April 4, 2016

There’s certain times of the year when businesses are expected to give gifts to their clients. Holidays, to commemorate special events, and sometimes as a gesture of kindness. This fosters a good relationship and keeps those clients coming back. But since all businesses do this, does it really foster a good relationship or is it just another political move? Is the end result any different than schmoozing at a charity ball?

So how can you set your business apart from your competitors? How can you find a gift that not only won’t offend anyone, but will make your clients happy? You have to do something different than flower baskets, cookies, candy, wine or gift cards. That’s what your competitors are doing. And there’s many other things to consider when gifting things like that. Gift cards are impersonal and seem like no thought went into the gift. Wine is great unless the recipient doesn’t drink. Cookies and candy could send someone into anaphylactic shock if there’s nuts in them (talk about bad press!). And finally flowers...what about those clients who are allergic? It seems everything causes another problem. There’s no universal gift you can plan to give all of your clients.

On top of those problems, those gifts are consumable. The clients eats or uses them, or more likely gives them away, and then your gift is forgotten. So what do you do?

The answer is something that lasts generations, increases in value annually, yields capital gains, provides $1000's worth in dividends, is good for your health, the environment, actually tastes good, and costs just around $50. A PlantOGram. PlantOGram offers rare and exotic fruit trees that you can gift to your clients. The fruit tree will be a constant reminder to your clients. Every time they eat a fruit or share one with a friend or family member they will mention your business.

This is essentially free advertising as you would be sending gifts regardless, and these trees will serve as constant word of mouth advertising. Don’t let your competitors beat you to the punch. Send your clients a green, eco-friendly fruit tree.

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April 4, 2016

The miracle fruit is a small, bright red berry only 2-3 cm long. So how did it get such a big name? It doesn’t have a spectacular taste itself. It has a mildly sweet and tangy taste that has been likened to a cranberry. But it isn’t the taste of the fruit that warrants its name. Instead, it’s the effects the fruit has on one’s taste buds afterwards.

After eating a miracle fruit, if you eat anything acidic, it will taste incredibly sweet. This happens because of a protein called miraculin. This protein binds very strongly to sweet receptors on our tongues, however it does not activate the receptors at neutral pH. When acid is introduced, the miraculin changes shape. It then turns on the sweet receptors which creates an incredibly sweet sensation. Once the acidic food is swallowed, the miraculin returns to the inactive shape, but does remain bound to the sweet receptors for up to an hour.

Theoretically, miraculin could be used as an artificial sweetener. This idea was introduced almost 50 years ago. Despite initial success, drama and suspected foul play by the sugar industry prevented this from happening. The FDA, although previously supportive of the endeavor, declared that miraculin was an additive which meant that the berries could not be sold as a sugar substitute without further testing.

A new idea to integrate the powder into desserts has arisen, but there are problems with this too. Refrigerating and heating the miraculin cause the protein to activate, so its ability to modify one’s ability to taste would be gone by the time the food was consumed. Scientists are trying to create a heat stable form of miraculin that can be cooked with.

There has been a recent push for miraculin to take the place of sugar. Some benefits are obvious, like getting the taste of sweetness without the sugar. Sugar-free desserts could still be sugar free but without tasting sugar-free. With obesity being such a concern, this is a legitimate reason to pursue miraculin. In addition to this benefit, it could be a great discovery for diabetics since it provides sweetness with no sugar. It also can be useful for chemotherapy patients whose tastes are sometimes altered during treatment making it difficult to eat at all.

In general, some restaurants serve miracle fruits and they are at some parties. These are usually high end restaurants or parties with the sole purpose of “flavor-tripping.” Miraculin is native to West Africa, and is currently being produced and sold in Japan. It is possible to by in the US, but it is not as readily available. You can purchase your own Miracle Fruit plant from PlantOGram. It can be grown in your backyard or in a container on your patio.

In the future, if anyone were to procure enough funding, they would likely be able to convince the FDA to overturn their 1970s ruling as there is nothing dangerous about miraculin. Rather than concerns about the fruit itself, the drawback at the current time is funding.

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April 4, 2016

PlantOGram now sells Guarana fruit trees. They come from Brazil, and the seeds contain over twice as much caffeine as coffee beans. The white fleshy fruit surrounds dark brown seeds giving the fruit the appearance of an eyeball. It is used just as we use caffeine. It is considered “generally safe” for use as a supplement by the FDA.

The caffeine in the Guarana works as a natural insecticide in the wild. It keeps away plant eating bugs. Birds can still eat the fruit and the seeds pass right through their digestive tracts. They then land in a new location which helps generate new Guarana plants.

