Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Mike Lieberman of UrbanOrganicGardener.com


Mike Lieberman is the creator of UrbanOrganicGardener.com where he shows people with little to no land how to start growing their own food so they can avoid toxic pesticides, eat healthier and not feel limited by their lack of experience and space. Mike is a pro at making the most of small spaces – read on to learn his advice on getting started!

Getting Your Urban Garden Started

You know that you can grow your own food if you have lots of space, but what if you don’t have any land? Most of us are apartment dwellers that live in urban areas – not the most garden-friendly locations. Our apartments barely have enough room for furniture, nonetheless a garden. Growing your own food isn’t even an option. Or is it?

You don’t need lots of land or space to have your own urban garden, you just have to be smart with the limited space you have in your apartment garden and maximize it.

Urban Gardening 101: I got my start on a 2×3 fire escape in New York City and now grow on a 13×4 balcony in Los Angeles. I write using my experience and use easy to follow instructions. No gardening mumbo-jumbo from me.

Here are some articles to help get your urban garden started:

7 Locations Where to Start Your Apartment Garden
Learn 7 locations that you can use to get your apartment garden started.

Determine How Much Sunlight Your Space Gets
What can you grow? Figuring out how much sunlight will help to narrow down your consideration set of crops. Watch a quick video on how to figure this out.

Essential Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding What to Grow
You’ll need to answer these questions to figure out what’s best for you to grow in your space.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Summer’s Bounty Vegan Fruit Tart

This recipe produces a beautiful tart that is surprisingly easy to make. In just a few simple steps, you will have an impressive, completely vegan dessert that will satisfy everyone! The fresh taste of the fruit and the cool filling are enhanced by the nutty, crunchy crust, and it is much more healthful than a typical fruit tart.

Crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter substitute (such as Earth Balance), melted
Filling:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons vegan orange (or any other flavor you like) gelatin substitute (such as Natural Desserts)
1 kiwi, sliced
1 quart fresh mixed berries or other seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, and sugar. Stir in the butter substitute until blended. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium pot. Add water, apple juice, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin substitute until dissolved. Let cool.
Arrange kiwi and berries in crust in whatever pattern you like. Pour mixture over fruit (you may have extra filling). Using a pastry brush, carefully coat any fruit that did not get coated when you poured in the filling. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Peaches, Dirty Dozen!

Even in California, life is dictated by the seasons. We may not get extreme hot and cold like some states, but our eating is always seasonal. Late July and early August is all about peaches for me. . Peaches always make the “dirty dozen “ list, which means they are full of nasty pesticides! I always buy seasonal organic peaches, and would buy frozen or canned organic peaches over fresh conventional ones any time.

For the past two years, we have adopted an organic peach tree. Our tree is one of many grownPeaches - dirty dozen

I can never have enough of these peaches in their natural state, but of course I have to make things with them. Along with pies and tarts, we put up jars and jars of peach jam and chutney at my restaurant. Try white peaches with crème fraiche and honey for a quick dessert on a hot summer night. When your local farmers’ market is bursting with peaches, peel and freeze for smoothies and cobblers. I also love this salad that highlights honey grilled peaches. It’s so fresh and light, and perfect for lunch or dinner on a hot summer day.

Honey Grilled Peaches with Arugula & Goat Cheese

Serves 4

  1.  1/4 cup sliced almonds
  2. Extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 8 ripe but firm medium sized peaches, cut in half and pitted
  4. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixed with 2 teaspoons honey
  5. 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  6. 4 ounces baby arugula
  7. Balsamic Vinaigrette
  8. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  10. 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  11. 2 tablespoons honey
  12. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  13. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, and dry roast the almonds until they are light brown and fragrant. Let cool.

Heat the same skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Grill the peaches cut side down, about 2 minutes total. Add the vinegar/honey mixture and cook another 30-40 seconds, just until the peaches caramelize.

In a blender, puree the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey and Dijon mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the arugula with some of the dressing and place on individual plates. Place the cheese and the peaches (2 halves per person) on top of the salad, add the almonds and drizzle with more dressing.

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Jessica Mendoza Travels to Rwanda

I spent some time this past spring in Rwanda for a project called The Girl Effect (girleffect.org). I was there to work alongside Global Press Institute to teach girls to be journalists, photographers and storytellers of the world and life around them. The idea was to give a voice, and confidence, to the future of Rwanda. To provide opportunity for these girls to be independent and have career opportunities in what they are passionate about.

I was there during the 18th anniversary of the horrific genocide that occurred in 1992. I was able to visit memorial sites, museums and reconciliation villages where those who killed live alongside the families they murdered. The idea is to rid the country of the revenge, hatred and horrific genocide that wiped out almost a million people in 100 days by forcing enemies to live side by side in peace.


We spoke with one of the murderers and a woman whose entire family he had killed. They are not friends by any means, but for the past 5 years they have figured out a way to live as neighbors and move on, even though the memories of what happened haunt both of them daily. Why? So the children they have will not grow up to know the hatred and horrors they lived in.

I spent time with many of these children, playing games, laughing and sharing smiles. One of the younger ones spotted a Pure Bar in my bag and looked up to me with a grin ear to ear. I gave him my morning breakfast of a blueberry Pure Bar with a smile right back. Well this opened the flood gates. Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by every kid in the village wanting Pure Bars. I had at least a half dozen on me, and I handed them out to each smiling child, making sure they split the “goods” with all. Those bars didn’t last 3 seconds… After that, I found myself with dozens of little boys and girls holding my hands, playing with my hair, and snuggling up to me as if I was their long lost aunt. I was so grateful I always have a solid supply of Pure Bars and that something so simple could connect me with these amazing and beautiful children who are representing the future of a peaceful Rwanda.

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

The Lunchbox Fund Thanks You!

At The Lunchbox Fund, we have a goal of supporting students nutritionally, so they may succeed academically. A fed child has higher concentration levels and a greater desire to learn. In South Africa over 13 million children live in poverty. In schools, scores for literacy, reading, and numeracy tests are continuously low among students. The link between adequate nutrition and academic success is difficult to ignore.

Sustainability in our programs is of paramount importance to us. We’re really excited about the organic food gardens we’ve begun to implement. One of the objectives of these gardens is to educate the children in food security, and whilst doing so, give them access to nutrient rich, sustainable food that they can produce themselves. As many students suffer from the crippling effects of HIV/AIDS, supplying them with a constant, healthy food supply is vital to maintaining health and boosting immune systems.

At our pilot school we’ve planted a variety of winter crops including spinach/chard, cabbage, lettuce, beetroot, carrots and leeks. Intercropped are herbs such as rosemary, parsley, lavender, comfrey and citronella. Community volunteers are responsible for garden maintenance, and are assisted by learners and one educator from the school. The social aspects of community gardens have far reaching positive impact. They help create a sense of community by offering a place where participants can gather, network and identify with one another. Since the gardens are organized by the community, they form a social network that is necessary for management, which results in socialization, an increased sense of community, and often increased self-confidence among the participants.

By offering this resource to the students, we are giving them a safe and healthy place to be, keeping them off the streets, away from violence and drugs, and giving them something that they can be proud of.

We thank Pure Bar for their commitment to our mission, and to the students. To help us build on the progress we are making, and to further extend our efforts in helping these impoverished and at-risk children, we encourage you to LIKE our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thelunchboxfund and FOLLOW us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/thelunchboxfund

Warmly,

Topaz Page-Green
Founder, The Lunchbox Fund

Photographs copyright © 2010 Jonx Pillemer

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Do Greeks Do It Better? When It Comes to Yogurt It Seems So

This is a guest blog from our friend Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian (R.D.) who strives to make better nutrition a way of life for all.

Wondering which yogurt to grab? Many people are turning towards Greek yogurt these days and as the following LA Times article points out – there are some compelling nutrition reasons.

