Friday, 30 October 2015

Recipe: healthy and crunchy kale chips

What is it about kale?

Kale is one of the top superfoods on the planet and a nutritional powerhouse. Kale is the member of the cabbage family and is related to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Most common type of kale is called curly kale, with green and curly leaves and hard, fibrous stems. It is very low in calories and very high in nutrients.

The research studies show that intake of cruciferous vegetables, including kale specifically, has cancer preventive benefits.
There are 2 standout antioxidants in kale such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Lutein and beta-carotene are carotenoids and are key nutrients in protecting our bodies from oxidative stress. This is important for cancer prevention too, as oxidative stress is related to cell becoming cancerous. In addition, lutein helps lower risk of macular degeneration and eye cataracts, helps protect skin health and can control blood sugar levels thus lower risk for diabetes. For the flavonoids, kaempferol and quercetin are spotlight antioxidants in kale together with more than other 45 different antioxidants.

Vitamin K is very important nutrient and kale is a spectacular source of this vitamin, specifically vitamin K1. Together with omega-3´s called alpha linolenic acids, they have been shown to have direct anti-inflammatory benefits. Vitamin K1 is also important for blood clotting and bone health.
Kale´s content of glucosinolates shows that after eating, these are converted by the body into cancer preventive components. In addition kale provides us with cholesterol-lowering benefits, especially when prepared by steaming and thus reduces the risk of heart disease. Kale is very high in vitamin C, where 1 cup of raw kale has about 4,5 times more vitamin C content than spinach and more than a whole orange. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesizing.

It is often claimed that spinach contains vitamin A but actually it is beta-carotene, an antioxidant that body can turn into vitamin A. Kale contains good amounts of iron too, with 1,1mg per cup, containing more iron than beef, per calorie. Iron is essential for oxygen transport and cell growth.
Kale is also good source of calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also supports body´s detoxification process with the help of fiber and sulfur, which also helps with digestion. Per calorie, it has more calcium than any milk you can get.

Because kale is very low in calories, eating it could be very useful addition to a weight loss diet, even though there is no study proving kale´s effects on loosing weight.

Kale is very popular these days and there are couple of ways of eating it, especially in salads, steamed, in veggie dishes and in smoothies.
Other popular form is munching on kale chips, making it super healthy, delicious and crunchy snack.

Here is the recipe I would like to share:

Healthy and crunchy kale chips


  • 1 bunch of curly kale
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (more or less according to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kelp powder 

Wash your kale throughout, separating its leaves. 

Next, dry in the kitchen cloth, starting to remove the stems away. You will be left out with nice curly leaves. Break these down onto smaller pieces, depending how you would like your chips size to be. Remember, it will shrink considerably in the oven, while baking. 

Now, you can spread some parchment paper over your baking tray (I left out this step, and it came perfect), and spread your teared kale onto the tray. I used 2 large baking trays for the whole bunch of kale.

Next, sprinkle on the olive oil, vinegar/lemon, salt and kelp powder and massage the kale leaves for about 1-2 minutes. When done, you can add more salt, according to your taste. 

Put in the oven and bake at 170°C for about 15 minutes, depending on your oven. It can be less or more, as well. When finished, just take out of the oven, cool down and start munching.

Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and there is no reason why not to consider on loading up on kale to start reaping from its valuable benefits.


Toxins and chemicals in everyday personal care products

It has been almost 2 years journey towards detoxifying my life and cleaning my every day beauty and personal care routine. I still have been learning how to reduce the exposure to chemicals and toxins around me. It is not possible to live completely toxic free because these substances are all around us: in the air we breathe, in the soil, on the ground that we walk on every day, in the produce we eat and products we use on a daily basis, whether it is personal care items, cleaning products or materials such plastics and heavy metals.
Today I want to talk more about personal care and cosmetics. I have obtained more natural approach in using natural products about 2 years ago. It came after my sister in law sent me a picture of a lady with the description of what is in the mainstream cosmetics we use and about its effects on the body, skin and health.
It struck me and I started to think I needed to make a change in this and actually wanted to live more toxic free life. At that time I was using mainstream cosmetic products but was familiar with natural cold pressed oils and I loved using them and still do up to date.

I have reduced using mainstream products step by step even though it did not take too long to clean my entire collection of products. At the moment my routine consists of about 95% natural products.
I would like to stop here and explain what are the differences between natural and organic.
  • products with natural ingredients - simply means that the product contains some percentage of natural ingredients, which actually can be very low
  • natural products - ingredients are sourced from the nature and can vary between as low as 30% and can contain some harmful ingredients, but they could also be 100% natural   
  • made with organic ingredients - the products thus labeled, contain up to 70% organic ingredients, meaning the components in the products are ethically and organically grown and do not use any harmful substances and pesticides
  • organic products - USDA (in US) denotes that a product has 95% or higher of organic content. Organic meas that these products must pass more strict standards of purity, and must not contain anything that is derived with the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and must not be and GMO´s. 
  • vegan - means the products are without the use of any animal products and are also cruelty free, meaning not tested on animals. But it is possible that vegan products may contain some synthetic preservatives and therefore are not natural. Products being cruelty free does not necessarily mean that they are vegan, natural or organic.
I believe in balance to some extent but also know that if I decide to change something I will completely go for it 100%. That way I know I would not slip or would not be tempted to fall trying some "other" stuff.
I still have got one or two products that are not natural/organic but would like to finish using them and convert to organic completely.
It is important to me and more so that I know what is in these items we use daily. People do not think about what is in these products, because they have not been pointed out to check it or read labels and what these chemicals mean and what they do. Even if they do, they might ask, "what difference is it going to make in my life if i have been using them all my life .. ". To that I would say, it is never too late to make a change towards healthier way of life, and lower the exposure to chemicals, because it is so bad for us, our skin and our environment too. If we can make a change in this, we can do it in other areas of our lives as well.

