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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April 4, 2016

Amazing Benefits of Vitamin C Rich Foods for Relieving Stress and Weight LossMost everyone knows that Vitamin C is great for the immune system but new, exciting research shows it’s also helpful for relieving stress and even helping reducing weight as a direct result (1). Vitamin C works against C-Reactive Proteins that cause inflammation in the body, which can create tension and even cause weight gain. C- Reactive Proteins have been linked to heart disease due to the way they put chronic stress on the body and Vitamin C helps directly counteract the effects these proteins have (2).

Vitamin C works against C-Reactive Proteins That Lead to Stress and Weight Gain

But first, where does CRP come from and how does one prevent them from occurring? CRP’s occur in the body anytime the body senses it’s under stress, injury, inflammation, or infection. The immune system throws out defenses that are meant to protect the body but end up causing pain and inflammation as a result. C-Reactive Proteins are both a cause and marker of inflammation and often occur as a result from health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic stress or fatigue (2).

Anytime you’re constantly exposed to chronic stress, the adrenal glands that are housed near your kidneys become fatigued, which lead to adrenal burnout. Adrenal fatigue has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, chronic yeast overgrowth, and a weakened immune system (3, 5). Many people with adrenal fatigue crave sugar, fat, and caffeine because the body is crying out for a quick source of energy (5). Since Vitamin C lowers stress in the body, along with insulin sensitivity, it also lowers the stress hormone linked to weight gain, known as cortisol, as direct effect. Over time, a diet rich in Vitamin C can directly help you keep weight off or lose weight when eaten in conjunction with a healthy diet (3).

What’s are the best sources of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C-rich foods such as: kiwis, oranges, berries, apples, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, romaine lettuce, lemons, limes, and superfood berries such as goji, camu-camu-, mulberries, and goldenberries, are all some of the best sources of Vitamin C you can eat to protect your body against C-Reactive Proteins since they’re richer in Vitamin C than other food sources (4). Fermented sauerkraut and kimchi are also great sources (5).

The highest source of Vitamin C in the world is camu-camu berries and these tart, tangy berries are commonly used in the form of a superfood powder in smoothies or other raw dishes (6).

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April 4, 2016

Heroic Dogs Save Owner’s Life by Snuggling

Home alert systems and pendants are increasingly popular among older adults who live alone, but Judy Muhe says that when she took a tumble in her kitchen, her survival depended on a couple of furry, flesh-and-blood heroes — her two Golden Retrievers, Higgins and Dodger.

“The main thing is they let me know I was not alone,” an emotional Muhe tells KABC News’ Leo Stallworth.

With Higgins snuggling up against her back and Dodger curled over her legs, Muhe, who is 76 years old and has Parkinson’s disease, was able to stay warm for 48 hours while she was trapped on her kitchen floor, unable to get up due to a shattered shoulder and bruised skull.

“My guardians, yep. And I have no doubt they would do it again,” Muhe says of her two golden guardian angels.

The health benefits of animals

Canines may carry the moniker of being “man’s best friend” but animals of all kinds can provide physical and mental health benefits to people both young and old.

Lower blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduced depression risk, and increased amounts of the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine are just a few of the advantages experienced by pet owners. One study even indicated that aging individuals with pets went to the doctor 30 percent less frequently than their non-pet-owning counterparts. Many different species–from horses, to geese, to rabbits–have been used as therapy animals for men and women in senior living communities.

Older adults especially derive great advantages from pet ownership, but there are a few complicating factors that can arise. For instance, people who have trouble walking or whose strength isn’t what it used to be may not be able to safely handle a larger pet. And the memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia could unintentionally cause an older adult to forget to feed or care for their pet.

The good news is that such limitations can be dealt with, enabling aging men and women to find the ideal animal companion, as Amy Kracht, Vice President of 4 Luv of Dog Rescue shares in the article: How to Pick a Pet for an Older Adult

Image credit: Screen shot from KABC News report

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