Family

You've Read Enough About What NOT to Feed Your Baby, So We Asked a Pediatrician What DO We Feed Them?

Advice and 3 Simple Recipes from Pediatrician Dr. Julia Getzelman

Did you see that thing about there being lead and arsenic in baby food pouches and packaged snacks? What about the one where there's RoundUp (or glyphosate) on cereals and oatmeal? It takes long enough to get your kids strapped in their highchair, so you probably don't have time to do tons of research on which brands and products are safe. Not sure about you, but that's definitely not happening in my house. Don't worry! That's why we sat down with Dr. Julia Getzelman, MD, integrative pediatrician and founder of GetzWell Personalized Pediatrics in San Francisco, to get her advice on what to feed your kids. She gave us some of her best tips and even a couple of recipes, and we are going to share them with you.


How worried should I be about heavy metals and pesticide residues in the foods I'm feeding my kids? Why?

Babies and children eat, breathe and drink more, pound for pound, than we adults do. To add to that burden, they have immature detoxification systems so they are less effective at getting rid of toxins they are exposed to. We know that toxins can cause behavior problems, ADHD, and allergies to name just a few. So, I think it's a priority to feed them things that are as whole food based and toxin and sugar free as possible. Because Health has a great mnemonic to help guide your shopping – leafy berry skins. They explain the whole thought process so when you shop you'll be able to prioritize when to spend your money on organics. That way, you don't have to buy organic everything, which can be expensive. However, even bargain grocery stores have a pretty wide selection of discounted USDA organic labeled products.

What are some simple guidelines for figuring out what I should feed my kids?

If you stick with a whole foods based diet (meaning few or no processed foods) and stay away from products (even organic!) that have more than 5 ingredients, you'll be in good shape. Like Michael Pollan has said: Don't eat (or feed your kids) anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

What's one thing you tell all parents about starting their babies on solids?

I get really excited when I educate families about solid food introduction. I like to emphasize that parents have a real opportunity to influence a child's taste preferences. They have the chance to create and nurture a food culture in their home and they begin with the first bite to give information about what food is. If food comes in a package and tastes bland or salty and that's what baby is exposed to, then that's what that child will prefer. If food is colorful and full of flavor and natural texture from the get-go, then that kid is much more likely to be a healthy eater, for a lifetime! "Baby food" is an invention of the 1950s when anything you could buy in a package was considered better than what could be made at home. Ditch the constipating, highly processed rice cereal and offer your baby a pureed version of stew (that you would eat and is delicious – see below for the recipe!).

Help! My kid is a first-class picky eater. Any tips for what I can do?

It's important to set clear rules and boundaries and not become a short-order cook when your child doesn't want to eat what's prepared. The mantra I teach parents is, "It's my job to decide what-when-where and it's their job to decide how much or none at all." This is obviously easier said than done at times, but for most healthy kids this works because they won't starve themselves and eventually will eat a little. Also, involving children in cooking prep and having a one bite rule can be helpful so that they try things which eventually they may decide they like.

I'm super busy. What's a grab and go or no prep alternative to stuff I buy at the store?

Making "baby food" may seem daunting, but what if you just fed your baby what you eat (assuming we're not talking pizza and cheeseburgers)? Some parents choose to make large batches of soups/stews or "one-pot" type meals and the adults eat half of it and they freeze the other half, pureed and portioned into glass or silicone containers for future use. Then, on any given day, you thaw one serving for baby. You might even consider "tweaking" it a bit by adding cinnamon one day, a pat of butter the next, perhaps a little curry powder the day after that and so on. That way you have a healthy base to which you combine additional flavor profiles so that your baby is exposed to and shaped by a wide variety of taste experiences. Fun!

Basic One Pot Soup Recipe*

  • 8 oz (1 cup) pumpkin (or other squash), diced, with skin and seeds removed
  • 5 oz (2/3 cup) cauliflower
  • 5 oz (2/3 cup) carrots sliced
  • 5 oz (2/3 cup) celery sliced
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) fresh cabbage/kale/chard
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) fresh broccoli
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2‐3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) homemade chicken stock (Avedano's has homemade stocks!)
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) water
  • 1 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

(Crushed Eden brand tomatoes can be added to thicken the broth and give it some extra/different flavor.)