With a lower carbohydrate and higher protein content, Greek yogurt (note: this is not the same as Greek-style yogurt helps to provide a balanced eating occasion base. I agree with the article’s experts who advise starting with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and then accessorizing to match your mood – want sweet? Add some berries and even cacao nibs…want savory for a delicious dip? Add fresh or dried spices. And so many things to do with Greek yogurt as I recently learned at a dinner event hosted by Oikos / Stonyfield Greek yogurt – my favorites are their tomato bisque and creamy mashed cauliflower …oh, and if I could make frozen yogurt like chef Akasha Richmond, that would definitely be on the list! But one piece of info that didn’t make it into the article – as my friend, dietitian Kate Geagan MS RD (author, Go Green, Get Lean) pointed out, “the higher up the food chain you go, the more important it is to eat organic.” I couldn’t agree more – who needs added hormones, or antibiotics by way of their yogurt – and recommend adding organic to the list of things to look for when you choose your Greek yogurt.

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Feed a child, Nourish a mind

Introduction from Veronica Bosgraaf:

I want to express a heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in and “shared” our “Like for a Lunch” promotion. We were able to donate 9,385 additional lunches to school children, which brings the total to almost 50,000 lunches. We believe in the importance of giving back and are grateful for our customers that get involved, and help us give. We will be continuing to create ways for everyone to help throughout the entire year and will announce them on our Facebook page, so keep checking back. The following is a blog written by The Lunchbox Fund founder Topaz Page-Green, that describes the origin of this awesome organization and shows why we are so excited to be a sponsor. Enjoy!

Veronica & Topaz

In 2004, three years after I moved to New York City, I returned to South Africa for a visit. Touring a local township high school in impoverished Soweto, I witnessed a group of children huddled together under a tree during recess. The literal and figurative distance between themselves and their peers was palpable, and upon further inquiry of the school’s staff, I learned that the division was a result of children who had food for lunch versus those that didn’t.

Many of the impoverished children were AIDS orphans or were caring for parents and siblings affected by the disease. Physically and emotionally exhausted, their ability to attend school, and their performance while there, was often compromised. By providing a meal, however, school attendance increased, while the risk of HIV infection, abuse, and/or unwanted pregnancy was reduced. By combating poverty and malnutrition, the overall quality of each child’s life was improved.

Moved by the experience, I founded the Lunchbox Fund in 2005. A grassroots non-profit, we began providing a daily meal to students in South Africa’s township high schools. To date, we work with six schools to ensure each child is given two protein-rich peanut butter sandwiches and a piece of fruit; and our initiatives are continuing to expand. With the recent launch of our New Growth Partnership, we are proud to announce that 2,200 additional children will be added to our feeding programs and that sustainable gardens will be integrated into our schools.

Six years later, The Lunchbox Fund is as committed as ever to the nutrition of children and we are excited to have Pure, as a corporate sponsor, assist in our efforts. A socially minded company “dedicated to helping everyone live a pure, healthy life,” we couldn’t imagine a more ideal partner for fostering change. Nelson Mandela, who himself, had lived in Soweto, said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” By providing lunch, we support education. And by providing education, we can provide possibility. Won’t you join us?

Warmly,

Topaz Page-Green

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Five Smart Ways to Beat the Bloat

This is a guest blog from our friend Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian (R.D.) who strives to make better nutrition a way of life for all.

Buzz Tips to Help You Deflate

  1. Mind Your Manners
    Talking while you’re eating, chewing gum, smoking and drinking through a straw can all cause you to swallow excess air, leaving you bloated and uncomfortable.
  2. Great Things DO Come in Small Packages
    Allow yourself to enjoy occasional treats, but limit yourself to just a taste or bite. The smaller portion will be better for your digestive system and prevent excess bloating.
  3. Find Your Inner Balance
    Of bacteria, that is. It’s important to have a good balance of beneficial bacteria (“probiotics”) in our digestive systems. When used daily as directed, a daily probiotic supplement like Align with Bifantis, can help restore a natural balance with ongoing probiotic protection.
  4. Spice Things Up
    Spices don’t just make your food taste good, they’re important for your overall health too. Ginger and tumeric have anti-inflammatory properties, while caraway, cumin and cinnamon play a role in digestion and can help with weight management. Adding different spices to your meals and snacks can help spice things up … the right way.
  5. Don’t Feel Weighed Down by Bloating
    Hop on the treadmill, hit the dance floor or just run around with your nieces and nephews – anything. Working up a sweat releases fluids your body might be holding, and just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can help to move food along your digestive tract so bloating won’t weigh you down.
Friday, May 13th, 2011

Chia, the next “it” dietary supplement?

