Posted September 27, 2013

Do you ever get tired of having to buy fresh bananas not too many days after the first bunch you bought?  Yep, that’s me.  Since my younger son’s fruit of choice at the moment is bananas (we are working on more fruits), I try to keep bananas in stock.  But, as you all know, really ripe bananas are not exactly the best tasting, unless as an ingredient for banana bread.  So, why do bananas ripen so fast and is there a way to keep them fresh for a longer period of time?



First, see What Causes Bananas to Ripen so Fast?


Now, how can you possibly keep bananas fresh longer?  See Keep Bananas Fresh Longer for instructions and a little science.



Why stop at bananas?  There are many foods that can stand the test of time better with a little help.  The average American family wastes $1,200 in thrown out food each year, according to Timothy Jones, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona.  Why waste money?  The cost of food is crazy high in my opinion, so here are 37 Tips for Keeping Food Fresh Longer.





Here are a few more tips:


1.   Store potatoes with an apple to prevent sprouting.


2.  Revive droopy greens with ice water.  Restore the crisp texture of your wilted greens by soaking them in an ice water bath. Through a process called osmosis, water travels across the permeable membrane of the leafy vegetable’s cell walls into dehydrated cells, making them look fresh again.


3.  Keep berries fresh by washing them in vinegar water.  Wash fresh strawberries, raspberries and other berries in a diluted vinegar bath made from one part vinegar and three parts water to lengthen their shelf life for days or even weeks. This works because vinegar is a natural disinfectant and mold killer.  Dry the berries thoroughly and store in a clean, paper towel-lined container.


4.  Freeze flour for a few days to kill bugs.


Happy eating and enjoy longer lasting food!




What is ALS?

Posted: September 14, 2013


This post is dedicated to the people who have suffered and are suffering from ALS.  I want to celebrate three people specifically that I knew personally who fought and lost the battle with this dreadful disease.  You may know someone who has or is going through the same thing.  The number of people diagnosed with ALS is alarming.  I am only slightly familiar with this topic and hope to find out more answers.

Three People, One Disease:

I first want to celebrate the life of my uncle, William Schilling.  Husband to a loving wife. father to three wonderful children, and a grandfather, my uncle was in retirement, an active volunteer in his community and an avid tennis player, playing 7 days a week!  Then, to everyone’s shock, he was diagnosed with ALS at age 66.  His ALS was called Bulbar type, which means it started affecting his arms, speech, swallowing and breathing before affecting his legs.  On January 2, 2010, my uncle lost his battle at age 69.    He will forever be remembered and loved by his family and friends.

I also want to remember my next door neighbor from when I lived in Michigan.  Lou also was diagnosed with ALS and lost his battle in 2009 at the age of 63.  He loved the outdoors and I remember him taking great pride in his landscaping masterpiece at his home.  He was also active, loved football and was a wonderful neighbor!  What another shock to hear of his passing.

And most recently, my co-worker from previous years, Keith James, who was diagnosed with ALS at age 36, lost his battle just this past August 30, 2013.  He was 42!  Keith was always cheerful and smiling.  When he was first diagnosed, I couldn’t imagine the shock he and his wife must have felt.  They had 3-year-old twin girls at the time of his diagnosis.  His girls are 9 years old now and just lost their daddy.  You will be missed, Keith!

Here is a link to a look inside Living with ALS, an article about Keith and his journey through this horrific disease.  As most of us cannot possibly grasp what ALS does to a person, this article gives us a good peak inside their world.

I remember being shocked when I heard about each one of these vibrant gentlemen’s diagnosis.  What they endured with their wives by their side cannot possibly be fathomed by most.  How could this happen?  And why is this happening way too often?

What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)? 

Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig‘s disease in the United States, is a debilitating disease characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking (dysarthria), difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and difficulty breathing (dyspnea).  ALS is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases.  It attacks certain cells in the brain and spinal cord needed to keep our muscles moving.  Worldwide, ALS occurs in 1 to 3 people per 100,000.

Early signs and symptoms of ALS include:

  • Difficulty lifting the front part of the foot and toes (footdrop)

  • Weakness in the leg, feet or ankles

  • Hand weakness or clumsiness

  • Slurring of speech or trouble swallowing

  • Muscle cramps and twitching in the arms, shoulders and tongue


The disease often begins in the hands, feet or limbs, and then spreads to other parts of the body.  The muscles become progressively weaker until they’re paralyzed.  It eventually affects chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.

What Causes ALS?


The cause of ALS is unknown, but heredity accounts for 5% to 10% of cases.  A small number inherited ALS is thought to be caused by a defective gene that prevents the body from producing a normal amount of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase. This enzyme helps neutralize free radicals, which are highly reactive oxygen molecules produced during metabolism and capable of damaging body tissues.  Researchers think that defects in protective enzymes may also be responsible for non-inherited ALS and that environmental toxins may be a factor.

Some evidence suggests that ALS may be triggered by exposure to heavy metals, animal hides, or fertilizers.  In addition, viral infection and severe physical trauma have been implicated as possible contributors.  Other theories link ALS to a phenomenon called excitotoxicity, in which the nerve cells that control movement are overstimulated by a neurotransmitter called glutamate to the point where they eventually die. (source: WebMD)


For a more detailed look, read more here: What is ALS?


Want to get involved with the fight against ALS?  Find out more here: Help Fight ALS


And finally, I want to recognize the wonderful women and helpers who cared for their husbands from beginning to the end of this horrible disease.  My aunt and the other ladies have amazing courage and stamina that helped them through the challenge of their lives.  May peace rest in your heart.


Posted: August 24, 2013


School started again this week for a lot of students.  Is anyone out there exhausted?  Phew!  So glad it is the weekend.  It has been an exciting and successful week around here, but exhausting.  The first few weeks of getting back into a routine are always tough.  Whether it’s starting a new job, starting school or just changing your daily schedule, the body needs time to adjust.  This disruption can cause sleeplessness.  I am definitely not a morning person.  I would much rather stay up later than get up at the crack of dawn.  Staying up late has its disadvantages.  As soon as I stay up late multiple nights in a row, it never fails, I start to feel run down.  Subjecting the body to less and less sleep will lower the immune system and eventually lead to illness.

We have all had trouble getting enough zzzzzzzz’s, so what are the common causes of a sleepless night?

Here are a few:

  • Stress (both good and bad)

  • A racing mind

  • Anxiety

  • Certain prescriptions

  • Pain

  • Alcohol

  • Travel

  • Decreasing levels of the sleep-regulating hormone called melatonin (this begins at age 40)

If you are having trouble sleeping, what can you do to help improve your natural sleep cycle?

Here are several obvious tips you can follow that may help you sleep better:

  • Create a bedtime routine.

  • Don’t nap during the day.

  • Too much sleep can be just a damaging as too little.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol prior to bed.

  • Get to bed before midnight.

  • Don’t eat or drink late in the evening.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough Magnesium in your diet.

  • Exercise daily.

  • Create a comfortable room.

  • Read a book, pray/meditate, or write in a journal.

  • Turn your alarm clock away from your sight.  You will be less likely to keep checking the time.



Now time for a few not-so-obvious sleep aids.


Instead of reaching for a pharmaceutical pill, try a natural sleep aid:

  • Valerian Extract is well-known for its sedating effects and has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety, tension, irritability and stress.

  • Melatonin is a hormone (not a herb, vitamin or mineral) produced by the pineal gland that helps the body keep a regular sleep cycle.

  • Lemon Balm contains chemicals that seem to have a sedative, calming effect.

  • Green Tea (Decaf) is helpful because of its L-theanine content.  L-theanine is an amino acid found in the Camilla sinensis plant which is where green tea comes from.  L-theanine has been well researched and has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a restful sleep.

  • Chamomile Tea does not have to be used on a regular basis to be effective as a treatment for insomnia. It can be used on the spot to provide quick relief for sleeplessness  and anxiety.

  • Passion Flower, a plant native to North America, is helpful in reducing restlessness, anxiety, nervousness and helping with sleep.



What about the foods you eat?  Here are 10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep.



For more in-depth information, read How Much Sleep Do You Need?




Good night and happy dreams!




Posted: August 7, 2013


“As a mother would risk her life to protect her child,

her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.

So with a boundless heart should one cherish

all living beings; radiating kindness over the entire world.”

The Buddha, Sutta Nipata I, 8




 The heart that loves is always young. – Greek Proverb


The Healing Power of Love


We all need love, just as much as we need water, food, and air to live (we just might not know it).  Love represents human kindness, compassion, and deep affection.  Love is pure.  Love is not selfish.  All close relationships, whether it is a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, family, friendships, or community, can mold our hearts into developing patience, understanding, courage, compassion, and forgiveness.  Did you know that love is a vital component for the health of our body, heart, mind and soul?



Nurturing healthy connections has a huge impact on our lives.  Laughter, connection, love, attraction – they all are connected to hormones that are beneficial to our health.  Experts understand now that hormones play a large role in our well-being because they trigger feelings and are triggered by feelings.

Hormones of love:

Feelings of love flood your body with health-producing hormones like dopamine, fenylethylamine, endorphin, oxytocin and others.  When you see someone or something you like, your brain produces:

Fenylethylamine, which makes your heartbeat faster, causes extra blood blow to your cheeks and you feel happier.  This is the same hormone that you produce after eating chocolate!


Endorphin makes you feel more happy and joyful.  It is a natural pain-killer that takes away depression and mood swings.  Our bodies produce this hormone when we feel love, when we exercise or when we are happy about life.

