Banana Bread - Good anytime!

What's in your Banana Bread?
Organic vs Conventional grown bananas - which to buy?
Organic ones may be a little more expensive, but well worth it. The major difference between the two are that conventional bananas are grown with synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides to protect the crops from mold, bugs, and disease. After harvest, the conventional bananas are floated in tanks of sodium hydrochlorate solution to dissolve the drips of latex sap that can discolor the fruit. Experiments have shown that fungicide-treated bananas can develop off-flavors. Yet “hands” of bananas (the small bunches we see in markets) are conventionally treated with fungicides by being placed in polyethylene bags with blocks of vermiculite treated with potassium permanganate to absorb the ethylene ripening gas that bananas give off. This allows the bananas to be stored and shipped over a month’s time before they start ripening.

On the other side, organic farmers use natural fertilizers such as manure and seaweed, insect predators and barriers to prevent pests, and they weed by hand or mulch in order to prevent weeds.

You may be thinking that all those chemicals used to grow conventional bananas are no big deal because you peel the fruit. But the chemicals are not just on the outside of the banana — they leach into the soil that is used to grow the produce. So even if you peel your banana, it doesn't prevent you from ingesting small amounts of those chemicals. Although you may feel better knowing some experts maintain that the amount you ingest poses little threat to your health. If you're concerned about the nutritional value of your food, there are ongoing studies exploring the connection between pesticides and nutrients in foods; so far it looks like organic is healthier. Organic produce is also better for the planet since chemical pesticides make their way into the soil and run off into water sources.

The point is that organic bananas are well worth seeking out because their production avoids a host of toxic chemicals that affect everything from the health of the plantation soils and surrounding ecosystems, to the health of the workers who grow and handle them, to the health of those of us who eat them.

With that being said, Banana Bread has stood the test of time. You can tell a favorite recipe by how often it is used, and this recipe which I have tweaked to perfection is one I return to again and again. In fact I often buy bananas expressly for making this bread, impatiently waiting for their skin to turn brown and their flesh to become soft and sweet. Banana bread falls in the category of ‘Quick Breads' which means it is leavened with either baking powder and/or soda and is made by combining the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

Perfect banana bread starts with a thick sweet batter that is full of mashed bananas, ground cinnamon and toasted pecans. When you pull it from the oven the golden brown crust is delightfully crisp and although the crust softens once the bread is covered and stored, its wonderful moist texture and sweet flavor remain intact.

Bananas are picked while still green which means its flesh will be hard with little flavor. As time passes and the banana ripens its skin begins to turn yellow and with that its flesh softens and flavor sweetens. Further aging causes the skin to brown and its flesh to become very soft and sweet. At this stage some people throw these bananas in the garbage thinking they have gone bad, not realizing how delicious they will be when mashed and baked in a bread or cake.

If you are like me almost every time I buy bananas a few (not enough though to make this bread) will turn brown before I get around to eating them. Instead of throwing them away simply slip them into a bag and place them into the freezer until you have enough for baking. Whole unpeeled bananas are easy to freeze and will last at least 6 months in the freezer. Banana bread is something most of us have eaten and loved. Hope you enjoy this delicious bread for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

2 cups organic unbleached pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped pecans (lightly toasted)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup organic unbleached sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside
2. Toast the Pecans – Pre-heat oven to 225°. Place pecans in a pie plate or on a baking sheet and spread out so that they are not touching. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted and golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Coarsely chop and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 350°.

3. Make the Toasted Pecan Cinnamon Swirl - Combine 2 tablespoons butter with cooled toasted pecans, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; mix with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

4. Cream together remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

5. Combine eggs with bananas, yogurt or sour cream and remaining vanilla; blend into creamed mixture.

6. Gradually blend in flour mixture just until moistened.

7. Fill two greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. or five 5-in. x 2-1/2-in. loaf pans about one-third full.

8. Sprinkle the Cinnamon swirl mixture on top of the batter.

9. Top with the remaining batter, spreading smooth.

10. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the batter.
11. Bake in preheated 350 oven 50 min., or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

12. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 min; remove from pan and cool completely.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.


25 ways to SAVE money on VACATION

Vacation season is here! Are you planning a shorter vacation or a stay-cation. No matter what type of vacation, you can plan to save money while vacationing. I was reading a post by Ishan at and loved his tips on ways to save money on vacation. So with my tried and true methods and his suggestions this blog post should get you thinking about planning the next vacation.

1. Don't eat on the "main strip" eat a block or two off of it, at a local place instead of the typical tourist place. The food is often much cheaper and is often much better than the big tourist joints. While shopping or site seeing ask the locals for recommendations.

2. Use public transportation. Subways, buses, trains, etc., are all part of the travel experience. Make it fun. And avoid unnecessary transportation costs all together, and save time too, by grouping your activities by geographical area. Plan activities that are close to your site and instead of renting the car for the entire vacation, rent it only for a few days of the vacation.

3. Before booking a hotel, search online for the best hotel deal. Then phone the hotel and ask them to offer a better price. If they can't, ask for a free room upgrade or include freebies like wi-fi, parking, or breakfast. You'll be amazed right now how many hotels will play ball. We love Embassy Suites, the full breakfast are worth any additional cost. Usually the breakfast is enough for breakfast and lunch or a snack.

4. Look for free or "donations accepted" admission days at museums. There is usually at least one day a month that offers free admission. Planning around a free day, can save a lot of bucks.

5. Look for discounted admission coupons. They're everywhere! Travel magazines, online, from your hotel, in travel guidebooks, in travel literature kiosks, and from AAA. Saving a few bucks here and there adds up!

6. Ask for a refrigerator and microwave in your room. Some hotels provide this free of charge, others have a small surcharge. So, you store some food in refrigerator, and heat it whenever you want. Order pizza for dinner and the leftovers are great for a mid-day snack the next day.

7. Restaurants almost always charge more for their dinner menu while the same food at lunchtime is less expensive. Use this to your advantage and eat your main meal of the day at noon.

8. Be sure to factor in internet access charges into the cost of your hotel room. The hotel rate may be cheap, but internet charges might really pump up the room rate. Usually you can find a coffee shop with free wi-fi close to the hotel. You are on vacation! Minimize the time spent on your computer.

9. Be flexible. While it's nice to have a list of "must-do" things, don't get so stuck to a list that you forget to enjoy the simple things. A beautiful sunset or sunrise, a neighborhood festival, a walk on the beach — these things are all free.

10. Tell the kids that the mini bar is not an option. Buy snacks and beverages from a local market and keep them in the room for snack attacks. Share your tips in Comments section

11. Plan only one night to eat at a fancy restaurants while on vacation. The other evenings, try some places where locals eat. Not only you will get a better taste of that country, you will save S of money doing it

12. If you'll be going to a resort or remote area, set up packing lists for everyone at home, so that necessities don't get left behind. Sunglasses, sun screen, toothpaste, deodorant — you'll pay a premium for these items at a hotel or airport

13. Buy bagels, cereals, milk, or orange juice the night before. Eat a cold breakfast in your room -- save your money for the more interesting meals of the day.

14. Research your destination. Before you leave, make a list of sightseeing priorities. The internet provides information on free and inexpensive attractions.

15. Book hotels on bidding sites such as Priceline. A friend of mine got a 5 star hotel room for $99.00 a night.

16. Borrow travel guides from library, so you don't have to spend any money on them when you reach your destination or use your AAA privileges and get your travel guides for free.

17. Look early for travel deals on the internet. Start planning for vacation well in advance. You will get best rates on everything: hotels, cars, tickets etc.

18. Budget hotels tend to offer free internet and free breakfast. At luxury hotels the room tends to be nicer, but you have to pay for everything.

19. You can save a ton of money by getting drinks from a store instead of at a restaurant. Make a point to purchase your bottled water before starting your daily sightseeing and aAvoid expensively priced water at tourist attractions.

20. When traveling to and from the Airport, use a Shuttle, instead of a Taxi. They are relatively cheap, and on time. Almost all major cities have an airport shuttle and they provide door to door service.

21. Vacation in hotels/ condos that have kitchens. Cook at least one meal each day.

22. When you are going away on vacation, don't waste money in electricity costs. Unplug your TV, computer and other electronics, as all these use energy in standby mode.

23. Travel in the off-season. Hotels and attractions are cheaper and you won't have to stand in long lines (especially in theme parks.)

24. In a new city, make your first stop at the city's visitor center. They have all the literature in one spot and experts to answer all your questions and give advice. And they have lots of local free coupons as well most of the times.

25. Purchase a City Pass when you travel. The public transportation is convenient (no parking fees at hotel) and a City Pass often includes free or discounted entrance to local museums, aquariums, etc

Last tip:

Plan a vacation close to a relative. Spend the first part staying with them and the last part in a hotel. You'll have a nice visit with family, but not wear out your welcome, save some money, and feel like you've taken a real vacation.


Maintaining Motivation While Unemployed

Unemployment can take a toll on your emotions as well as your finances. Now is the time to attack your situation with a well-formulated plan. The following approaches will help you when you find yourself concerned about your financial and personal situation.

To help keep your stress level down, your confidence up, and your health and relationships strong, you should develop some special strategies while you are unemployed, such as:

  • Establish a daily schedule including a regular time for job search activities. Make a goal of sending out at least one resume each day.
  • Set daily goals that you know you can accomplish. Go for a walk, go to the library, call a friend.
  • Use your networks. Tell everyone you know what kind of work you are looking for, and ask if they know of any jobs or any companies that employ people with your skills. Your friends, relatives and acquaintances may not think of mentioning contacts to you because they don't have a clear idea of what kind of work you are looking for. Remember, many people get their jobs through "word of mouth."
  • Read some books or take a workshop on stress management techniques. Everyone is under extra stress when unemployed, and you could save yourself and your family from additional emotional strain if you learn some effective stress management skills. Your local library or Job Placement Center may offer these types of seminars free of charge.
  • If you are in the Northern California area, plan to attend an Empowered for Success seminar the 3rd Sunday of each month. The April 19th seminar was powerful as Belinda Bush spoke on the topic of Principles of Vision (Part I). For more information or to register for the May event log onto
  • Volunteer to help someone else. Both of you will feel better. You remember what your Mom always said; “It is better to give than to receive” Give of yourself!
  • Keep busy and stay active outside your home. Isolating yourself at home will not get you a new job and can lead to additional mental and emotional stress.
  • Reward yourself on a regular basis for your efforts.
  • Before you go to bed, prepare a written plan for the next day. It will give you a reason to get up in the morning.
  • Pursue the hobby you always wanted but never seemed to have time for.
  • Check into new career opportunities or the possibility of continuing your education.
  • Keep regular hours, and get regular exercise.

Whether you have a family to care for or just yourself, surviving unemployment can be an emotionally difficult task. There's no magic pill for generating cash when a steady paycheck disappears. But there are strategies for saving cash. The key to survival is to focus on necessary costs and cut out frivolous expenditures. Here are 5 common sense tips that will help alleviate financial stress while not employed and will engage smart financial habits so that when you regain employment you will have practiced frugal spending habits.

