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Healthy Living

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!


Organic Produce: Maximize Nutrients With These Tips

Organic produce is plentiful all year round.  Local farmer’s markets, backyard gardens and your local grocery store are brimming with the vibrant colors of the finest organic produce. We’re all know that adding more veggies to each meal is beneficial, so what’s the best way to prepare organic produce so you can maximize the nutritional value?

Organic Produce From the Ground Up

organic produce

By TSgt Samuel Morse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s start from the ground up. Organic produce is grown in an organic and sustainable manner. Organic farmers use things like crop rotation and organic fertilizers to provide plants with the best nutrients possible for robust growth. Better soil, better nutrition, better produce!

Organic Produce: A Long Haul or Right Next Door?

Once produce is harvested, a number of factors impact what ends up on your plate.  Time in transit and and methods of storage, can greatly influence the nutritional quality of your produce.  The upshot is, the longer it takes between being picked and getting on your plate, the more nutrients are lost.  The best choice is finding fresh, local, organic produce and consuming it within a few days.  If finding local produce is challenging, simply eating seasonally will boost the nutrient value.  If you’re eating blueberries in the middle of winter, chances are they’ve come from very far away and will have lost most of their nutrition by the time you eat them.

Organic Produce: Fresh and Raw

Of course, your best bet for the highest nutritional value of your vibrant, fresh organic produce is to bring it home quickly and eat it soon. Think fresh salads, adding raw fruits to your breakfast cereals, veggie/grain/bean side dishes, even juicing.  Enjoying your produce when it’s at the peak of freshness will maximize nutritional value.

Organic Produce:  Freezing and Blanching

Freezing fresh fruits and vegetables that you won’t consume immediately is the best way to preserve nutrient value of your organic produce. Freeze in small containers so you can pull out just what you need each time. Removing as much air as possible will help prevent the likelihood of freezer burn. Add frozen fruits and vegetables to a morning smoothie with organic protein powder, add frozen veggies to simmering soups and stews, the possibilities are endless.

Blanching is the process of boiling fresh vegetables just long enough to stop enzymatic activity to preserve color and flavor. It can be tricky, though, because over-cooking will contribute to vitamin and nutrient loss; under-cooking will fail to stop enzymatic activity. Be sure to follow time recommendations if you choose blanching before freezing.

Organic Produce: Canning and Drying

In addition to preserving organic produce through freezing or blanching, you can try canning or drying. Canning involves preparing the fruits or vegetables using high heat and sealing the container once the contents have reached a minimum temperature. High cooking temperatures will reduce Vitamin C content, but most other nutrients will remain intact and your summer’s bounty of organic produce will last well into the following winter, spring and beyond.

Drying is a process of reducing water from fresh, organic produce. This process reduces enzyme activity and thereby decreasing the likelihood that your fruits or veggies will spoil. Because water content is reduced, remaining nutrients are more densely concentrated, so you’re boosting your nutrients per serving.

Organic Produce: Heating Things Up

Last, but certainly most common, is cooking. You can steam, microwave, boil, broil or bake fresh produce in a variety of ways. The simple rule of thumb is this: the longer you cook fresh, organic produce and the more heat you use, the more vitamins you lose. Water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C and B vitamins are primarily impacted. Steaming is better than boiling since you are not losing nutrients by soaking your veggies in water. Microwaving is preferable to boiling – again because you retain more of your water soluble vitamins. Roasting, baking and broiling vegetables can caramelize the sugars in the food, creating a nice sweet flavor on your favorite veggies. High heat for long periods of time will reduce some of the nutritional content, but the delicious roasted flavors may encourage picky eaters to chow down on more organic produce than they might otherwise.

No matter how you choose to prepare your fresh, organic produce, you’ll be packing a powerful nutritional punch. Your body will thank you.


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.

Top Ten Foods In My Plant Based Pantry

Plant-Based-PantryIt can be intimidating to stock a kitchen for plant based living, especially if you don’t have a lot of cooking experience or a health coach guiding you. One of my number one tips as a plant based living educator is this: set yourself up for success. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you can be prepared to make all kinds of amazing plant based meals – with just the addition of fresh produce – without a lot of fuss! Read on for my top ten must-have vegan pantry items.

 10 Must-have foods in my plant based pantry:

  1. Beans: Inexpensive, filling, and versatile, beans are a staple in my kitchen. I keep both dried and canned organic beans on hand, and I often cook a batch in the slow cooker on Sunday for use in various dishes throughout the week. My favorites are black beans, green split peas, and pinto beans.
  2. Lentils: Did you know that lentils are “pulses,” the edible seeds of legumes? They are good sources of fiber and protein and also contain high amounts of calcium and vitamins A and B. The most common varieties are brown, green, yellow, and red lentils. The yellow and red ones break down a lot during cooking, while the brown and green ones hold their shape. Make your choice based on your desired outcome, in terms of texture! I use the red ones for my Red Lentil Dal.
  3. Jarred or canned tomatoes: Tomatoes are an excellent base for a variety of soups, stews, and sauces. I keep a variety of them on hand, both canned and jarred tomatoes . Diced tomatoes, spiced or not, are preferred for some recipes, while whole or stewed tomatoes may be better for others. I also keep sun-dried tomatoes on hand for some recipes, as they have a depth of flavor and a richness you don’t get from regular tomatoes.
  4. Whole grains: Whole grains contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. When processed, meaning cracked, crushed, rolled, or cooked, the grains deliver the same rich balance of nutrients found in the original grain seeds. Brown rice and quinoa are my go-to grains. They are great on their own or with a little sauce/dressing, and they can be incorporated into tons of dishes, like soups, stews, vegetable stuffing, and cold salads.
  5. Nuts: Nuts are versatile in the kitchen and contain healthy fats. Cashews are probably the nut I use most often. With just two base ingredients – raw cashews and water – and whatever spices or flavoring you prefer, you can make cashew cream cheese (enjoy plain or add your preferred flavors – I add walnuts and agave nectar), cashew sour cream (add lemon juice and garlic powder), cashew creamer, and cashew milk. For the creamer and milk, I usually add a little agave nectar and a little vanilla.
  6. Seeds: My favorites are flax, chia, and sunflower. I use the first two in smoothies and breakfast dishes, and I use sunflower seeds in a variety of ways! My favorite way is to soak them and make a white sauce for pasta that is absolutely divine. You can also put them on salads, roast them with spices as a snack, or incorporate them in a stuffing – the possibilities are endless!
  7. Plant-based milks: You can find plant-based milks in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, but I prefer the aseptic (shelf-stable) packaged milks. They aren’t as perishable, of course, and they come in smaller containers! My personal favorite is hemp milk, as it tastes good and hemp is a nutritional powerhouse – packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  8. Nutritional yeast: Affectionately known as “nooch” in the veg community, this is a deactivated yeast in powder or flake form that is sold commercially as a food product. It contains folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein, and it is often fortified with vitamin B12. It has a nutty, “cheesy” flavor, so it’s an excellent substitute for dairy cheese in many recipes. I like nutritional yeast best on organic popcorn and as a pasta topping in place of parmesan.
  9. Tahini: It’s hard for me to imagine that just a few short years ago, I had never heard of tahini. Now, it’s one of my go-to ingredients for salad dressings and sauces! It’s simply ground sesame seed paste, and it is commonly used in North African, Greek, Iranian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is remarkably versatile, and it packs a ton of flavor. It’s usually my dressing base instead of oil – this Tahini Lime Dressing is my absolute favorite!
  10. Agave nectar or maple syrup: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but a lot of savory recipes need just a touch of sweetness. Agave nectar and maple syrup are my preferred sweeteners. I use one of the two in my plant-based milks when I make them from scratch. I also use one or the other in veggie chili, in some salad dressings, and in a lot of the soups and stews I enjoy.

If you stock your pantry with these staple ingredients, an easy, plant based meal is at your fingertips every day. Just add fresh produce, and the variety of dishes you can make is limited only by your imagination. Bon appetit!

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?



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?

DIY Cleaning With Essential Oils: Green Your Home

I cringe every time I think about how my mom used things like Comet, Pine-Sol Zep, and Tide when I was growing up. essential oilsBack then when I would smell those things, that meant mom was busy cleaning.  I grew up thinking that was the “clean” smell.  Now I have a totally different view of what clean is supposed to

smell like. It’s supposed to smell like the earth, a natural smell, I guess I’d say. The perfect way to make sure your living space is clean and healthy and germ-free is to use safe cleaning products that you can make yourself, using natural and inexpensive ingredients. It’s cost-effective, simple, satisfying and rewarding. Not only do essential oils help make your home smell good, many essential oils have strong antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, which make them the best defense against those pesky germs!  Time to clean out your cupboards of those toxic commercial cleaners, and replace them with better no-toxic DIY cleaning products.

DIY Essential Oils Recipes

Lemon All Purpose Cleaner Recipe



  1. In a large measuring cup or bowl combine water and vinegar.
  2. Add baking soda a little bit at a time so that the mixture doesn’t fizz up and overflow.
  3. Add drops of oil
  4. Pour mixture in spray bottle
  5. Shake


Lavender Air Freshener Recipe


Now, I used 30-40 teaspoon drops of lavender oil, because I wanted it to be slightly stronger, but you may want to test it with 20 drops first before adding more, just in case!


Spray this on anything. It is wonderful to spray on mattress (let dry for a moment) or in between the sheets.


Furniture and Stainless Steel Cleaner Recipe


  • 1 cup oil (vegetable oil, avocado oil, or olive oil)
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 8-10 drops of lemon essential oil


Add to bottle and use a few drops on clean towel to rub onto surface.


Powder Dishwasher Detergent


  • 3 cups washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 10 drops of lemon essential oil


Combine all ingredients and store in a sealed container. To use, add about 2 tablespoons to the soap compartment of your dishwasher. Drop back to 1 1/2 Tablespoons if you find spots on your dishes.


Liquid Laundry Soap Recipe


  • 1 gallon Jugs (I use old vinegar bottles)
  • 3T Borax
  • 3T Washing Soda
  • 2T dish soap (I like to use Dr. Bronners)
  • 10-20 drops of Essential oils (I always use a few drops of Tea Tree, then I mix it up with peppermint, orange, lemon or lavender oils)


Boil a pot of water and pour into jug. When it cools slightly pour in your ingredients (I use a funnel for this, makes it much easier) shake around until mixture dissolves. When the mixtures cools fill the jub with water. Use 1 cup per load.


4 Other Uses with Essential oils

  1. Add a few drops of rosemary into your shampoo/conditioner bottles. Rosemary helps stimulate the scalp and promotes circulation and hair growth.
  2. Add about 12 drops of your favorite oil to your bath to help relax. Wild Chamomile, Mellow Mix and Lavender would be great choices.
  3. Add a few drops to your favorite lotion or oil.
  4. Use in a diffuser.

What are your favorite ways to clean with essential oils?

Healthy Fats for Healthy Kids

Did you know that a low fat diet for children can cause more harm than good? Yep, low-fat diets do not meet the nutritional needs for children. Instead, they can lead to inadequate energy intake and can interrupt or compromise normal growth and development. healthy fatsWhen kids are eating a low-fat diet, they typically eat more high sugar and starchy carbohydrates, which can lead to blood sugar problems and decreased immunity. This is sad because many parents believe that good nutrition is all about low fat and low calorie instead of healthy fats and nutritionally dense foods. We need to stop this way of thinking.

Healthy fats are essential for children’s growth and development including their brains, which are made up of 60-70% fats. Good fats are also another source of energy, which kids need. If you have kids or spend time around them, you’ve probably noticed how they are always craving snacks that are sugary or sweet, that’s because sugars/sweets are fast burning sources of energy. Satisfying them with healthy fats is optimal, because they are a slow/long burning sources of energy.

For proper growth, kids need to absorb all of their nutrients (vitamins and minerals), and they can do this by eating healthy fats. If they are deficient in fats or not eating proper fats then they are not absorbing and using those fat-soluble nutrients vital for their development, especially vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are also important for their immune function, which helps them to heal more quickly.

What are the best healthy fats for kids?

Healthy Fats For Cooking*:

*Always look for the words: unrefined, cold pressed, organic, and expeller pressed.


 Healthy Fats for Dressings/Salads/Mayo/Raw*

*These oils should not be heated; only use them when you’re not cooking them.

Foods That Contain Healthy Fats

 Here are some tips to help get more fat into your children’s diet:

  • Supplement with FCLO
  • Add a few tablespoons of healthy fat of your choice in smoothies (I like to do coconut oil or coconut cream and a scoop of nut or seed butter)
  • Heavily butter their toast or muffins with coconut oil or ghee
  • Add healthy fats to their oatmeal (usually ghee or coconut oil)
  • Make homemade mayo (I like usually avocado oil for this)
  • Cook eggs in butter
  • Sauté vegetables in ghee/coconut oil

 6 Bad Fats to avoid:

  1. Trans fats! Hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats These fats are toxic and interfere with the essential roles in our body.
  2. Oils in a plastic clear bottle are already rancid from light exposure. These should be avoided.
  3. Any fat that says refined; stay away
  4. Also another tricky play on words to watch out for is Cold-Processed (they want to make you think it say’s cold pressed)
  5. Canola oil and cotton seed oils are highly processed oils and should be avoided.
  6. Soybean oil

Read my earlier blog post for more information about healthy oils (fats) we should be eating

How do you get extra healthy fats into your kids’ diet?