How to Wash Produce {easy, effective, cheap}

how to wash produce {easy

I’ve gone more years not washing produce than I would like to admit. I got lazy.

Then I found an easy method to get it done that works for me. It’s not genius, it’s quite the opposite. But it works and that’s what counts, right?

I shop for produce once a week. Once I’m done unpacking the groceries, I clean all produce immediately. Then I cut it up to make snacking easy.

Do Produce Rinses Work?

Next time you are tempted to buy produce rinses (I’ve got a few bottles myself), save yourself the money and buy a gallon of white vinegar. Cooks Illustrated did a test of various produce cleaning solutions and found that white vinegar removed 98% of the bacteria.

Researchers at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tennessee State University tested dilute vinegar against plain water and a commercial product called Veggie Wash that they purchased at a grocery store. “We really did not really find the veggie washes effective or necessary.”

How to Wash Produce {easy, effective, cheap}

How to Wash Produce with Vinegar

1.  Fill up a bowl with 24 ounces of water, depending on the amount of produce.

2. Add the 8 ounces of white vinegar and stir. (3 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar)

3. Add the produce to the mixture.

4. Let sit for a couple minutes.

5. Rinse.

6. Cut off stems and blossoms as bacteria can get trapped in them.

Do you wash your produce, how do you do it?
 

A Healthier Salted Caramel Popcorn

a healthier salted caramel corn

Yesterday, I shared my new favorite way to make popcorn. It’s safer than bagged microwave popcorn and costs half as much.

Plain jane sea salt and butter popcorn is a hit at our house but I like to spice it up once in awhile. And by spice, I mean sweeten it up.

Most caramel popcorn recipes call for corn syrup, an ingredient we try our darnedest to avoid. I made a few substitutions to the standard recipe and voila – a gooey salted caramel corn.

A Healthier Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a saucepan on low.
  2. Stir until the sugar is melted and all is combined well.
  3. Put the popcorn in a plastic or paper bag.
  4. Pour the caramel syrup over the popcorn, seal the bag and shake well.
  5. Sprinkle the sea salt over the popcorn, seal the bag and shake well.
  6. Serve!

 

 

Easy Microwave Popcorn (safer, cheaper, easier)

easy microwave popcorn: no chemicals, cheaper than buying the bags

We have used an air popcorn maker for years after reading that microwave popcorn in a bag contains hydrogenated oils and the chemical, PFOA, in the bag lining. (PFOA is a known carcinogen that has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects in animals.)

Sometimes when I pull out that hefty appliance, I grumble that it’s taking up a lot of space for something only used one or two times a week. With a click of the finger, I found a few alternatives that might mean our popper is headed for a new home.

Easy Microwave Popcorn

Add 1/4 cup of organic corn kernels to a large glass dish.  Put a microwaveable “lid” on it. I used a glass pie plate.

Cook for 2.5 – 3.5 minutes (just watch the kernels popping, every microwave is different).

Be careful: both dishes will be VERY HOT and steaming.

If there are any unpopped kernels, feel free to run them through the same process. No waste!

Makes 4 cups.

caramel corn

Easy Stove Popcorn

For those of you that don’t use microwaves,  here’s an option for the stove.

Put 2 tbsp of butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Add 1/4 cup of organic corn kernels and coat the kernels with the melted butter/oil.

Cover with lid.

Within 1-2 minutes, you’ll hear the corn popping. As soon as it slows down, pull the pan off the stove and immediately pour the popcorn in a bowl so it doesn’t burn.

Makes 4 cups.

Cost Comparison

Orville Redenbacher’s Microwave Popcorn is about $4 for 10 single serving bags. They make 1 cup each. You get 10 cups of popcorn for $4 or $0.40 per cup of popcorn.

Organic popping corn from Trader Joe’s is $2 for 3.5 cups of kernels. 3.5 cups of kernels will yield 14 cups of popcorn. You get 14 cups of popcorn for $2 or $0.14 per cup of popcorn.

Organic popping corn is half the cost of bagged microwave popcorn.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my favorite way to make caramel popcorn without using corn syrup (that’s a photo of it above). Yum, that’s all I can say!

How do you pop your popcorn? What are your favorite toppings?
 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (gluten, egg, dairy free)

banana chocolate chip muffins (gluten-free)

These muffins are one of my favorite snacks and the kids love them!  Heavy on bananas, they are moist and chunky.

Recipe adapted from one of my favorite gluten-free baking cookbooks, BabyCakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (gluten, egg, dairy free)

Yield: 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp baking power
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3-4 tbsp agave nectar (depending on your level of desired sweetness)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Blend the first five dry ingredients together. Add the coconut oil, agave, milk and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Whisk together until smooth.
  3. Peel and mash the bananas and add them to the batter. It will be slightly chunky, that's okay. Then fold in the chocolate chips until mixed.
  4. Spray muffin tins or liners with coconut oil. Fill each almost to the top with batter.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes until muffins are slightly golden and firm. Let sit for 10 minutes to cool.

 

2013 Guide to Pesticides on Produce

2013 Guide to Pesticides in Produce

The EWG released their updated guide to pesticides in produce. The Clean 15 are the top 15 fruits and vegetables the EWG states are the least likely to test positive for pesticide residues.  The Dirty Dozen Plus are the most contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables – those to be avoided.

Why Should I Care?

  • The majority of pesticide exposure comes from the food you eat. At least 67% of the conventional produce samples tested had at least one pesticide.
  • Just because a pesticide has been banned from use doesn’t mean its not on the produce we can pick up in the store. The EWG reports that produce tested several years ago had pesticides on them that had been banned in the 1970s!
  • 67% of food samples have detectable pesticide residues after washing or peeling.
  • Green beans canned for baby food tested positive for five pesticides and pears canned for baby food tested positive for 11 pesticides.
  • The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that:

Among the findings associated with increased pesticide levels are poorer mental development and increased scores on measures assessing pervasive developmental disorder, inattention, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. There may also be an association between parental pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes including physical birth defects, low birth weight, and fetal death, although the data are less robust than for cancer and neurodevelopmental effects.

How should I use this Guide?

Don’t stop eating fruits and vegetables, use the guide to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

  • Choose organic produce when you can afford it.

Studies led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Emory University found that elementary school-age children’s body burdens of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and malathion, peaked during the summer, when they ate the most fresh produce. But just five days after switching to an all-organic diet, their bodies were essentially pesticide-free.

  • If you can’t afford organic produce, choose conventional for the Clean 15 and organic for the Dirty Dozen Plus.
  • Always wash your fruit before eating. These tests were done after washing and peeling so if you don’t do that, you are potentially ingesting even more pesticide residue.

tip iconWant to have the list handy while shopping? Download the FREE Dirty Dozen app for iPhone.