1. Revisit your Personal Budget – While employed, your personal budget may have focused on short-and long-term goals such as planning a summer vacation or saving for a child's college tuition, but now your budget should focus on only short term goals regarding your daily living necessities. Rework your budget to only include essential expenses such as food, clothing, housing, transportation and health care. To help you get started, write down every payment you absolutely must make to survive --- that is, rent or mortgage payment, food, car payment and health insurance.

It is also important to protect your credit during this difficult time. Since you don't know how long you might be without a job, you may want to be proactive and contact any creditors who might allow deferral of payment until you can secure regular employment. For instance, school loan providers often will extend a grace period in case of emergency.

2. Get Out the Cookbook – By preparing meals at home, you can dramatically cut costs. The 2008 Consumer Expenditure Summary Report states the average family spent $2,904 on away from home food. This creates a huge savings opportunity. Take advantage of coupons and specials, and try to ignore brands and fancy labels when shopping at the supermarket. The annual summer Farmers Markets will open soon and they provide a healthier and less expensive option for fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, it is always nice to chat with the people that grow the food. There are a number of websites offering easy at-home meal planning and ideas for creating low-budget, healthy home-cooked meals. On Friday’s here at Zest of Life, we post money-saving delicious recipes that the entire family will enjoy.

3. Cut Out Credit Card Spending – Using credit cards can often lead to poor spending habits – something you can't afford, especially when you have no income coming in. Remove the temptation by removing your credit cards from your wallet and placing them in a safe place like a desk drawer. By avoiding credit card spending, you can more easily track where your money is going and where you can eliminate unnecessary spending.

4. Create a Cushion – It is important to set aside money for emergencies. You should put away as much as possible, but at least enough to cover an emergency like having an unexpected car expense. The important thing to remember is to make sure you can cover all of your necessary expenses and have a reserve for an emergency. A fun hands-on way for kids to participate and learn good money saving skills is to have them hunt for loose change around the house and in the car and collect it in a bottle or jar. By including the entire family, everyone can learn from and feel good about making good money management choices.

5. Drive Less – With gas prices continuing to rise, carpooling or use of public transportation can help you cut your expenses. Since you will be searching for a job, you may need to drive to interviews, so save your gas money for these critically important trips. If you must drive, save gas and time by planning trips in advance and combine your trips whenever possible.

Plan your meals for an entire week and make one trip to the grocery store instead of sporadically throughout the week. Also, if you need to make multiple stops, plan the best route so you are not driving all over town.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can greatly reduce your monthly costs and easily manage your budget between jobs. By being creative and committing to trimming down costs, surviving between jobs is possible. Just think if you saved all of the money spent on coffee runs, vending machines, movies and late fees, you would probably have a small fortune.

The key is to be creative in the ways you cut back and to analyze all aspects of your spending trends to see where you can save money while maintaining basic needs and protecting your credit as much as possible.


Sunday after Easter

The Easter dresses are hung in the closet. Most of the Easter candy has been eaten.

Now what??

As a Christian, Easter is one of the most sacred days of the year, when we can celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We reflect on the sacrifice He made for us by dying on the cross and covering our sins and the scripture John 3:16-17 weighs heavy on our hearts… For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Easter, is a day of celebration. But I have good news - Jesus loves you unconditionally EVERYDAY!

Not just on Easter or Christmas, but everyday. All you have to do is acknowledge the love.

Think about it - in spite of all of the turmoil in the world - you can put a smile on your face knowing that you are loved.

Have a blessed day!


Detoxification Diet, & Juicing

Just like dusting your furniture and cleaning your house, the human body needs to be cleaned, too. Especially if you have a diet that includes hydrogenated fats and oils, refined white sugar and white flour, diet food products, or exposure to any of the 14,000 food chemicals within American processed foods and medications.
Here is a checklist of symptoms to signal it may be time for a reliable "body cleaning" followed by a detoxification program:

* Do you experience fatigue or low energy levels?

* Do you experience brain fog, lack of concentration and /or poor memory?

* Do you crave or eat sugar?

* Do you have less than two bowel movements per day?

* Do you feel sleepy after meals, bloated or gassy?

* Do you experience indigestion/acid reflux after eating?

* Are you overweight?

* Do you exercise at least every other day?

* Do you experience recurring yeast infections, jock itch, or foot fungus?

* Do you have arthritic aches and pains or stiffness?

* Do you take prescription medications, sedatives or stimulants?

* Do you experience frequent headaches?

* Do you live with or near polluted air, water or other environmental pollution?

* Do you have bad breath or excessive body odor?

* Do you experience depression or mood swings?

* Do you have food allergies or skin problems?

* Are you showing signs of premature aging?

* Do you eat fast food, fatty foods, pre-prepared foods or fried foods more than three times a week?

* Do you drink processed coffees and colas during the day?

* Do you smoke cigarettes every day?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, it may be time for that detoxification program you've been putting off.

Diet is a very important part of detoxification. What we eat can make and keep us healthy, but it can also help us detoxify. The body cannot detoxify xenobiotics (foreign chemicals) if we are constantly adding to our toxic burden with the foods we consume. The body also cannot detoxify if it does not have the proper "fuel" and energy. The detoxification processes in the body require large amounts of energy, and this energy comes from the nutrients in the food we eat. If we eliminate foods that contribute to our toxicity and eat those that help cleanse the body, our health will improve.
Diet directly affects the ability of the body to detoxify.
• High protein intake enhances the removal of xenobiotics, while a protein deficiency lowers glutathione levels and reduces Phase II conjugation by the glutathione pathway.
• Low carbohydrate intake decreases the rate of cytochrome P-450 activity in the liver. The best form of carbohydrate for a detoxification program is a complex carbohydrate that is not readily absorbed and does not ferment in the intestines.
• Fatty acids work with carbohydrates to support the energy requirements for detoxification. Fatty acids that do not increase blood fat levels increase liver energy production. The liver can digest, assimilate, and oxidize triglycerides (a compound composed of glycerine and fatty acids) as a source of metabolic energy. Increasing liver energy levels increases detoxification.
If you have food allergies, you will need to address this problem, because allergenic substances slow down detoxification processes.




All refined sugar and any food or mixtures that contain refined sugar, including sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup, brown sugar, turbinado, nutritive corn sweetener

Unsweetened foods or foods sweetened with fruit juices, limited amounts of honey, herbal sweetener, stevia or agave

Caffeine in processed coffee and tea, dark and other carbonated drinks, and aspirin compounds

Water, unsweetened fruit juices, some herbal teas, roasted grain coffee substitutes; white willow bark

Soft drinks and fruit-flavored drinks

Unsweetened fruit juices, sparkling water. We love to make spritzers; seltzer water and unsweetened fruit juice. Refreshing!


Sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime

High salt intake

Season with herbs and spices; cut salt use in half

Artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors

Natural whole foods, free of any type of additive

Chemical additives and preservatives, including MSG (monosodium glutamate), BHA, BHT, nitrates, nitrites

Only foods that will spoil and eat them before they do; this also avoids micro-organisms and enzyme changes that accompany food spoilage

Processed foods and mixes

Natural whole foods, fresh foods instead of frozen, frozen instead of canned

Refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and white rice

Whole grains, flour ground from whole grains, brown rice

Fruits and vegetables that have been waxed, sprayed, fumigated, or dyed

Organically grown fruits and vegetables

Saturated fats and artificial fats

Healthy forms of fats and oils such as expeller-pressed, cold-pressed or unrefined oil

Fried foods and over consumption of fat

Low-fat meals; broil, bake, steam, or stir-fry food

Processed meats containing fillers, sandwich meats, reconstituted meats

Good-quality meats and poultry free of anitbiotics hormones, and drugs

Detoxification Cleanse
The cleanse is also known as a liquid feast which should give some indication as to what the detox entails. Cleansing basically consists of consuming only raw, alkalising, liquid foods and drinks. While on face value you may have alarm bells ringing at the thought of not consuming solids during the detox – there is some pretty strong logic behind this.

The consumption on a cleanse is 100% fresh vegetable juices and soups with additional supplements such as omega oils, vitamins, green drinks (made up of powdered grasses such as wheatgrass), cleansing aids and minerals.

This gives the body a rest and freeing the large amounts of energy used by the digestive organs for use elsewhere. It gives the body a chance to reestablish metabolic order and is an extremely rapid method of detoxification. Cleansing also helps the body to heal and to resist diseases, infections, and toxins.
Sensible cleansing gives the body an opportunity to return to its natural state of homeostasis, or balance. During a cleanse, toxins are drawn out of the cells and tissues throughout the whole body. Eliminating waste products allows an increase in cellular oxygenation and improves cellular nutrition. The body produces new healthy cells to replace diseased and discarded ones. Conditions that the body could not correct on a normal diet are improved, and the body is cleansed and renewed.

The benefits and healing properties of cleansing have been known for centuries. Cleansing which is also referred to as fasting is mentioned in all ancient medical texts, and Hippocrates prescribed fasting as a means of achieving good health. It has been employed in religious observance both in the past and today. Animals instinctively fast when they are sick or injured. They will ignore available food until their health has improved.
The following are the more important benefits of cleansing:
• accelerates the detoxification process.
• cleanses metabolic wastes and toxins.
• cleanses the digestive tract and improves digestion and assimilation.
• increases energy levels.
• rejuvenates the cells and the entire body.
• increases resistance to disease.
• refreshes the mind and spirit.

Many people adopt a schedule of liquids - only one day each week, or liquids - only for a three-day period once each month, for an ongoing healing process rather than postponing action until a health crisis occurs. Although cleansing can be done at any time of the year, it is wise to pick a time when you can fit in some extra planning and preparation.

Contradictions to Cleansing
Exercising common sense will prevent problems with cleansing. Malnourished and undernourished people should not cleanse, nor should people with an eating disorder, children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. People with weak hearts or who have had a recent heart attack, and people with lowered immunity should not fast. Before and after surgery is not a good time to cleanse. Low blood pressure, anemia, bleeding ulcers, some types of cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, liver and kidney disease, tuberculosis, ulcerative colitis, and gout are all contraindications for fasting.
People with many food allergies should exercise caution and cleanse only under medical supervision. People are always addicted to the foods to which they are allergic. Because of this allergy/addiction phenomenon, these people can go through severe withdrawal symptoms when they first begin a cleanse.

Types of Cleansing
Short-term cleansing lasts from one to three days. More than three days is considered long-term cleansing. The toxins concentrated in our fat cells and organs are released rapidly during a true cleansing. If detoxification is intense, it can temporarily increase sickness. However, for some people this can be immediately helpful. To avoid problems caused by too-rapid detoxification, most people drink water or unsweetened herbal teas during their cleansing. More liberal cleansing includes drinking the juice of fresh fruit and vegetables as well. Warning: Do not attempt a long-term cleansing without medical supervision.