Sauté the onion and garlic in generous butter or olive oil in a saucepan.

Place all the vegetables into the same saucepan and stir to cover in oil/butter and heat a bit. Pour in the stock and water, cover and cook until vegetables are tender.

Finally, add the parsley and mash well or puree.

*The above recipe can be varied, added to (meat and additional/different vegetables can be easily used), amplified. We encourage you to use all organic veggies and meats. Additional spices are great to add (paprika, curry or turmeric, a bay leaf, etc.) at the point that the stock and water are put into the pot.

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chunks

A simple alternative to puffs

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt

Peel and dice the sweet potato into half inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and roast at 400 degrees for 15- 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through cooking time.

Quinoa Porridge

An easy alternative to oatmeal and cereal

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup milk (can substitute coconut, almond, or other milk of choice)
  • Optional sweeteners: coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar
  • Optional toppings: raisins, sliced almonds, diced apples or bananas, chocolate chips, almond butter, shredded coconut
  • Savory option: Substitute milk with chicken or veggie broth and add cheese and a scrambled or fried egg

Combine the quinoa and milk in a saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 2-3 minutes until the porridge has thickened. Mix in sweeteners and toppings and serve.

Family

A Truly Non-Toxic Finger Paint Made With Just 2 Ingredients- Yogurt and Food Coloring

Because "non-toxic" finger paint might not really be non-toxic

If you have a little artist who's still too young to know that paint isn't food, you might want to consider making your own safe and edible paint. It might not surprise you that paints and other art supplies labeled as "non-toxic" might not really be non-toxic. Unfortunately, there's no real guarantee what's in your paint because most ingredients in commercially available paints don't have to be disclosed.

However, scientists do know that pigments used in paints can contain toxic metals like cadmium, lead, and nickel. And preservatives need to be added to a lot of water-based paints so the product can sit on the shelf and not rot or mold before being used.

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Home

Wondering If You Should Jump On the Organic Cotton Train?

The surprising reasons why it might not be the best bang for your buck when it comes to buying organics

If you've made the move to try and purchase organic products for the betterment of your health and the environment, you've probably heard of a slew of things that you can purchase that are organic - kale, apples, cereal, even cotton. We recommend a simple way to prioritize your organic produce purchases, but how does cotton fit into this? Is it worth the extra dollars? Clothes, sheets, towels, baby blankets, and all the other things around the house that are made from cotton can add up quickly. You might be thinking about organic, but aren't so sure. Well, we've weighed the pros and cons for you below to make an informed decision.

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Roundups

The 9 Best Non-Toxic Facial Sunscreens

Everyday coverage that protects against wrinkles and spots but won't clog pores

Our best beauty tip? Wear sunscreen on your face every single day, all year round! Basically all dermatologists agree that wearing sunscreen is important to protect your skin from sun damage and keeps wrinkles and spots at bay. But, we know that it's not easy to find the right facial sunscreen for your skin type. And of course it's even harder to find facial sunscreens without any chemical sunscreens. So we dug through all that is out there to find non-toxic facial sunscreens without harmful chemicals that are well-reviewed, easy to find, and are all SPF 30 or higher. All of these facial sunscreens are mineral sunscreens, so they're healthier for you and are reef safe too, if you happen to be by the ocean. Many of our options also come in tinted versions, so they provide light coverage as well. So what are you waiting for? Check out these non-toxic facial sunscreens and pick one up!

P.S. We also have a roundup of our favorite non-toxic all purpose and sport sunscreens, and non-toxic baby sunscreens!

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Warm weather screams beaches, smoothies and sunglasses, but there's always the dreaded secret armpit sniff to check for BO. Maybe your first inclination is to check out the drugstore for the deodorant that promises to keep you smelling fresh all day and into the night, but before you run, hear us out. Just like you probably have your favorite coffee or soap brand, you should be choosy about your deodorant too!
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No matter where you live, sustainability is becoming a hot topic. It might be a friendly reminder sign to bring your reusable bag to the grocery store, a city government conversation about not using straws, or it could run as deep as cities committing to be zero waste - some as early as next year. With all of this comes the question of what sort of products are best for the world? Is biodegradable really any different from compostable. Should I opt for compostable options over recyclable ones? Does reusing things help?

All of these are great questions! And the answer to all of them has an impact on our planet, and oftentimes our health, too.

