Written by Diana Bauman, Contributing Writer
On my journey to real food, I started learning about the many hidden toxins in food and baking products that I used.
I know from experience how confusing and daunting it may seem to think about having to replace so many products for a healthier alternative. For this month's series on ridding your home of toxins, I decided to share with you a list on some of the most important products that you can easily replace for a toxin free kitchen.
Bleached Paper Products
Most paper products in the United States are bleached with chlorine gas or chlorine derivatives. These chlorine chemicals are known to create dioxins as a by-product of the bleaching process.
Even in small amounts, dioxin is agreed upon to be toxic.
Two of the most popular bleached products we use in our kitchen are parchment paper and coffee filters.
Instead of white bleached parchement paper, replace it with natural unbleached parchment. It can be found in many grocery stores or natural food stores. The price is a bit more, however, it comes in larger roles which lasts much longer.
Instead of white coffee filters, choose brown. A natural variety that can be found at any grocery store for the same price... less the toxins.
Bleached white flour is generally made with benzoyl peroxide. Cake flour is bleached with chlorine dioxide. Both are toxic. In the United States we bleach our flour to quickly get it to pure white and aged for taste.
To avoid the toxins, purchase unbleached flour (or grind whole-grain flour freshly).
Did you know most baking powder contains aluminum? Aluminum is best to avoid since it accumulate in the brain and can potentially bring on diseases including Alzheimer’s.
Next time you need to buy baking powder, choose Rumford Baking Powder which is aluminum free.
Pure white cane sugar is processed and bleached using chlorine. (For more information on natural sweeteners, check out a post I've written including information about the refining process.)
For a toxin free sweetener, choose organic, evaporated cane juice. It can be substituted one for one with white sugar. It tastes just as sweet without the hidden toxins.
We often think of corn starch when we need to thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and stews. However, corn starch can often be genetically modified.
For a toxin free alternative, use arrowroot powder.
Arrowroot powder is primarily a starch thickener. It has several advantages over other thickeners in that arrowroot powder has a more neutral flavor and is especially good at thickening delicately flavored liquids. It works at low temperatures and tolerates acidic ingredients. While some sauces thickened with other starches become spongy if frozen, arrowroot powder thickened sauces stand up under freezing and thawing. It also prevents ice crystals from forming on your homemade ice cream.
Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and is invaluable when you wish to have a clear, thickened sauce, for example, a fruit sauce. It will not make the sauce go cloudy, as will cornstarch, flour or other starchy thickening agents.
Most canned foods contain BPA.
Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used in the liners of most metal cans. Cans made with BPA can leach into the containing food and acts as an environmental estrogen. Once ingested it effects our brain disrupting proper hormone functioning. It alters genes and interferes with normal physical and behavioral development. This is why it is particularly damaging to fetuses, infants and children.
It’s been controversial for some time, however, the FDA now shares a level of concern and many companies are going bpa free.
Instead of canned vegetables, buy frozen. They're bpa free and taste much fresher than a canned variety.
Instead of buying canned beans, buy them dry and make them yourself. They freeze beautifully and are incredibly easy and cheap to make.
Unless you're canning or freezing your own, canned tomatoes are particularly important to purchase bpa free. There high acidic content makes the bpa in the cans leach more.
Eden Organics makes a great variety of bpa free canned tomatoes in glass jars. Also, as of October 2011, Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes has gone bpa free. If the expiration date says 2013, it's a bpa free can.
Baby Steps to a Toxin Free Kitchen
When you're making the switch, take things one step at a time. There's no need to overhaul your pantry in one day. As you use things up, buy a toxin free natural alternative.
Soon enough you'll have a toxin free kitchen with products you can feel great about using to serve your family.