For The Greater Goods (sm)


I'm a firm believer that you are what you eat and I want to be fresh, local, organic and healthy! I've spent a lifetime experimenting with natural foods, different diets and ways of eating, and have settled on the food philosophy that Michael Pollan expresses so well: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I'm passionate about organic foods, natural living, cooking healthy meals, and improving my health on a daily basis.

Healthy Halloween Recipe Roundup

healthy halloween

Image courtesy of JeffK via Flickr Creative Commons Licence

Around the office and around the house, it seems like Halloween candy is everywhere!  The really scary treats are all of that candy loaded with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial colors and trans fats.  With Halloween candy everywhere, tIt can make it really hard to avoid snacking on sugary and unhealthy foods when you want to be eating right and staying fit.

My mission this week is finding healthy Halloween treats that even kids will enjoy.  I put together this fun recipe roundup from across the web.  A lot of these suggestions would make great office snacks, party snacks, pre-trick or treating food.  Just make sure to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Skip the packaged junk foods this year and try making some of these easy, spooky, scary and sometimes gross looking snacks!  Hope you enjoy these healthy Halloween snacks!

13 Fun & Healthy Halloween Treats!

  1. Candy Corn Veggie Tray With Dip – make sure to serve organic veggies and healthy dips like hummus, or Simply Organic’s dips.
  2. Veggie Skeleton – a super fresh alternative to sweet snacks and packaged treats.
  3. Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs – creepy, but oh so tasty!
  4. Halloween Spider Crackers – try using Late July’s Rich Crackers, Once Again Nut Butter and Newman’s Organic Thin Stick Pretzels
  5. Carrot-Rice Mini Jack O’Lanterns – great for kids who can’t have sugar but still want something sweet.
  6. Jack O Lantern Hummus Plate – use Pacific Red Pepper Hummus, organic canned black beans, a pretzel stick for the stem and surround with organic crackers or veggies.
  7. Ear Wax Snax – sure to gross out the kids! Make it vegan with Dandies Mini Marshmallows and Cadia Peanut Butter.
  8. Peanut Butter Pumpkins – try using almond or sunflower butter if you have peanut allergies!
  9. Banana Ghost Pops – coated in shredded coconut with chocolate chip eyeballs, they’re ghoulishly good.
  10. Stuffed Roaches – nope, they’re not really roaches – they’re Medjool Dates stuffed with a cream cheese/walnut spread!
  11. Bloody Band-Aids – these will gross out even the adults! Use graham crackers, cream cheese and strawberry jam.
  12. Apple Smiles – An easy way to get some fresh fruit in with the candy treats.  Use Dandies Mini Marshmallows and your favorite nut butter.
  13. Candy Corn Quesadillas – these would make a great dinner before trick or treating to get everyone in the spirit!

What are your favorite healthy Halloween snacks? Share with us in the comments below!


13 Optimal Organic Foods For a Healthy Brain

What does it mean to eat a brain-healthy diet? Well, the brain needs the good balance of nutrients to function well. A variety of organic foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids is a great start. organic foodsYou’ll also want to make sure to get enough vitamins like C, E, B12 and folate.  How do you make sure you’re getting the right organic foods for your brain? Use the guide below!

13 Optimal Organic Foods For a Healthy Brain

1 – Antioxidant Rich Fruits and Veggies
The best organic foods to reach for here are dark and colorful. Think spinach, kale, beets, red bell pepper, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries, red grapes, pomegranates and cherries. Some light colored veggies are a good addition: cauliflower and onion.

2 – Omega 3’s
Try eating small oily fishes like sardines and mackerel. Cold water fish like salmon, trout, tuna and halibut are good options. Fatty fish have been shown to lower the risk of dementia, and can help improve memory and attention. Our bodies don’t make essential fatty acids (EFAs), so they must be obtained through diet. They are good for healthy brain  function as well as the heart, joints and general well being.  Oily fish contains  EPA and DHA in a form which enables the body to use it  easily.

3 – Vitamin E Rich Nuts and Seeds
Some of the best are walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds. You can also eat nut and seed butters for the same benefit. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent  cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly.

4 – Vitamin C Rich Foods
Some of the best are red bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach and cauliflower. Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat so make sure to eat some of these foods fresh and raw to make sure you’re getting optimal levels.

5 – Zinc rich foods
Include in your diet oysters, beef, crab, beans, yogurt, cashews, chickpeas, oatmeal, almonds, pumpkin seeds and peas. Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is all you need to get your  recommended daily amount of zinc, an important nurient for enhancing memory and thinking ability.

6 – Choline rich foods
Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a substance that helps stimulate the brain; a more stimulated brain is better able to make new connections, which is an important part of memory. Foods high in choline include eggs, liver, soybeans, peanuts, butter, potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, oats, Swiss chard, collard greens, sesame seeds, wheat germ and flax seeds.

7 – Water
It isn’t really a food but it is vitally important. Make sure to get enough water to keep your body and brain hydrated. Dehydration can cause a headache, and several studies have shown that dehydration can affect cognitive function. When a person becomes dehydrated, their brain tissue actually shrinks. How much to drink? A good rule of thumb is to divide your weight by two and drink that number in ounces.

8 – Whole grains & Beans
The ability to concentrate and focus comes from an adequate and steady  supply of energy.  Our brain feeds on glucose in our bloodstream.  One of the best ways to make sure you have adequate levels is to choose whole grains with a low glycemic index. Oatmeal, whole-grain breads, brown rice, lentils and black beans are optimal for promoting glucose rich blood flow to the brain.

9 – Tea, Coffee & Chocolate
Boost your brain power with caffeine.  Modest amounts of coffee or tea can enhance memory, focus and mood.  Green tea is especially beneficial because it is rich in antioxidants that also promote brain health. Dark chocolate includes several natural stimulants including caffeine; it stimulates the production of endorphins, improving mood as well.

10 – Avocados
Avocados help to lower blood pressure.  Since hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, eating foods which lower blood pressure may promote brain health.  Eating avocados contributes to healthy blood flow and healthy blood flow means a healthy brain.

11 – Garlic
Garlic may help stave off some forms of brain cancer, according to research published in Cancer, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society. Investigators found that the organo-sulfur compounds in garlic worked to kill glioblastoma cells,a type of malignant tumor cell.

12 – Vegetables rich in Betacarotene
Some of the best organic foods in this category are carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach.  They have all been shown to improve the health of the brain.

13 – Spices
Certain spices like sage, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, basil, thyme, rosemary and ginger have been shown to improve brain function and stave off disease.  These spices are anti-inflammatory and contain many antioxidant compounds that are protective for the brain.

Along with adding these foods, make sure you’re also reducing oxidized cholesterol, like trans fats and fried foods.  Avoiding processed foods is another helpful tip toward keeping your brain at its peak.

Coffee & Beyond: Seven Organic Drinks to Start Your Day

I will admit that I love the taste of coffee.  I love the smell, I love the rich dark color, I love the energy boost it gives me.  Unfortunately, my body doesn’t love it as much as my taste buds do.  I’m far too sensitive to caffeine to have a morOrganic-Drinks-For-Morningning cup of coffee so I’ve learned to replace it with other organic drinks instead.  Along the way I learned that I really don’t need coffee to wake up in the morning and I actually feel better without it.  Even if you tolerate coffee well, you might want to try one of these seven organic drinks to start your day instead and see how it feels!

Seven Organic Drinks To Start Your Day

1 – Fresh Squeezed Organic Lemon Water: Squeeze a half a lemon into a 16oz glass of lemon and drink it first thing in the morning and reap the benefits.  The vitamin C in the lemon will give your immune system a boost.  It will help detoxify your liver by encouraging the production of bile.  The potassium will give your brain a boost, helping to lift depression. The alkalizing effects of lemon water help decrease systemic inflammation. Drinking lemon water first thing can even help decrease your appetite.

2 – Organic Green Smoothie:  If you have a hard time getting all of your veggies in, this is a great way to start your day.  As simple as a handful of spinach, some almond milk and a frozen banana whizzed in a blender, you’ll be starting your day ahead of the game nutritionally, fueling your body right from the start.  Try these Green Smoothie Recipes if you need ideas.

3 – Organic Chai Tea:  If you let Starbucks make your chai latte, not only will you be overpaying, you’ll get way too much sugar in your morning drink.  Brew your own organic chai tea at home and let the spicy aroma and flavor wake you up. You’ll get antioxidant benefit of the black tea, and the spices in chai have been used for centuries for general health and vitality.  These spices, in Ayurvedic tradition are considered both calming as well as vitalizing and mentally clarifying.  One of the best organic drinks to counteract the stresses of daily life.

4 – Organic Matcha Green Tea:  High in antioxidants with a caffeine boost, drinking matcha green tea is a great way to start your morning.  Learn more about the antioxidant benefits HERE.  Try it hot or iced in the morning or any time of day for a healthy pick me up.

5 – Organic Coconut Water:  If you had a little too much red wine the night before, this is one of the best organic drinks for a hangover.  The naturally occurring electrolytes in coconut water are perfect for replenishing what you may have lost the night before.  Coconut water is perfect for extra hydration in the summer or when you’re extra active.

6 – Organic Fresh Pressed Vegetable/Fruit Juice:  Another great way to start the day if you have a hard time getting all of your veggies in once the day starts.  I like to make fresh juices with really minimal amount of fruit.  It’s better to juice your veggies and eat your fruits because your body will overload on sugar if you don’t consume fiber along with it.  So when you’re making a fresh green juice in the morning, don’t go overboard on the fruits.  A simple green juice recipe would be something like this:

Apples – 2 medium (preferably tart like a Granny Smith)
Celery – 3 large stalks
Cucumber – 1 large cucumber
Ginger Root – 1/2 thumb (1″ dia)
Lemon – 1/2 fruit (including rind)
Parsley – 1 bunch
Spinach – 2 cups

7 – Organic Yerba Mate: If you’re not familiar with yerba mate, it is a South American beverage made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant.  It does contain caffeine – about twice the amount of black tea but less than half the amount in coffee.  It doesn’t give me the coffee jitters, nor does it give me the crash that happens with coffee.  When I’m looking for something strong to start my day, this one is my go-to.

What organic drinks other than coffee do you start your day with?  Share with us in the comments below!

Seven Unexpected Health Benefits Of Organic Ginger

Organic ginger is most widely known for its anti-nausea effects.  When you were a kid, did your mother give you a glass of ginger ale when you had a stomach ache?  It’s no wonder!  Ginger is incredibly beneficial for stomachaches and nausea.  Even MythBusters did an episode on motion sickness and confirmed that ginger was actually beneficial.

organic ginger

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Ginger Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Newly pregnant women, travelers, chemotherapy patients and others have successfully used ginger to treat nausea but did you know that organic gingerdoes so much more?


Seven Unexpected Health Benefits of Organic Ginger

1 – Beneficial for Diabetes
Ginger has been found to reduce blood glucose, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol.  The beneficial effects come from ginger’s ability to increase insulin sensitivity and inhibit enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism.  It can be used both for prevention and treatment. Ginger also has protective benefits against certain common complications of diabetes, offering protection to the liver, kidneys and eyes.

2 – Healthy Circulation
Ginger is a stimulating herb that gets the blood flowing.  It contains chromium, magnesium and zinc which can help improve blood flow.  It supports circulation has also been shown to help lower high blood pressure and it has blood thinning properties and prevents clots.

3 – Anti-Viral
Ginger is a natural anti-viral agent.  It heats up the body, inducing fever, so it will help your body fight off colds and flu while you’re relieving the symptoms as well.

4 – Strengthens Immunity
Consuming a little bit ginger every day can help boost your immune system and provide a wide range of benefits –antimicrobial, antibiotic, antiparasitic, cancer-protective, tumor inhibition, and is a powerful antioxidant.

5 – Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Ginger contains some of the most potent anti-inflammatory fighting substances known and is a natural powerful painkiller. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was as effective as ibuprofen for relieving painful menstrual periods. Ginger blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds-prostaglandins and leukotrienes-and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation.  Try it for muscle pain, cramps, and arthritis pain.

6 – Memory and Cognitive Function
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process, leading to memory and cognitive decline.  Researchers studied middle-aged women who had developed some form of cognitive and gave them a daily dose of ginger.  After two months the women who had taken ginger had better test results for memory, attention and cognitive processing than women given a placebo.

How To Use Organic Ginger

  • There are many ways to enjoy ginger in your diet depending on how much you want to consume.
  • For a hot tea, steep 2 tablespoons fresh sliced ginger root in water for 15 minutes, strain, and enjoy with some lemon and your favorite sweetener.
  • In soups, add fresh grated ginger or ground ginger powder to add a little zest and zing.
  • In stir fries, add fresh grated or ground ginger to spice things up.
  • In sweets, ginger is wonderful in cookies, pumpkin or apple pies, ice cream
  • In marinades ginger gives a delightful fresh tangy flavor to your meat, fish, poultry or tofu.

What are your favorite ways to use organic ginger?

Matcha Green Tea: 7 Amazing Antioxidant Benefits

We all know that green tea is supposed to be high in antioxidants, great for weight loss, energy and vitality.  Did you know that not all green tea is created equally?  Matcha green tea is made from the nutrient-rich young leaves picked frmatcha green teaom the tips of shade-grown Camellia sinensis plants.  It is them steamed and de-vined before being stone ground into a fine powder.  Stored away from light and oxygen in order to preserve its color and nutrients, Matcha green tea is now ready to be enjoyed for its flavor and antioxidant benefits.

Why are antioxidants so beneficial?  Well, they are responsible for fighting the negative effects of free radicals that we encounter in everyday life from pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals.  These free radicals can lead to cell and DNA damage.  Antioxidants combat free radicals and have numerous health-promoting benefits like preventing cancer and other life threatening diseases as well as making us look younger, with glowing, radiant skin.  All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants but Matcha green tea has the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score – one bowl of Matcha green tea has over 5 times as many antioxidants as any other food.  So what will those antioxidants do for you?


7 Amazing Antioxidant Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

  1. Anti-Cancer
    Matcha green tea contains a specific type of antioxidants known as catechins.  Catechins are the most potent and beneficial of the antioxidants. A specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) makes up 60% of the catechins in Matcha Green Tea. Out of all the antioxidants, EGCg is the most widely recognized for its cancer fighting properties. It has been found that Matcha Green Tea contains over 100 times more EGCg than any other tea. EGCg has been found to not only inhibit an enzyme required for cancer cell growth, but also kills cancer cells with no ill effect on healthy cells.
  2. Detox
    Chlorophyll is what gives green tea its beautiful green color.  It is also a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body.  Because matcha green tea is shade-grown, it is richer in chlorophyll than other green teas, making it a superior detoxifying drink.
  3. Immune Support
    The levels of vitamins C and E in Matcha Green Tea along with the catechins, have been shown to improve immune health. Studies have even suggested that the nutrients in Matcha may have the ability to inhibit the attacks of HIV on human T-cells.
  4. Healthy Teeth & Gums
    A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that among 940 men, those who regularly consumed green tea had better periodontal health than those who did not. Researchers in the study found that for every cup of green tea participants drank per day, there was a decrease in every indicator of periodontal disease studied.
  5. Heart Healthy
    A 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming green tea beverages or extracts significantly lowered serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.  Matcha treatment significantly lowered the glucose, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels.
  6. Anti Aging
    Matcha Green Tea’s potent anti-inflammatory effects makes it an incredible boost for the skin – protecting it from UV damage and improving skin elasticity.  Regular consumption of Matcha Green Tea is one of the reasons attributed to the longevity of the Okinawan people, some of the longest living people on the planet.
  7. Weight Loss
    Studies have suggested that drinking matcha green tea regularly helps burn calories at nearly 4 times the normal rate – a great benefit as we age and our metabolism slows down. Other studies have shown that green tea helps git rid of belly fat; dieters who drank green tea lost more from the waistline than those who weren’t drinking green tea.

How Much Matcha Green Tea Should I Drink?

It only takes a small amount of matcha green tea to get its potent antioxidant benefits.  Just 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon whisked with hot (not boiling) water gives you great benefit.  Feel free to drink more; there are no negative side effects.

If you don’t like to drink tea, try matcha in these recipes:

Matcha & Avocado Popsicles
Matcha Green Tea Muffins
Matcha Crepes with Chocolate Ganache
Matcha Chia Pudding
Matcha Coconut Fudge

Do you already enjoy drinking matcha green tea? How do you like to use it?



7 Tips On Using Your Garden’s Abundance of Organic Tomatoes

My garden, at this very moment, is overflowing with organic tomatoes and its right about this time of year that I wonder how on earth I’m going to use them organic tomatoesall so that nothing goes to waste!

I love eating my Cherry and Pear tomatoes in salads and my Black Krims on sandwiches but sometimes there’s just too much to use at once and I have to break out my tricks.  Here are some of my best tips on using up all of your garden’s abundance.

7 Tips On Using Organic Tomatoes

1 – Dehydrate

Its easy to make ‘sun dried’ tomatoes in a food dehydrator.  They can be used as is once they’re dehydrated or rehydrated to add a richness to soups and sauces.  All I do is slice them in half, sprinkle a little bit of salt on them and pop them in the dehydrator.  It can take about two days of dehydrating depending on how big your tomatoes are so keep checking to see if they’re dry and once they are, store them in an airtight container. *bonus tip: I like to use a smoked salt when dehydrating cherry, grape or pear tomatoes.  Sprinkled on salads, they taste a little like bacon bits!

2 – Salsa

You can use just about any type of tomato for a salsa and it stores well in the fridge for nighttime and weekend snacking.  Click HERE for some awesome summer salsa recipes.

3 – Spaghetti Sauce

I recently had an abundance of Roma tomatoes so I decided to make homemade spaghetti sauce and it was so good I could barely believe it.  Its so simple yet so delicious.  First you’ll need to blanch your tomatoes: boil a big pot of water and fill your sink with ice water.  One by one, score the bottom of the tomato with an x and place it gently in the boiling water.  As you see the skin peel back, remove the tomatoes and place them in the ice water bath.  The skins will come right off.  Set aside your blanched and peeled tomatoes for a moment.  In a large pot, saute garlic and onion until translucent, then quarter your tomatoes and add them to the pot. Season with salt, pepper and any Italian seasonings that you like.  I like to add a bit of dried fennel and bit of crushed red pepper for a sausage-y taste.  Let this cook down for 45 minutes to an hour.  Once it is at the thickness you like, taste and adjust seasonings then either use right away or freeze for later use.

4 – Flavored Butter

This recipe for Tomato Basil Garlic Butter looks amazing and can be stored in your freezer for use all year long.

5 – Juice it

If you have a juicer or a blender you can enjoy the refreshing flavor of tomato juice.  Add a few other veggies like celery and red onion to kick up the flavor or you can add some seasonings and turn it into Bloody Mary Mix.

6 – Tomato Paste

If you really have more tomatoes than you could ever know what to do with, tomato paste is the way to go.  In the winter months I find myself buying a lot of organic tomato paste, but making use of the summer’s abundance allows me to enjoy the freshness of the season all year long.  Just use the same instructions for making spaghetti sauce, omitting the herbs and spices, and cook for another 2 1/2 hours or so until the sauce is a very thick consistency.  At this point you can freeze or can the tomato paste for use later in the year.

7 – Fried Green Tomatoes

Often at the end of the season as it is cooling down, I’m left with a whole lot of green tomatoes that I know aren’t going to ripen.  That’s fried green tomato season for me!  You don’t have to be Southern to enjoy them – and they’re not very hard to make.  Slice your green tomatoes in 1/2 inch thick slices.  In a shallow bowl make an egg bath with a beaten egg and a little milk (or buttermilk).  In another shallow bowl, add your breading.  You can use breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or a mixture of both.  Heat safflower or sunflower oil in a pan to about 375 degrees.  Dip each tomato slice in the egg bath then the batter, then fry until crisp and golden.  Transfer to a plate lined with a few paper towels to absorb the oil and enjoy!

Of course if you don’t have a garden or aren’t the happy recipient of a nearby gardener’s overabundance, you can always get that fresh flavor of organic tomatoes in a jar.

How do you like to use your garden’s abundance of organic tomatoes?


7 Health Benefits Of Black Pepper That May Surprise You!

black pepperIt’s likely that you will find black pepper on nearly every kitchen table and restaurant table in America. As popular as it is, not many people recognize the healing potential of this ever-present spice.  Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the Piperaceae family and has been used for centuries used as both a spice and a medicine.

It is the chemical piperine, present in black pepper, which causes the spiciness. Piperine is being studied for its physiological effects, which appear to be wide and varied.1   Nutritionally, one tablespoon of ground black pepper contains 13% of the daily value for vitamin K, 10% for Iron, 18% for manganese as well as trace amounts of other essential nutrients, protein and fiber.

Let’s look at some of the health benefits that you might not realize when you’re dusting your meals with salt and pepper!

7 Health Benefits of Black Pepper

1 – Weight Loss

The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells. This makes adding pepper to foods a good way to help you lose weight naturally.

2 – Skin Treatment

According to researchers in London, the piperine content of pepper can stimulate the skin to produce pigment.  This has lead to treatments for Vitiligo, a skin disease in which some areas of skin lose its typical pigmentation and turn white. Topical treatment of piperine combined with ultra violet light therapy has been used with success.2

3 – Digestive Aid

Black Pepper facilitates digestion by increasing the hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach.  It also helps to prevent the formation of intestinal gas.  Black Pepper is considered a carminative, a substance that forces gas out of the body in a healthy, downward motion, rather than pressing upward and creating uncomfortable pressure.

4 – Cough & Cold Relief

Black pepper is a natural expectorant that helps break up mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tract.  Ayurvedic preparations for respiratory ailments often include black pepper. It is also beneficial for sinusitis and nasal congestion.

5 – Healthy Arteries

Eating black pepper helps to keep your arteries clean.  In much the same way that fiber helps to reduce atherosclerosis, black pepper helps assist the body in scraping excess cholesterol from artery walls, thus reducing the chance for heart attack and stroke.

6 – Antioxidant Benefits

The antioxidants in black pepper neutralize free radicals and protect your body from many conditions.  Free radicals are the byproducts of regular cellular function that attack healthy cells and cause their DNA to mutate into cancerous cells.  By eating foods high in antioxidants you can even avoid premature aging symptoms like wrinkles, age spots, macular degeneration, and memory loss.

7 – Enhances Bioavailability of Other Nutrients

Black pepper helps in transporting the benefits of other herbs to different parts of body, maximizing the efficiency of the other health foods that we consume. That is why adding it to foods not only makes them taste delicious, but also helps make those nutrients more available and accessible to our system.  This is especially true when black pepper and turmeric are eaten together.  The black pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric by up to 2000%.

Preparation and storage tips:
Grinding pepper at home is better than buying pre-ground black pepper.  Even home-ground pepper retains its freshness for only 3 months, while whole peppercorns can keep their freshness indefinitely.  Handheld pepper mills or grinders are helpful; you can also use a mortar and pestle to grind black pepper at home. Black pepper also loses flavor and aroma through evaporation, so airtight storage helps preserve its spiciness and healing properties longer.

Adding a pinch of black pepper to every meal helps to improve both taste and digestion. It also improves your overall health and well being.

How do you like to use black pepper at your house?

Your Guide to Greywater & Compatible Cleaning Products

I’m a big Reduce-Reuse-Recycle girl, so when I found out about greywater, I was totally on board. This is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint! With the severe drought in California, many people are switching over their laundry to greywater in order to take advantage of the water saving benefits and be able to water outdoor foliage guilt-free! I’ll share the basics of greywater below in the hopes that you will see the benefits and take action as well!greywater

What is Greywater?

Greywater is water that has been gently used and is generally clean of dangerous pollutants from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces, either from the toilet or from washing diapers. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products. Most of the water we use is wasted and has not actually been used at all – just think of the water wasted while waiting for water to warm in your shower or sink.

What are the Benefits of Using Greywater?

  • Reduces potable (drinking) water use by 16 to 40 percent, depending on the house/site
  • Encourages the use of nontoxic, natural and organic products
  • Reduces the energy needed to convey water through conventional systems by providing locally- generated water
  • Connects people to water supply in their home
  • Provides drought insurance for your landscape
  • Reduces water bills

“When greywater is reused either onsite or nearby, it has the potential to reduce the demand for new water supply, reduce the energy and carbon footprint of water services, and meet a wide range of social and economic needs. In particular, the reuse of greywater can help reduce demand for more costly high-quality potable water.” Overview of Greywater Reuse: The Potential of Greywater Systems to Aid Sustainable Water Management

Are There Safe Cleaning Products to use with Greywater?

This is a great question. YES! Greywater is runoff water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs and washing machines, and because greywater might have a little dirt, food grease etc., and so it’s best to use products that have natural ingredients with no fillers and no coloring, to begin with. The best brand of cleaning products I’ve been able to find is called Oasis Biocompatible.  Oasis products are made specifically for greywater and are not only safe and natural, they will feed your plants! Oasis provides the means of the sustainable reuse of wash water for irrigation, the most eco-friendly treatment option. By recycling water and nutrients, natural waters are kept pure. Oasis is also great for septic tanks and sewer disposal as well. Here are a couple of links to a couple of their products:

Other Resources:

Everything You Need to Know About Greywater
Overview of Greywater Reuse: The Potential of Greywater Systems to Aid Sustainable Water Management”
How to Reuse Greywater
How-to Video Series: Greywater

Do you have a greywater system yet? If so, how does it work for you?

Peanut Butter & Beyond: Seven Healthy Nut & Seed Butters

By far the most popular nut butter on the planet is peanut butter.  Peanut butter peanut butteris a healthy protein and contains a good amount of fiber for healthy bowels. It also is high in potassium, which actually lowers the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. It contains healthy fats and magnesium to fortify your bones and muscles, and they also contain vitamin E and antioxidants.  Sounds great, right?  It is, but did you know how many other nut and seed butters are out there now? There are far more than the well-known peanut butter and almond butters. Though those are favorites, for sure, there are a few others that are sure to gain in popularity.  For people with nut allergies and sensitivities, this is especially exciting news. Also, having a wide variety of nut and seed butters to choose from makes baking, snacking and sandwich-making so much more fun. All that and each of these nut and seed butters has fantastic health benefits!

7 Healthy Nut & Seed Butters That Aren’t Peanut Butter

  1. Almond Butter: Just one ounce of organic almonds (about 20 to 25 almonds) can contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk. Also, almonds are a great source of magnesium and phosphorous, which are important minerals for building strong bones. Almonds are wonderful for brain health, they contain two vital brain nutrients: riboflavin and L-carnitine, which have been shown to increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Sunflower Seed Butter: Sunflower seed butter is increasing in popularity and is a perfect choice for those who are allergic or sensitive to nuts. My daughter is sensitive to peanuts, her favorite butter is sunflower. Like many nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals necessary to keep your body functioning. The water-soluble B-complex vitamins and vitamin C along with fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E are all found in sunflower seeds along with vitamin K. Sunflower seeds supply minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium.
  3. Brazil Nut Butter: This butter is not as well-known as the others, but shouldn’t be counted out. Brazil nuts are high in calories (don’t let that scare you away), and they contain good quantities of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. Its kernels, in-fact, have been staple energy sources of native Amazonians, and continue to be even today. The Brazil nut actually holds the highest natural source of selenium. Adequate selenium in the diet helps prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers. Just 1-2 nuts a day does the job!
  4. Hemp Seed Butter: Hemp seed butter is steadily rising in popularity, as a tasty and nutritious alternative to conventional butters. Hemp seed butter is lesser known than most all butters, it also has a light, nutty taste. If you prefer your butter with a subtle, non-overpowering taste, hemp seed butter is the one for you. The nutritional value of hemp seed butter also makes it a close contender against almond butter. The seeds of the cannabis plant are a rich source of amino and fatty acids, which help sustain the health of organs such as the heart. The proteins in hemp seed butter are also very digestible, which means that your body will absorb and use them better.
  5. Cashew Butter: Cashews are slightly sweet and delicate in flavor, which make them perfect for making nut butter. Cashews are high in copper which can play a role in the elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment. Just a handful or two of raw cashews a day is equivalent to one dose of Prozac for mild depression.
  6. Pumpkin Seed Butter: This butter has a richer flavor and a softer consistency than peanut butter, making it perfectly spreadable. This is another butter that can be enjoyed by people who have a nut allergy or sensitivity. It is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. It contains a good amount of the amino acid tryptophan for dealing with stress and can help to improve sleep patterns. It also contains beneficial fatty acid content, which can help with everything from reducing arthritis symptoms to improving your skin tone.
  7. Pecan Butter: The deep, complex taste of pecan butter makes this nut butter profoundly satisfying.  Pecans are rich in phytochemicals such as polyphenolic antioxidant ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds play an important role in removing toxic oxygen-free radicals, protecting your body from diseases, cancer as well as infections. Pecans also contain oleic acid, a fatty acid which has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer

Have you tried any of these nut & seed butters? If so which is your favorite? Make sure you try them all!

Organic Snacks for Kids: The Grab & Go Edition

organic snacks“Mom, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?” That might sound like an all too familiar phrase. I know for me it’s much more common in the summer time, when kids are out of school and constantly rummaging through your cupboards. I’ve found that a little preparation goes a long way in keeping healthy organic snacks within the reach of their little hands. When you are living a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy foods will take some prep-time and that’s okay. Our health and our children’s health is worth the little extra time love and effort! And once you get the hang of it, prep-time is a breeze.

I have many options for you for healthy organic snacks that you will feel good about giving your children.

Tips on Making Organic Snacks for Kids:

  • Buy a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. They are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats and protein, which all kids need for their systems to function correctly.
  • When you get home from grocery shopping, rinse and wash all your produce. This will save a little extra time when you go to use them.
  • Pre-cut your vegetables (carrots, celery, bell peppers), store then in an easy to grab container, and place it in the refrigerator where it is easy to grab.
  • Don’t buy JUNK. If you have junk in your house, your kids will search for it. If you don’t buy junk, they can’t eat junk (well at least at home).
  • Going on a trip, hike, or just going out for the day? Pre-package your snacks the night before. Use little snack size bags or containers.

27 Easy Grab & Go Ideas for Organic Snacks

  1. Celery (some options: celery with nut butter, coconut butter with raisins or another chopped dried fruit or nut)
  2. Olives (drained)
  3. Sliced bell peppers
  4. Carrot sticks (I like using rainbow carrots – purple carrots are especially delicious)
  5. Jicama sticks
  6. Strawberries (any berry that has been rinsed and dried)
  7. Ready to go organic fruits (apples, oranges, pears, grapes)
  8. Kale chips (store bought or make your own: cut the stems out of several kale leaves, sprinkle with avocado oil, sea salt, garlic powder and pepper, and bake at 275 degrees for 40 minutes, turning them halfway through)
  9. Dark Chocolate – Make sure it’s over 70% cacao (will be high in antioxidants and less sugar)
  10. Plantain Chips – One of my kids’ favorites. They taste like potato chips.
  11. Applesauce cups
  12. Pre-made muffins
  13. Granola
  14. Crackers and cheese
  15. Tuna
  16. Jerky
  17. Granola and protein bars
  18. Raw nuts (good source of protein and fat)
  19. Trail Mix
  20. Hard boiled eggs
  21. Homemade fruit popsicles
  22. Dried fruit
  23. Seaweed snacks
  24. Chia fruit squeeze packs (great source of omega-3’s)
  25. Fruit leathers
  26. Bacon (sounds funny, but premade bacon slices, nitrate free of course, are one of my kids favorite snacks)
  27. Stuffed dates (stuff with a brazil nut or other nuts and a couple of organic chocolate chips)

It also helps to have a small container of their favorite dip (guacamole, salsa, nut butter, etc.) for dipping fruits and veggies, handy as well.

Snacking can be made easy. It may take a little effort and prep, but it will be worth it. Another awesome option for some great ready to go snacks is the Greater Goodie Snack Box.  Meant for kids and adults alike, keeping a go-to box of healthy organic snacks within reach of your kids will keep them on the right track.  A perfect choice for families that are on the go, these goodie boxes come in three sizes, all with great choices!

What are your kid’s favorite organic snacks?