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Archive for Healthy Living

March 3rd, 2015

6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer

6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer Groovy Green Livin

A person is more likely to die from heart disease than cancer, but cancer is closing in quickly and could take the lead.

According to a recent New York Times article, the most encouraging gains in the war against cancer come from taking steps to prevent this disease. We all know that not all cancers are preventable, but through some simple lifestyle changes we can sometimes lower our risk.

The home is an easy place to begin since there are several possible cancer-causing substances that might be lurking under your very own roof. 

Non-Stick Pots and Pans (Teflon)

Many homes are filled with nonstick pots and pans, which are loved for their ease and convenience when it comes to cooking and cleaning. Nonstick finishes have come under fire in recent years due to the toxic fumes emitted when the cookware is exposed to high heat. Most nonstick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a chemicals from the Perfluorinated chemical or Perfluorochemicals (PFC) family. Studies in humans found that workers with exposure to PFOA have higher risks of bladder and kidney cancersAnother study showed that PFCs have been linked to infertility in women.

Bottom Line: Ditch the Teflon.

Candles

Candles come in varying scents, colors, shapes and sizes. If you’re not careful about your candle purchase they could add nasty pollutants to your indoor air. Most of the candles on the market are made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum, and scented with synthetic fragrances, also derived from petroleum. In a study by the American Chemical Society the researchers found that the petroleum based candles emitted varying levels of cancer-causing toluene and benzene, as well as other hydrocarbon chemicals called alkanes and alkenes, which are components of gasoline and can irritate respiratory tracts and trigger asthma.

Bottom Line: Time to replace those petroleum based candles with a safer alternative.

BPA 

For many years BPA has been on the minds of parents, consumers and public health advocates. I’ve been following the BPA issue closely and devoted much of my writing to this topic. I was even interviewed by ABC World News about the FDA’s decision not to ban BPA. There have been some wonderful victories surrounding BPA. The good news is that many companies are starting to listen and BPA is transitioning out. The bad or unsettling news is that even though a product is considered BPA-free the replacement could still be releasing high levels of other chemicals that mimic estrogen.

Bottom Line: Just say not to plastic as much as you can.

Radon

According to the National Cancer InstituteRadon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air.”  People who inhale high levels of radon are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Believe it our not radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon can enter your home through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, and collect indoors.

Bottom Line: Test your home for radon. 

Household Cleaners and Cosmetics

There could be cancer-causing chemicals in your household cleaner and cosmetics. Seems crazy, right? Unfortunately our system is broken both of these industries are highly unregulated. This leaves it wide open for these toxins to land in our products. Remember Tide and 1,4 dioxane (a known carcinogen)?

Bottom Line: Become an avid label reader and find products that contain simple ingredients and avoid products that contain long chemical ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Best bet-make some of your own personal care and cleaning products at home.

Flame Retardants

Much of the furniture in our home is filled with flame retardants. It’s no secret flame retardants have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems. The market place seems to be shifting as more and more retailers decide not to use toxic flame retardants, but as consumers we still need to be cautious.

Bottom Line: Let your dollars do the talking and seek out furniture retailers and manufacturers that commit to carrying furniture without toxic flame retardants.

How do you prevent cancer-causing chemicals from entering your home?

photo credit: The House, Lately via photopin (license)

February 26th, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Cast Iron

Everything about Cast Iron Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been gradually making the switch to safer pots and pans. Nonstick finishes have come under fire in recent years due to the toxic fumes emitted when the cookware is exposed to high heat. Bye, bye Teflon, hello cast iron and stainless steel.

About a year ago I was sent a Lodge 10-inch cast iron skillet ($14) for review and it rocked my world. Since then I have an arsenal of stainless steel and cast iron in my kitchen. Cast iron certainly has its drawbacks- it’s extremely heavy and cast iron requires a little extra elbow grease to keep it in tip top shape. But I’m finding the pros far outweigh the cons.

Just this past week I invested in a Lodge Cast-Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle ($45) for the top our our range. We’ve been using it for pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes.

