Browsing The Kitchen Think

The Kitchen Think: I Food Poisoned Myself

April16

I food poisoned myself… and the same thing could happen to you.

Quite simply… I didn’t wash my vegetables carefully enough. Self-inflicted food poisoning.

How many times have you bought fresh veggies, given them a quick wash and then added them to whatever you were preparing? Didn’t think twice about it, did you?

But how do you know if that cilantro wasn’t accidentally dropped on the supermarket floor, then returned to the shelf and nestled in with the other bunches? It looked okay… green and fresh and supermarket floor dirty.

And what about those apples? No bruises, right? Well maybe the person who was searching for the perfect apple just before you had something very contagious and touched the very same apples you’re carting home. Sure, you’ll wash them… but how well?

I could go on and on and get even more gross, but there’s no reason to… you get the drift.

For a while I was using Rebel Green Fruit and Veggie Clean…. but I ran out and didn’t replace it. Mistake. Rebel Green is made with all natural ingredients that lab tests have proven remove some of the most common strains of bacteria and pesticides on fresh produce… more effective than rinsing with water alone.

I’ve pulled together some more quick tips to keep your family safe and prevent foodborne illness in your home.

Veggie Food Safety-Food Poisoning

The Kitchen Think: Dangerous Food Additives

March25

Do you know what are the most dangerous food additives?

You read food labels, I’m sure, and as a general rule you know to avoid sodium nitrites, artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes. But what else is out there?

My friends at NutritionAction.com and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have put out an amazing downloadable booklet and an app called Chemical Cuisine: Your Guide to Food Additives. It’s packed with everything you need to know about additives. For example:

1. What’s safe.

2. What you should cut back on.

3. What you should be cautious about.

4. What certain people should avoid.

5. What to stay away from completely.

Here’s a quick printable cheat sheet on dangerous additives that food companies are still putting into what we buy in our grocery stores. These additives are unsafe in certain amounts consumed or very poorly tested and not worth the risk. Some of these are banned in other countries, but not the United States:

Here’s more detail on each of the harmful additives. But for the complete picture, you should download the guide to food additives from Nutrition Action.com and the Center for Science in the Public’s Interest… or get the App!

Dangerous Food Additives

Acesulfame Potassium: This artificial sweetener, often used with sucralose and aspartame, has not been adequately tested and has been found to cause cancer in animals.

Aloe Vera: I know many will disagree with me on this one, but aloe vera can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea. It’s found in beverages, food and flavorings and has been found to cause cancer intestinal cancers in rats. Use in skin-care products appears to be okay.

Artificial Colorings: Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6. May cause tumors and/or cancer. Yellow 5 has been found to cause allergic reactions and spike hyperactivity in some children.

 Dangerous Food Additives

Aspartame: Many of us consume this artificial sweetener in diet foods everyday. Also known as Equal and NutraSweet, this additive has been shown to cause cancer in rats, as well as headaches and dizziness in humans… me included.

Brominated Vegetable Oil: This was a new one for me. BVO keeps flavor oils in suspension, giving a cloudy appearance to citrus-flavored soft drinks like Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange and Gatorade. Tests have shown that BVO leaves residues in body fat as well as fat in the brain, liver and other organs. This additive is banned in Europe.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole: You’ll find BHA in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips and vegetable oil because it slows rancidity in fats, oils and oil in food. The U.S. Department of Healthy and Human Serves says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet food companies are allowed to keep using it.

 Dangerous Food Additives

Caramel Coloring: Caramel coloring is used to simulate the appearance of cocoa in baked goods, make meats and gravies look more attractive and darken soft drinks and beer. It is usually made by heating sugar (usually high-dextrose corn syrup) with ammonia or other chemicals. Caramel coloring is potentially carcinogenic to humans.

Cyclamates: This artificial sweetener has been banned in the U.S. since 1970 because it increases the potency of carcinogens.

Ginko Biloba: This herb has been around for a long time (centuries!) and has been used in traditional healing. It supposedly boosts memory, but it has been shown to interfere with blood clotting.

Inter-esterified Vegetable Oil (also know as Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil or Trans Fat): This is a fat found in oil shortening, stick margarine, crackers, fried restaurant food, baked goods… the list goes on and on. High consumption of trans fat has been linked to obesity, heart attacks and strokes.

 Dangerous Food Additives

Mycoprotein: You see the word “protein” and you think, “This must be a good thing.” Wrong. This is a meat substitute made from processed mold not mushrooms, as the manufacturer has implied in ads and labeling. This additive can cause severe and even allergic reactions. It’s made by Marlow Foods under the Quorn brand label.

Olestra (also known as Olean): A fat substitute that is often found in “Light” potato chips and snacks. It’s a synthetic fat, but it can cause diarrhea, cramps and other stomach disorders.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil  (also know as Inter-esterified Vegetable Oil or Trans Fat): Similar to Inter-esterified Vegetable Oil above. This is a fat found in ready-to-bake biscuits, oil shortening, stick margarine, crackers, fried restaurant food… and Americans eat a lot of it. Linked to obesity, heart attacks and strokes.

