Curly Hair Don’t Care

Giving myself another check over before I hit the NYC pavements. Hairs kinda wet, curly, and a little messy. Don’t care at this point. Just finished two back-to-back classes at Equinox. I must have burnt over 900 calories. I’m tired, hungry, freshly showered, and definitely beat! Right now I’m walking down LEXINGTON Ave getting ready to catch the number 4 train straight to Brooklyn. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the hubby to scoop me at the train station. I’m also thinking about my plant-based protein dinner I need to fix before I hit the sacks. Lentil or black bean burger? No bread of course!

I hear the 6 train coming….

Healthy Eating Equals a Healthy Life!

Pickled Hot Peppers

Pickling hot peppers is an island delight for Jamaicans. I’ve watched my mother preserve her peppers this way for decades, and now it has become one of my favorite things to do with my homegrown hot peppers.  This is also a wonderful way to preserve your hot peppers.  You can use any type of hot pepper or vegetables to add to your jars.  My mom loves to put carrots in hers. I’ve done it before in the past and it comes out just as great.  For this recipe, I’m keeping it simple.  I had a lot of peppers to start with so these 4 jars is equivalent to 4 pints/16 oz. You can also modify this recipe by decreasing the vinegar to 2 cups per jar. 

Ingredients 

  • 4 Large onions sliced
  • 4 Green bell peppers 
  • 8 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 4 Ghost peppers
  • 24 Habanero peppers 
  • 4 Tbsp Dried Pimento seeds (whole allspice)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar 
  • 8 Cups White Vinegar 

Cooking tip: Wear protective gloves and goggles (optional). When done, wash all tools and surface with cold water and soap. 

Instructions

  1. Sterilize the mason jars in a large pot with boiling water for 30 minutes. 
  2. While your jars are boiling slice your onions and peppers into desired shapes. Leave the seeds. 
  3. Remove jars with a tong and set aside to cool. 
  4. After about 10 minutes, layer the vegetables, peppers, and pimento seed in the jars. 
  5. Warm the vinegar and sugar in a pot on the stove.  Do not bring to a boil. 
  6. Pour warm vinegar into jars and set aside to cool.  
  7. Tighten carefully with the lids. 

You do not have to refrigerate your jars.  I know some people who do.  It’s optional. These jars are beautiful to give away as gifts. Just add a ribbon to make them even more special.  

Enjoy! 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

     When August and September rolls around and you have a sea of freshly picked tomatoes, there’s only one thing I could think of, pasta sauce. After I’ve shared and eaten and picked, it’s time to preserve for the winter. As if I live in the wilderness. I don’t obviously, but it’s cost effective to preserve for later uses.  My tomatoes were at its ripest and that’s what you want. The reddest, sweetest and densest tomatoes. 


INGREDIENTS

  • 10 pounds fresh tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 basil springs 
  • 3 bay leaf

PREPARATION

Step 1:  Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze out the seeds and discard, if you wish. Press the cut side of tomato against the large holes of a box grater and grate tomato flesh into a bowl. Discard skins. You should have about 8-9 cups.

Step 2:  Put tomato pulp in a low wide saucepan over high heat. Add salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer.

Step 3:  Reduce the sauce by almost half, stirring occasionally, to produce about 4 1/2 cups medium-thick sauce, 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. It will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or may be frozen.

I freeze mines. Let it cool completely and insert desired amount in ziplock freezer bags. I like the quart sizes. Enjoy!!

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