The Organic Fanatic

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Nancy Kalish, CHC, is The Organic Fanatic

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Does Your Coffee Need a Health Makeover? (Part One)

March 31, 2013

Tags: coffee, bpa, keurig, chemex

Despite great health benefits, coffee still comes with some hidden health risks. Here's what you need to know before you brew your next cup.

Every morning, my first thought is: If I drag myself out of bed, I can have a cup of coffee!

So to say that I love, appreciate, and, yes, depend on my daily caffeinated jumpstart, is an understatement. I cheer each time new research heralds its health benefits.

BUT…I’ve recently discovered that my beloved brew has some definite downsides we all should be aware of. While researching an article I wrote for the April 2013 issue of O (the Oprah) Magazine, I’ve discovered that some dangerous stuff is lurking inside my favorite mug. You can download a free copy of my article here.

Unfortunately, my editor has decided not to include some of the most important info for space reasons. So I'll bring them directly to you below and in upcoming posts. (more…)

Found! The Best Bars Out There

March 14, 2013

Tags: Kit's Organic, bars, energy bars, gluten-free bars, soy-free bars, soy isolate, dairy-free, cashew, almond, berry, peanut butter

Kit's Organic Fruit & Nut Bars have everything you want and nothing you don't--and they actually taste good.

I had almost given up hope. For several years, I've been searching for a bar that was all-organic and had no added sugar or weird soy isolates...and that didn't taste like compressed sawdust. It's been an expensive quest, and I've had to bravely bite into a lot of yucky bars. That's why I was beyond pleased to finally find Kit's Organic Fruit & Nut Bars.

They come in four flavors: cashew (my have), peanut butter, berry almond, and chocolate almond coconut. (more…)

Cleaning Green--with Great Results

March 8, 2013

Tags: green clean, baking soda, vinegar, grout, stained, tips, cleaning

A little baking soda turned my grout from gross to gorgeous.
Baking soda cleaned my grout faster and better than a commercial cleaner.

Yesterday, I had to face something I'd been ignoring: The grout between the tiles on my bathroom floor was gross! Ground-in dirt had turned it from white to brownish, so that even when the floor was clean, it looked filthy. But what could I use to clean it that wasn't a harsh chemical or would emit harmful fumes?

I was at a loss until I remembered an article I wrote some years back about green cleaning that recommended using baking soda to scrub things clean. I've used baking soda to scour pots and pans, always with incredible results. But I was doubtful about grout that hadn't been deep-cleaned--yes, I admit it!--for at least five years.

Yes, I was doubtful about baking soda...until I sprinkled some on an old toothbrush and got busy. After literally 30 seconds of scrubbing a spot with just a bit of elbow grease, the grout was white again. No expensive grout cleaner, no chemicals, no fumes, just a bit of white powder to sweep up afterwards. (more…)

More Green Cleaning Magic

March 7, 2013

Tags: green cleaning, kitchen, sink, burnt-on, stove, floor, spills, clean green, borax, vinegar, Linda Mason Hunter, Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home

Make your kitchen sparkle with these green cleaning tips from this reprint of an article I wrote a few years back:

Looking to be green while you clean? Here, Linda Mason Hunter, coauthor of Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home , provides her best tips for your dirtiest spots.

Degrease kitchen cabinets: To get rid of sticky, greasy buildup on wooden cabinets, mix a few tablespoon of borax with some mild liquid soap. Apply to oily spots and let sit for 20 minutes to two hours. Then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly. Restore your cabinet’s luster by polishing with a combination of 3 parts olive oil to 1 part distilled white vinegar (this also works on wood furniture).

Freshen the fridge: Wipe down your fridge inside and out with this cleaner, which is also great on grease. In a 16-ounce spray bottle, mix 2 teaspoons borax, ½ teaspoon castile soap (such as Bronner’s), 1 teaspoon washing soda (found in the laundry section at the supermarket; do not substitute washing powder), 2 cups hot water and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. “It’s especially important to use a natural cleaner in the space where you store your food,” says Hunter. Bonus: this cleaner will work well on just about every surface in your home.

Ditch dangerous crumbs: A buildup of crumbs can cause a fire in your toaster oven. To prevent this, line the oven tray with foil and replace weekly. To dislodge crumbs from a regular toaster, turn it upside down and shake over a garbage can. (more…)

The Easiest Fish Ever!

February 27, 2013

My Crispy Salmon with Herb Pesto is a delicious way to follow the Mediterranean Diet.
This sear-and-steam method is the simplest way to create a crispy crust outside and a succulent inside. And even if you make the sauce, it takes just 10 minutes start to finish!

What you need:

Up to four skinless wild fish filets or steaks (4-6 ounces each). I love salmon (read my buying tips here). But any firm-fleshed fish will work.
1-2 tablespoons organic coconut oil or another high-heat oil, such as canola. Do not use olive oil, which will burn.
1 heavy-bottom saucepan with a cover large enough to fit the fish in one layer without crowding. Do not use nonstick cookware.
1 fish spatula (not necessary, but it sure makes turning fish easier) (more…)

Make the Mediterranean Diet Even More Effective

February 26, 2013

Tags: Mediterranean diet, stroke, heart attack, organic, vegetables, fruits, olives, olive oil, nuts

As pretty as this olive oil looks, it's best to store it in opaque, dark containers so it doesn't oxidize and lose its health benefits.
How do you make a healthy Mediterranean diet even healthier? Make it an organic Mediterranean diet!

