Wednesday, April 29, 2009
There's not much in this world I love more than the combination of cheese (preferably melted) and carbs.... pizza, pasta, burritos, enchiladas, sandwiches, cheese plates, you name it. The possibilities are endless. Now that I'm pregnant I'm craving this combo more than ever and am always seeking out new combinations.
So imagine my excitement when my friend Tara emailed me about a delicious grilled cheese sandwich she's currently obsessed with. We've had enough conversations about food (is there anything better to talk about in this world?) that she knew I'd love it. She discovered it at the new Oddfellows Cafe in Seattle, then re-created it at home. I made it tonight and it was deeeeeeeeeelicious. Can't wait to make it again.
Great Twist on a Grilled Cheese
1 yellow onion, sliced and caramelized ahead of time
Apricot jam or preserves
Gruyere cheese - I used a Swiss Gruyere and Gruyere Emmi Kaltbach (cave aged). I just got the two they had at my local grocery store.
Good bread - I used Pain au Levain from Tall Grass Bakery, a sourdough/wheat mix
Butter the outside of your bread. Spread jam on the insides of each piece. Top one piece of bread, jam side up, with caramelized onions, gruyere, and a few dollops of goat cheese. Top with the other piece of bread and grill as you would a normal grilled cheese (in a pan or on a panini grill).
* Tara used cheddar and port salute cheese and said it was great so whatever you've got would work.
You will never guess what I served with our sandwiches. Or maybe you have figured out by now how crazy I am....
This is a great spring/summer dinner when the halibut is so fresh and you want a quick homemade meal. Harvest season for halibut is March to October.
Halibut with Pesto and an Arugula Salad
Buy some fresh halibut fillets. Rub a little olive oil on them, sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil in a baking pan in the oven for 3-6 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove and sprinkle with a touch of fresh lemon juice. Top with a great store-bought pesto.
Make the arugula salad while you broil the fish. Use the same recipe as Tuesday's post, or just toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh shaved parmesan.
Of course I also threw some asparagus under the broiler while I was finishing up the fish. Can't get enough. I love this dinner and it's super easy.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
These Cupcake Bakery Box Sets from Etsy are a great thing to have if you're taking cupcakes for dessert or as a hostess gift or treat for a friend. I would love to give or receive (hint hint) a little package like this on my doorstep one day. (via Simple Lovely)
I saw these striped cupcake liners on Party Perfect and thought they would be cute for birthday party cupcakes. So much better than the plain ones from the grocery store. Sold on Etsy. (You gotta love Etsy!)
I think these cupcake toppers are so cute and different. You could probably make some homemade ones with these as inspiration. (via Party Perfect)
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces *
3 or 4 lemons, juiced
¼ olive oil
2 t dried oregano
2-3 T fresh oregano, minced
½ t garlic salt
Salt and pepper
In the morning
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl or ziploc bag and let marinate all day (stirring or shaking up from time to time if you think about it).
In the evening
Soak skewers in water for 20 minutes so they don’t burn on the grill. Put chicken pieces on skewers and grill on the BBQ for 10-15 minutes.
* You can ask the guys at the meat counter if they will cut up the chicken for you. If they aren’t too busy they're generally happy to do it. It saves time and I also hate working with raw chicken so it's a nice way around it.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
My friend Whitney is a great resource for easy, good food. She has a really laid back approach to cooking and rarely measures anything out. She is the mastermind behind the lentil soup with chorizo. She just whipped that up one day with whatever she had in the house and now it is one of my all-time favorite soups.
The other night she invited me over for dinner and I quickly accepted. She made BBQ chicken with a delicious homemade sauce. It wasn't your typical super-sweet BBQ sauce and it had a nice zing to it (from the Worcestershire sauce I imagine). She served it with baked beans and brown rice. I brought my favorite salad along and it was a perfect dinner.