While no scientific studies have proven other uses of Guarana, it has been used for many other things. These include weight loss, to enhance athletic ability, as a stimulant, and to reduce both mental and physical fatigue. Guarana speeds up your metabolism which aids in the fat burning process. This is how it helps one lose weight. The boost of caffeine improves memory and cognitive function by decreasing fatigue. It is commonly added to energy and weight loss products. Some also use Guarana to treat low blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome. It has also been cited to help prevent malaria and dysentery. More everyday uses of the Guarana fruit include treatment of diarrhea, fever, headache, joint pain, backache, and heat stress.

In general, to consume Guarana, a teaspoon of powder is mixed in a cup of cold water. The powder creates a reddish-brown solution. The taste is pleasant when combined with sugar and in any sugary substance, however it can be rather bitter when eaten alone.

This unique fruit is definitely something to consider growing. While it does require warm temperatures to thrive, it can be grown and kept in a container. It does best in full sun and in temperatures above 60°F. However, keeping it in a container is a great way to still be able to enjoy the Guarana fruit no matter where you live.

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April 4, 2016

With Mother’s Day around the corner, everyone is looking for gifts. And let’s face it. Moms are usually the ones handling the preparations for things, so when it comes to Mother’s Day, things tend to fall through the cracks or get pushed to the last minute. So moms end up with generic, ordinary flowers or maybe a gift certificate. Or, if you’re lucky like me, a picture of something your family has ordered you online. But they forgot to order it until that morning so all I get is a picture. Then I have to be there to get the package off the driveway when it does arrive.

What is so frustrating about Mother’s Day gifts is that most gifts are well…lackluster. Once the kids are too old to make cute crafts, the holiday loses something. And you end up with a half dead bouquet of flowers from the grocery store.

A great alternative is a fruit tree. PlantOGram ships them right to your door. You can even plant it and surprise mom with it on Mother’s Day. It’s definitely too big for you to leave under the deck and forget about for two weeks (Yep…my husband did that with a plant for me too!). And it’s an easy way to personalize the gift. You can find a fruit that you know mom likes, and choose a tree based off of that.

Consider the weather and sun, soil, and water conditions in your area. There are trees for all climates and conditions so anyone can gift a fruit tree.

This is also a great eco-friendly gift. You’re helping the environment by planting a tree. Also, the tree and the fruit will provide food and habitats for animals. If your mom is active in conserving the environment, this is an ideal gift.

Another bonus, is a lot of fruits can be used for things besides cooking. For example, apples can be used in a number of crafts. This can be a fun way for the kids and mom to connect during Mother’s Day and later when the tree has fruited.

Look through PlantOGram’s inventory of trees. There’s definitely something for mom!

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at freedigitalimages.net

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April 4, 2016

As a realtor, you have clients from all different walks of life. Some may come from other countries. Some have eight kids while others live alone. Each client is unique, but each one deserves a gift after they’ve purchased their dream home. So what is that perfect gift to go with the perfect home you found them?

Well, Madison Hildebrand is one of the most recognizable faces in real estate. And he’s a big fan of PlantOGram! He thinks it’s “A great gift for realtors to send their clients.”

And he’s right. A PlantOGram tree can be appreciated by any person who receives it. First, not only are you giving them the gift of great fruit for life, you’re giving them something that will increase the value of their home. With that tree growing in their backyard, if they ever decide to sell their house, they’re going to get a bit of a boost because of it. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it can provide shade, privacy, or block any unsightly views. You’ve just upped their property value. Who do you think they’re going to call next time they move?

Also, when your clients invite friends and neighbors over to their new home, the visitors will definitely ask about the new tree and the delicious fresh fruit served. Then your clients will tell their friends all about their realtor who took the time to send them a PlantOGram. You’ve now ensured clients will come back to you in the future and increased your word of mouth advertising. And that was essentially free, because you would be sending gifts anyways. So it may as well be a fruit tree!

Madison Hildebrand founded the Malibu Life in 2006. Today a team of 10 specialists work to provide exceptional service and luxury real estate to their clients. Madison has 10 years of experience and career sales topping $250 million. Madison’s philosophy is “Spread the Love” and “You can mix business with pleasure.” Some of his passions include gardening, traveling, and hiking. Someone with this many interests and resources still takes the time to send a thoughtful gift to his clients and you should too. That gift can be a PlantOGram fruit tree.

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April 4, 2016

The Moringa Tree is a fast growing tree that yields seed pods and a feathery canopy of leaves.

The tree grows best in tropical areas. Leaves are produced even during the dry season and in times of drought. All parts of the tree are edible, however the root and root extracts may have toxic substances that if consumed could result in paralysis and fatality. The leaves are used fresh or dried and ground into a powder. The seed pods are picked while they’re still green and can be eaten fresh or cooked. The seed oil is sweet, doesn’t stick or dry, and doesn’t go rancid. The seeds are eaten green, roasted, powdered, and steeped for tea or used I curries.

The moringa has a wide array of health benefits. It is a god source of protein, vitamins, amino acids, fiber, and iron. It can act as a cardiac and circulatory stimulant. It can lower cholesterol and is a natural diuretic. It has antitumor, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antihypertensive, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It can also reduce fevers and protect your liver.

More simply, here is a list of some of the common conditions it can help treat:

Anemia

Arthritis

Asthma

Athlete’s foot

Cancer

Constipation

Dandruff

Diabetes

Diarrhea

Epilepsy

Gastritis

Gingivitis

Heart conditions

Headaches

High blood pressure

Infections

Inflammation

Intestinal ulcers

Kidney stones

Low breast milk production

Sex drive

Snake bites

Stimulate immunity

Stomach ulcers

Thyroid disorders

Warts

The anti-inflammatory effects can also influence resultant conditions like asthma and pain. The Moringa plant alkaloid resembles ephedrine and can be used in the treatment of asthma. It relaxes the bronchioles. Also, the seed kernels show promise in treating bronchial asthma. The effects of the Moringa plant on asthma are still being studied.

The leaves of the plant are used to treat headaches. They are rubbed against the temple to reduce pain. They can also stop the bleeding from a shallow cut. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can treat small cuts and insect bites. Leaf tea can treat gastric ulcers and diarrhea. It’s high iron content improves anemia. Also, it can reduce fevers, bronchitis, eye and ear infections, and inflammation of the mucus membranes.

Eating the actual fruit treats malnutrition and diarrhea. If eaten raw, the fruit can act as a de-wormer. It can treat liver and spleen problems as well as joint pain.

The seeds of the tree can treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramps, STDs, and boils. They are used as a relaxant for epilepsy. They have also been effective against skin infecting bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts from the seeds may decrease fever also.

Finally, there is one thing to watch out for regarding the moringa fruit. At one time moringa root was used as a permanent form of birth control. It prevents the fertilized egg from being able to attach to the lining of the uterine wall. Over time it can decrease fertility. If consumed while pregnant, it can cause fetal resorption or induce contractions leading to miscarriage. Therefore, it is recommended to stay away from moringa in general if pregnant.

However, moringa leaf can help breastfeeding mothers produce milk. (Remember it is the root and root bark that have antifertility effects). Moringa leaf is safe.

But root bark does have a redeeming quality. Actually, a very redeeming quality. It may help fight against post-menopausal epithelial ovarian cancer. After menopause, when fertility is no longer a concern, root bark is safe, and may fight cancer. So as long as one stays away from it during their childbearing years, go for it later in life!

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April 4, 2016

The Imbe is a small, bright orange, oblong fruit that is native to Africa. This berry has a thin skin and one large seed inside. The imbe has a very sweet, yet acidic taste. Some have likened the taste to that of an apricot.

An antibacterial component has been found in the leaves. Also, the bark and root of the Imbe tree can be used to treat meningitis, tuberculosis, and cancer. Other uses of the fruit include landscaping using imbe trees and of course eating the fruit. It can be eaten raw, crushed into a drink, seeded and dried, cooked into desserts, or fermented to make a purplish wine. Another option is to soak imbes in alcohol and mix it with syrup to make liqueur.

These trees can be grown in USDA growing zones 9 and above. They are drought tolerant, but in order for fruit to grow, water is necessary. The tree usually fruits between July and August. The fruit ripens to a bright orange in August and is gone within two weeks. The fruit is between 1.5-2 inches long and 1-2 inches in diameter. The skin is quite tender, so shipping this fruit is not practical.

The tree itself is rather slow growing, but ultimately can grow to 15-20 feet tall. However, the evergreen like tree usually has one large trunk with other thick branches stemming from it. This puts the fruit closer to the ground than if they grew off just the main trunk. Also, it gives the tree a unique appearance, making it a popular choice in landscaping. In fact, imbe trees can be found at Mozambique’s capitol and near Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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April 4, 2016

Planing a Mexican dinner night? Follow this recipe http://ow.ly/NlFHa and use your fresh avocados to make this delicious guacamole to add to your dinner!

