Weekend Inspiration: Clean Eating Does Wonders

I woke up wanting a hamburger and cheesy fries.  Yep.  Open eyes, dream of tantalizingly delicious juicy burger. [Insert your favorite burger here.]

Then, the immediate next thought was, What about all I’ve been learning?  How will my body respond to this influx of gluten, grease, calories and cholesterol?  Okay, so maybe it didn’t go exactly like that.  It could have gone more like this…

I want a frickin’ cheeseburger and fries!  To hell with this healthy eating.  I want to be happy, fat and NORMAL.  

And, it could have started yesterday when I ate both Jarlsberg and Smoked Gouda cheese for dinner because if I looked at another salad I was going to murderlize someone…

Woke up with a bloated tummy and flatulence.  But — still wanted a frickin’ burger! 🙂

How is this inspiring, you ask?  Because when I realized the relatively minor reactions I had to eating JUST some cheese, can you imagine the response my body would have to a full burger, the bun, cheese and tons of a bunch of other stuff?

Smoothie Bowl 7 8 2017

Basic Smoothie Bowl except did not freeze the bananas. The base is bananas, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and frozen mangoes. Toppings are simple: more bananas, apples & sliced plums with granola.

Then, I began realizing that I do enjoy the taste of a good roasted veggie salad with kale and carrot ginger dressing.  I recalled the smoothie bowls I’ve been enjoying these past several weeks, and the Soldanza Maduritos sweet plantain chips that are quickly becoming a food group for me.  And the good food that I know I can create once I get some new cooking techniques and the best ingredients to use (such as chickpea miso…).

Amy Valpone’s book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body is inspirational!  Amy is so positive and so confident that it virtually oozes between the words and infects me to want to eat clean, too.  [So, I might not be able to eat all of the comfort foods I remember but I can have ground foods (plantains (green and yellow), ackees, dasheen, etc.) and codfish!]

Amy’s health story is rougher than mine and she found her way through it all and is now healthy and happy.  I want to have that level of happiness in my own life.  And, if that means eating clean so as not to have a body always under a crisis — then that’s what I need to do.

I tried Amy’s granola recipe and it was amazing!  My children loved it as well and a batch (that filled a 16 oz container) was finished in 2.5 days.

What I’m saying is simply this: I really enjoyed eating foods that were not the best for my body.  I grew up with those foods!  They’re my go-to comfort foods when I want to feel ‘at home’.  But, it’s not working for me anymore.  What I am experiencing is the feelings of being in transition with my dietary food patterns — and that’s okay.  Just as long as I don’t indulge, and find healthy substitutes, I’m OK.  I have to be gentle with myself and nurture myself through the process of being Green & Leafy. 🙂

Ta-ta for now,


Ackee Saltfish & Food

Traditional home-cooked meal full of ground food and codfish. (Okay, so maybe the dumplings don’t fit in this picture…)




An InDepth Look at Acai Berries

As many of you know, I am diving deep into the pool of wellness and seeking answers to the hard questions about which foods are healthiest to eat, and more importantly, how often can we eat them.  So many times we find out that this, or that fruit, herb, or grain is great for our bodies and we eat it every day.  (Or, maybe that was just me…)

However, as the old maxim states, Everything in moderation.

This is true even in the case of Acai Berries which according to Dr. Brent A. Bauer, writing for the Mayo Clinic’s website, “Acai is safe to consume, as long as you’re not allergic to the fruit.  But, use caution when consuming products made with acai that may have other ingredients, such as caffeine.”  [Obvious advice, but here’s the real question, Why would you add caffeine to a product with Acai in it??]

Okay, Dr. Bauer, you’re telling us Acai is safe. Great!  So, what are they?  And where do these berries come from?  The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) tells us that the acai (a-sigh-ee) berry comes from the acai palm tree which is “native to tropical Central and South America, [and] produces a deep purple fruit.  The acai fruit has long been an important food source for indigenous peoples of the Amazon region.”  The NCCIH also let’s us know that acai fruit pulp has been “used experimentally as an oral contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs).  Therefore, if you have an MRI scheduled and you’re using acai products, please tell your doctor.

