April 4, 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. We have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go and need your help!

What is breast cancer?

Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade  healthy cells in the body.  Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.

Breast Cancer Facts

  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.

Early Detection is Key

  • A change in how the breast or nipples feel.
  • A change in breast or nipple appearance.
  • Any nipple discharge.
  • Perform monthly self-exams.
    • Follow-up with a clinical breast exam if you have any concerns.
  • Schedule yearly mammograms.

By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast.  Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.

Information from the National Breast Cancer Foundation

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April 4, 2016

When referring to the total calories contained in the fruit -

The amount of calories cannot increase (ie. that would mean the banana, or whatever fruit you have in mind, is spontaneously gaining energy. Which we all know is impossible). That being said, it is very possible that the fruit is losing calories. When some fruit begin to ripen they give off chemicals that cue other fruit to begin the ripening process. These kinds of fruit are known as "climacteric fruits". Anyways, the chemicals being released, mainly ethylene, need to come from somewhere and when given off, the fruit "loses" a part of its self and thus the calories decrease, albeit by a very tiny amount.

When referring to the total number of calories we can remove from the fruit with our bodies -

When a fruit ripens it converts its starch reserves into sugar, hence the sweeter taste. Humans can digest both starch and sugar quite easily, therefore, the # of calories we can digest stays the same whether in starch form or in sugar form.

So, essentially, despite the fruit tasting sweeter when it ripens you are still getting the same number of calories... It's just that those calories reside in a form that we sense as "sweet". And if anything is changing in terms of calories, it would be a decrease, not an increase.

EDIT 1: Yes the nutritional information would be different. Mainly you are decreasing more complex carbohydrates (starch) for simpler carbohydrates (sugar). That being said... Our bodies are pretty damn efficient at converting starch to its individual monomer units, so there probably isn't any noticeable difference from our body's perspective.

EDIT 2 Okay so I busted out my old plant physiology textbook to clairify a few things, and hopefully provide some answers to some of the speculation posted in response to my comment. It's also worth noting that I will not be talking about the total calories contained the the fruit (since we have already established that this cannot change unless energy is physically absorbed) but rather, the bioavaliable calories, ie. the calories we absorb from the fruit. Furthermore, I will only be pointing out the changes in bioavailable calories that are relevant to us in terms of nutritional value (ie. no "there was a loss of 1 micro-calorie due to ethylene gas being given off").

Below is a summary of the four main effects of ripening on a fruit and what they mean in terms of changes in bioavailable calories

  • Starch hydrolysis: This is the process I was referring to previously where the starch is broken down and stored as sugar.

    Bioavailable calories: No net change

  • Chlorophyll degradation: Although I'm not positive what the chlorophyll is degraded into (about 70% sure it just forms other pigments), this is what is primarily responsible for the colour change seen in ripening. Also, chlorophyll and its derivatives are very much digestable, thus no change in bioavailable calories is seen here.

    Bioavailable calories: No net change

  • Organic acids & oils and phenolic compounds are metabolized: You may have heard of the word "Tannin" before. Tannins are phenolic compounds responsible for that "bitter" taste in unripe fruit (fun fact! Tannins are used as flavour additives in beer, wine, and tea!). The breakdown of Tannins has a two-fold effect: 1. Reduction in the bitterness of the fruit and subsequent "unmasking" of the sweet taste. 2 A net increase OR a net decrease in bioavailable nutirents... wtf right? Let me explain. Tannins may have an "anti-nutritional" effect. What does that mean? Anti-nutrients are compounds that interefere and disrupt the normal absorption of nutrients in our digestion (eg. caffiene). Why is it that tannins "may" have an anti-nutritional function? Well, the word "tannin" really refers to a class of bitter molecules found in plants, and as such, the type of tannin and amount varies between species. As it turns out, some tannins are anti-nutritional while others are beneficial to our nutrition, therefore, the breakdown of tannins during fruit ripening can either increase the bioavailable calories and nutrients (by eliminating tannins that have an anti-nutritional effect) or decrease the total nutritional value (by eliminating tannins that have a positive nutritional effect)... so it really depends on the type of fruit that is ripening*.