Oxytocin is also called the cuddle hormone because this hormone is produced in large quantities when we hug or caress.  It makes you feel connected, confident and takes away fear.  Oxytocin is associated with feelings of love and trust, and may help protect from negative effects of depression.

Check out this article!  How Love Heals

The Healing Power of Touch


The sense of being touched has a wonderful positive impact for our health and longevity.  Many studies have been done to prove that having close, intimate, loving connections with people in our lives can prevent depression, anxiety and stress related diseases.  Skin to skin contact is very beneficial to us.  Just look at how babies thrive when they are held and touched often.  Experts say that tactile sensation can help premature babies gain weight, accelerate recovery from illness and help with regulating their response to stressful situations.  I see it in my own children.  The more I hug, kiss, snuggle, and give back rubs, the more relaxed, happy and lovable my children are.  That bright smile and content expression that appears on their little faces is priceless!  It’s a domino effect.

Cortisol, also called adrenaline, is produced when your body is under stress.  When this hormone is produced in your body, your immunity decreases and you are more susceptible to diseases.  Stress can lead to serious illness. The healing power of love and touch in your life can help neutralize the effects of stress by lowering the production of stress hormones.


Remember twins Brielle and Kyrie Jackson of Westminster, Massachusetts, born premature on October 17, 1995?  Brielle was quickly losing her fight for life, but what happened in that hospital room made national headlines and began a revolution in the way multiple-birth babies are treated in their first weeks of life.



Watch VIDEO: Twins, now 17, rescued by hug at birth



The power of touch!  The advances in medical technology and knowledge are amazing, but sometimes the best medicine is found not in expensive machines, but in the simple touch of another person.







Have a loved one, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor whom you haven’t reached out to lately?  Tell them how you feel about them, give a hug, a warm hand shake.  What about the people you meet everyday at the grocery store, at the bank, at pretty much any place around town?  Give a smile, say hello.  Love!  It does a body good.




Posted July 27, 2013




Time is flying by this summer.  Only 3 more weeks until school starts again?  Really?  Before the summer slips away, I’d like to highlight a fun activity and one of the most healthiest fruits you can eat.  Blueberries!  In my last post, I featured the health benefits of Blackberries.  While all berries have many health advantages, it would be crazy not to talk about the top antioxidant berry of all.  Blueberries are the antioxidant powerhouse, being very rich in  Anthocyanin (the pigment responsible for the blue color of blueberries),  Vitamin C, B Complex,  Vitamin E,   Vitamin A,  copper (a very effective immune builder and anti-bacterial),   selenium,   zinc,  iron, which promotes immunity by raising haemoglobin and oxygen concentration in blood to boost up your immune system and prevent infections.

Some of the known benefits of blueberries include:

  • Slows aging

  • Helps prevent Urinary Tract Infections

  • Help with Eye Care and Macular Degeneration

  • Helps with Brain Function, Memory & Alzheimer’s disease

  • Helps prevent Heart Disease

This was the first summer we picked fresh blueberries at a local blueberry farm.  The popularity of blueberry picking has exploded here in Northern Florida.  I had to call three blueberry farms before I found one that had blueberries available to pick.  The others were fresh out at the time due to high demand the days before.  That’s a good thing for the blueberry farms out there!  When we went in June, it was hot, but not too many bugs and the rewards were plentiful.  My boys were troopers as we picked almost 8 pounds in a little over one hour.  As you can imagine, our diet has included lots of blueberries these past two months and will continue with the four bags in the freezer.  Blueberries will not lose their antioxidant power if you freeze them.  In addition to fresh blueberries on cereal, in smoothies and in a fruit salad, I love mixing blueberries with granola cereal and organic vanilla yogurt.





And then there is the fresh blueberry pie!  While my cooking skills are nothing extravagant, I am quite proud of the two homemade blueberry pies I have made.  Below is a photo of one.  Delicious!






Here is a quick and easy recipe:

1 Double-Crust Pie

3/4 cup sugar (I used the recommended converted amount of Truvia Baking Blend)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Milk (optional)

Sugar (optional)


1.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 3/4 cup sugar (or converted amount of Truvia), flour and lemon juice.  Add blueberries.  Gently toss until coated.  (If using frozen fruit, let mixture stand for 15 to 30 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed, but still icy.)


2.  Transfer berry mixture to bottom part of double-crust pie plate.  Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on top of filling and seal.  Crimp edge as desired.  If desired, brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.


3.  To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of the pie with foil.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes for fresh fruit (50 minutes for frozen fruit).  Remove foil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more for fresh fruit (20 to 30 minutes for frozen fruit) or until top is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.





Check out the two articles below for more detailed information on the goodness of Blueberries.



7 Berries You Should Eat Everyday



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