Amazon Finds

Amazon Find: The Neat Egg

Recently my husband, Dean, did a food sensitivity test and was surprised to learn he is highly sensitive to eggs. We tried to figure out what had been causing his terrible tummy aches, and did numerous eliminations to his diet. We thought it was lactose, perhaps gluten, maybe an ulcer. After having some tests done the doctors weren’t able to figure it out, so I ordered the food sensitivity test. Once we got the results back I started reading food labels, not for lactose or gluten, but this time for eggs.

We removed eggs completely from his diet, and his tummy started feeling better. However, removing eggs also left several recipes he could no longer eat. This lead me back to doing research about egg substitutes.

For scrambled eggs we use JUST Egg, their motto is “made from plants, not chickens”. They’re pretty good, and luckily our local grocery carries them. I can also use them in numerous dishes, but at $5 US for 12 ounces that equals eight servings, I wanted to find something a bit more economical for recipes.

Enter The Neat Egg. One package is around $3.50 US and is equivalent to eighteen eggs. That is great a savings, and they are a perfect alternative to using eggs as a binder in recipes. I think next time I will get Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer just to do more of a comparison, because I love their products.

Lora’s Amazon Find Score: 4/5

Real Estate

National Radon Action Month

The EPA has deemed January as Radon Action Month, they state radon is an issue in 1 out of 6 homes in the United States. Radon isn’t a discussion point in most careers, but it should be for Realtors®. When going over professional services and inspections with my clients I know a radon test will need a bit more explaining than say a termite inspection. This is a breakdown on radon, and why testing for it is worth the money.

I am not a scientist, and my explanation of radon is rudimentary, but here goes. Traces of uranium can be found in rocks, sediment, and soil under our homes. This uranium will breakdown in a process known as radioactive decay. The decaying uranium will form into other elements, one of which is radon. When the radon continues this decaying process it becomes an odorless radioactive gas in the form of alpha particles. The particles can enter through basement walls, slab foundation, or even a crawlspace. It can also enter through basement drains, wall cavities, and tiny gaps around water or gas fittings, and more. Once in a home this is when it could become harmful.

How harmful? Per the CDC website: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General’s office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.”

So, how can a home be tested? In my region many licensed home inspectors are also licensed to perform radon tests. They set up computerized equipment in the property and leave it for several days. The equipment does constant readings, and gives an overall view of radon in the home. The fee is generally around $100.

Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter, or pCi/L. Levels of 4 pCi/L or higher are considered hazardous, while under 4 pCi/L is considered acceptable. However, the EPA stated that any radon that is present could cause an issue, but it is difficult to reduce levels below 2 pCi/L even with treatment. (Note: a picocurie is a common unit for measuring amounts of radioactivity).

The installation of a radon mitigation system by a remediation specialist can be the answer. In every instance of a higher than normal test result we, my buyer and I, have asked the seller to have a licensed specialist install a radon mitigation system. The least expensive was $1,100 and the highest was $1,500. The EPA states the average across the United States if $1,200.

Why do most sellers agree to install the system? First, because they believe it is the right thing to do, but also because it is now a material fact (at least in my state). Meaning should the buyer terminate the contract for any reason, the radon issue will have to be disclosed to all future buyers. What if the seller doesn’t have an extra $1,500 during the selling process? Funds can be held from closing proceeds to have the system installed after closing, or whatever is a legal avenue in the region.

This is a very basic explanation about what radon is, and doesn’t begin to cover the extent of its existence or health issues it may cause. Google is a great resource to learn more, but here are a few links on the EPA site.

EPA on Radon
EPA Consumer Guide to Radon Reduction
EPA Debunks 10 Myths About Radon

Cooking

Pasta Meatball Bake

Some time ago I purchased an Instant Pot, and while it is great for some things, I do not like it for pasta. I tried a couple of times and the texture was just wrong. It was, hmmm, what word am I searching for here? Gummy, and not at all appetizing. However, the idea of making pasta all in one dish seemed practically genius to me.

I started looking and found a video where a home cook placed spaghetti and other ingredients in a baking dish and voila, a short time later, not gummy pasta. Since then I have tried various pasta shapes, ingredients, and sauces.

This is a great dish to make on days I know I’ll be working late. In a magical world I would go to the freezer and get a container of homemade marinara, and a packet of twelve small prebaked homemade meatballs and set them in the fridge to defrost all day. However, in reality, that happens about one out of ten times. Most of the time I make this dish with a good quality marinara like Rao’s. It is worth the money, and as close to homemade as I have ever found. If the freezer is depleted of homemade meatballs too, there is usually a bag of fully cooked Italian style meatballs from the grocery, I like Nature’s Rancher.

Pasta Meatball Bake

1 16 ounce box pasta (I like penne, rotini, or riccioli)
1 24 ounce jar sauce (I like Rao’s Marinara or Arrabbiata for some spice)
12 thawed fully cooked small meatballs (I like Italian style)
3 cups water
1 cup shredded good mozzarella cheese (I use shredded Swiss)
Garnish with fresh basil or Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 425

Give a 9 x 13 baking dish a light coat of cooking spray. In the dish put the pasta, meatballs, pasta sauce, and water. I like to swirl some of the water in the sauce jar to get it all. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add red pepper flakes if you want a bit of heat.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Check the pasta, it should be just about done. Stir and add the cheese. We don’t like a lot of cheese so 1 cup is enough, you can add more. I use swiss cheese most of the time, because Dean doesn’t like mozzarella unless it is fresh.

Leave it uncovered and put it back in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the herb of choice on top. I serve it with a refreshing salad with a tangy vinaigrette.