It’s That Time Again: Farmer’s Market Season is Here!

Today I received one of my favorite e-mail messages: Local Organic Strawberries are here.  If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting these treasures right off the vines, you are missing one of nature’s most perfect culinary creations. Yes, you can buy organic strawberries in the grocery store. They’re fine…in a pinch.  But, if you can find local organic berries, walk, run, drive, fly to get them.  The season is short, so don’t wait.

 

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Now that even most urban areas have community gardens, the opportunities to “eat local” are better than ever. There are approximately 8,700 farmer’s markets nationwide. To find a market in your area visit: http://www.localharvest.org

If you’d like to try planting your own organic strawberries from starter seeds or kits:

Strawberries

 

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Celebrate National Pistachio Day.

Today is NATIONAL PISTACHIO DAY. Why not snack on a handful while you learn a bit about this amazing nut.   The following information was provided by:  http://www.foodreference.com/html/a-pistachios-208a.html

A Brief History of Pistachios

Pistachio Nuts are native to the Middle East. Archeological evidence in Turkey suggests that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C. Pistachios spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, quickly becoming a treasured delicacy among royalty, travelers and common folk alike.

pistachios

The pistachio has been used as a dyeing agent and a folk remedy for ailments ranging from toothaches to sclerosis of the liver. The pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life made it perfect for travel among early explorers and traders. Along with almonds, pistachios were frequently carried by travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.

Pistachios in the U.S.

Originally imported in the 1880s for Americans of Middle Eastern descent, pistachios were first introduced to the rest of America as a snack food some 50 years later. Sold in vending machines across the United States, these imported nuts were usually dyed red to mask imperfections and to draw attention from passersby.

Pistachio trees were planted experimentally in California beginning in the early 1930s.  By the 1960s, commercial cultivation of pistachios had expanded across California’s arid Central Valley. Today, California is the second largest producer of pistachios worldwide, boasting more than 100,000 acres of pistachio orchards and producing in excess of 300 million pounds of pistachios a year, with California accounting for about 98 percent of domestic production.

pistachio trees

One ounce – a handful – of pistachios provide lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and 12% of the daily fiber needed by healthy adults. There are lots of ways to enjoy them: as a snack right out of the bag, sprinkled onto a salad for extra crunch, in ice cream, in pudding, in muffins and cakes.  PISTACHIOS are one of Nature’s perfect foods in a nifty package.

Here are some popular books for children that feature this amazing nut:

The Pistachio Prescription  by Paula Danziger   

The Pistachio Prescription

The Adventure of Pistachio Mustachio Paperback – Large Print, July 19, 2016

What’s your favorite way to eat PISTACHIOS?

For additional information visit – pistachiohealth.com

Boost Your Brain 2.

On January 20th I mentioned several ways yo can improve your brain function.  Here are several more.

  1. Get a good night’s SLEEP: Good sleep is the best thing you can do for your brain long term says Henry Emmons, MD author of STAYING SHARP (Touchstone).  Be sure your children get enough rest as well.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for ages 18-64 and 7-8 hours for ages 65 and up.  Children need at least 7-9 hours of sleep as well.
  2. Surf…the Internet: Searching for information on the web improves neural circuitry.
  3. Hang out with Friends and Family.  Social connections improve brain health.
  4. Get lots of B Vitamins: B vitamins lower homocysteine – an amino acid linked to dementia.  You can find B vitamins in whole grain breads, pasta, cereals and rice.  It’s also found in poultry, leafy greens, papayas, beans, oranges and cantaloupe.  MAKE A SALAD WITH MIXED GREENS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, CHICK PEAS OR OTHER BEANS, ORANGE SLICES AND DICED CHICKEN for a vitamin B packed meal.
  5. Be OPTIMISTIC: Positive thinking activates your brains ability to adapt and change.

Boost Your Brain – Part 1

Want you and your family to have healthier, sharper, and better-functioning brains?  It is easier than you might think.  There is a lot you can do to improve brain health by following some science-based tips.  I am posting several today and will have more at the end of the month.

