Plastic in Your Toothpaste and Soap?

Microbead Toothpaste

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

Being a Foodie Bitch doesn’t just mean watching what you eat (although, obviously, that’s a huge part of it). Our health is changed by stress levels, environmental toxins, sleep patterns… etc. etc. etc.! Every day we are dealing with things that can negatively impact our bodies, and we have to be savvy as to how to live our best possible lives while being bombarded by toxins.

Lately the trending news story on health has been microbeads in toothpaste.

These beads, which are made of plastic, do not disintegrate, and are not biodegradable. More and more dentists are noting that they find these tiny beads stuck up under gums, or in the gum line.

Dentists worry that the embedded plastic will trap bacteria, which can lead to gingivitis, receding gums, or serious periodontal disease.

Crest has noted that the beads are FDA approved (making you wonder why the FDA approves plastic bits in something we put in our mouths and swallow small amount of on a daily basis), and that purpose of the beads is solely for decoration. The beads do not actually polish the teeth – in fact, they have the potential to abrade enamel.

The beads can be found in popular brands like Crest Pro Health and 3D White, and Colgate’s Max Clean and Max Clean Smart Foam.

Luckily, Procter & Gamble (the makers of Crest) have vowed to phase it out of their products by 2016, but it still begs the questions – why was it in there in the first place, and what else is affecting our health without our knowledge?

It’s not the first time microbeads have come under scrutiny. Some companies are phasing them out of their body wash lines, as recent studies have shown that they are a contributor to plastic pollution in the oceans and Great Lakes.

Testing on Lake Michigan (or the Big Lake, or just “the lake,” as we here in Holland call it) showed that on average there was 17,000 bits of these tiny plastic pieces in one  square kilometer of the water.

The small beads also absorb toxins from the water like a sponge. Marine animals ingest these beads in various doses in the food chain. They resemble tiny fish eggs, and therefore are commonly ingested by smaller fish, which go into birds, or bigger fish, which go into us. No studies have yet followed the negative effects this could have on larger animals (including humans), but it’s a fair bet that eating fish who have ingested toxin-soaked plastic may have some repercussions.

So, how do you avoid these hidden traps?

Checking the label for “microbeads” is always a good start.

Read the ingredients. Anything with polyethylene or polypropylene should be avoided. Since you’re there anyway, read the rest of the ingredients and see how many you can pronounce. Maybe it’s time to opt for a different, more natural brand of toothpaste or body wash in general?

And best of all, use natural alternatives. Add a little salt or sugar to your soap for a scrub that will work just as effectively, without clogging up any major water sources. If you want to polish your teeth, hit them with a little baking soda next time you brush.

Be vigilant! Remember that big companies don’t generally have your health in mind. It’s up to you to make sure you are taking care of your body!

Have a safe and healthy weekend!

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Asian Inspired: Sesame Ginger Dressing!

Sesame ginger dressing

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

It’s one of those dreary, cool, drizzly fall days here in Michigan.  I needed a little pick me up for lunch – something with some zest and lots of nutrients – and something other than roasted fall vegetables, which my family would probably say I’ve been making a little too much of this past week.

So, I thought a more lively salad with some home made salad dressing would be just what I needed.

I have a newfound love for salads – especially after eating at the vegan and raw foods cafe Prasad, in Portland.  But I needed some creative, homemade salad dressings to dress them up a bit.

I love the Asian ginger dressing that you get on salads at sushi bars or Japanese restaurants, and although I wasn’t going for that same exact taste, I did want to incorporate a little ginger and sesame flavors into my dressing, so I played around with a few ingredients and came up with what I think (and Lindsey and Frankie agree) is a pretty darn good salad dressing!

To get the sesame flavor, I used toasted sesame oil (not regular sesame oil).  And for the ginger flavor, rather than using freshly grated ginger, I used ginger juice.  Have you ever seen this?

Ginger juice

I saw it for the first time at the health food store the other day and decided to pick it up, figuring I’d experiment with it.  So this dressing was the perfect excuse to try it out.

If you have someone reluctant to eating a salad, a good salad dressing drizzled on top just might be enough to entice them to munch on one.

Here’s how I made my Asian-inspired Sesame Ginger Dressing:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1/2 – 3/4 tsp. ginger juice (depending on how much ginger flavor you want)

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Asian dressing

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, whisk together, and drizzle over salad.

Hopefully this brings a little brightness to your day, if it happens to be dark and rainy where you are as well!

Kale Chopped Salad with Red Pepper, Carrots, Cucumbers and Nuts

Kale salad

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I still have lots of kale in the garden and our peppers are finally starting to turn red – and they are so delicious, I can eat them plain (which I never used to be able to do).  So, I thought I would combine the two, along with some other ingredients, into a power- packed salad.  This salad was inspired by Nature’s Market in Holland.  I got the idea from a salad they prepare and sell.

I had to tweak it a bit, as I had to be gluten free.  I also added macadamia nuts to it because we just bought a bunch of them, and although they are delicious to eat just plain, I think they are better in salads.

I served this salad when we had some relatives in for a visit and they loved it – even the kids.  And, yes, Frankie even likes this one – although she picks around the red peppers!  I believe her comment was, “This actually isn’t bad.”  I’ll take it :)

So if you’re looking for something to do with all of the kale that is still coming in your garden or is at the market, and are looking to get some fresh, raw, nutrient-dense snacks, try this recipe.

Ingredients:

Salad

4 cups chopped kale

2 carrots, grated

1-2 red peppers, chopped

1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup macadamia nuts coarsely chopped

2 pickling cucumbers, peeled and chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup coconut aminos (or you can use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)

1 tsp. honey

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Mix the dressing ingredients and drizzle the desired amount over the salad.  Toss to coat, and serve!

Ginger, Turmeric, and Grapefruit – a Shot of Health!

Shot of health

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Last week I was in Grand Rapids at least 5 times. Whew!

Tuesday, I went for my follow-up appointment at the Functional Medicine practitioner (as mentioned Friday), and I stopped by Sip Organic Juice Bar afterwards.

Lindsey, my sister, and I went to The Grove Restaurant for dinner on Wednesday for Restaurant Week.

The Grove

The girls and I went to the amazingly gorgeous Meijer Gardens on Friday, with Frankie’s friend from Florida.

Meijer Gardens

Meijer Gardens

Saturday we went to The Grand Rapids Market for some awesome Pad Thai at Rak, and some gluten-free and vegan Cherry Amaretto gelato at Love’s Ice Cream.

And then on our way back from visiting family in Flint, Mike and I stopped to have dinner at the Grand Rapids Market again (and brought home some more gluten-free vegan gelato).

Holy Moly!  That’s a lot of driving! Fortunately Grand Rapids is only about 35 minutes away, so it’s not tooooo bad.  We’re lucky to live so close to such a great city that hosts many great food options, art, nature, and creative stimulation.

I wanted to share some of my Grand Rapids inspiration with you today for the recipe of the week.

My inspiration came from Sip Organic Juice Bar, a relatively new (2012) organic juice bar in Eastown Grand Rapids (originally located in Cascade).  While passing through Grand Rapids, I’ll often stop at Sip for a quick, healthy snack because I know I can get a nutrient-dense smoothie that serves as a meal.  I love their smoothies because they don’t put a lot of fillers – just pure nutrition with lots of superfood add-on options like Maca, hemp seeds, bee pollen, wheat grass shots, spirulina, and turmeric, to name a few.

My favorite thing to get there is the Strawberry Fields Forever (technically it’s a “Substantial Meal Replacement”).  It has coconut water, strawberry, fig, banana, hemp protein, and agave.  I usually substitute honey for agave and sometimes will add Maca and cacao.

So on Tuesday, when I stopped by Sip, I got a Strawberry Fields “smoothie,” but was feeling like I wanted a little more punch that particular day.  And, since I was just coming from the Functional Medicine doctor, and learned, that although I am moving in the right direction in terms of intestinal inflammation, I still had a ways to go.  I decided to take advantage of Sip’s “Elixers.”  Their Elixers are really potent immune-enhancing and inflammation reducing shots along with the drink.

I opted for the “Help!” which is a shot of turmeric, ginger, grapefruit, and honey.  Oh my gosh!  Did that ever wake me up!!!  It was pretty potent, and I had to use my smoothie as a chaser!  But I felt energized and more focused for quite some time afterwards.

So, I thought I would try to make it at home, since it’s not every day that I drive into Grand Rapids (well, it’s USUALLY not every day).  I tried it this morning and made an extra one for Mike to get his day off to a great start.  I had to slowly sip mine, but Mike just drank it much like he would a shot of alcohol and was perfectly fine – or so he said.

I love the combination of grapefruit, ginger, and turmeric, because you get anti-inflammatory, immune-enhancing, and digestive benefits – perfect for me.  I went out that next day and bought all of the ingredients necessary to make it at home (I love my juicer!).  It was delicious!  Here’s what I did:

Healthy shot

Ingredients:

1 inch piece of turmeric

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger

1/3 grapefruit

1/2 tsp. honey

Directions:

Peel the ginger, and grapefruit, and put them in a juicer.  Add the honey and stir to combine.  Sip.  Or gulp.  Or shoot.

Be prepared, though, you may need a chaser to cool you off :)

To your health!