Preparing for a Cleansing
Cleansing is more likely to be successful if it is entered into gradually by those new to cleansing and those whose health is suffering. A good first step is to remove alcohol, caffeine, and sugar from the diet. Ideally, smokers would stop smoking. Avoiding animal food, such as meats, milk, and eggs, also eases the transition. Eating only fruits and vegetables for several days before beginning the actual cleansing will allow detoxification to begin more slowly. Some people try several short cleansings, before beginning a longer and stricter cleansing.

Juicing is a detoxification method considered by some to be a cleansing and by others to be a juice diet. It involves refraining from the use of all other nourishment and drinking fruit and vegetable juices rather than water. It detoxifies more effectively than a water cleansing, and the juices can be more enjoyable to drink than water. Easily utilized by the body, juices require minimal digestion, and supply nutrients that support the body while stimulating it to release toxins. In addition, juices contain elements that remove toxins and aid cellular rejuvenation better than water alone. Juice cleansing is safer than water cleansing, and offers quicker recovery because it supports the body nutritionally during cleansing and maintains energy levels.

Juices are concentrated nutrition. The nutritional part of the plant is separated from the indigestible fiber, and the vitamins and nutrients, including antioxidants, from many fruits or vegetables, are contained within a small volume of liquid. Because juice contains no bulk, it is digested in a short time with no strain on the digestive system. The carbohydrate, protein, and fat in the juice, although in small quantities, supply the body with the energy it needs to carry out daily activities. Even an exercise program can be continued. With a water cleansing, in contrast, energy levels decrease rapidly without nutrients and the feeling of lethargy makes physical activity difficult. The nutrients in juice supply energy to the detoxification systems and body functions, and promote cleansing and cellular regeneration.

Juices are prepared from raw fruits and vegetables in a juicer. This machine will extract the juice from the fiber. For juices that are high in natural sugar, such as pineapple, apple, grape, and carrot, drinking them without the fiber can cause blood sugar problems for people who are hypoglycemic and hyperinsulinemic.
Vegetable juices are the best rebuilders of cells and fruit juices are the best detoxifiers. You can drink them separately or blended in a mix. For the best results, you must prepare your own juice from fresh, washed organic fruits and vegetables. Commercially prepared juices are not made from quality fruits and vegetables and may contain mold, pesticide residue, and bird and animal droppings. In addition, the enzymes contained in the fresh fruits and vegetables to help you digest them are destroyed in processing.
Not all fruits and vegetables juice well. Bananas and avocados turn into mush and clog a juicer. They can be used in a blender, but result in a thick mixture that will have to be diluted. Apples, apricots, berries, cherries, grapes, mango, melons, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, and plums are the best fruits for juicing. Citrus fruits are too acidic for some people, but they may be used sparingly if diluted well.
Many vegetables make good juice, including alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, beets and beet tops, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, eggplant, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips and turnip greens, zucchini, and watercress. Juices made from green vegetables are very high in chlorophyll and are felt by many practitioners to be very healing for blood disorders and the digestive tract.
Juices can be combined to make appealing drinks. However, many fruits and vegetables do not combine palatably. Apples and carrots work well in either fruit or vegetable blends. Very sweet juice mixtures should always be diluted. Vegetable juices can be consumed hot, but some of the nutrients are destroyed.
If you do a juice cleansing, you should drink between 32 ounces and a maximum of 64 ounces of juice a day, and at least four 8-ounce glasses of water. If the juice has a high sugar content, such as fruit and carrot juices, you may need to limit the amount you drink.

Here's to spring cleaning of your body!


Answering the 5 Toughest Interview Questions

There are so many people pounding the sidewalks looking for a job that I thought another post on interviewing might be helpful. Take heart, your job awaits you...all you have to do is make it through the interview...

You’ve sent out so many resumes and maxed out your cell phone minutes doing follow-up calls. Just when you began to doubt it would ever happen, you’ve finally done it: you’ve landed a job interview.

Are you nervous? - Interviews make virtually everyone nervous. Whether you’re looking for your first professional job, you want to take a step forward on your career path, or you’re trying to get back into the game after a layoff, most of the stressors are the same:

  • You’re about to be faced by one person or a group whose job is deciding whether or not you’re a fit for their company.
  • And you have just one shot with them to make a good impression.

Good News: You’re not the Only One in the Interview Room Stressing Out Over a Difficult Situation

The good news for you as a job-seeker is that your interviewer has a stressful problem too. They want to hire someone, and to do so as quickly as possible so they can get back to the rest of their job. They want to find the best person possible, of course. But if possible, they would really prefer to be able to hire you and be done with it.

So while you really want this job, the interviewer really wants someone in this job. For both interviewer and interviewee, conducting an interview is like trying to fit a piece into a puzzle; your task is to be the piece that fits.

Keeping this perspective in mind can de-stress the situation for you somewhat — and it can provide a useful way to approach answering many tough job interview questions.

How to Answer the Five Toughest Job Interview Questions:

1. “Tell me about yourself”

Much as this sounds like a personal question, your interviewer doesn’t want to hear about how much you loved your goldfish or how you wish you could get a puppy like Sasha. Nor should you spend an hour discussing your love of science fiction.

The consensus from the experts is:

    • Keep your answer short: 1-3 minutes
    • Don’t fall into the trap of disclosing personal details “about yourself” the interviewer wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) ask about directly, e.g., marital status, children, etc.
    • Focus on things about yourself that make you a good candidate for the job for which you’re interviewing
    • Rehearse your answer
2. What is your long-range objective? (Or, where do you see yourself in five years, etc.?)

