Kitchen Hacks For A Happier, Easier Time In The Kitchen

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Cali shares kitchen hacks for an easier, happier time in the kitchen!

Show Notes

For more great ideas on recycling check out the following articles and guides:

Past Episodes:

Get Un-Stuck! 7 Nonstick Cookware Alternatives

Unless you’ve been living under a pile of perflourochemical-coated pots and pans, then you know it’s time to ditch the nonstick. Why? Until recently, the majority of nonstick cookware was manufactured with perfluorinated chemicals – or PFC’s. These PFC’s (including PFOA and PFOS) are used to make products stain-, grease- and water-resistant. The problem is, when heated, PFC’s break down into perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and release toxic gases and particulates into the air at a temperature of only 446°.

PFC’s are highly persistent in the environment have been detected in 98% of the population tested. They are a likely carcinogen and have been shown to cause cancer in animal studies according to the EPA’s Science Advisory Review Panel (SAB). In a 2007 John Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health study, PFOA was detected in 100% of the newborns examined. According to the Environmental Working Group, PFC’s are associated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation, and weaker immune defense against disease.

What’s a heat-seeking guy or gal to do? DuPont (the only current U.S. maker of PFOA) has committed to phase out manufacture, purchase and use of the chemical this year. However, companies overseas continue to produce and use it, hence, it’s best to stick with safer materials to bake, fry, stir and sauté your next meal with. Here are 7 healthier alternatives.


  • ExtremaThis is 100% ceramic cookware. Ceramcor, LLC manufacturers Ceramcor Xtrema Cookware; a nontoxic, durable and easy to clean alternative to metal cookware with nonstick PFOA, PTFE coatings. It’s lead, cadmium, heavy toxic metal, PFOA & PTFE -free with no unsafe non-stick coating. They offer a 50-year scratch resistant warranty.
  • Cuisinart GreenGrourmet™ - Cuisinart’s GreenGourmet™ nonstick cookware is made of a PTFE- and PFOA- free nonstick cooking surface, utilizing a hard-anodized pan construction. It provides fast and even heat distribution, with a scratch-resistant nonstick surface that won’t peel! It’s made with 70% recycled steel, and the ceramic-based coating is petroleum free.
Stainless steel cookware

Stainless steel cookware. Image courtesy of Jon Wiley.

Stainless Steel

  • One2ThriveCook safer and earn some extra green while your at it. You can become a direct sales consultant and host your own healthy home cooking parties. One2Thrive offers high-quality cookware made of layered, surgical-grade stainless steel that distributes heat quickly and evenly. Their 7-ply Stainless Steel with Titanium is durable, easy to clean and will not react chemically with your food, making it safe for food storage. Or, for a nonstick surface, try their eco-safe, high performance, ThriveShield; a high-performance mineral coating that offers guaranteed healthy and safe for cooking, durable and scratch-resistant, environmentally friendly, PTFE-free and high heat rating without releasing toxic fumes.
  • Calphalon – Look for their Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel cookware designed with three layers to ensure even, consistent heating. A heavy-gauge aluminum core surrounded by stainless steel provides excellent heat conduction for browning and enhanced control of the cooking process. Tri-ply stainless combines the beauty of stainless steel with the superior performance of aluminum and is dishwasher safe with a full lifetime warranty.
  • All-CladThe Stainless Collection cookware is All-Clad’s most popular featuring innovative bonded construction combining an interior layer of aluminum for even heating and an 18/10 stainless cooking surface cooking surface that’s hygienic and safe.
    • Interior starburst finishing improves non-stick performance
    • Riveted stainless steel long stick handles stay cool on the hob
    • Safe for use in the oven and under the grill
    • Dishwasher safe
    • The durable, PFOA-free nonstick coating provides effortless clean-up
Cast iron pot

Cast iron pot. Image courtesy of Didriks

Cast Iron

  • Lodge Cast Iron Cookware - Since Roman times, cast iron has represented the preferred material for cooking pots, and it is still forged and crafted by hand today; maintaining evenly proportioned heat. Lodge Manufacturing cast-iron cookware provides unparalleled heating, heat retention, durability, and value against even the most expensive stainless steel cookware.
  • Le Creuset® - The vitreous enamel cooking surface of Le Creuset’s cast iron cookware is hygienic and impervious to flavors and odors, and distributes heat more evenly; preventing hot spots. Easily being cleaned by hand or dishwasher, the cookware is also suitable for marinating or for storing raw or cooked foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Once hot, Le Creuset’s cookware requires only a low to medium heat setting to maintain a good cooking performance and allows the food to continue cooking even when removed from the heat source.

What’s cooking in your kitchen? Got a favorite nonstick alternative? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Feature image courtesy of Nik Stanbridge

The Salvage Chef Cookbook Is Your Recipe For Kitchen Waste Management

Go ahead, guess how many pounds of food are thrown away each year. Bet you don't even come close. The number is shocking - 33 million tons of food are disposed of every year in the United States alone.

Yet more than 17 million Americans are suffering from a shortage of food. Doesn't make sense, does it?