So, first of all, what do all of these different terms that are being thrown around really mean? Let's start with the one we probably have all heard the most: recyclable.

Recyclable

Recycling is the process of taking a product and breaking it down to use it again, often as a raw material. We all know that we can recycle paper, plastic, and cans. In most places, recycling facilities can also deal with glass. All of this is great, but let's break down the concept a little bit more. Quick note, each city is slightly different and you should check exactly what can and can't be recycled in your neighborhood before you just assume you are good to go.

Tossing something you think or hope can be recycled into the recycling bin is often called wishful or aspirational recycling. While your heart is in the right place, doing this might actually be worse than just trashing something you aren't clear on. Why? Because that one iffy thing can actually be enough to compromise a full batch of recycling, which could mean everything ends up in the landfill instead of just the one questionable item. In those situations, the best option would be to confirm before you dispose of it. And, if your neighborhood doesn't recycle it, ask your city to start accepting those items. But, in the meantime, if you don't know, don't just hope it can be recycled.

Back to the topic at hand, what is actually recyclable? Most plastics that hold their shape can be recycled (like water bottles, food containers, bottles for household items, etc.). In some places, they have even started being able to accept items like plastic grocery bags, shrink wrap, and plastic wrap if it is packaged correctly. Other commonly accepted items for recycling include paper, cardboard, unbroken glass and metal (including tinfoil if it's clean and in a large enough ball).

Some common items that need special recycling (but are in fact recyclable) include: batteries, electronics, and fabric (and clothing). Check with your waste management provider to see what can and can't be recycled in your neighborhood.

Compostable

This is becoming more common in larger metropolitan cities. Composting is a way to turn items made of natural materials back into a nutrient rich soil. Often times the compost is for food scraps, but other items that are fully compostable include yard scraps, dead flowers, items made of untreated wood, and those made of pure cotton. While starting with food scraps is the easiest, the more you look around the more you will find items for other parts of your life that are completely compostable.

Compostable items are great because instead of going to landfill or needing to be processed and turned into something else, they actually breakdown themselves in a natural setting (or in an industrial facility) to create something useful right away.

But, what happens if you have items that are compostable but don't have access to composting. Side note: you can create a compost pile in your own backyard (or under your sink). We know that isn't for everyone though. So, what happens if these items end up in just in your standard trash bin? You might think that it's still an improvement and they will break down, right? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not exactly the case. Compostable items break down into nutrient rich soil only if they have the right conditions. And a traditional landfill is not a place with the right conditions.

Industrial facilities have the optimal conditions for composting. These facilities regulate temperature, moisture, and air flow in order to ensure a compostable item breaks down as fast as possible. At-home compost is more prone to temperature/moisture/air flow changes and might not break down as quickly as it would in an industrial setting.

Composting works best when the items have access to oxygen and are regularly being turned over. A landfill is basically the opposite. It's an anaerobic environment where most of the pile actually doesn't have access to oxygen. That means that if your compostable takeout container ends up in the landfill, it won't break down as intended. Instead, it will mostly likely just act like a plastic container and stay around for a lot longer than intended.

So, while recognizing compostable items is a good first step, purchasing and using compostable items in place of other items has the biggest impact when they actually end up in a compost pile. Although, we do want to mention that the production of plastic is pretty nasty for a lot of reasons, so opting for compostable items made of cotton, bamboo, and even PLA (that vegetable based plastic cup you see at some restaurants now), is probably still better for the environment and your health.

Biodegradable

The dictionary definition of biodegradable is a substance that can break down naturally without causing any harm (1). This is very similar to compostable, but the biggest difference is that what it breaks down to doesn't cause harm as opposed to starting with an organically occurring materials. Therefore, man-made or chemically produced items can still be considered biodegradable, while not necessarily being compostable. This is like a square being a rectangle but a rectangle not being a square. Those items that are compostable are also biodegradable, but not everything biodegradable is compostable.

Again, biodegradable options are still a step in the right direction. It does mean that the ingredients break down over time (that's a perk) and when they do break down, the base components are not harmful to the environment (also a perk).

One drawback of biodegradable materials is that there is not necessarily a timeframe for when the items will break down. It could be many years before they start to degrade. In most cases, biodegradable isn't really saying much about the product. Think of it the same way you do products labeled "natural."