This can be a particularly tough question in our current economy, where “hopefully not unemployed” feels like the only honest answer.

However, one reason interviewers ask this question is to gauge whether or not you’re likely to stick around — or whether they’ll be interviewing for this position again in a year or two.

    • Frame your response in terms of the company you’re interviewing with as much as possible.
    • For example, you could say that your five-year goal is to be your company’s expert on internal finances/company communications/etc., and talk about the things you’re currently doing and have done to be in a position to achieve that goal.
3. What is your greatest strength/your greatest weakness?

Your interview is no time for false modesty. If you’re asked about your greatest strength, be prepared to sell yourself well.

    • Be sure to frame your answer to fit the job for which you’re applying, e.g., “My greatest strength is my attention to detail, which I believe makes me a solid candidate that can help resolve any problem that may come up in your accounting department.”
    • Make note of a time or two when your greatest strength benefited your current employer or a past one.
    • Even if the question is framed in terms of just one strength, it won’t hurt to quickly give a few others as well.

When it comes time to talk about your greatest weakness, be honest — but also talk about the steps you have taken and are taking to counteract the weakness. And again, try to structure your answer so that it fits the job for which you’re interviewing. But avoid transparent weaknesses that are really strengths to an employer (like “I’m a workaholic”!)

4. Please explain the (one month, three month, six month, etc.) gap in your work history.

Given the recent economy, more employers are going to understand that work-history gaps are a fact of life.

However, this is not the time to tell your entire hard-luck story! If your employment gap involves dealing with a family emergency, mention that but don’t go into detail about how many times your mother has been in the hospital in the past six months.

Instead, focus on the things you have done and are doing during your “gap(s)” to improve your employability — any classes you’re taking, work-related Web sites/journals you’ve been keeping up on, etc. — especially those that help prepare you for this particular job.

5. What are your salary requirements?

First, make sure to do your research.

    • If you can find out what this firm pays others in the position you’re interviewing for, great.
    • If not, what do their competitors pay?
    • These data points will help you name a range that won’t make your interviewer blink.
    • Refrain from giving a specific dollar amount instead provide a range. Make sure your range is reasonable and the low to high is within five to ten thousand dollars. i.e. starting salary requirements are within the range of $65,000 - $70,000.

However, do not answer this question with just your salary range. Your primary interest in the job may be the salary, but don’t be too blatant about that. Instead, also talk about how much you’re looking forward to helping the company save money/function more efficiently/solve problems. That way, you’re letting your interviewer know that you are committed to providing value, not just receiving it.

Your Mom is right... practice makes perfect. Practice your answers and hopefully you will not be taken off guard if asked one of these question. Most importantly, relax, go with the flow, and before you know it, you'll be in your next job.

Resources that will put you ahead:

"How to survive in an Interview and …Get the Job!" a DVD series developed by Human Resources Professionals. Click here to watch a video clip.


Easter - A time to Celebrate!

Easter is here! Spring is in the air. The kids are antsy with expectation of waking up to gifts, good food and fun on Sunday. Are you cooking a special dish on Easter? Our family comes together for a potluck…and you know what that means, great food and lots of it! Our menu includes Chicken, Meatballs, Turkey, Beef, Ham, Dressing, Mac and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Black Eye Peas, Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad Ambrosia, Corn, Corn Pudding, Deviled Eggs, Greens, Green Beans, Green Salad, Cakes Cupcakes, and Cheese Cakes.

I have two favorite recipes that are quick and delicious; Scrumptious Deviled Eggs and a special Easter treat for the kids:

Did you know that Deviled Eggs are also referred to as Eggs Mimosa? The deviled egg is a common dish in the USA, France and Hungary, and is known as Russian Eggs in Germany, but the origin claims to be from Ancient Rome. After the Romans domesticated fowl, they used the eggs in many ways, including hard cooking them and covering them with spices. While the technique comes from 13th century Andalusia, the name is strictly 18th century American.

The first recipes found come from ancient Medieval texts, are referred to as Stuffed Eggs, and the filling included raisins, cheese and sweet spices. One difference in this technique was that once the eggs were stuffed, they were fried in oil and served hot. The name 'Deviled' didn't appear until around 18th century England when the practice of 'deviling' was first introduced and meant 'a highly seasoned broiled or fried dish'. The earliest use of the term was loosely associated with kidneys and other meats, not with stuffing eggs. Deviled dishes were popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially for seafood options and appetizers.

At about 9 cents per serving, these tasty eggs are a cost-effective appetizer or side at your Easter gathering. Top with paprika, capers, or dill to dress them up and add a hint of extra flavor. Add shrimp or smoked salmon for a touch of elegance. My motto is the simpler the better!

Scrumptious Deviled Eggs


12 large eggs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon plain Yogurt or Sour Cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or yellow mustard
1 tabl espoon pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of paprika

Makes 24 servings


Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them all in one layer. Cover with water and place a top on the saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from the heat and let stand covered for 15 minutes. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. When eggs have cooked, transfer them with a slotted spoon to ice bath. Let cool completely.

Peel eggs; cut each in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork until smooth. Add mayonnaise, mustard, other ingredients and mix until well blended.

Transfer yolk mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain or star tip, or to a ziplock bag. If using ziplock bag, seal bag and snip off one corner. Pipe yolk mixture into empty egg whites. Sprinkle the top with Paprika and serve. Hint: The easiest way to peel the eggs is to crack them and peel under cold running water.