  1. Learning a foreign language helps your brain process information better and focus more sharply.  Try Apple’s  iPhone app Duolingo to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish or several other languages.
  2. If you want to remember items from a list or details from notes, write them in RED.  Studies have shown that the color red “fixes” itself on our memory better than other colors.
  3. To improve attention and concentration, TRY PING PONG.
  4. To help recall details of an event, CLOSE YOUR EYES.  When visual distractions are removed, your brain focuses more efficiently.
  5. Eat fish and avocados. Both improve brain function by reducing inflammation.  A handful of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts also help improve cognition.
  6. Try new things and see new sights.  New experiences give the brain exercise like a new muscle.
  7. Coloring eases stress and puts your brain in meditation mode.  Any activity that calms the body, restores the brain.  There are numerous coloring books for kids and adults of all ages.
  8. GET UP AND MOVE! Aerobic exercise actually increases the size of your hippocampus – the part of the brain involved in learning and remembering.  Put on a record and dance, take a Zumba class, go jogging, or jump on a trampoline.  It’s all good for the brain.
  9. Do something with your non-dominate hand. Brushing teeth, writing your name, unscrewing the lid of a jar.  By using your “other” hand, you challenge the brain to perform the activity and fire new synapses while doing it.

 

 

Keeping Winter Bugs at Bay.

Now that the holiday season is over, many of us tend to hibernate or stay close to home during the coldest months of winter.  So do the germs that cause colds and flu.  With a few simple steps, you can protect yourself against these infections.

Contrary to popular belief, YOU CANNOT CATCH A COLD OR FLU FROM BEING OUTDOORS IN THE COLD WEATHER.  While you may get chilled or overheated, it is GERMS that cause these conditions.  Because we spend more time indoors in winter, so do the bugs that plague us.  Here are ways to AVOID a bad cold:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with SOAP AND WATER.  Soap and water is just as effective as anti-bacteria cleaners.  And, you don’t run the risk of creating super-bugs from overuse of antibiotics.   How long should you wash?  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 20 seconds of hand washing – the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Wipe down remotes, phones, laptops, mouses, doorknobs, and anything else sick people at home may touch.
  4. Avoid sharing cups and glasses with those who are sick and be sure to properly wash these items after use.
  5. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, rather than your hand.  Avoid shaking hands with those who are sick as well.
  6. Stay home if you are not feeling well.  Work will always be there, but if you get run down, you could compromise your immunity and ability to fight off infection.
  7. EXERCISE helps prevent colds and flu when practiced in moderation.  Walking, biking, ice skating and moderate aerobic activity help boost immunity. Turn on some music and dance…great fun AND exercise for all ages.
  8. Studies have shown that ELDERBERRY SYRUP EXTRACT can be taken daily to prevent colds and flu, and to reduce symptoms of you are already infected.  ZINC and VITAMIN C serve a similar purpose.  (Note: Check with your doctor before taking any supplements).
  9. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables often.  These vitamin-rich foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties that keep our immune systems functioning properly.

Enjoy a happy, healthy New Year! 

Festive Summer Fruit Salads.

With the abundance and variety of fresh fruits available this time of year, there’s no need to cook to have a nutritious and satisfying side dish for lunch or dinner.   Make a FRUIT SALAD.  It’s a perfect dish to bring to a picnic or pot luck meal.   There are so many ways you can combine fruits to make a delicious treat. 

Here are TWO I’ve had recently.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Add some cinnamon or a dash of vanilla extract.  Sprinkle on some slivered or sliced almonds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds.  As long as the fruit is fresh, it ALL TASTES GREAT!  Added Bonus:  The variety of bright colors provides a large helping of essential vitamins, and has HUGE antioxidant benefits. 

Fruit Salad with apricots, kiwi, cherries, green grapes, and blueberries.

Fruit Salad with apricots, kiwi, cherries, green grapes, and blueberries.

Fruits Salad with Cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries and coconut.

Fruits Salad with Cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries and coconut.

 

What are your favorite fruit salad combinations?

May your Fourth of July be fruit-full!

Kill Germs The Healthy Way.

There has been a lot of articles in the news recently about “super bugs” and how the over use of antibiotics has caused many kinds of bacteria to be resistant to traditional medications.  WE OVERUSE ANTIBIOTICS when they really aren’t necessary.  In addition to antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections, we often use them for viral infections where they have no benefits other than to kill off the good bugs in our intestinal tract.  We can also  find antibiotics in meat and poultry, and in hand sanitizers, soaps and cleaners.  When we overuse them in these ways, not only do they kill off beneficial bacteria we need to digest food, they also create an overgrowth of “bad bugs”.

We don’t need to use antibacterial cleaners to get rid of germs.  Washing with regular soap and water will kill 99.9% of all germs.  So, instead of buying expensive anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, why not make your own?

MIX pure aloe vera gel with tea tree oil, or oil of lavender or myrrh – nature’s way of fighting bad bugs without destroying good one. Store in a container or pump bottle and use as needed.

For more recipes and DIY remedies, visit: http://www.draxe.com