Using Wild Greens: Purslane, Lamb’s Quarters, and Plantain Weed

A beautiful part of summer is being able to explore outside and observe all the plants and flowers, which seem to be radiating a sparkling warmth. I’ve always loved incorporating edible wild plants, flowers and herbs in my diet, especially wild greens. These greens I used recently are very common ‘weeds’ that you can find pretty easily.

One of my favorites is purslane. It is a succulent, similar to spinach in taste and nutritional value, and is an unknown superfood. It has one of the highest omega 3 content of all plants, and has abundant antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Try mixing it in salads, or blending it into soups and smoothies, as I often do.

Other favorites of mine include Lamb’s Quarters and Plantain Weed, which both have simple tastes and are easy to blend in various dishes. They have respectable amounts of vitamins A and C and antioxidants, as most greens do. They are definitely a great staple to add to your diet if you have the time to find them.

One thing thats great about using wild edible plants is that, if you get it from an area that is free of pesticides and fertilizer, they are as natural as you can get, just as nature intended. Plus, they are FREE! It really is a win, win. Try to make some time to find edible wild plants, as they are a great way to enhance your diet and lifestyle! Just make sure you are careful and familiarize yourself with the plants you wish to find. Do research, look at photos, watch videos on YouTube, and do whatever you have to do to make sure you are 100% sure you are picking the right plants! Be safe!

For this recent recipe, I blended the 3 greens with water, chickpeas, olive oil, fresh garlic, and herbs that i grow in my back yard including fresh basil, mint, oregano and parsley. I had originally planned on making a version of hummus, but it came out as soupier texture, so I decided to consume it like I would a soup. It was absolutely delicious! I would have liked to have some brown rice cakes with it or something, but I didn’t at the time. Try this or a similar recipe and see what works for you!

Vegan/GF Recipe: Sweet Potato/Peanut Butter/Cinnamon/Raisin Spice Medley

This is definitely one of those “don’t knock it till’ you try it” type of dishes. A lot of people who have seen me make this get turned off by it, saying its ‘weird’ and funny-looking. Despite the fact that to some it may look unappetizing (appearing like baby-food), it is actually extremely delicious and one of my favorite mixes to make. Its very simple and versatile also, so you could swap ingredients and could serve it as a dessert, breakfast, or anytime snack.

Basically, you need cooked sweet potatoes (try to have them soft so it will be easier to mix), some natural peanut butter or almond butter (or any type of nut butter really depending on your taste preferences), cinnamon, and any other sweet spices (nutmeg, caromoden), and raisins. Shredded coconut and banana also goes deliciously with this.

Mash the cooked sweet potatoes first into a soft mush, then add nut butter (the ratio is really all about how much you want, but 2 tbs per sweet potato is usually sufficient), then mix in cinnamon/spices and raisins. When you mix them all together it will thicken, and its easiest to eat with a spoon. You can also make this mix into balls and freeze them to make a ‘nut-ball recipe’, or add it on top of rice-cakes, or gluten-free bread.

Viola! Its one of my favorite things to eat when I have all the ingredients. Its satisfying, vegan and gluten-free, nutritionally-dense (great source of fiber, vitamin A, iron, protein, magnesium, and B-vitamins), and balances your blood sugar. Try it and see for yourself!

Oh, and here’s a shout-out to all the mommas in the world! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Earth Day Celebration

This past Sunday, April 22nd, was Earth Day – an annual tradition that has been going on since 1970. Its a chance for people to organize protests, petitions, and increase the awareness for humanity to get more control in taking care of the environment.

On friday, April 20th, (4/20 as many people know it), I went to Stony Brook University’s annual ‘Earthstock’ festival. Its a great day of live music, vendors, ‘green’ organizations and companies, fun events, art and dancing that gathers a large crowd of both students, faculty, and the outside community that is free to attend. Since my mom works at Stony Brook, I went to work with her that day, to not only attend the festival but also talk to multiple advisors about transferring for this upcoming fall semester. I may have touched base with this before, but I have been wanting to transfer to Stony Brook for quite some time. I have been accepted as a fall 2012 transfer, so it is 80% likely I will be attending there, which I am absolutely thrilled about.

Anyways, it was a fun-filled day with positive vibes and buoyant energy. I took a lot of pictures, trying to capture the festive atmosphere. I even planted a little pot filled with cilantro seeds which I can’t wait for to grow. It made me realize that despite the world having so many problems, there are A LOT of people who actually care and want to help protect our Earth, and these people are beautiful people.

To add a few last words, I just wanted everyone to realize that everyday should be Earth day, so do what you can each day, whatever it may be, to make the world a better place. 

Quality Control: Organic Vs. Non-organic & The Safest and Most Dangerous Foods to Consume

Put it this way, my motto is, whenever you can opt for organic food, definitely do (ESPECIALLY VEGETABLES AND FRUITS), as it is grown and produced in healthier soil, contains more nutrients, and is produced without pesticides, chemicals, additives and GMO’s. Organic food, compared to conventional food, is just overall higher quality and is better for your body. However, it usually does cost a bit more, which is why many people tend to hesitate to spend the extra money. If you are trying to watch your budget but still worry about consuming safe produce, there are a variety of fruits and vegetables that you can buy non-organic that have very low pesticide loads, despite the fact that they are conventionally-grown. Many of them are obvious (such as bananas, kiwis, pineapple and avocados) because they have peels or tough outside layers that protect them.

The SAFEST produce you can buy include banana, kiwi, avocado, cabbage, broccoli, sweet peas (frozen), mango, pineapple, asparagus, eggplant, ginger (root), coconuts, and onion.

Other safe foods you can buy if they are not organic include BEANS (dry and canned – but make sure there are no preservatives added), NUTS, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, WILD-CAUGHT FISH (there is no such thing as organic fish, and if any company tries selling you fish that claims to be organic, it is a scam. Just buy WILD CAUGHT and avoid farm-raised fish), and RAW HONEY (raw and organic is great, but raw local honey is a good choice too), SPICES/SEA SALT (for the most part, non-organic is fine).

DANGEROUS FOODS

Foods that are the most dangerous are ones that contain the most pesticides, chemicals and additives, and are mass-produced or conventionally grown.

The most DANGEROUS produce to consume include grapes, sweet bell peppers, apples, peaches, celery, nectarines, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, lettuce (especially ROMAINE), pears, spinach and potatoes. You ever bite into a non-organic soft grape and it tastes like chemicals? (I have at least). It is HIGHLY recommended that when you buy these foods, you buy them organic.

Other foods you should buy organic include ALL DAIRY PRODUCTS (non-organic dairy is filled with pesticides, growth-hormones, puss, and chemicals), POULTRY/MEAT/EGGS (Organic/free-range meat and poultry have standards that conventional meat do not. They must be fed feed that is grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or meat-by-products and also have access to outdoors/walking around. Along with organic though, make sure it is FREE-RANGE. When you buy beef, buy GRASS-FED, which means higher omega-3 and nutrients), SOY PRODUCTS (again, aim for fermented soy only, but if you buy standardized or processed soy products, make sure it is organic), COFFEE/TEAS (often produced in hazardous fertilizers and chemicals), BABY FOOD (Obviously, you should be giving your baby the purest food possible, as toxins and chemicals can buildup much quicker in a child’s system rather than an adult, whose body has had more exposure and tolerance towards foods.)

The information about buying produce (fruits and vegetables) is based on the research done by The Environmental Working Group, (a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health). They have produced a revealing study called Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce which is is based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests.

To learn more about organic and non-organic, check out these links:

Dr. Mercola’s Articles on Organic

TLC: Foods You Should Buy Organic

Environmental Working Group 

Long Island Bliss and Peaceful Living With No Roommate

Good vibes and good fortune has been permeating into the wavelengths of my life.

For one, my roommate was kicked out of the dorm building. Her withdrawal from the building had nothing to do between us, she just got in trouble by herself. After she began moving her things out, I went home for the weekend and had a nice escape from the daily grind. Then, just as soon as I began enjoying the luxury of having my own living space, when I arrived back to Purchase, I found out that she was kicked out of school. As much as I feel sorry for her, I think it was for the best. She needs time back at her home to stabilize herself and work through her problems and personal drama.

Back at home on Long Island, I spent most of my time with my dog Cooper, as usual. Took some nice long walks, went to the dog park, and we went to one of my favorite trails, the Welds Sanctuary, which leads down to the beach. It was a relaxing weekend for the most part, hit a bit of turbulence at some points, but it all went over smoothly in the end.

Having my own living space without a roommate is so much more peaceful. Although I can’t say its just my living space, as Michael pretty much lives here with me, there is something so unwinding and homey when you can make the room completely yours.

My spring break starts Thursday, and so with only a few days left, I’m really crunching down to get everything done and wrapping up all these little loose ends…especially with good ol’ mercury the messenger in retrograde.

I’ve included some pictures of my weekend adventure at the beach with Cooper, as well as my new room setup. (I pushed the beds together and it feels like a brand new room!)

Dangers of Fluoride

“Fluoridation is the greatest case of scientific fraud of this century.”
- Robert Carlton, Ph.D, former EPA scientist, 1992

When most people think of fluoride, danger or health problems are usually not associated with it. FLUORIDE PREVENTS CAVITIES AND STRENGTHENS ENAMEL is usually how its advertised on toothpaste and majority of people blindly believe those claims. Most people don’t even know that it is contaminating our water supply and poisoning us. Its unfortunate that most people don’t know that fluoride is extremely dangerous, toxic, and ruining our bodies.

Society has been mislead and falsely assured that fluoride toothpaste and fluoride-laced water is safe for everyone and that there is no evidence to prove otherwise. Governments, including that of the United States, that add fluoride to drinking water supplies insist that it is safe, beneficial and necessary. However, there are over hundreds of studies and research done which provide a myriad of evidence which reveal the negative effects and health problems caused by fluoride toxicity. Scientific evidence shows that fluoride is in fact NOT safe to ingest and areas that fluoridate their drinking water supplies have higher rates of cavities, cancer, brain damage, lower IQs, dental fluorosis, osteoporosis, weakened bones, and other health problems.

Fluoride, contrary to what toothpaste wrongly advertises, actually causes fluoride-ruined teeth and/or dental fluorosis overtime, doing exactly the opposite of its claim to ‘strengthen your teeth’. Fluoride also weakens bone, is a known cause of osteosocarma, a form of bone cancer, and also delays growth in both children and adults.

Another appalling effect of fluoride is brain damage and lower IQ. Researchers at Neurologia reported that “The prolonged ingestion of fluoride may cause significant damage to health and particularly to the nervous system. It is important to be aware of this serious problem and to avoid the use of toothpaste and items that contain fluoride, particularly in children as they are more susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride.”

HERE’S A FUN FACT. Did you know that back in World War II, German chemists attempted to secretly control the population by using sodium fluoride in the public water supply? This so-called ‘tactic’ was used in German and Russian Nazi and prisoner war camps to basically decrease brain IQ and function, as well as make them more calm. The fluoride acted essentially as a form of tranquilizer, which made many of the prisoners more submissive towards authority, and less inclined to fight for their freedom and rights.

Now although times are different, fluoride still has a huge effect on the brains of human beings. It is a leading cause of ADHD and hyper-active disorder, which has been an increasingly rising problem in children, as well as adults. The point of the matter is, it is extremely HEALTH THREATENING and is, quintessentially, a conspiracy that society MUST understand and fight against in order to protect our health. 

Start taking steps by NOT PURCHASING FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE. Also, sign anti-fluoride petitions and avoid unfiltered tap water. Below I included some really helpful links for understanding the dangers of fluoride more in depth. I included pictures of my favorite fluoride-free/natural toothpaste that I personally use, which are available at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Many other grocers, drugstores, and discount stores also sell fluoride-free/natural toothpaste that is the same price as regular toothpaste. Let me also say that I have never had a cavity or tooth problem in my life, and don’t succumb to the fluoride for healthy teeth crap for one second.

More Information on Fluoride

YOUTUBE Video Fluoride Deception: PART 1 and PART 2 (I highly recommend these if you are interested. Each part is approximately 10 minutes. Totally worth the time!!!!)

YOUTUBE Video on Fluoride Conspiracy

Dr. Mercola on Fluoride

Dangers of Fluoride

Fluoride Conspiracy

Infants/Children & Fluoride 

Bananas for Avocado, The Importance of Fat & Great Supplements for Hair, Skin and Nails

I know my title is a bit lengthy, but there are a few things I wanted to mash together in this post. After my breakfast smoothie I went outside for over two hours to walk. Its so beautiful out - the winter has thawed and spring is beginning to blossom her lovely colors!

Now as I sit here, eating some of my curry quinoa that I make usually 2 or 3 times a week, waiting for laundry and killing some time before band rehearsal at 4:30, I wanted to share some thoughts and facts.

Firstly, as a huge fan of both bananas and avocados, I decided to experiment and make a smoothie with both banana and avocado in it. I used my usual basis (greens, vitamins, water, some ginger & cinnamon) and then added banana and avocado, then blended it. The result? An absolutely delicious, creamy and smooth taste that was extremely satisfying.  I’ve heard of avocados being used in desserts before, but I never imagined the two to harmonize so wonderfully. Plus, you have the benefit of the healthy fat in the avocado balancing out the sugar in the banana. A win, win.

So, now that I’ve brought up avocado, I wanted to mention why FAT is so important in someone’s diet. Society nowadays has ‘demonized’ fats, making it seem that FAT will make you FAT. But this a fallacy that must be clarified. Your body NEEDS fats, just as it needs proteins and carbohydrates. Fats are very important in the construction of cells, tissues, the healthy function of your brain, heart, and skin, and more.

To put it in simple terms, I’ll start by saying there are GOOD FATS and BAD FATS, and yours SOURCES of fat are extremely significant. Generally speaking, good fats are higher in omega 3 and omega 9, DHA, oleic acid, lutein, and have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Bad fats, which include soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine, non-organic butter, are extremely high in omega 6 and are usually used in highly processed and fried food, and are extremely harmful for your body.

An avocado is a perfect example of a healthy, beneficial fat. Others include wild fish/fish oil, krill oil, organic, free-range eggs, raw coconut and coconut oil, hemp seeds and oil, flaxseeds and oil, chia seeds, olives and olive oil, nuts/seeds (especially walnuts because they are higher in omega-3 fatty acids), grass-fed beef, and others. Please remember, especially with oils and nuts/seeds, high heat, light, and being exposed to air destroys the essential fatty acids and many benefits of these fats so consume your fats preferably raw. If you are going to cook with an oil, use very low heat.

My sister and I were actually having a conversation about this recently, because her boyfriend always criticizes her for eating an entire avocado in one sitting saying that ‘they aren’t that healthy’. I laughed and told her to not worry, because avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And its completely true. Avocados have a gleaming nutritional profile, containing over 25 essential nutrients in sufficient amounts, as well as fiber, complete protein, and many antioxidants and phyto-compounds. But this is where people gain hesitation: an average avocado has about 20g of fat, and to some people that may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t at all. 1/4 cup (or a large handful) of nuts contains nearly 22g of fat (depending on the type), two eggs have approximately 14g of fat,  and two ounces of raw coconut meat has about 19g of fat. These, however are all healthy sources of fat, and it should be remembered that a serving of healthy fat in each meal is very beneficial to your body, and helps in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. 

Personally, I eat anywhere between 20-40 grams of healthy fat each day, give or take, and I am 5″6 and about 119 pounds and never worry about my weight. Whenever it is available to me, I will eat a whole avocado no problem, and love every second of it. Yes, I do exercise about 5-6 times a week, but the truth of the matter is, I give my body what it NEEDS for proper growth and maintenance. I think of my body as my transporter, and I want to fill it with the best possible fuel so it runs at its best.

To sum it all up, healthy sources of fat are GOOD for your mind and body, and help it function properly. DO NOT be afraid to add more healthy fat to your diet. Even if you are looking to lose weight, adding good sources of fat can help you towards your weight-loss goals. Click HERE to learn more about avocados. Click HERE to learn more about good fats and bad fats.

Anyways, I’ve rambled enough about that. Now I’d like to share two great supplements (that I personally use) that are great for hair, skin and nails. So if you are looking to grow and strengthen your hair or nails, or improve your skin texture and elasticity, consider adding these to your diet. More facts on GELATIN and SILICA.