I am back! My name is Vanessa Goldberg and I am the Practice Manager of Oubre Medical and have now been quarantined for 35 days due to COVID-19. I am going crazy and really miss going out to eat, hanging out with my friends, going to the movie theater, going to concerts… all of the fun stuff that my city (Austin, Texas) has to offer. I will still stay home though, because COVID-19 is not a joke, and seeing people say it is a hoax is very heartbreaking. People are sick and not getting better.

On to a happier topic though, because if you are doing the right thing and staying home, and you are anything like me, you are probably getting a little sick of the food you have been cooking. It is so easy to fall into the same routine and cook basically the same meal again and again. So my boyfriend and I decided to try to make something new that I had been dying to try for a while now – cashew ricotta. My favorite food in the world growing up was lasagna, and my mom made the BEST lasagna. Her secret was to use so much ricotta is was basically a noodle and tomato sauce ricotta cheesecake. I have been totally gluten free and dairy free for sometime now, but I really, really miss that lasagna.

SO! We made zucchini cannelloni with cashew ricotta and it was incredible. To make the cashew ricotta, take 2-3 cups raw cashews and soak them in hot water for at least 5 minutes, but the longer the better. I soaked mine for about 20 minutes. Then in a blender, blend the soaked cashews and just enough water to submerge all of the nuts until you have a semi-smooth nut paste and cashew milk – you will then drain the “cashew milk” (save it! with some vanilla it is really tasty) and put the nut paste back into the blender. Add about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice), a splash of water, garlic, paprika, a TON of salt, black pepper, and if you have it, nutritional yeast. Blend all these seasonings into the nut paste until you have something resembling ricotta. It should be wet, but not swimming in liquid, so if you have a pool of liquid, strain that out. It should be very finely gritty, so if there are still chunks of cashews, blend longer. You are looking for a creamy end product.

Once you have the nut cheese completed, and seasoned to your taste (add all the seasonings you like!), it is time to put it to use. I personally made a really delicious marinara sauce, tiny meatballs, and made zucchini ribbons with a peeler to a zucchini. I took the zucchini ribbons, put a dollop of the “cheese” in the center, put a tiny meatball on top of the “cheese” and then rolled it up, and set it in a casserole dish of the marinara sauce, vertically. Once all rolled, I baked the little rolls at 350F for 30 minutes and they were INCREDIBLE. Did it taste like lasagna? Not really. Was is tasty and satisfied my craving for cheesy Italian food? YES! It was decadent, filling, and so rich.

What else could you do with this nut cheese? I am going to use the left over “cheese” to make “quesadillas” – another food I have been missing since going gluten free and dairy free. I will use grain free tortillas (my favorite is Siete brand), smear a healthy amount of the nut cheese on one side of a toasted tortilla, and add other left overs from my fridge. I might add some left over chicken, or some sliced tomato. I know I have some sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge, why not put those in there? Half the battle of making good, not-boring food is being creative! Use what you have in your fridge and make something you would not usually make!

We are living in a crazy time, but focusing on what you are able to control makes things feel a little less tumultuous. You can control your own actions, so stay home, stay safe, and cook something tasty.

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One of the body’s biggest defense mechanisms that does not often get enough attention is our skin. The skin is like a giant mouth that can absorb toxic substances quickly. Along with the skin, our respiratory system is also vulnerable to harsh, aerosolized toxic chemicals that we’re spraying in the air. With the movement of meticulous sanitization in this pandemic, let’s not forget that we’re not doing our immune system any good with constant toxic exposures.

So what are some evidence-based methods that can keep our environment safe and reduce toxin exposures?

STEP 1: Keep your living space and office frequently ventilated

In our recent posted video on our FB page, and also according to the recent Journal of the American Medical Association, SARS-CoV-2, “pathogen-bearing droplets of all sizes can travel 23 to 27 feet” and “may stay suspended in the air for hours.” 1 Therefore, a poorly ventilated room can increase the concentration and risk of infection. Many experts recommend airing the house and office frequently throughout the day to disperse the pathogen-laden droplets. 1 This is why we do our COVID-19 testing in the outdoor setting.

STEP 2: Prioritize on what should be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis.

You’d drive yourself crazy if you have to constantly clean the rugs throughout the day. Porous materials tend to have less risk of viral transmission due to its ability to “trap” the virus and dry out its outer lipid membrane, making it less infectious. 2 However, if it is a frequently used carpeted floor, then daily cleaning and disinfecting might be necessary. This is why it’s important to prioritize so that you are not excessively disinfecting and exposing your immune system to harsh chemicals. Customize your lists of high-contact items and the frequency of sanitizing (this depends on the traffic of the people going in and out of your place. Hopefully it’s a low number). If you work from home, then one less list for you!

CDC recommends to clean and disinfect commonly touched hard surfaces such as:

  • Door knobs
  • Light switches
  • Tables, counters
  • Sinks, faucets
  • Toilet 
  • Computers and phones (be careful as some disinfectants can destroy electronic parts. For convenience, contain electronics in a wipeable cover if possible.) 3

Last but not least, always CLEAN with soap and water first, THEN DISINFECT with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved disinfectant. Remember to incorporate STEP 1 while you’re cleaning and disinfecting!

STEP 3: Gather your supplies, and choose a non-toxic disinfectant

SUPPLIES:

  • Gloves (disposable or non-disposable)
  • Goggles
  • Disposable gown (if the job requires extensive cleaning): There are many ideas of make-shift gowns on Google.
  • For cleaning: A bucket, warm to hot water, towels, and trash bags
  • For disinfecting: See disinfectant section below. 

LET’S BEGIN:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds first before donning on gloves. You can use reusable kitchen gloves, just make sure it is for the sole purpose of cleaning and disinfecting. Put on a mask and goggles to prevent exposure of aerosols from the cleaning products. 

Now to the exciting part: Choosing a non-toxic product that would target SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)! We’ve combed through the EPA approved list and chose products with the least chemicals but deemed to be effective:4

  • Hard surfaces: 
    • Benefect Botanical Disinfectant Spray: We’re so glad this product is on the EPA approved list. We often use this product for mold as well.
    • Clean Smart: EPA toxicity rate category IV (scale I = highly toxic; IV = non-toxic), no fragrance, no rinse. Need 10 minutes of surface contact time.
    • Force of Nature: 4 ingredients: Salt, vinegar, water, and electricity. Sounds wild, but they are EPA registered! Make sure to have 10 minute contact time on the surface.
  • Porous materials (rugs, carpet, fabric, etc.). CDC recommends to clean any visible contaminations with appropriate cleaners and  launder these items in warm to hot settings (if appropriate), and dry thoroughly.3 
    • For laundry: 
    • For porous materials that cannot be machine washed:
      • Vacuum, spot clean, deep clean or steam clean. Be careful to minimize splashes by wearing protective equipments. 

Wash those gloves after removing them in a soap and hot water mixture, and don’t forget to wash your hands as the last step.

BONUS (but necessary) STEP: EWG certified hand soaps and hand sanitizers

Hand soaps: Click here

  • You might have seen this soap at the clinic. This comes in many natural scents.

Hand sanitizers: CDC recommends hand sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol

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If all of these are sold out, is there anything I do to get an effective disinfectant? Any homemade, DIY solutions that you’d recommend?

Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that vinegar, essential oils, are effective towards SARS-CoV-2. However, when looking at the EPA approved list, we can make our best choices by selecting products with few ingredients, looking for EWG recommended low toxicity chemicals listed in the active ingredients: 5

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)
  • Citric acid
  • L-lactic acid
  • Caprylic acid (octanoic acid)
  • Thymol

EWG recommends to avoid products that contain: 

  • Sodium hypochlorite: Be careful that sodium hypochlorite (NaCl) and hypochlorous acid (HOCl) are not the same. Sodium hypochlorite is commonly found in bleach, whereas hypochlorous acid is a weak acid that is produced by our immune cells to fight off pathogens. You can dive deeper in the chemistry of it here. This is why Force of Nature was on our recommendation list
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds

If there is nothing else on the shelves, if you can get your hands on 3% hydrogen peroxide, that should be sufficient.5  

Do not mix disinfectants, even if they are “benign”, everyday products. This can actually cause more harms than benefits. 

