Eat Eggplants to Protect Your Brain 

Growing up, my mother never cooked or grew eggplants.  I’ve heard stories of my late grandfather growing it, which he referred to them as Garden Eggs. In my adult life, I’ve grown to love the taste.  I grow and cook them, and I even got my mother to enjoy growing and cooking with them too.  Eggplants are extremely healthy and versatile to cook with.  It is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K.  Eggplants also contains phytonutrients; such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.  The nasunin is the antioxidant responsible for providing your brain with food.

In animal studies, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform. Nasunin is located in the purple skin of the eggplant so don’t peel it.  It’s job is to search and defeat free radicals.

According to Rice University, free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like a dominoe effect. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane.  Free radicals are basically bad for you and they are everywhere.  They can break down healthy cells and multiply.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive molecules that damage living cells. These can come from everyday pollution and other common stressors, like the ones listed below:

  • Everyday air pollutants
  • Smog / UV rays
  • Up to 80% of free radical damage is caused by the sun (1). Always wear a broad spectrum SPF!
  • Lack of sleep and exercise
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Fried foods
  • Alcohol & Tobacco
  • Pesticides

Oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals running amuck.  It leads to stressed out cells that are broken down and weakened. Then, diseases like cancers, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ulcers and a boatload of other inflammatory diseases can developed.

Free radicals are also associated with aging skin.  That’s right!  Sunblock isn’t the only defense for aging.  What you feed your body/cells is extremely important too. Eating dark leafy greens and high pigmented fruits that are rich in vitamin C helps to protect your cells and support fighting off free radicals.  Don’t forget to eat up your eggplant too because it will protect your skin from aging prematurely.

Did you know?

The high purple skin pigment on eggplants is also a form of protection for the plants. Researchers at the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi. If we eat the eggplant, these antioxidants protects us. Can you name a fast food chain that can do that? I think, NOT!

Resources:  
Protective effects of dietary nasunin on paraquat-induced oxidative stress in rats.

Eggplant: Medical News Today

Growing Tomato Tips


     My heirloom Hartman’s yellow Gooseberry tomatoes are sweet, mild and very tasty.  This is my first year planting them, and I’m pleased by the results so far.  When I purchased this seedling, it was about a foot tall.  I dug a whole twice the size of the pot it came in, and covered the whole root system with compost soil mixed with the dirt I dug up. I then sprayed it with diluted liduid kelp to give the plant a little boost of nutrients to get it going.  Within one month of adequate even watering and good sunlight, the plant tripled its size.  You can eat these raw or sautéed.  Anyway, you’ll just love the taste.  The color will also brighten up any dish and will wow any crowd.  Not to mention, they’re also very easy to grow. 

Growing Tomato Tips

  1. Spacing between plants:  2-3 feet apart for room to grow. 
  2. Cutting the tomatoes from the vine with a scissors protects the plant and the fruit. Don’t tug or pull. 
  3. Fertilize with Azomite and liquid Kelp both add calcium and trace minerals.  
  4. Store tomatoes if green on the countertop, stem side up to ripen. 
  5. If you refrigerate – limit for 3-5 days, this will also effect the flavor and texture of the tomato.
  6. Stake, trellis or cage tomato plants to support and keep them from the ground. 

     Growing tomatoes in the summer is simple, plus if you don’t have a garden, growing in containers work just as fine too. You can grow beets, lettuces, carrots, cucumbers and so much more in pots on your balcony or patio. If you have the space and the sunlight, go for it.  Check this beauty out below! 

Have fun with growing fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grow your own foods. Organically of course😉

Resources: Grow Organic – Online resource for everything organically grown. 

 Tomatoe Pruning and Tomatoe Diseases 

Growing Beets in Containers – The Basics

Best Tomato Varieties For Containers

Kale-A-Bration Time! 

I’ve coined the term, Kale-a-bration because that’s how I feel when my kale plants are thriving beautifully.  There’s a celebratory feeling that comes over me every time Im in my garden.  Kale is my new go-to because it goes in practically every dish I make.  From salads, cold or hot pasta dishes, soups, green juices and can’t forget my smoothies.  My kale patch serves my family of five well, and I still have enough to share with my friends and family.   There’s nothing better than freshly picked kale. The flavors are so strong and the leaves are full of life and vigor.  Growing my own garden saves me a lot of money. What I grow serves my family through the summer and winter months. I freeze my greens, tomatoes and so much more for the winter months.  My favorite is definitely the kale plant. 

