Favorite Things

Favorite Things: Organic BPA-Free Soups

My son loves to eat. Eating is not a problem. It’s WHAT he will eat that drives me bonkers at about 6:30pm every evening. In other words…he’s a picky eater. One thing he does love without question, however, is tomato soup—he would eat it every single day if he could, preferably with one of my “bestest ever” grilled cheese sandwiches.

When I first started making him tomato soup, Campbell’s was carried a non-canned box version and it was perfect. I could cook some just for him without opening a whole can and refrigerate the rest and because it was in a Tetra-Pak, it was free of the BPA found in almost all can linings. Then one day the boxes of Campbell’s tomato soup disappeared from my store shelves, never to return.

We went months without any tomato soup and in that time, I fielded a lot of forlorn requests for my son’s fave food. I didn’t know what to do but I knew I didn’t want to serve the canned stuff because the acid in tomato products causes the BPA to leech out of the can liners and right into the food itself.

On a lark, I decided to try one of the other boxed soups in the organic section of the grocery store. At the time, they didn’t have any tomato so I hesitantly got some organic creamy butternut squash soup by Pacific Natural Foods instead and tucked it away in my cabinet. One day when I found myself completely out of any fruits or vegetables to have with dinner and decided to serve the butternut squash soup. My kids? THEY LOVED IT! BOTH OF THEM! This was huge because usually if you find something awesome that one kid loves, there’s some universal law that insures the other will not.

So, I bought the butternut squash a few more times and then one day, the soup gods smiled upon me for right there, on the shelf, was Pacific Natural Foods organic creamy TOMATO SOUP!!! in the BPA-free box. Very long story short—I bought it, we ate it, everyone including my son loved it!

Since then, I keep a variety of Pacific organic boxed soups in my cabinet, including organic chicken broth, which I use in various recipes and to make (semi) homemade chicken soup and my son has tomato soup just about whenever he wants it, totally free of hormone-disrupting BPA.

Find It Here: Pacific Natural Foods can be found in most organic grocery sections, at natural food stores, Whole Foods and in money-saving bulk at Amazon.com.

Bonus: Get coupons from Pacific

Update: I’m not sure of the accuracy of this article on the safety (or lack thereof) of Tetra-Paks but it’s worth sharing. You can read and decide for yourself.

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Favorite Things: Indian Simmer Sauces

seeds of change simmer saucesIf you shop the green, organic or “ethnic” sections of your grocery store, you may already be familiar with Seeds of Change Indian Simmer Sauces. If you’re not and you have any inclination towards super easy Indian food, please DO become familiar with them because they are. So. Good.

To clarify, I don’t think of myself as a foodie OR a lover of cooking (mainly because my kitchen is so incredibly small) but I do enjoy interesting, flavorful food that doesn’t take a lot of time, work or space (I’m woefully short on all three). That said, Seeds of Change simmer sauces, which are certified organic (WINWINWIN!) make cooking Indian about 10x easier with no appreciable sacrifice in taste. Also? My ten year old will eat anything cooked in these sauces.

We typically marinate some organic vegetables and/or chicken in one of our three faves (Tikka Masala, Jalfrezi or Korma) and then while it’s cooking, we make a side of our own easy-peasy version of chana masala (Indian-style chickpea dish) and serve with naan bread. I can have a surprisingly delicious Indian feast on the table in less than 45 minutes, and that includes 15 minutes of marinating. What’s not to love???

Find It Here: Seeds of Change

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Favorite Things: Energizer Crank Flashlight

Energizer Weather Ready hand-crank carabineer LED  flashlightI bought the Energizer Weather Ready Carabineer Crank Flashlight a little over a year ago for my daughter’s Brownie camping trip. We have a few other flashlights but they always seemed to be missing when we needed one and if you’ve ever let your kids use flashlights, you know they have a tendency to leave them on and kill the batteries.

Of course, we do have a ton of rechargeable batteries around here, but they’re always in use and I was tired of doing the battery shuffle every time we needed some so a flashlight that relied on hand power (because it’s pretty hard to misplace your hands!) seemed like a logical choice.

Well, over a year later, I’m here to tell you that our little hand-crank LED flashlight is still going strong. It’s never needed batteries plus it’s survived two camping trips, a road trip, many household adventures and well, it’s survived my kids, so I’m declaring it a very wise purchase on my part!

(Now, we got ours at Target and I saw them a few months back in my local store but I didn’t see this exact model on their web site so I’m linking to Amazon—but you probably can find them at Target or at a home improvement store.)

Find It Here: Amazon.com

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Favorite Things: Shea Moisture Organic Soaps

shea_moisture_coconut.jpgEveryone in my household has sensitive skin to some degree and thus, I’m very picky about what kinds of soap I buy. The conventional deodorant soaps make my husband all itchy and both my kids will get little patches of eczema all over from anything that’s too harsh.

Aside from that, conventional soaps and body washes are typically heavily scented via phthalate-laden “fragrances” and contain a laundry list unpronounceable chemicals that have been linked to various health issues from cancer to hormone disruption to organ damage. You just don’t need all that junk to get clean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Favorite Things: Organic Baby Oil

organic_babyoil.jpgI drink a billion glasses of water a day and live in a very humid climate but regardless, I’ve always had a tendency towards dry skin. That said, I have to depend on external things like lotions and oils to keep my skin looking not dry.

A long time ago, before I knew what baby oil was made from (mineral oil from petroleum—mmm sexy!—and synthetic phthalate-laden fragrance) I used it without a second thought but these days, I try to make more natural choices. I used to love Neutrogena’s sesame oil but again with the scent—it’s just not good to rub synthetic fragrances all over your body’s largest organ as it DOES get absorbed right into your system.