References

  1. Turbulent gas clouds and respiratory pathogen emissions. (2020, March 26). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763852
  2. Coronavirus FAQs: Does it live on clothes? Can my dog infect me? Any advice on wipes? (2020, March 27). NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/27/822591449/coronavirus-faqs-does-it-live-on-clothes-can-my-dog-infect-me-any-advice-on-wipe
  3. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations. (2020, April 17). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fcleaning-disinfection.html
  4. List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-Cov-2. (2020, April 16). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
  5. 16 effective and safe products to guard against coronavirus. (2020, March 16). EWG. https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/03/16-effective-and-safe-products-guard-against-coronavirus

Disclaimer: Oubre Medical is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any of the recommended products listed, or any of its subsidiaries

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The virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported to be a tiny 0.125 microns in size and airborne transmission is “plausible,” according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine from scientists at Princeton University, UCLA and the National Institutes of Health. The researchers concluded that the virus could remain airborne for “up to 3 hours post aerosolization.”   

Social distancing, hand washing, cleaning surfaces often, keeping your immune system strong and going out in public with a mask are key ways to protect yourself.  A good air purifier can help as well by ensuring that the air around you in your home and office is clean (it can help with COVID-19 as well as with mold, allergens and pollutants).  Many air purifiers promote True HEPA filtration and catch up to 99.9% of allergens, pollutants, viruses and molds down as small as 0.3 microns.   Given that  COVID-19 is 0.125 microns,  please make sure that the air purifier you choose can actually filter the virus particles and that the purifier does not emit dangerous substances like ozone, hydroxyl, or photocatalytic oxidation. You’ll also want to make sure that your purifier has a CADR(clean air delivery rate) of at least 240 which means that it can perform about five air exchanges per hour in the suggested room size as the faster air can cycle through the filter, the better its chances of catching particles.  

It is best to run your air purifier 24 hours a day and if someone is sick, put the purifier in the sick person’s room.   If you can’t invest in an air purifier right now, opening the doors and windows and letting air flow through your home or office can help (even if it is just in the morning). 
Here are a few verified air purifiers (please let us know if you find others):

1. AirDoctor• 100x more effective than HEPA air filters. UltraHEPA filter removes 99.95% of particles as small as .003 microns.• Auto Sensor measures and adjusts filtration level instantly to air quality with visible light sensor      

2. IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier• Proven filtration for both particles and gaseous pollutants• Proven to filter particles down to .003 microns• used by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority to help combat the spread of the deadly SARS virus and other contagious viruses.

3. Intellipure UltraFine 468• Energy efficient, using only 5 watts per hour when on low• Proven to be 40x more efficient than HEPA filters• Removes 99.99% of harmful viruses, fungi molds, and bacteria, down to .007micron in size.• Currently in use at hospitals, medical clean rooms, and military applications.

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Right now, there’s a bit more fear with simple, daily tasks such as buying groceries. The fear of contamination of Covid-19 through the food we eat has been permeating our thoughts pretty consistently. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture has said there’s no certainty Covid-19 can be transmitted from food, it’s always better to be safe, even if it’s for our own peace of mind.

  • The goal is to remove the products from their containers without contaminating any of the food itself. Make sure you have hand sanitizer during this process, disinfecting your own hands between cleaning and sanitizing each product.
  • My personal advice: try to buy produce that you can cook right now; leafy greens, cabbage, broccolini, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc. Limit the amount of raw produce, but ensure proper cleaning techniques when eating them. Raw and cooked produce each have their own nutritional value and special qualities, so having a mixture is beautiful for a robust immune system. If you are at high-risk, it may be beneficial to only consume cooked produce.
  • Shopping in the grocery store:
    • Wipe down your cart
    • Commit to what you buy before picking them up. 
    • Don’t shop if you have any respiratory symptoms, are over the age of 60, or have been exposed to the virus.
    • Plan for 2 weeks to minimize your time in the supermarket.
    • Wear a mask!
  • Inside the home:
    • Sanitize the area you’ll be unloading your groceries on, whether it’s a kitchen counter, table, or floor area. Fully saturate a paper towel with disinfectant, as well. 
    • Separate the area into two halves: a “clean” side and a “dirty” side.
    • Groceries from the outside of the house will stay on the dirty side.
    • Plastics:
      • Wipe down all plastics with the saturated cloth that has disinfectant.
      • Place on clean side.
  • Cardboard:
    • The virus can stay active on the cardboard for over 24 hours presumably. All cardboard items include common groceries such as cereals, crackers, packaged goods – you name it.
    • Open the cardboard, and immediately put the internal goods onto the clean side. 
    • Get rid of the external packaging and cardboard immediately.
  • Produce:
    • Try to buy produce you can cook down and avoid eating raw, such as vegetables, leafy greens, starches, etc. 
    • Produce with rinds are safer to eat raw, but again, just do the best you can. We need an abundance of both cooked and raw produce to help boost our immune system during this time!
    • Sanitize the produce bag the produce is in (saturated cloth or spray directly); or
    • Have another family member open the crisper drawer in your fridge, while you drop the produce into the drawer directly, leaving the bag behind;
    • Fruit and porous produce are a bit different. Soak and wash the produce skin for 20 seconds minimum. Wash eat fruit individually for at least 20 seconds. Firm fruits with rinds can utilize non-toxic, organic produce rinse, or make your own:
      • Fill up a medium sized container with warm water.
      • Spray a few sprays of natural non-toxic food-based cleaner such as Branch Basics or Rebel Green (or other produce washes) + ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (ACV) + 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract (anti-microbial).
      • Use baking soda if you don’t have ACV.
        • 1 teaspoon baking soda per 2 cups water.
      • Let sit for 15 minutes and spin occasionally before rinsing.
      • Pat down with clean cloth before storing in the fridge.
    • Do not use soap and water to wash your produce.
      • The brand Branch Basics is an example of a clean, non-toxic cleaner that has food based products such as: Purified Water, Coco Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Decyl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Sodium Citrate (Food-Grade Emulsifier), Lauryl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Sodium Bicarbonate (Food-Grade Baking Soda), Sodium Phytate (Plant-Based Antioxidant).
      • Do not use any type of disinfectant such as Clorox, Method, Mrs. Myers, etc. You should only be using food-safe cleaners made specifically to wash produce.
  • Bread/baked goods:
    • Move items like bread to clean storage containers that are prepped and ready to go, on the clean side.
    • Get rid of external packaging immediately.
  • Packaged goods with a firm exterior/thick packaging:
    • Spray the disinfectant directly onto the items.
    • Wipe of areas that human hands have touched like handles more rigorously.
    • Transfer items to the clean side.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling all groceries from the store.
  • Relax and enjoy your food. Remember, we are all doing the best we can. The more produce and fresh food we can enjoy, the healthier our bodies will be, and the more support our immune system will have. Don’t panic if you think you’re not doing a “good enough” job with cleaning – any effort is still a positive and successful movement towards keeping you healthy.
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One worry during this time is how safe is restaurant take out food? Many of us want to support some of our favorite restaurants and miss some of our routines that involved specific places. 

According to the CDC, “There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

The CDC recommends contactless delivery (where the food is left on the frond steps, and there is no person to person interaction during delivery). As you carry the food containers or bags in, be mindful of not touching your face, and immediately dispose of containers in an outdoor garbage can. Use your own dishes, and utensils, and wash your hands often.  These steps should go along way towards minimizing risk when ordering out.

Anytime you can support a local or small business during this trying time by doing something as simple as ordering food from them, you are doing more good than you know!

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