    Organic acids and oils are a different class than tannins, and make up tons of different compounds throughout the plant. Due to the sheer number and different effects of said compounds, I can't really comment on their digestability before fruit ripening. What I can tell you however, is that some of these compounds are degraded into sugar monomers during the ripening process, so depending on their digestability before degredation this could either mean an increase in available nutrients (if they were indigestable before) or no net change in avaliable nutrients (if they were digestable before).

    Bioavailable calories: Changes in bioavailable calories and nutrients will fluctuate depending on the type of fruit*.

  • Enzymatic breakdown of pectin: Pectin is the principle component of the middle lamella of the cell wall (for those of you unfamilier with plant anatomy just understand that plant cells are surrounded by walls, these walls provide the plant with a rigid support system, and that pectin is responsible for holding these walls together). Since pectin plays a crucial role in maintaining the rigidness of the plant, the breakdown of this compound causes the plant to "soften". The same logic applies to fruits, and thus provides us with an explaniation as to why fruits soften when they ripen. As it turns out, pectin is broken down into sugars which we can digest, however, I'm pretty sure (maybe somone can correct me if I'm wrong) that we can digest pectin, so despite it being broken down into sugars, we shouldnt see any increase or decrease in bioavailable calories.

    Bioavailable calories: No net change

As you can see, the total number of bioavailable calories stays pretty much constant through most effects of ripening, with the only noticable effect being the loss of tannin, which can either increase the total nutritional value or decrease it *see below.

*In my personal opinion, and coming from an evolutionary point of view, it is not beneficial for plants to have their fruit eaten before their seeds are ready. When the seeds are ready, the ripening process begins and tannins are broken down. It's not too far of a stretch to think that the tannins in unripe fruit would discourage consumption by both taste and by acting as anti-nutrients. Based on this thinking, I personally believe that the tannins in fruit are anti-nutritional and by eliminating them in the ripening process there is a net increase in bioavailable nutrients.

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April 4, 2016

Fresh Fig Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

 1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped fresh figs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Cream sugar and shortening and add beaten egg.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and blend with creamed mixture. Fold in figs and nuts.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls on greased sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
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April 4, 2016

Elegant Fig Appetizers with Goat Cheese and  Almonds Recipe

"This is a combination of several fresh fig appetizer recipes. The flavors of fresh figs, tangy goat cheese, salty almonds, sweet honey, and balsamic vinegar contrast to make these a delicious and very pretty appetizer. Arrange figs in a circle, tops facing in, for a flower effect and this will be a lovely addition to a bridal shower menu! If you can find Marcona almonds, use them! They are a Spanish almond that tastes like a cross between an almond and a cashew."

Ingredients

 12 fresh figs, halved
4 ounces herbed goat cheese
24 almonds
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven broiler for high heat.
  2. Place the fig halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Top each half with about 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese. Place one almond on each, press to push the cheese slightly into each fig.
  3. Broil the figs in the preheated oven until the cheese is soft and the almonds are turning a rich shade of brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the broiler and let cool for 5 minutes. Arrange the figs on a serving platter and drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.
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April 4, 2016

carambola2

If you've never tried one of these then make it a priority to try one. Once you sink you teeth into this sweet fruit you will always look for it every season!!

They are commonly eaten fresh, in salads, as garnishes and in drinks. The fruit have a sweet citrus like flavor that is both delicious and refreshing. They are also great in jams and as a fruit beverage. A mature starfruit can produce up to 200 lbs. of fruit a year! This exciting yellow fruit is shaped just like a star when sliced makes a great decoration in salads and is extremely sweet. Tree produces 2-3 crops a year and is extremely prolific.