Ashley Koff went to Australia to find out and discusses on GMA Health

There has been such a buzz about chia seeds lately. Personally I love how they have evolved from the renowned Chia Pet of the 80’s to a nutritional superstar. Much better positioning if you ask me! We liked them so much that we put chia seeds into our new Pure Naturals line for an extra boost of nourishment. Learn all about this celebrity seed from registered dietitian Ashley Koff in her informative blog below. — Veronica.

A tiny seed, an ancient grain, the next wonder supplement – inquiring minds are wondering what is this seed and why is everyone from athletes to doctors to food manufacturers saying “add some chia to your diet” for optimal health?

Chia comes from a plant (salvia hispanica) in the mint family which grows around the world at latitudes 15 degrees north or south of the equator. Despite having an attractive blue flower which makes chia plants seem appealing, the plant naturally fends off predators and humans alike as its stems are bitter tasting so we harvest the seed instead. The seed, either black or white, contains a good source of fiber, and vegetarian omega 3 fatty acids.

I recently went to Australia where farmer John Foss started The Chia Co. to see how chia grows. Foss picked chia after traveling the world to pick an “it” food to bring back to Australia because he wanted to grow something that could help with Australia’s health issues – obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. And today, five to ten years later, his chia is doing just that. Whether added to already nutritious foods like a spinach egg white scramble, and antioxidant rich berry and Greek yogurt parfait, or notably more nutrient poor – white bread – chia is providing a nutritional upgrade (their white bread now has 4-5 grams of fiber vs the 1-2 of many white breads).

When it comes to cooking with chia, what’s interesting is not only does chia not detract from the flavor of baked goods, but because the fiber attracts moisture and swells as well as the oil – the addition of chia creates desirable texture to baked goods – all while lowering the GI (glycemic index) of these foods too. I even had chia gnocchi there that was amazing, and the company HappyBaby uses chia (Salba) in their baby food to help get critical omega 3 fatty acids to growing babies.

So with all this good news, one asks where does chia fit into the diet or is it best as a dietary supplement? In my opinion, because its so easy to add it into the diet, we don’t need to take it in a pill supplement form that only provides the oil (not the fiber) but rather add it to the diet by eating or drinking it in foods – so think of it as a dietary “booster”. That said, for those downing fiber supplements daily, I enjoy adding chia to water (and I add my electrolyte powder Ultima Replenisher or swop the water for coconut water) and have this instead of a synthetic fiber supplement. Also, there’s great opportunity, as many food manufacturers like Marys Gone Crackers and Vega show us, to add chia to quality convenience foods like pretzels and bars to increase fiber and essential fatty acid content from a whole food source. Especially for those following a gluten-free diet, chia can help them meet the daily need for fiber that they share with all but often struggle to get from grains and grain products.

Chia does not provide the same omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA as a serving of wild salmon or sardines, it provides ALA which individuals convert differently which means there’s room in the diet for all these great choices. So following recommendations like those of the Australian and European Heart Foundations – to have daily intake of vegetarian omega 3 fatty acids and wild,sustainable fish sources twice weekly – makes great sense for us too (the US currently does not have a daily recommendation for essential fatty acids)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

With these vitamins, No exercise required!

This is a guest blog from our friend Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian (R.D.) who strives to make better nutrition a way of life for all.

Introduction by Veronica Bosgraaf, Pure Bar Founder: My cousin and I used to joke about selling an “ab workout” video where the workout is simply people laughing for 30 minutes. It’s true that laughter is the best medicine! And that’s why I love people with a sense of humor, you get joy, increased health, PLUS an ab workout! What could be better?

I love the blog post below from celebrity dietitian, Ashley Koff RD, because good for you doesn’t always have to mean pain and sacrifice. I would add Vitamin D to the list because sitting in the sun for 15 minutes is so therapeutic on many levels. What would you add to this list?

Exercise carries negative connotations for many people – it’s a have to, another item on the list, and it may feel uncomfortable or painful.