Now there's even more proof that a diet of vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts and olive oil prevents heart disease and stroke (read The New York Times report here). But crucial piece of advice is missing from the news reports: It's essential that certain Mediterranean diet staples--such as tomatoes and olives--be organic. Otherwise, you're ingesting lots of inflammatory pesticides along with those heart-healthy antioxidants. It's also important to eat wild seafood instead of farmed to avoid antibiotics (read my post on the subject here).

Here's what I do: I've been eating an organic Mediterranean-style diet for years. My typical quick breakfast is a big handful of organic cashews or almonds and some organic dried fruit without added sugar. (more…)

The Organic Fanatic Pantry: Safe Fish and Seafood

February 22, 2013

Tags: fish, seafood, salmon, tuna, wild, escolar, food dye, unsafe, BPA, Bisphenol-A, plastics, can linings, mercury, omega-3s, PCBs, toxins, FDA, VitalChoice.com, WildPlanetFoods.com

Fish is still one of the healthiest things you can eat--as long as you choose carefully.

With so many safety and environmental concerns about fish these days, a lot of my friends are wary about eating it, and for good reason. But it's possible to avoid the hazards and still reap all the benefits.

Why You Need to Be Careful
We've all heard about the dangers of PCBs and other toxins, that salmon is being fed dye to achieve that perfect shade of, well, salmon, and that much of the seafood in stores and restaurants is often purposely mislabeled to make you think you're buying a more expensive type of fish. Here's a shocker: One recent study found that a whopping 94 percent of fish labeled ”white tuna” was actually escolar, a fish that has a laxative effect when you eat it and was thus banned by the FDA (read more here). In addition, you can't trust fish labelled "organic" since there are actually no government standards for that term (read more here). And then, there are always concerns about whether the fish in question was sustainably caught.

So here's what I do:
At restaurants:
I only order fish at establishments I really trust to source their food scrupulously. If a restaurant lists local farms and purveyors on its menu, its usually a reliable sign that the owners care about where their food (more…)

Listen Up! Save Your Hearing...Before It's Too Late.

February 21, 2013

Tags: ears, hearing loss, deaf, iPod, oprah, O magazine, Maroon Five, Huffington Post

Playing music at high volume is not unlike pounding a nail into your eardrum.
Boy, I love to listen to my music loud, especially when I'm cooking. But, it's bad, bad, bad for my ears--worse than I had even imagined. I found out just how bad when I researched an article on hearing loss for the Oprah Magazine.

Writing this story saved my hearing, and reading it might just save yours too. It was recently reprinted by the HuffingtonPost.com and you can find it here. Or download a pdf version here.

As for me and my ears, I still slice and dice to Maroon Five. I just do it at a much lower volume.

The Good Stuff: How A Germ Expert Avoids Colds and the Flu

February 15, 2013

Tags: germs, cold, flu, Charles Gerba, Chuck Gerba, sick, well, bathroom, restroom, e coli, germ freak, germ freak's guide to outwitting colds and Flu, Prevention, Men's Journal

"What do you do yourself?" It's my favorite question to ask the health experts I interview for magazine articles Over the years, I've gotten some amazing tips this way. Alas, for some strange reason, these valuable tidbits often get cut for space reasons.

That's where this blog comes in. I don't have advertisers, so I don't have to slice a huge chunk out of an article in order to make room for a last-minute 1/2-page ad. The Organic Fanatic allows me to finally include all the news that fit--and helpful--to print.

This week, I have some great "good stuff" for you. Here's how a top germ expert guards against germs himself during cold and flu season. My expert is the charming Chuck Gerba, Ph.D. an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona and author of the helpful (and strangely entertaining) The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu. I interviewed him for articles I wrote for Prevention and Men's Journal (which you can download for free here and here).

Encountering Sick People: "I will back away from people I can see are sick. A good sneeze can shoot across the room. The odds of getting it are less if you’re at least three feet away."

At the Supermarket: "The shopping cart handle is swimming with germs, especially if children have been sitting in the cart. Half of American children teethe on shopping cart. God these things are awful. Aside from public restrooms, shopping carts expose you to the most germs. So I carry sanitary wipes and clean the cart handle thoroughly before I shop."
(more…)

A Kale Salad Even Kale Haters Will Love

February 12, 2013

Tags: kale, salad, massage, Earthbound Farm, Food Network, Aarti Sequeira, mango, pumpkin seeds, nuts, olives, oranges, roasted eggplant, tomato

Try this special no-cook technique to turn tough kale into a tender, tasty salad in three minutes flat.

Sure, kale is good for you. But raw kale can be tough to chew and taste like grass—not very appealing no matter how good it is for you.

Luckily, all it takes is a little massage to tenderize the leaves. Yes, you read that right…I said massage. And while you massage it, you work the dressing right into the salad so it infuses every leaf. Here’s how you do it.

1. Take one bunch of washed organic kale (any variety) and strip the leaves off the tough stems. No need to use a knife. Just rip the leaves off by pulling them down from the top of the stem. Then discard the stems and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Even easier, buy a package of Earthbound Farm Organic Mixed Baby Kale at the supermarket, which has no tough stems and is already bite-size. (more…)

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