The carambola tree is slow-growing, short-trunked with a much-branched, bushy, broad, rounded crown and reaches 20 to 30 ft (6-9 m) in height. Its deciduous leaves, spirally arranged, are alternate, imparipinnate, 6 to 10 in(15-20 cm) long, with 5 to 11 nearly opposite leaflets, ovate or ovate-oblong, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 in (3.8-9 cm) long; soft, medium-green, and smooth on the upper surface, finely hairy and whitish on the underside. The leaflets are sensitive to light and more or less inclined to fold together at night or when the tree is shaken or abruptly shocked. Small clusters of red-stalked, lilac, purple-streaked, downy flowers, about 1/4 in (6 mm) wide, are borne on the twigs in the axils of the leaves. The showy, oblong, longitudinally 5- to 6-angled fruits, 2 1/2 to 6 in (6.35-15 cm) long and up to 3 1/2 (9 cm) wide, have thin, waxy, orange-yellow skin and juicy, crisp, yellow flesh when fully ripe. Slices cut in cross-section have the form of a star. The fruit has a more or less pronounced oxalic acid odor and the flavor ranges from very sour to mildly sweetish. The so-called "sweet" types rarely contain more than 4% sugar. There may be up to 12 flat, thin, brown seeds 1/4 to 1/2 in (6-12.5 mm) long or none at all.

carambiola3

Carambola Flowers

Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
Calories 35.7
Moisture 89.0-91.0 g
Protein 0.38 g
Fat 0.08 g
Carbohydrates 9.38 g
Fiber 0.80-0.90 g
Ash 0.26-0.40 g
Calcium 4.4-6.O mg
Phosphorus 15.5-21.0 mg
Iron 0.32-1.65 mg
Carotene 0.003-0.552 mg
Thiamine 0.03-0.038 mg
Riboflavin 0.019-0.03 mg
Niacin 0.294-0.38 mg
Ascorbic Acid* 26.0-53.1 mg
* According to analyses made in Cuba and Honduras.

For more information on any Carambola visit our site http://plantogram.com/product/carambola/   for a full list of our inventory!

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April 4, 2016

Spice up your breakfast with some pumpkin muffins this fall!

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3 large eggs

1 cup turbinado sugar, plus 2 tablespoons more for sprinkling

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush 12 jumbo muffin tins (each with a 1-cup capacity) with oil; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs, and 1 cup sugar to combine; add 1 cup walnuts and reserved dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).

Divide evenly and spoon batter into muffin tins; sprinkle tops with remaining walnuts and sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan.

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Yields 12 muffins

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Recipe from: Martha Stewart

More info about Fruit Trees: http://www.plantogram.com

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April 4, 2016

You may want to pause before gulping down that pumpkin spice latte. While everyone from Starbucks to Oreo wants you craving all pumpkin everything, there’s actually a healthy way to utilize the seasonal orange squash—the real stuff, not the sugar-high inducing, cinnamon spiked puree in a can.

You may have noticed pumpkin face masks and cranberry hair treatments flooding the beauty aisles, and while some are gimmicks capitalizing on your fall nostalgia, dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum says there are a few fall foods that can truly help your hair and skin when applied topically.

Pumpkins
The best part of the fibrous gourds is actually pumpkin seed oil. It’s full of vitamin E, zinc, omega 3- and 6- fatty acids, as well as antioxidants. “Pumpkin seed oil has tremendous benefits on the skin: it retains moisture, fights free radicals, and helps you maintain a youthful appearance,” says Nussbaum. It can also improve your skin tone, and fight against acne and aging.

When ingested, the oil has some remarkable properties: it actually can increase hair growth and strength—Nussbaum says this is because it inhibits 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which has been shown to slow and stop hair growth by producing DHT from testosterone. If you’re looking for a pumpkin seed oil boost year round, she suggests Aviva Advance Hair Nutrition, a supplement that strengthens hair, hydrates your scalp, and makes hair extra shiny.

Squash
Squash has beta-carotene that gets converted into vitamin A within the body. Vitamin A’s a powerful antioxidant your body needs to maintain the skin’s proper health and integrity; it also protects against the damaging effects of sun exposure and dehydration. “Squash also contains a lot of vitamin C, which fights free radicals within the body, thus preventing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation,” says Nussbaum.