Conversely, if we aim to include my favorite vitamins (read more in Recipes for IBS or my blog) in the day we will get the benefits of exercise without having to use the “e” word

Vitamin L – laughter – Jimmy Buffet says it best and it’s true – if we couldn’t laugh we’d all go insane! Laughter works our belly muscles, and brings in oxygen, it lowers our stress levels…and it’s pretty hard to eat or drink while laughing so it keeps our caloric intake lower. So catch some laughs

Vitamin M – massage – having one of those days and you don’t want to exercise – let someone do it for you…massage provides healing through touch but also the benefits of exercise like moving the lymphatic system and stretching, it even helps with digestion

Vitamin N – nature – sunlight provides powerful activity for our insides by making vitamin D. Nature also provides us tons of different routes and alleviates the potential boredom that a gym machine may induce

And so on…make your way to Z (which by the way stands for Zzzzs as in get some sleep as its one of the best things we can do for our body)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Good Health: Is it Physical or Emotional?

This is a guest blog from Pure ambassador Jessica Mendoza, an Olympic softball gold medalist, ESPN color analyst and new mom!

With World Health Day coming up, it is hard not to take a moment to evaluate how healthy our lives are at the moment. When I think of health, I think of the usual: diet, exercise, sickness prevention, but there is a huge part of health that tends to go overlooked: emotional health. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first person to educate on the importance of eating whole organic foods, being active and getting your antioxidants. But at the end of the day, physical health will only get you so far.

I spend a lot of time traveling the US and abroad speaking to girls and women. What I notice more than anything else, is how insecure we are, and can be. My focus most recently has been the girl/woman that is still trying to figure out who she is (this can range anywhere from 12 to 60 as far as age). Many of these women are athletes and they are very aware of looking healthy. They watch their calorie intake, exercise to stay thin, go tanning and get their hair done, but what is on the inside is usually something entirely different. Many of these women are battling to compete with the women they see in movies, commercials, magazines and music videos. They constantly feel they are not thin enough, beautiful enough, perfect enough.

I feel we have all struggled with this at some point in our lives. I know I have. But what I have found to be the biggest cure is to know and respect who you are. No one looks like Barbie. At least not without major plastic surgery. Our bodies change as we get older, and if you can get comfortable looking yourself in the mirror and seeing the REAL you, not some made-up version, you will first get more comfortable with that person, and then learn to respect that person, and hopefully get to the point where you can love who you see in the mirror. There is no better happiness, and thus no better emotional health, than taking time away from our absolutely crazy schedules to know ourselves and what makes us smile inside.

Ridding my body of stress and doing things that take me away from the pressures of perfection, are what allow me to stay healthy. If I gain some lbs here and there, that’s life (and you can bet that oozing molten dark cocoa cake was SO worth it!) and it is going to happen. I am NEVER going to be the cover girl I see on every magazine rack … but if I can make sure every day I feel that genuinely giant smile creep across my face, whether it is because I am laughing so hard with my closest friends and family, or I am by myself and just enjoying a moment, I know I will have more than the posed-smile of a model, I will have a truly healthy life.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

An Organic Recipe: Veggie Quinoa Pasta

This is a guest blog from our friend Chanelle Sladics, professional snowboarder, world traveler and yoga enthusiast.

Quinoa Pasta (Gluten-Free, Super Grain)
Freestyle…play with your ingredients and portions!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a grain; it is actually a seed and related to the spinach family. When cooked, quinoa is light, fluffy, slightly crunchy and subtly flavored. It actually cooks and tastes like a grain, making it an excellent replacement for grains that are difficult to digest or feed candida (a systemic fungal infection very common in women).

  • Complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles.
  • Magnesium helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. Quinoa contains high levels of this vital nutrient.
  • Fiber. Quinoa is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber that eases elimination and tones your colon.
  • Manganese and copper. Quinoa is a good source of these minerals that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances.

Research from BodyEcology.com

Quinoa Pasta Instructions

Boil water + salt + olive oil…

Sauté Olive Oil and Garlic in Pan, when Garlic browns, add veggies of your choice…

Here I added:
onions
mushrooms
tomatoes
kale
celery (in that order)

the add a bit more olive oil , fresh ground pepper and sea salt, and chopped Basil

Yum Yum for the Tum!