Category Archives: ingredients

Preserve Your Right to Know What’s in Your Food by Speaking Out Against the Dark Act

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You make smart choices for yourself in all areas of your life, not the least of which happens at the dinner table.  You may have family members with allergies, heart disease or other special needs.  You may be trying to lose weight.  Food labels can help you make informed choices as part of your #CleanCouponing approach, because as much as you like saving money, you know the value of investing in good nutrition.

Could you imagine going on a diet without being able to find out how many calories, grams of sugar or trans fats are in certain foods?  That’s what’s happening now with your right to know about GMOs.

Did you know that TODAY a movement is happening in Washington to deny your right to get accurate, complete food labeling at the grocery store?   It’s dubbed the DARK Act or Deny Americans the Right to Know Act, but your elected representative may only know it as HR 1599, and it’s due for a vote.  This video explains why you might want to know what’s in your food:

You can call TODAY to tell your elected representative that you expect a “no” vote on the infamously nicknamed DARK Act.  Here’s an easy tool provided by the Center for Food Safety that allows you to enter your phone number and be directly connected via your phone to the appropriate Washington office.  It makes speaking up (politely) to your elected official an easy, 5-minute task that everyone can do!

Not only has the Food and Drug Administration refused to label genetically engineered foods otherwise known as genetically modified foods or GMOs, even though they’re often treated with the glyphosate herbicide recognized by top scientists as probably linked to cancer; but the DARK Act legislation would deny states’ rights to require GMO labeling, even if the people of that state vote for it like they did in Vermont and some other states.  If you eat any conventional processed foods at all, you are likely being exposed to pesticide residues and unknown health harms, according to modern science.  So, the DARK Act would make it more difficult for you to make personal choices about the food you want to feed your family.

A few watchdogs like Just Label It and the Center for Food Safety are trying to keep everyone informed and push back against the intense chemical-food industry lobbyists. Those in Washington are bracing for a vote in the US House as early as July 23, so it is critical you call today and make your voice heard with your representative.

If you care about #CleanCouponing, truly knowing the quality of the food you choose for your family, you’ll want to get the most information you can from a food label.  That means a NO vote on the DARK Act and a yes to authentic, mandatory, state-level GMO labeling.

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open faced sandwich cookie

Why I Buy My Kids Junk Food

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I admit it.

I buy my kids junk food.

You too?

stack of chocolate sandwich cookies

But Clean Couponing is all about being frugal with more than money!

How can a parent be concerned about issues like health and ingredients while admitting to buying junk food?

Here’s how:  In a perfect world I would have enough space for not just an organic garden but a mini-farm in my own backyard, where I’d produce enough food for everything I needed in the kitchen. I’d have time to cook absolutely every meal and snack from scratch for my family.  Plus, my kids would have no outside influences tempting them to try greasy, sugary, fattening, processed foods.  That’s not the world we live in, is it?

I do grow organic vegetables in our garden.  I do cook from scratch as much as possible.  I also need time-saving methods.  I also spend time shuttling kids to various activities.  I also give in to their requests for “fun” food.

Where Clean Couponing comes in is that it can help me strategically stock up on the kinds of “fun” meal and snack foods my kids want to eat, while giving me the chance to play defense with the ingredients.  I’m using the term “junk food” loosely, meaning no offense to any particular food or food maker.

open faced sandwich cookie

At some point, the kids will beg for chocolate cookies, and if I’ve checked ahead of time for the cookies without the trans fats and genetically modified ingredients, I’ve accomplished something.  They will want ice cream or candy or gum, so I can choose from the few brands that don’t use coal-tar derived food dyes and suspicious preservatives or fillers.

While I wouldn’t want to serve my family hot dogs frequently, the occasional picnic is a chance to try these made with more wholesome ingredients than most.  (Don’t miss this giveaway that ends soon.)

My kids know I scrutinize ingredients and practice Clean Couponing because I love them. They also know I find creative ways to let them enjoy “junk food” because I love them, too. If I stock up ahead of time, watch for sales, check out brand coupons online, it helps me provide these more wholesome versions of fun or junk foods, which is harder to do at the last minute.  If we really get in a rush, if I’m behind on meal preparation, and if I haven’t stocked up on better “junk” foods, those are the few times when we get into a downward fast food spiral, and that can really wreck a family nutrition plan.

Perhaps the biggest pitfall in stocking up on healthier “junk” foods is that even organic, GMO-free, gluten-free foods can still be high in sugar.  This is a legitimate concern, and a reason to never lean too heavily on processed foods, even if they bear all of the politically correct food labels.  Despite this potentially pitfall, I stand by my method of staying stocked up on some fun alternative foods.

How are you Clean Couponing to make sure your family’s fun or “junk” food is as clean as possible?

 

Stretching a Dollar with Castile Soap Refills

“We can’t afford that!”

“It’s too expensive!”

Do you find yourself saying that about certain home products you’d like to try but don’t think fit your budget?

I used to think that about hand soap, until I realized the real cost…

Castile Soap Refills

Dr. Bronner castile soap with four soap dispenser refills

This is not a sponsored post, just an honest show & tell about one way we use #CleanCouponing at our home to stretch a dollar while choosing to be frugal with our health.

Anti-bacterial triclosan that could be adding to antibiotic resistance, synthetic fragrances hiding potential hormone disrupting phthalates, artificial colors and even more mystery ingredients are all things our family can easily expose ourselves to every time we simply need to wash our hands.  There are numerous reasons why I decided to switch what we use at home every day to something that simply gets the job done: castile soap.

I realize we’d been spending between $3 and $6 for a typical 8-ounce plastic bottle of plastic hand soap.  How  wasteful!  We switched to reusable soap dispensers for our home instead.

I typically spend no more than $12 for a 32-ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (you could use any brand, but this is a leading one and you absolutely need to find a brand that is transparent about the ingredients inside).  Then, if I put 8 ounces of castile soap into four different bottles, I’m at no more expense that I was spending before on soap bottles. Since this castile soap is actually touted as three times as concentrated as traditional soaps, here’s where the potential for extra savings comes in.  If I stretch this soap with distilled water, it costs half or even a third of those other soaps.

If texture is important to you, and you want to get fancy with it, I’ve noticed that pure vegetable glycerin in my soap dispensers helps give this castile soap a thicker feel on the hands.  Otherwise, when I dilute the soap it with water, it does feel watery, although it certainly seems to clean just fine on our hands.  Instead of the artificial scents in other soaps, our family alternates choosing a castile soap scented with the natural oils of everything from almond to lavender to peppermint.

One of the biggest mistakes with concentrated castile soaps is using too much, so I would suggest stretching it in some way or at least getting accustomed to using less than you did with those other soaps that contain artificial fillers.

The oils in these soaps can tend to clog pumps, so it takes a little attention from time to time. Definitely worth the trouble for our family, since we have peace of mind about what’s going on our children’s hands.

An added #CleanCouponing bonus of using castile soap for refilling is cutting down on petroleum-based plastic bottle waste and protecting our environment.

How are you #CleanCouponing in your home?

spaghetti

#CleanCouponing Pantry Meals to Stretch Your Dollars

Post by Jessica

When Christmas is over and the holiday travel is done, our family tries hard to settle back into a routine. But, we usually realize early in the New Year that some of our overindulgences have left our wallets a little thin. And, since it’s not like we can avoid paying the electric bill, we find other ways to tighten the purse straps. The main place to save is on groceries, with some common sense #CleanCouponing techniques.

spaghetti

I like to make the food budget stretch by attempting to use everything (and I mean everything) in the pantry. It seems throughout the year I stock up on good deals. That, combined with my garden canning, can lead to some interesting, but wallet friendly, meals.

Remember that time you bought 20 boxes of pasta because it was on sale?

  • Toss it with some canned tomatoes, Italian dressing and cubed cheese and you have a quick and easy pasta salad.
  • Or use some of your homemade pasta sauce stash, sautéed with ground beef for a classic spaghetti and meat sauce.

I will admit I went overboard with canning this year. I have dozens of jars of applesauce left. But, it makes a nice fresh side for any meal!

  • The ever classic BFD (breakfast for dinner). Scramble up some eggs and whip up some pancakes. Add applesauce on the side and it’s a nice meal, mostly from pantry overstock.
  • Our family likes pork chops and applesauce any day of the week.

Some other family favorites include:

  • Drain a jar of tomatoes, drain a can of black beans, 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of chicken stock. Throw it all in the rice cooker and when done it’s a delicious rice meal.
  • Tomato soup made from the extra jars of tomatoes.
  • Pizza casserole also uses a lot of those pantry ingredients (mix together cooked pasta, a jar of pizza sauce and layer it with mozzarella cheese. Top with cheese and pepperoni and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes).

Be creative and have fun with dinner all while saving a little dough the #CleanCouponing way!

Wraps Lunch CC

Rock the Lunch Box Back-to-School Ideas & Giveaway!

*This is a sponsored post in cooperation with Organic Valley, Stonyfield Organic & other Rock the Lunch Box brands, bringing you yummy content plus a giveaway!

We’re all inundated with back-to-school deals this time of year, matching prices and clipping coupons.  But is it really a good deal if the product isn’t a wholesome food we’d normally feed our kids?

Because at Clean Couponing we’re frugal with more than money, we’re looking for real food.  Even when we buy packaged, processed foods for convenience, we’re scanning for recognizable ingredients without a bunch of fillers, preservatives or artificial colors.

Melon Ball CU

An entire spectrum of colors is available when lunch planning starts in the produce aisle, garden or farmers’ market.  Those are all great places to get kids involved.

I asked my young daughter to draw her dream lunch for school.  She spent a lot of time designing a very pretty tote, then she clearly indicated she likes strawberries, milk and chocolate.  While I’m not promising candy bars at lunchtime, I can agree on chocolate milk sometimes, IF it’s organic milk from Organic Valley’s dairy cooperative.

Kid Art Lunch CC

Chocolate milk is a part of the healthy lunch we created along with other foods from Rock the Lunch Box participating brands.

Most importantly, my daughter helped me choose fresh carrots, cherry tomatoes and a bell pepper from the produce section and picked green beans from our little organic garden.  She really likes watermelon, so I tried mixing that up with cantaloupe since they’re priced low at the end of summer.  Another time, we’ll put strawberries in her lunch box; and when we can’t find great deals on fresh fruits, we’ll use frozen.

We created a mini-wrap using tortillas from Rudi’s Organic Bakery, leftover pasta sauce, turkey and bell pepper.  She had a little ranch dressing for dipping her crisp vegetables, and a colby jack cheese Stringles from Organic Valley.  Plus, we cut a circle of Rudi’s gluten-free bread and added almond butter for a high-protein addition to her lunch.  It’s likely the Annie’s chewy granola bar and Honest Kids juice will get saved for her snack later in the day.

Wraps Lunch CC

You’ll find hundreds more fun lunch ideas plus cool coupons at rockthelunchbox.com. Getting dollars and cents off wholesome foods you’d want your kids to eat:  that’s what we call “clean couponing!”

One lucky Clean Couponing or Flour Sack Mama blog reader will win a Rock the Lunch Box toolkit, featuring a Laptop Lunches Bento and free food coupons, a $50 value!  Enter via the Rafflecopter form here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We tried another Rock the Lunch Box combination at the Flour Sack Mama blog!

Thanks to the fun #RocktheLunchbox brands for food samples & lunch gear.

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

Weinervention dogs & squash

Family #Wienervention Cookout with Applegate & Friends

*Posting in cooperation with Applegate, to bring you more yummy content!

Will your family’s end-of-summer cookout include fun food like hot dogs or healthy foods like grilled veggies?  We shouldn’t have to choose, should we?  Maybe your family, like mine, includes some of us who could live with less meat, AND those like my hungry husband who thinks it’s not a cookout without meat on the grill!

Is there a compromise?

Weinervention dogs & squash

Applegate is helping our family work through this meaty issue with a #Wienervention. Instead of having to adopt a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy to have a picnic, we can add all-beef hot dogs to the menu along with garden-grown heirloom tomatoes and squash.

These hot dogs come from humanely raised animals that haven’t been fed regular doses of antibiotics or growth hormones.  They’re minimally processed, not “cured” like most hot dogs, which avoids suspect preservatives like nitrates possibly linked to cancer.  Their ingredient list is meat and spices — no fattening corn fillers.

Family-style wienervention clean couponing

Here at Clean Couponing, we’re not exactly saying you should consume hot dogs every day; but if you choose processed meats, look for “cleaner wieners” like these!  We love the idea that with a #Wienervention we can ease family members like stubborn carnivorous husbands (ok, he eats a few vegetables) toward a more wholesome approach to food.

Hubby and the kids all agreed these wieners have great flavor!  Our fun #Wienervention kit included some yummy toppings and gear.  Did you know that Applegate weiners and Rudi’s buns can create a gluten-free hot dog experience?  Pretty good, huh?

I would personally like to see Applegate go one step further and be able to assure us that the livestock, even in their “natural” line, has not been fed genetically modified grain. Currently, that assurance only comes if you choose their “organic” varieties.  But as far as grocery store food goes, Applegate is far ahead of other deli meat makers.

If your family needs a #Wienervention too, you can visit the Applegate website for coupons plus enter to win a year’s supply of “cleaner wieners!”

Rice for a Frugal Gluten-Free Dish

Maybe you have health reasons to try a gluten-free diet, whether from a celiac diagnosis or other concerns.  The transition can seem a bit daunting, and it can be somewhat more expensive when it comes to traditional baked goods without gluten.  However, a frugal, at-home staple for a gluten-free diet is brown rice.

cooked rice

Buying in bulk by the bag, or even bulk bin shopping can help you save on the cost of rice.

We show you how to make perfect rice in this post on frugal cooking.

Here’s more about gluten free food choices from the Mayo Clinic.

 

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Is Palm Oil Healthy For Your Family? Dr. Weil Weighs In

So, you’re reading more ingredient labels and watching out for things that don’t sound like food.  You may be delighted to read about an ingredient like an oil that at least sounds naturally good for you and the planet.  The following guest post from Rainforest Action Network helps clear up some confusion about palm oil.

by Ashley Schaeffer Yidliz, Rainforest Action Network

Mother Ashley Schaeffer Yidliz with baby boy

Ashley Schaeffer Yidliz of Rainforest Action Network

Now that we’ve added trans fats to the list of ingredients to look for – and avoid – in supermarket labels, and the FDA is poised to ban them from the food supply altogether, we’re good, right?

Not so fast, warns Dr. Andrew Weil, America’s leading expert in integrative medicine.

Conflict Palm Oil is often used to replace those artery-clogging trans fats. It makes a good substitute because palm oil, like partially hydrogenated oil, is solid at room temperature. But is it actually healthy? Continue reading