The bottom line

If we were to rank these terms for which ones are best for the planet and in turn our health, we'd say first look for items that are compostable, recyclable, and lastly biodegradable. Compostable items, if properly disposed of, will break down completely and can them be used to grow more resources. Recyclable items can be turned into raw materials that can then be used to make new things without needing to create completely new resources. And finally, biodegradable options will eventually break down, but we don't know when and there is no plan to use them for any additional benefit.

Of course, we are big proponents of reusing items when possible, but we also know that it can be incredibly hard to live your life without there being some items that needs to be disposed of. So, go on with this new information to help you think about what to toss and how to do it best.





References

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biodegradable
Food

Are Copper Mugs Poisoning You?

What you need to know about the safety of copper cookware and drink ware

Copper, the pinkish-orange brassy metal that coats our pennies can also be found in the kitchen! We often see copper in those fancy mugs known for serving Moscow mules, but it is also found in other kitchenware like pots and pans. You may have seen some articles or blog posts warning about the dangers of kitchenware made of copper, or other voices claiming this fear is unnecessary and that these dishes and mugs are completely safe. Or, maybe you've never thought twice about it. Well…what's the deal?! Here we will clear up this mystery so you can feel comfortable and safe sipping on your refreshing Moscow Mule.

Copper Exposure and Health

Copper is a naturally occurring metal used industrially for electrical wiring, pipes, and other metal products and used agriculturally and in healthcare as an antimicrobial agent or contraceptive. Copper is an essential element, meaning that humans require some level of copper in our bodies(1). However, at high levels, (above 1,300 parts per billion), ingesting copper can irritate your digestive system and cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea (2).

So, how are humans exposed to this metal? Like other metals, copper, when in contact with a liquid has the potential to leach off and become dissolved in the liquid. When consuming the liquid, any leached copper will be ingested and could cause the unfortunate digestive irritation mentioned above. The rate of this dissolution reaction depends on the properties of the metal, the properties of the liquid, and the temperature of these substances.

Copper in the kitchen is most commonly found in the form of mugs, or cookware like pots and pans. Copper kitchenware is sold either lined, meaning the inside is coated with a different, less corrosive metal, or unlined, where the item entirely copper. Going back to our fun chemistry lesson above, the potential to ingest copper at home (or at the bar!) comes from the possibility of the copper leaching into whatever substance you are cooking or drinking. So, the big question: Will the copper in your kitchen products leach and cause toxicity? In short, probably not.

Mugs – Although copper does leach faster than most metals used in cups, it would take many, many hours of sitting in the mug before your Moscow Mule became dangerous to drink (3). Of course, Moscow mules are not the only drink served in copper mugs, and other substances can behave a little differently. Most beverages are OK, but acidity and heat speed up the dissolution reaction (4). Something as acidic as lime juice would still take a few hours to leach, but to err on the side of caution, leaving hot and/or acidic substances in unlined copper dish ware should be avoided (3).

Pots and Pans – Because of the high temperatures used when cooking, unlined copper cookware should not be used (4)! The good news—nearly all copper cookware on the market is lined with a different metal. However, you can never be too careful! When cooking with copper items, make sure the inside is a different color, or that the label specifies "lined" to be certain that it is safe to use.

Pipes – The most common way humans are exposed to ingested copper is through tap water when copper faucets or storage pipes are used. If you are concerned about your water at home, run the water 15-30 seconds prior to drinking (2).

Our Advice

Don't fret about enjoying a drink out of a copper mug! If you are investing in new copper mugs, we recommend purchasing stainless steel-lined ones, but regardless there is no need to panic. If you have unlined mugs, just take care to ensure super hot or acidic substances don't sit in them for extended periods of time, and be extra cautious around children. As for pots and pans, invest in lined copper only. If you're on the market for some new copper kitchenware, here are some lined options pots, pans, and mugs. Now enough anxiety about copper, it's time to sit back, relax, and enjoy that Moscow mule!

Sources

1 https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002419.htm

2 https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp132-c1-b.pdf

3 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/moscow-mule-not-poisonous_n_598c7552e4b0a66b8bb1938d?guccounter=1

4 https://accelconf.web.cern.ch/accelconf/p01/PAPERS/TPAH106.PDF

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