Since I’m a newbie when it comes to cast iron I thought I would devote some time to a few cast iron basics.

Why Should I Buy Cast Iron?

Cast iron is the pan that your grandmother used. Cast iron pans keep getting better and better as they age. The more you cook the better they get. These relatively inexpensive pans are virtually indestructible, provided you take care of them. Cast iron pans can be transferred from the stove top right into the oven (or on the grill, or even over the campfire). Also, the seasoning of the pan creates a nonstick surface without the toxic chemicals found in Teflon pans (see below for information on seasoning). Note of caution: Acidic foods like tomatoes, beans, and certain sauces can damage seasoning, and should be avoided until the seasoning is well-established.

What Cooking Tools Should I Use With Cast Iron?

Many cast iron devotees have heard rumors that wooden cooking utensils are the best. This isn’t necessarily true. Stainless steel spatulas work fine and won’t damage the seasoned pan. If you choose to use metal cooking utensils with your cast iron you might see black flakes in your food. Those flakes are probably pieces of food and shouldn’t be of concern.

How Do I Clean and Season Cast Iron?

Cleaning cast iron is actually very simple.

  • After cooking, clean your pan with a sponge and hot water. No need to use soap. Careful not to put a hot pan in cold water-this could causing it to warp or crack.
  • TIP: If you are having trouble removing stuck-on food, boil some water in your pan for a few minutes to loosen residue, making it easier to remove.
  • Towel dry immediately and apply a light coating of oil while the pan is still warm.

There’s been a video flying around the internet on how to clean and season cast iron. It’s fascinating and involves using kosher salt. Take a look.

What Cast Iron Pan Should I Buy?

Here’s what I have in my kitchen:

On my wish list:

Do you have any cast iron pots and pans? Any tips to share?


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Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you in advance.

photo credit: DSC_0331.jpg via photopin (license)

February 12th, 2015

Join Me: Tell Congress We Have the Right to Know What’s in Our Food

Tell Congress We Have the Right to Know What's in Our Food Groovy Green Livin

Everyone has the right to know what’s in their food. It’s hard to disagree with that, right?

More than 90% of Americans believe GE (genetically engineered) foods should be labeled. Unfortunately, there are a few who don’t agree that GMOs should be labeled and they’re giving the pro labeling community a tough time.

Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and  G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) have introduced legislation dubbed the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know Act (DARK Act), which would deny consumers the right to know if there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food.

National Week of Action to Label GMOs

This week has been designated “National Week of Action to Label GMOs”. Together, we are trying to prevent another DARK Act from coming before Congress and possibly passing.

What is the DARK Act?

DARK is an acronym for the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know” Act.  Last year the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” officially H.R. 4432, came before the 113th Congress and is likely to appear before the 114th Congress this year in a new bill.

The DARK Act would make the failed voluntary labeling system that we have had in place over the past 13 years permanent. Simply put, we have the right to know what’s in our food and the current system isn’t working. We need labeling.

How You Can Help. Let Congress Know that You Care.

There are many organizations working tirelessly to make sure GMO labeling remains on the forefront of the political landscape. As consumers, we can work alongside these organizations.

During this National Week of Action to Label GMOs we can work together to put a stop to this new version of the DARK Act.

Here’s what you can do to help: 

  • Sign THIS petition at Just Label It. You will be asked to enter your zip code. This will allow your petition to be sent directly to your members of Congress.
  • Call your Senator. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Use WhoIsMyRepresentative.com to determine who to call and then let them know why you care about GMO labeling.

It would also be fantastic if you shared this info with your friends and family. We need to work hard, quickly and together to make the DARK Act go away.

If labeling GMOs is important to you and your family please spend a few seconds on this. Can you help? Thank you!


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


photo credit: OccupyTheFarm: “Family Weekend At The Gill Tract Urban Farm” 4/28/2012 via photopin (license)

February 9th, 2015

4 Climate-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gifts

 

Climate-Friendly Valentine's Day Groovy Green Livin

 This was originally published on the Huffington Post.

