Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Natural Products Expo East was a Blast!

I took some time to attend the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore last week and boy did I meet some amazing people. Got to taste some amazing food. See new products. Find things I never imagined existed. It was my first time there and I did not even have time to cover the entire show. So I focused on the new products area. Next year, I will allot more time so I can spend two days roaming around in natural heaven.

They invited me to a press luncheon and sent me home with a huge bag of goodies. Yum. Stay tuned for a bunch of short but hopefully entertaining reviews of delicious new items, many gluten-free, GMO-free and just generally great!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Garlic Effective in Lead Detox (and it's Delicious)

Came across this article and thought it was worth passing along for anyone who has lead poisoning or knows someone trying to detoxify from it. 

I don't know about you, but we cook with garlic all the time. It tastes great and has lots of medicinal benefits. Oh, and let's not forget that it wards off vampires. 

WedMD has a decent page on the uses and quirks of garlic.

Ironically, as I was just paging through my new Real Simple, I also found a handy guide to cooking with garlic. I can't find a link online but here are some of the tips:
  • Choose tightly packed cloves with unbroken white or purply skin. Should feel as hard as an apple and have no dark spots. Don't buy ones with green shoots, but if that happens at home, just trim off before using.
  • "Garlic will remain fresh for up to two months when kept in a cool, dry place away from sunlight." Do not refrigerate.

To roast it (delicious!):

  1. "Cut off and toss the top third of the head to expose the cloves."
  2. "Place the garlic on a large sheet of foil and top with 2 TBSP olive oil, plus salt and black pepper. Fold the foil into a sealed packet."
  3. "Roast the garlic on a baking sheet in a 325-degree oven until tender 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool a bit, then squeeze. The soft cloves will squirt out. Use right away, or stone in the refrigerator for up to 3 days."
Lastly, to get the smell of garlic off your hands, I used to use a product called Good Bye Smell for tough odors, but it's hard to find and I'm not sure how nontoxic it actually is. I've also read that you can run your hands under cold water and use stainless steel to remove the smell. Sounds nuts, but I'm going to try it. Has anyone had success with this tip? 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Introducing Beautycounter: OOTF Approved Skincare!
I've tried more beauty products than I can count. Some that tout natural ingredients, some claiming to be organic and, many times, it's hard to know what's in products because the brands refuse to share ingredients. That is a huge red flag to me.

I'll be honest, it's been so hard to find good stuff that I have knowingly bought toxic products because I didn't like the so-called healthy beauty brands I found.

I'm a realist and I'm particular. Oh, and I have sensitive skin. Products have to work well, first and foremost. They need to be free of harsh chemicals, synthetic fragrances and all potentially unhealthy substances because, let's face it, I'm using them every single day. Ideally, they are also not too expensive.

Until now, I found very few beauty products that met all this criteria. And most that were close looked unprofessional, or smelled funky, or were often unavailable.

But now there is Beautycounter. And I could not be more excited to share it with you, my friends, my family and anyone in my extended network.

Check out my site: or message me with questions. I'd love to help you host a social or just help you pick the best products to try.

To a beautiful healthy you!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gluten-Free Cookies Can Be Delicious!

First, I should ask my babysitter to write this post instead of taking credit for it, but since she's away at camp this week, I will do the honor.

My older son is following a diet free of dairy, gluten and soy. This is my super active, super skinny, super tall son who loves sweets. Fortunately, he also loves fruits and vegetables and doesn't seem to mind this diet at all. In fact, he loves to tell me something has gluten in it just so he doesn't have to eat it. Clever little beast.

But I digress. My cookie monster will eat boxes of cookies a day if we let him. Not only is this a lot of empty calories (again, not entirely an issue; he eats a lot of healthy stuff, too), but the cost of these cookies is pretty notable. The best brand for his particular diet is Enjoy Life. They have a nice selection of soft and hard cookies that taste good but a box is anywhere from $4-$5. For 12 cookies.

That gets my value hackles up and also I really don't like to rely on processed treats. I mean, I buy granola bars and whatnot because I don't have time to make everything from scratch, but I don't like it. Enter the babysitter.

