Replacing Ziploc: Alternatives to Plastic Baggies

Plastic baggies seem to be a kitchen essential but they are flimsy, not easily reusable and plastic.   We’ve been using these reusable, food safe bags to replace our Ziploc addiction.

I keep 6-8 on hand to use for snacks on the go and to pack in my kid’s waste-free lunches. They are great for snack or lunch time to store sandwiches, fruit and veggies, crackers, cheese and more.

LunchSkins

LunchSkins – These reusable, colorful cloth pouches are made from a quick drying fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner. They have been certified as lead, Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalate-free. So many darling patterns. We have several of these we use regularly.

Kids Konserve Food Cozy

 

Kids Konserve - We love the Kids Konserve Food Kozy for sandwiches and other moisture rich foods.  Their reusable kozies are made with recycled, FDA approved, non-toxic, non-leaching, recyclable PE plastic. Free of BPA, phthalates, PVC and lead. 13″ round.  They are easy to hand wash and air dry.

BlueAvocado

BlueAvocado Re-Zip Reusable Lunch Bags – I like these utilitarian bags from Blue Avocado because they resemble simple plastic bags, without the plastic. They are particularly good for teens and adults that don’t want a cutesy print. Made of FDA-grade PEVA material, PVC, BPA and Lead free. Also available in multiple sizes.

Itzy Ritzy

ItzyRitzy Reusable Snack and Everything Bag – What I like best about the ItzyRitzy is that is has a zipper, whereas many of the other reusable bags have velcro. It makes using them for more secure items (keys, cell phone, money, etc) a real possibility. FDA approved food safe, BPA free, lead free, phthlalate PVC free with a cotton exterior.

Bumkins

Bumkins – My favorite thing about Bumkins is their easy wipe, waterproof fabric. They also make my favorite bibs. The reusable bags have a zipper and are very reasonably priced (less than $5 apiece), not to mention they are well loved by reviewers. The designs are much more juvenile with Disney and Dr. Seuss, monsters and the like. PVC, BPA, phthalate, vinyl and lead free.  Easy to throw in the washing machine and then air dry.

 

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.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:4]

 

 

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.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]