There is no “microwave safe” or “dishwasher safe” plastic

Heating Plastic: there is no "microwave safe" or "dishwasher safe" plastic! Why and how to avoid heating food in plastic | Conscientious Confusion

Our trusty old dishwasher finally died lately, and I am super excited to have a shiny new one. Those 2-3 weeks handwashing dishes were no fun! But, regardless of whether we have a working dishwasher, there are always dishes in my sink. Why? Because I always hand wash plastics.

Why handwash? First of all, plastics are made out of chemicals. Yep, there is no natural substance out there which can be harvested to produce plastic in it’s final form. It’s all created in a lab. Most plastic is made flexible by PVC, a chemical that is well known to be toxic. Even plastics that are made without PVC are made of other chemicals. You can pick plastics that are “safe-r” to hold food by using this handy list, but there are no completely non-toxic plastics.

Here’s the thing: those chemicals are made active again when the plastic is heated. By default, any plastic that is heated will be releasing some of it’s chemical components. That is why plastic dishware degrades, gets spots, and warps over time. The chemical components of the plastic are slowly breaking down (read more here and here and a more technical study here. Relevance to cancer from chemicals in plastic.). When it comes to dishware, the heat allows those chemicals to mix with our food. Do we really want to be eating a side of chemicals with our meal? Remember that the FDA does not approve chemicals used in houseware (they only oversee Food and Drugs) — there is no regulation of the materials being used in your plates/bowls/sippys/storage containers.

You’ve seen the plastics labeled “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe”, right? What does that even mean? The definition of “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe”, as far as I can tell from online research, comes from appliance manufacturers. Both terms mean that your dishes won’t be visibly damaged, melted or broken in the appliance, not that the dishware won’t leach chemicals into your food. In other words, there is no “microwave safe” or “dishwasher safe” plastic.

Ideally, it would be fabulous to own no plastic food containers or items at all, but I have two preschool children. I do still use a microwave. With children this young, I still do not have the bandwidth in my food prep time to forego the microwave altogether for quick meals like leftovers and lunches, so stainless steel isn’t always practical. When using the microwave to reheat even something small, transfer the food to a glass container.

Tip #1: I bought small glass bowls from the dollar store specifically for reheating. I have about 4 of them so that there is always one clean. I just pop whatever I want to reheat into these open bowls and toss them in the microwave. The bonus is that I can also safely put them into the dishwasher.

Tip #2: To make storing and reheating from the refrigerator easier, I have replaced all of my formerly plastic storageware with glass food storage (affiliate link). These sets are easy to find at Target, Walmart, Amazon, and even Costco. I replaced it slowly, over time, when I could find sales and coupons. It can be pricey to do it all at one time, although Costco will frequently have good deals on glass storageware.

We have been working on teaching the kids to use glass responsibly. I still don’t allow them to have glass containers unsupervised, but they are getting much more mindful. Soon I hope to transition completely away from plastic cups and bowls for them and to ceramic and glass, which is what we use for the adults in the family.

For more information on the toxicity and environmental impact of plastic, I highly recommend my friend Beth Terry’s book “Plastic-Free: How I Kicked My Plastic Habit and How You Can Too” (affiliate link).

How do you avoid plastic in your home? Do you have any favorite products that you like?

Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything

You know that you’ve reached some kind of crunchy-person dilemma when you are standing in a giant store with an aisle full of options and do not find any acceptable choices for the item you came to purchase. I’m not just talking about food, although I certainly struggle with orthorexia in that area — but any item!

Small or large. Bed sheets. Slippers. Hand lotion. Paper towels. Wrapping paper. Everything.

When I say that I practice conscientious consumerism, what do I mean?

Questions that go through my head: where was it made? Were the workers treated fairly? What are the chemicals in it? What active chemicals will it leach when not in use? Were there pesticides used in it? Are there genetically modified (GMO) ingredients? Is there gluten or dairy in this? Can I make this instead of buying it? If so, is that crazy/do I even have enough time? Should I be purchasing something with this much unnecessary packaging? Is this made of plastic? If so, can I get a glass or stainless steel version?

Yep, all those things really do go through my head. And it’s true that I have walked out of even Target empty-handed because  I couldn’t answer some of those questions satisfactorily about the item I came for.

