Traditional recipes

These Chemicals are Keeping Your Food Fresh (Slideshow)

These Chemicals are Keeping Your Food Fresh (Slideshow)

More foods than you realize contain these sulfites, nitrates, benzoates, and other preservatives

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TBHQ, or tert-Butylhydroquinone, is an antioxidant that preserves foods containing unsaturated vegetable oils or animal fats. It can be found in everything from Pop-Tarts to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to crackers and many varieties of fast food, and it’s been suggested that in high doses it may lead to hyperactivity and asthma in children. In order to reach a toxic dose, however you’d need to eat more than 11 pounds of chicken nuggets in one sitting.

TBHQ

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TBHQ, or tert-Butylhydroquinone, is an antioxidant that preserves foods containing unsaturated vegetable oils or animal fats. In order to reach a toxic dose, however you’d need to eat more than 11 pounds of chicken nuggets in one sitting.

Sorbic Acid

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This antimicrobial agent, which also goes by the names calcium sorbate and potassium sorbate, occurs naturally in many plants and, and synthetic versions can be found in many foods, from Little Debbie Oatmeal Cookies to frozen pizza and some fountain sodas. It’s classified as safe, but it’s on the list of ingredients that Whole Foods won’t allow in its products.

Calcium Disodium EDTA

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Officially known as calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, this chemical salt prevents oxygen from working its way into food molecules and spoiling them. It’s also used in alternative medicine as a chelating agent (to remove heavy metals from the body) and to remove plaque from arteries, but it is toxic in large amounts. It can be found in salad dressings, Hellman’s mayo, margarine, and canned beans, and is also on Whole Foods’ no-no list.

Dimethyl Dicarbonate

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This chemical is primarily used to preserve beverages, thanks to its ability to inhibit the growth of certain enzymes. Along with sulfur dioxide, it’s one of the most popular wine preservatives, and can also be found in some sports drinks, sodas, and iced teas.

Sodium Benzoate

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This benzoic acid-derived salt kills bacteria in acidic conditions, so it can be found in everything from salad dressings to pickles to Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. It’s come under fire in recent years because it’s been discovered that toxic benzene can be produced when combined with vitamin C, but it’s in the process of being phased out of most products that contain both of those, as well as Coca-Cola products.

Calcium Sulfate

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This calcium salt (a close relative of plaster of Paris and gypsum) is an acidity regulator and flour stabilizing agent. It’s been cleared for use in a whole lot of foods, but is most commonly found in highly-processed breads like Wonder Bread.

Sodium Nitrite

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This is one of the only preservatives that you can identify without even looking at the label: it’s what gives hot dogs, bacon, and lunch meats like bologna that pink color, and kills off bacteria and other microbes, most notably those that cause botulism. Consuming excessive quantities of nitrite-treated foods can lead to respiratory problems, cancer, and digestive issues, and pregnant women who eat it in high quantities put their baby at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.

BHT

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BHT, or butylated hydroxytoluene, is an antioxidant that prevents fats from spoiling and is also used as a yeast de-foaming agent. It’s found in plenty of baked goods and snack foods, as well as cereals like Frosted Flakes.


Start by discarding any decaying leaves or flowers. Trim the bottom ends of your flowers with a clean, sharp blade before arranging them in the vase containing the floral preservative. Cut the stems at an angle to increase the surface area for water absorption and to prevent the ends from resting flat on the bottom of the container.

In all cases, mix the floral preservative using warm water (100–110° F or 38–40° C) because it will move into the stems more effectively than cold water. Clean tap water will work, but if yours is very high in salts or fluorides, consider using distilled water instead. Chlorine in tap water is fine since it acts as a natural disinfectant. Select one of the following recipes and use it to fill your vase instead of plain water.


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Homemade Cleaner Tricks

In addition to having the right homemade cleaning ingredients, a few tricks can make it easier to clean your home the green way:

  • Clean containers: Store homemade cleaning products in unused, clean containers. Never use bottles that once held chemicals. To keep your family safe, label homemade cleaners when you make them, and ensure you use the right solution for the application.
  • Test it: Before you spray a cleaner on any surface, test first in a hidden area to ensure the cleaner doesn't damage or mar the material.
  • When to skip vinegar: Never use vinegar solutions on stone surfaces such as granite or marble, cast iron, aluminum, or waxed surfaces. The acid in the vinegar can etch, pit, and strip finishes or otherwise damage these surfaces.

Make the Most of Summer's Seasonal Flavors With These Pasta Salad Recipes

The perfect summer day requires good food, good company, and a lot of sunshine. Finding a meal that's healthy, filling, and cold enough to enjoy on a hot afternoon is much easier when you have a treasure trove of pasta salad recipes to choose from. And because these colorful salads go hand in hand with warm weather, iced tea, and a relaxing day, what could be better? Easy to make and even easier to eat, pasta salad is a great go-to meal when you want something quick and delicious.

This summer, complement your pool day with a tasty pasta salad. Complete with seasonal veggies, exciting dressings, and noodles that'll keep you full, these recipes have all the best flavors of summer. Whether you want a cold side salad to pair with the main dish or you're looking to make enough food to feed you for days, there won't be a dish on this list that won't make you drool. Keep reading to see the best summer-themed pasta salad recipes, ahead.


25 Genius Meal-Prep Recipes That Will Last You All Week

To the uninitiated, preparing meals ahead of time—commonly just called “meal prep” among the fit crowd—can be a little daunting. But trust us: These recipes can save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.

“Prepping meals ahead is a game-changer when it comes to taking the stress out of eating well,” says Ellie Krieger, M.S., R.D., host of Ellie’s Real Good Food on American Public Television and author of You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals.

“Just try it for a week and I think you’ll be a convert: Make one dish on the weekend just to eat during the week or freeze, and for one weeknight meal, make a double batch—eat some and store some. If you keep it up, before you know it, you’ll have a library of healthy meals in the freezer.”

25 of the Easiest Healthy Recipes to Help You Lose Fat Fast

Cooking recipes for your weekly meal prep is all a matter of planning. In You Have It Made, Krieger provides step-by-step instructions on how to store foods for the rest of the week in the refrigerator—or for longer, in the freezer—along with thawing instructions.

Here are 25 delicious and healthy meal-prep recipes that are perfect for getting your lunches ready ahead of time.

8 Vegan Recipes That Will Actually Make You Feel Full

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A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices

Eat real food. That&rsquos the essence of today&rsquos nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard&rsquos Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices​ describes how to eat for optimum health.


How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

Keep your produce as fresh as possible with these guidelines* for storing fruits and vegetables.

Leave refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. (Exceptions, such as mushrooms and herbs, are noted below.) If your greens seem sandy or dirty—think lettuce from the farmers’ market—rinse and dry them well, then wrap them in a paper towel before placing in a plastic bag. Fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should be removed from any packaging and left loose. The guidelines below assume that your produce is ripe and ready to eat. Some items, like apricots and avocados, will ripen faster in a paper bag on the countertop (see below). The bag traps ethylene gas, which is released by the produce and acts as a maturing agent. Want to speed the process up even more? Put an apple in the bag, too.

Alfalfa sprouts
Refrigerator: 3 days

Apples
Refrigerator: 3 weeks

Apricots
Refrigerator: 5 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft and fragrant.

Artichokes
Refrigerator: 1 week

Arugula, bagged and in clamshells
Refrigerator: No matter how fresh the leaves look, follow the expiration date on the package, since bacteria can develop.

Arugula, bunch
Refrigerator: 5 days
Tip: If the bunch has roots, wrap it in a damp paper towel before bagging.

Asparagus
Refrigerator: 3 days
Tip: Trim the ends before wrapping the spears in a damp paper towel, then in a plastic bag.

Avocados
Refrigerator: 3 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.

Bananas
Countertop: 5 days
Tip: Ripe bananas can be frozen for baking (the skins will blacken, but the flesh will be fine).

*Real Simple consulted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food scientists, food manufacturers, and a host of other experts—including fishmongers, cheese sellers, coffee roasters, bakers, and bartenders—to establish these storage guidelines. The first consideration was safety. But because you want your food to be delicious, too, for some products, Real Simple chose the conservative storage time for optimum freshness.

Beets
Refrigerator: 3 weeks
Tip: Separate the leaves from the roots before storing them separately in a plastic bag the leaves will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

Bell peppers
Refrigerator: 1 week (green) 5 days (red, yellow, and orange)

Blackberries
Refrigerator: 2 days (spread in a single layer on a paper towel–lined plate)
Tip: Discard damaged or moldy berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold.

Blueberries
Refrigerator: 1 week
Tip: Discard damaged or moldy berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold.

Bok choy
Refrigerator: 3 days

Broccoli
Refrigerator: 1 week

Broccoli rabe
Refrigerator: 1 week

Brussels sprouts
Refrigerator: 1 week

Cabbage, green and red
Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Cabbage, savoy and napa
Refrigerator: 1 week

Cantaloupe
Refrigerator: 5 days (whole) 3 days (cut)
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag. Before slicing the melon, wash the rind thoroughly to prevent the transmission of bacteria.

Carrots
Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Cauliflower
Refrigerator: 1 week

Celery
Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Chard
Such as Swiss and rainbow
Refrigerator: 3 days

Cherries
Refrigerator: 3 days (in an open bag or bowl)

Chili peppers, fresh
Refrigerator: 2 weeks
Note: Dried chili peppers will keep for 4 months in an airtight container.

Clementines
Refrigerator: 5 days

Collard greens
Refrigerator: 5 days

Corn, unshucked
Refrigerator: Best on the first day 3 days are possible.

Cranberries
Refrigerator: 1 month

Cucumbers
Refrigerator: 5 days

Eggplant
Refrigerator: 5 days

Endive
Refrigerator: 5 days

Escarole
Refrigerator: 3 days

Fennel
Refrigerator: 1 week

Garlic
Pantry: 2 months (make sure air can circulate around it)

Ginger
Refrigerator: 3 weeks
Tip: Ginger can be frozen for up to 6 months. It’s not necessary to thaw it before grating.

Grapefruit
Countertop: 1 week
Refrigerator: 3 weeks

Grapes
Refrigerator: Best up to 3 days 1 week is possible (in a bowl or ventilated plastic bag).

Green beans
Refrigerator: 1 week

Herbs, leafy
Refrigerator: 3 days (basil, cilantro, chives, tarragon) 5 days (parsley, mint)
Tip: Wrap the bunch in a damp paper towel before bagging.

Herbs, woody
Such as rosemary and thyme
Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Honeydew
Refrigerator: 5 days (whole) 3 days (cut)
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag. Before slicing the melon, wash the rind thoroughly to prevent the transmission of bacteria.

Jicama
Refrigerator: 1 week

Kale
Refrigerator: 3 days

Kiwis
Refrigerator: 4 days

Leeks
Refrigerator: 1 week
Tip: Cut off and discard the dark green tops and keep the roots intact.

Lemons
Refrigerator: 3 weeks

Lettuce, bagged and in clamshells
Refrigerator: No matter how fresh the leaves look, follow the expiration date on the package, since bacteria can develop.

Lettuce, head
Refrigerator: 5 days (iceberg can last for 2 weeks)

Limes
Refrigerator: 3 weeks

Mangoes
Refrigerator: 4 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.

Mushrooms
Refrigerator: 1 week (in a paper bag)

Mustard greens
Refrigerator: 3 days

Nectarines
Refrigerator: 5 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.

Okra
Refrigerator: 3 days (in a paper bag)

Onions
Pantry: 2 months (whole make sure air can circulate around them)
Refrigerator: 4 days (cut)

Oranges
Countertop: 3 days
Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Parsnips
Refrigerator: 1 month

Peaches
Refrigerator: 5 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft and slightly fragrant.

Pears
Refrigerator: 5 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.

Peas, English and in pods
Refrigerator: 4 days
Tip: Leave them in the pods until ready to eat.

Pineapple
Countertop: 5 days (whole)
Refrigerator: 3 days (sliced)

Plums
Refrigerator: 5 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature until soft and the skins develop a silvery, powdery coating.

Pomegranates
Refrigerator: 3 weeks (whole) 3 days (seeds)

Potatoes, new and fingerling
Pantry: 5 days (make sure air can circulate around them)

Potatoes—red, russet, Yukon gold, and others
Pantry: 3 weeks (make sure air can circulate around them)

Radicchio
Refrigerator: 4 days

Radishes
Refrigerator: Best up to 3 days 2 weeks are possible
Tip: Remove the leaves to prolong freshness.

Raspberries
Refrigerator: 3 days (in a single layer on a paper towel–lined plate)
Tip: Discard damaged or moldy berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold.

Rhubarb
Refrigerator: 1 week
Tip: Do not eat the leaves they can be toxic if consumed in large quantities.

Rutabaga
Pantry: 1 week
Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Scallions
Refrigerator: 5 days

Shallots
Pantry: 1 month (make sure air can circulate around them)

Snow peas
Refrigerator: 4 days

Spinach, bagged and in clamshells
Refrigerator: No matter how fresh the leaves look, follow the expiration date on the package, since bacteria can develop.

Spinach, bunch
Refrigerator: 3 days

Squash, summer
Refrigerator: 5 days

Squash, winter
Such as acorn, butternut, delicata, and spaghetti
Pantry: 3 months (whole)
Refrigerator: 1 week (cut)

Strawberries
Refrigerator: 3 days
Tip: Discard damaged or moldy berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold.

