Kitchen Guides

Safe Sunscreens

by Kim Manning

Please visit the EWG website above for great information on product safety and to search for non-toxic sunscreens. 

"Safe", "Organic", and "Natural" does not mean your products do not contain any toxic chemicals. Your personal and home care products (from shampoo, antibacterial soap, makeup, laundry detergent) contain carcinogenic ingredients, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors and allergens that could be very hazardous to your health. It is important to make even small changes, look at the ingredients on your products, and keep learning everyday.

Remember, our skin is our largest organ and it is very thin. When chemicals are put on the skin, they do reach the blood steam. Some products actually contain "penetration enhancers" which will guarantee that these toxins are headed to the tissues in the body. As you know, there are so many chemicals out in the environment that we can't really do anything about. Your skin care products are another story, as well as your cleaning products, and the food you eat. You have 100% control over these, so why not choose wisely.

So, please read your labels and avoid the following chemicals:

FRAGRANCE: manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of ingredients in this one ingredient - "fragrance" or "perfume" - it is called "trade secret" in the industry. More than 75% are legally hiding phthalates (THAL ates) in this ingredient. These are known as endocrine disruptors and are linked to all sorts of problems, including birth defects, breast cancer, ADHAD, etc.

PARABENS: are also known endocrine disruptors. They mimic estrogen and are suspected to be linked to breast cancer.

TRICLOSAN:  s the active ingredient in "anti bacterial" products. It is registered with the government as a pesticide. It is also an known endocrine disruptor.

OXYBENZONE and OCTINOXATE: these are chemical UV ray filters that are also known endocrine disruptors, found in many sunscreens and SPF products.

PETROLATUM & PETROLEUM INGREDIENTS: endocrine disruptors and carcinogens.

PEG's, SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE and INGREDIENTS ENDING IN -ETH: are petrochemicals, that create a known human carcinogen - 1,4 dioxane - during the manufacturing process, which is a known human carcinogen, with liver and kidney effects.

RETINYL PALMITATE: it is in many sunscreens and moisturizers.

NANOPARTICLES: can cross the cell barrier and drive into organs, including the brain in humans. There is no way of knowing particle size, unless stated on the label. In Europe, manufacturers must list nanoparticles on the label, but not in the U.S.

ALUMINUM and METALS like lead, copper, etc:  these are bio-accumulative, meaning they store in your fat cells and accumulate and are very hard to get rid of. Many deodorants contain aluminum as an active ingredient.

DIETHANOLOMINE (DEA) and COCAMIDE DEA, LAURAMIDE DEA: DEA reacts with other ingredients to become the extremely carcinogenic nitrosodiethanolamine. Beware of other ethanolamines like triethanolamine (TEA) and monoethamolamine (MEA).

FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS - DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, DMDM HYDANTOIN, QUATERNIUM: found in most personal care products. Formaldehyde can cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, joint pains and headaches, cancer and immune dysfunction.

SYNTHETIC COLOR/DYES: made from coal tar, which is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum. These colors may be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and some are combined with aluminum substrate. Aluminum compounds and many heavy metals are toxic to the brain, i.e., FD&C BLue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 33.

GLYCOL (propylene, butylenes, etc): synthetic petrochemical mix known to cause allergic and toxic reactions. Has been linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive issues, neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption.

MINERAL OIL: a petroleum ingredient that coats the skin like plastic wrap, disrupting the natural immune barrier, inhibiting its ability to breath and absorb natural moisture and nutrition, and its ability to release toxins, which can promote acne and other disorders. The process slows down skin function and normal cell development causing premature aging.

TALC: in the same family as asbestos, talc is dangerous to inhale and has been linked to ovarian cancer.

SILOXANES: cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in "siloxane" are toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate. Research shows some to cause uterine tumors and harm to the reproductive and immune systems. Some siloxanes can also influence neurotransmitters int he nervous system.

Source: Ava Anderson

Smoothies 101

By Kim Manning

Smoothies are a great way to start your day! I enjoy a smoothie at least 4-5 days a week. When I first started out, I bought one of the huge plastic tubs of protein powder to add to my fruits and greens. After further research, I realize that it is much healthier to buy separate Superfoods to add to your smoothie and this way you know exactly what you are adding and you avoid any BPA's from the plastic.

