A Garden for the Bees

I use to be so afraid of getting a bee sting since I have a pretty adverse reaction. My Mom carries an epi-pen since she has an even worse reaction, so I learned to fear these little bugs early on. Needless to say I would swing and bat at the bees when I would garden.

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Three bees are in this flower!

Flash forward to now many years later and in the middle of our bee crisis (thank you Monsanto) I have developed a much different relationship with these creatures. It began with sitting at my pond and watching my turtles and fish. I guess because I was in observer mode I wasn’t fearful of being stung and I watched just how many bees came to drink from our pond. Hundreds of them come at the end of the day and if can be scary if you let yourself go there. We made our pond for turtles from the pound and its very natural, murky, full of plants and logs and things turtles like. The plants make it safe for the bees to land and drink. They actually drink the water from the roots of the plants that are above the water level. They are not interested in people, they are bees and have a mission and usually it does not involve you!

At about 6:00 if you are lucky enough to be sitting at the pond you can watch the bees one and two at a time fly off in the same direction home. Within 30 minutes hundreds of bees fly home and they are all from the same hive. I totally understand the meaning of bee line, until I witnessed this I never really knew what that expression meant! These bees have become dependent on my pond and since I know that without bees we would starve to death I have changed how I garden and plant many extra bee-liscious things to keep them near by.

This year purely from my compost I have begun to grow pumpkins I think. I composted so many different kinds of squash, pumpkins and gourds that I’m now sure yet just what is growing but I tell you what the bees love these! I am fascinated and more in awe each day and have pretty much lost my fear of getting stung.

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Down under the leaves its cool and there are so many bees flying from flower to flower

 

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Fueling for Fitness

As a health and nutrition coach, people often ask me: What do I eat before I exercise to make sure I have enough energy to get through? What do I eat after my workout to recover? These are important questions, because what you’re eating could be sabotaging your workout results! A one-year Stanford University study of 350 men and women found that those who worked out three to five times a week for 30 – 40 minutes had NO significant weight loss! How can that be? It’s due to what, when and how people eat before and after their workouts. Filling up with the right fuel at the right times is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode!

Top Tips for Fueling for Fitness

• Hydration is more important than you can imagine. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up. In the morning, you haven’t had water for six to eight hours and your cells need replenishing. Drink a full glass of water before you eat or drink anything else (coffee doesn’t count toward hydration). Plain hot water will actually penetrate the cells the fastest.

• Stay well-hydrated throughout the day. It won’t work to just start drinking water right before or during your workout. Hydration is an ongoing process. If you’re not drinking enough water, you will run out of energy – both mentally and physically.

• A daily goal is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces a day – more in very hot weather or if you plan to have a rigorous workout. Hydrating regulates your body temperature, replaces water lost through sweat, and helps transport nutrients to your cells so you have energy. Did you know that most people are chronically dehydrated? Dehydration is a key reason for low energy, headaches, poor concentration, muscle cramps, and digestive issues. Take a moment to think about your day-to-day water intake; are you getting enough?

Avoid “Sports” Drinks

Contrary to popular belief (and advertising), Gatorade (or Vitamin Water or Propel or Powerade) is NOT a good hydrating choice, particularly if you want to maintain or lose weight. Why? These drinks contain high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, as well as other ingredients you want to avoid such as food dyes. High-fructose corn syrup, aka sugar, can make you hungrier by increasing your body’s hunger-regulating hormone (ghrelin) and lowering the hormone that tells you when you’re full (leptin). Artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase sugar cravings, and many contain unhealthy chemicals.

cocnut_water Instead, if you feel you need more than water after a heavy workout or in very hot weather, turn to “nature’s water” – coconut water. Choose only those brands that are 100% pure raw coconut water, with or without natural fruit – no sugar added! You can also add Chia seeds to your water for energy! Chia Seeds are known as running food. Chia was first cultivated by the ancient Aztecs who would go on marches for days, surviving only on chia, yet being able to sustain high energy levels. Chia seeds contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. When you put them in water, they plump up and get very soft.

What to Eat Pre-Workout

As a general rule, you want to eat about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout. Eat 1 ½ to 2 hours pre-workout, and your meal should consist of:

• 60% GOOD carbs (about 40 grams) • 30% CLEAN, LEAN protein (10-15 grams) • 10% HEALTHY fat (less than 10 grams)

• Note that the percentages may vary based on the level and length of your workout.

Good carbs fuel muscles and enable peak performance. They also keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable during your workout.

Clean lean protein prevents the breakdown of muscle for fuel, and gives your muscles a head start on recovery after exercising.

