.

Sorghum Syrup- Sorghum cane juice, boiled down. Even if you don't buy organic, it has a low instance of pesticides because the cane is naturally insect-resistant.

I used to tout agave nectar, but I've been reading some sketchy things. Consumers are led to believe that it is some natural wonder, pressed from the leaves of the agave plant. Apparently, it goes through about the same level of chemical processing as HFCS. I will try to dig up some article links for you. For now, I'm looking for sweeteners whose processing involves no more than boiling.

I wanted to bring the subject up again after learning more about agave and fructose. Studies continue to show that fructose in large quantities poses health risks. The majority of agave sugars are converted into fructose during extensive processing. The end product--bottled agave nectar--is equally processed and contains as much fructose as HFCS! Not exactly a healthy option.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Seriously Cute Fluff

Just a shameless plug for my friend Laura, who makes diapers too cute for words and lots of other great green stuff for her shop, MamaMade on Etsy. This particular diaper is a Very Baby, which is my favorite newborn fitted.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kitchen Gadgets I'm Loving #2: Misto Oil Mister

These have been around for forever, but I can't imagine not having one...actually, I have two. Traditional cooking sprays contain propellants--usually propane or isobutane. There is risk of food contamination, not to mention the waste created by the cans themselves and their manufacturing process.

I keep one Misto for olive oil. That one is for spraying pans for cooking or directly on food (eg vegetables prior to roasting). The other holds vegetable oil for greasing baking pans.

Would a Misto (or two!) make your life easier and greener?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kitchen Gadgets I'm Loving #1: Microwave Popcorn Popper

Ok, so buying new things is not necessarily eco-friendly. I especially try to avoid buying things that have a single purpose. The example that strikes me is a gadget I once saw designed to cook stuffed jalenpeno peppers on the grill. Really? How often do you do that that you need a separate thingamajig? But I digress. Every once in a while, I stumble across something that not only makes life easier but also replaces something less healthy or less earth-friendly.

My family loves popcorn. What's not to love? It's a yummy, quick, whole grain snack. Unfortunately, we were totally dependent on the microwavable, pop-in-bag variety, which is loaded with it's fair share of problems:

-It's wasteful: Each plastic-lined paper bag comes wrapped in a plastic bag, and those are stacked in a cardboard box.

-It's not healthy: Microwave popcorn is loaded with artificial additives and hydrogenated oils.

-It's toxic: That plastic lining that touches your snack? BPA. Ugh.

This clever gadget contains no plastic parts. The popper itself is glass; the lid is silicone with metal mesh. You chose your favorite variety of corn and pour the kernels into the popper...No Oil Required. If you like the flavor of butter, you can add a pat to the lid, and it will melt over the corn as it pops. Yum.

It's just as easy as popping in a bag, and the result is so much better. And at the cost of a few boxes of popcorn, it's a bargain.