I buy gluten-free baking mix and dairy/soy/gluten-free chocolate chips and ask her to bake cookies with the boys. They love to be helpers. She texts me the first day: "What do I use instead of butter?" Legitimate question. I run through my pantry in my mind and come up with coconut oil, applesauce and ghee. To Google I go. I don't find anything conclusive but tell her to try an equal substitution with half coconut oil and half applesauce.

Those were the best chocolate chip cookies ever! Soft and flavorful. Not buttery but not bland and not coconutty either. Since that first batch, we have experimented with different mixes. It's hard to buy just the all-purpose gluten-free flour because then you have to find xanthum gum and baking powder/soda (I never remember which) and it's just more complicated than having a "baking mix." The Arrowhead Mills mix pictured here works well. Not inexpensive, though. We use the Enjoy Life chocolate chips, because they are soy-free and that's hard to find.

I'm going to suggest that she try the next batch with half or all ghee to see if that delicious butter flavor will be worth the cost increase. Speaking of which, if I add up the ingredients, it's probably close to breakeven with the store-bought cookies, maybe a little less. But they are homemade and there is less waste—and the boys get baking lessons to boot.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Endocrine-Distruptors Starting to Worry UNEP and WHO

From Science Daily: Effects of Human Exposure to Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Examined in Landmark United Nations Report

Feb. 19, 2013 — Many synthetic chemicals, untested for their disrupting effects on the hormone system, could have significant health implications according to the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WHO.

Key sections:

  • Some substances can alter the hormonal system. 

  • Human exposure can occur in a number of ways. 

  • More research is needed.

  • Recommendations:

The study makes a number of recommendations to improve global knowledge of these chemicals, reduce potential disease risks, and cut related costs. These include:
  • Testing: known EDCs are only the 'tip of the iceberg' and more comprehensive testing methods are required to identify other possible endocrine disruptors, their sources, and routes of exposure.
  • Research: more scientific evidence is needed to identify the effects of mixtures of EDCs on humans and wildlife (mainly from industrial by-products) to which humans and wildlife are increasingly exposed.
  • Reporting: many sources of EDCs are not known because of insufficient reporting and information on chemicals in products, materials and goods.
  • Collaboration: more data sharing between scientists and between countries can fill gaps in data, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies.

Read the full article.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Organizations worth following

High time for a useful post to help the faithful readers get news before I get around to tweeting or posting it to Facebook! I rely on some great advocacy groups and news sources to stay on top of issues related to toxins. Here's a look at the best.

Environmental Working Group
Pesticide Action Network
Organic Consumers Association (though a little radical sometimes)
Healthy Child Healthy World
For Pennsylvanians: PASA
Mother Jones
E The Environmental Magazine
Science Daily

Please comment with your favorites if I missed any good ones. Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Last Call from Flavrz Founder

I have written before about Flavrz beverages. There was this review of the fruit concentrates and this review of the soda mixes. Both favorable. Not only are they are healthier than the average juice or soda, they are great as mixers, convenient and affordable. 

But it appears that I am in the minority of people who share actually buy the product. See the letter I got via email from founder Karen Barth. And, please, if you know any investors in this space, send them her way. 

Dear Flavrz Customers:

I am writing to you to let you know that Flavrz may be shutting down operations in the near future.

When I started Flavrz four years ago, I had a mission to create a beverage system that would be healthy for families, low in sugar, free of artificial ingredients, and good for the environment.   Personally, I was working hard to get my family to stop drinking sodas, sports drinks and other chemical and sugar-based beverages.   I knew that others were working on the same thing.  

I had a big idea: develop concentrates that consumers could add to water and make their own customized healthy drinks. I believed that if we delivered a truly high-quality product made from real fruits and botanticals, the market would quickly recognize the value without the need to spend a lot on advertising or marketing. It was my hope that this very superior way of making beverages would "take the market by storm"

We have, in fact, built a loyal following of customers who love our products.   Unfortunately, the size of our following is still small and our growth rate is far slower than we had hoped. We have discovered that it hard for people to change lifelong habits, especially when it comes to beverages. Personally, I have been surprised to see how many people eat a healthy organic meal and wash it down with a glass of Diet Coke.

The company is running out of capital and we are actively looking for a buyer or investor but unless someone comes forward soon, liquidation is a very real possibility within the coming weeks.

I encourage you to stock up, as we may soon be selling off our inventory..

We thank you for being our loyal customers and supporters.


Karen A. Barth
President and Founder