Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book Review: GO DAIRY FREE by Alisa Fleming

Whether you're avoiding dairy for health or ethical reasons, you will love this comprehensive book that is both a guide to dairy free living and a cookbook. 

GO DAIRY FREE begins with an explanation of what dairy is, including information about pasteurization, homogenization, lactose-free milk, kefir and milk from other mammals besides cows. She goes on to explain why some people avoid dairy--because of allergies, lactose intolerance, a vegan diet, autism, general health and more. She even addresses infant allergies--how to prevent and recognize them. 

Another section is devoted to the question that many people wonder about--how can you get enough calcium with drinking milk. Fleming dispels the myth that you need dairy in your diet, tells you how much calcium you really do need, and lists many calcium rich (nondairy) foods. Before heading on to recipes, the book addresses eating out, traveling, and shopping--giving the reader insight into avoiding dairy when not at home. 

Then, my favorite part: the recipes! And what great recipes they are. Perfectly Pear Muffins, Grilled Vegetable Strudel, Better Than Ice Cream, Vanilla Pudding, Lemon Struesel Squares and lots, lots more. My kids love the 5-Star Ranch Dressing more than the stuff I buy! A really nice feature is the chart that lists all of the recipes and notes which common allergens they do or do not contain, as well as whether the recipes are vegan. 

I highly recommend this cookbook--it would make a wonderful gift as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Commercial-Free Holidays

With the economy the way it is, many people are tightening their belts this holiday season. Rather than looking at it as ruining our holidays because we can't buy lots of stuff--why not look at it as an opportunity to get some of the commercial-ness out of the holidays.

Our family started several years ago making gifts for family and friends rather than buying. We get items at yard sales and thrift shops (fabric, picture frames, jars, bottles, fabric, etc.), plus find things around the house--cans, jars, toilet paper rolls, boxes--and make things from them. Not only do we have fun planning and making the gifts, the presents are so much more meaningful to the recipient. Even the smallest child can draw a picture or glue magazine cut outs or put stickers on a jar to make a vase or pencil holder. Older kids can make books, sew little pillows or purses, make jewelry, maybe even knit a simple scarf. My children always amaze me every year with their creativeness. Edible gifts are always fun to make and give: cookies, pies, truffles and almond bark, granola, etc. are great options.

Check out the CCFC Guide to Commerical Free Holidays for more ideas.

Natural toothpaste

I've recently discovered this toothpaste line called "The Natural Dentist." Actually, I've been using their mouthwash for quite a while since my dental hygienist told me that brushing with mouthwash could help to prevent tartar buildup. She recommended Listerine but I didn't like the ingredients so I started using The Natural Dentist mouthwash instead. 

Since then, I found their toothpastes. They are great as well with ingredients I can feel good about but what really sold me is their kids line, namely the Sparkle Berry Blast. Finally, a toothpaste my daughter likes!

All of their products are made with:

- All natural ingredients (herbal extracts and natural flavors
- No Alcohol
- No SLS (a detergent that can cause mouth irritation)
- The glycerin and xylitol are produced in the US (not from China)
- Naturally-occurring fluorite to make the fluoride (also fluoride-free options are available)
- Use green packaging (soy ink, recylcable bottles, and toothpaste is sold with a box to reduce packaging)
- PETA certified cruelty-free

For more info or to download a $2.00 off coupon, go to their Web site.

Also, the first five people to email me at will receive a free sample package. Please put TOOTHPASTE in the subject line.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

I have gotten really soured on Thanksgiving as it seems to be all about the slaughter of millions and millions of turkeys--and much less focus on the thanks part of the holiday. Every time I hear someone call "Happy Turkey Day" I think about how totally wrong that is.

I recently saw this PETA footage about abuse of turkeys at Aviagen Turkeys, Inc.--the self-proclaimed "world's leading poultry breeding company." Here are a few of the documented offenses:

- Employees stomped on turkey's heads, punched turkeys, hit them on the head with a can of spray paint and pliers, struck turkey's heads against metal scaffolding.
- Men shoved feces and feed into turkeys' mouths and help turkeys' heads under water. Another bragged about jamming a broom stick 2 feet down a turkey's throat.
- Workers killed 450 turkeys with 2-by-4's.
and more.

This Thanksgiving, why not skip the turkey so as not to support this cruelty and abuse--and really make it a 'happy turkey day'. If you must have turkey, look for a supplier that raises and slaughters turkey humanely. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

GM Corn shown to negatively affect fertility

A new Austrian study is causing quite a stir because it confirms that GM corn has a damaging effect on the reproductive health in mice. The Monsanto maize line MON863 has already been shown -- in the company's own experiments designed to mask health effects -- to damage the internal organs of animals in feeding trials.  This new evidence, from an EU government-sponsored study, shows that the standard mantra that "GM does not damage health" is shown to be a lie.  GM food and feed DOES damage health in a number of ways, as this and other reliable studies have shown over the past decade, beginning with Arpad Pusztai in 1998.

It will be really interesting to see what happens as a result of this study.

For the full article with references to the study and others, go to:

Help for eating local

For those of us wanting to eat more locally and sustainably, I found this helpful guide at You can search by zip code or city/state, etc. to find restaurants, farmers' markets, caterers, etc. that serve local and/or organic foods. They have trip planning guides, recipes and more. Right now on their blog, they're challenging people to have at least one local, organic dish this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

VegFamily Magazine has some great info to make your vegetarian Thanksgiving great.

Check out my article on vegan lasagnas:

Everyyear, I pore through the thanksgiving book display at the library looking for books where no one is eating a turkey. Here is a list of children's books that promote a meatless thanksgiving:

Also, check out my book review of "In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruit." It's not vegetarian, but has some wonderful recipes:

Also, check out these Thanksgiving suggestions from one of my past blogs: