A smoothie a day keeps me healthy

I have modified the ingredients of my daily smoothie to include turmeric, celery, cucumbers, broccoli slaw, collagen powder, ginger, avocado, lemon juice (fresh) blueberries, hemp hearts and green tea. Same principle though, makes a great hydrating, nutritious, pre-garden drink. Twenty-five years later, with five grandkids to keep up with, I still make one (almost) every day!  The following is reposted from my own blog; one of my earliest posts back in 2012…

Eating Plant Based: A Crash Course

plant-based stevia

This article was originally published on Pyure Organic’s Blog Sweet Talk, and modified slightly to become a guest post here on my blog.

Nearly ten million Americans follow a plant-based diet for health, ethical, or preference reasons. Yet, there’s some confusion around the term plant-based – it’s not the same as vegan or vegetarian, though those terms sometimes get used interchangeably. We’ll break down what it means to eat a plant-based diet, as well as how sugar fits into a plant-based diet for weight loss. 

What is a plant-based diet?

People who follow a plant-based diet mostly or entirely eat plants. The majority of what they eat is fruit, vegetables, legumes – rather than animal products such as meat, cheese, or eggs. 

There are many variations of plant-based diets, including: 

  • Whole-foods plant-based: This diet prioritizes eating whole, unrefined, or minimally refined food that comes from plants, without any animal ingredients (meat, milk, eggs, or honey). It excludes processed foods, like boxed macaroni and cheese or meat-free vegan chicken nuggets. 
  • Mediterranean diet: Named for the traditional eating habits in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts, and seeds, using olive oil as the primary fat and low amounts of animal proteins, usually fish over meat.
  • Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian: This diet also prioritizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, but as the name suggests, followers are flexible and incorporate meat and animal products sometimes. 
  • Pescetarian: This diet cuts out red meat, poultry, and “wild game” but permits dairy products (such as cheese and eggs) as well as fish and shellfish. 
  • The DASH diet: DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet aims to reduce sodium in your diet and to help lower blood pressure. Followers of the DASH diet eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, some fish, poultry and legumes, plus a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week.
  • The MIND diet: MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This diet is a hybrid of the two diets mentioned above and aims to reduce the risk of dementia and the decline in brain health.

The health benefits of a plant-based diet are, unsurprisingly, varied depending on what plants each person chooses to eat. For instance, one study compared the effects of a plant-based diet that incorporated whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes as compared to a plant-based diet that included potatoes (fries and potato chips), sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, and refined grains. The first group had the lowest risk for heart disease, were more active, and weighed less than the second group. 

Plant-based vs. vegan diets

So, what’s the difference between a plant-based diet and veganism? 

Vegan diets abstain from all animal-based products. Often, veganism extends beyond dietary choices and into lifestyle habits. “Veganism is generally defined as living in a way that avoids consuming, using, or exploiting animals as much as realistically possible. While this leaves room for individual preferences and barriers, the overall intent is that minimal harm is done to animals through life choices,” reports Healthline. “In addition to excluding animal products from their diets, people who label themselves as vegan typically avoid purchasing items that were made from or tested on animals.” 

As it relates to eating habits, many vegans still eat processed foods. Vegans can certainly eat junk food – cookies, potato chips, and some candies are vegan. If you’re seeking to eat better to lose weight, veganism isn’t necessarily a silver bullet. It’s important to consider the quality of your ingredients in addition to where they come from (plants or animals). 

How does sugar fit into eating plant-based?

For those looking to eat healthier or lose weight, making the switch to plant-based is a good start – but only when you start to incorporate the right types of plant-based ingredients. “A plant-based diet sounds like it’d be inherently healthy, but that’s not always the case. Refined grains, added sugars, and vegan fast food are all plant-based—but not the healthiest. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and some proteins make for more nutritionally sound choices,” Kelly Plowe, MS, RD told VeryWellFit.

A whole-foods, plant-based diet will eliminate processed sugar, but be aware: alternatives like maple syrup, coconut sugar, and raw cane sugar can have the same effect on blood sugar as table sugar.

Research shows that Stevia is a healthier alternative to table sugar

Stevia is a key ingredient when trying a plant-based diet to lose weight. Stevia is a plant-based, zero glycemic (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar), zero-calorie sweetener with a taste 50-350 times sweeter than sugar – so a little goes a long way. Stevia is also free from any of the chemicals used to create artificial sweeteners. Just by substituting stevia for sugar in your daily routine, you’ll be making a big difference in your nutrition. For many, stevia makes up an important ingredient in a plant-based diet. For others, this is your first taste of exploring what it means to eat plant-based.

Pyure Organic Stevia is one of the only organic stevia brands out there. Learn more about Pyure’s organic stevia products – and get some tasty plant-based recipes – on our blog, Sweet Talk. Pyure products are plant-based, made from organic stevia plants. This highly sustainable plant lets us create a high-quality, tasty sugar alternative – and helps you avoid the chemicals, additives, and artificial processes found in many artificial sweeteners, not to mention plain-old sugar. 

That’s lots of good information about an organic, plant-based alternative to table sugar. I admit, I have never tried Stevia, and did not know much about it until recently. I do believe that sugars in our food are the culprit when battling weight gain. I have never enjoyed the chemical taste of artificial sweeteners, but recognize that reducing sugar consumption is a healthy and effective way to control weight.

As Stevia is plant based and organic, I may just try it when baking (my main sugar consumption, especially now that my grandkids like to bake with me) to see how the taste compares to sugar. Stay tuned!

Covid and Kids, What are the Long-Term Effects?

I worry about the short and long term effects of this covid pandemic on our children. Social distancing does not come naturally to them. It is difficult enough for us adults, but we (most of us) can see and understand the reason behind the rules. We also do our best to explain these rules to our kids and grandkids.

When we were not allowed to hug or touch each other I would tell my grandkids that “grandma is sick and doesn’t want to make you sick.” This little white lie worked, but I could see the confusion on their sweet little faces.

The primary (pun intended) lesson learned in sending our kids to school at four years old is supposed to be the development and practice of social skills. You know, stuff like sharing, trading, empathy, taking turns and more. How can they do this if social distancing is their new norm?

What lessons are they going to learn instead? Don’t touch, don’t get too close, don’t care, and god forbid, don’t share. Will they learn anything beneficial? At what point are we doing them more harm than good?

Parents are facing a dilemma. Most families need two incomes to stay afloat financially, and cannot afford to have one parent stay home to look after young children. Single parents have even less choice. Daycares offer the same risk and discourage social skills as schools are doing.

So, what is the answer? Perhaps a Covid related, government issued benefit for a parent to stay home to care for, nurture and educate their young children. If we can pay any previously employed adults to stay home even though they could/should have returned to work, why can’t we pay parents to stay home? Of course, like a maternity/paternity leave, it would have to guarantee a job upon their return to work.

Health and Wellness Apps You Need In Your Life

Guest post by Amber Theuer, originally published on ivee.com, edited and modified for publication here on Loreeebee.wordpress.com

There’s no denying that our phones have become a vital part of our everyday routine, so we might as well start using them to support and develop our wellbeing. From meditation to sleep to hydration, there’s an app for whatever area of your health you’re trying to improve. 

Waking Up: A Meditation Course

Created and narrated by neuroscientist, philosopher, and New York Times best-selling author Sam Harris, Waking Up is a meditation and wellness app that takes users along the journey of mindfulness. Described as “a guide to understanding the mind, for the purpose of living a more balanced and fulfilling life,” Waking Up truly helps you find the inner peace and stability needed to excel. Plus, it offers exclusive theory courses, similar to podcasts, that reinforce the meditation practice! 

Sleep Cycle 

Having trouble sleeping? Looking to improve the quality and length of your night’s rest? Sleep Cycle is the wellness app for you! With Sleep Cycle, you can record your sleep and receive an audit that offers tips on how to get better rest to improve your overall health. This app also includes an intuitive alarm clock that gently wakes you during your time of lightest sleep — so you feel refreshed every morning. 

MealPrepPro 

So you want to clean up your diet, but you get tired of eating the same thing. Or maybe you can’t find the time to cook at every meal. MealPrepPro makes eating simple. This wellness app curates meal plans according to your diet, taste preferences, and health goals. With MealPrepPro, you no longer have to spend hours searching for new recipes. It also keeps things exciting with nutritious meal suggestions each week so you can keep your fridge stocked with healthy options. 

Ivee 

There are many apps that help track hydration, but none that directly offers it. Ivee is the on-demand wellness app that delivers IV therapy to your door. Whether you’re feeling under the weather, had a long night out, or simply need a boost, Ivee’s got your back! Simply select your treatment and enter your location, and a nurse will be at your door. In no time, you’ll be living your best (hydrated!) life.  Covid update: Ivee will reopen in New York some time in July.

Streaks 

Streaks is the ultimate wellness app to keep you on track with your health goals. It allows you to create personal to-do lists that renew each day. Everytime you check these off, you add on to the consecutive days you achieved your goal. Streaks delivers a report of your habits, allowing you to see in real time how well you are doing while remaining on target! Accountability is difficult, but Streaks makes it easier! 

Check out the five health and wellness apps above that help you achieve your health objectives and have you feeling better in no time. 


Brown gravy, naturally

Do you know how to make rich, dark brown gravy the natural way? Without the store-bought box or package of gravy?  No package of seasonings or dyes ever touches my gravy.  I learned this trick from my mother years ago.  Before you put the turkey in the roasting pan, slice up a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and add them to the bottom of the pan.  As the turkey cooks, the onions and garlic will brown up, colouring and flavouring the juices, creating wonderful dark brown gravy.

You can puree the onions and garlic with the gravy if you like your gravy smooth and lump-free, or leave it chunky.  This trick works for roast beef or pork as well.

A few other holiday dinner tricks:

Gluten-free brown gravy thickener:  reserve (approximately) 1 cup of the water you boiled your potatoes in before you drain them.  That water contains lots of potato starch, which is naturally gluten-free.  Add the reserved water to your gravy, let it simmer for 10 minutes until the gravy thickens. Works like a charm, without the use of a roux made of wheat flour.

Decorating your dinner table:  I like to use whatever is colourful in my garden at the time.  In spring it is tulips or other bulbs. In fall I use leaves, ornamental grass spikes, and decorative gourds.  Place the collected items in a vase, display on a cake pedestal, or lay them right on the table cloth (leaves work well flat)

Getting the creases out of your table cloth:  Do you ever forget to take your table cloth out early enough to remove the folds/crease?  Or change your mind on which table cloth you want to use at the last minute, and then cringe at the creases?  Remove wrinkles and creases, without the use of an iron, from table cloths or your clothing with a wrinkle remover in a spray bottle.  Keep some in your laundry room and bedroom for a quick fix.

I hope these tips come in handy when you are preparing your next holiday meal.  Our Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, so I plan to use them all.

Groundcover, the good, bad and ugly

Groundcover is an integral part of most gardens.  Groundcover is self explanatory, basically plants that cover the bare ground, usually between larger (taller) plants.  The use of groundcover in gardens helps to minimize the appearance of weeds, which is always beneficial.  There are thousands of varieties out there, some good, some not so good (in my opinion) and some downright ugly!  Let me help you decipher some of my favourites and others that I encounter on a daily basis in my gardening business.

The best:

My favourite groundcover includes sweet woodruffe and lamium for part sun to shady areas as well as sedums and stonecrops for hot, sunny spots. Each perky stem of sweet woodruffe sports six shiny green leaves and tiny white flowers in spring.  Even after flowering this groundcover remains attractive all summer long.  Sweet woodruffe requires no deadheading either, which is an added bonus.

Lamium’s flowers are flashier, either pale pink or lavender in colour.  Its variegated foliage (green and white) also remains attractive all season.  Deadheading after blooming will create a second bloom time too.

groundcover
pearl pink lamium

I guess that’s what I like most about these two groundcovers; even when not in bloom they look great.  Although both spread, they do so in small clumps, but are not invasive.  Both are shallow rooted, so easy to remove from areas you don’t want them.  I use both of these as edging plants in my gardens as well. I have also used lamium in shady hanging baskets as it trails nicely as it grows.

For hot, sunny and dry spots in the garden, including tucked between or cascading over rocks, or even in containers, you can’t beat sedums or stonecrops.  Both come in a wide variety of bloom colours.  I especially love the dragon’s blood (red) stonecrop and the cute rosettes of hen and chicks.

Others:

Violets make a successful groundcover as well, but they can be invasive…

groundcover
wild violets

Some of the not so nice (looking) groundcover that crops up uninvited in gardens are clover and mosses. Clover is cute looking too, some people actually confuse sweet woodruffe with clover leaves.  However, clover is much weedier and invasive.  I don’t mind clover in my lawns, but pull it out of my gardens.  Some people encourage moss to grow between their stonework patios and walkways, not a look I am fond of.

The only time groundcover in your gardens does not work well is if you prefer mulch between your plants.  Not that you can’t have both, the problem is that most groundcover is low growing so the mulch can overpower and even smother it.  For this reason, I don’t usually recommend both mulch and groundcover in the same garden.

As I was snapping pictures of these varieties of groundcover the other day, I spied a garter snake peaking out at me from the cover of a hosta.  As a kid I used to think they were called gardener snakes, most likely because I saw them mostly in gardens.   I probably (unintentionally) disturbed this cutie’s sun bask.  By the time I focused on him, he was off, slithering away down the stone path to safety…

Allergies and Sensitivities: Trust your body

How do you know you have environmental allergies or sensitivities to common products and even foods?   Listen to and trust your body!  I have learned the validity of this simple piece of advice over the years.  