Apples
“Green Apples are rich in antioxidants which help in cell rejuvenation,” says Nussbaum. The antioxidants and fibers from green apple will yield youthful, elastic, smooth skin. Thanks to their dense vitamin content, these tasty fruits can also brighten your complexion. (Bonus: their juice has been known to eliminate dandruff when massaged into the scalp.)

 

Figs
“Figs are rich in important nutrients like Vitamin B, C, potassium and minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are essential for boosting and rejuvenating the skin’s health,” says Nussbaum. The high omega 3 fatty acids in figs can keep the skin moisturized, while their juice can be applied to your face for 15 minutes as a quick treatment against acne and pimples. You’ll also find fig extract in conditioners since it helps detangle and moisturize your hair. Fig oil can be added to dry or course hair to make it silky and shiny.

Cranberries
Cranberries can prevent and treat premature aging and acne thanks to their antiseptic antioxidant properties. Try it as a toner on oily skin. Since it has those antiseptic and antifungal properties, cranberry juice can treat dandruff, psoriasis, and alopecia. Regular consumption of cranberry juice can stimulate hair growth as well.

Pomegranate
Pomegranate seed oil is a great natural DIY hair treatment due its high content of punicic acid which helps to revitalize and strengthen hair and make it strong and healthy,” says Nussbaum. “The high antioxidant and vitamin content of this oil help to increase the blood circulation in the scalp, strengthen blood vessels, and thereby promote healthy hair growth.” Additionally, it helps reduce flakiness, itchiness of the scalp, dandruff, hair shedding, and dullness.

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April 4, 2016

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April 4, 2016

Practice the Power of Neutral Tool in Communications

Communication problems can deplete resilience fast. You may feel you’re not being heard, that you’re being misunderstood, wrongly blamed, unfairly treated, or pressured into decisions you don’t agree with. As soon as you experience any of these feelings, tell yourself, “I’m going to practice the Power of Neutral.”  Have a genuine “I mean business” attitude to really move those emotions into a more neutral state and shift your physiology. It could take a few minutes, but it’s worth the genuine practice.  Using the Power of Neutral this way in communications can fill your gas tank of resilience fast.

Here are the simple steps of the tool:

Step 1: Take a time-out, breathing slowly and deeply. Imagine the air entering and leaving through the heart area or the center of your chest.
Step 2: Focus on your heart and breathing instead of your stressful thoughts and worried feelings.
Step 3: Continue until you have neutralized the emotional charge and you feel calmness throughout.
Step 4: Now from a calmer place, try to release assumptions and see more possibilities as you listen from the heart. If the impulse to interrupt arises, gently let it go and refocus on your heart and breathing through your heart area. Then when it’s your turn to speak, you will be able to speak more authentically from a calmer, more centered place.

Women with Heartbeat graphManaging and overcoming challenges, like communication problems and other stressors, comes a little easier for people who have increased their resilience capacity. This is because practicing emotional energy regulation builds emotional vitality and accumulates resilience, which helps prevent energy loss and enables you to recover more quickly from energy drains during life’s challenges.

“Increasing resilience can help prevent as well as smooth out many emotional gridlocks,” says Dr. Rollin McCraty, Institute of HeartMath Director of Research.  “Yet, with resilience, like any desired state such as happiness, good health and creativity, we must take action to learn to create it. Increasing resilience requires intention and practice, but is very doable.”

Resilience Tip #4

Reset – Increase Emotional Vitality Fast

Institute of HeartMath research has shown that it is possible to shift into a positive emotional state, release stress-producing attitudes and reset your system after a stressful experience. Using the Reset tool, you can increase your emotional vitality and reset your response to stress, which can also help your hormonal balance.

Resilience Graph

DHEA is often called the “vitality hormone.” Increasing your DHEA level can be a big factor in having more resilience capacity. Positive emotions increase DHEA and research shows that increasing your positive feelings of appreciation and gratitude can increase DHEA levels fast. Intentionally practicing and feeling gratitude and appreciation helps you maintain positive attitudes and find the initiative to move forward and achieve your goals despite obstacles.