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes


1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar (preferably organic raw sugar)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably Rumfords)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Buttercream Frosting:

2 cups confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk or light cream

Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.


For the Cupcakes: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. Pipe the frosting, using an open star decorating tip.

For the Frosting: In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. Tint the frosting with desired food color (I use the paste food coloring that is available at cake decorating stores and party stores).

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Easter Basket Toppings

3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut (if desired, tint the coconut with 3 drops green food coloring)

2 cups jelly beans (this is approximate)

10 pieces red licorice, each 9 1/2 inches long (strawberry-flavored Twizzlers, for example)

To assemble the Easter Baskets

  • Place 2 heaping tablespoons of frosting on each cupcake and spread it out smoothly with a short metal spatula or spoon, until the tops are completely covered.
  • Sprinkle on coconut to resemble grass. Place a pile of jelly beans on the coconut to resemble eggs.
  • Create a basket handle by inserting one end of a licorice or Twizzler stick in one side of the cupcake near the edge. Bend the Licorice over the cupcake and insert the other end in the opposite side of the cupcake.


April Showers bring May Flowers

Here in California we are sloshing through April Showers – what a wondrously cleansing feeling – walking in the rain. As we enjoy the warmer days and begin to plant the gardens there are a few must have plants that provide a multitude of healing properties:

Aloe Vera the Miracle Plant

Often called the Miracle Plant, the Silent Healer, the Burn Plant or even the Medicine Plant, it goes by many names which have survived the thousands of years during which this amazing medicinal herb has benefited mankind.

Aloe Vera is a green cactus like plant that is very easy to grow, it derives from the lily family. The interior of the chunky leaves are full of a gooey healing gel containing natural emollients, anti inflammatory compounds and magnesium lactate. It helps to calm wounds and promotes healing, for minor burns, sunburn minor cuts. It can also be helpful with major skin complaints such as acne, eczema, psoriasis. It can also be taken internally and has been thought to help with arthritis, diabetes and ulcers.

Aloe vera has a long history as a safe, effective medicine and skin care aid. For over 6,000 years, people have benefited from the remarkable relief that the plant can bring to a wide range of ailments. The ancient Egyptians used Aloe to heal battle wounds and cure infections. Writings of the early Greeks show how they valued it for relieving blisters, burns and leg ulcers as well as bowel and stomach disorders.

Cleopatra relied on it for her unlined, youthful complexion, whilst the Chinese hailed Aloe as an elixir of youth. Aloe is also listed in St. John's gospel as an anointing ingredient for the body of Christ.

I recently learned that if you add turmeric to the aloe gel, smeared on straight from the plant, its can be an incredibly quick and effective cure for eczema and psoriasis, condition that conventional medicine finds tricky to treat.

There are many benefits to drinking Aloe Vera Juice. The juice contains calcium, sodium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and chromium, which strengthens the immune system

Drinking the juice made from the Aloe Vera plant helps with good digestion and helps to regulate the body and helps to detoxify the body.

Aloe Vera plants produce aloe vera gel that is pure and natural. Aloe Vera juice is commercially available in your local health food store or Trader Joes.

To obtain the freshest gel, of course you will look to the plants in your garden. Cut a blade of the plant and scrape the gel from inside, mix the gel with apple juice or you can cut it up in small pieces and blend it and make Aloe Vera Juice, which you will drink once or twice daily.

Let me warn you, though, the juice may have a bitter flavor, but the benefits are well worth it.


Has far more uses than simply to flavor your spaghetti sauce. This highly helpful herb belongs in every kitchen and healing garden for its use as a fever reducer. Basil leaves may also be rubbed on irritated skin to relieve stings or bites from garden insects or mild skin irritations. Basil is sometimes used as an analgesic or to lower blood sugar.


That vegetable so attractive to nosing garden rabbits, has surprising medicinal properties too. Gout, rheumatism and arthritis may each be treated with celery - the seeds in particular are valuable for their healthful benefits.


A small daisy like flower Chamomile is used medicinally to soothe sore stomach and IBS, also as a gentle sleep aid. With its calming properties it can be used to aid stress, nervousness and stress. In the spring, when the chamomile plants usually blooms, cut the flowers.

Let the flowers dry - usually under the sun. Then store the dried flowers in a jar.

To make chamomile tea, add a teaspoon of dry flowers to boiling water. Boil for a few minutes. Use a strainer to pour the chamomile tea in a cup. Sweeten with honey of agaves nectar.


The first record of dill's healing ability goes back to c1500 B.C. when the ancient Egyptians discovered that dill is a helpful pain killer. Today, dill is used to promote good digestion and to relieve gas. Sufferers of bad breath can chew dill seeds to freshen their mouth naturally.

Fresh dill should always be stored in the refrigerator either wrapped in a damp paper towel or with its stems placed in a container of water. Since it is very fragile, even if stored properly, dill will only keep fresh for about two days. Dill can be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the dill leaves in ice cube trays covered with water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Crushed dill seeds, when diluted with water, can be used as a nail-strengthening bath. When chewed, dill seeds can be highly effective in curing bad breath. It can also be used to relieve stomach symptoms. Simply chop a little dill and mix it with plain low fat yogurt. Did you also know that one tablespoonful of dill seed contains as much calcium as one-third cup of milk? Also, dill tea is used as a stomach soother, to overcome insomnia, and even to cure hiccups. In its diluted form, it may be used as a remedy for gas in infants.


