How to Avoid Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A has been mentioned often in the past several years but I recently read an article with this topic in the headline and wanted to share it. Hopefully, with more people understanding what Bisphenol A (BPA) is, consumers can make informed choices when shopping for groceries. Together, we can get more companies to switch from using this toxic chemical in their products by calling them and ask if they are switching to BPA free products.

Bisphenol A is used to line the inside of cans (soup, sauces, canned fish, etc), polycarbonate bottles, and other types of food storage containers. It’s an endocrine disruptor affecting hormone levels in the body and has been linked with certain diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. A 2011 study from the  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism indicated that among the 4,000 adults studied those with diabetes had the highest urinary levels of BPA. This does not prove a cause/effect relationship but it’s interesting to see the type of research that is currently being conducted. In animal research, BPA promotes inflammation throughout the body and affects hormone levels leading to weight gain, which can lead to chronic diseases over-time.

Another study from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at two groups consuming either canned vegetable soup or fresh vegetable soup for five days. The canned soup group had a 1200 % increase in urinary BPA levels. I was shocked at how high this percentage was. This was just one serving a day…what about other bottles, drinks, or foods with this chemical?

To reduce your risk of BPA exposure, avoid polycarbonate containers (which may have a #7 or PC as a recycling code) and heating foods in plastic containers, as this can leach out the chemical. In addition, store food in glass containers, purchase fresh or frozen vegetables, and avoid the water cooler at work (it may be made of BPA polycarbonate). Acidic foods, products that contain citric acid, soda beverages, along with canned alcoholic beverages should also be avoided (alcohol exacerbates the leaching out of BPA).

Certain companies are moving to remove BPA from their products. Eden organics does not use BPA in their canned beans, Muir Glen is moving toward glass bottles for their tomato sauces, Native Forest does not use BPA lining in their coconut milk, along with Oregon’s Choice Gourmet and Wild Planet’s canned tuna and sardines.

For more information on BPA, you can read the report from the Environmental Working Group.

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Red Lentil Dal

Red lentils are an excellent source of protein and fiber, along with various B vitamins and minerals. It’s the perfect super-food to fill you up while keeping hunger levels satisfied. The soup will thicken upon standing and with refrigeration; when reheating, just add additional water to thin it out.

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 large carrot, cut into quarters
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 3 cups water or broth
  • 2 inch strip of kombu
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add coconut oil and cumin seeds. Sauté until the seeds pop being careful not to allow them to burn. When the seeds are fragrant, add the diced onion and sea salt. Continue to sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Next, add the carrots, celery, and garlic. Toss to coat and sauté another minute.

Add the coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. Toss to coat and then add the lentils, kombu strip, and 3 cups water (or broth). Cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes. The kombu strip can either be removed from the soup or cut into small pieces and added back into the soup.

When lentils are cooked through, add the chopped spinach and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Garnish the soup with fresh chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Hearty, Leafy Greens

Fall is the perfect time to incorporate dark, leafy greens into the diet. Collard greens, mustard greens, kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, and dandelion greens look amazing in the local co-op stores. The rainbow Swiss chard is a beautiful, vibrant green with colorful stems, the dino kale is a vivid dark green, while the curly kale has bits of red and purple through out the leaves. These bright colors provide many nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals helping to support the immune system throughout the cold, winter months.

With all the variety of hearty, leafy greens at the store, I’ve decided to switch up my usual staple foods and add a bit of variety to my dishes. I usually cook with kale, beet greens, and Swiss chard quite often but sometimes neglect my other favorite greens. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to choose a different variety of leafy greens to cook with and share with you the ways I’ve decided to prepare them.

First up are dandelion greens, which are high in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and potassium and have a bitter, pungent taste. Although, sautéing them with a little bit of oil and adding acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, at the end of the cooking helps to mitigate that bitter taste.

Sautéed Greens

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, cut into crescents
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard (including the stems), washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add coconut oil, onion, and salt. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. If the pan becomes dry, add a splash of water as needed.

When the onion is soft, add the garlic and dandelion greens and allow to cook and wilt down for about 5-10 minutes. Next, add the Swiss chard and allow to cook until the stems are soft and the greens are cooked down, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vinegar to the cooked greens and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serves 4

Chickpeas!

With the weather getting colder, I look forward to a hot, steaming bowl of soup filled with colorful vegetables, warming spices including ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, and one of my favorite beans, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein (about 15 grams in one cup), fiber (about 13 grams), folate, and iron, along with other minerals that assist the body in detoxifying. In addition, the high fiber content of the beans is helpful in keeping blood sugar levels stable and beneficial for improving digestive health.

This recipe also contains kombu, a seaweed that is very mineral rich, especially in iodine, which is vital to thyroid function and can be purchased at your local health food or co-op store. Kombu is sold dried in long strips and is a good addition to add to dried beans when cooking where it adds minerals, tenderizes the beans (helps to reduce flatulence), and contains glutamic acid, a natural flavor enhancer. After the beans are cooked, the kombu can either be discarded or cut into small pieces and added back to the soup.

If you do not have all the different spices, the coriander, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper can be omitted and replaced with garam masala, an Indian spice blend that contains many of the spices mentioned above. In addition, if you do not like your soups too spicy, you can discard the jalapeno seeds.

Spicy Chickpea Stew

 This dish was inspired by the country of Morocco with the amazing variety of spices available there. It’s a wonderful stew to enjoy when the weather gets cold, as the addition of the warming spices help to warm up the body! Use of organic ingredients is preferred.

 1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ jalapeño, minced
1 ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
6 cardamom pods, smashed with seeds separated
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups water
4 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight and drained)
½ strip kombu
½ bunch cilantro, stems removed and chopped, reserved for garnish

In a large soup pot, add coconut oil and heat until warm over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add onions, celery, carrots, and sea salt. Sauté until vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, and ginger and sauté for another minute.

Add coriander, turmeric, cinnamon stick, allspice, cloves, cardamom seeds, and black pepper and stir to combine.

Add water, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, and kombu. Stir to combine, place lid on pot and simmer until beans are soft and tender, about 30-45 minutes. Remove kombu strip or cut into small pieces and re-add to soup.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Preparation time:  1 hour and 30 minutes
Makes 4 1-cup servings

Copyright 2010, J. Usdavin, Original recipe