When you’re experiencing positive emotions, like appreciation, more possibilities come into your view. Positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson found that: “Through experiences of positive emotions people transform themselves, becoming more creative, knowledgeable, resilient, socially integrated and healthy individuals.”

Reset Tool:

Step 1: Simply focus your attention in the area of your heart and recall a memory of a person, place, pet or fun experience that you sincerely appreciate.

Man in sunflower field

Step 2: Now breathe the feeling (not just the thought) of appreciation or gratitude for that through your heart area for 15 to 30 seconds.
Step 3: Doing steps 1 and 2 can reset your heart rhythm pattern and your autonomic nervous system which regulates 90% of your body’s involuntary functions, including the hormonal and immune system and the production of DHEA.
Step 4: Note any different perceptions you may have after you do this. You may want to write them down to remember them.

More Must-Do Tips to Increase Your Resilience

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April 4, 2016

You eat healthy all day but then, midway through a new episode of The Blacklist, you're suddenly elbow-deep in a bag of Doritos. Ugh. Fortunately, new research has uncovered compounds capable of making us feel fuller longer, say "no" to cravings, and even reach our weight-loss goals.

These compounds are called "thylakoids," and they're found in the chloroplasts of green plants. In a small study conducted at Sweden’s Lund University, overweight women who drank 5 grams of spinach extract each morning for 12 weeks lost an average of 11 pounds (compared to 7.7 pounds for those swigging a placebo). But here's the most interesting thing: The extract group reported a 95% reduction in cravings for sweet and fatty foods and found it easier to stick to three daily meals. And these effects were immediate, kicking in after just one day.

According to study author and professor Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, the processed food in most of our diets is broken down too quickly in our stomachs. This messes up the intestinal hormones that tell our brains we're full. By slowing the digestive process, thylakoids help these hormones get back to doing their job, she says.

Want to give it a try? You have two options: Simply add more of the following 6 thylakoids-rich foods to your diet, or throw a handful of your favorite one into a breakfast smoothie (these 11 smoothie recipes are a perfect place to start). Here's the lowdown on each, complete with recipes.

1.  KALE. It’s high in vitamins and low in calories, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD. If you find kale too bitter, she recommends shopping smarter. "Look for smaller, more tender leaves, and choose fresh kale--don't buy it and let it sit around." For a taste of fall, throw some into this butternut squash stew.

2. SPINACH. It's high in folic acid, protein, and potassium. (In fact, a cup of cooked spinach actually has more potassium than a banana.) And there are so many ways to enjoy it: raw or cooked; in salads or soups; and, of course, in a delicious green smoothie. (Note: there aren't any spinach extracts currently available in the US just yet; Gerbstadt says getting the compounds the natural way--in food form--offers similar benefits.)
3. BROCCOLI. It's loaded with vitamin C and actually has more fiber than spinach and kale. Whether you steam it or add it to a casserole like this one, it's one of the most versatile veggies.

4. DANDELION GREENS. Easy to prepare, these are especially high in calcium and vitamin K. Gerbstadt recommends mixing in uncured meat, chili peppers, or vinegar for flavor. Not sure where to find these greens? Check a health food store or Asian market. And if they're a little too bitter for your taste, add them to this pasta dish.

5. MUSTARD GREENS. Yes, these do indeed come from the same plant as the condiment you spread on a hot dog. They're full of antioxidants, especially vitamin A, and Gerbstadt suggests adding fresh lemon juice or light balsamic vinegar. Or for an Asian-inspired recipe, try this healthy side dish.

6. SEAWEED. You probably eat this all the time without knowing it--it's wrapped around sushi rolls. And with high levels of iodine, seaweed is most definitely a superfood. (We need iodine to maintain our thyroids, though it's not so common in other healthy foods.) Making your own sushi may sound like a daunting task, but this recipe shows that it's surprisingly doable.

By Victoria Walk

660broccoli.jpg

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