But alas, there are, thankfully, other options, one of which I use faithfully every day to keep from becoming too reptilian (full disclosure—I did receive a review sample of this product a while back). Nature’s Baby Organics makes an organic baby oil with nothing synthetic in it at all. It’s certified organic and comprised of olive oil, jojoba oil , tamanu oil and sunflower oil and naturally scented with mandarin orange and coconut oils. It’s thick and yummy and smells good enough to eat and believe me, if I had a baby, this is the oil I’d use on them, as opposed to that sketchy petroleum-derived stuff you’ll find in every baby products aisle in America.

Find It Here: Nature’s Baby Organics

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Favorite Things: Push Mowers

reel mowerWe recently got our FIRST push mower (also called a “reel” mower). We had been wanting to get one, especially my husband, because he hated our unreliable gas mower but it wasn’t until that motorized piece of junk finally died for good that he went and picked out a nice sturdy Craftsman push mower from Sears (NOT an endorsement or sponsored plug…he just digs Craftsman stuff).

He is in LOVE with it. No more trips to fill up the gas can, no more pulling on that annoying string thing to get it started, no LOUD noise, no more smelling like exhaust after mowing the lawn and best of all, no combustion engine to break AGAIN!

When the blades need sharpening, you can take them somewhere to be sharpened or if you have the tools, you can sharpen them yourself. Basic care is all it really needs!

Now, it won’t ride you around the yard on a padded seat and we didn’t get the bagging attachment so we won’t have that luxury either but there’s just something really satisfying about going off the petroleum-dependent grid, even if it’s just with a lawn mower.

Find It Here: Sears

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Favorite Things: Traditional Razors

parker-90r-detail.jpgI’ve always been kind of bothered by disposable razors. I mean, you use it a few times and then you just THROW IT AWAY. It’s absurd. What really pushed me over the edge, though, is when my husband tried the free Gillete Fusion we got in the mail and decided he really liked it. Yes, it worked nicely but the replacement cartridge heads? Cost a freaking fortune (around $25 for 8 heads). Shaving had suddenly become not only bad for the environment but ridiculously expensive, as well.

After succumbing to his pleas to buy the overpriced, ungreen foolishness a few times I decided there had to be a better alternative and I started looking at real razors like my dad used to use, also known as double edge safety razors. Usually made of stainless steel, chrome or nickel-plated brass, you use stainless steel blades that are generally inexpensive (and recyclable) and you DON’T need to replace the head or handle at all.

After much research, I settled on one and ordered it for my husband (it came with 100 blades) for $37 and change and guess what? HE LOVES IT. Even better? I love it—no more dull blades, no more throwing the whole thing away and no more buying new razor heads at an average price of $3 per head. And as an added bonus…my legs have never been smoother.

Find It Here: Amazon.com

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Favorite Things: EOS Smooth Sphere

eos-lipbalmsmoothsphere.JPGMy name is Janet and I’m a lip balm addict aficionado. My current balm of choice is the EOS (Evolution of Smooth) Smooth Sphere. Of course, I love it because it’s 100% natural with 95% organic ingredients but I also love it’s unique shape—inside it’s weirdly wonderful round case, the balm is shaped like an egg. Well, half an egg, actually, and applying it to my lips is oddly pleasant. In fact, I think I need some right now. Stop looking at me like that. I don’t have a problem. I can quit any time I want!

Find It Here: EOS

On Our Blog: One of the Easiest Ways to Go Green

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Favorite Things: Pop!CornWare Utensils

PopCornWareEvery day I pack my kids’ lunches (yep…even in the summer) and every day they need a spoon. Well, I learned a long time ago that sending them with silverware was a bit of a crap shoot. It might make it home. It might not. And that right there? Is why I love Pop!CornWare utensils. It’s like the plastic stuff in that it’s disposable but it’s NOT plastic. Nope. It’s actually made from corn and it’s totally biodegradable, non-toxic and petroleum free. You can just use it and pitch it (or lose it) and not feel one iota of plastic guilt. But this is where Pop!CornWare gets even better. We DON’T just use it and pitch it. We use it, wash it in the dishwasher, and use it again. And again. And again. It’s true. I got my package of Pop!CornWare probably 4-6 months ago and I took 4 spoons out to use and have been using them ever since in my kids lunchboxes. Now how they can lose silverware but manage to hang onto a Pop!CornWare spoon is one of life’s great mysteries but whatever… They’re green. They last. They rule!

Find It Here: 3 Green Moms

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Favorite Things: Toothpaste

toms.jpgOf course, we dig everything we feature on this site but it occurred to me recently that I’ve never really written about the green products I use in my everyday life. Sooo…I thought that every now and then I could feature some of the things I really can’t live without because I love them THAT MUCH!

One thing I refuse to compromise on is my toothpaste. I won’t use any of the conventional brands anymore. Why? Because they have a lot of nasty chemicals in them that aren’t necessary to have clean, healthy teeth. My personal fave is Tom’s of Maine Natural Whole Care. We’ve been using it for about two years now and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do but without so much toxic junk in it. And it also tastes really good, thanks to actual spearmint and peppermint oils. Additionally, The Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database gives it a 1 out of 10 which means it’s regarded as “low hazard.” It does cost a little more but considering that we brush at least twice a day and it goes in our mouths, I’m willing to pay more for it. One way to save is to stock up when it’s on sale OR buy it in bulk on Amazon.com when it’s on sale and save BIG!

Find It Here: Tom’s of Maine

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