Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dirty Dozen Update

The Environmental Working Group has come out with an updated list of the "dirty dozen."

I will be using this as a guide to by organic when I can, and which fruit and veggies I can cheat on.  This helps my grocery budget and helps me with my baby steps towards all organic!

Click here to download the .pdf list.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chemistry 101: Reading Product Labels

One of the keys to living my simpler, cleaner, greener life is to use products that are simple and clean on my body.

I have recently been on a search for "healthier" products to use on my skin. (Healthier also read: NOT expensive)  For instance, I love my face wash.  I've used the same product for the last 5 or so years.  It boasts of being "oil-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic."  These all seem like great things to me!  Recently I've heard chatter about how certain ingredients in skin care products can alter hormones (which doesn't sound like a great thing...).

Today, I watched a video on, where Sophie breaks down what to look for on the back of the bottle.  You can watch the video here.  The abbreviated version:

She says to look for three ingredients:
1. "parabens" (also look for methelparaben, etc.)
2. "PEG" (usually PEG with a number)
3. "fragrance" (loop hole word for ingredients that don't have to be disclosed)

So of course, I went to my face wash and found ALL THREE of these ingredients in them!

After a short lived freak out, I decided to do my own research and present to you, my audience, both sides of the story...

1. According to the FDA, they have tested the dangers of parabens and found no significant danger.  This is because the instances of harm where a very small percentage.  You can read about it here.

2. PEGs are used in many products for emulsifying and stabilizing.  Over at Truth In Skincare, Dr. David points out that there is no conclusive evidence either way, to show PEGs are harmful (in the concentrations found in skincare and other products).

3. While I think that trademarks and trade secrets should be respected, it worries me that I might not know everything I'm putting on my skin.

My Conclusion:  It's better to be safe, than sorry!

I will continue to use my face wash, while I look for a successful formula that has ingredients that I understand.  A renewing theme I am starting to find with living a greener life is that I must know what I am putting in my body and on my skin.  Knowledge is power!  I would rather use a product that has no controversial ingredients than one that seems like a chemistry experiment!

What do you think about it?  I want to know your thoughts!  What products do you use?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Granola Trials (continued)

After I baked all of my granola samples, I did a taste test and nutritional comparison.  Below are my findings!  (Excuse me while I play scientist!)

OH! I forgot to mention in my last post that I did NOT make the full recipe!  I quartered the recipe so that it made closer to 1 cup than 6 cups!

Next, I used Calorie Count's Recipe Analyser to figure out the nutritional value on my granola samples.  Here's what I found:

I can't decide which granola should win, because 2,3, and 4 were so tasty!  I believe I will start with what appears to be my healthiest option:  The Six Mile Granola!  I left out the dried fruit and coconut, and it was still delicious.

Granola is so easy to make.  Just mix the ingredients and bake on a sheet!  Will you try one of these?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Granola Trials

I love granola!  I eat it almost every day in my yogurt as breakfast, or as a snack in the afternoon.  I've been meaning to experiment with making my own.  I chose 4 recipes that I found on  I made a sample of each, and did a taste test and nutritional comparison.

Here is my test kitchen:

From White Girl Gone Green

Here are my recipes:

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup flax seed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
5 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup canola oil

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees with rack in center. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, flax seed, cinnamon, ginger, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. In a small bowl, combine molasses, oil, and 1/3 cup water, and pour over the oat mixture; stir until well coated. Spread evenly in two baking pans.
  2. Bake, stirring every 20 minutes or so for even cooking, until dry and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Let granola cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried cherries, raisins, or other dried fruit, halved or chopped if large (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by- 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Add oats, wheat germ, and walnuts, stirring to combine. Bake until oats are lightly toasted, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, stir together apple juice, sugar, and oil. Pour over oat mixture; stir to combine. Return to oven, and bake until oats are crisp, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  3. Cool in pan, about 25 minutes (toss with cherries, if desired). Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid.
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together oats, pecans, almonds, salt, vegetable oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. Spread oat mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool completely.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup brown-rice syrup or honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup bran
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw almonds
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup golden raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 250. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add sugar, and cook until melted. Stir in brown-rice syrup or honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and water. Add remaining ingredients, except dried fruits, and toss. Arrange in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry, about 1 1/2 hours. Let cool on sheets. Transfer to a bowl, and add dried fruits. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Stay tuned for the results!

From White Girl Gone Green