Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Safe Cooking - Teflon just doesn't cut it.

The premise of this blog is food and cooking it. And trying to do it safely.
Its easy to miss the utensils you cook on and cook with.
My big no-no's - teflon, and plastic.


The synthetic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used to make Teflon non-stick coating. PFOA can cause cancer and birth defects in animals, and may pose a risk to humans, according to Consumer Reports. The Society of the Plastics Industry, a major trade group, acknowledges that PFOA is found in the blood of 95 percent of the U.S. population "and is persistent in the environment, even in remote locations.

However, it appears that problems with non-stick pans occur only after overheating. Lab tests recently conducted by Consumer Reports showed that when new and aged pans were heated to 400 degrees, no significant emissions of PFOA occurred. 

None the less, I'd still like to avoid it. Solution?  Stainless steel, cast iron and enameled pots and pans.

Cast Iron and Enameled Cast Iron

When properly seasoned, solid cast-iron cookware will give you a nonstick surface. The process is simple: Warm the pan briefly, then coat it in lard or shortening and bake in an oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Pour off excess oil, then return to the oven and continue baking for two hours more at the same temperature. You might be tempted to use olive oil, but don't: it will leave a sticky surface and sometimes smoke during cooking. And do not oven-season pans with plastic handles—they might melt.

Enameled cast iron works well for deglazing roasts since it’s easy to transfer from the oven to the stovetop.

Stainless Steel

Single-piece construction provides stability and even distribution of heat, with taste results comparable to those of professional-grade copper cookware.


Electric woks are often coated in Teflon, but cast-iron woks outlast nonstick counterparts and provide a more authentic wok flavor over time, as the iron surface picks up spices and flavors from each use.


What do you use to stir with? Plastic? Plastic is unstable when heated. I use wooden spoons, coconut wood spatulas and old vintage silver spoons

Toothbrushes and Toothpaste

I started to think about this when her  first teeth came through....mmmmm. Aren’t  they made from plastic. Whats in toothpaste anyway? What all this about fluoride?

So I did some research and found pretty easy solutions. You can get BPA free brushes, but I still have reservations about the other components of plastic. So luckily, I found this:

You can also get natural chewing sticks:

Chewing Stick

miswak natural toothbrush

And toothpaste? Why is fluride even in it. Apparently to protect from dental decay.
But it comes with warnings:

Since mid-1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated all toothpastes containing FLUORIDE to carry this warning. And for good reason.

An overwhelming, growing body of evidence, plus old WWII secret government documents now available all point to FLUORIDE as being a toxic drug NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. (1) Even the FDA has finally raised an eyebrow...enough to mandate this warning be included on labeling. The mandate is significant because it means the FDA now regards fluoride laden toothpaste as a potential toxic drug!

If the formulation contains fluoride ion higher than 1000 ppm, it can cause poison; and the fluoride ion can react with calcium ion and magnesium in the human body and cause low level calcium ion and magnesium ion in blood. In some cases it has caused heart and muscle problems. If a child were to take a big spoonful of this fluoride and get it down, it is a poison that could kill the child. That is why the government has finally decided to act on this long standing issue regarding fluoridation.

Of course, many communities have fluoridated their drinking water for many years now, supposedly to fight tooth decay. But, John R. Lee, M.D. a fluoride toxicity researcher since 1972, calls that a myth. He further states the myth has been perpetuated via "clever propaganda." He believes adding fluoride to water supplies was a contrivance to dispose of waste byproducts from the fertilizer and aluminum industries.

How to solve this? Make your own! Make your own toothpaste. 

I have to admit I've never done it. I took the easy option. And bought it.

Red Seal Natural Toothpaste

Playdough Recipe

I just KNOW that she'll eat the play dough, so I made it myself. It worked great! She still ate it, despite the amount of salt in it. I just wonder sometimes about this evolutionary thing of putting EVERYTHING in her mouth.

·         1 cup table salt
·         1 1/2 cups flour
·         4 tablespoons olive oil
·         4 teaspoons cream of tartar
·         1 cup water
·         food coloring
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
Pick out balls of dough and add a drop or two of food colouring.
Knead until the colour is well blended.
Do a varitety of colours.
Makes about 1/2 kg of dough.

Diabetic Wholemeal Pancakes

Well, I'll definalty be trying these now!

Wholemeal Pancakes and Cinnamon Peaches
Makes: 12 pancakes
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
2 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff
1 x 410g can sliced peaches, in their own juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
spray canola oil for cooking

Mix flour with milk and oil in a suitable bowl.
When combined fold in the egg whites and let sit for 5 minutes.
Heat the peaches in their juice with the cinnamon till warm.
Spray a crepe/pancake pan with minimal oil and cook each pancake. Turn when the bubbles start to appear. Flip over and cook through.
Serve the pancakes with peaches and syrup over the top.

Nutritional information: (amounts per pancake, including peach topping) Energy (kJ) 400, protein (g) 4, total fat (g) 1, saturated fat (g) 0.1, total carbohydrate (g) 16, sugars (g) 5, fibre (g) 2.4, sodium (mg) 140, G.I. estimate: medium
Pizza Jaffle

Gestational Diabetes!

Bugger. I thought I was going to avoid it this time. Just like I thought I'd avoid bed rest. So I thought I'd put up the advice I gathered

Butter, Margarine, Oil & Dressings
In cooking, use small amounts of poly or monounsaturated fats such as olive, canola and sunflower oils instead of butter.
Use low fat cooking methods such as steaming, stir-frying, grilling or microwaving.
When baking or using a non-stick pan, try using a cooking spray oil.
When frying or sautéing, use small amounts of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.
Try spreading bread with a thin layer of avocado, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, hummus or low-fat mayonnaise.
On salads, try using an oil-free dressing or make your own using olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
Try low-fat yoghurt instead of cream.
For desserts, use a mixture of reduced fat ricotta cheese and natural low-fat yoghurt. For flavour add lemon, strawberry or vanilla essence, or add fresh fruit/pulp, cocoa or coffee.
Try evaporated skim milk that is chilled and whipped.
For savoury creamy sauces, use low-fat evaporated milk, buttermilk, low-fat natural yoghurt or skim milk thickened with cornflour. Add seasonings to flavour.
 Sour Cream
Try reduced-fat sour cream, low-fat yoghurt, buttermilk or reduced-fat ricotta cheese as an alternative.
Coconut Milk
Use a fat-reduced coconut milk.
Mix  1 c low-fat milk or evaporated skim milk with 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 teaspoon coconut essence and a little sugar to taste.
Try low-fat yoghurt mixed with a little coconut essence or desiccated coconut (do not boil).
Use low-fat milk, fat modified milk or skim milk. UHT milk is good to keep on hand as it has a long shelf life.
Add low-fat hot chocolate to low-fat or skim milk.
Try using low-fat fresh or UHT soy drink. Try low-fat beverages on breakfast cereal, as a drink, in soups, in custard or in cooking.
Make fruit smoothies using a low-fat soy beverage and/or the new soy yoghurts.
Try using reduced-fat ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese.
Use small amounts of reduced-fat block cheeses or use a smaller amount of a stronger flavoured cheese (e.g. parmesan).
Sprinkle grated cheese, as you will use less.
For sandwiches, use the reduced fat sliced cheeses.
For a baked cheese topping, use half the cheese mixed with oats, breadcrumbs or wheat germ.
Instead of using cream cheese, try light cream cheese or reduced-fat ricotta cheese (with vanilla essence for sweet dishes).
  Yoghurt, Ice cream & Custard
Use low-fat or ‘diet’ flavoured yoghurts or add fruit to low-fat/skim natural yoghurt.
Try reduced fat frozen desserts.
Make custard using custard powder and low-fat/skim milk or try low-fat UHT or fresh low-fat custard.
Choose low fat ice creams.
Try a reduced-fat soy-based ice confection or yoghurt.
Meat, Chicken, Fish and Eggs
Choose lean meat/mince and skinless chicken/poultry and trim all visible fat before cooking.
Use approximately 100 g (palm size) of raw meat or chicken per person for the main meal of the day.
Limit added fats when cooking meat, chicken and fish by using low fat cooking methods such as grilling, barbecuing and stir-frying. Add flavour by using herbs, spices, tomato based sauces and marinades.
Cook meat-based casseroles in advance, cool and skim fat off with spoon.
Use lean sandwich meats such as lean ham, chicken and turkey breast.
Try to eat fish (fresh, frozen or canned in brine/spring water) at least 2-3 times each week.
Try baking fish in the oven wrapped in foil. Add lemon juice and herbs like parsley for flavour and to keep moist.
Boil eggs or if poaching/scrambling eggs, use a non-stick pan. Make scrambled eggs/omelettes with reduced-fat milk.
For gravy, drain juices from pan, allow fat to separate and remove before thickening 
Biscuits, Cakes and Pastries
When baking cakes or biscuits, use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated margarine instead of butter.
Look for recipes that are lower in fat.
Use fat-reduced or skim milk in recipes.
For icing, try using ricotta cheese blended with fruit and add a touch of icing sugar.
Make fruit based muffins, scones and slices.
Experiment with fruit puree or egg whites to bind cakes and use less margarine/oil.
When using flour, try a mixture of wholemeal and white flour or add a little oat bran. You may need to add a little extra liquid to keep the recipe moist.
When baking, try substituting 1/2 cup of white flour with soy or wholemeal flour.
If making a biscuit crumb base, use a biscuit that is higher in fibre and line the base of the tin only.
Use filo pastry and brush with a little egg white, fruit juice or low fat milk instead of oil.
For a pie base try cooked rice mixed with egg white or mashed potato. Use spray oil to coat the dish to prevent sticking.
When making pies, make pastry for the top of the pie only.
Choose multigrain breads.
To add variety, try different types of breads (e.g. pita bread, Lebanese flat bread, grain rolls, baguettes, sourdough, rye bread, crumpets, pumpernickel and fruit loaf).
Avoid croissants as they are high in fat.
Choose Doongara, or Basmati white or brown rice.
Use egg or wheat noodles as an alternative to rice when making stir-fry.
Include a variety of pastas like spaghetti, macaroni, fettuccini and penne. Try wholemeal varieties. Top with tomato based sauces rather than creamy style sauces.
Try using couscous as an alternative to rice or pasta.
Have natural rather than toasted muesli as it is lower in fat.
Try to add tinned, pre-cooked or dry legumes into more meals.
Add a can of three or four-bean mix to salads or make a bean salad as a side dish.
Use lentils in casseroles and soups.
In mince dishes, try substituting half the mince with cooked lentils, kidney beans, soy beans, etc.
For a quick snack, try baked beans on toast.
As a meat alternative, try making curries based on legumes and vegetables.
Try using tofu/tempeh in soups and stir-frys or try products made on soy protein (e.g. soy burgers/patties).
Choose small amounts of unsalted nuts.
Try toasting raw nuts in the oven or in a non-stick pan. This intensifies the flavour.
Add small amounts of nuts and seeds to salads, stir-frys and sauces or in baked goods such as muffins and cakes.
For healthier chips, make your own wedges by cutting potatoes into chunky pieces (leave the skin on), spraying with cooking oil and bake in the oven. Add herbs, spices or vinegar for flavour. When making roast vegetables, try partially cooking in the microwave, then spray with cooking oil and bake until crisp.
Instead of adding butter or sour cream to cooked vegetables, try a blend of cottage cheese, skim milk and lemon juice, low-fat natural yoghurt or reduced-fat ricotta cheese.
Small amounts of sugar can be added to recipes. Look at the overall quantity of sugar in relation to how many serves (e.g. 1/2 cup of sugar in a recipe that serves 10 should have very little effect on blood glucose levels).
When baking cakes or muffins, try using fruit or fruit juice to sweeten.
Alternative sweeteners can be used instead of sugar.
Remember that it is generally better to add some types of alternative sweeteners to food after cooking. This is because some sweeteners turn bitter when cooked. Others lose sweetness when heated.
When shopping, look for products that are ‘salt reduced’ or have ‘no added salt’.
Avoid putting salt on the table.
Reduce or omit salt in cooking.
Sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, chicken salt, etc. are not suitable substitutes for salt.
Instead of using salt to flavour foods try using spices such as pepper, garlic, chilli, mustard, curry, paprika and cardamom.
Add herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, coriander, mint, sage, thyme, tarragon and marjoram.
For extra flavour add lemon juice, onions, ginger, shallots, vinegar, wine or salt reduced stock.
Marinate foods using tomato based sauces, Asian sauces or pastes.