The term "Superfoods" refers to foods that have a dozen or more unique properties, not just one or two. For example, the goji berry is a source of complete protein, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, liver-cleansing betaine, anti-aging sesquiterpenes, antioxidants, over twenty trace minerals, and much, much more. Superfoods are true health foods. They are known to improve the severity and symptoms of nearly every major disease condition known, including: Allergies, Arthritis, Asthma, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Cancer (all types), Chronic fatigue, Depression, Eczema, Insomnia, Nervous system disorders, Skin Disorders, etc.

Here are a few that I add to everyone of my smoothies...

Cacao Nibs:  Cacao nibs are the least processed and most natural form of chocolate. The lack of processing and sugars do give them a bit of an acquired taste as they have a distinctive bitter but somewhat nutty flavor. Some of the great nutritional benefits from eating this great, ancient ingredient is it is full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off free radical damage in the body which can cause DNA damage, premature aging and even cancers. They contain flavonoids, which essentially the antioxidant activity comes from flavonoids. They can help fight cardiovascular disease, they have a huge amount of fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol as well as helping keep bowel movements regular. They contain high levels of magnesium, which is great for blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, etc. They contain high levels of potassium, and last but not least chocolate and cacao help stimulate the brain into releasing neurotransmitters that can trigger feel good hormones.

Hemp Seeds:  Hemp seeds are the most nutritious seed in the world. Hemp Seeds are a complete protein. They have the most concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches and saturated fats. Raw hemp provides a broad spectrum of health benefits, including: weight loss, increased and sustained energy, rapid recovery from disease or injury, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvement in circulation and immune system as well as natural blood sugar control.

Maca powder:  Maca is a root that belongs to the radish family. Grown in the mountains of Peru, it has been called "Peruvian ginseng." Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids. It serves as a boost to your libido and increases endurance, as well as balances your hormones and increases fertility. It can also relieve menstrual issues and menopause, alleviate cramps, anxiety, etc. It should also increase your energy level within days of use. Many people take Maca for skin issues, such as acne. **Be cautious if you have certain cancer, or liver issues or high blood pressure, you should ask your doctor before taking Maca. If you are pregnant or lactating, you should avoid taking Maca.

Flax Seeds:  Flax seeds are a great benefit to the intestinal tract. It helps keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine which can increase nutrient absorption.  Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. It helps with healthier skin, hair and nails. Amongst its other incredible nutritional facts, flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Flax Seed benefits have been proven time and time again and even including fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.

Chia Seeds: Chia Seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint. Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients. They are loaded with antioxidants, almost all the carbs in them are fiber, and they are a high quality protein. Due to the high fiber and protein content, Chia Seeds should be able to help you lose weight.

When making smoothies, it is best to invest in a high quality blender, such as Blendtec or Vitimix, and I find mason jars work great to keep all of the above superfoods handy. The flax seeds and hemp seeds I keep in the refrigerator.

There are many smoothie recipes out there, but here is one of my favorites:

2 Cups Unsweetened Almond or Cashew milk
1 organic banana
1/2 cup (approximate) organic blueberries
slice or two of organic pineapple
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon organic shredded coconut
6 cubes of ice

It is suggested to make some of your smoothies "green smoothies," which is easy now with all our wonderful greens. Just add in a handful of kale, spinach, or swiss chard into any fruit combination you prefer. I like to always use three fruits, which always include a banana and most often blueberries, which are very healthy--then I switch up the third as either pineapple, a pear or handful of strawberries--you can't go wrong!

In my opinion, you do not need to necessary follow a specific recipe...just experiment with your favorite fruits and occasionally, or always, put in a favorite green along with your Superfoods and either milk (almond, cashew, or whole milk), or coconut water.

Have fun!

The Best Oils/Fats to use in your CSA Kitchen

by Kim Manning

As I'm sure you are all aware, there are so many different oils on the market it can make your head spin! I have been doing some research on the topic and want to bring what I have learned to the CSA table! Certainly, I suggest that you do your own research as well, as there are many opinions on which are the safest, healthiest oils for different applications.