It’s hard to ignore the sea of red gifts and boxes of chocolates lining the aisles in most stores this time of year. Valentine’s Day is upon us. While we ponder how to best surprise our loved ones, many areas in the country are being hammered with multiple blizzards. It’s hard to imagine, with several feet of snow on the ground, that winters have, on average, been getting warmer since the 1970s. According to Climate Central there has been an overall drop in the number of nights below freezing in most cities.

This increase in warmer weather throughout the world is becoming the new normal. Climate change is real. With 61 Senators (a vast majority of the Senate including 15 Republican senators) admitting the scientific reality of man-made climate change, we can now move forward and talk about solutions.

While discussions of political solutions to climate change are beginning to circulate we can continue with our own personal efforts to reduce our individual carbon footprints.

This Valentine’s Day rather than focusing on those red and chocolate filled aisles why not look outside the box and give a gift that will truly make a difference and impact climate change.

Adopt a Polar Bear

American polar bears are on the brink of extinction unless we take immediate action. These large marine mammals spend much of their time on the Arctic Sea, in areas where they can hunt seals at openings in the sea ice hundreds of miles from land. But the Arctic Sea ice is rapidly diminishing due to climate change, thereby destabilizing the polar bears’ habitat.

This Valentine’s Day give the gift of adopting a polar bear. Your gift will help to protect the fragile Arctic by fighting climate change through vital research and policy work, advocating a ban on all drilling in the region, and pushing for polar bears to gain the full protection they deserve under the Endangered Species Act.

Declare Your Love for the Planet 

The Climate Coalition is the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change. This Valentine’s Day they’re asking everyone to submit photos of things they love and that they fear losing due to the effects of climate change. The #ShowTheLove campaign is a way to show politicians and those in decision making roles that climate change is something we all care about.

Climate change affects the things we love most. Our childrens’ future. Our hobbies. Our passions. Our lifestyles. Our safety and wellbeing. We’re saying loud and clear – let’s act on climate change, for the love of everything we hold dear. 

In honor of Valentine’s Day head on over HERE and #ShowTheLove by sharing what you love and how it could be impacted by climate change. There’s also a short film and green hearts to make, wear and share with your loved ones.

Plant a Tree in Honor of Someone You Love

Instead of giving cut flowers this Valentine’s Day why not give a tree? According to the Arbor Day Foundation planting trees helps to fight climate change.

Through the natural process of photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 and other pollutant particulates, then store the carbon and emit pure oxygen.

You can reduce your energy use by strategically planting trees near your home. Trees will keep your house cool in the summer and allow the sun to warm your house in the winter. According to the U.S. Forest Service Center just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save up to 30% of energy use. Forests are the world’s second largest carbon reservoirs (oceans are the largest). We can’t create new oceans, but we do have the ability to plant new trees. One acre of forestland will capture between 150 – 200 tons of CO2 in its first 40 years.

Honor your friends and loved ones this Valentine’s Day with the gift of trees. Every dollar donated to the Arbor Day Foundation plants a tree in one of our nation’s forests.

Forgo the Cut Roses and Give a House Plant

So often we forget that the environment has the natural ability to clean itself. Many common houseplants act as an air purifier, removing toxins from the air we breathe. They are known to produce oxygen from CO2 and they absorb toxins including benzene (gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber), formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives).

Through air purification household plants reduce the amount of humidity in the home, which in turn means less air conditioning is needed during the hot summer months.  Most electricity needed to run an air conditioner is currently produced by burning fossil fuels. Reducing the amount of air conditioning needed will require less electricity to run an air conditioner, which will in turn reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

A few years back NASA scientists studied nineteen different plants over a two year span to see which did the best job cleaning the air. The NASA study recommends that you use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Rex Rosetta Fur Heart via photopin (license)

February 3rd, 2015

4 Gadgets to Help You Through a Snowstorm

Snowstorm Groovy Green Livin

After a two hour delay this morning my kids are finally back in school. Two snow days later. That means, as it does for many, I can finally get back to work.