For example, this is my evidence that I have personally compiled and learned to listen to.  How many of these (or similar reactions) apply to you?

  • sneeze when walking past the highly scented laundry soap and fabric softeners in a grocery store?
  •  sneeze or cough when popular (Febreeze comes to mind) room deodorizers or air fresheners are used?  
  •  cough when adding soap to your sink or dishwasher?
  • get an instant tightness in your chest when walking by a house whose dryer vent is on spewing the scent of Bounce into the air? 
  •  get the same reaction from yards sprayed with fertilizer and or weed killer, from blocks away?
  • have to open the windows and turn on vents before cleaning bathrooms?
  •  get an instant headache walking through the fragrance department of a store?  (why do they have to place those right at the entrance to the store?)
  • get an instant headache from the different perfumes in a crowd?  For example, I dread going to the NAC (National Art Center here in Ottawa) because each elderly lady there seems to have an entire bottle of perfume on.  The blend is not pleasant!
  •  get stomach cramps and diarrhea after eating some foods.
  •  get skin rashes after eating certain foods.

I saw an article recently about cancer causing ingredients in many common dish soaps.  The offending products include:

  • Cascade
  • Legacy of Clean
  • Finish
  • Sunlight
  • Palmolive
  • Dawn
  • Simple Green Naturals
  • Mrs. Meyers
  • Seventh Generation
  • Method
  • Green Works
  • Bon Ami Dish Soap

I must admit I have never heard of many of these brands of dish soap, but do know Dawn, Palmolive, Sunlight, Finish and Cascade are on my avoid list as they bother me. I used to have to leave the room when running the dishwasher.

These reactions that I have experienced are the reason I use Melaleuca products in my home. They are all natural, many with tea tree oil (from the Australian melaleuca plant) as a main ingredient. By using these products, I have reduced my contact with ingredients that aggravate my allergies and sensitivities. I no longer have to open the bathroom window when cleaning, and can run the dishwasher while working in the kitchen.

allergies and sensitivities
Melaleuca Products

If you have similar reactions to any products or foods, trust and listen to your body. You may have allergies and sensitivities too. Then get proactive to improve your health and the quality of your life. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat!

Dear John, I Found Your Rock

dear John

Dear John, as promised, I found a rock for your garden. It’s a beauty; pinkish-colored rock with specks of black mica to sparkle in the sun. Just like the one you admired in my front garden, only much bigger.

Dear John

John was a dear neighbor that passed away from cancer recently. Last summer I helped him and his wife reconfigure and enlarge the garden in their front yard. We left room for a large rock, but it could not be just any rock. You see, John was a geologist and loved rocks. He had a specific one in mind. Although we looked for one last fall, we could not find the perfect rock. I have a much smaller rock in my garden across the street from his that he admired. I was on the lookout for something similar for their garden.

When John passed away I consulted with our neighbors to see if they liked the idea of purchasing a rock for John’s garden in lieu of flowers at the funeral service. Knowing of John’s love for rocks and nature in general, everyone was on board and willing to help. I continued my search for the perfect rock. 

Recently I talked a client into removing this beautiful rock from a garden site he wants me to modify. The rock just happened to be the pink and black version I was searching for. Many thanks to Michael Blackie of  NeXT restaurant. After hearing of my search for John’s rock, he donated the rock (free) to the cause. Another neighbor volunteered to remove and deliver the rock to its new home as I did not have the equipment to do so. Thanks, Sean Fagan of Shamrock Home Upgrades, The grandson of yet another neighbor received a bonus ride on the tractor.

I am so grateful to live in this wonderful neighborhood that is full of kind, caring, and compassionate people like John. Every time I see his rock sparkle in the sun I will be reminded of his cheerful grin and sunny disposition.

Thyme in a bottle

Thyme is a natural herb that has been used for centuries due to its medicinal and disinfectant properties.  This article by Healthy Food House reminded me of the many uses for thyme that I knew about, plus many I had never heard of.

In my home,  I use a product whose main ingredient is thyme.  I use my “thyme in a bottle” as a disinfectant on countertops, floors, walls, shower stalls, doorknobs, and more.  It is a wonderful alternative to toxic household cleaners.  It also makes a great deodorizer (from garbage cans to stinky boots, shoes, and sporting equipment) and stain remover all over the house.

In the garden, I use my thyme in a bottle to disinfect plant pots and to keep bugs from eating my plants.  It also makes a great disinfectant and skin soother on any cuts, scratches, stings, and rashes I get from working in gardens all day.

My thyme in a bottle is amazing!