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April 4, 2016

The dragon fruit comes from a cactus plant. The fruit itself can have red or yellow skin and white or red flesh. All varieties have overlaid leaves, similar to an artichoke, and many small, black, edible seeds inside. It has a mildly sweet flavor, like a mix of kiwi and pear. While the fruit’s appearance can be a bit intimidating, it’s easy to eat. Simply slice the fruit open and scoop out the flesh. Only the white (or sometimes pink) part with seeds is edible. The skin is bitter.

The dragon fruit is very healthy, with a high amount of vitamin C. There is an abundance of calcium, iron, and phosphorous as well. It contains no complex carbohydrates which ensures easy breakdown in the body. It has been proven to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, strengthen bones and teeth, promote healthy blood and tissue formation, strengthen the immune system, heal bruises and wounds faster, and prevent respiratory problems.

So aside from eating it fresh, what can you do? How about make it into a cool, refreshing cocktail?

INGREDIENTS: yields 3-4 martinis

  • 1 ripe dragon fruit (soft enough to indent skin slightly with your thumb)
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (not required)
  • garnishes: dragon fruit wedge, lime slice, or star fruit

PREPARATION: 12 minutes

  1. Scoop all flesh out of dragon fruit.
  2. Place dragon fruit flesh into blender or food processor. Add all other ingredients and blend 20-30 seconds on high speed.
  3. Taste-test for desired strength and sweetness. Add more vodka for strength or more sugar for sweetness. (Note: sweetness will also depend on the ripeness of dragon fruit). If too sweet, add more lime juice. If too strong, add more coconut milk.
  4. Pour into martini glasses and garnish.
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April 4, 2016

Star fruit are not only pretty to look at, but interesting too! Since they can be grown in Florida and Hawaii, they’re pretty easy to come by.

When looking for ripe star fruit, use the same rule as bananas. Ripe star fruit will be mainly bright yellow with tinges of light green. If they have some dark brown along the five ridges, that’s fine. The flesh should still be firm. It’s also okay to buy star fruit when it’s green and wait for it to ripen. When star fruit is over-ripe it turns entirely yellow and gets brown spots all over. Star fruit is usually available July through February.

There are two different varieties found in supermarkets. One is sour while the other is slightly sweet, yet it is virtually impossible to tell the two apart. In general, the tart varieties have narrowly spaced ribs and sweet varieties have thicker, fleshier ribs. However, the tart variety still has some sweetness. The flavor is usually described as a cross between an apple and a grape.

A star fruit, which when cut up will be about 2/3 of a cup, is a great source of Vitamin C, is low fat, and free of sodium and cholesterol. The fruit can be eaten fresh, used as a garnish, or incorporated into salads.

The star fruit has been reported to have a few health benefits as well. It has been used to relieve headaches, hangovers, sore eyes, ringworm, prickly heat, and chickenpox. It is also believed to stimulate the flow of milk in nursing mothers. However, those in chronic renal failure or end stage renal disease should stay away from star fruit. It contains a neurotoxin that can cause fruit intoxication in these patients.

Here's a great recipe for Star Fruit Dessert.

Serves 2-4, Prep Time 8 min, Cook Time 10 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh, ripe star fruit
  • 1 cup orange juice or 2 oranges juiced
  • the fruit of 1 fresh ripe mango
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • up to 1 cup good quality coconut milk
  • optional: handful of fresh pomegranate seeds or cherries
  • optional: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (as a topping)

Preparation:

  1. Place the star fruit (3 slices per person) in a pot on the stove. Add orange juice. Stir well and turn heat to high until juice begins to boil. Then turn heat down to medium.
  2. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until star fruit has softened enough to easily cut into with a spoon. Occasionally move slices and gently turn them over so they cook equally. Remove any brown seeds that may loosen and surface.
  3. While star fruit is cooking, place the mango fruit in a food processor, mini chopper, or blender. Process or blend until it is smooth and pureed. Set aside.
  4. When the star fruit is nearly done, add the brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Add the mango puree, stirring well. Taste-test for sweetness, adding more brown sugar if needed. (Sweetness will depend on ripeness of fruit and juice used). If it is too sweet, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice or more orange juice.
  6. Take out 3 slices per bowl with enough sauce to surround the fruit. Top each bowl with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds or cherry pieces. Drizzle coconut milk over the fruit. Add whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream and serve!
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