 Dangerous Food Additives

Potassium Bromate: This additive is a “flour improver”; it increases the volume of bread to produce bread with a fine crumb. Bromate is banned almost worldwide (except in the U.S. and Japan) because it causes cancer in animals.

Propyl Gallate: This preservative, found in vegetable oil, meat products, chewing gum and chicken soup base, and might cause cancer. It slows the spoilage of fats and oils and is often used with BHA and BHT.

Saccharin: The food industry’s go-to artificial sweetener, especially in diet soft drinks, no-sugar added products and sweetener packets (Sweet ‘N Low). This additive has been shown  to cause cancer (especially bladder cancer) and increases the potency of certain cancer-causing chemicals.

 Dangerous Food Additives

Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite: Bacon’s best friend, this preservative stabilizes the red color in cured meats like ham, frankfurters and lunch meat. Adding nitrite to food can lead to the formation of potent cancer-causing chemicals in the food.

TBHQ (Tert-Butylhdroquinone): A preservative that prevents rancidity in vegetable oil, snack foods, cereals and other fat containing food. This additive has been shown to increase tumors in lab rats.

Factory-made foods with chemical additives are part of our lives now, but we should try to understand the safety ratings of these ingredients. Remember, knowledge is power… especially when it comes to what we eat.

The Kitchen Think: Music to Get You Cooking!

December18

Music to Get you Cooking!

Music is always playing in my kitchen.

Like cooking, music is a spiritual experience—at least it is for me. It’s emotional; it calms me, excites me and relaxes me.

And just like discovering new foods and new restaurants, I love discovering new music. That’s where my good friend Val Haller of Valslist.com comes in. Val’s got a boutique music website (and a new mobile app Valslist Radio) that helps crazy busy adults (like us) keep up with what’s new in music.

Just as a good cook chooses the best ingredients, Val handpicks every bit of music on her playlists. This is music to get you cooking! I’m so excited to have her guest-post today!

Music to Get You Cooking

The Missing Ingredient ~ Who Knew?

 It’s the week before Christmas and my kitchen is stocked ~
Soup to nuts I’ve got it covered. And with music, they’ll flock …

I’m the mom of an all male household. I have four sons, a husband, additional friends and a pile of their shoes/coats/sporting equipment the size of a few more bodies. Suffice it to say I’m the Queen Bee. The guys are charming and mannerly and love to hang around in the kitchen and chat.

Until it’s time to cook. The scatter factor is high. It’s like they’re allergic to slicing & dicing or something.

Val head shot

Val Haller
CEO/founder Valslist.com & ValslistRadio (new mobile app) valslistradio.com

At holiday time I’ve resigned myself to cooking alone, just me and my 13” under-the-counter kitchen TV dishing me news of the day as I solo cook. It’s all right, I like watching seven hour John Wayne movies as I pound the chicken to a pulp, or the Weather Channel storm chasers as I bring the pasta to a rolling boil. QVC is tempting as the onions blur my eyesight – that peach poly one-size-fits-all tunic is a must-have.

This Thanksgiving everything changed. I have a brand new daughter-in-law and SHE joined me in the kitchen. Instead of kitchen TV and the guys’ football blaring in the background… we added a new ingredient – a spice (of life) to be exact: music.

It was a cook-magnet. The guys flocked in one by one wondering what we were doing. We lured them in with lyrics, “well, shake it up baby now, twist & shout…” and hooked them with horrible homemade harmonies that made our ears hurt. This cooking session rocked. At one point there were six couples dancing their way through the fourteen recipes we were making for the feast.

The music turned my kitchen into a cooking community. I will never fly solo again. Even if I’m alone, it will be me and my cooking music.

Find many playlists to fit your mood on our brand new iPhone app for busy adults: VaslistRadio.com.

Happy Holidays!

Find Val on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
You can download her App right here.

 

The Kitchen Think: This Week’s Most Interesting Food News

December11

The week isn’t nearly over, but there’s a lot of interesting food news out there!

Sriracha hot sauce is one of my passions, as you know from a post I wrote  earlier this year. Now, for all of you who share my passion, there’s A Sriracha documentary available online. Here’s a preview:

 

 

When my kids were little I used to swaddle them tightly so they looked like burritos. I’d call them my little burrito babies. Well, now there’s an official burrito baby blanket that looks exactly like a tortilla. Want one for Christmas? Order it here.

 

Interesting food news: Baby Burrito Blanket

 

Fast food workers nationwide protested a few days ago over low wages. They’re asking for $15 an hour. Fast food owners say that’s too much, and it would force them to use robots and automation. That reminded me of this video:

Are you following “TipsforJesus” on Instagram? Apparently there’s a mystery good Samaritan going around the country (and Mexico!) leaving outrageous tips for the wait staff. Who are the mysterious tippers? Valley Wag says former PayPal VP Jack Selby is one of them.

Interesting food news: TipsforJesus

I’d love to have enough money to be that generous… wouldn’t you?

Finally, if you are a visual learner, here’s the perfect cookbook for you, Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. Fully illustrated with step-by-step instructions on how to make your favorite comfort food recipes. Have a peek:

 

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Hi…
I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com