Just one of the reasons for such waste is that Americans don't know when a food is too bad to eat, and when it is okay. Erring on the side of safety, tons of food are thrown into the trash to end up in landfills when it could have been turned into a delicious meal.

michaelloveChef Michael Love aims to solve the problem with his book, The Salvage Chef Cookbook.

Make no mistake, Love isn't suggesting that you raid trash bins or eat spoiled food to reduce the amount of waste sent to the trash can. Instead, he is offering suggestions of how to use food that might otherwise go to the trash can because you don't know how to cook with it.

Love won his moniker, "The Salvage Chef," while working at the Epicure Gourmet Market in Miami Beach, Florida.

"One day, I discovered that approximately forty pounds of chicken trim [tenderloin and fat trimmings] were being thrown away each week," Love said.

He suggested making a chicken meat loaf incorporating roasted vegetables and fresh herbs with the meat headed to the waste bin. Once it was put on the menu, the chicken meat loaf sold out in less than an hour.

"Every day families throw away perfectly edible yet overlooked food as they are often unaware of how to 'salvage' it and create something delicious," he said.

According to The Salvage Chef Cookbook, food waste in America has increased 16% from 2013-2014. Supermarkets are a portion of that problem, said Love, throwing away up to 14% of the produce in the store simply because it does not look appealing.

"Salvage to most people means saving something that has been discarded. To me, salvaging in the kitchen is about taking real food destined for the trash bin and finding an innovative and delicious purpose for it, thereby saving money, reducing waste and delivering delicious food to the table," said Love.

SONY DSCWhile Love creates more than 125 recipes in The Salvage Chef Cookbook to effectively use food that is on its way out, he wants to help readers store their ingredients properly in the first place so that food stays fresher longer.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to food storage and common questions such as "Is meat that is brown okay to eat?" (For the record, yes it is.) Love says that besides the scrapings on a plate at the end of a meal, "no other food item gets tossed in the trash more often than bread." So, of course, he offers a lengthy discussion of keeping bread fresh and how to use the stale stuff.

Food thrown away is money thrown away, plain and simple. Discovering new ways to make use of what you already have not only prevents trash from piling up, but keeps more cash in your pocket, too.

All imagery courtesy of

5 Mini Countertop Gardens That Yield Big Results

Window garden

Window garden. Image courtesy of Rebecca Sims.

A desire to grow your own food doesn't always come with a backyard or patio that's suitable to do it. Cold weather, lack of sunlight, no time to tend to plants, or just simply lack of useable outdoor space might make you think that you'll never be able to exercise that green thumb.

Until now. A variety of indoor growing kits now let everyone have the opportunity to grow plants, with no excuses.

In fact, countertop gardens can be better for the environment. The designs are engineered to be so self-sufficient and take up so little space that there is no room for waste. Soil-less growing mediums mean less pests, reducing the use of pesticides and disease-control sprays. Controlled temperatures and weather conditions mean less stress and damage to the plants, too. Water usage is cut down dramatically, since water is often recycled in a system. Plants grow faster and in less space, allowing you to maximize your output and consume more produce grown in your own kitchen.

If you're searching for innovative gardening ideas that go beyond a pot, soil and some seeds, check out these 5 mini countertop garden options:

  1. If you've got a sunny location and a spot of surface space, then you can start harvesting ingredients for your next meal. How about mushrooms for a stir-fry? In just ten days, you can have more than a pound of mushrooms if you use Back to the Roots' Mushroom Kit which grows organic mushrooms in a box that you simply set on a table and water twice a day.
  2. You're going to need some herbs to flavor that stir-fry, of course. So why not add a conversation piece to your countertop and harvest some food, too, with Back to the Roots' Water Garden. This aquaponic garden grows organic herbs and lettuce on the top of a fish tank. The cute fish's poop helps fertilize the growing plants in a closed-loop system that gives the kids a pet and you some cooking ingredients.
  3. Fish farming too weird for you? Then go totally hands-free and seriously eco-chic with the hydroponic plug-in planters from Modern Sprout. These minimalist modern planters will grow three different plants with virtually no effort from you. Just program the container for self-feeding and self-watering and you can indulge in lettuce, kale and chard year round.
  4. Sprouts are among the easiest and fastest edibles to grow, and add a nutritious topping to sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Sprout kits and towers can help you maximize your space to grow these microgreens quickly and easily.
  5. Among the biggest problems with indoor edible gardening is lack of enough sunlight. Yet artificial light can grow strong and healthy plants and allow you to position a countertop garden wherever is convenient for you, not just where the sun happens to shine. Indoor kits with grow lights offer a ready-made system to start growing plants, usually with a self-watering feature. A less expensive option is to simply buy lights on your own and position them over pots with soil.

This article sprout ideas in your mind?  You'll also want to check out our feature on the Aqualibrium aquaponic garden.

Got something else you use in your home? Share your experiences with us on the comments section below.  

Feature image courtesy of Jim Lukach

Pulp Free: Soak Up Kitchen Waste For Good With Unpaper Towels

It's common knowledge that the use of paper plates and plastic silverware is wasteful. Real plates and silverware are a staple in most kitchens. But what about other disposable products like paper towels and napkins?

