I remember when microwaves were the hot new thing (was that the mid 80s?). Most of my friends' families already had or were getting microwaves, so of course I wanted my parents to buy one too. The reason? I wanted the tasty after-school microwave popcorn snack I'd have when visiting my friends.
Nowadays, I never make popcorn in the microwave.
Yes, microwave popcorn tastes good, smells great, is quick and convenient, but do you know what's in the popcorn you are eating and the bag it's popped in?
Microwave popcorn bags contain various unsafe chemicals. One of those chemicals is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the same chemical found in non-stick pots and pans. It's a known carcinogen to animals and when it gets into the human body, studies have found it to be linked to heart disease, birth defects, infertility, and more. There is no way to know exactly what's in those bags since the ingredients are not required to be listed, so in cases like this, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
As for the popcorn, well, it's not the healthiest thing you can put into your body. If you read through the ingredients, you may see things you cannot pronounce, unhealthy oils, artificial colours and flavours, and more sodium than you need from a snack.
You may have also heard of "popcorn lung." Popcorn lung - or bronchiolitis obliterans - is a respiratory disease that causes scarring in the lungs and breathing difficulties. The link between this disease and microwave popcorn is a chemical called diacetyl. Diacetyl was once used to give microwave popcorn its "butter" flavour. The disease is caused by inhaling large amounts of this chemical. In 2007, in response to the concerns about diacetyl, the big manufacturers stopped using the the chemical but there is still concern that what replaced it is not much safer. So again, better safe than sorry.
If you are now a little hesitant to reach for that package of microwave popcorn, then what should you do when the next craving hits? Thankfully, microwaving is not the only way to make popcorn. And no, it's never going to be as quick and convenient as throwing a bag in the microwave, but the alternative is healthier for you and tastes so much better.
You can make healthier popcorn by:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup popcorn kernels (my favourite is Eden Organic)
salt to taste
Turn the heat on to medium-high.
Place oil into a large pot.
Once the oil has melted, drop a couple kernels in. When you hear them start to sizzle, add all the kernels and cover with a lid.
When the popcorn starts to pop, lift the covered pot about an inch above the heat (holding the pot above the heat instead of letting it sit cuts down on the chance it will burn). Shake the pot occasionally to ensure all unpopped kernels fall to the bottom. Continue until the popping stops.
Pour into a serving bowl, add salt to taste, enjoy!
Tip: I always make extras and once cooled, I package it for healthy school snacks the next day.
Note: If you are really hooked on making popcorn in the microwave, try this better-for-you method.
As a child, any chance I had to go tobogganing, skating, or do any outdoor winter activity had me all over it. If there was something going on outside, I was there— no matter what the temperature was. Then I grew up and any temperature below zero became my nemesis. Cozy, heated indoor activities replaced those once-loved, outdoor winter activities.
Then I had kids. Kids who have the same love of snow and winter activities I once did. So, what was I to do?
Here's what I did:
At first, I reluctantly took part in outdoor winter activities with them. Building a snowman, ice skating, tobogganing. Admittedly, I dreaded the thought of going outside and being cold, but once I got out there, I had tons of fun and wondered why I didn't do it more often. I pushed myself to do it because kids are only little once and this time with them is precious.
Nowadays, I still don't love the cold (I really don't think I ever will!) but if it means creating memories with my kids, having fun, and getting a bit of exercise and nature-loving in, then I'll do it.
And that is what the David Suzuki Foundation's 2015 Winter Challenge is all about. To encourage all of us to get outdoors as a family and enjoy nature—even in the winter.
Now I KNOW I'm not the only one who cringes a little bit at the thought of being out in the cold, so this challenge is a great way to get you motivated to get outdoors more often and having fun with your family. Once you are out there, I promise, you will also wonder why you don't do it more often.
Here's how it works:
1. Sign up to be part of the challenge here (it's free!). The challenge starts on January 26th.
2. Each week for one month, you will receive an email containing details about your next challenge. The challenge can be anything from animal tracking and bird watching to sledding and skating.
3. If you'd like, you can share pics of what you are doing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you do choose to share your pics, tag them with the hashtag #winterfun so other participants can see what you are up to. You can also search the hashtag after the challenge starts to see what others are up to.
I'm all signed up and my kids and I are excited to start the first challenge. Will you also be taking part?
Over time, after baking things that splash, bubble, and spill, your oven door and window will need some special cleaning attention. If you're like me, cleaning the stove and oven ranks pretty low on the priority list when it comes to things to do during coveted spare time. One reason that holds many of us back is the fact that the products available in stores for these jobs aren't good for us because they have strong, bad-smelling fumes. The other reason is the fact that they are bad for the environment. Nobody wants any of that.
So what if there were a natural, eco-friendly way to clean up that dirty inner oven door using three ingredients you have in your kitchen right now? Well, luckily, there is. This method cleans really well, there are no fumes or harsh chemicals, and it is safe for both you and the environment. Win-win-win.
Here are couple before images of my oven door:
Here is what you need to make it shine:
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp water
* Note that depending on how long ago you last cleaned your oven door, you may need to double the ingredients and repeat this process.
1. Combine the three ingredients into a paste.
2. Spread it over the glass and any parts of the door that needs cleaning.
3. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. This will soften the stains up a little bit. If you notice the paste starting to dry out slightly, give it a small spray of water.
4. After the time has passed, scrub the glass and inner door with a the scouring side of a wet, double-sided sponge (one side sponge, one side scouring surface).
5. Wipe clean with the soft side of the sponge or a wet cleaning rag, using water when needed.
6. Dry with a kitchen towel. If there are spots that weren't cleaned well, spot clean with any leftover paste.
Tip: If you clean your oven door this way often rather than leaving long bouts of time in between cleanings, it will be easy and quick each time!