The NCCIH also states that a preliminary study shows that a juice blend with mainly acai berry juice in it has an antioxidant effect in humans.  This is good!  WebMD tells us that antioxidants protect our bodies from harmful molecules called free radicals (me speaking: free radicals wreck havoc on our bodies!).  And HealthLine tells us that acai berries “contain high levels of important fatty acids such as omega-3, omega-6 and monounsaturated oleic acid.  [All of which are] essential for good health.”  Healthline also states that the acai berry would not be what it is without its blue-purplish skin.  “Like many other fruits, the skin contains fiber, and various nutrients, and most of the antioxidants.  If you’re buying a supplement, or a drink made from acai, you’ll want to make sure the product contains plenty of skin.”

I am comforted to know that while there may not be a lot of peer-reviewed studies about acai berries and their effect on humans, what is known is both positive and very encouraging.  What the doctors and scientists have already shown us is that acai berries, due to their high antioxidant properties, along with the other high level of vitamins and minerals contained within acai berries (like other berries contain) have the following health benefits:

  1. Great for Your Skin
  2. Powerful Anti-Oxidant
  3. Provides a lot of Energy
  4. Helps You Look Younger
  5. Reinvigorates Your Immune System
  6. Is a Cancer-Fighter


One last thing.  Acai berries spoil within a few days of being picked.  Therefore, when we here in America consume Acai, it’s most likely going to be in the form of a capsule, pill, powder, or a juice.  It goes without saying that acai can be quite costly especially since it is being shipped from Brazil, and other similar places.  Shop smart and check labels to ensure the product contains acai berry skin.

You can read more about Acai Berries by clicking on the links below.

7 Powerful Health Benefits of Acai Berry (Food Matters blog)

Acai Berry Juice Benefits (LiveStrong.com)

What Are Acai Berres: Do they have health benefits? (Mayo Clinic)

What is the Acai Berry? (HealthLine)

Alrighty folks.  I’m sold!  I’m going to run over to Amazon and pick up some powdered Acai Berry powder today and I’ll let you know how I feel and what I think in the weeks to come.

Ta-ta for now,


Longest Running Expo: 6th Annual GreenFestival 2017

On Sunday, June 11th, I attended the Green Festival Expo at the Javits Center in New York City.  It was pretty awesome!  Two of my children, and I, headed out on the subway not knowing what to expect but having a feeling of excitement nonetheless.

From the moment we alighted from the elevator onto the Expo’s floor, we were pleasantly bombarded with items that we could and would want to eat – including gluten free items!  The very first stop was the GoMacro Macrobar which is gluten free, and pretty darn tasty!  (Please note: some flavors contain soy.)  The server behind this booth was so Cali-zen!  He put huge smiles on our faces and made us feel at ease.

gomacro_6 11 2017

Then, it was on to Coco-Mat, positioned to the extreme right of the escalators – perfect for grabbing attention!  We all loved the softness and the feathery lightness of this all-natural bed.  The mattresses are made from various natural materials such as: natural rubber, rubberized coconut-fiber, rubberized horsehair, seaweed, eucalyptus leaves, and cactus fiber. (Yeah!  We were amazed as well.)

coco mat_6 11 2017

The next thing that caught our collective eye was the Kia Soul EV – a 100% electric car with 0% emissions.  Whoa.  Fully loaded?  It comes out to $36K.  Not bad.  But, it’s the perks that really had us thinking about getting behind this luxurious looking wheel.

Kia soul ev_6 11 2017

  • $7,500 in credits, rebates back from the federal government because of the money you are saving the planet because you are not using fossil fuel to power this vehicle
  • Money savings from state tax credits for environmental ease (not all states have these credits; Illinois does not)
  • 120 city miles / 92 highway miles on a fully charged battery
  • 24 hours to full charge on a 27 kWh 360 V lithium-ion battery (alternating AC1 current)
  • Use of recycled plastics for the car’s décor showing the manufacturer’s commitment to the environment

My whole family wants this car!  Including me.

Our next little stop was just a few steps away at the Vegan Smart booth.  This is a plant-based protein powder that comes in several different flavors. ( All flavors contain soy.)  The strawberry flavor was by far, to me, the best tasting.  Given my family’s long history using and drinking protein powders, this ranked in the pretty okay category.  It didn’t knock our socks off but it was tasty and nutritious – and it’s a Black-owned business.

vegan smart_6 11 2017

From here on, I cannot recall each and every stop we made – we saw so much!

Think we next stopped at Samina, a sleeping system (bed) company that rocked my family’s world.  The European Ash Wood“box spring” is individually tied and affixed to the frame in such a way that the slats contour to your positioning leaving your body feeling fully supported and at ease.  For the five minutes I laid on the bare “box spring” I was in heaven.  And the person sleeping next you is in no way affected if you toss and turn.  How do I know?  My 3-year-old daughter was jumping on the Samina bed not 2 feet from where I was lying and my side of the bed did not move or vibrate at all.  It was incredible.  No, it was mind-blowing.

Samina_6 11 2017

Oh, did I mention that all of the wool coverings this company uses for its mattresses are from sheep that roam freely in Austria and have their wool hand-washed to preserve the wool’s ability to insulate when it’s cold and to keep you cool when it’s warm?  Therefore, you’re sleeping on disturbingly happy sheep’s wool.  I’m sure 365 days of that along is a fantastic experience!

Okay, now it gets really murky…

City Maid Green – OMG!  I am in love with these plant powered cleaners!  I was extremely skeptical about using products that did not contain – wait, dare I say it?  Okay, I will…bleach.  How the heck can you clean the tub and the face basin with plant essences?  Well, I’ve been doing it for the past 9 days and I can attest and testify that they do work.  I was a bit upset the first couple of days because the water beaded in the area that I just “cleaned.”  Then, I realized that a bit more elbow grease is needed when using green cleaning products – so I get my work out on when I clean the bathroom now!  [Did I mention the household cleaners are only $4.99 each spray bottle?] http://citymaidgreen.com/

city maid green_6 11 2017

I would say you use a bit more product than you would a chemical cleaner but that stands to reason.  It’s the same reason why you don’t have to do much scrubbing with a chemical cleaner – why?  It strips everything, including the skin cell from your hand… (Ooops.  Did I say that out loud?)

MJ Lemon – hand-crafted Eco-friendly skin care by founder Maheen Lemon.  She graduated from the Aveda Institute in New York City with a license in Esthetics and skin care.  She has also studied Ayurveda which enhances her line of skincare with a whole-body-mind consciousness.  All of her products are 100% natural, organic and cruelty-free.

MJ Lemon pic_6 11 2017

Twin Pines at Dover Hill – all natural body bar soaps & scrubs; the coffee-mint body scrub with the sweet little wooden scoop comes to mind readily.  They smelled and looked great!  Tell the owner, Laura Baliotti, I sent you.  Congrats on being selected as a GreenFestival Expo Brand Award Finalist!

Twin Pines body scrubs_6 11 2017

Element – healthful snacking that won’t leave you feeling guilty!  These rice crackers are slathered with a rich topping that is dairy-free, gluten-free and simply gosh-darn good.  We loved the strawberry flavor (Yeah, we’re berry citrus lovers.)  But, the other flavors are really really good!  Fredrik told me that this company came about because his wife has numerous allergies and she wanted a portable snack that she could enjoy without it being messy.  (Nutella on rice crackers does not travel well he mentioned to me.)  Their solution?  Element snacks, of course.

element snacks_6 11 2017

EMFs Protect – Now, I will admit, I have to get more info on all of this but here’s the gist of it.  EMFs (electric and magnetic fields) surround us in our ever-expanding technological worlds.  While these energy fields power our devices (which we cannot seem to live without these days), the fields do not coincide well with our body’s own electromagnetic field.  In fact, EMFs interrupt and interfere with our bodies.  EMFs make our bodies weaker and susceptible to illness and disease.  Here’s more information from Roy Riggs, a geobiologist: https://bodyecology.com/articles/little-known-dangers-of-emf.php.

emfs protect_6 11 2017

So, I said all of that to now tell you that there’s this band that you can put on your wrist that will greatly reduce/dampen the EMFs around you so that your body is not affected by them.  The band contains a crystal that produces negative ions.  The folks at the booth did a demonstration with my son which seemed to show that when he was wearing the band he was stronger and was able to resist his arm being pushed down.  (Without the band, his arm much more easily was pushed down.)  [You know my son wants one of these bands, right?] http://mypowerbandz.com/order-negative-ion-bands.html

Solar Tube – brings light from outside into your attic.  It loses only 3% of light for every 10 feet of tubing.  Four hundred lumens of light is reflected in the material lining the tube (very bright!!) and there’s a layer behind this material that absorbs the heat so you are only bringing the light into your home.  And, there’s a 30% federal tax credit!

solar tube_6 11 2017

Di Loren Acacia Silk Face Oil – this woman-owned and run company works with women in Uganda.  Desert oil is hand-harvested by the Ugandan women by sustainable methods and this extremely moisturizing oil is combined with Acacia to give you a face oil that does not clog your pores or feels heavy.  It helps to reduce wrinkles and the appearance of aging skin.  The co-founder Lauren Servin is both personable and passionate about bringing natural products for women, by women and to help heal the earth.

di loren_6 11 2017

I would be totally remiss if I did not rave about My Eco Bags!  I picked up a 4-bag set of these bags that you can take to the grocery store so you don’t use any more disposable plastic bags.  My Eco Bags are made from recycled yogurt containers and other types of recycled plastics and materials.  The straps are so wide and comfortable that it is not a hardship to bring home a lot of groceries in these sturdy bags.

my eco bags_javitis_6 11 2017

There was so much more but I’ll stop here.  We’ll be looking at more green products and other topics in the arena of sustainability in the weeks and months to come.

Ta-ta for now,




Updated: Move Over Fake News, Here is Fake Food

**This article has been updated as of Mon, 6/12/17 @ 2:55 pm EDT!!**

**BCS Intl Honey has been proven to be certified!  Read below.**

It’s Sunday morning. I’m in the kitchen thinking about a good, healthy breakfast that does not come from a package. I’m new to this way of eating so it took me some time to figure out this meal:

  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Cabbage, cucumbers and red peppers dressed with balsamic vinaigrette
  • Catfish and kale dressed with a light lemon balsamic reduction

So, imagine my surprise when my hubby shows me a video (in Hindu, I think) showing a man creating cabbage for human consumption!  I was flabbergasted! I immediately checked Snopes and the video was shown to be a fake. It was a video showing the process of making plastic display food for restaurant windows in Japan and China.


Here’s the Snopes article marking this particular video a FAKE – http://www.snopes.com/chinese-synthetic-cabbages/.

However, reporter Kate Storey writes in Delish magazine about 14 real fake foods we may have in our very own kitchens. This includes:

  • olive oil (cut with cheaper oils like corn, and peanut oils)
  • truffle oil (the pigs in Alba never even heard of the stuff we’re ingesting…)
  • sushi (if you think you’re getting white tuna, think again.)
  • honey (no industry standard! Check True Source Honey to ensure it’s real.)
  • parmesan cheese (make sure it says “Made in Italy)

Storey reports that many manufacturers of the above food items cut/dilute the actual products with cheaper substitutions some of which can harm our health.  Being informed, and reading labels becomes very important! You can read the full article here.

To follow-up on the note above regarding honey, you can verify that the honey in your pantry is real and registered with True Source Honey by checking its UPC bar code. There’s an orange circle in the upper right hand corner of the True Source Honey page that says, “Is Your Honey True Source? Check Here.

Original Story Copy (Not Updated)

I checked my bottle of Natural Garden 100% Pure Natural Organic Honey that has the True Source Honey logo on the back!!! Guess what?  When I checked it on the True Source Honey page it said it was “not certified, or has not been registered” — in essence, FAKE!

I checked because I had an odd reaction to it when I used it; not quite nausea but close enough.  I fluffed it off.  However, the odd feeling stayed with me so I decided to began reading more about honey and how it’s certified.

Who knows what’s in this bottle!!!  And, my kids have eaten it!  The rest is going into the trash!


Hello everyone,

In conjunction with checking the website for information about BCS Intl/Natural Garden Honey yesterday, I also emailed True Source Honey directly.  And, about an hour later the Executive Director, Gordon Marks, got back to me and asked me to take additional steps and provide him more information so he can check out what was happening with this product/brand and the certification not being verified (since the bottle did have the True Source Honey logo). [Yes, the ED got back to me on as SUNDAY afternoon!!!]

After a total of 13 emails between yesterday and today, Gordon has assured me that this product is indeed a verified True Source Honey product.  Gordon shared with me in an email today at 2:38 pm EDT the reason why the uncertified/not registered message popped up on the website yesterday.

“There are primarily 2 reasons it was not in our data base; * The distributor did not wish for it to be included, * It was a relatively new item and had not yet been included.” – Gordon Marks, Executive Director, True Source Honey LLC.

So, there we have it.  This brand of honey is verified.  It is the real deal!  Whew!  I feel a lot better now.  As you can see, my household loved this honey and used almost the whole bottle!  I can rest easier tonight.  Thanks Gordon!

bcs intl_fake honey_6 11 2017

Clear image of bottle’s label – BCS Intl Corp. This honey has been verified CERTIFIED by Gordon Marks, Exec Dir of True Source Honey LLC on 6/12/17.

The moral of this story? If you are serious about having good health, it’s time to put a little time and effort into finding out what goes into your body.  And, then double-check the information so you know you have the correct information.

Why?  Because you don’t want to end up like me and have your body attack healthy cells (that’s another story you can read about here) because you were not diligent to research what you’re putting into your body.

Ta-ta for now,



Weekend Inspiration: Melissa Bess Reed, CMA, Gluten Free

I *met* Melissa in 2014 on Twitter shortly after finding out that I had the genetic marker for Celiac Disease.  Melissa, diagnosed with Celiac in 1998, was my first role model for this new path and a new way to eat.  Her book, Gluten Free Lifestyle Series: Silly Yaks Favorite Recipes, helped me, and my family, eat healthier and in a manner that would not make me sick.

For the first post of this new weekly feature of closing out the week with an inspirational story, I just knew this inaugural article needed to feature Melissa.  She took me under her proverbial wing and shared tips and tricks on how to stop yourself from eating the wrong things.  Being armed with foods you can eat safely is the key.  Cooking at home, or from trusted sources, is a must.

At that moment in time, my main meals were the issue.  What could I eat that did not contain wheat, or any of its by-products?!?  And my prowess as a resourceful baker?  Out the window!  Who could make a light fluffy cake with a tender crumb and a buttery taste when I couldn’t use whole wheat flour?  Or, the lighter refined cake flour?

Enter Silly Yaks Favorite Recipes.  The first thing I made was the Chili Relleno Bake.  I really enjoyed them!  It was a new taste for me.  I was never a fan of chilies and cheese but this was yummy!  Next, I made Grammies Easy Jambalaya.  The whole family enjoyed this dish!! (Read about it here.)

I even live-tweeted while I was making the Jambalaya.  It was a lot of fun!  Taking pictures as I was putting it all together.  Asking questions as I went along and getting great feedback and advice during the process.  And Melissa?  She was there for the whole thing.  She supported my growth and budding enthusiasm.  She shared her knowledge without hesitation.


I even shared my blood test results with her and Melissa felt the results pointed more to an autoimmune issue rather than an allergy/intolerance/sensitivity to gluten.  That was in 2014.  Fast forward to 2017.  I was diagnosed with an autoimmune blistering disease.

Melissa was spot in.  She tirelessly studies and keeps abreast of new findings in regards to autoimmune conditions and how what we eat can help help our bodies.  As I mentioned earlier, Melissa was diagnosed in 1998 with Celiac Disease and then in 2012, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis.  Both of these autoimmune conditions medically require a gluten free diet.  Melissa did not want to be a victim so she taught herself so she could share her knowledge with others to help them ease their way into this new eating lifestyle.

Silly Yaks Favorite Recipes

So, if you have any gluten issues, I would strongly suggest you check out Melissa’s cookbook and her blog.  She posts about new gluten free recipes, great food pairings, and sustainable living.

By having Melissa as a part of my life, I was able to grow past some pretty daunting food challenges and come out on the other side with a satisfied tummy that did not rumble in distress hours later.

From the East Coast to the sunny West Coast, I say a heartfelt, Thank you!, to my inspiration — Melissa Bess Reed.

Check out Melissa’s blog here.

Find Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaBessReed