Monday, December 10, 2012

Green bedding for your Pets

For the holidays this year, consider eco-friendly bedding for your pets. (And for yourself—a subject for another posting.)

Your pets probably spent a lot of time in their beds. If they are sleeping on most synthetic products, they are probably breathing in and absorbing through their skin toxic chemicals. The petrochemicals found in pets’ beds outgas for years.

Synthetic bedding came be made up of a combination of materials—and that is where the real problem lies. It is estimated that the scores of potentially harmful chemicals in our homes can be up to sixteen hundred times more potent when combined. Yet, no one knows for sure, as the outcome of mixing chemicals has barely been tested. 

Green bedding is often more expensive than synthetic, but if you choose wisely, it will last for years. My foster, Sam, came with a cheapie synthetic bed that ripped after several washings. Not only is buying a poorly made bed a waste of money—constant replacement ends up exceeding the cost of a well-made bed—but the bed will end up in landfill, where it will leach chemicals for years. 

Fortunately, there are now many stores that sell non-toxic bedding, or you can make your own. Look for natural fibers such as organic cotton or organic wool, hemp and man-made materials that do not outgas like Sunbrella fabrics for bed covers. For the fill, good choices include natural latex (rubber), buckwheat, wool and recycled non-toxic materials like soda bottles. 

I make beds for my dogs. They last for years and rarely need to be replaced—and then, only the covers have worn out. Currently, my Pugs, Cobi and Ferdi, share a double bed made of two shredded latex queen size pillows sewn together, with a pure wool cover that closes with a zipper. Note: buy 30% more wool than needed to cover pillows, and then wash in hot water. This will shrink the wool and you can then safely wash it again with no further shrinkage. Shredded latex—rubber—is great because if there is an accident, the pillows can be washed. It is also very comfortable for the dogs and they love them. Their other bed is a single pillow made of buckwheat and covered with Sunbrella fabric. (The photo above is the double pillow bed with Cobi, and Ferdi and their foster sister, Penelope, behind them.)

One other tip—make sure that the cover is removable and washable or that the entire bed can be washed. Every two weeks, I wash our bedding and theirs and the boys get a bath. (The boys sleep with us—I want clean boys!) This helps keep everyone smelling fresh and clean and helps with the shedding. 

Pet Beds: (Pillows and bedding for humans and pets) Love their stuff! Use their organic wool comforter, mattress topping, rubber pillows. Not cheap but the best I have ever used! (BTW…wool is amazing to sleep with because it keeps you warm and wicks away moisture.)
Great selection of bedding plus other cool stuff for pets!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wash Your Pet's Bedding in Non-Toxic Detergent!

During the past year, my husband and I have been fostering Pugs for Curly Tail Pug Rescue. CTPR takes dogs from surrendering owners, puppy mills or shelters and gives them to foster families until the dog is ready to be placed in a forever home. We are now on our fourth Pug, and this has been a gratifying experience.

 Anyway, the latest Pug--Penelope--came with a large plastic bed and one of those blankets you find in cheap hotels--some synthetic velour-like material. The blanket stunk to high heaven...not because it was dirty, but because it had been washed in some highly scented detergent.

 So I washed it. And washed again with hot water and vinegar. I washed it 4 times and it still reeked of the detergent. The problem—other than that the smell was disgusting—is that the odor from these detergents is composed of petroleum-based chemicals. Lots of chemicals…most of which are never tested for safety when mixed together. Petroleum based chemicals are non-sustainable, pollute and are unsafe when inhaled or absorbed into the body.

 Most dogs spend hours in their bed. Whatever they sleep on they breathe and absorb into their bodies. Aside from how unpleasant the smell of those strong detergents must be to them, who knows what the chemicals are doing to their health? I gave up on getting the smell out of that blanket, threw it out and replaced it with some towels and a flannel blanket.

 I buy either unscented detergent or detergent scented with natural essential oil like lavender. Nowadays, even the typical grocery store carries detergent without chemicals. I generally buy mine at Trader Joes; it has a nice, light addition of lavender oil. As soon as I changed the bedding, my two Pugs would get into the bed! (All three of them prefer the boys’ beds, however—made of natural shredded rubber and covered with wool…more on that on another post.)

 So please…do your pets—and yourself—a favor and wash their bedding in petro-free detergent!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rice Salad, Chicken and Brocoli

Yesterday I wanted to make a rice salad, but have never had one I really liked. So I turned to my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman and found his rice salad with apricots. He suggested rice or other grains and I picked half a cup each of wild rice, wheat berries and pearled barley. Unlike rice, these grains have a "bite" to them and are also very healthy.

I also had a roasted chicken with sriracha aioli (Sriracha hot sauce and mayonnaise) on the side for dipping and steamed broccoli.

The meal was delicious! The broccoli was good with the rice and the aioli. The rice was a little sweet, a bit spicy and savory. This dish will definitely be making more appearances in my home.

I did not have dried apricots, so I substituted dried cherries and raisins.

Mark Bittman’s Rice Salad with Dried Apricots

½ cup each wild rice, pearled barley and wheat berries, cooled
1 cup chopped apricots or raisins and dried cherries
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup chopped scallion
¼ to ½ vinaigrette made with white vinegar and walnut and olive oil
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon cayenne
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Combine rice, fruit, almonds, and scallion and add vinaigrette. Sprinkle with spices and salt and pepper. Stir in cilantro and taste for any adjustments in spice