Is a major contributor to the world of healing plants. It counteracts many infections, particularly those most common to the nose, throat and chest colds, for instance. Garlic combats bacteria as well as parasites. It can help lower blood pressure as well as lower blood sugar. It has many more healthful properties and is a top choice for any healing garden. Garlic's Special Properties

Fresh garlic has many active constituents including alliin, allicin, alliinase and unique sulfur compounds. Allicin and the sulfur compounds of garlic are the ingredients primarily responsible for garlic's potency as an antibiotic, anti-viral and a fungicide and for its use in treating high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and for helping to prevent certain types of cancer, as well as its use as an immune stimulant. Allicin is a strong antibiotic agent produced when the alliin and alliinase are merged together, as happens when a fresh garlic clove is crushed or chewed.


This is an old Mexican recipe that aids the flu/cold recovery process.

Cut a garlic cube into quarters and add to two 2 quarts of H2O.

Boil on low flame for at least one hour.

Strain and sip slowly.

Believe or not, this warm garlic soup has a very pleasant taste!


This sweet smelling purple or blue flower can been seen in most English gardens. Is known for its calming qualities good for anxiety and insomnia. Why not try lavender oil on those nasty head lice. Originally from the Mediterranean, lavender has become a popular herb all over the world and used for in aromatherapy, medicine, and for aesthetic purposes.

While all components of the lavender flower have the distinct lavender scent, the oil from the flower is considered the most important medically. Lavender oil has a broad range of healing properties and has been used for years as an antiseptic. When diluted with water, it is also serves as an effective cleaning agent. In fact, during World War II, lavender was used to disinfect and clean hospitals. It is also one of the few essential oils that can be applied undiluted to skin without any adverse reactions.

Widespread in aromatherapy, lavender essential oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properites and used to treat a myriad of different ailments including burns, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and depression. In addition, lavender oil used in diffusers, salves, massage oils, and bath salts helps to ease and relax tense muscles.

English lavender is often used in balms, perfumes, topical applications, and a wide range of cosmetics because of its fragrance and sweet overtones. It is also used for landscaping purposes because of its distinct woody scent and aesthetic appeal. I throw a few sprigs in the dryer for a fresh clean smelling load of laundry.


When you say peppermint, most people think of the after dinner mint that aids digestion and sweetens the breathe. But, there are more than 30 specimens of mint and peppermint has the strongest flavour and smell. Its easy to grow and has a wonderful aroma it can also be used for insect bites, nettle rash, as a first aid for sore throats and a host of other remedies.

Because of its germicidal effect, strong peppermint tea is good preventive remedy to use at the first sign of a sore throat. Make a fresh batch of tea, allow it to cool to lukewarm and gargle several times a day.

Preparation of the tea

"Bruise" the leaves first by rolling them between your fingers to help release the mint flavor. You can also make mint sun tea by adding the leaves to plain cold water after bruising them, and let steep until done. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tbsp. of peppermint leaves picked from your garden. Steep for 10 min. If desired, sweeten with honey, brown sugar or maple syrup. Drink a cup of the tea in small sips after meals, upto 3 cups a day.

Therapeutic effect

Menthol is the primary active ingredient in peppermint. This essential oil eases nausea, colic, diarrhea, headaches, gastritis and menstrual cramps. In addition, peppermint is rich in the enzymes peroxidase and catalese, which help strengthen the immune system. It also contains potassium, calcium and B vitamins to combat bone loss.

For cramps and nausea

The essential oil menthol exerts a slight relaxing effect on the lining of the stomach and intestine, thereby relieving gastrointestinal cramping. It also stimulates digestion and helps to prevent gallstones from forming. In addition, the increased flow of bile has a positive effect on the body's general metabolism of fat.

For the central nervous system

The invigorating effect of peppermint can be attributed to its wealth of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. These vitamins act on the nerves and brain, helping to improve concentration and performance. Opt for fresh peppermint leaves when possible; they contain more B vitamins than dried leaves.

Take care : Peppermint tea is not recommended for people with heartburn or stomach problems due to gastro esophageal reflux disease(GERD). It could worsen symptoms.


Improves memory and circulation. Relieves sore throats and sore gums. It not only adds and enhances flavour, but according to researchers at the University of Catania in Italy, rosemary extract helps protect the individual components of skin cells, which may prevent age-related skin damage such as wrinkles. Furthermore, when applied to the skin, rosemary essential oil helps can strengthen capillaries and thus rejuvenate the skin.

Rosemary is also a brain stimulant and has been used to improve memory and brain function by feeding it with oxygen-rich blood. A modern study has shown that when the smell of Rosemary was pumped into cubicles where people were working, those people showed improved memory.

And it doesn’t just stop here. It has also been found that a daily dose of rosemary extract in liquid form can improve kidney function and increase urine flow whilst also preserving sodium, potassium and chlorium.
The two most important ingredients in rosemary, which are thought to be largely responsible for many of its therapeutic actions, are caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, both potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents.

So, how do you take it in? Even though you can sprinkle it on your pizza or any other food or use it while cooking, another easy way to ensure your intake of rosemary is by making a tea from one teaspoon of rosemary immersed in a large cup of hot water. It is also possible to put a handful of rosemary springs into your bath, which is great for the skin.

Rosemary is also used in massage oils as it works well in relaxing muscles and helps joint spasms, aches and pains. You can easily prepare it at home by placing rosemary springs in a jar of olive oil, leaving it for a few weeks by the sun so that the oil becomes entirely infused with the rosemary and can then be heated before massaging.

These are just a few plants in God's herbal medicine cabinet. Enjoy each with a blessing of health!

Are you planning to plant herbs in your garden? What's your favorite herb?