The Pacific Gyre - My Rant on Plastic

I'm surprised at the amount of people that have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention the Pacific Gyre. Only 1 person ever has known what I ment. So here's my little rant about why plastics are bad (besides containing BPA and other ingredients that are toxic to digest).

The location of the gyre and animals that have ingested the plastic

All the worlds currents meet in the Pacific ocean. Any plastic, rope, bottles, caps floating in the water are sent to this area, through the movement of the currents. Around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the sea. About 20 percent of this is from ships and platforms, the rest from land. 

Some of it breaks down into tiny pellets of plastic, turning the ocean into a pea soup made of cloudy, toxic, indigestable plastic. The rest of the stuff knots itself into a floatilla of garbage.

This plastic goes right through the food chain - from birds that eat lids, turtles mistaking bags for squid, and whales that eat ingest the 'pea soup' pellets while scooping up plankton.

Trashed: Across the Pacific Ocean, Plastics, Plastics, Everywhere CHARLES MOORE / Natural History v.112, n.9, Nov03

turtle, kaisei, vortex, plastic

Sad huh. But how is it fixed? Well, I don't know. But my solution is to reduce the amount of plastic I use, so it doesn't find its way into the rubbish stream. I avoid plastic bags and say no to even small things like straws with my drink. I buy toys from second hand shops. I pick up rubbish on the beach.

I do know, that awareness is the best start!


Well, for all my efforts (and the efforts of our crew of helpers while I've been on bed rest), she has decided that the best thing ever is plain boiled pasta, and is eating it by the fist full!  
She's also given up on our food, and opened her own coffee shop! High tea anyone? 

Morrocan Meatballs (or Rissole or Hamburgers!)

Well, I managed to get out of bed (after 8 weeks of bed rest! geesh). It was only for 5 minutes to mix some little rissoles for Sakura. There are a few varieties, but I used this recipe.

Morrocan Meatballs

200g minced meat
5cm stick of celery diced fine
1/4 onion grated
1/2 zucchini grated
lemon zest
1 teaspoon cumin

Mix alll ingredients

Shape into little 3cm wide  patties. I did flat hamburger shapes, but you could do round meatballs, which stay nice a juicy on the inside after cooking). 

I layered the patties with baking paper ready to be frozen. I can just take out a few at a time so she doesn't get bored (the princess she is !).


Pork, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey.

Finely cut broccoli, Sliced green beans, Carrot, Diced capsicum, Grate choko, Grated raw pumkin.

MEDITERRANEAN - Parsley, Basil, Oregano
ASIAN - Coriander, Soy sauce, Sesame oil
MEXICAN - Coriander, Chilli, Cumin, Smoked Paprika.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm not dead, I'm just laying on the couch for 13 weeks!

I've had a change of 'helpers' this week.
I'm 5 weeks in to a 13 week stint to bedrest.
With a 16 month to look after, I need a lot of help while my partner is at work.
I'm only allow up to go the toilet and have a shower.
So I have family on shifts giving up their precious time to be here.
We got a new helper yesterday.
So instead of reading my daughter books, giving her medicine, feeding her in the highchair, cuddling her, tickling her and generally loving her, I lay here watching her being carried around and whisked off to different parts of the house.
I'm not dead, I'm not ill, and I'm still mentally capable of doing hundreds, prehaps even millions of things!
It makes we sad to have her taken away, in a time when I really need my hope around me.
I don't think people realise how debilitating it is to have to ask for everything - food, water, the fan on, the fan off, a blanket.... but to have to ask for time with your own child, it's just not nice!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oat, Cranberry and Orange Cookies

I haven't made these, BUT I'm desperate too. I saw them on a website ages ago, and thought it was a good use of cranberries. I wonder if the white flour could be replaced or reduced with barley or spelt.....

Oaty Cranberry and Orange Cookies    approximately 12 cookies

Grated zest of 1 orange
100g plain white flour, sieved
50g wholemeal flour
50g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
50g rolled porridge oats

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, gas mark 5. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and orange zest and mix in the cranberries. Stir in the flours, making a soft, but not sticky dough.

Roll the mixture into ball-shaped pieces roughly the size of a walnut. Drop the cookie mixture into a bowl of oats and press them gently in the oats, to coat both sides of the cookie.

Place each cookie on a greased baking sheet and press lightly with a fork to flatten. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned. Leave to cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack.