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For the Love of Hass

For the Love of Hass

Hass avocados on a cutting board

I LOVE avocados! Well…I love Hass avocados. I was surprised to learn that there are many different types of avocados, and I’ve only tried two: Hass and the Florida avocado.

To my further surprise, the Hass (rhymes with class) avocado is also known as Haas (rhymes with Hoss), which is what I have always called it. It was Mr. Rudolph Hass, a California postman that planted the first seed of its kind in the late 1920s. His attempts to graft it with another variety did not work out, and he was going to chop the tree down. With pleas from his family, consumers, and grocers, Mr. Hass changed his mind. In 1935 after great success with growing and sales, he obtained a patent on the Hass avocado. You can read more about it here.

The Florida avocado is easily the larger of the two and doesn’t impress me much. The texture tends to be mushy and watery, and I find them to be less flavorful. My parents loved them, and they would remove the pit and fill the hole in the center with a big ole’ scoop of mayonnaise! Ugh. It gagged me then; it gags me now.

Back to Hass. Did you know that people who eat avocados tend to be healthier? Avocados have many healthy properties and are quite the popular source of good fats, too. According to an article by Kris Gunnars, BSc, Haas seems to be the more popular variety. And they have a pretty cool nickname: alligator pear. They definitely have the shape of a pear and bumpy, rough skin just like a gator.

Did you know that avocados are fruits? They have a seed or pit, which therefore makes them a fruit and not a vegetable. This little fruit is just full of goodness! Avocados are known as superfoods because of all the nutrients they provide. Let’s take a closer look.

All varieties of avocados are nutritious and contain much the same nutrients. In addition to being a good source of healthy fat, avocados provide vitamins C, E, and B, folic acid, and have more potassium than bananas. These creamy little guys also have 7g of fiber. Awesome! Even though fiber itself is indigestible, it plays an important role in the process of digestion where it loads up the bad stuff and takes it out of the body.

By the way, here are a few little known facts about avocados: 1) as I mentioned, they are actually a fruit; 2) they may be eaten with any vegetables or fruits; and 3) they will digest at the same rate as whatever fruits and veggies they are consumed with. So if you eat an avocado with a salad that digests in about two and a half hours, the avocado will digest in that amount of time, too. When pairing an apple that digests within about an hour with an avocado, the avocado is going to digest right along with the apple. Cool, huh?

Kris goes on to point out many additional and surprising benefits of eating avocados, including lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, arthritis relief, better nutrient absorption from plant foods, weight loss, and even antioxidants that provide protection for the eyes. You can read the whole article here.

One of the most popular ways to consume avocados is, of course, guacamole. I LOVE guacamole! Let me share with you one of my preferred guac recipes! It’s great to serve with chips or crackers, but you can also smear some on your favorite veggie wrap, plop a spoonful on top of your favorite vegan chili or soup, and try it instead of sour cream on your next baked potato.

I have read that you can eat the seed of the avocado, although I have neither tried it nor do I really want to. It’s only a little less enticing to me than the thought of eating kiwi skin, but some people do that. Most of the studies have been done with rats and mice rather than humans, and while some benefits have been uncovered, the safety factor and possible health benefits remain unknown. For now, the general recommendation is to not eat the avocado pit.

You can plant it, though! It is really simple, and we did it all the time when I was growing up. We never actually planted the seeds after they sprouted and grew for a while, but they were always fun to watch, and they make a pretty little plant. HGTV gives detailed instructions with pictures here, complete with what to expect.

The skinny on avocados is pretty simple: eat them; they’re healthy! Plain, in a salad, blended into a smoothie; on top of a cake, and you can even make chocolate pudding with these little gators, and no one will be the wiser. It’s a great way to sneak healthy foods into your family meals. So go ahead and enjoy your favorite variety of avocado today. Better yet, make something delicious and share the recipe with us!(or post it here, or however we set it up.) Enjoy! 

*One important note: avocados are healthy, yes; high in fat? YES! So enjoy these guys in moderation. I try to eat half of one most every day. I’ve also got a recipe that’s real simple and doesn’t require a lot of prep time. You can check that out here.

Those 5 Cows

Those 5 Cows

Five beautiful cows

When I was growing up, you could drive just about anywhere and come across vast open fields dotted with beautiful, grazing cows, spread out for what seemed like forever. I remember my mother frequently commenting about how pretty that was. I thought so, too. The contrast of the cows against the green grass and blue sky is a striking sight, and they seemed so peaceful and happy.

As I got older, I wondered why there were so many cows just hanging out in big fields eating grass all the time. I didn’t get a very clear response when I asked my parents. I believe they might have said something like, “The farmers take care of them.” It didn’t make much sense to me, but I accepted it. I do not remember just how I found out the truth about that beautiful, serene scene, but once I did, it never again seemed pretty.

I recently completed a five-month road-trip. Getting to visit so much of America was quite interesting and often times exhaustively depressing. Starting in Florida, we went through Louisiana and up across Texas. My one previous visit to Texas years earlier was by plane. To say the least, my Texas drive was a vivid, blunt, eye-opening and disturbing experience that, unfortunately, was only a preview of what I was going to see down the road.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a very unique city, and I loved all of the adobe buildings and the city’s culture. Spending a couple of days there was great; then it was on to Colorado where I stayed for a couple of months before heading on to Washington by way of Utah, Idaho and Oregon. After a month in Washington, it was time to head back South.

Leaving Washington and heading East, there are beautiful mountains and several popular ski resorts. My favorite season is ‘snow’, and there was still some of that to see. Beyond that, the scenery drastically changed, especially just before Wyoming, then all the way to Tennessee.

Wyoming was oddly dark, kind of creepy, and extremely industrial with tall stacks from four plants pouring out tons of smoke and steam. It was gloomy with literally thousands of cows and calves grazing under huge, thick clouds of fog and haze; the mountains to my left were enshrouded in a pinkish fog that had to be toxic. I soon discovered the sign revealing that these four obnoxious, pollution-producing places were chemical plants, one of which was DuPont.

The ugliness continued, and the worst thing was that the main sights to see on this more than 400-mile drive were the poor, unsuspecting cows, dozens and dozens of feedlots, and quiet trains slowly but busily moving grain, hay, and cows off into the distance where the only visible things were tall silos and even taller smoke stacks. Where there were no cows, there were fields of freshly cut hay and a handful of low-growing dense, green plants, which I surmised to be soybeans. It looked like a dead zone. Texas was much the same minus the mountains, which really made it worse. At least mountains offer some semblance of beauty.

Wyoming typically grows hay, barley, wheat, beans, sugar beets, and corn, according to Wikipedia.Check this out. In a July 14, 2017 article, Farm Flavor proclaims that the cattle and calves Wyoming “grows” bring in $1.16 billion. BILLION! The article does not reveal how many cows and calves are slaughtered to produce that income, however; but considering what I saw, it has to be a lot. That’s just cows, and that’s justWyoming. The article gives similar details about eggs, chickens, and the other desperate, commodified animals they “grow”, and it is made to sound like a glorious thing. The horrifying part is that people actually believe it is.

The next 400 miles were no better than the previous ones, and I pretty much had expected that, considering it was Nebraska. More cows, more feedlots practically next to each other, and more of the larger buildings with silos attached to feedlots. Many more trains, some of which had multiple engines and easily more than a hundred cars, mostly cattle cars. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of this same, depressing reality that most of us have come to know as ‘meat’. Ugliness in so many forms, all being carried out seamlessly by the workers, the land, and even the cows who were doing their happy job of eating, eating, and eating.

I love to travel, and I love the country. But, as I went on, I had no desire to see more of the same and tried my best not to look anymore. Unfortunately, as I got close to the next state line, I noticed a group of maybe 50 cows gathered up near a fence, just standing there, almost pushing to get up closer. About five cows had not yet joined the group but were now running to meet them, and it made me smile. They almost looked excited, like they were anticipating something really great. Driving by, I wondered why they would just gather at the fence with no apparent motivation, and I felt kind of sorry for them, regardless of the sweetness of the scene.

Then, it occurred to me that somehow, they had been “told” to go to this spot and were probably about to be collected, removed from their delightful green pasture and freedom, and loaded onto a ‘livestock truck’ or one of the sneaky, silent trains to be carried away to destination feedlot, which would not have a happy ending. They were being tricked, and their lives were soon going to end in a very cruel and undeserved way. This scene totally broke my heart. I was completely helpless to do anything, but I so wanted to. I wondered how long their excitement might last and imagined that these poor things might, in their own way, wonder where they were going. Why were they being taken away from such a beautiful, peaceful existence to small pens with no grass or room to roam? I do not know how long cows remain at a feedlot, but I do know where they go from there. Why were they then taken to the scary, disgusting hidden buildings and made to suffer tortuous, totally inhumane death?? What did they do to deserve this??

Continuing on to Tennessee, the scene never changed. I have taken many road-trips before and passed through a lot of places, but never had I noticed the foulness that I found on this trip. I know the cows have always been there, but I do not remember the innumerable feedlots or slaughterhouses, or maybe I just didn’t realize (or want to know) what they were. Some are arrogantly displayed, and no one seems to mind or care. I drove past a “stock yard” that was almost touching the street. The pens out front were filled with gorgeous, strong cows and steers almost placed like prostitutes, beckoning to buyers. I believe that this time it was all so much more conspicuous because: 1) there are more cows being raised for food; 2) more cows means more of all of the other things; and 3) I have progressed in my vegan journey to the point where I am more cognizant of the truth, hugely due to my study of The World Peace Diet, by Dr. Will Tuttle.

After seeing the group of cows patiently and eagerly waiting beside the fence and feeling outraged at the very thought of what was going to happen to them, I remembered Dr. Tuttle had said that we need to have compassion for not just the animals, but the perpetrators also. That is not how I was seeing things, I have to say, and I’m not fully there, but passing those five cows really did a number on me. In addition to being so sad for them, it also touched a new place in my heart, and I found myself feeling just a little sorrowful for those who would be coming to pick up the cows, and the rest of the executors who would have a hand in ‘processing’ them. I have to wonder if there are ever moments when those people feel guilt or remorse, or even just a little sad or sorry. I wonder if they might somehow feel trapped in the cycle and want to get out but can’t seem to. It helps me to think that some do, and that eventually those will become the bystanders who speak out for the victims they used to torture.

While cows seem to be the biggest money-maker for the animal-ag industry, on these same roads and many others, there are chickens, goats, hens, sheep, horribly abused pigs on ‘hog’ farms, and sadly the list goes on and on. The conditions are far less than humane for the majority of these animals who are imprisoned, abused, forced to eat foods they would not ordinarily eat, and painfully impregnated against their will. It’s all tidily hidden behind trees, inside plain buildings at off-grid locations, on dairy farms, “free-range” farms, and inside of the many cartons and boxes containing their body parts. It is unspeakable cruelty, neatly packaged with pictures of happy farm animals meant to entice you, the bystander, to continue supporting the deceit and abuse by purchasing their products, and they want you to keep thinking it is all okay! Please, do not allow them to fool you and the animals any longer.

Certainly, if we are eating meat, it does not matter who is loading the gun or pulling the trigger. In one hand we hold our full fork, and our free hand is firmly planted on the smoking gun. Like it or not, that’s how it is! No gray area there. Before becoming vegan seven years ago, I knew in my heart and soul that it was wrong to eat meat. I knew it! I have always ‘loved animals’ and hated the thought of eating them, but I always had. I didn’t like shopping for meat, touching or preparing it, and always felt a sense of sorrow when chewing it. But, where was I (and my kids) going to get the nutrition that I had been brought up to believe was only obtained from animal products? What else would we eat? And…What about protein?!? Well, I found new places to shop, made a commitment to saving animals and became a vegan raw food chef. Every day it gets easier to find simple vegan recipes on the internet, as well. It’s easy and totally worth it.

By living a plant-based lifestyle, you are not only reducing your contribution to the suffering of animals and helping to improve environmental conditions, you may experience weight loss, healthier skin, better sleep and digestion, and more. Many people become vegan for these reasons alone!

I am grateful to be vegan and diligently strive to do everything I can to be a ‘good vegan’, and my reasons are solely ethical. The only real joy I can possibly know is that I am no longer a part of the problem and now am part of the solution. Nevertheless, I deeply desire to do more. Sometimes, it takes a mountain to move a mole hill, and this road-trip seems to have been that impetus for me, specifically seeing those five beautiful cows excitedly running to join their buddies in eager anticipation. I hope that I don’t ever forget them. For their sakes, I cannot imagine NOT doing whatever it takes to bring about the freedom, compassion, and the opportunity for all animals to have the lives they deserve and were meant to live. They are family and friends. Not food.

Are you vegan? If so, THANK YOU! If not, PLEASE consider making this very important lifestyle change, for the animals. You will not regret it.

What is CBD? Why Should You Care?

What is CBD? Why Should You Care?



Being raised in the 70’s brings back many, many fond memories. Those were the days of peace, love, rock-n-roll, and, well, cannabis. Lots of it! Until recently, getting caught with the plant in any form meant a good chance of a long jail term. Now, in many states, there are numerous ‘weed’ shops that you can just walk in to and LEGALLY buy cannabis in various forms, either for medical or recreational purposes. Ya gotta love that term, ‘recreational’. (more…)

Curry Powder Power

Curry Powder Power

Curry Powder Food Health
Ahhh, my favorite spice. It has the most delicious, complex flavor and amazing aroma of all spices. Little did I know just how jam-packed this tasty sensation is with numerous super beneficial elements!

Curry powder is most commonly associated with East Indian cuisine, but it is widely used in many cultures. For the longest time I thought that curry powder was just, well…curry powder! It surprised me to discover that it is a mixture of numerous spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, mustard seeds, and depending on where in the world it is made, it may contain dried red chilies, sweet basil, and red pepper. These are some of the most common ingredients, and while they each have their own health benefits, there are two that are commonly studied: turmeric and curcumin.

Turmeric

A member of the ginger family, turmeric comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant. It is responsible for the yellow color in curry powder (and yellow mustard). It has shown effectiveness in treating all sorts of ailments and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to treat inflammation and other related conditions. Turmeric has hundreds of potential side benefits, rather than the more known-to-be harmful side effects that pharmaceuticals have. When used in conjunction with turmeric, black pepper, which has its own wonderful benefits, enhances the bioavailability of turmeric.

Curcumin

Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound that is found in turmeric. An abstract published in “Anticancer Research” in January 2003 noted that extensive research during the past 50 years has indicated that curcumin can both prevent and treat cancer. Packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it is the most active component of turmeric. Studies are being conducted on curcumin on a regular basis. According to University of Washington’s integrative oncology information for clinicians, “It has become one of the most widely studied botanicals in the research on cancer. It’s safe for human consumption, and is recommended as anti-cancer therapy and to prevent cancer recurrences.” Curcumin’s anti-cancer potential comes from its ability to slow down the spread of a wide variety of tumor cells.” Isn’t nature amazing?

According to this article written by Sayer Ji of Green Med info, some of the most amazing demonstrated properties include:

Green Med info is a great health and wellness resource; I highly recommend you check them out.

Numerous supplements of both turmeric and curcumin are now available in many health-food stores and online. As with any supplement, it is advisable to check with your physician before making any additions or changes to your diet and/or medications. Any food is always best in its original, natural state with as little processing as possible.

When you have a little time, take a look through some of the references here, or just Google turmeric and curcumin for further articles and research.

Make Your Own Curry Powder

For me, measuring and mixing can be quite therapeutic. So here’s a pretty straight-forward recipe with ingredients that should be easy to find. Finding readymade curry powder in stores is usually no problem, if you prefer to go that route. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…buy organic whenever possible.

So as you can see, curry powder is packed with health benefits in addition to its scrumptious flavor and aroma, and we’ve talked about only two of the many ingredients! If you are a fan of East Indian cuisine, you are likely a curry powder fan. One of my most favorite ways to enjoy it is in soups. Lentils and curry powder – a match made in heaven.

Maybe you already make your own curry powder, or have a your own favorite go-to curry dish. If you’d like to share your recipe, send it to me and I’ll post it. Just be sure to include all of the ingredients and instructions, and a picture of the finished product too. As always, feel free to email me with comments, questions, or just to say howdy!

Sources and further info:

A site dedicated to turmeric

Dr. Michael Greger’s free site jam packed with tons of valuable info

Check out Dr. Weil’s article for information on possible drug interactions and other precautions with turmeric. http://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/curcumin-or-turmeric/

LiveStrong website with a plethora of health info.

Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter

Plant-Based Body Mind Spirit

Plant-Based Body Mind Spirit

 

I love discovering and experimenting with new foods and ingredients. I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen and trying out new recipes, especially appetizers, desserts, and fancy little hors d’oeuvres for parties and just hanging out with friends. Having a new awesome recipe is a great excuse for bringing people together, too!

I am totally tuned in to the importance of whole body health: you know ~ body, mind, and spirit and the unmistakable connection between them. Just a few years ago, people would’ve thought it crazy to imagine such a thing. Now just look at all of the books, websites, magazines, summits, webinars, courses, and the list goes on and on. How can what you think, eat and believe have anything to do with the other aspects? Seems there really is something to it.

For close to seven years, I’ve been living a plant-based lifestyle; however, most of my meals have been cooked. My immediate and long-term goals are to move to more raw, living foods: roughly 80-95%. The health benefits that come from eating uncooked, organic plant foods are numerous.

Not only are more doctors paying attention, but many even agree that just maybe there are some effective alternatives to drugs, surgery, and yes…even death in a lot of cases…and that a plant-based diet might contribute some real benefit. In fact, many doctors are making significant lifestyle changes themselves as well as recommending that their patients do the same. I see this as real progress, and it encourages me to continue on my living foods expedition. It truly is a journey – a daily one.

Don’t just take my word for it. Do your own research, and come up with your own conclusions. Here are a couple of places for you to start:

Great article by Ronna Corlin https://bit.ly/2IvVVTr

If you are a Twitter user, https://twitter.com/torrewofficial. I love this guy!

This site is one of my absolute favorites, as is Dr. Greger. www.nutritionfacts.org is awesome!

So, how about you? Where are you in your food life and health journey? Do you find certain areas in which you struggle more than others?

Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns you might have. I’m here to help! You can also post your thoughts or comments on the Facebook page.

Till next time.

“The only thing we have to fear…

“The only thing we have to fear…

“The only thing we have to fear…

…is fear itself! Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt first made this statement in his March 4, 1933 inaugural address.

Most of us are familiar with this famous quote and any of the numerous variations of it. Even though this was a political speech, there is a great deal of personal significance in what he said. And I can totally relate to it.

For much of my life, I lived in this horrible state of paralyzing fear, truly without reason or justification. I allowed the opinions of others and the things people said to me or about me to keep me from doing things that I really wanted to do and from pursuing the desires of my heart. Little things, big dreams, you name it. I withdrew from the faith I once had in myself and bought into the jealousies and personal feelings bestowed upon me that were literally intended to keep me frozen and miserable. As unfortunate as it is, there are people who put way more effort into bringing others down to their level and lower rather than doing the work necessary for their own recovery.

So how do we move through fear? While I have a few steps that I believe are most effective in conquering fear, it all comes down to this…do it anyway!

For some reason, kayaking has always intimidated me. That’s a little thing to a lot of people, but to me it was very daunting, even though I really wanted to try it. You see, I’m not a good swimmer. I never learned to tread water, and after just a few seconds of floating, my feet sink! So, while visiting my lovely daughter in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina last year, I threw caution to the wind and did it. And guess what? It didn’t kill me or even hurt me. In fact, I loved it and actually found it to be somewhat calming and quite freeing.

Here’s the thing…you’ve got two choices. Either you can stay exactly where you are, miserable and unhappy, paralyzed in the state of fear. That’s the easy, comfortable approach, even though it sucks. Or you can get really uncomfortable with being comfortable, and go out there and do it anyway. Even though you might still be afraid, when it’s all over, you’ll be amazed at how good you will feel.

Just look at how fast this year has passed by, and in case you haven’t noticed, each year goes by faster and faster. If you’re not moving forward, like it or not, you’re falling behind, and life will just keep leaving you there. There really is no standing still. Stop retreating and start advancing. It’s time to live in spite of fear!

How are you approaching fear? Have you any idea what you’re even afraid of? I’d love to hear your comments, and remember… I am here to help! If you’d like to know more about the steps I use in overcoming fear, shoot me an email.

Living in spite of fear (and encouraging you to do the same!)

Till next time