Being the crazy person that I am, I made it for my family a few days later and we had leftovers the following night too. The beauty of this dinner is that in the time it takes you to cook the brown rice, you can make the marinade, BBQ the chicken, heat the beans and even roast some asparagus. Four courses in 45 minutes. This dinner is a keeper.
I used three chicken breasts and made two batches of the sauce - one for the chicken and one to use for drizzling. When it comes to sauce, my motto is "better too much than too little".
BBQ Chicken Dinner2 T olive oil
1/2 cup red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup A1 steak sauce
1 1/2 T Worcestershire
1 t sage
1 t ground pepper
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add wine, ketchup, A1, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes. Pour all but a small amount over chicken and let sit for 5 minutes. BBQ chicken on the grill. When you flip the chicken, slather it with more sauce. Drizzle the extra sauce (not the sauce that touched the raw chicken) over rice or the chicken.
Serve with baked beans, brown rice, a grilled veggie or green salad.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Blabla's collection is designed by Florence Wetterwald and knitted by Peruvian artisans.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The other night I was craving something light and fresh for dinner. A crisp cold salad was just the thing to capture my heart. I made the most delicious chicken caesar for dinner and had extra fixings for the next two day's lunches.
Next you can get a head or two of romaine and get it all prepped and ready (washed, spun and ripped up, then store in large Ziploc bags with paper towels to pull the moisture). I like to prep it the day I buy it and then it's ready to go when you need it.
I always drizzle my caesars with fresh lemon juice and freshly ground pepper. It makes a store-bought dressing taste better. Also toss with some freshly grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I've been buying arugula at the farmers market the last few weeks and it is one of my most favorite things to eat. I just love the uniquie and peppery flavor. It's great in a salad, on sandwiches, burgers or pizzas, with chicken paillard, with steak or beef carpaccio (one of my favorite things on earth) or you can even make arugula pesto with it. So many options.
I especially like to toss arugula with olive oil, lemon juice, freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and pepper for a quick salad. It's so easy and good. Here are a few of my other favorite ways to eat this delicious little leaf.
My friend Lynne found this great recipe for Grilled Halibut with Pesto & Arugula that is great. When halibut is in season and fresh I will make this a lot for a super quick dinner. You can make the pesto or buy a great pre-made one at the store. I like to serve the arugula on the side as described above. Great dinner in under 30 minutes.
I love Ina's Lemon Fusilli with Arugula. It's a great pasta salad to serve for dinner in the summer or as a side dish for an outdoor BBQ or casual dinner gathering.
Here are two more great salads:
My friend Ann
Arugula (enough for base of salad)
Buffalo mozzarella, small balls cut into bite size pieces
Hearts of palm, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
½ t fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 T shallot, finely chopped or pressed through garlic press
Salt and pepper
1 t Dijon
2 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
salt & pepper
Arugula & Health (from Food & Wine)
Arugula looks like a kind of lettuce, but it is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower. Like its cousins, it has many of the same potent health benefits. Arugula is rich in phytonutrients, which may reduce the risk of several kinds of cancer, including breast, stomach and colon. It also contains small but helpful quantities of other compounds: One cup delivers 5 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 3 percent of the RDA for calcium—and contains just 5 calories.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My friend Lynne and I are always wondering what the difference is between stock and broth. Now that I've entered the club of people crazy enough to stock their freezer full of it, I figured I should know which one I made. So I did a little googling and the difference has to do with whether you use meat or just the bones. The term "broth" defines liquid made by boiling meat while the term "stock" defines liquid made by boiling bones or inedible parts. Vegetables can be used in both to enhance the flavor of the liquid. Generally you can substitute one for the other but broth is said to taste better if served on it's own.
My friend Jen told me that Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook had a similar definition:
"Though the terms that describe stocks are sometimes used interchangeably, the distinctions are useful to understand as you start to cook. A stock (with the exception of vegetable stock) is made of water simmered with bones. The meat on them provides flavor while the bones, and the gelatinous connective tissue between them, slowly break down and add body to the liquid. A broth, on the other hand, is usually made with just meat (or bone-in meat, such as a whole chicken) and/or vegetables; it is typically lighter bodied and served on it's own."
Well there ya have it... I made broth.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
After dinner we switched the kitchen over to a build-your-own banana split bar. The girls were even more excited to make those and the adults enjoyed the finished product just as much. I can't remember the last time I had a banana split and I'm not sure why I'm not eating them more often (except for the obvious reasons). It was delicious. Really, what's not to love about banana topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce, spanish peanuts and whipped cream?
I got my hands on some Mama Lil's Peppers and they are the topping of choice in our house now. I did a version with the peppers and goat cheese. YUM! It's also great with sausage, olives, and mushrooms. My husband and I are crazy for the spicy peppers.
We had tons of extra toppings so we did pizza night again tonight. I still have some great toppings so we will be using leftover english muffins (from our mcmuffin breakfast) to make pizzas for lunch one day this week. As long as we're spending top dollar for groceries these days, you need to be resourceful in using them all. I used to be really wasteful with food and I've done a 180 for so many reasons. So, english muffin pizzas it is. I always loved them growing up so we'll see how they turn out.
Asparagus is definitely my favorite vegetable so I get really excited this time of year. It's asparagus season. Yay!
I loved reading the chapter devoted to asparagus in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It made me all the more excited for asparagus season this year. I've been getting some from California the last two weeks at the grocery store and I can't wait to get my hands on some local asparagus at the farmers market.
Selection: Look for spears with tight buds and smooth skin. Asparagus should not be withered, brown or limp. Smaller spears are especially tender.
Storage and handling: Store asparagus upright with water at its base for 2-3 days in the coolest part of the refrigerator. Rinse well before using, especially around the scales.
Preparation: Snap the stems where they naturally break to remove the woody bottom portion.
When asparagus is in season and tasting great, you really don't need to do much to it. Toss with a little olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and throw it in the oven or on the grill and it always turns out great. It is also great with a lemon sauce or dressing, balsamic vinegar or hollandaise sauce drizzled over the top.
Here are two of my favorite asparagus recipes that I learned from my uncle and mother-in-law, respectively. Both are fabulous.
Asparagus with Soy Sauce & Butter
1 bunch asparagus
2 T butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds
Blanche asparagus in a pot of salted boiling water for one minute. Drain and place asparagus in a large ice bath to cool down. The blanching can be done ahead of time if necessary. Heat butter and soy sauce in a medium saute pan. Add asparagus and cook for a few minutes tossing to coat each spear with the sauce. Be careful not to overcook asparagus. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
1 c mayonnaise
4 t soy sauce
2 t wasabi (from tube)
1½ t sugar
2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 bunch asparagus
Boil water and cook asparagus for 2 minutes. Let cool. Mix other ingredients together to make dip. Serve asparagus cold or room temp with sauce.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I really can't discuss good food items without having to track it down or fix it within days, if not hours. (I'm like this even when I'm not pregnant!) At a children's play group on Friday my friends and I were talking about fried egg sandwiches and homemade egg mc-muffins so no surprise that I ran to the store last night for all the ingredients and made them this morning. Homemade ones are so quick and easy.
What you need:
English muffins, toasted
Eggs, cooked over-medium or fried
Canadian bacon, warmed
Cheddar cheese, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced canadian bacon on a cookie sheet and top with cheddar cheese slices. Throw the cookie sheet in the oven while you cook the eggs and toast the muffins. Everything is ready to assemble within minutes. I like to put mustard and mayo on mine. I know that may seem weird to some people, but once you try it it's hard to eat it any other way.
Friday, April 10, 2009
- It has little suction cups on the bottom that help it to stick to the table really well.
- It's made with FDA compliant materials - no lead, PVC, BPA, phthalates or latex.
- It's durable and washable.
- It has a little lip on the edge to catch food that falls to prevent everything from landing in their lap.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I pulled this recipe for Aloha Oatmeal out of Sunset magazine in January. I made it this morning and it was delicious. Everything in it is really good for you too! My daughter even gobbled it up which surprised me. I thought the coconut and almonds might scare her off.
I made extra of everything this morning so tomorrow's breakfast will be ready as quickly as I can re-heat the oatmeal and add the toppings.
On another note, I'm horrible about drinking water. When I was in college I could go days without taking a sip (so bad for you!). I still struggle to get enough so I put some pieces of the chopped pineapple in a large pitcher of water and let is sit for several hours yesterday. It was so much better than plain water and I drank the whole thing. I made another batch for today and am excited about my new strategy to hydrate. When I'm sick of the pineapple I might try orange slices or cucumber.
Oatmeal (recipe calls for Irish Oats but I used regular oatmeal)
Raisins (recipe calls for golden raisins but I used regular)
Sliced almonds, toasted
Coconut, toasted (recipe calls for sweetened but all I had was unsweetened)
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
- Grains: Mostly whole; include rice, cornmeal and whole-grain flours. Once you figure out which grains you like, buy them in bulk and keep some in the cupboard and some in the freezer.
- Beans: Choose an assortment of dried beans, but not more than you can use in a few months. Canned are fine but more expensive with less selection, and do not taste as good.
- Olive oil: Your go-to oil, extra-virgin in almost every case. Country of origin does not matter; price does. The $10-a-liter stuff is perfectly fine.
- Other oils: Something neutral for cooking Asian-style dishes or pan frying at high heat, such as grapeseed, sunflower or peanut. The key is minimally processed, high-quality, cold-pressed oil, when possible.
- Staple vegetables and fruits: These include much-used seasoning varieties, such as onions and garlic; frozen vegetables including spinach, peas and corn; and fresh vegetables, which you have to buy at least a couple of times a week. Long keepers such as carrots, potatoes, celery, lemons and limes can be replenished as you use them.
- Fresh herbs: Something as simple as parsley can make all the difference in a dish; almost all herbs, especially basil and mint. Dill, rosemary, thyme and cilantro are great to have around too.
- Spices: As varied an assortment as your space and budget will allow.
- Vinegar: Bittman thinks sherry vinegar is the best value because it is the most versatile; balsamic is more popular but sweeter. Well-made red and white wine vinegar are good.
- Dried fruits and nuts: For snacking and cooking, plus sesame and sunflower seeds and nut butters.
- Meat, dairy and cheese (mostly for flavoring, used sparingly): Parmesan, bacon, butter and eggs.
- Canned tomatoes: Plum tomatoes are best; chopped tomatoes make life easier. Avoid those with additives.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
GOOP - Nourish the Inner Aspect
A couple of years ago I was asked to give a quote for a book concerning environmental toxins and their effects on our children. While I was reading up on the subject, I was seized with fear about what the research said. Fetuses, infants and toddlers are basically unable to metabolize toxins the way that adults are and we are constantly filling our environments with chemicals that may or may not be safe. The research is troubling; the incidence of diseases in children such as asthma, cancer and autism have shot up exponentially and many children we all know and love have been diagnosed with developmental issues like ADHD. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but perhaps we can do things to reduce illness in our children and ourselves. Below you will find some of the most prevalent facts and also easy, affordable ways to reduce exposure to substances which may be harming us.
Chemicals in Everyday Products and Children’s Health:
A Small Dose of the Facts
By Philip J. Landrigan, MD
Our children are our future. Our sacred responsibility as parents, grandparents and elders in society is to do all that we can to protect our children’s health, to ensure they reach their full potential and to empower them to be happy, productive and caring individuals.