Kale is very easy to grow and extremely versatile. It also grows well into the cold winter months.  This superfood is packed with a slew of vital nutrients our bodies depend on.  Just one cup of chopped cooked kale contains 1180% of the daily requirement of vitamin K, 98% of vitamin A and 71% of vitamin C, 27% of manganese, 6% calcium, 22% copper and so much more!  There’s also a mixture of antioxidants like cartotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin – help promote eye health, protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration) and flavonoids (more than 45) which have anti-cancer properties.  It also contains 10% dietary fiber and only has 36 calories! 

The brassicas vegetables are highly nutritious for fighting cancers. It’s beneficial to eat them everyday.  The kale variety I’m growing is known by three names, Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale and Tuscan kale.  It’s one of my favorite to plant because it’s easy to grow from seed, cooks exceptionally well, and the crop loves the cold, so I’ll continue harvesting from this patch way into the winter months. I’m also growing cabbage, collards, bok chow, broccoli and cauliflower. A healthy blend of the brassica family.   My garden is grown with no pesticides or herbicides. I take careful pride in what I plant and how it’s maintained. If I have pest, I don’t spray harmful chemicals.  I rely on ladybugs 🐞 and praying mantis to eat aphids and other small pest, which usually infest my brassicas. If you’re interested in organic pest control, order from Peaceful Vally

Happy Earth Day


Today, Saturday, April 22, 2017 is Earth Day. On this day we all should embrace our environment and take time out to do something for our environment. I’m not referring to the one in a shopping mall, nail salon, or in your bed. I’m referring to Mother Nature.  Earth day is a special day too.  The founder Gaylord Nelson, who was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin got the idea after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  That catastrophe brought out many people, mostly students who supported the anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that same energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator.  Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.  April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected for Earth Day. 

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.  This is the day we honor our land, sea, and climate. Doing nothing is worst.  Look at Earth Day like any other special day like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and even Christmas.  We honor our love ones by doing something special for them. Well, on Earth Day do something special for the earth.  Here are some great ideas:

  • Take action and donate
  • Plant wildflowers
  • Start a organic vegetable garden
  • Ways to Conserve water 
  • Recycle ♻️ Zero Waste Programs
  • This is my favorite: Eat Less Meat: The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Help make a difference by limiting your meat consumption.

Take action and let’s Celebrate Earth Day!


Resources:

Care2.com: For Earth Day: RESIST Trump’s Offshore Oil Drilling Agenda petitions

The Old Farmers Almanac Earth Day 

Earthday.org:  This year’s campaign is all about environmental & climate literacy.

 

Chia Seeds: Plant-based Obsession 

     Add Chia Seeds to your smoothies for a healthy alternative for protein. Chia seeds are easy and versatile in diets. You can bake them in muffins, breads, make pudding, and add them to your drinks.  According to the National Nutrition Database for Standard Reference, 100 grams of chia seeds contain 16 grams of protein, 30 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 34 grams of dietary fiber, 630 mg of calcium, 7 mg of iron, 335 mg of magnesium, 860 mg of phosphorus, 407 mg of potassium, 16 mg of sodium and 4 mg of zinc. Chia seeds also have vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin E. Chia seeds also have no cholesterol!  They’re super easy to store and inexpensive. A ten ounce bag can cost you less than ten dollars, and it’ll last you a month.  

How do you enjoy your chia seeds and why do you incorporate them into your diet?

     For me, I’m dairy-free so the plant-based calcium benefits are extremely beneficial for my body. Calcium is needed for healthy bones. The good thing about it, I have healthier alternatives. Cutting dairy out was hard for me since I’ve grown up eating every dairy option to mankind. Now as an adult, it had to go.  After some tests and self observations, I realized dairy was the demise to my body’s existence. I was plagued with severe eczema, constipation, acne and a weakened immune system. Once I stopped, things moved along smoother, my skin cleared, and even the mucus significantly reduced in my body.  I wake up now in the mornings without that yellow mucus in my eyes, and my throat isn’t corroded with slimy gook.  I feel much lighter, and my immune is much stronger. I recover better from colds which I rarely get.  

Isn’t that awesome!  

     An article by Thomas Campbell, MD points out the importance of getting calcium from plant-based sources without dairy in your diet. Dairy causes a lot of problems. Find out what those are here.  I’ll stick to my plant-base options. Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds yields 18% per serving of calcium. It’s the perfect addition to my smoothies along with spinach and kale which also have calcium. There are so many plant-based options for calcium. Explore them and be healthy! 
Resources:

Why Consume More Plants? 

Why Can Too Much Protein be a Protein?

What Gets You Through the Mornings?

For me, I rely on my fresh green juices. Fresh juice from raw foods like spinach, carrots, kale, and collards green are the easiest sources and most effective way to get your greens in your diet. It’s also providing me with high quality nutritional vitamins and minerals. Plus, a boost of energy. You would be surprised by how a cup of fresh green juice can boosts your energy.  Most people start their day off with coffee and honestly, a cup a day won’t hurt. According to a recent study on coffee consumption, healthy people who consumed 4 cups or more a day is associated with a lower risk of death.  I think that’s excessive, even for healthy people. I’m healthy and I can’t manage to even finish one cup. I can’t imagine four cups a day.   If you are a lover of coffee, don’t skip it just add a green juice or two to your daily routine. The greener the veggies, the better.  The green pigment in plants is the chlorophyll, and that’s what detoxifies our blood.  The very best sources of chlorophyll found on the planet are dark green vegetables and algae. Chlorophyll is the cellular organelle that allows for organisms to produce their own food through photosynthesis. All plants and several different types of microorganisms go through photosynthesis. Algae includes several different types of photosynthetic microorganisms, and there are several different types of chlorophyll present in algae.  These chlorophyll supports our cells by revitalizing and restoring them.

In my cup I have spinach, kale, green apple, lemon (without the skin), ginger and celery.  With these simple ingredients you’ll definitely get your energy levels up. The options are endless when it comes to fresh juices.  My philosophy is simple, eat lots of whole plants no matter how you choose to do it, just get the rainbow of colors in your diet. I’m a big lover of salads, smoothies, vegan dishes and fresh juices. Substitute one of your typical meals for a large bowl of salad and add a fresh juice to that also. This way you’ll make your quota for the day.

Fresh Juice Recipes – just a handful of each green plant is needed. 

Classic – kale, Swiss chard, Juice Recipe  spinach, celery, apple, lemon, ginger

Sweet – kale, spinach, pineapple, mint, half of jalapeño

Orange delight – carrots, granny smith apple

Vitamin C Boost– gradefruit, orange, lemon, ginger and dash of cayenne pepper

Article:  

Why Consume More Plants? 

Types of Chlorophyll Present in Algae

Coffee Study: Higher coffee consumption associated with lower risk of early death

Detox Green

New Guidelines: Early Exposure to Peanuts May Decrease Allergies 


     A new study published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, suggest giving infants peanut power within the first 6 months of their lives.  This early exposure can possibly prevent peanut allergy through introduction of peanut-containing foods beginning in infancy.  Recorded data from 1999, peanut allergy was estimated to affect 0.4% of children and 0.7% of adults in the United States, and by 2010, peanut allergy prevalence had increased to approximately 2% among children in a national survey, with similar results reported in a regional cohort. 

     Peanut allergy is the leading cause of death related to food-induced anaphylaxis in the United States, and although overall mortality is low, the fear of life-threatening anaphylactic reactions contributes significantly to the medical and psychosocial burden of this disease.  Many families who have a love one with a peanut allergy knows this onus personally.  Simple family activities can be stressful, like eating out at a restaurant or going to a friends birthday party. As a parent you have to be extra careful at home and more importantly, in public.  I’m so blessed none of my three children have food allergies. I know many families that endure a lot of heartache dealing with children with serious food allergies, and it can be extremely daunting. 

To continue reading more about this study click here. 

Resources:  Addendum guidelines for the prevention of peanut allergy in the United States: Report of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases–sponsored expert panel

Peanut Allergy Overview 

Green Smoothie 

I woke up this morning feeling for an easy breakfast. I didn’t have the desire to cook. The kids are on their own for breakfast today. With two teenagers, they can fend for themselves in the kitchen and their little sister can eat whatever they cook. It’s just one of those days. I started my morning with a big mug of green tea with lemon and finished it off with a simple organic green smoothie for breakfast. I just used what was on hand. Luckily for me, I had some fresh organic spinach. 


Simple Recipe 
2 Ripe organic bananas

Hefty handful of organic spinach 

2 Cups of organic almond milk 

1 Tablespoon of organic chia seeds 

1 Cup of ice

1 Tablespoon of organic wheatgrass powder

The wheatgrass powder adds more vital nutrients to the smoothie making it a powerful energy booster.  The chlorophyll in the wheatgrass supports detoxification of the body. Apart from the detoxification, it also ensures that there is an increased amount of oxygen sent to every cell.


I like to add chia to my smoothies. This ensures I’m getting more fiber, Omega 3 & 6’s, and healthy protein in my diet.  These are simple additions you can infuse your juices or smoothies with to boost up your vitamin intake. 
Enjoy! 

My Fibrous Fig Tree

Capelas variety

     My fig tree blessed me with a bountiful harvest this year. I’ve always wanted a fig tree in my yard.  Once my husband and I closed on our first home, that same week I had my mini-potted fig tree planted in my back yard.  The first summer it didn’t produce much, but this year, it quadrupled in size and bared the sweetest fruits.  Fresh figs are extremely delicious to eat and very full of fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods have great advantages for losing weight and even reducing your breast cancer risk.  I came across a study done on postmenopausal women.  The results of a prospective study involving 51,823 women for an average of 8.3 years showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk for those consuming the most fruit-fiber compared to those consuming the least. 

     In addition, in the subgroup of women who had ever used hormone replacement, those consuming the most fiber, especially cereal fiber, had a 50% reduction in their risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming the least. Fruits richest in fiber include apples, dates, figs, pears and prunes. When choosing a high fiber cereal, look for whole grain cereals as they supply the most bran (a mere 1/3rd cup of bran contains about 14 grams of fiber). Adding these fiber-rich fruits to your cereals will boost your fiber intake. 

Resources: Study – Dietary fiber intake and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer defined by estrogen and progesterone receptor status–a prospective cohort study among Swedish women.

Homeopathic Cough Remedy with Raw Honey

     My grandmother on my paternal side taugh me this homemade remedy for coughs and sore throats. Since the weather has changed here in New York, one of my kids already caught a sore throat. ‘Tis the season of battling sicknesses, so what’s the best remedy for treating a sore throat? It’s Honey!  I actually remember the first time my grandmother whipped this honey concoction up for me. I had a sore throat with a dry cough, and I was constantly gargling with salt water. I must have been between eleven or twelve years old. She said, I was irritating my throat even more and that I needed something to soothe it.  We went into the kitchen and she chopped up onions and covered it with raw honey in a glass. It sat for one hour before I had a table spoon full.  

     Surprisingly, it tasted good and within a few minutes my throat felt less irritated and after about ten minute my cough was lesser.  The taste of the onions was pronounced but the honey makes up for it.  My twist on my granny’s recipe is adding garlic. I make this every year around the fall and throughout the winter months. I give it to all my children from the youngest of six years to the eldest, who is fifteen.  It is a very simple and effective remedy, and it works for us, and it may even work for you.  
Recipe 

  • 2 Medium Onions
  • Raw honey
  • Half head of garlic (5 gloves) 

Directions

     Peel and slice the onions evenly. Peel and cut each garlic in half.  Place everything in your jar (I purchased mines from IKEA). Pour the raw honey over everything until majority of contents are covered. Cover lid and let it sit on your counter overnight for 6-8 hours. I like to give it a little stir after the times up.  I give 1 table spoonful which is equivalent to 2 teaspoons to my children. Depends on the severity of the situation, a child may get 2 spoonful an hour.  Overtime, I store on the counter or even in the fridge. You could always add more ingredients overtime if you’re running low. The onions will eventually breakdown. I usually eat them when I take a spoonful. The hardest part is to get the kids to eat it. 

     I highly recommend using raw honey for this recipe because store bought honey sometimes have additives like high fructose corn syrup. Please read your labels!  These three natural ingredients have the capability to fight colds, coughs, allergies, sore throats and even boost your bodies immunity.  Honey is truly an amazing substance.  It is a natural sweetener and it encompasses an intricate chemical composition of carbohydrates, free amino acids, vitamins, trace elements and flavonoids/antioxidants. Not to forget anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.  Studies of the antimicrobial effect of honey have demonstrated its broad-spectrum antimicrobial actions against upper-respiratory tract infections.  Honey has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of coughs for a very long time (1).  Research shows honey works as well as dextromethorphan, which is a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications to soothe cough(2).  This home remedy, works better according to the study.   Honey naturally soothes. 

     The antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic controls infection from bacterias and viruses.  Onions and garlic are members of the Allium family, and both are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects.  Onions antioxidant rich flavonoids provides us with the benefits to keep chronic unwanted inflammation under control (3). The use of honey is also prohibited under the age of one due to poor immunity against Clostridium Botulinum, a potential contaminant (4).  Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the Journal of Nutrition that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as “the father of Western medicine”, prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses.  Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue. It’s great for flavoring your food and to treat illnesses. 



Resources: 

(1) Study: Bactericidal activity of different types of honey against clinical and environmental isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

(2) Study: Honey for Treatment of Cough in Children

(3) Study: Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of quercetin oxidation products from yellow onion (Allium cepa) skin.

(4) Study: Incidence of Clostridium botulinum in honey of various origins.

WARNINGS ⚠️ 

Homey is NOT for children under one years old. My mission is to extend the knowledge of healthly eating through this blog. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.