Every Sunday in our house is officially – French toast day! My kids love the stuff, and have demanded that I make it each and every Sunday!! I have had to come up with some different ways to make the french toast to keep it yummy and exciting. We hardly ever use maple syrup (The pure stuff is best). Sometimes we use just powdered sugar, and other times I make a homemade “syrup”. Here is my recipe for French toast, and my infamous Strawberry Syrup (Infamous according to my family)
Today I was trying to come up with a little healtier alternative to the typical “sweets” snack. I am such a HUGE snacker. If I am sitting, I have this need to “snack”. I know it is a horrible habit, but I am trying to snack less, and snack on healthier things! I have seen many “ball” recipes, though lots of them use sugar and chocolate, neither of which is all that healthy. I came up with my own little take on the “ball” – there are so many things you can do with this type of a snack.
2 Cups of dates, (Dried, chopped)
1/3 Cup Water
1/2 Tblsp Vanilla
1 Cup Chopped Almonds
2 Tblsp Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Coconut
Combine dates, and water in a saucepan on the stove. Cook over low heat, mashing and stirring frequently. Cook about 10 minutes until the dates are all mushy and soft. Once done, remove from heat.
Stir in Vanilla.
Pour date mixture into a bowl, add 1/2 Cup chopped almonds and cocoa powder. (If still too gooey, add more chopped Almonds) Stir well.
Put into refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Once cooled, use a small – med scoop to make balls. Roll them in shredded coconut or almonds and place on wax paper. Once done, return them to the fridge to “set” up (if you don’t eat them all before hand)
These are SOOO yummy!!! I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did!
Monday’s mission – memorize or download the Dirty Dozen list published by the Environmental Working Group. What is the Dirty Dozen you ask? I am not referring to the 1967 film, but rather produce. The very produce you probably have in your home now. This is a list of the top 12 items that, when consumed, supply your body with over 90% of your chemical load from fruits and vegetables. YUCK!
About the pesticides found –
Why are these produce items so bad for you? They are heavily contaminated with pesticides. Two of these are Benomyl and Carbaryl, these have five known pronounced effects. They are known to cause cancer and birth defects in animals. In humans they damage the reproductive system, interfere with hormones, and damage the brain and nervous system. Benomyl and Carbaryl has been found in spinach. Benomyl is also present in peaches and strawberries, while Carbaryl is present in peaches, strawberries, raspberries, nectarines, imported grapes, cherries, bell peppers, and apples. Another major pesticide is Captan, a carcinogen that causes birth defects in animals. In humans it damages the reproductive system, the brain and nervous system, and the immune system. Captan has found a home in peaches, strawberries, raspberries, pears, imported grapes, and apples.
Another one of the pesticides found on produce repeatedly was DDT, which was banned in the United States after December 31, 1972. Samples taken of spinach and potatoes in a 2001 report both contained DDT.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “In soil, DDT lasts for a very long time because it binds strongly to soil particles. Once attached, DDT and its byproducts can persist for as long as 15 years. Moreover, when bound to soil particles, DDT can begin to bioaccumulate, building up in plants and in the fatty tissue of the fish, birds, and animals that eat the plants. Despite a longstanding ban in this country, the United States exported more than 96 tons of DDT in 1991.” The NRDC reported the presence of DDT in breast milk, although there has been a decline in countries that have banned or restricted this chemical. DDT was banned because it caused significant damage to wildlife around the world and was a suspected link to breast and liver cancer. It was also believed to hinder embryo development and reproduction. More information from the NRDC can be found at http://www.nrdc.org/
Organic produce means that it is pestecide free, and also “non GMO” – Watch about that here –
How do I memorize all of that?
If you are crazy busy like me, and simply don’t have the ability to remember “one more thing” ~ rest assured, there is a solution! The iTunes store has a free app for iPhone and iTouch called “Dirty Produce”. If you do a search for the Environmental Working Group, it comes up. This is very helpful, because you can have the list with you all the time, which makes it convenient for grocery shopping. I know personally I would never remember the entire list, and I don’t know how many times I have used this app while in the produce section!
What can you do?
Now that you have all of this information, how in the world do you keep your family safe!?!??! If you are anything like me, you can not afford to go 100% organic every time you shop. Produce is expensive, and so is the other things you need to buy. The solution? Focus on those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives and hormones. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily. Please remember this list also holds true for baby foods as well.
The Dirty Dozen List
Here is the list of all 47 items – Those Ranked #1 (toward the top) are the “worst” contaminated, always buy organic. Those ranked near #47 (toward the bottom) are the least contaminated. (Taken from http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php)
FRUIT OR VEGGIE
100 (highest pesticide load)
Sweet Bell Pepper
Grapes – Imported
Grapes – Domestic
Sweet Peas – Frozen
Sweet Corn – Frozen
1 (lowest pesticide load)
Note: We ranked a total of 47 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.
The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 47 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 87,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Nearly all the studies used to create the list test produce after it has been rinsed or peeled. Contamination was measured in six different ways and crops were ranked based on a composite score from all categories.
The six measures of contamination we used were:
Percent of the samples tested with detectable pesticides
Percent of the samples with two or more pesticides
Average number of pesticides found on a sample
Average amount (level in parts per million) of all pesticides found
Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
Number of pesticides found on the commodity in total
The philosophy behind the guide is simple: give consumers the information they need to make choices to reduce pesticides in their diets. In this spirit, the Guide does not present a complex assessment of pesticide risks, but instead simply reflects the overall load of pesticides found on commonly eaten fruits and vegetables. This approach best captures the uncertainty of the risks of pesticide exposure and the value judgments involved in the choice to buy food with less pesticides.
Pesticides cause many adverse effects in well designed animal studies, from cancer to nervous system damage to reproductive effects. Rather than assign more weight to cancer than birth defects, we simply assumed that all adverse effects are equal. There is a significant degree of uncertainty about the health effects of pesticide mixtures. This ranking takes this uncertainty into account in the most defensible way possible, by simply ranking fruits and vegetables by their likelihood of being consistently contaminated with the greatest number of pesticides at the highest levels.
What will you do now?
Now that I have overloaded you with information on the “Dirty Dozen” take a moment to vote in the poll about your thoughts.