But the reality is that patterns of illness in children have changed dramatically in the past century. Ancient infectious diseases such as polio, cholera, measles and malaria, have largely been controlled in the United States. The major diseases now confronting our children are chronic and disabling conditions:
- Asthma incidence has nearly tripled in the past three decades. It is the leading reason children are admitted to hospitals and the leading cause of school absenteeism.
- Cancer, after injuries, is the leading killer of children in the United States.
- Leukemia and Primary Brain Cancer have increased in incidence – brain cancer by nearly 40 percent in the past three decades.
- Developmental Disabilities are now commonplace, with ADHD, dyslexia, other learning disabilities and mental retardation affecting one of every six American children.
- Birth Defects such as hypospadias, a birth defect of the reproductive organs in baby boys, have doubled.
- Autism is now diagnosed in one in every 150 American children.
- Childhood Obesity has quadrupled in the past ten years.
- Type 2 Diabetes, previously unknown among children, is becoming epidemic.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To me, as a pediatrician and epidemiologist, these increases in the rates of chronic disease in our children are a stark warning that something is going very wrong. Many toxic chemicals are known to contribute to these diseases. They deserve special attention because most are preventable sources of harm. Children are at risk of exposure to 80,000 chemicals, 3,000 of which are high-production-volume synthetic chemicals produced in excess of one million pounds per year. Nearly all of these are new chemicals developed in the past 50 years and never before seen on the face of planet earth. These chemicals are used widely in consumer and household goods like personal care products, cleaning supplies, pesticides, paints, toys, home furnishings, carpeting and electronics. Most disturbing to me as a doctor is that nearly 80 percent of these chemicals have never been tested for toxicity or examined for their potential to damage children’s health.
We must understand an important fact: Children are especially sensitive to environmental toxins. They are much more vulnerable to toxic chemicals than adults.
- Pound for pound of body weight, children have greater exposure to chemicals because they drink more water, eat more food and breathe more air than adults.
- Children’s unique behaviors put them at higher risk. They live and play close to the floor; and they constantly put their fingers into their mouths.
- Children’s metabolic pathways, especially in the first months after birth are immature. Generally they are less able to metabolize, detoxify and excrete toxicants than adults and thus are more vulnerable to them.
- Children are undergoing rapid growth and development, and their developmental processes are easily disrupted. From conception and throughout fetal development, toxic exposures can cause permanent impacts.
- Since children have more years ahead of them than most adults, they have more time to develop chronic diseases that may be triggered by early and repeated exposures.
In addition, we’ve learned that if a young child who is still developing (unlike an older child or an adult) is exposed to toxins like lead or pesticides during a critical early window of development, this exposure can affect their health for years to come. In fact, many prenatal exposures have a larger impact on the health of a fetus than on the health of the mother.
The growing brain is an organ that is especially sensitive to toxins. Scientists are also extremely concerned about the newest animal research which suggests that chemicals can alter gene expression in cells throughout the body. In essence, repeated chemical exposures during early development can change how genes function and subsequently increase the likelihood of disease. Suspicion is rising that toxic exposures during moments of heightened susceptibility in early life can cause disease and disability in childhood and possibly contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease later in life. Tests for developmental effects are not routinely required before a chemical is used in everyday products.
What can you do to protect yourself and your children? My advice is that you take simple steps to reduce your exposures to toxins and chemicals in the environment, and that you work together with other parents in your communities to push for safer alternatives where your children live, eat and play!
Dr. Philip J. Landrigan is a pediatrician and the Ethel Wise Professor, Chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine; Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is a Founding Board Member of Healthy Child Healthy World.
Top 10 Easy and Affordable Steps to Creating a Healthier and Nontoxic Life
By Christopher Gavigan
It’s hard to get those recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Five days of exercise would be the greatest luxury. Your leisure reading pile consists of books like Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny. But your sacrifice is for the best smile and hug in the world – from your child. Welcome to parenthood.