Sugar snap peas
Refrigerator: 4 days

Sweet potatoes and yams
Pantry: 2 weeks (in a paper bag)

Tangerines
Refrigerator: 1 week

Tomatillos
Refrigerator: 1 month (in a paper bag)

Tomatoes
Countertop: 3 days
Tip: To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag.

Turnips
Refrigerator: 2 weeks
Tip: Separate the leaves from the roots before storing them separately in a plastic bag the leaves will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

Watercress, bagged and in clamshells
Refrigerator: No matter how fresh the leaves look, follow the expiration date on the package, since bacteria can develop.

Watercress, bunch
Refrigerator: 4 days

Watermelon
Refrigerator: 1 week (whole) 2 days (cut)
Tip: If you can’t refrigerate the melon whole, keep it in the pantry at a cool temperature.


Natural Air Fresheners That Will Make Your Home Smell Fresh and Clean

We talk about scrubbing down counters and washing the sheets all day long, but we tend to forget a really important part of making a house a home: keeping the air clean. It's important for both our physical and mental health, especially for those who are highly sensitive to odor. Factoring air pollution into your cleaning routine can make life at home so much more pleasant. Using true HEPA filters in your air conditioner unit, vacuuming regularly, and opening the windows when the weather is good can all help reduce allergens and airborne bacteria.

Smells are everywhere in our home and, sometimes, they aren't all too fresh. What do you do with a kitchen that reeks of fish and garlic? Or a bathroom that doesn't smell like a bouquet of roses? Before you reach for the store-bought cleaner, consider using a do-it-yourself, green alternative. You've probably used baking soda to freshen up your fridge, but there are plenty of other natural products you can use to deodorize your home and give it a delicious scent. While keeping your indoor air clean is important, it would be a mistake to underestimate how the smell makes you feel: The smell of eucalyptus can wake you up and the smell of flowers can help you relax.

Of course, if your home smells bad, you don't want to just be covering it up&mdashit could point to a serious issue like mold, poor ventilation, or a gas leak. But if the smell is just a short-term thing, you might just need to simmer some vinegar for an hour or so. So, whether you're trying to get rid of the food smells that linger or just looking to purify the air in general, try one of our homemade solutions.


7. Buy Local, or Grow It Yourself

It may be a challenge at first, but one of the best ways to get the most nutrition from produce is to grow it yourself or buy from local growers, says Deborah Madison, author of "Vegetable Literacy." Many mass-market farmers pick produce long before it ripens to avoid spoilage, so these fruits and vegetables aren't reaching their maximum nutritional potential, she adds. The easiest starter garden is an herb garden, as herbs require little space and sprout quickly. "Anything that comes immediately from a garden and hasn't been sitting around will have more energy and is more nourishing," says Madison.

It may be a challenge at first, but one of the best ways to get the most nutrition from produce is to grow it yourself or buy from local growers, says Deborah Madison, author of "Vegetable Literacy." Many mass-market farmers pick produce long before it ripens to avoid spoilage, so these fruits and vegetables aren't reaching their maximum nutritional potential, she adds. The easiest starter garden is an herb garden, as herbs require little space and sprout quickly. "Anything that comes immediately from a garden and hasn't been sitting around will have more energy and is more nourishing," says Madison.


When it comes to your cleaning routine, less is more. The products you choose to help you get the job done are important, though there will certainly be instances where specialized cleaners are necessary, but the following list of products and tools will suffice for most tasks. Keep them organized under your sink and in your pantry so that you can grab them as you work.

According to Martha's Homekeeping Handbook ($27.34, amazon.com), most spaces require at least one of the following to keep upkeep to a minimum: an all-purpose cleaner mixed with water in a spray bottle a mildly abrasive cleaner for all surfaces a glass cleaning solution and the essential tools, including gloves, cloths and towels, as well as scrubbing brushes. And not all of these items need to be bought, either: Martha has quite a few natural, DIY solutions that can be used to clean glass, floors, and everyday surfaces. We're sharing our product picks as well as recipes for cleaning solutions that you can make with common kitchen staples, like vinegar.

In the kitchen, cleanliness isn't merely a virtue&mdashit's essential to the health and safety of your family. While bleach is the most potent disinfectant you can clean with, it's not the everyday solution for all messy kitchen. A mixture of vinegar and baking soda may be better suited to remove caked-on stovetop crud, whereas a dash of castile soap can cut through sticky spills on your countertops. The same is true for your bathroom, where cleaning well doesn't mean using harsh chemicals. Start with the best, gentlest cleaning products first before moving on to anything stronger. Adequate ventilation via a ceiling fan or open window will help prevent moisture buildup and go a long way toward keeping the bathroom fresh.