Monday, November 24, 2008

BPA-free Pumpkin Pie

Want to cut back on BPA? It's simple. Use fresh not canned foods and avoid the BPA in their linings. According to Consumer Reports' December 2009 issue, almost all samples of the 19 name-brand foods tested contained some BPA. .The secret to making BPA-free pumpkin pie is a simple one: Don't use pumpkin or milk from metal cans, which are lined with resin containing the estrogenic, toxic chemical. See watchdog group EWG's good summary of BPA findings.
For the pumpkin puree, you can make your own. While Halloween pumpkins go for jack o'lantern size, yfor a pie you want a sweet, tender little sugar pumpkin or acorn or kabocha squash. Pick your own and work up an appetite. You can easily find the pumpkin farm or farmers' market nearest you at Local Harvest.
Want something quicker in a time-pressed pinch? Stock your larder with pumpkin puree or pumpkin butters (above, from Muirhead Foods) packed in glass, which is always BPA-free. Jars of organic pumpkin pie butter can be ordered from Latimore Valley Farms.
Instead of canned evaporated milk, indulge in thick sweet organic dairy cream or soy milk (both are also free of added hormones and antibiotics) in cardboard or aseptic cartons or glass.
To make your own pumpkin puree:
*Buy a 2 lb. organic sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, enough for one pie filling.
*With a sharp knife, cut out the top, slice pumpkin into eighths, and scrape out insides (a serrated knife or grapefruit spoon works nicely).
*Boil or steam slices until pulp turns bright orange and soft.
*Let cool to room temp.
*Blend or puree in food processor until smooth.
Pumpkin Pie Recipes
*We like this classic version, which you can alter according to your own tastes, from Diamond Organics, where you can also buy all the ingredients for next-day delivery.
* Here's a recipe using pumpkin butter (which doesn't contain dairy, just pumpkin, sweetener and spices)
* And here's an egg-free, vegan pumpkin pie filling recipe:
3/4 lb. firm tofu
2 cups pumpkin puree (if you use pumpkin butter, taste before adding any spice/sugar)
1 cup brown or raw sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (safflower, canola or corn)
2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Blend or process until smooth; add to pie shell; and bake for at least 350 degrees F for 1 hr., or until firm and knife inserted in center comes out clean.
One pumpkin pie from scratch, and another way to scratch BPA off your list!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Top tempered glass food containers and baby bottles

If you can do only one green thing about your microwave, keep plastic containers out of it! This includes readymade meals labeled "microwave safe." When heated, several of these products were found to release toxic doses of Bisphenol A, in tests commissioned by the Milkwaukee Journal Sentinel ."The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals," the newspaper reported on November 15th. While studies of the chemical has raised concern primarily for its impact upon fetal and infant development, a 2008 study has shown a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease among human adults with the most exposure to BPA. While alarming, it wasn't a surprise to learn that, of the 10 products tested, a can of Enfamil infant formula and a Rubbermaid Premier container made of polycarbonate (#7) leached the most amounts of the chemical. Most food and drink cans are lined with BPA, and polycarbonate is known to contain it. What was unsettling: BPA was also found to migrate out of plastics with the recycling numbers 1, 2, and 5, which have generally been considered to be safer alternatives. These tests, which were overseen by Frederick vom Saal, professor of biology at the University of Missouri, fortify the pediatric environmental health community's warnings against microwaving or heating food or baby formula in plastic containers and bottles of any kind.
Convenient tempered glass containers come in sizes from snack to sandwich to soup to big entrée, and can be safely used to store and reheat food. (Note: In some cases, the products below have PP (#5) plastic lids, which are okay, so long as they don't touch the food.)
Anchor Hocking’s rectangular or rounded dishes in mini to large sizes are sold at
Martha Stewart Glass Everyday Collection containers, at Macy's, or
Vintage Ware glass-lidded containers and svelte Frigoverre Plus with slosh-proof plastic lids can be bought at
Microwavable Pyrex 18-piece glass food container sets are at, where a set of three Frigoverre glass containers is $25.95. Glass baby bottles are made by Bornfree, Evenflo, Medela and Nurturepure.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Readers Response to Nonstick Cookware

Green Cookware: Seasoned cast iron, enameled cast iron, Thermolon/ceramic nonstick coated pans, ovenproof glassware for baking

Not Green: Teflon/Silverstone-type nonstick coatings using PFCs

Reason: Until recently, most nonstick cookware was made with PFOA, a perfluorochemical that has been linked to cancer. Although chemical companies agreed to phase out the use of PFOA by 2015, this does not affect PTFE, another perfluorochemical, which is the main component in conventional nonstick cookware. PTFE is known to break down at high temperatures and its fumes cause acute, flu-like symptoms if inhaled.

What to do?

If you’d rather not buy new:

Use what you’ve got with care. If your Teflon pans are unscratched and unscorched, there’s no reason to toss them. Continue to use and preserve them carefully with non-scratching wood, silicone or, yes, Teflon utensils. Never use them on high heat, above 500 degrees F. Never heat them when empty.
Look for indestructible cast-iron and uncoated stainless steel pots and pans at yard sales, flea markets, and secondhand stores.

If you’re ready to buy new, buy smart. Greenerpenny recommends the following:

Cuisinart Green Gourmet
Le Creuset enamel (coated cast-iron for stovetop/ oven, and glazed clay for oven only)
Lodge Cast Iron
Pyrex glassware (for baking, not stovetop)
Stainless steel (nonreactive, though not nonstick!)
Calphalon-type anodized aluminum, so long as it's not covered with nonstick Teflon-type coatings. You can see the difference, because the coating will peel & scratch.

To respond to Greenerpenny readers’ latest round of comments and questions on nonstick cookware, below, we checked with DuPont, the Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Reports, the Environmental Working Group, and Scientific American.

Reader: Anodizing aluminum pans produces a very hard surface with no toxins. Non-stick coatings are applied on top and this is where the controversy is.

Greenerpenny: This is a good point. A pan’s label may declare it’s “PFOA-free” but remain mum on whether the pan has PTFE. Remember: The phase-out of PFOA does not affect the presence of PTFE in conventional nonstick cookware. If you’re trying to discern the safety of your pots and pans, you have to ask whether they’re free of PFOA and PTFE.

Reader: I was wondering if you had any studies of the green pan made by Cuisinart? We purchased one and it works really good. But we wanted to make sure it was safe.

GreenerPenny: According to Cuisinart, their new Green Gourmet pan has a ceramic nonstick coating and contains neither PTFE nor PFOA. GreenPan’s manufacturer makes the same assurances.

Reader: How about ALL-CLAD's Excalibur? I paid a king's ransom for these pans about 10 years ago and they said they were safe! Know anything about them? I'll throw them out if you say to...

Greenerpenny: It’s flattering to be held in such high regard, but we need more information about your cookware. All-Clad makes both stainless steel and nonstick-coated pans. If yours are the stainless steel variety (shiny silver on the inside and out) you probably have nothing to worry about.

If you do have the black silky nonstick coating on the inside of your pans, that’s another story. The EPA and the companies that use PFOA in their cookware didn't agree to a PFOA phase-out until 2005, so if you bought your pans 10 years ago, they could very well have PFOA in them. Heck, cookware can technically have PFOA in it until 2015!

But you can probably still cook on your All-Clad if you take precautions, as noted above. Consumer Reports did independent studies of nonstick cookware known to have PFOA and their findings were reassuring. They recommend not putting the cookware on the stove without something in it first; while PTFE tends to start breaking down (and releasing toxic fumes) at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the presence of food or oil will prevent the pan from releasing fumes as it heats up, CR said.

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By Island Girl