Oils (or some type of fat) are the base of practically everything we make in the kitchen. Whether we're drizzling it over a salad or using it in a pan to saute vegetables, we need to be sure that we're using the healthiest, safest and best tasting oils for each recipe.

It's important to get a mix of fat types from whole, unprocessed, high-quality foods. These include nuts, seeds (hemp, flax, and chia are especially nutritious), fish, seaweed, pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs, olives, avocado, coconut, and cacao nibs.  Avoid industrially processed, artificially created, and factory farmed foods, which contain unhealthy fats.

Your body needs two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids -- omega-3s and omega-6s -- from your diet, because your cells cannot make these fatty acids themselves. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids contribute to brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are different terms associated with oils such as the following:

Refined: After oil extraction, particles are filtered out. Refined oils may also be bleached and deodorized to create a neutral flavor and color.
Unrefined: Tiny particles remain in the oil, enhancing flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. Use unheated or for low-heat applications.
Chemical extraction: Solvents like hexane are used to break down plant walls and allow oils to be more easily extracted. Not preferred.
Expeller-pressed:  Oil is mechanically extracted by squeezing nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, or grains under very high pressure, without using solvents
Cold pressed: Oil is expeller-pressed, but friction is reduced so the temperature is kept below 120 degrees during processing.
Heat extraction: Pressed oils may also be heated during the extraction process to break down the source and allow greater quantities of oil to be extracted.


The following is a breakdown of some of the many oils on the market and it is important to note which ones are better for high heat, moderate heat and low heat. 

*Indicates our recommendations

*ALMOND OIL: Made by expeller pressing the oil in ground almonds: available refined and unrefined.
Benefits: increased healthy HDL cholesterol while lowering harmful LDL, supports immune function and liver health, alleviates irritable bowel syndrome, and may reduce colon cancer risk.
Smoke point: 420 degrees
Flavor: light, clean, and mildly sweet; unrefined has a nutty, toasty flavor with buttery undertones.
Uses: Refined's high smoke point makes it best for stir-frying, roasting, grilling, and other high-heat applications. Use unrefined fro salad dressings, in dips and to drizzle on cooked dishes.

*AVOCADO OIL: Made by grinding and then expeller pressing avocado flesh; available refined and unrefined.
Benefits: decreases inflammation and improves cholesterol balance; may increase absorption of antioxidant carotenoids.
Smoke point: 520 degrees
Flavor: rich, clean taste and lush mouthfeel. Unrefined is emerald green, with a buttery flavor and grassy undertones. Refined has a mild, neutral flavor with the slightest hint of avocado taste.
Uses: Refined is best for high-heat grilling, frying, or roasting. Use unrefined for unheated uses including salad dressing, in pesto, or as a dip for bread. Refrigerate.

CANOLA OIL: Made from rapeseed, a mustard-family plant; usually chemically extracted using solvents but also expeller-pressed. TO AVOID GMO's, BUY ORGANIC, AS 80% OF CANOLA OIL IS GENETICALLY MODIFIED.
Benefits: lowers total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; improves insulin sensitivity.
Smoke point: 400 degrees
Flavor: extremely neutral but provides a dense mouthfeel; pale color.
Uses: Good for high-heat roasting, broiling, baking, and stir-frying, or as a blank canvas for creating mayonnaise or salad dressings.

*COCONUT OIL: white and solid at room temperature; clear and liquid when warmed. Virgin is expeller-pressed; also available refined.
Benefits: antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral; may reduce total and LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol.
Smoke point; : 350 degrees (unrefined); 400 degrees (refined)
Flavor: Unrefined has a creamy, oily texture, caramel-buttery flavor, and rich scent and tast. Refined is more neutral.
Uses: Refined works great for sauteing, stir-frying, roasting, and grilling. Use unrefined in baked goods, Asian-inspired dishes, or as a spread.

