Thursday, March 11, 2010

Becoming More Grounded!

I often hear young people talk about the importance of recycling. In fact, some become downright adamant about making sure they have the appropriate receptacles for their glass, plastic, metal, and paper throwaways.

I say kudos to this younger generation for taking notice and recognizing the need to sustain our earth.

For years, the “tree huggers” were often called fanatical and eccentric and many dismissed their claims of people being unkind to the earth as quackery.

There has been a paradigm shift over the last few years and people are becoming more aware of the importance of living “green” not only for our earth’s sake, but for our own personal well-being as well.

We always have room for improvement. I think with growth comes a more developed stance that is more consistent and grounded across the board to which others will take notice and perhaps even follow suit.

For example, if I’m going to be proactive about recycling, but insist on eating conventionally grown foods, I’m not being consistent with my mission to be more eco-friendly and so, I may not appear very grounded in my beliefs to others around me.

Does this mean I’m wrong about my recycling initiatives? NO WAY! It merely means that unless I’m open to continued growth and consistency in the area I’m passionate about, I won’t be nearly as believable and respected in that area to others around me.

I’d like to devote this post to educating myself on ways I can be more eco-friendly. In turn, it is my hope you, my readers, will learn along with me so we can join forces to make our earth…a tremendous gift from God…a better place to live. I do believe God expects us to care for the gifts He so graciously gives to us.

Here's what I've found:

  1. Eat Organic Foods

Benefits For Me: This is at the top of my list because I have found the benefits to be endless. The chemicals that are keeping fruits and vegetables free from pests and disease cause many health problems, such as nerve damage, birth defects, and cancers. The Environmental Working Group is a tremendous resource for all of us who are eager to learn more about the health benefits of eating organically grown foods.

Fruits and vegetables are not our only concern. The conventional meat we eat is laced with antibiotics and hormones. The animals we typically eat (cows, pigs, chickens...) ingest foods that have added chemicals, along with animal biproducts (keep in mind...these animals are vegetarians and meat should never be a part of their diet).

There is a ban on feeding organic cows, pigs, chickens...animal bi-product!...Thank God!

Much of the beef has been aged to the point of growing mold!!

Grass-fed beef contains far more health benefits than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed, organic beef contains 5 times the number of omega-3 fatty acids as grain-fed beef.

As for poultry, look for the free-range and organic labels. I call them "happy chickens!" Conventional chickens are packed in like sardines, pumped with oodles of toxins, and they "pick" on each other until they get angry...when this happens they peck one another until they bleed, so the farmers chop off their beaks...hence, these are NOT happy chickens. I happen to believe that if everything is energy and we eat negative energy... we become negative and sickly ourselves.

Check out what Dr. Mecola has to say about free-range, organic chickens.

Personally, I believe there are extreme benefits of opting for vegetarian meals several times a week.

Benefits For Our Environment: According to Jodi Helmer of Natural Health Magazine, the chemicals that are sprayed on our foods are released into the soil, water, and air resulting in contamination of waterways, illness, death of birds and aquatic life, and erosion and air pollution.

Keep in mind, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the meat-based food system requires more energy, land, and water resources than the vegetarian diet.

2. Reduce the Toxins

Benefits for Me: We use a tremendous amount of toxins on a daily basis that our livers simply cannot keep up with ridding them from our bodies. From cleaners to body lotions and soaps to makeup to hairspray to what we spray on our lawns...and the list goes on and on.

Our skin is a very thin, porous barrier and most of what we put on our skin goes directly into the bloodstream. Often the soaps, lotions, sprays, and potions we subject our bodies to are chemically-laden and are attributed to serious health conditions.

I've often heard it said that if you can't eat it, you shouldn't put it on your skin (or breathe it).

I am personally thankful there are eco-friendly products on the market that I love! Many are made with fantastic essential oils that not only feel nice on the body and smell beautiful...many have emotional benefits as well (for example, lavender and yang yang are relaxing to the spirit). I don't believe this is an accident...God knows exactly what he's doing when it comes to his creation :)

Benefits for the Environment: Chemicals we use on our bodies are washed down the drain and end up in rivers and streams. It's fair to say that what is harmful to us is going to be harmful to our environment...the switch to natural products will send messages to companies that if the demand for "greener" products increase, creating toxic products will decrease.

3. Volunteer

Benefits for Me: According to Beth Welbes from the University of Illinois Center for Prevention Research and Development, heath and social benefits of volunteering are as follows:

  1. Improved life satisfaction

  2. Improved self-esteem and self-efficacy

  3. Improved self-rated health status

  4. Improved educational/occupational achievement

  5. Solidarity and social interaction

  6. Dealing with own fears and apprehensions around a health issue (e.g. AIDs, cancer)

I would add that volunteering/serving helps to bring an inner peace as a whole.

