Garlic Lover’s Dip

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If you love garlic, you’ll love this recipe.

 

Garlicky Spinach & Artichoke Dip (with kale)

2-3 cups fresh spinach (washed, stems removed)

1 whole bunch kale (washed, stems removed)

17 oz silken tofu

1 can artichoke hearts

4-6 cloves of garlic (depending on personal taste)

Olive oil for drizzling

Fresh oregano, basil to taste

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Add spinach and kale to boiling pot of water until leaves are wilted (about 2 minutes). Take out and put in icy water to cool to stop the leaves from continuing to cook.

Once cool, mix leaves with minced garlic, tofu, artichoke hearts, oregano, basil, white pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Transfer to a slow cooker and put on high and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and let melt. Once heated and sufficiently cheesy, take lid off and serve!

 

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Meditation to ease your midweek madness

Stress!!!

It’s nearly unavoidable in this modern-day, ADD lifestyle we all lead. Most of us never allow ourselves a moment to breathe. And that affects us in so many ways: It affects how we eat (stress eating!), how we digest, how our cells manage nutrients and contributes to aging, causes high blood pressure – among so many other potentially harmful maladies. So take a moment today and give yourself the green light to relax and regain control over your life.

And if one day isn’t enough for you, Oprah and Deepak Chopra are conducting another 21-day, free meditation sequence (https://chopracentermeditation.com/). It is only day three, and meditations are available for up to five days after they are initially posted. Twenty-one days is a substantial amount of days to kick back and rediscover your core of peace and healing.

Namaste, and may you find stillness, peace, and joy in your day today!

From scraps to scrumptious: Regrow your groceries!

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Mother nature always shows that when there is a will, there’s a way.

I never realized until I started gardening just how easy it is to grow food. Because life, in any form, is engineered to grow, live, and flourish. It’s just the design. And any living thing in nature is also endowed with a healthy sense of self-preservation, so that even in the most adverse conditions life persists.

And this lettuce pictured above is a good example. Now that summer is setting in, my partner and I are eating many more raw greens and a LOT of salads. While we throw a lot of the leftovers of our inedible green remnants into the compost bin, my partner and I decided to try and follow a Facebook picture post we saw recently about growing food from scraps. So we spared two romaine lettuce butts this week, and dipped them in the smallest coffee cups we own.

Even though the head of romaine was lobbed from its roots weeks ago and its greenery denatured for our benefit – simply putting its root stub in water is inspiring the circle of life to start all over again. See those teeny tiny green stalks coming out of the center of this head? That’s new life. And a new food source.

We are officially growing lettuce in our kitchen. And I guess we can officially say that we’re growing using the hydroponic method!

So give that a try next time you have have a spent lettuce, green onions, bok choy, carrots, potatoes, basil, ginger, garlic…try placing its roots in some water and place it in a window and let it do its thing.

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to foster life!

Composting Lessons: Be wary of the seed

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Well, now I know why they tell you not to put anything with seeds into the compost.

We laid down some of our homemade compost in with our fresh dirt for our two new raised beds back in March. For over a month, we’ve had fast-growing, gargantuan rogue plants popping up everywhere before a single seed we had planted breached the surface. And I mean everywhere! Both beds were constantly coughing up these succulent, determined little shoots.

While I am all for upholding the old adage of “live and let live,” not knowing what this alien, uninvited greenery could be made my partner and me leery. We’ve left this one grouping (pictured above) to continue to grow, but pulled every other one (at least 30 in count) for fear they would choke out the seedlings. And we still have no idea what these mystery plants could possibly be. I can’t remember anything we’ve eaten with seeds that were THAT much in number. All I know is that there is more compost where that came from… so there’s plenty more of these rogue food seeds ready to sprout when we build more beds next year and lay down another layer of compost.

Maybe come May or June, this plant’s fruit will solve our mystery. And maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe not!

But until then, a word of warning to you: When making a compost, be sure to avoid putting anything with a seed. Because goodness knows what will sprout in your garden!

Super Size Your C Today

 

We all know Vitamin C, right?

Vitamin_C_(1989_calendar_march)We run to the drug store for copious amounts of it, especially when cold season starts to manhandle us midweek and can’t afford to get sick. We know our orange juice is chock full of it. We know it’s in a lot of citrus fruits, which protects us all from scurvy. So, at least no one can call us Scurvy Knaves anymore, like in Shakespeare’s day. But maybe that’s about as far as some of us can venture when describing why we need this essential vitamin.

So here’s a trivia question: Do you know Vitamin C by its more official name? Next time this comes up at Trivia Night at your local watering hole, you can proudly shout out “Ascorbic acid!” and sound amazing.

Ascorbic acid/Vitamin C is vital to our body structure and brain health. It’s one of the greatest cancer-fighting antioxidant nutrients we can get in our diet along with Vitamin E and many phyto-chemicals (chemical compounds in food that give fruits and vegetables their colors). It’s integral in assisting our bodies to produce the protein collagen that keeps our body structure, well, structured and put together by keeping our cells in place. Collagen is a primary ingredient in building bones and skin, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons. It aids in wound healing (from simple cuts to even broken bones!), in immune system response for prevention of infection to spread, protects the heart, and helps build hormones that help us deal with stress in our lives.

It’s also one of the key elements in our bodies making neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. Low serotonin is often associated with depression. So Vitamin C could help in keeping moods level. It’s pretty nifty, too, in helping our bodies digest more iron. And for us ladies, that’s always a plus.

Wow, right? And the best source of Vitamin C is through food consumption rather than a taking a supplement. So let’s start eating some oranges, you say!

Believe it or not, that orange you are peeling or juicing right now does not have the highest Vitamin C content. Surprised? Guava is actually the fruit with the highest known Vitamin C content (125 mg per fruit), followed by papaya (180 mg/fruit), strawberries (85 mg/fruit), pineapple (80 mg/fruit), and kiwifruit (74 mg/fruit). Oh yeah, and THEN we have the orange (70 mg/fruit). Cantaloupe, honeydew melons, grapefruit and mangoes aren’t terrible sources, either.

And other amazing non-fruit sources are bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts (yeah, not my favorite either), kale, tomatoes, and peas.

So feel free to enjoy a good dose of Vitamin C today. Be well, everyone!

All hail the mighty pecan nut

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Aaaaah, pecans!

These soft, buttery and nutty little packages of healthy nutrients have become my top favorite nut. It’s hard to believe that three years ago, I would have made a face at any nut on the planet. That’s what finding out what’s healthy does for you – you try new things and find out they’re not so bad!

These lovely nuts are native to North America, specifically around the Mississippi Valley. Archaeologists have found fossil evidence that pecans made up a good part of the diets of the native peoples here, though, in the northern areas of Mexico and Texas, which is believed to be the true “birthplace” of this popular nut.

Like any nut, the bulk of its taste stems from its fat content (110 percent of your daily fat value in a cup of pecans). But don’t run away screaming just yet. Nuts and seeds are predominantly monounsaturated (heart-healthy!) fats. While it’s still good to keep an eye on your fat intake, you can rest easy that a pecan will only improve your LDL(bad, or “lousy”) blood lipid levels.

Although its high fat/calorie count can make one a little hesitant, a pecan nut encases a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals, too!

A quarter cup of pecans contains 2.6 grams of protein, 3.93 grams of carbs, and 2.72 grams of fiber. It is also jam-packed with sterols, known for lowering cholesterol.

Pecans also provide a fantastic supply of B vitamins. In one ounce (19 halves), you get:

  • 17 percent of your RDI for vitamin B1
  • 6 percent of your RDI for vitamin B3
  • 5 percent of your RDI for vitamin B6
  • 5 percent of your RDI for vitamin B5

And pecans are little mineral powerhouses. One ounce contains:

  • 71 percent RDI of manganese
  • 38 percent RDI of copper
  • 19 percent RDI of molybdenum
  • 16 percent RDI for zinc
  • 11 percent RDI of magnesium
  • 4 percent RDI for iron
  • 3 percent RDI for potassium and selenium
  • 2 percent RDI for calcium

And of course, no healthy food would be worth its salt without sufficient antioxidants (vitamin E, betacarotenes (vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin, ellagic acid) to help stave off cancer cell growth and the reign of free radicals, as well as fights infection and other diseases.

Bet you’re really looking forward to your next handful of pecans! Need some ideas on how to include more pecans into your diet? Here are a boatload of pecan recipes for you to enjoy.

Happy Pecan Day!

Why your home is probably contaminated

skullAccording to healthychildren.org, did you know that every year over half of the 2.4 million people who either swallow or come into contact with poisons are under the age of six years of age?

And it’s no wonder. Look in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards. Really look. What do you see? If you’re like most Americans, you see a whole lot of skulls and crossbones.

Our homes, believe it or not, have a higher air contamination and poorer quality than some smoggy cities. And it’s all due to what we use inside of it. And the worst part is that because our homes are not open to the elements, that “stuff” just never goes away.

My partner and I have been slowly but surely shedding the toxic materials we come into contact with in daily our lives. We started with clean food and organic gardening. Next, we started to really pay attention to our environment. And this past weekend, we decided to “clean house.” Literally.

I’ve been cleaning bathrooms and kitchen counters with simple ingredients for over a year. It’s pretty simple – any surface just needs any one or more of the following: Vinegar, Castile soap, baking soda, and an essential oil. Personally, I use:

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  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Salt for the really encrusted areas

Kitchen surfaces

  • White Vinegar & Castile Soap in a spray bottle
  • Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Salt for the really encrusted surfaces or pots/pans

But there were still so many bottles of leftover cleaning chemicals that I just didn’t know what to do with since I’ve made the change. They stayed in cupboards and on shelves, collecting dust. When we picked up a book on natural cleaning recipes recently and discovered that we had all of the ingredients we needed to go cold turkey natural, we finally made a pact to thin out our supplies.

When we began rooting through under our sinks and in the cupboards, we were both pretty amazed.

“Look at all of these different cleaners!” my partner exclaimed. There was a separate product for each application: Floor washing, toilet cleaning, tub scrubbing, … you name it, we had a bottle for it. And then we looked at our new cleaning armory – we had five items. That’s it. Five universal cleaners. How on earth did we get to this point, we asked ourselves, that we felt that we needed such a ridiculous amount of toxic products in our homes?

Because which cleaning stash would you rather have your child accidentally get a mouthful of? One could kill your child – the other, “at worst, would give them a tummy ache for a day,” my partner joked.

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But what contaminates your home may not always be what you expect, either.

For example up until a year ago, I had a slight obsession with scented candles and oils. They were everywhere. I always loved going to certain scented oilspeople’s houses, because the moment you walked in you were enveloped with gorgeous smells that said “You’ve come home.” I’ve tried and tried, but I didn’t burn enough candles to keep that amazing scent of apple pie or vanilla ice cream circulating my home.

But then I began to read what really was in those things – just terrible chemicals that smelled good, but were ultimately toxic. Anything that has an artificial scent like Glade air fresheners or plug-ins, or scented candles just contaminates your home with nasty chemical compounds that have been linked to asthma, allergies, and even cancer.

Needless to say, I don’t burn candles anymore. More natural alternatives I have adopted are:

  • Burning sage/”smudging”
  • Incense sticks or cones ( composed of an herb, a resin and a wood, but some have pros and cons)
  • Essential Oil Misting or Burning

I also have began filling my home with plants. Not only does it add life and color to your home, but they do a lot of air filtering for you!

Still feel like your home is your nice, clean castle that’s safe for you and your family?