Here are the top 16 toxic chemicals to avoid:

1. Parabens 
Parabens are used as preservatives and usually are not listed on the product. They are used to suppress microbial growth in many hygiene and personal care products. They can be found in deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, soaps and perfume. Parabens are in food products as well. To avoid them in food, always choose whole produce, such as dried legumes and grains, nuts and seeds, those without additional flavoring. On the product labels look for:
  •  methylparaben
  •  ethylparaben
  •  propylparaben
  •  butylparaben
Parabens are endocrine system disrupters, they have been found in breast cancer tumors, may lead to infertility and other hormone problems.

Many companies are now using Phenoxyethanol as an alternative for a preservative instead of parabens, but it is noway safer rather it has been shown to be toxic even in small concentrations, causing skin irritation, reproductive complications and damage to the nervous system.

2. Phthalates
They are not listed on the label as well. They are often found in anything under the term "fragrance" therefore it is best to avoid products with fragrance listed, altogether. These are in everyday products such as body lotion, hair spray, room sprays and other scented products.
Phthalates may cause damage to the liver and kidneys. They have the ability to mimic human hormones and therefore could cause birth defects, premature delivery and endometriosis in women and decreased sperm counts in men.

3. Benzoyl Peroxide
It is used mainly in acne products due to its ability to kill bacteria on the skin.  By reducing oil production on the skin, using this chemical is extremely drying and damaging to most skins. Benzoyl Peroxide is possible tumor promoter and produces DNA damage in humans. It is toxic by inhalation and is a known skin, eye and respiratory irritant.

4. Triclosan
Is a pesticide and a risk to human health and environment. It is most often found in hand sanitizers, but also soaps, dental care products, deodorants and other products. Exposure to this chemical may affect the thyroid hormones. We should also think whether we really want to constantly remove bacteria from our hands. Bacteria is actually necessary for our health.

5. Resorcinol
Is a chemical found commonly in hair dyes. One can only see the negative effects and sensitivity by using a product with resorcinol in it, only over time, sometimes only after several years.
Resorcinol is also found in products treating acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin issues, and to treat pain and itching caused by cuts, burns and bites, as well. It was shown to be highly toxic both orally and topically. It may cause difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face, severe headaches and heart rate changes. It was shown to affect the nervous system, adrenal gland and thyroid function.

6. Hydroquinone
This ingredient is most commonly used in products for lightening and bleaching the skin. It was shown to cause discoloration and spots especially in dark skinned people. It can also make skin more sensitive to sunlight, and when using long term it may decrease the skin elasticity. Some people may experience swelling and burning after the use. When taken orally it is toxic and most likely to cause cancer.

7. Mineral oil
It is extremely common ingredient in personal care products, found in moisturizers, lip balms, foundations and hair products. Mineral oil is a byproduct of crude oil, which is very costly to discard, so oil companies are very keen to find use for it. As it is inexpensive, skin care companies use it in their products as humectant - it helps bind moisture in the skin.
Mineral oil can be contaminated by cancer causing compounds, it causes premature aging because of the loss of moisture in the skin. It can be also labeled as petrolatum or paraffinum. Applying it to the skin can lead to different hormonal issues, miscarriages and damage to the immune system.

8. Methylisothiazolinone
This is a widely used toxic ingredient and preservative found in anything from baby shampoo to moisturizer. This chemical helps the products to last longer on the shelf. It has been shown to cause brain damage and contact allergies. Check the labels on the products and do not buy those that list this ingredient or any of these synonyms:
  •  2 - Methyl - 3 (2H) Isothiazolone
  •  2 - Methyl -2H - Isothiazol-3-One
  •  2 - Methyl - 3 (2H) - Isothiazolone
  •  2 - Methyl - 4 - Isothiazolin-3-One
  •  3 (2H) - Isothiazolone, 2- Methyl
  •  3 (2H) Isothiazolone, 2Methyl
  •  2 - Methyl-3 (2H) - Isothiazolone
  •  2 - Methyl-4 - Isothiazolin-3-One

9. Oxybenzone
Is a chemical sunscreen ingredient, which absorbs rather than blocks UVA and UVB rays. It is also know as benzophenone-3 and usually is used with other sunscreen agents. This ingredient penetrates skin deeply and increases the production of free radicals in the skin that is exposed to light. Therefore using this chemical in sunscreen products can contribute to melanoma. It has also been linked to contact eczema and allergies and may cause breast cancer. Animal studies suggest that it causes various hormonal imbalances both in men and women. Oxybenzone can be found in lotions, nail polish and lipstick, as well.

There are other sunscreen chemicals such as avobenzone, ethoxycinnamate and PABA that need to be avoided. They are all believed to damage DNA and may lead to various cancers.

10. Artificial dyes and synthetic colors
These are used in wide range of cosmetics and personal care products.  There is a blue Ext.D&C Violet 2 (ext means: for external applications only and D&C means: approved for use in drugs and cosmetics) synthetic colorant used in products such as nail polish, bubble bath, hair products, liquid hand soaps and antiperspirants. Ext.D&C is made from petroleum or coal tar, which are known human carcinogens.
Another synthetic color is carbon black found in the eyeliner. Can be labeled also as channel black, pigment black 6, arotone, arovel and black pearls.
Artificial dyes and colors cause skin sensitivity and irritation. Their absorption can cause oxygen depletion and even death. Animal studies show almost all of them are carcinogenic.

11. DEA, MEA and TEA (diethanolamine, monoethanolamine and triethanolamine)
These chemical ingredients are foam boosters present in many consumer products, such as shampoos, washes, soaps, but also found in color cosmetics such as mascaras, blushes, foundations and in fragrances and sunscreens too.
They are easily absorbed through the skin to accumulate in the organs and in the brain especially with the prolonged and repeated use. This may further increase the risk for cancer, liver, kidney and nervous system injury.

12. SLS and SLES (sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate)
These substances are used in 90% of all products that foam, also in car washes and floor cleaners. They reduce skin´s natural oil, leaving it exposed and in danger of becoming dry and cracked. Using products with SLS/SLES cause eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea and may even cause death.

13. DMDM Hydantoin and Urea (Imidazolidinyl)
These are preservatives, increasing the shelf-life of many cosmetics by releasing formaldehyde and thus killing the bacteria. They are found in shampoo, conditioner, skin care, hair gels and others. Exposure to these ingredients may cause joint pain, skin irritations, allergies, headaches, chronic fatigue and cancer.

14. PEG (Polyethylene glcol)
This substance is made by ethoxylating Propylene Glycol (PG). Dangerous levels of dioxin have been found as a result of this process. PEG´s are in everything including personal care, baby care and sunscreen.

15. Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol
These chemicals are petroleum plastics. The one with higher concentration of Propylene Glycol intended for industrial use is considered to be very toxic. It requires the use of gloves and disposal of everything when coming in contact with it. Therefore, skin contact must be avoided. Propylene Glycol used in cosmetics is less concentrated but as for me I would avoid anything containing this agent.  There were toxic effects documented even in small doses of PG, when ingested or applied to the skin. Using products with these substances in it can cause allergic reactions, eczema but also brain, liver and kidney damage.

16. Alcohol
Alcohol is used in cosmetic products as a preservative, solvent and astringent and for enhance absorption, too. There is no reason to use products with alcohol in them as alcohol is very drying and irritating to the skin. It removes important lipids from the surface and leaves the skin vulnerable to attack from irritants, bacteria and viruses. The healthy fats in the skin are destroyed, causing the skin to loose moisture and therefore making it to age faster. Alcohol use leaves the acne prone skin even in the worse condition.
Check other names for alcohol on the label:
  • ethyl alcohol
  • benzyl alcohol
  • methanol
  • alcohol denat (denatured alcohol)
  • ethanol
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • SD alcohol

It is important to note that not all the toxic and dangerous ingredients are listed on the label. In 2012 Europe´s scientific committee on consumer safety named 30 chemicals and 26 natural extracts as potential allergens. These are not legally required to be listed on the products and can be lumped together under the term "frangrance".

When shopping for natural cosmetics and products in general, always check the labels and ingredients listed on the packaging, as the advertising can claim the products being natural even though they are not. There are even a lot of natural/organic products containing unnatural and harmful ingredients. This applies for certified organic as well. Therefore check the product labels carefully and choose organic and wild-crafted ingredients. If not sure, always ask the people in the health food store to give you advice and point you in the right direction to choose the reliable organic product or brand.

It is also essential to do some research on a chosen product or a brand and also see what the company says, how they sell the product, how much they are boasting about their powerful ingredients and make sure how much of these active ingredients are actually in the product itself.
This is called "angel dusting", when company advertises an ingredient, but does not put enough of it in the product to actually have an effect on your skin. To avoid this, check the label and be careful about products that list water as a first ingredient on the label, they may not be potent enough. Also, become familiar with the ingredients and its properties to be able to tell the difference between good and efficient ingredients and good marketing of the brand. Look out for companies that prioritize low heating processing of the ingredients.

In one of my next blog posts I would like to look at detoxing our home and also post about the good healthy alternatives of products and what to look for when shopping for them.