Wednesday, July 28, 2010


So, I just got back from a couple of days of Disneyland.  I love Disneyland - yes, it's all smoke and mirrors, but it still feels magical walking through the gates and seeing the "mouse."  Well, maybe the magic happens when my son gets to experience these things, but nonetheless, I always enjoy the visit.

Funny thing this time though.  We went to Innoventions in Tomorrowland.  At first, you get a presentation about conservation.  You know the drill - a presentation on using compact fluorescent lightbulbs over the traditional energy zappers...unplugging appliances when you are not using them...a brief talk on solar and wind power.  And next, with great anticipation, the doors slowly opened to reveal the "HOME OF THE FUTURE."  After our graduation from the Conservation 101 Presentation, I was excited to maybe see the "HOME OF THE FUTURE" stocked full of energy saving gadgets, rain barrels, grey water systems...   Drumroll please....  As we walked through the magical doors, what was revealed to us but nothing but lights, lights, lights and more lights.  Everything lit up and buzzed.  You could practically hear the slight buzz of our power plants at work just to power this display.  

We walked into a cozy living room, warm tones in the decor and family photos placed perfectly on the piano.  But these weren't real photos, they were digital picture frames.  The art on the walls - digital.  The COFFEE TABLE - DIGITAL!?!?!  You could read a digital book or play digital checkers on the digital coffee table.  How about a game of digital soccer in your digital backyard?

Disney, I love you, man.  But, really?  If you are going to present this kind of home of the future, you might as well scrap the environmental chat at the beginning.  Or better yet, why don't you rethink the idea of the "Home of the Future?"

Friday, July 23, 2010


I am constantly searching for better ways to incorporate all the nutrition my son needs into his diet.  I recently came upon this recipe from Dr. Sears website, and let me tell you - it is AMAZING!  The encopresis my son has suffered after a couple of years of chronic constipation, is getting better and better - I believe, in part to this smoothie as well as the ayurvedic approach we take to his diet.  Our doctor prescribed the "mineral oil" solution to his problem - but in my heart I could not bear giving him upwards to 8 tablespoons a day of mineral oil.  Mineral oil is petroleum based - I might as well have bathed him in the Gulf!

Here is the Sears recipe for a smoothie that Dr. Sears gives his own children:

  • 3 cups milk or soy beverage
  • 11/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1-2 servings Juice Plus+® Complete or similar multinutrient supplement
  • one frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup each of your favorite fruit, frozen (e.g., organic strawberries, papaya, mango)
  • 2 tbsp. flax oil or 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 4 ounces tofu
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter (optional)
Here is our version of his smoothie.  I basically have cut Dr. Sears recipe in half - it makes a smoothie for me and one for my son:
  • 1 1/2 cups organic 1% milk
  • 3/4 cups organic low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 servings of Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood supplement - berry flavored
  • 3/4 cup frozen organic blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic mangoes
  • 3 tbsp. flax oil
  • 3 oz. organic soft tofu
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium husks

"Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve immediately after blending while the mixture still has a bubbly milkshake-like consistency.

We formulated this recipe based on the principle of "synergy." The nutrients consumed together enhance each other's benefits, so the whole nutritional effect is greater than the sum of its parts. I have prescribed this recipe for several hundred school-children and their parents, and we drink it ourselves four to five mornings a week. It's a powerful performance booster for working parents and school-children.

Because fiber steadies the absorption of carbohydrates and therefore contributes to a steadier blood sugar, we suggest using rich sources of fiber, such as flaxseed meal (i.e. ground flax seeds, containing both the oil and fiber), although flax oil has a more palatable consistency than flaxseed meal. For additional fiber, if you don't mind a grainier texture, add 1 tbsp. or more of oat bran."

The smoothie is yummy!  My son will normally drink the whole thing.  And, I love it, too!  I must say, it has been a great way to start my day - I have only the smoothie and I don't get hungry before lunchtime - an added bonus, in that I have been trying to lose weight!  (And I have!  Yeah!!!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Across the globe, it is catching on... in an effort to reduce our meat consumption by 15% and to improve the overall health of our planet, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and homes are going "meatless" each Monday in the "Meatless Mondays" campaign.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization the meat industry generates nearly one fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. Geophysicists at the Bard Center and the University of Chicago estimate that curbing meat consumption by 20% (which could be achieved through Meatless Mondays) would lower greenhouse gas emissions as dramatically as every American switching to an ultra-efficient hybrid vehicle.

The U.N. also found that current meat production methods cause nearly half of all stream and river pollution. Meat also requires a great deal of fresh water to manufacture. The production of a pound of beef takes approximately 2,500 gallons of water, compared to a pound of soy, which requires only 220 gallons.  By switching to soy on Mondays each individual could save about 890 gallons of water a week.

As of 2006, forty calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of U.S. feed lot beef (manufacture, transport and storage included). By comparison, a calorie of plant-based protein only requires 2.2 calories of fossil fuel. If the population of the United States went meatless every Monday for a year, 12 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved.

Last night, we went to one of our favorite local spots, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, who has adopted the Meatless Monday campaign into their menu.  Even on non-Mondays, their philosophy goes alongside the Slow Food Movement's, in that they only serve local, seasonal, and organically grown produce, 100% naturally raised meats, artisanal cheeses, and are 100% high fructose corn syrup-free.  
Take a look in your area and see what chefs are thinking globally.  Also, Meatless Mondays are a great tradition to bring into your own home.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010


One of my favorite authors is Thich Naht Hahn - an exiled Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Zen master, and peace leader whose teachings have touched millions of lives worldwide.  Read this excerpt from "Peace is Every Step" - it can teach us as parents so much... 

Breathing Room
"I recommend that we set up a small room in our homes and call it a "breathing room," where we can be alone and practice just breathing and smiling.  You may want to have a small bell, a few cushions, and perhaps a vase of flowers.  Every time you feel upset, go to that room, open the door slowly, sit down, invite the bell to sound, and begin to breathe.  I believe that every home should have one room for breathing.  Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important.  They can change our civilization."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I recently read an article in Natural Home, entitled "Upgrade Your Life."  Mentioned in the article are ways to improve the air quality in your home - by incorporating more house plants into your lifestyle.  Here is a clip from the article:

Surround yourself with houseplants.  NASA scientists searching for the solution to "sick building syndrome" found that common houseplants are some of the most effective air cleaners.  Five to try:

1) Aloe vera soothes kitchen burns and sucks formaldehyde out of the air.
2) Corn plants purify benzene and cigarette smoke.
3) Spider plants absorb carbon monoxide.
4) Peace lilies remove acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde.
5) Dwarf date palms negate harmful effects from xylene (found in paints.)

Check out the whole article in the July/August 2010 issue!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Remembering a favorite moment...
"Polly," a scarlet macaw who lost her mate - on a daily visit to our hut down in the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.  Each morning, we would wake to see her soaring through the skies...come midday, she would pay us a visit by rummaging through our nightfall, she was all tuckered out and would sleep on her perch in the eaves of the roof.  Who needs t.v.?  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Last week, I drug my loving husband and son out to the Keys Creek Lavender Farm.   (They are such good boys - humoring me!)  This is the only USDA certified organic lavender farm in San Diego.  Located in Valley Center, California and only open to the public a few weekends a year (May-June) - the fields are beautiful, lined with many different varieties of lavender.  There is a gift shop (of course), as well as a refreshment stand which serves lavender scones, which you can have with lavender butter or lavender honey.  You can wash it all down with lavender tea or lavender lemonade, if you wish!  Bees buzzed throughout the fields, a sign that these bees are doing quite well!  There was a guitarist whose music echoed throughout the fragrant farm.  My hubby and son even loved it!  We were able to see the distillery where they extract the oil from the plants.  All around, a lovely afternoon.  

Here are some lavender tips:

* When a recipe calls for rosemary, try substituting lavender leaves, in equal (or less) amounts.
* Dried lavender is much stronger than fresh lavender.  (One tablespoon of dried lavender = 3 tablespoons of fresh lavender.)
* Make lavender infused sugar by placing a few tablespoons of dried lavender in a Mason jar with about a cup of sugar.  Wonderful in teas, sprinkled on top of fruits and desserts, or in baked recipes.
* If you are not growing your own lavender, be sure to only use culinary (English, Provence) lavender in your cooking.  Otherwise, you may end of with a very perfumy dish! 
* A little goes a long way - don't let the lavender overwhelm your dish.
* Lavender is best if used within a year a it's harvest date.
* Buy organic lavender!  You don't want to be ingesting chemicals along with that fragrant herb!
* Once your lavender sachets run out of scent, you can re-invigorate them with a few drops of lavender oil.
* Lavender is a very calming herb.  Use it's oil after a bath and before bedtime to help you sleep.