Healthy Kitchen Tips:
A Green Holiday Kitchen
'Tis the season to be in the kitchen, whether you're hosting an event, heading for a potluck or cooking a traditional meal for your family. Whatever the reason, you're probably going to buy ingredients, cook, clean -- and enjoy some leftovers. Just follow these simple tips as you shop, cook, eat and clean:
1. CHOOSE FOOD LOW IN POLLUTANTS AND ADDED CHEMICALS - Food can contain ingredients we don't want to eat -- from pesticides to hormones to artificial additives to food packaging chemicals. Some simple tips to cut the chemicals:
Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are on the menu, and go organic when you can. Organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides. Organic meat and dairy products also limit exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics.
It's okay to choose non-organic from EWG's "Clean 15" list of less-contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables, too. EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on the amount of pesticide residues found on them.
Cook with fresh foods, rather than packaged and canned. Food containers can leach packaging chemicals into food, including the estrogenic bisphenol A that's used to make the linings of food cans. Go for fresh food or prepared foods stored in glass containers. Pick recipes that call for fresh, not canned, foods.
2. AVOID TOXIC CHEMICALS IN COOKWARE - Using a great pan makes a huge difference. Skip the non-stick so no one is breathing toxic fumes that can off-gas from non-stick pans over high heat. For safer cooking, use stainless steel, cast iron and oven-safe glass. Even if cookware isn't advertised as "green" or "not non-stick," manufacturers do not have to release their safety data to the public.
If you're stuck with non-stick, cook safer with it. Reduce the possibility of toxic fumes by cooking smart with non-stick cookware: Never heat an empty pan, don't put it in an oven hotter than 500°F and use an exhaust fan over the stove.
3. STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS SAFELY - Leftovers can extend the joy of a holiday. But be sure to avoid plastic when storing and especially when heating them. Skip plastic food storage containers. The chemical additives in plastic can migrate into food and liquids. Ceramic or glass food containers such as Pyrex are safer.
Don't microwave food or drinks in plastic containers, even if they claim to be microwave safe. Heat can release chemicals into your food and drink. Microwave ovens heat unevenly, creating hot spots where the plastic is more likely to break down. If you do use a plastic container, handle it carefully. Use it for cool liquids only; wash plastics by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher, farther from the heating element. Use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave. Avoid single-use plastic as much as possible -- reusing it isn't safe (it can harbor bacteria) and tossing it out fills up landfills.
4. CLEAN GREENER - We recommend that you clean green because our kitchens aren't safe and clean if the air inside is polluted with chemicals from household cleaners.
Try natural alternatives like vinegar, baking soda and water. EWG's DIY Cleaning Guide is filled with recipes and easy tips on how to make your own non-toxic cleaners. Avoid anti-bacterials. Avoid the biggest hazards which are acidic toilet bowl cleaners, air fresheners, oven cleaners and corrosive drain openers.
Adopt safe cleaning routines. Open the window. Use gloves. Dust and vacuum often because dust often contains toxics.
Tips for the kitchen. Microwave your sponge. Wash your hands with plain soap and water -- it's just as effective. Use a baking-soda-and-water paste instead of commercial oven cleaner.
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Microwave your sponge. Wash your hands with plain soap and water. Use a baking-soda-and-water paste instead of commercial oven cleaner!