Yet, we are a new generation of parents. We strap helmets on our kids as they skateboard and bike, we strain our necks putting on outlet covers, but there are new realities when it comes to keeping your children safe and healthy. Parents are beginning to understand that protection from harmful chemicals in everyday products is equally important. For example: hormone disruptors in baby bottles, toxins in cleaning products and pesticides on strawberries. The good news is that you can do something today about these chemical hazards in your homes, and be, as my grandmother often said, “better safe than sorry.” There are many easy nontoxic solutions and precautionary measures (like that bike helmet) to prevent harm and ensure a safer, cleaner and healthier future for your children.
And remember, no one can do everything but you can do something. Your children, your family and your planet will all thank you.
1. Eat intelligently. Organic foods are the best investment you can make for your child’s health. They can be more nutritious, sourced closer to home and are typically in season, but can cost a bit more. Prioritize wisely. Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene recommends purchasing varieties of these organic foods in order to most effectively reduce chemical exposures: milk, potatoes, peanut butter, baby foods, ketchup, apples, beef, soy and corn.
2. Drink plenty of pure water. Bottled water is completely passé. It’s overpriced, unsustainably overpackaged, and not necessarily cleaner than regular tap water. Invest in a water filter (a simple pitcher option is fine) and a reusable stainless steel water bottle. Over time you’ll really see a big savings, plus you’ll be keeping countless plastic bottles out of landfills and oceans.
3. Embrace natural beauty. Ever read the chemical ingredients list on your shampoo or lotion? Not an easy task. Sixty percent of what goes on the skin is absorb into the body – so avoiding chemicals here is super important, especially for pregnant moms. You will reduce your family’s chemical exposure by opting for products made with natural and organic ingredients, like those from Care (Stella McCartney), California Baby, Perfect Organics, Aveda or Dr. Hauschka. Or you can even make your own! For a rich body moisturizer, combine ½ cup coconut oil with a ¼ cup cocoa butter and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Protect your baby’s skin with a little olive oil, which also prevents rashes on his bum. At the first signs of redness, bathe your baby in warm water with a little baking soda or apply a small amount of aloe vera gel.
4. Detox your nest. Home cleaning products often have harsh chemical ingredients that require words like “warning” or “danger” on the label - totally at odds with maintaining a healthy home. Safely opt for effective, nontoxic cleaning products for laundry, surface, dish and bath – many are no more expensive than their conventional counterparts. I’m a fan of 7th Generation. Or go old school and clean the way our grandparents did with common kitchen ingredients. Baking soda is great for scouring. White vinegar diluted with water magically cleans windows and countertops (killing bacteria and odors, as well). The acid in lemon juice fights grease and mineral scum.
5. Breathe clean air. Many people associate the smell of bleach or synthetic air fresheners with cleanliness. But, the smell of clean is actually scent-free. According to the U.S. EPA, indoor air is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. In addition to using nontoxic cleaning products, just opening your windows for a few minutes every day to let in some fresh air will do wonders. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filtered vacuum. Growing houseplants also helps filter and detoxify your air while bringing a bit of the outdoors in. Turn on the exhaust fan or open the window when showering and cooking at the stovetop with gas. Remember to clean and replace your heating and AC filters regularly – these trap the germs and chemicals you don’t want recirculated in your home.
6. Take playtime back to the basics. Having a child shouldn’t mean turning your whole house into a toy box. Kids are better off without piles of plastic play things, battery powered gizmos and all sorts of complicated gadgets that profess to make them smarter. Simplicity is better for your child’s imagination, intellect and health – and, yes, much better for the planet. Stick to toys made from natural materials like solid wood and organic textiles, and opt for nontoxic art supplies and recycled paper. Use items you already own as playthings, like cookware drums or sock puppets, and visit our website (www.healthychild.org) for a quick video on how to make homemade play dough.