We’ve been hit with two snowstorms in a relatively short period of time. Check out my Instagram photos to see the insane amount of snow. This last snowstorm was a heavy hitter, with the snow continuing steadily throughout the day yesterday.

As the groundhog predicted, it’s no surprise that we have at least 6 more weeks of winter coming our way. I’m sure we’ll have a few more notable snowstorms as well.

If you’re anything like me you’ll want to be prepared the next time a snowstorm decides to blow by.

Here are a few of my gadgets picks to help you through the next snowstorm.

There are affiliate links contained in this post (see below).

True Temper SnoBoss ($53)

snowstorm gadgets Groovy Green LivinWorried about throwing your back our while shoveling? The  True Temper SnoBoss  has an ergonomic design and unique features that make it ideal for your back when shoveling, and also pushing, scraping and cleaning snow and ice.

External Battery and Portable Charger ($46)

snowstorm gadgets Groovy Green LivinThe Anker® 2nd Gen Astro3 Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Nexus and More is what you need to have when the next snow storm rolls around. This charger is a powerhouse. It will  charge the iPad Air once, the Galaxy S5 over three times, the iPhone 6 five times and other smartphones multiple times.

Rechargeable Heated Insoles ($97)

snowstorm gadgets Groovy Green LivinThe Thermacell Rechargeable Heated Insole is on the top of my list before the next snowstorm. My feet are always the first part of my body to get cold. I might invest in a pair of these for skiing too. This is a rechargeable foot warmer which is operated by a wireless remote control while the foot warmer is inside your shoes or boots. How cool is that?! They’re adjustable to three temperature settings to warm cold feet by remote control and can be recharged up to 500 times using the charger that is included.

Boot and Shoe Dryer ($45)

snowstorm gadgets Groovy Green Livin
I can’t tell you how much I want this gadget. All of our boots are soaking wet from playing and shoveling during the snowstorm. The DryGuy Thermanator Boot and Shoe Dryer is the perfect solution. It provides a modular drying system with three mounting options (wall, floor, and free standing hardware) and can accommodate four shoes or boots.

 

What’s your favorite snowstorm gadget? 

 

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support! 

photo credit: Xydexx Squeakypony via photopin cc

January 30th, 2015

5 Healthy Superbowl Snacks for Kids

5 Healthy Superbowl Snacks for Kids Groovy Green Livin

Superbowl XLIX is here! Enough talking about Deflate-Gate. I’m ready for game day.

Since moving to the Boston area it’s been impossible not to get caught up in the sports world. The transition from a Packers fan to a Patriots fan has been bumpy, but I’m now officially aligned with almost all the New England teams.

It’s time for the Patriots take on the Seahawks in Superbowl XLIX.

The game kicks off at 7:05 pm. My kids have assured me that they’re staying up for the entire game. They know that it wouldn’t be a Superbowl without a party and a few million snacks to choose from.

According to the Snack Food Association, in a single day (Super Bowl Sunday) Americans consume an estimated 30.4 million pounds of chips, dips, pretzels, popcorn and other treats. 

This year I’m bucking the trend and suggesting a few healthy snacks to share at your Superbowl festivities.

Snacks that your kids will love. I’ve been collecting fantastic recipes from foodie bloggers on Pinterest. Here are a few of my faves:

I’m loving this fruit rainbow idea from Apartment Therapy. What kid wouldn’t gobble that up?

Healthy Superbowl Snacks Groovy Green Livin

How about bringing a batch of these Crispy Oven Roasted Chickpeas?  Fifteen Spatulas came up with a simple recipe that tastes delicious. Sure to be a Superbowl hit!

Healthy Superbowl Snacks Groovy Green Livin

I’m loving these Chocolate Covered Strawberry Footballs from My Mommy Style. How cute are the white laces?!

Healthy Superbowl Snacks Groovy Green Livin

If you’re looking for a gluten free option then pop on over to The Healthy Apple. Amie has quite a few healthy, gluten free Superbowl recipes to choose from.  The vegan, gluten free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies look divine.

Healthy Superbowl Snacks Groovy Green Livin

This healthy snack is so simple, but with an added twist. It looks gorgeous and the peppers hold the dip. Brilliant. Thanks to It’s Written on the Wall for the inspiration.

Healthy Superbowl Snacks

What are you planning to share during the Superbowl?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Elvert Barnes via photopin cc

January 26th, 2015

3 Small Kitchen Appliances I Can’t Live Without

Small Kitchen Appliances Groovy Green Livin

I always love taking a sneak peek into someone else’s home. I’ve shared with you what’s under my kitchen sink and some of my favorite safe shampoos and lotions. My friend Lindsay has also shared some behind the scenes glimpses into her home with a look at what’s under her sink and what’s in her pantry.

Today it’s time to take a little peek into my kitchen, which you can see in its entirety in my interview with ABC World News.

There are 3 small kitchen appliances that I use every day and I can’t live without them!

I spent a lot of time researching and seeking out the safest brand before buying each one. They are not inexpensive, but so worth the investment. Feel free to piggy back off my research and treat yourself to one of each. You deserve it!

There are affiliate links below. See * for full disclosure.

VitaClay Organic Multi-Cooker/Rice Cooker
3 Small Kitchen Appliances I Can't Live Without Groovy Green Livin

I’ve had multiple rice cookers over the years and hands down I like the VitaClay Organic Multi-Cooker/Rice Cookerthe best. The interior pot is ceramic rather than stainless steel and doesn’t contain aluminum, lead or any non-stick chemicals. It works like a charm every time I make rice or any grain. I’ve even used it for oatmeal.

There are multiple settings: for white rice (Quinoa), Brown rice (Wholegrain, or Wild rice), Sweet rice (Sushi, Sticky), Reheat, Stew (Roast or Steam or Beans, or less liquid cooking), Soup (Broth or more liquid based cooking) and Yogurt(yes, you can make your own yogurt).

It seems to cook the rice very quickly. My favorite feature is the “delay start”. I can program the rice cooker to turn on at a set time. Once the rice finishes cooking it automatically keeps it warm.

My only challenge with this rice cooker is that the lid is sometimes difficult to take off when the pot is hot.

PRICE:$119.95

All-Clad 6.5-Quart Slow Cooker with Black Ceramic Insert
3 Small Kitchen Appliances I Can't Live Without Groovy Green Livin
The All-Clad 6.5-Quart Slow Cooker with Black Ceramic Insert is the best of the best.

If you’re anything like me and driving your kids around just before dinner time, this slow cooker is for you. It has a 26-hour programmable timer, which allows you to time dinner perfectly. It’s also quite large so we can prepare a meal and have lots of leftovers. I love that it turns to the warm setting once the cooking’s complete. The ceramic insert is very easy to clean.

PRICE: $179.95

The SodaStream Crystal

 

3 Small Kitchen Appliances I Can't Live Without Groovy Green Livin

We love our SodaStream . There are quite a few versions out there, but we chose the SodaStream Chrystal since it uses a reusable glass carafe. Personally I’m not a fan of carbonated water (I don’t like the bubbles), but the rest of my family can’t get enough. Since this love of sparkling water has turned into a bit of an addiction I decided to do a little homework to make sure that consuming a lot of the bubbly stuff wasn’t impacting our health.

The bottom line: carbonated water is basically harmless. It’s just water and bubbles. An added bonus: by using a SodaStream you’re creating a positive impact on the environment by not using all the plastic bottles and cans generated from the store bought version.

PRICE: $179.99

What’s your favorite kitchen appliance? 

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

*Disclaimer: I’ve included Amazon affiliate links for each of these items.  I will earn a small commission off of anything you buy through these links. Thank you for your support this site. All opinions are 100% my own, as always!

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

Lori on ABC World News

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