Benefits for the Environment: When you give to others and react to others out of a giving spirit, others will respond to you in kind..."What comes around goes around." The result is a more peaceful society :)

If I were to add a forth category to this list it would be "Ride a Bike or Walk to Work." This is an excellent way to add exercise daily and decrease anxiety. I can see that if I were able to bike to and from work I would arrive at my destination refreshed mentally and rejuvenated physically and would enjoy the people around me so much more. And, the environmental benefits are huge, as it would reduce the amount of CO2 emissions into the air... But, living in the Midwest, I know this isn't always feasible. We can, however, look for other options, such as car-pooling, taking fewer trips to the store, and walk and ride our bikes when we can.

This is NOT an exhaustive list, but it's a start for me to continue heading in a direction I believe God is leading me. I hope this inspires you to look for ways you too can live a "greener" lifestyle.

My decisions truly make a difference for everyone. When I make poor personal decisions, someone else will suffer for it and likewise, when I make positive personal choices others will reap the benefits.

Life isn't just about me...from the tiniest action to the monumental decisions in's essential I take in account everyone around family, friends, acquaintances, everyone!




Sunday, March 7, 2010

Days 15 through 20!

Hi All!!

I thought since all of us work very hard during the week, I would combine days 15-20 for you to pick and choose the days you'd like to share with us...those days which are especially meaningful to you.

I'm so thankful for each of you and for sharing this little piece of your life with this group! I feel a real sense of closeness with each of you.

Don't forget to read previous postings...they all are very special! Blessings to each of you as you travel along this road to health, healing, and wholeness.

This last week's postings were especially special for me to read! I have been deeply moved by all of your experiences. I, like many of you, am more mindful of my giving and more intuitive of the feelings and needs of others around me.

In the past...I have busied myself doing "life" and looking back in retrospect, I am certain I've missed intense needs around me. The life lessons I'm learning as a result of this challenge are monumental and will forever change the dynamics of all of my relationships!

Thank-you so much for joining me as we learn together what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others around us!

Blessings to each of you!


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Days 9-14!

Hi All!

I thought since all of us work very hard during the week, I would combine days 9-14 for you to pick and choose the days you'd like to share with us...those days which are especially meaningful to you.

I'm so thankful for each of you and for sharing this little piece of your life with this group! I feel a real sense of closeness with each of you.

Don't forget to read previous postings...they all are very special! Blessings to each of you as you travel along this road to health, healing, and wholeness.

Have a great week!!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 8...The Barnabas Way!

I am walking through a book by John Sloan entitled "The Barnabas Way" (if you're interested, this book is offered in "My Very Favorites" column to the right of this blog post) and I'm really being challenged to take a good hard look at myself and my walk with God...are my sights set on the right things? Is the direction I'm taking in life paved by God? Am I willing to give the control handles of my life to God?

All of these questions seem easily answered until flesh enters into the equation. What about MY agenda? What about what I want? How will this benefit ME??

Barnabas (his story is found in the book of Acts) was a man of God. He was constantly reaching out to others. His giving wasn't necessarily extravagant, nor were the benefits of his giving when defined in human terms, but the Heavenly rewards were enormous!!

As the Beatitudes reveal...what is great in the Kingdom of Heaven will also benefit us most here on earth.

John Sloan reminds us in his little book that the benefits of living like a follower of Jesus with a Barnabas mind-set...showing compassion, reaching out, encouraging...are as follows:
  • A new focus on people instead of things
  • An opportunity to watch God bless, but not because we demand it
  • Emotional health
  • The joy of seeing people get back on their feet
  • A front-row view of the Cinderellas in life who get an opportunity to start over
  • A chance to help people discover their own happiness
  • An antidote for loneliness
  • The secret to genuinely discovering our purpose
  • Discovering God is just and fair
  • Experiencing God's unconditional love for ourselves and others
  • Preventing ourselves from getting disillusioned about God
There are no promises made that if you follow the Barnabas Way that you will suddenly have a bigger house, more money, a greater ministry, or a better life.

There are no promises that you'll have less trouble...that things will all make sense...

John ended his thoughts with..."I can promise that if you look each day for one who is hurting, one who has lost something, one who needs encouragement from God, or one who wants the support of a friend, you will never lack for a divine encounter. Someone will be there every day...

And you will be his/her blessing!!"

During our second week of our 29 Day Gift Challenge, I am going to focus more on giving the way Barnabas gave (if you've not read the story of Barnabas in the Bible I would encourage you to do s0). I want to be constantly looking for the next person who needs help.

John stated that, "thoughts of hunting for a new sports utility vehicle or upgrading my wardrobe, or finding a better mortgage rate suddenly pale when I've identified a human being in need of help."

Many times I look at life and see a busy schedule...things to do, lists to check off, deadlines to meet...Barnabas looked at life and saw people!!

I pray that we all hear God's still small voice leading us to the people who need us the most this week and as we heed to that voice, we will reap the Heavenly rewards while we're here on earth and for eternity!

Can't wait to hear about your experiences and how God is working in your lives!!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Organic Craze Store!!

We have a new Organic Craze Store!!

Just click on the link found at the top of this blog and you'll be directed to the store. There is a "search" box for you to enter the products you're looking for.

I shop at Whole Foods weekly and I have found many items via the Organic Craze store that are considerably cheaper. And, I believe for many items, orders over $25 shipping is free.

My favorite new find is Tulsi Tea!! I drink it twice a day and Organic Craze has it $.50 - $1.00 cheaper depending on the kind.

It may be worth your while to check it out!!

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Days 3-7!

Hi All!

I thought since all of us work very hard during the week, I would combine days 3-7 for you to pick and choose the days you'd like to share with us...those days which are especially meaningful to you.

I'm so thankful for each of you and for sharing this little piece of your life with this group! I feel a real sense of closeness with each of you.

Don't forget to read previous postings...they all are very special! Blessings to each of you as you travel along this road to health, healing, and wholeness.

Have a great week!!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 2!

I'm excited to hear how God used you today! This site is designed with the organic lifestyle in mind and with ways to attain optimal health. I don't believe anything contributes to our well-being like being others centered and giving to the needs of others.

Please share with us your story...


BTW...Be sure to check out the posts from Day 1 if you haven't already! God is already using each one of us in such a mighty way!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Please post about your day 1 adventure here!

I'm excited to hear how God used you today! This site is designed with the organic lifestyle in mind and with ways to attain optimal health. I don't believe anything contributes to our well-being like being others centered and giving to the needs of others.

Please share with us your story...


Friday, February 19, 2010

29 Day Giving Ideas!

Only one more day!!

I am going to use this day to pray and open my heart to God's leading. I want to "step out of my own way" and be receptive to the needs of others.

I am going to jot down giving ideas in this post that I think are terrific! Please feel free to peruse some of these suggestions and use all, one, or none on your 29 Day Challenge.

This site is not meant to be a prescription to follow precisely, but rather a facilitative place to get our wheels turning, generate ideas, and find support.

Giving Ideas:

  1. Wish Upon a Hero ~  This is a site that was inspired after 9/11 and after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Oleans. It is a place where up to 3 wishes can be granted and unlimited wishes can be met.
  2. Let's Say Thanks to Our Troops ~ Here is a website where we can send free postcards to military personnel overseas to show our gratitude and support for serving our country.
  3. Women For Women ~ This is an excellent resource for women all around the world who have survived wars, civil strife, and other conflicts! This organization gives women the tools they need to become self-sufficient and stable. The organizations listed below donate a portion of their proceeds to Women For Women and many are supporters of the organic, check them out:
    • Organic Bouquet - Send a bouquet and they will send 13% of the proceeds to Women For Women.
    • Flash Bags - Design your own adorable photo purse from recycled newsprints and color photocopies and benefit Women For Women International.
    • Pangea Organics - Organic skincare products
    • Olive Smart Bags - There are 6 stylish reusable bags...great for saving the environment and supporting a wonderful cause. Check out their story:

    • Thanks for Being There ~ Being there is about helping, sharing and unconditional support. And when someone is there for you, it’s good to take a moment to let them know they’re appreciated. This venue gives us the opportunity to say thank-you and express our gratitude.
    • Take a meal to someone who needs the extra help
    • Rub the back of someone hurting ~ This idea was mentioned by Faith, one of the members of our 29 Day Challenge group. I am very excited to read about her experience...what a thoughtful gift!
    • Create a gift basket
    • Create "kindness rocks," as shown on Cami's video ~ These rocks (purchased at a craft store) can have kind words painted on them and given out to people you'd like to touch in a special way. Encourage them to hang on to their rocks for an hour or so and then give them away to others they'd like to touch...and so on :)
    • Victory Junction ~ This is a site for children with disabilities and they are always looking for handmade items, such as, afghans, quilts, and teddy bears.
    I hope this list triggers you to think about ways you can give over the next 29 days. Remember, a simple gesture is very precious and goes a long way in making someone's day brighter.

    A colleague of mine, who has gone through much emotional pain over the last couple of years, said that a warm smile, a gentle touch, or just a simple, "How are you?" eases her pain and helps in the healing process. She said people will often avoid her because they don't know what to say. It is an especially sad and lonely place to not be her own words, "Please, please, please say or do something! Anything is better than nothing!"

    Thank-you for joining me! I appreciate all of you so much! Please don't forget to post each day about your giving...this is a perfect way for us to grow and learn from one another, not to mention glean new gift-giving ideas!


    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    As We Prepare for the 29 Day Challenge!


    I thought I would post helpful ideas for us as we begin our 29 Day Challenge. Remember, this challenge is meant to serve as a reminder for us to be more others centered. As Cami stated, " is your opportunity to cultivate a mindful practice of stepping outside your own story for a few seconds each day by serving others."

    Don't become discouraged! There is nothing written in stone that suggests it is necessary to give monumental gifts. Often times, it's the little gestures of kindness that speak volumes to the recipient. A phone call, a note of appreciation, a warm smile, a small offer to help ease a load...whatever you offer will contribute to making a person's day a little brighter.

    I think sometimes we decline to participate in challenges such as this because we fear failure to follow through with a commitment. Don't be hard on yourself...there isn't a day that goes by that we don't give in one way or another. Sometimes we give unconsciously and it becomes necessary to sit and reflect on our day to bring our giving into our consciousness.

    Keep a journal of your giving each day. This will not only keep you mindful of your giving, but will give you the opportunity to jot down what God is doing in your life as a result of your giving.

    Make sure you include your "small group" here on this blog as you go through the 29 Day Challenge. We will not only keep one another accountable through this process, but we will also be a source of encouragement for one another. I would love to see a bond of brother/sisterhood here as there is an outpouring of our giving experiences.

    Finally, I hope this is an enjoyable time for you and remember to be equally as open to receive as you are to give...we cannot have one without the other!

    I would love for you to find this site a safe place for you to regularly visit as you carry on with life. Social networking is of utmost importance as we strive for optimal health and wellness.

    I'm counting the minutes until we launch our challenge on Saturday...remember to notice those who are joining us and pray for each one as we go through our challenge together.

    Blessings as you prepare yourselves for the greatness that lies ahead!


    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    29 Day Challenge Begins in 3 Days!

    I am so excited to see what God has to reveal to us around the bend. I was especially moved by Cami's story of healing and rejuvination just by following through with 29 days of giving.

    God says in His Word that it is much better to give than to receive...Cami is living proof of that!

    I believe the more "others centered" we become, the more joy we will feel in our hearts and the greater our optimal health. We have nothing to lose by joining this challenge, but everything to gain!

    Pray about how God can use you in this venture and then "jump in"...go all out to touch lives...let's pray for a special revival in the name of giving and reaching out.

    Are we up for the challenge to love others with a Godly love...with no strings attached? Can we give with no motives and without expecting anything in return?? If our answers are YES...then I believe we are in for a showering of His blessings unlike anything we've ever seen before!

    I believe there will be those of us, like Cami, whose physical bodies will be healed; there will be those of us who will be filled with a new and fresh spirit, filled with peace, love, and joy; and there will be others who will come to know the Lord for the first time as their Lord and Savior!!

    If you haven't already watched the video of Cami Walker's story, please do so now...I know your heart will be softened and eager to take the challenge with the rest of us...please watch:

    If this video touched your life as it has ours and you feel like joining us as we take the 29 Day Challenge, please leave a comment below this post and merely tell us, "I'm in!" We would truly love to have you!! Together we can make an enormous difference in the lives of others and especially in our own lives!!

    Blessings to you my friend!


    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    The 29 Day Challenge!

    Happy Tuesday to all of you!

    This blog post is very near and dear to my heart, in fact, I have big alligator tears in my eyes as I'm writing to you! I would like for you to watch this very brief (3 minute) video clip and then I would like for you to join me in our own 29 Day Challenge!! Please watch:

    This video clip touched my heart deeply and I truly believe God can work in our lives in a mighty, healing way as we take this 29 day journey together.

    I would like for us to be accountability partners for the next 29 days. After each day of giving...I'd love for us to share our experiences... let us allow our friends here, on this blog, to share in our excitement! It's very easy to share your comments...merely click on the comment box below a blog post and share away...

    I am so excited to see how God works in our lives...I will commit to this for 29 days...won't you please join me?? I will also commit to praying for each of you during these 29 days that God will reveal Himself to each of us in a new and fresh way.

    Please let me know if you will be joining me, so I can begin to pray for you right away. Remember, as Cami mentioned in her video, at the beginning, there's no need to give big, extravagant gifts! A small token will go a long way to touch the life of another and your life as well!

    I would like to begin our 29 Day Challenge this Saturday (Feb. 20th) and end our challenge on Saturday, March 20th. This will give everyone ample time to have a chance to join us.

    If you would like to commit to giving for 29 days with me...simply put "I'm in!" in the comment box below this blog...and I think we're "in" for a miraculous month ahead!!

    Can't wait to hear from you!!


    Monday, February 15, 2010

    A Friends Suggestion!

    Hey...I have a friend that shared with me about a product that she's been using and loves. She said, "The Greenergy is awesome! One scoop is equivalent to 5 servings of vegetables. I start my day off with a scoop."

    Anyway, check out this website and let me know what you think!

    One must never stop learning...thank-you, Tami, for sharing with us!


    A Breast Cancer Prevention Tidbit!

    Studies from the University of California, San Diego show that Vitamin D is significantly important in reducing the development of breast cancer. These studies found that the less sun exposure a woman has, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. Our bodies convert sunlight into Vitamin D, so getting 15 minutes of midday sun would be great. This study also mentioned, however, "...people with photosensitivity disorders, or anyone with a personal or family history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, any amount of extra sun exposure would be inadvisable." There are also Vitamin D-3 supplements on the market that could work during the winter months when many of us are deprived the sunlight our bodies need. I think it would behoove you, however, to read this to help in selecting the best option for you.

    Have a sun-shiny day!



    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Strategies to Sharpen Our Minds!

    Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!! This Post is dedicated to sound mental health, so we can be all we can be for our partners, families, friends, and most importantly...GOD!

    If you're anything like me, you're probably asking yourself things like, "Where did I put my keys?" or "I don't remember you giving me (this or that)!" It can be scary to think as we age...we go through normal cognitive changes. By age 40-45 we may experience memory loss, a delay in processing information, and being distracted more than usual.

    Fortunately, there are ways to maintain mental health and fitness as we age. Whew!! Am I thankful! This advice will definitely be useful for me! On a positive note, as we take care of our bodies by eating the right foods and exercising, our brains will benefit as well and help to prevent that slippery slope of cognitive decline. are some excellent ideas we can embrace to sharpen our minds:

    1. Stay connected and make and sustain healthy relationships ~ Living alone may be dangerous to your brain health.  A study released in the medical journal BMJ suggests that living alone significantly increases the odds in developing dementia later in life. This study adds to a growing evidence that suggests social factors play a major role in brain health. Engaging in and planning social gatherings and sustaining strong relationships through phone calls, dates out, and emails do wonders for our, include time with those you feel especially close to...your brain depends on it!
    2. Meditate ~ Meditation can help cognitive damage caused by stress. Check out this short relaxation exercise. Regular meditation will help us to be less scattered and to think more clearly.
    3. Exercise ~ Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain and encourages brain cell growth. Regular exercise also reduces stress and helps to keep our bodies at a healthy balance.
    4. Read ~ A UCLA study suggests that reading increases the activity in the language part of the brain. In subjects 70 years of age and older who regularly read books, it was found that there was a significant decrease in the risk of cognitive decline when compared to individuals who did not read.
    5. Eat whole foods and less sugary foods
    6. Eat a Mediterranean diet ~ This includes a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, olive oil and limits dairy products and meat. Studies conducted by Piero Antuono from the Dementia Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin suggest this diet may help reduce inflammation in the brain and support blood vessel health.
    Now is the time for me to step up to the plate and replace the "dumb" things I'm doing with "smart" choices to enhance my brain power...join me in saying, "Goodbye senior moments!!"

    Be healthy, be social, and be positive!


    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Spices that Heal

    According to Bharat B. Aggarwal, Ph.D., professor in the department of experimental therapeutics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston certain spices contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties, as well as essential phytochemicals.

    Among the most healthy spices are turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, ginger, and cinnamon. Spices become even more powerful when combined together, so experimentation with spices is important. Curry powder can be created by combining spices together and is very healing.

    4 Tablespoons ground coriander
    2 Tablespoons ground black peppercorns
    1 Teaspoon ground cloves
    6 Tablespoons ground turmeric
    2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 Teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Salt to taste, after cooking

    Combine all ingredients in a cast-iron skillet. Cook over medium heat until powder is just fragrant and beginning to brown, almost 4 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Remove from heat, allow to cool and store in an airtight jar. Yield: 14 Tablespoons.

    (Recipe courtesy of Natural Health Magazine)

    Turmeric is a root that is dried and ground into a powder. It has a bittersweet flavor and is very good for you. According to Aggarwal, it is an anti-inflammatory and possibly an anti-carcinogen and suggests eating 1 to 2 teaspoons every day to maintain optimal health. Tumeric can be added to a number of dishes, but it's more commonly used in Indian, Thai, and Moroccan recipes. Tumeric tastes great in our starchy foods such as potatoes and rice. My mom uses it with firm tofu to create a "tofu scramble" in the morning for breakfast. She adds potatoes, onions, and peppers and with the tumeric to give it a yellow color, it is very difficult to distinguish between scrambled egg and her scrambled tofu. Perhaps she will share her recipe with us!

    Cumin is a seed from a flowering plant found in Europe, Middle East, South America, North Africa, and India. Cumin is used all over the world for a variety of ailments. It is used to treat the common cold when mixed with milk and also sipped as a tea to treat stomach discomfort. It tastes great in a lot of dishes, particularly Mexican, Indian, or Moroccan dishes. One of my very favorite recipes calls for cumin...I love it and often crave it:

    Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew (Aida Mollenkamp)

    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I use soy butter)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
    • 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 pound butternut squash, large dice
    • 3/4 pound red potatoes, large dice
    • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
    • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
    • Pinch saffron threads, optional
    • 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
    • 1 cup brined green olives (recommend: Cerignola)
    • Steamed couscous, for serving
    • Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
    • Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish
    • Plain yogurt, for garnish (I use tofu sour cream)


    Heat butter and olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
    Add squash and potatoes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir to coat, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes and their juices, and saffron, if using. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until squash is fork tender, about 10 minutes.
    Remove from heat and stir in preserved lemon and olives. Serve over couscous garnished with cilantro, almonds, and yogurt. 

    Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree and is often dried and ground. Cinnamon has been known to lower cholesterol, help treat type II diabetes, and maintain cardiovascular health. It's good to have 1/2 teaspoon every day. Cinnamon can be added to many recipes, such as pancakes, oatmeal, French toast, and again to many Indian and Moroccan adds such a warm, sweet flavor. 

    Cayenne Pepper is dried, ground red chili peppers. It has been linked to relieving pain, weight loss, and heart health. For obvious reasons, a little Cayenne added to foods will go a long way. It's great in Mexican dishes, tomato sauces, soups, and stews. 

    Ginger is the root of a plant and is sold either as the fresh root itself, or as a dried, ground powder. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has been linked to assist with healing other ailments as well...check out the International Journal of Cancer. Ginger is a popular spice in Asian foods and pairs nicely with citrus fruits, agave nectar, and honey.

    So...why not experiment with these wonderful flavors!! You will not only add some amazing flavors to your recipes, but you will be contributing to your health to boot. I am anxious to hear about some of your recipes using these amazing spices. Let's work together to add some "spice" to our lives!!



    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Make This Year a Happy One!

    If you're anything like me, it's easy to have the "winter blues." I look outside and see gray dreary days and I long for the sunshine and warmth. There are times I'd like to snuggle in my blanket never to be seen again until the first signs of spring.

    Well...I have living to do just like the rest of you and I have to keep going...going for my family, going to work, going to church, going for others, and going for myself!

    There are ways we can snap out of that depressing mood and infuse ourselves with happiness and joy. I'm not talking about clinical depression here. For those of you who suffer from clinical depression please see a psychologist/psychiatrist and/or naturopath.

    I decided to look for ways to enhance my winter experience, so I'm not merely muddling through, praying the season away. Here is what I've found that really works for me. Don't get me wrong...I'm no doubt a summer person, but I am also a person who loves life and who wants the best out of each moment. So, here are some of my suggestions for "clearing up the gray skies...and putting on a happy face!"

    1. EXERCISE - Do something you love doing! The important thing is that you're moving...I love to dance around my house. I tune the channel to fun, upbeat music and cha cha cha I'm a dancin' fool. If my son happens to be privileged to witness that sight...he'll say, "Mom! No! Don't EVER do that again!" But, I brush him off and many times I'll grab his hand and make him dance with me. By the time I'm done, it wouldn't matter to me if I were living in an igloo on an iceberg (not really!)... I am over-joyed and excited about my day. Another exercise I enjoy in the winter is rebounding (on my mini trampoline). This is the only exercise that works every cell in your body...I'm beginning to believe there is no other exercise that matches its effectiveness. Check out this website!
    2. FORGIVE - I believe it is very important to mental health to forgive others. When we forgive others, much of our depression is lifted. Perhaps we can forgive another person face-to-face, but sometimes that isn't always possible, so perhaps we can imagine ourselves forgiving someone else in a meditative state. Find a comfortable sitting position and deep breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and imagine yourself forgiving that person (and it never hurts to ask God for help!!).
    3. DRINK TEA - Personally, my favorite is Tulsi Tea! I drink a pot of Tulsi Green Tea in the morning and Tulsi Chamomile with Honey in the evening. This always gives me a boost of energy and lightens my mood.
    4. COMMIT TO ORGANIC FOODS -  I believe there are additives, preservatives, and chemicals in our foods that encourage a depressive mood. Try minimizing artificial sweeteners (I use Agave Nectar as a sweetener), refined sugars and flours, and dairy products (I use organic raw cheese when I need it for a recipe). Increase fruits and vegetables...This suggestion, I believe, is one of the most important.
    5. TAKE A WHOLE FOOD SUPPLEMENT EVERY DAY - I drink Alive by Nature's Way and I feel fantastic afterward. My energy levels are through the roof and I feel very joyful and ready for my day. The key here is to make sure that what you are taking is a "whole food" supplement. Alive has digestive enzymes, omega fatty acids, and Spirulina/green food blend, all of which enables proper movement of toxins out of the body. I know this is a yucky topic for a blog, but I believe it is so important it bears mentioning...I have a b.m. twice a day and I know I am much happier and content having expelled all of those toxins in my body. Would I rather have them lie stagnant in my body or FLUSHED!! Hello........
    6. PRAY AND MEDITATE - I've saved the very best for last! I cannot imagine living a single day without the Lord in my life. When I pray and meditate on His Word...I immediately feel euphoric and peaceful at the same time. I am so overjoyed that my Heavenly Father allows me to call myself His daughter and at the same time peaceful...with sort of a calm assurance knowing He has the control handles of my life. 
    There are oodles of things we can do to enhance our day, but I would say, these are my top 6...Do you have a top 6? What do you do to beat the winter time blues? I'd LOVE to hear from you!

    Happy living!!



      Thursday, February 11, 2010

      Get Fit and Stay Fit!!

      I think there is a misconception that exercising for an hour at the gym makes up for hours of sedentary living.

      According to James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, people who lead a less sedentary life are less likely to gain weight and it isn't because they spent their hour at the gym.

      In his study, subjects were given 1,000 calories more than they normally eat and they wore sensors that monitored all of the movements. Dr. Levine stated, "We had one person store those excess calories as body fat, and another essentially burn off all that extra fuel." How was this possible?? The answer lies with NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), which is the calories one burns living life: washing dishes, doing laundry, snow-blowing the driveway..."People who can switch on their NEAT are able to remain thin, despite periods of overfeeding," states Levine.

      Hey all. Check out this! It's a wonderful website on NEAT!

      Natural Health Magazine has put together the charts below for us to enhance our NEAT opportunities:

       NEAT at Home

      Do This!

      Not That!

      Hang up laundry to dry
      Throw it in the dryer
      Wash dishes by hand. Calories burned: 50 in 30 minutes; more if you dry by hand
      Use a dishwasher
      Use a push mower to cut your grass.
      Drive a sit-down mower.
      Rake the leaves from your lawn. Calories burned: 200 an hour.
      Use a leaf blower.
      Shovel snow from your driveway and walkways. Calories burned: nearly 350 an hour.
      Hire someone else or use a snowplow or snowblower.
      Cook meals at home.
      Go to a restaurant.
      Cook meals from scratch. Calories burned: 100 an hour.
      Microwave prepared foods.
      Pick up takeout (on those nights you don’t have time or energy to cook at home).
      Have food delivered.
      Invite friends over for dinner or game night.
      Watch TV all night.
      Limit your time answering e-mails and surfing the internet.
      Sit silently in front of a screen.

      NEAT At Work

      Do This!

      Not That!

      Walk to a colleague’s office. Calories burned: 60 in 15 minutes, if you maintain a brisk pace and carry paperwork.
      Call or e-mail.
      Hand-deliver your message
      Use interoffice mail.
      Leave the office to meet a friend or eat outside. Calories burned: 100 for a leisurely pace.
      Eat at your desk.
      Take the stairs. Calories burned: 12 per minute.
      Take the elevator.
      Stand up and walk around while talking on the phone.
      Sit while on the phone.
      Use water bottles as hand weights and stretching bands when seated.
      Sit still.
      Host an office party at a bowling alley or driving range.
      Have cake and coffee at a restaurant or in the conference room.
      Hold walking meetings in the park. Calories burned: 150, if walking at 1 mph.
      Hold a seated meeting at the conference table.
      Create a walking track at the office with colored tape and engage everyone in the task.
      Sit in your chair all day.

      NEAT in Life

      Do This!

      Not That!

      Get out of your car and walk to banks or take-out restaurants.
      Use drive-up windows or drive-throughs.
      Walk, ride your bike, or use public transit whenever possible.
      Get in the care
      Shop in stores. Buy online only for items you can’t get locally. Calories burned: 100 per hour; more if you walk to the store and tote your own shopping bags in lieu of using the car and a grocery cart.
      Buy everything online.
      Walk your dog. Calories burned: 200 an hour; 300 if you go for a run with your dog, depending on your pace.
      Hire a dog walker.
      When you have to drive, park in a central spot and walk to where you need to go instead of driving to multiple destinations. If it’s too far to walk, bring your bike.
      Drive from shop to shop.
      Walk to whatever’s in walking distance.
      Drive everywhere.
      Walk or cycle with your children to school activities. Calories burned: 500, even at a leisurely pace.
      Jump in the minivan.

      I think you get the point...I know I did...I need to GET MOVING!


      Wednesday, February 10, 2010

      Healthy Inspiration!

      Guess what I'm eating while I'm posting this new tidbit to you?? A variety of organic olives...yum!! One of the very best lacto-fermented foods...more about that later.

      With all of the turmoil and strife everywhere we turn, I thought I'd commit this post to ways of making a lasting change in our own lives, as well as in the lives of those much less fortunate than we are.

      Have you ever thought of immersing yourself in another culture? Maybe you have, but maybe not...well, me neither until I took a summer trip to New York City! I attended a culturally diverse church and volunteered for their summer lunch program. This program provided lunch, games, and fellowship for families who were going through tough times. There are 65 different nationalities represented in this church and I've never felt more "whole" in all my life than being in the midst of God's people, with all of the walls torn down. There were no barriers (not even language because a hug and a smile says it all). I knew in an instant that this was the single most important aspect of my journey to holistic healing...the building of relationships and reaching beyond my sphere of influences and outside of my comfort zone.

      I came home from new York City forever changed, with an intense passion to "hear" the Words of God, as He molds and shapes me into His usable vessel.

      I would encourage every one of you to consider a volunteer vacation. I can think of no better way to experience the culture and the people than to roll up your shirt sleeves and teach the school children, help build communities, preserve wildlife, and so on. I think it would be so easy to miss the most important part of this cultural experience if you were merely a "sight seer."

      The beauty of volunteer opportunities is they are tailor-made to meet the needs of all of those who stress an interest. There are programs from a few days long to more than a year. There are a variety of different opportunities as can bathe elephants in Bangkok, build structures in Bali and many other areas, teach children in Ecuador, as well as disadvantaged children in the United States. Trips vary in cost from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand.

      There are several programs to help you organize your trip. In fact, many local churches organize volunteer trips on a regular basis. Here are a few reputable organizations to help you plan your journey:

      Check out Charity Guide and Global Volunteers

      I have communicated with the Tandana Foundation at great length and I am eagerly waiting upon the Lord for the financing that will enable me to take my next volunteer trip to Ecuador! They have even identified the family who will welcome me into their home with open arms. They are very excited for me to help with Jeorge's English and I, in turn, am very excited to learn organic gardening from Jeorge and Ximena! They are waiting with great anticipation, as am I, to have me teach the local children English!

      You can just envision how this will do much more for me than I will do for them. Eight weeks in Ecuador equals a changed woman!

      Here is Tandana Foundation

      Please watch the video of the Tandana Foundation volunteers in Mali:

      I would encourage you, especially if you seek the road to greater health, to look into a volunteer vacation. It certainly doesn't have to be on a grand scale, but, the impact it will have on your well-being will be nothing less than grand!

      I can't wait to read your thought!



      Tuesday, February 9, 2010

      Hi to all of my "green buddies!"

      Okay...let's face it, there is an organic craze out there and with great reason...IT WORKS! For those of us who want natural holistic healing...this blog is for us. I am so excited to offer the most up-to-date and current organic trends that offer life-giving, life-sustaining advice. So, grab yourself some soothing organic tea (my favorite is Tulsi Chamomile with honey), pull up a chair, settle in for awhile because I have a feeling this will be your favorite go-to place for feeling your optimal best, looking awesome, and doing some incredible things!

      Remember...the organic craze isn't just about what you eat, it's about your holistic health...physically, mentally, emotionally, and any other 'ally that affects your well-being.

      I am not a doctor, but, I can tell you, I've lived the organic lifestyle for 10 years, I am now in my mid forties and I've never felt better in my life. I don't own a pharmaceutical. There are enough natural remedies to make us and keep us well. My philosophy is that a pharmaceutical should always be a last resort. Does this mean I don't believe in the medical industry?? Absolutely not! If I were in a car accident and needed emergency care...take me to the nearest emergency room. I am saying, however, that we traditionally use way too many medications, with many side effects way too often. I think that's a sure fire way of getting and staying sick.

      Anyway, I am going to give my favorite suggestions via this blog and I look forward to hearing from you! I'd like for you to share your experiences with all of us. We are a sickly society...why not take control of your own health and well-being and begin the journey toward natural health? Come on and join me...I know you'll be amazed at how sick you really were when you begin to feel the results of going organic and healing yourself naturally.

      I can't wait to take this plunge with you...stay tuned for recipes, detox ideas, exercises for your dosha, menopause remedies, the ultimate super foods, covering your gray hair naturally, spices that heal, supplements every woman should take, natural solutions to better sex, acupuncture, ways to boost your brain power, living green, lacto-fermented foods, and lots more!!

      Go ahead and bookmark this blog!! You will not want to miss out on the exciting new you as you begin this journey with me!!