- Food and Cooking
Is BPA Lurking in Your Kitchen? How to Avoid Toxins by Going Green - Green Tip #7
This week’s tip came about as pure happenstance in my ongoing quest for ways to evict the extra 30 pounds that have claimed squatters rights on my body over the last decade! I came upon an article stating increased abdominal fat can be the result of hidden chemicals found in our food through bottles and canned food. The culprit, it stated, is Bisphenol A, or BPA. My curiosity lead me to research the notion further since I had no idea what this acronym means. What I learned is alarming!
BPA - What is it?
By now we’ve learned to consume fresh foods vs pre-packaged, ready made foods in order to avoid ingredients we can’t pronounce and unnecessary, often harmful, additives. I, personally, buy fresh or frozen foods (veggies) and have very little canned items in my pantry, with the exception of canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. One of my crowd pleasers is my homemade spaghetti sauce, in which the base contains the aforementioned items. Much to my dismay, I learned I may have been poisoning friends and family for 30 some-odd years!
BPA is an organic compound (sounds friendly enough, right?) used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. It is also used to line our canned goods in order to keep the food product from coming in contact with the metal of the can.
BPA is Nasty Stuff
Read what Wikipedia has to say:
The Dangers of BPA
Alarmingly, BPA has been linked to obesity, neurological issues such as ADHD, thyroid dysfunction, breast and ovarian cancer, reproductive malfunctions, immune deficiencies,heart disease and prostate cancer! It’s especially harmful to infants and small children as baby bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups and liquid formula contain high concentrations of BPA. In recent years the usage of BPA in food contact plastics has been banned or is in ban proposal stages, due to the classification as a toxic substance, by Canada, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Japan and several of theUnited States.
Where BPA is Most Often Found
The highest concentration levels are in plastics marked “3” or “7”. When BPA is heated it becomes more toxic, which is why we are warned not to microwave food in plastic containers. Toxicity also increases the longer a can sits on the shelf. Highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes (!) intensify and create “heat”, leaching the poison into our foods.
BPA toxins can be avoided by looking at the number on the bottom of a plastic container or bottle. Avoid 3s and 7s! Additionally, some manufacturers are canning in BPA free containers. If the can doesn't say 'BPA free' right on the front, do not buy it! Also, read the plastic baggie boxes. Naturally, I ran to my pantry to read what I have on hand and was tickled to find the brand I use specifically states, in bold,“This product is not formulated with Bisphenol A (BPA)”. Whew! What a relief because I’m going to show you how to make and store your own tomato paste in this article.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
By now my research has thrown me into a culinary frenzy. Will I never make spaghetti sauce again? (You’ll not see a jar of pre-made sauce in my fridge!) Au contraire, mes amis! Where there’s a green mindset, there’s a way!
It’s easy enough to replace the canned tomatoes with fresh. Simply boil fresh tomatoes for 30 seconds, immediately immerse them in ice water (to stop the cooking process) peel them and there you have it! Tomato sauce is fairly simple also: puree tomatoes, a little onion, green pepper, garlic and oregano in a blender, then thicken it by bringing the puree to a slow boil, removing any excess waterappearing at the top, until it’s achieved the desired consistency. Let it cool completely, package in an airtight plastic bag and put it in the freezer. You can break off pieces as needed and it’ll keep in the freezer for up to a year!
But how on earth do I replace canned tomato paste? Once again, I let my fingers do the walking and lo and behold, I found the solution, which I will now share with you!
Homemade Tomato Paste
Ingredients: Note the quantities can be adjusted
7 dozen Roma tomatoes, cleaned and diced
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Place ingredients in large pot over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the contents have been reduced by half (about an hour), turn heat to medium low, stirring occasionally. Since tomatoes contain natural sugars, keep aneye that they don’t burn. Continue cooking until the tomatoes reach a red brick color (approx. 2 hours). Depending on how thick you want your paste, you can stop cooking anytime between reduction by half to three quarters. Use an immersion blender, or whisk briskly to break up the skins and seeds. (Or press through a sieve if you don’t want the solids.)
Spoon the paste into ice cube trays (each square yields 2 tablespoons) and freeze. Once frozen, remove from trays and place in (BPA free!) zip top baggie and put back into freezer until needed.
There you have it - a two-fold solution to a healthier and greener body!
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
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