The Crunchy Cookie

Equal parts deliciousness and hippiness

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in plastics and resins and is getting a lot of bad press recently.  Banned in the EU and Canada, BPA has been shown to mimic hormones in animal studies and linked to precancerous changes in cells, early-onset puberty, insulin resistance, and reproductive abnormalities.  The scary news?  Over 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies, and children may be even more susceptible to its negative effects.  While there is contention over whether or not BPA is harmful to humans, you may choose to limit you and your family’s exposure to this potentially dangerous chemical.

Here are some tips to avoid BPA in your everyday life:

  • Avoid plastics with the numbers 3, 6, and 7 inside the recycling sign on the bottom of the bottle (see the image at top right).
  • Be wary of products that advertise as “BPA-free”.  Good Housekeeping found that three products that the manufacturers had listed as BPA-free contained BPA and one contained both BPA and phthalates, another chemical found in plastics that has been linked to endocrine disruption.
  • Avoid canned foods, especially those containing acidic or fatty foods (like tomato sauce).  BPA leaches into these foods more than others.  Choose foods in glass containers or those in “brick” cartons like Tetrapaks.
  • Don’t microwave food in plastic containers or with plastic wrap.  A plastic bowl that is microwave-safe means that it won’t warp in the microwave, not that it won’t transfer chemicals to your food.
  • If you purchase food that has been wrapped or sealed in plastic, remove the layer of food that came into contact with the plastic during storage and store the rest in a glass or ceramic container.
  • Wash your hands after handling cash register receipts as the “waxy” kind of credit card receipt is lined with BPA.
  • Use BPA-free water bottles (such as the BPA-free lines from Camelback and Nalgene) and don’t reuse disposable drink bottles.
  • Don’t wash plastics in the dishwasher and use as many glass and ceramic containers as you can.
  • Ask your dentist to put BPA-free sealants on your family’s teeth.
  • Choose beauty products and toiletries that come in glass containers or BPA- and phthalate-free plastics.
  • Encourage your local restaurants and stores to provide BPA-free containers and bags for your food and shopping items.  Or, even better, bring your own containers and bags and reduce waste at the same time!
  • Choose BPA-free toys for children.

Do you have more tips on avoiding BPA?  Please post in the comment section below!

Just in time for tank tops and swimsuits, I switched from one hormonal birth control method to another and my skin went haywire.  The good news?  I looked ten years younger.  Why?  Because I looked like I was going through puberty again with all that acne.  Not cute.

So I went out and bought the Blemish Clearing Serum from my old stand-by, Juice Beauty.  My skin has finally started calmingBlemish Clearing Serum down and I’m a believer in this serum.  Unlike the harsh chemicals in other acne treatments, the ingredients in it smell great and are petroleum- and toxin-free.  The salicylic acid reduces the number of blackheads I have and I can use it on my chest and back as well as my face because it won’t bleach my clothes or towels like benzoyl peroxide does.  It doesn’t dry out my skin or feel sticky when I use the recommended few drops, but I do have to wait a few minutes before putting on my moisturizer for it to sink in.  Small sacrifice, if you ask me.

And the bonus for summer?  I use a few drops on my bikini line to keep it bump- and ingrown hair-free!  The salicylic acid helps keep pores clear of bacteria and dead skin, meaning smoother skin wherever you use it.

Now it’s time for a feature I like to call “Who knew?”, basically a collection of little nuggets of knowledge that make me go “huh”.

First up, have you ever noticed that little icon on your cosmetics that looks like this?

Expiration Date

I had, but never really gave it much thought.  In my mind, it had something to do with a European labeling system of the number of grams in the product or whatever.  If you had asked me “Sarah, what does this mean?”, I would have said “I think it has something to do with Europe.”  Seriously.

Well, now I know better.  The symbol is known as the Product After Opening (PAO) symbol and it tells you the expected lifetime of the product after you open it.  In the image on the left, “12 M” (sometimes written simply as “12″) refers to the twelve months a product should be good after you open it.  Of course, shelf life can also depend on how the product is stored and how you use it.  For example, a cosmetic will probably not last that long if you store it in direct sunlight and apply it with your fingers, which can spread bacteria and encourage their growth.

Also, I would like to point out that unless you’re buying your cosmetics in gallon tubs, any product that’s working for you shouldn’t last all that long because you’re using it up.  Don’t be afraid to get rid of things that don’t work well and don’t keep anything that has developed a strange odor.

If you’re interested, here’s a recap of the general guidelines for different cosmetics:

Foundation: 3-6 months (be sure to apply with a brush or sponge to avoid bacterial contamination)
Mineral makeup: 6 months (these often don’t contain the same preservatives as traditional makeup so they don’t last as long)
Concealer: 6 months (see note for foundation)
Stick Concealer: 12 months (use a cotton ball to remove a layer every so often to get rid of bacteria on the surface of the stick)
Powder/Blush: 12-24 months
Lipgloss/Lipstick: 12-18 months
Mascara: 3-6 months
(be sure to toss if you develop an eye infection, and don’t pump)
Eye Cream: 6 months
Eye pencils: 12-24 months
(sharpen often)
Eye Shadow: 12-24 months

Also, it’s recommended to clean your brushes and applicators every week.  I don’t do it that often, but it’s something to shoot for.

In my hometown of Eugene, Oregon, there is a place called Café Yumm!  Café Yumm! serves delicious bowls of rice, beans, and assorted toppings with something called Yumm! Sauce™, which is like liquid crack if crack were made from deliciousness and not, you know, ammonia.  How much do I love Yumm! Sauce?  I love it so much that my best friend overnighted me a bottle for my birthday (love you, Liz!) and it was the best gift ever.  But now, I’m out and longing for a fix.  So I perused the Web and found this great recipe.  As you read through it, notice how many things in here are actually good for you: chickpeas are a good source of fiber, almonds are a heart-healthy source of protein, etc.  Yumm! Sauce is egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free.  It liberates pretty much everything (ba-dum shee!).  I’ve made some minor changes to the recipe, and I owe a great debt to MalySheff on Recipezaar.  Enjoy!

Yummy Sauce

Yields 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canola oil (preferably cold pressed)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (for a creamier sauce, use almond flour)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (available at Whole Foods and other health food stores)
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas or garbanzo beans, cooked
  • 1/4 cup soybeans, cooked
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the oil and almonds or almond flour until smooth.
  2. Add all other ingredients and puree until smooth and creamy.
  3. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours, but at least one hour.
  4. Serve on brown rice and black beans with salsa, avocado, and sour cream for a delicious, Café Yumm!-like experience!

I’m no expert.  At pretty much anything.  But what I do have is an interest in healthy, eco-conscious living and easy, accessible ways to do it.  I also have a habit of doling out advice on the topic, so much so that I probably needed an outlet so I would stop annoying people during social gatherings.  So I started this blog to share some of the tips, recipes, products, and info I’m gathering with my friends and family, virtual or otherwise.  I hope you’ll get involved in sharing your own advice in the comments section or by getting in touch with me.  After all, community is a part of living healthy and happy.  Enjoy!