7. Ban bugs and whack weeds using common sense instead of chemicals. Pesticides are harsh poisons designed to kill rodents, bugs and weeds. Pesticide residues can end up on your grass, in your home and eventually on your child’s hands (which every parent knows will end up in his or her mouth). Prevent pests by keeping your home clean and removing their source of food. Distilled white vinegar will eliminate any weed. Be sure to wipe your feet on a doormat, or better yet, remove your shoes at the door to prevent tracking in dirt, dust, grime and other contaminants like lead or pesticides (and clean less!).
8. Go on a diet. I don’t mean cutting calories, but rather a diet from stuff. Reduce consumption. In the US, 90 percent of purchases end up in the trash within six months. We’re all familiar with the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” and while most people have embraced recycling, reducing is the first and best step. And it means saving money. You will also reduce your children’s exposure to unnecessary chemicals, consume less of the earth’s resources, and decrease the amount of pollution generated by manufacturing and disposing of all the stuff your family uses. Convert the money you save from scaling back on the purchases toward investments in the higher ticket green items like organic food, sustainable clothing and healthy furnishings.
9. Reuse, reclaim, repurpose, recreate, rethink. In the same vein as above, consider buying the things you need from secondhand stores, designer consignment shops, Craigslist, Etsy and eBay. You can host your own “swap your swag” night with your friends, or look for items on FreeCycle or similar swapping services. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, right? Give something old a new look with organic textiles or no-VOC paints and stains. For older children’s items, look into the latest safety standards and recalls at CPSC.gov.
10. Spread the word. Now that you have some information, inspire and empower others in your tribe. They will appreciate the information if you offer it as a good friend and parental ally. And if you are like me – unrelentingly self-critical – give yourself a break and know that each small step will help your family.
For a complete parenting and lifestyle guide, get the new paperback on Amazon today: Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home
Christopher Gavigan is the author of Healthy Child Healthy World and CEO / Executive Director of the nonprofit of the same name: www.healthychild.org.
Q and A with Jesse Johnson
Jesse Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of Q Collection Junior, an eco-friendly and nontoxic line of baby bedding and furniture.
GP: What is the ethos of Q collection Junior?
JJ: The ethos of Q Collection Junior is simple – in every thing we do and make, we are focused on three things:
- Our children: Most baby furniture and bedding are made with paint, glues, wood and cotton that give off toxic fumes and contain harmful chemicals. Our materials don’t do either and are the only ones certified to ensure that your baby’s room will be free of indoor air pollution.
- Our communities: Our furniture is handmade in the USA. That means we’re creating jobs for people right here at home.
- Our planet: Just because your baby will be done with the crib one day doesn’t mean our planet will be. That’s why we use only biodegradable materials and packaging. And all of the wood for our furniture comes from within 150 miles of our factories. Using local wood helps protect our forests and climate by reducing our carbon footprint.
GP: How did you come up with the idea?
JJ: We started Q Collection in 2002 as a collection of adult furniture and textiles. It didn’t take long before parents started calling us asking if we also made children’s furniture and bedding.
At the same time, my wife was pregnant and we were looking around for nursery furniture. I was incredibly surprised to see what a striking lack of choice existed. If you were looking for great design, USA-made quality and ALSO nontoxic, healthy options you were out of luck.
GP: How important is it to have toxin free furniture and organic bedding?
JJ: Infants and small children spend the majority of their hours sleeping in a crib or bed.
Indoor air pollution is a growing concern for infants. The EPA names it as a top five area of concern and states that indoor air quality is three times worse than outdoor air quality. Home furnishings are always near the top of the list items of contributing to indoor air pollution, along with paints, cleaning materials, carpeting, etc.
There are also material toxicity concerns surrounding children chewing on crib rails and sleeping on certain types of bedding. In everything we design and sell, we have completely eliminated problematic materials that are commonly found in furniture and bedding including formaldehyde, brominated flame retardants, polyurethane, etc.
For more information visit www.qcollectionjunior.com.