Two steps forward, one step back: HFCS being put back into Mexican Coke

Old Coca Cola Bottle
photo courtesy of michaelnpatterson, flickr

After the last few months of seeing Walmart and Target accept Safer Chemical’s Mind The Store challenge to remove key toxins from many of the health and beauty products they carry, and after Walmart’s commitment to remove trans fats from all the food they carry by 2015, I was particularly discouraged this week when it was announced that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) will be replacing cane sugar in Mexican Coca-Cola. For many years, hipsters and health freaks such as myself (although I don’t actually drink soft drinks) have sought out Coke manufactured in Mexico because it was sweetened by cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup as it is in the U.S. It’s particularly easy to find Mexican Coke here in Texas, of course. The announcement that the Mexican plant would be supplementing the sweetening of it’s beverages with corn syrup was followed by ABC News announcing that the bottles exported to the U.S. from that bottling plant would actually still use cane sugar. But seriously, how is that cool? The same article says that nearly 1/3 of Mexicans are obese. Why is it OK to give them HFCS when we don’t want it? This is yet another reason that I don’t love supporting Coca-Cola products, despite my fondness for their nostalgia signs and the rosy Santa drinking Coke at Christmas. The steps we’ve seen big corporations take forward in the last few years are small, but at least they’ve been steps forward. Let’s not take another step back, Coca-Cola.

Eco-friendly skin care without phthalates : K6 Skin Care

K6 product line image

I’m super excited to tell you all about how I solved my conundrum when it comes to finding eco-friendly skin care without phthalates and toxins! I have been searching for a skin care line that does not contain phthalates, parabens, SLS, artificial colors, chemical fillers, etc., but also keeps my (aging) skin moisturized and blemish-free.

I’m sad to say that all the handmade products or kitchen recipes that I’ve tried in the past have been terrible for my skin. They have left my skin too dry, too oily, or caused me to break out. I’ve tried washing with oil, washing with honey, moisturizing with coconut oil, toning with hydrogen peroxide… all of it has been a terrible failure.

The products I’ve found that work best are, shall we say, usually less than ideal in their ingredients. I’ve been doing the best I could by at least buying from companies like The Body Shop and Whole Foods who have good fair trade and ethical practices and “probably” don’t contain phthalates, but I’ve let a few other standards slip just to have nice skin.

Recently I met the wife of one of my husbands’ coworkers who is a local naturopath. It is all I can do not to ask her 100 questions about that at the dinner parties we have attended! In fact, she has graciously offered to write a guest post for us soon to tell us all about naturopath practice and I can’t wait! Aside from that fascinating fact (or perhaps because of it), she has also formulated her very own skin care line. I’ll quote her here to explain why:

Early in my practice, I relied on “recipes” [for my clients skin care needs] I developed while working with herbs. I made recommendations to clients that had them in their kitchens throwing together various ingredients to make their own lotions and cleansers. Human error abounded, and the results were less than satisfactory …

(sounds like my failed efforts!)

And here is my favorite part and, in my opinion, why K6 products work as well and BETTER than their non-green, non-natural conventional counterparts:

… As an ND, I am dedicated to practicing natural healing modalities, but I am not afraid to use technology safely where it will enhance the action of a natural element. I use this philosophy in every facet of my practice, and it permeates my skin care line as well.

This is a very good point. I don’t think it’s wrong to use technology to assist natural ingredients. The problem with a lot of the natural products I had been trying was the lack of preservatives, meaning that the containers became breeding grounds for bacteria. Sharon gave me a detailed ingredients sheet for each of the 3 products in the K6 line which explains, line by line, what each ingredient is and it’s function in the product (including preservatives and why they were chosen).

And did you catch that? Only 3 products in the line! Here they are:

K6 Clean product image

Clean

For, um, cleaning. The best feature of this cleanser is that it also removes eye makeup! Yep, no more purchasing an additional product to clean your eyes. I find that it works best to rub a small amount on the closed eye, rinse, and then wash the entire face as usual.

K6 Reveal product image

Reveal

A powerful enzyme peel that leaves skin refreshed, not raw. It’s extremely gentle but you’ll also be amazed to see the amount of dead skin cells it removes (if you are fascinated by peeling things…this might be fun for you!). Never once made my skin raw or irritated. It is actually gentle enough to use on rosacea without exacerbating the condition.

K6 Preserve product image

Preserve

Anti-aging moisturizer that is extremely luxurious – you don’t need much! Slows the breakdown of collagen, invigorates the production of more collagen, and inhibits the production of melanin.

Ever since I started using the K6 skin care line, I have actually felt guilty for not yet telling my readers about how much I love this skin care system. I wanted to be impartial because — full disclosure — they are also an advertiser on my blog. But I also do not advertise anything on this blog that I have not tried for myself or do not believe in. If I had tried this line and it hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

A note on cost: you need very little of each of these products. For Clean, probably the size of a pencil eraser for eyes and the size of a dime for the whole face. For Reveal, you only use it once a day and maybe not even every day, I probably use about a quarter size squeeze for my entire face. For Preserve, less than dime size. So you can imagine how long each product will last. I’ll probably buy Clean most frequently.

So, there you have it. It’s what I am using right now, and I think I’ll probably be using it for quite some time in the future. I hope that K6 helps you as much as it helps me. You can find their ad in the right column any time in the next 3 months. And remember, if you do choose to try the product line, you are helping to support a local woman-owned business and blog!

Easy Cool Whip alternative

Trans fat free cool whip alternative

If you’re as adamant about avoiding trans fats as I am, you might find you’ve had to give up a few things altogether. For example, I haven’t made a recipe requiring Cool Whip for years, because that stuff is full of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Occasionally, I got a little bummed about it. Never so much as I did when it was still 90 degrees here in September but I found this amazing recipe for an iced pumpkin coffee drink!

Of course, a great alternative to Cool Whip is to whip regular whipping cream, which you buy in a carton much like you’d buy milk. You then whip it with a mixer and, if you want it to taste just like Cool Whip, you add some sugar and vanilla extract. It tastes great and avoids trans fats and HFCS. I’m not promising it’s more healthy, because it contains plenty of its own natural fats and, well, you just added the sugar so you know that’s in there.

The main thing that kept me from using whipped cream in lieu of Cool Whip was the inconvenience. First, just having to add that extra step of making sure I had whipping cream in my fridge (I never do, because I make desserts so rarely) often required an extra trip to the store. Then, having to whip the ENTIRE container and use it up before it went bad just never happened. And it definitely goes bad, because it is dairy and doesn’t have all the preservatives in it that Cool Whip does.

At first, I researched buying a stainless steel cream whipper thingy (affiliate link). Those things are super cool, they use CO2 to poof up the whipping cream on-the-fly. They are also around $100 and you have to keep buying CO2 cartridges. Also, you still have to dump an entire carton of whipping cream into it and then use it up before the whipping cream goes bad. So really, it didn’t solve any of my problems but it sure did look cool.

Then I thought, hey…Cool Whip is stored in the freezer and thawed when you need it — can’t I just do that with whipped cream? Duh. I have no idea why I didn’t think of that sooner. I did it and it works great. It thaws well, just make sure you remember to set it out ahead of time (just like you would with Cool Whip).

 

So there you have it: a perfect alternative to Cool Whip’s convenience with no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup.

To make: use heavy whipping cream to make whipped cream. The typical ratio from most recipe sites for whipped cream is to use 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for every 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. Whip the cream until peaks form and then add the sugar and vanilla.

Freeze in a container with a tightly closed lid. I prefer glass because we’re phasing out all-plastic containers at our house.

What will you use your whipping cream for this fall?