Healthy fats help balance blood sugar and ensure that fat-soluble vitamins are delivered to your cells so your body can use them. Healthy fats also keep your joints lubricated and they slow digestion, allowing for sustained energy and longer workouts.

For Morning Exercisers, here are some examples of a pre-workout breakfast:

• Oatmeal (with no added sugar) topped with walnuts, berries and half a banana

• A protein shake (see recipe below)

• Food For Life Bread (toasted) with pure almond butter and one sliced fruit (banana, apple, strawberries, etc.)

For Afternoon or Evening Exercisers, here are some examples of a pre-workout lunch:

• Steamed vegetables with quinoa

• Brown rice with lean protein and vegetables

• Soup and salad

A balanced meal one to two hours before your workout might be all you need. But some people need a small snack about 30-45 minutes before a workout for an ENERGY BOOST. **Snack examples** include: a banana, a Smoothie (see recipe); a Larabar or Power Bites (see recipe) or other all-natural bar. **You want clean, fast-digesting carbohydrates,** little protein, very little fat, so the fuel is available during your workout. And all meals and snacks should be accompanied by water.

Tips:

• If you work out first thing in the morning, you will want to have your snack before your workout and your breakfast meal after.

• The larger the meal/snack, or the more fat and protein it contains, the longer you will need to properly digest before exercising. If you consume too much food, or food high in fat, your muscles will focus on digesting that food instead of on your workout. That can cause stomach upset, muscle cramping and deplete your energy.

What to Eat POST-Workout

After your workout is a time for your muscles to rebuild, repair and recover. You should refuel within 15-30 minutes of your workout, and your post-workout snack should have more protein than carbs if you are strength training, and more carbs than protein for cardio exercise.

In the same way that I don’t recommend Gatorade’s ingredients, I steer clear of protein drinks such as Muscle Milk, Boost or Detour. Read the label and you’ll find sugar, additives and chemicals – not what you want to put in your healthy body! Instead, have a post-workout smoothie with plant protein. If you take the time to prepare for your workout – beginning with water in the morning and eating consciously throughout the day – you’ll find that you have the energy to exercise better and longer, and that helps you reach your goals!

Recipes will be posted shortly, there are some good ones up already for smoothies…

As with all days eat, heal and live!1898230_816696338357058_21970766_n

Jennifer

Peanut Butter Cookies

peanut_butter_cookiesIngredients:
* 1 cup of raw almond flour
* 1/2 cup of organic, fresh peanut butter (or almond butter)
* 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)
* 1 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
* ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 handful of cacao nibs (optional)

▪ Sea salt to garnish

Directions:
• Combine almonds, nut butter, dates, cinnamon and vanilla in a food
processor and blend until a dough-like texture is achieved (a couple
of minutes). Add more nut butter if necessary to make the dough
stickier.

Optional: Add cacao nibs and process on pulse for 15-20 seconds to break them up a little but still leave some whole.

• Form into small balls and use a fork to press down and create a
crisscross pattern

• Sprinkle with sea salt

• Store in refrigerator (better the next day!)

Souper Squash Soup

Ingredients
8 – 12 servings

1 large butternut squash
1 small sweet potato
1 small onion
½ head of cauliflower, chopped
8 cups of vegetable stock
1 Tbsp Olive oil
Sea salt – a pinch/ or to taste
Cinnamon – a pinch/ or to taste
Maple syrup – a “swirl” / or to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Peel butternut squash and sweet potato. Cut into 2” slices. (Deseed squash)
3. Place in baking dish with olive oil, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes, turn slices over and continue cooking for about 20 more minutes until soft. (Also a great dish as is)
OR EASY VERSION: Pierce whole sweet potato and butternut squash with fork, so the steam will escape, and bake about 45 minutes or until tender. Scoop out contents, deseed squash and set aside.
5. Sauté onions, cauliflower and sea salt in oil on medium heat until soft.
6. Add chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
7. Add cooked butternut squash and sweet potato.
8. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes, lower heat and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
9. Puree soup with an immersion (hand-held stick) blender.
10. Add sea salt, and cinnamon to taste
11. Swirl maple syrup into puree
12. Mix again briefly with an immersion blender.
13. Serve and Enjoy!
14. For fancy serving, top with a swirl of maple syrup and sprinkle of cinnamon into each bowl.

Cooking Italian Senza Gluten

Italian food is the first thing I turn to as my comfort food of choice. One thing that I missed the most when making the gluten free lifestyle change was Italian food! It is my mission to be able to introduce you to healthy substitutions that will help you stay on this new found pathway to a healthier you. This recipe is a fun way to try new things and realize how delicious spaghetti squash is and how having such a versatile substitution for gluten-laced pasta can change your outlook!

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Home Grown Organic Food Made Simple while saving water!

I have been an avid organic gardener for over 10 years and before that would dabble with various plants and veggies. I love the taste of freshly harvested lettuce and kale and feel super charged that it came from my land.

ImageThis year my garden was a true disaster. I planted from heirloom organic seeds, replenished my dirt with my own compost which is usually amazing and I have had the worst yield. My crab and devil grasses are at an all time high, my chickens figured out how to get in my garden and destroy any new baby lettuces that actually had a chance. And then there were those seeds, I mean entire rows, that never sprouted not even one! UGH I was frustrated and saddened.

Then one day I saw an interview on 60 minutes that was about aeroponic tower gardens. It had the skeptic in me saying that is not a way to garden, hydroponics/aeroponics is for growing medical marijuana, not food. So I halfway listened to the story. A few weeks later a colleague of mine told me about her tower garden and how much fun she has had with her boys teaching them to grow food.

When the same topic comes into my life from completely different sources a little light inside me says WAKE UP JEN! This is something your life needs to learn about. So I set up a phone meeting with my friend and she walked me through the benefits of the tower garden system. Before I hung up she helped me order my first tower garden!  Within a week it arrived in boxes and it was like Christmas in June!

ImageI love jigsaw puzzles and dove into all the boxes to set out on assembling my tower garden in my kitchen! As my husband sat at the kitchen table working on his computer I quickly covered every inch of counter top and floor space with all the parts and pieces.The large green reservoir holds approximately 20 gallons of water which is pumped up the tower on the inside and recycled continuously. Its a truly brilliant system. I also got a steel dolly to be able to rotate my garden and move it around easily and an extension kit to have 8 more holes to grow food.

ImageI will say there were not too many parts, the size of the parts on the other hand were a bit cumbersome for my tiny little space but I was determined to assemble my tower on this beautiful Sunday morning and have it ready to use by days end!

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With only one glitch, which was assembling the additional two towers, my tower garden was up and ready to be moved outside within an hour. I really had no idea that it would be so tall! I was thrilled to be ready to take it to the next step and plant my veggies.

ImageThe only thing I did not foresee was the timing of growing my own seedlings to fill the tower garden. So if you are planing on growing the seeds that come with your tower garden kit there is no need to assemble your tower garden (unless you are like me and cannot wait to see it up) until your seeds are ready to be planted in your tower. I skipped this step and went to my local garden center and purchased 6 packs of organic romaine, heirloom kale, some dill and strawberries. I rolled the plants in my hands to remove most of the dirt from the root-balls to fit them properly into the baskets provided that snap into the hole you see in the tower. I also found the smallest plants at the nursery knowing their root-balls wouldn’t be as developed and would be less traumatized by removing their dirt.

ImageThe planting took about 30 minutes and I enjoyed every moment as my tower became filled with possibility! I tested my PH to make sure I was starting with a balanced level, adjusted it until the reading was correct, put in the required amount of organic mineral blend and plugged it in. I had a small snafu with the timer but figured it out by day 2. When you test your system to ensure that the pump works just make sure you flip the timer switch to on that way your timer starts working immediately. Sounds basic and simple, but I however was overly enthusiastic that my assembly worked on the first go and since I had programmed the timer once it started I thought that was all there was to it.

The placement of your tower is paramount to its success and also to its’ water requirements. How much daily sun exposure you get, whether its morning to early afternoon or afternoon till evening will help you to balance the amount of aeroponic flushes per hour your plants need.

So two days later I hopped on a plane and took off for Italy.

When I returned home to my great surprise this is what my garden looked like!

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Zero maintenance, all this needed was a turn every few days and I’m not even sure it got that while I was away and the reservoir of water was down only 2″!!!  Now each day I harvest a head of my own organic lettuce, some kale and I’m thrilled I don’t have to fight the weeds or pick off the pincher bugs.

This has changed my perspective on growing my own produce. In three and a half weeks these delicious veggies grew without any input from me other than running an extension cord to the pump! I did not have to add water, which is something I would have had to do daily to keep my lettuces alive normally. I am already starting to get ready for my second planting and feel that even on my farm in sunny southern California this is a system that makes the most sense for me to grow my lettuces, kale and herbs. In fact I can see how I could easily use two towers all year round to keep my family’s need for fresh organic salad materials available every day. I will still use my normal in ground garden for tomatoes, things that climb like cucumbers and peas and for crops that would be altogether to large for this type of environment such as squash and eggplant but I have a new found appreciation in the aeroponic tower garden.

The system includes:

  • Tower Garden vertical aeroponic garden
  • Seeds for growing gourmet lettuce, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, basil, and cucumber
  • Seed starter enviro-dome
  • 20 rock wool seed starter cubes and net pots
  • Pump, timer and drain tube
  • Tower Tonic Mineral Blend plant food
  • pH test kit and 1 bottle each of pH+ and pH-
  • Measuring cup

If you are interested in ordering your own tower garden click on the photo above or this link and it will take you to the tower garden website. If you are like me you may find this is not only an amazing way to grow healthy food for you and your family, you may find this could be a wonderful business adventure to become involved in. You have the power to create what you want in your life, my advise is to eat, heal, live and love your live!

Feel free to email me with any questions you have regarding growing your own food. If I can help you create your own small island of sustainability, then I feel we are making the change that is so needed in our world.

The REAL Breakfast of Champions!

Today is a brand new day! I know we have all heard this before and yet we often keep repeating the same way of doing our life including what we eat. In order to feel our BEST I believe alternating what we eat makes a huge difference in not only how we feel internally but in how our bodies PERFORM.  If we eat the same thing, day in day out we will often find it to be boring and more often than not our body will eventually build up a bit of an intolerance for the same thing. This is especially true with wheat and gluten products. Introducing new foods to rotate in is a very good way to take notice of how your food makes you feel.

So to start my week of with a new twist, and I highly recommend you give this a try,  I dressed up my gluten free oatmeal a bit differently. Not only is it DELISH, it is soothing and loaded with lots of minerals and nutrients your body needs to perform well.

Gluten Free Oatmeal cooked with organic raisins, organic cranberries and organic cherries. I then add some organic almond milk and a very small amount of raw organic honey after it is cooked but while still on the stove to warm the milk and make it creamy. Also while still on the stove I put in a teaspoon of organic raw unprocessed coconut oil, sprinkle liberally with organic cinnamon and today I am trying a new super food product by Spectrum Essentials called Decadent Blend! This has Flax and Chia seeds ground together with coconut and cocoa. OMG off the charts wonderful and this should keep me satisfied until well, I am hungry again.  Image

Cherries and Antioxidants:

Did you know that cherries rank among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants. In fact, the standard one-cup serving of cherries has the capacity to carry 4,873 antioxidants!

  • Antioxidants are substances found in foods that may protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules, known as free radicals.
  • Cherries are especially rich in a phytochemical called anthocyanin which may reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Anthocyanins give cherries their deep red color and also protect cells from damage during an interaction with oxygen. This important process also serves to protect the heart and surrounding tissue, inhibit plaque formation and reduce inflammation. Research also suggests that the anthocyanins found in cherries further protect neural cells and promote brain health .
  • They also contain melatonin which is an important antioxidant that helps maintain optimum brain functioning and may deter the onset of age-related chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Raisins

  • Raisins also contain quercetin a type of polyphenol that acts as an antioxidant that protects the cells in your body from free radical damage. raisins also contain phytochemical compound resveratrol. Resveratrol, a polyphenol anti-oxidant, has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, blood cholesterol lowering activities.
  • Studies suggest that resveratrol has been found to have protective action against cancers like melanoma, colon and prostate, and diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD), degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease and viral/ fungal infections.

Cinnamon

  • The active principles in the cinnamon spice are known to have anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-septic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.

  • Cinnamon has the highest anti-oxidant strength of all the food sources in nature.

Oatmeal

  • Oatmeal is appealing to health experts because it actually reduces your craving for foods that are not good for you. oatmeal provides you with high levels of fiber and very low levels of fat.
  • A fiber known as beta-glucan seems to be the all-star compound in oatmeal. There have been hundreds of studies published on beta-glucan.One study published in Vascular Health Risk Management concluded, “Dietary intake of beta-glucans has been shown to reduce risk factors to benefit the treatment of diabetes and associated complications. In addition, beta-glucans also promote wound healing and alleviate ischemic heart injury.
  • There is absolutely no cholesterol in oatmeal, so you will never have to worry about it clogging your arteries.
  • The minerals that you absorb from oatmeal make this a more healthy option than taking them in supplement form.
  • A word of caution, Oatmeal is also rich in omega-6 fatty acids, containing almost 2 grams per half-cup serving. Omega-6s seem to be a mixed bag, providing some health benefits, yet too much of them — combined with too little omega-3 fatty acid sources — can cause inflammation and other problems.

 

I hope this will give you some inspiration for switching your breakfast foods to help change your outcome for the day!

As with all days EAT, HEAL and LIVE!!!!

Onions – things I never knew before

Red onion slices

Red onion slices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu…
Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

Now there is a P. S. To this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmer’s story…but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill… I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs…sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

This is the other note. Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn’t eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.

LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS

I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.

Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made Mayo is completely safe.

“It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade Mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.

He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

It’s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!). Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.