While you are pondering just how crazy I might be, I will provide you a list of things I look for when shopping and things I avoid. Follow at your own risk!
Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Avoid:

Phthalates (also called “Fragrance” in ingredients list)

Plastic

Trans fats (partially- or fully hydrogenated oils)

Soy or canola oil with unlisted source (likely GMO)

non-organic corn (GMO)

high fructose corn syrup

corn syrup

leather (when possible)

PVC (leaches phthalates/endocrine disruptors)

Single use items

Unpronounceable ingredients

 

Prefer:

Fair trade (better)

Purchase benefits a marginalized group (best)

Recyclable (better)

Reusable/refillable (best)

Small business

Workforce responsibility

Organic

Certified non-GMO

Handmade

 

That’s my short lists for now — have I left anything out that you look for or avoid? I’d love to hear your additions!

Get started with clean eating: Superwoman Detox Giveaway!

I get a lot of questions about how to get started eating more “cleanly”. Personally, I abide by the 80/20 rule of eating clean 80% of the time and eating not as cleanly 20% of the time or less. I don’t go overboard or eat junk during that 20%, but sometimes when I got to restaurants, for example, I don’t know exactly what oils they used to cook their food and I can’t guarantee that the produce is organic or non-GMO. I let those instances fall under the 20% of less-than-clean-eating.

However, if you are new to clean eating, you might only be eating cleanly 20% of the time and are looking for a way to get that percentage higher without your head exploding from too much information and without agonizing over what to buy at the grocery store. I have a solution for you! And you’ll be helping a friend of mine expand her health-focused and woman-owned small business at the same time.

I’m so excited to be teaming up with Kristen over at MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life and some of my favorite bloggers to give YOU the chance to reclaim your inner Superwoman (or man) and WIN a coveted spot in The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women (a $347 value!) – (affiliate link)! Read all about it here.

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This is NOT your average detox. The Superwoman Slim Down is a fully-supported “done-for you” 21 day 100% REAL FOOD, hunger-free program led by experienced registered nurse, certified health and wellness coach, and certified specialist in fitness nutrition, Kristen Boucher! She will teach you step-by-step how to feel better than you ever imagined in your own skin, while eating delicious, nutrient-dense, metabolism-boosting foods and (finally) making your health a priority!

Superwoman Whats Included

Included in the program:

  • Three recorded training calls with Kristen to listen to at your convenience delivered over three weeks so that you are updated each week with what to do next  ($300 value)

  • Sample Menu Plans complete with 3 meals per day & list of snacks that you can eat to keep the hunger at bay ($100 value)

  • Preparation Checklist with a list of suggested items to have in your fridge, pantry, and home to follow the plan ($100 value)

  • Recipes For Radiance Cookbook which includes over 75 delicious, whole food recipes outlined in the Menu Plan ($50 value)

  • Detailed Detox Guidebook with all the info and resources you’ll need and then some ($100 value)

  • Workbook and personal assessment guide that will serve to show you how far you’ve come once you complete the program and help you to play detective to learn if you have any food allergies or sensitivities ($50 value)

  • Cooking and Food Preparation Tips and Tools Guide ($10 value)

  • Toxin Reduction Tips and Tools Guide ($10 value)

  • Meal Planning and Shopping List Fun Sheets ($10 value)

  • A 4-Week Detox Calendar laying out every step of the program, what to, and when to do it ($10 value)

  • Email support during the cleanse ($100 value)

  • Lifetime access to all materials, including updates for future programs ($100 value)

  • Bonus #1: Private Facebook community available to you 24/7 that is moderated by Kristen to ask questions (and get answers), share your insights, challenges, and experiences, and make a few new friends along the way ($100 value)
  • Bonus #2: Exclusive 3-video “Yoga Detox” series created exclusively for the Superwoman Slim Down by Be Yoga ($100 value)

 

Check out what these former Superwomen have to say about it here.

You can purchase this program at any time using this link (affiliate link, which I’ll be placing in the right sidebar), or you can enter to win it for FREE below!

Giveaway Details

One winner will receive FREE ACCESS to The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women (a $347 value) (affiliate link).

How to enter the giveaway:

1. Sign up for the MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life email newsletter.
2. Like MIX | wellness solutions for balanced life on Facebook.
3. Use Rafflecopter (below) to log your entries and unlock bonus entries.

***Be sure to visit all the blogs responsible for this giveaway to unlock more chances to win!***

The Crunchy Moose
Good Girl Gone Green
Kula Mama
Overthrow Martha
Life Sanity
Loula Natural
Homegrown & Healthy
Refocus On Being
Happy Healthnut
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The Healthy Honeys
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The Fine Print

The giveaway ends at midnight ET, June 30, 2014. I will announce the lucky winner on July 1, 2014. Once contacted, the lucky winner will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name and email address. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to everyone except where prohibited by law.