*FLAXSEED OIL: Made by pressing crushed brown flaxseeds, a process that removes healthy lignans. Some brands add lignans back to make "high-lignan" flaxseed oil.
Benefits: high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); may reduce risk of diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and autoimmune and neurological disorders.
Smoke point: do not heat
Flavor: warm and nutty with bitter undertones and an aggressive, but not unpleasant, aroma.
Uses: Drizzle on oatmeal or cooked vegetables, use in salad dressing, and toss with quinoa or other grains. Refrigerate.

GRAPESEED OIL: extracted from grape seeds, generally from wine grapes, typically via chemical solvents; to avoid solvents, choose expeller-pressed.
Benefits; high in vitamin E; however, contains high levels of omega-6s and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a result of the extraction process.
Smoke point: do not heat
Flavor: neutral in flavor and aroma, with a rich, heavy texture.
Uses: Good for moisture-rich baking, dressings, and mayonnaise, where a neutral flavor is needed.

*HEMP OIL: made by cold-pressing Cannabis sativa seeds (part of the marijuana family but with not THC, the psychoactive component).
Benefits: contains chlorophyll and tocopherols, antioxidants that support immune function and protect the heart.
Smoke point: do not heat
Flavor: earthy, grassy flavor with mushroom undertones; deep green color.
Uses: Use in dips, dressings, and pesto, or drizzle on steamed kale or sweet potatoes. Refrigerate.

*OLIVE OIL: Extra-virgin is cold-pressed from the first olive pressing; "virgin" or "pure" is heat-extracted. Organic or California Olive Oil Council (COOC) labels signal no adulteration with cheap oils.
Benefits: increases heart-protective HDL cholesterol; polyphenol antioxidants promote bone growth and reduce cancer risk; rich in vitamin K.
Smoke point: 420 degrees
Flavor: Extra-virgin, from the first pressing, has leafy, herbal, peppery undertones. All varieties offer robust flavor, rich texture, and a green-gold hue.
Uses: grilling, baking, and sauteing, Drizzle extra-virgin on tomatoes and steamed greens. Use any kind in salad dressings

RICE BRAN OIL: Extracted from germ and inner husk of rice grains; most kinds are chemically extracted. Look for cold-pressed varieties, which are not heated during extraction.
Benefits: contains vitamin E tocotrienols that lower LDL cholesterol, stem inflammation, and reduce cancer risk; rich in vitamin K.
Smoke point 490 degrees
Flavor: light and clean, with a fresh, neutral flavor and delicate aroma.
Uses: high-heat stir-frying, grilling, roasting or sauteing, or in dressings or mayonnaise when a neutral flavor is desired.

*SESAME OIL: made by expeller pressing or chemically extracting oil form sesame seeds; available refined or unrefined. Seeds roasted before pressing yield fragrant, toasted sesame oil.
Benefits: rich in antioxidants and abundant in lignans and phenols, which may ease diabetes symptoms.
Smoke point 410 degrees
Flavor: light and nutty; toasted sesame oil is dark brown, with a distinctive roasted scent.
Uses: Ideal for broiling and high-temperature stir-frying. Unrefined works well for light sautes, tossed with grains, or in salad dressings. Lightly drizzle toasted oil over finished dishes.

*WALNUT OIL: made from dried and expeller-pressed walnuts; available refined and unrefined.
Benefits: contains omega-3 fats that protect against prostate cancer and diabetes, reduce inflammation, promote heart health, and stave off bone loss.
Smoke point: 400 degrees
Flavor: bold and pleasantly heavy, with a decadent nut flavor and earthy notes.
Uses: Refined is good for moderate-heat sauteing and baking. Use unrefined as a finishing oil: Toss with cooked beets, add to salad dressing, and drizzle over cream soups. Refrigerate.

Some oils to avoid:

COTTONSEED OIL: It's a byproduct of the cotton crop that's inundated with pesticides and chemicals because it's regulated as a textile crop--not food.

SOYBEAN OIL: Most products that just say "Vegetable Oil" are made from soybeans. It is very common in processed foods and is typically made from GMOs.

CORN OIL: It is highly refined, hexane-extracted from GMO corn and loaded with omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are unstable when exposed to heat. This instability causes oxidation, a process that generates free radicals. Free radicals are renegade molecules in the body that damage cells, triggering a host of diseases from liver damage to cancer.

Source: Lisa Turner, Delicious Living