According to the Energy Co-op, 13 billion pounds (6.5 million tons) of paper towels are used each year. That equals out to more than 45 pounds of paper towels per person, each year. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste.

There are many reasons to choose reusable products in the kitchen, besides simply reducing waste that ends up in our landfills. It's time too break up with paper in the kitchen.

Save the Trees

Paper towel roll.

Paper towel roll. Image courtesy of Maggie Osterberg

To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed, according to data collected by People Towels. That means more than 110.5 million trees are cut down, and 130 billion gallons of water is used, in the production of paper towels every year. That staggering number should be enough to quiet the naysayers that argue reusable paper towels and napkins increase water use through extra laundry.

Save the Environment

Most paper towels have that nice, bright white color thanks to chlorine bleach, which is not good for the environment. During the bleaching process, chemical reactions occur that produce dioxins, organochlorines and many other toxic chemicals. Those toxins have to go somewhere when production is complete. Unfortunately that means they’re released with wastewater into our rivers and streams, or into “containment” ponds that don’t always do the best job at containing the toxins.

Save the People

In the end, the dioxins released into our water system end up in our bodies. According to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of human exposure to dioxins is through our food, mostly meat, dairy products, fish and shellfish because dioxins are stored in the fatty tissue of animals. This exposure is a huge concern as dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

Fortunately there is a better way. Reusable paper towels and napkins are readily available on the market, and they're very convenient too. It’s even easy to make your own! Check out this tutorial for ideas on how to make your own 'unpaper' towels from things you already have around the house.

If you’re not the DIY type, you can find many great brands of 'unpaper' towels and cloth napkins, like those from Gina’s Soft Cloth Shop. This brand is a great choice because they are made from high quality GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, and they’re serged around the edges for a clean finish.

Unpaper towels by Gina's Soft Cloth Shop

Unpaper towels by Gina's Soft Cloth Shop

If you haven’t already, put switching from disposable paper towels and napkins to reusable unpaper towels on your Green Resolutions list for this year.

Feature image courtesy of Atomic Taco

Cinch Up Kitchen Waste With These 3 Green Household Products

kitchen tools at the table

Kitchen tools at the table. Image courtesy of kate hiscock.

I am an enthusiastic proponent of the idea that we can happily do without an incredible array of things in the name of living an Eco-friendly life, but of course we do still need things.

Being green doesn't mean martyring yourself by suffering without these necessities – everything from basics like clothing, food, and shelter, all the way to the seemingly endless minutiae of random objects that makes our lives possible: pens, tweezers, mirrors, coasters, headphones.

But if we can't do without them altogether, there are often ways we can improve how we acquire, take care of, and dispose of these necessities. There is almost always a greener option just around the corner.

A recipe for waste reduction

Kitchens can be laboratories of living but they can also be wasteful.  Put a lid on kitchen waste with these 3 green household products (replacing commonly used kitchen products).

Biodegradable Garbage Bags

Garbage bags are really bizarre when you really think about it – we buy them specifically to throw them out! Reducing the amount of household garbage you generate by ensuring that you recycle, compost, and avoid excess packaging where possible can cut down on the number of garbage bags you use each week, but the waste you do have will still need to be contained somehow.

This is where biodegradable bags come into play. Rather than being made of plastic, which will sit inert in landfills for thousands of years, biodegradeable bags like those made by US-based ReUseIt bags are made from 100% recycled plastic and state that they biodegrade in landflls within 1-2 years.

Dish Scrubbers

Did your Grandma have one of those cheerful nylon scrubbers always sitting happily inside of its froggy holder on the side of her sink, too? The simple nylon scrubber has been a staple in many kitchens for years, but Eco-friendly alternatives are ready to take its place.

From simple solutions like scrub pads made from walnut shells or coconut coir fiber-based scrub pads to elegant long-handled bamboo brushes with natural bristles the options for plastic-free scrubbing are endless. Plastic-free options reduce waste in production, and due to their natural materials many of these options can be composted after they wear out. See, that's already one less thing taking up space in your (biodegradable) garbage bag!

Plastic Wrap

How did we ever live without it? It can be tough to imagine but there was a time before plastic wrap and disposable ziptop bags, and there can be life afterwards, too! Reusable glass containers are great for leftovers, but when you need to seal a bowl, wrap a slab of cheese, or keep the end of a cut cucumber fresh, I love to use a reusable beeswax wrap called Abeego.

I discovered Abeego at a farmer's market in Victoria, Canada a few years ago and it has been a staple in my (mostly) plastic-free kitchen ever since. Natural cotton and hemp fibers infused with beeswax and tree-resins create a flexible, pliable, reusable sheet that can be molded to fold up leftovers, cover an open container, or hold a sandwich.  Easy to wipe clean and compostable when it wears out after a year or two, Abeego is an all-in-one solution to replacing plastic wraps and other disposable products in your kitchen.

Feature image courtesy of Bryan Lee