Packing with food intolerances

Packing for kids with food intolerances | Conscientious Confusion

Even though we are light years away from where we started on our journey with our naturopath for my son’s food intolerances, his body continues to attack certain foods and have trouble absorbing the nutrients from common foods. We’ve also had to do a lot of travel recently, and often spontaneously. I think this is the third time in two months that I’ve packed all our gear with less than a day’s notice. That sounds like a lot of time, but not when you consider that I wasn’t able to stop any of our previous social engagements/school/playgroups.

So, because I was packing again when I wrote this, here’s a list of the things we typically bring for our dairy free, gluten free boy:

  • shelf stable coconut milk or almond milk
  • gluten free snacks
  • dried fruit
  • squeezy food like these or these  (affiliate links & I know disposable is bad but we are looking to have to refrigerate as little as possible and if we use our Squooshi pouches, we have to refrigerate them)
  • peanuts
  • our homemade low-gluten bread (I use our wheat bread recipe but substitute part gluten-free flour)
  • probiotics (we all use these – affiliate link)
  • digestive enzymes (he uses these and I use these – both affiliate links)
  • cultured coconut milk yogurt (example here)
  • liquid vitamins, since he doesn’t absorb nutrients from the chewables (we use this one – affiliate link)

Aside from clothes and bathroom essentials, these are the things I throw into bags and insulated coolers when we travel. Piece of cake, right? (um, wait, we can’t really have cake regularly…)

How do you pack healthy easy snacks for your allergic or food intolerant family members?

#LunchChallenge: don’t forget to eat!

Did you know that skipping a meal is one of the best ways to derail your healthy eating plan? You might think that skipping a meal will save you on calories for the day and thereby assist in your quest to eat moderately, but in fact it does the opposite. Your body needs a steady stream of energy to keep on going, with 5 small meals being even more beneficial to a steadily burning metabolism than 3 large ones. The gaps of time when your body runs out of fuel creates a dip in your blood sugar and sends all kinds of signals throughout your body to put some more fuel in there! You might make it 1, 2, or even 5 hours past your normal meal time without eating but then everything in sight starts looking DELICIOUS. That super sugary treat that you can resist when your stomach is full suddenly looks much more amazing when you haven’t eaten in 5 hours. Your stomach is growling so you give in and…you have 10 of them! Derailed eating plan. Instead of several healthy groups of things throughout the day, you ate 2 healthy meals, a bag of powdered sugar donuts, a sleeve of potato chips, and a sugary drink. More calories with less protein and nutrients. With a bonus of post-sugar crash and gastrointestinal distress. Whee!

I do this: I inadvertently skip lunch. The kids and I are out and about in the mornings, then head home or we eat a pre-packed lunch wherever we are to be finished before naptime hits. I always pack their lunch and neglect to pack anything for me. Since naptime is frequently the only time I have to shower, I get busy showering, checking blogs/social media/answering email, doing laundry, falling asleep, etc. and before I know it one of them is awake and I never ate lunch. I’m starving but I can’t eat in front of them because that triggers a huge snack fest for them 2 hours before dinner time, which somehow results in no one eating any dinner. The only thing I can do is run into the kitchen when no one is looking and cram random snack food into my mouth. Fortunately, we don’t actually keep true junk food around the house so I’m not eating candy and the chips are baked organic ones with flax seeds, but these are not great substitutes for a meal.

#LunchChallenge: remember to eat

Enter the #LunchChallenge. Casey started this at some point a few months ago… I can’t remember exactly when, maybe before BlogHer? Anyway, she was Instagramming/tweeting pictures of what she would have for lunch with the hashtag #lunchchallenge. I jumped on the bandwagon basically as accountability. I need to be able to make sure I am actually preparing food for myself at lunch and eating it, and not just a handful of tortilla chips and salsa or the crusts that I cut off of LL’s sandwich. Actual FOOD.

We’d love for everyone to join us! Help keep us all accountable for eating — whether you want to remind yourself to eat healthfully or just eat AT ALL (I’m in the “I need to eat at all, regardless of the healthiness” boat). Take a picture of what you’re eating and tag it with #lunchchallenge! Let’s do it, oh, through the end of the month, maybe? Feel free to grab the graphic above for your blog if you want to reblog!