Harvest for health

I got really excited when I read this research study a couple of weeks ago.  I think it sounds such a lovely idea.

Its a new type of therapy for cancer patients - vegetable gardening.  In the study at the university of Alabama, breast cancer patients were paired with a master gardener. They then worked together to plant a small garden in the patient's yard or in a Earthbox - a gardening container on wheels that can be kept on a porch or patio or just by the front door. The garden was planted with vegetable seedlings.  The idea behind the study was that the gardening project would encourage increased activity to plant and maintain the garden, and  then increase their vegetable intake by eating the fruits (or veggies!) of their labor.  I also think it would be good to increase the patient's self efficacy from having managed to try something new.

I'd love to see us at Ceres be able to expand to incorporate this.  At Ceres, our clients (mostly cancer patients) can have free food for 12 weeks and then another 12 weeks for a donation. It would be perfect to set them up with a garden at the 12 week time point and encourage them to grow their own organic vegetables so that when their food delivery ends, they will have learned how to cook and prepare their own vegetables.

There are horticultural therapy programs around the US and UK.  And if you've grown your own fruit and vegetables before you know what a labor of love it is - and more importantly - how exciting it is to eat your own home grown produce within minutes of harvesting it.

Anyhow - back to the study…. it was a year long feasibility study in 12 adult and child cancer survivors. The gardening intervention was well received and 90% of the subjects saw improvements in measures of strength, agility and endurance.  In addition, fruit and vegetables servings consumed each day increased in 40% and increases  of >30 minutes/week of physical activity were observed in 60% of the subjects. 

I'd love to see it also studied in groups - where neighbors work together and so you get that community spirit on top of it all.  Or at Ceres, our clients could work together with the teenagers in our garden…..

What do you think? Do you find vegetable gardening therapeutic?  How excited are you to eat your own produce?


Amazon Smile - support your favorite charity

Day 20 of #100happydays is signing up for AmazonSmile.  Have you signed up yet?

I use Amazon for lots of different things but now that I have AmazonSmile, I'm even happier as every time I purchase something, they donate some of that money to Ceres Community Project - the non profit organization I'm involved with in Sonoma.

Amazon Smile is easy. You sign up for it on the regular Amazon page and then it gives you options to search for non-profits in your area or wherever.  You click on the one of your choice and Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your purchases to the charitable organization you chose.  Its automatic once you've signed up.

Yes, 0.5% isn't a huge percentage but the more people who sign up, the more donations.

Some reckon that this kind of system isn't good in the long run as people don't get the "good feel" when a non profit acknowledges your donation, and some may feel this is enough and not contribute in other ways.  Also they feel it is just a good ploy to get more sales for Amazon.

I have a different view. Yes, its not replacing anything that I already do, but its just a little bonus. I also think it teaches people about philanthropy who may not give any other way, but can make a choice on amazon on who to donate to.  I still think I can feel good supporting - albeit in a small way - a local group, via Amazon. What do you think?

Its similar to iGive - which links to 1400 stores, and each store choses the percentage they donate.  Amazon is on that too, giving 0.8%, and the average amount donated by stores is 3%.  Stores include Crate and Barrel, Walgreens, Staples, Best Buy, ToysRUs, Lowes etc.  I signed up with iGive years ago.

I'm all for different ways we can encourage support to non-profits and teach people about philanthropy.

Showing up

I've hardly written any blog posts this year.  Maybe you noticed. Maybe you didn't.  Its been on my mind a lot and I've thought of different reasons about why I haven't: taking a break; don't know what direction I'm going; what should I write about; I need to change things up somewhat, etc.

But the real reason is because life has changed this year.   Last August I wrote a blog post about the Prochaska stages of change.  Knowing the different stages can help you recognize why you haven't quite got where you want to be.

Here's a reminder of the 6 stages:

1. Pre-contemplation - no intention to change in the unforeseeable future
2. Contemplation - seriously thinking of change; some ambivalence
3. Preparation - intending to act in the next month; reduced ambivalence and exploration of options
4. Action - taking action through modification of behavior, experiences and environment
5. Maintenance - work to prevent relapse and consolidate gain
6. Relapse - a recurrence of the undesired behavior or elimination of a desired behavior.

Looking at the stages, since January I've definitely been in action mode.  There was no thinking about it. That was all done last year. Its all action stations. But its not been easy to modify my environment and behavior and decide what I can keep doing and what I can't do.

The two big changes this year are that I've gone back to studying and am doing another Master's degree program in Personalised Nutrition.  Also, I've started working for Ceres in Sonoma as their client manager.  I've been a volunteer liaison for Ceres in Sebastopol for 3 years now and they've just started their own satellite office in Sonoma. Its a lovely role to take on but the reality is quite different from my expectation.

The studying in particular is taking up much more time than I imagined.  So there are lots of adjustments.

But I've missed my blog and missed it as a way of connecting with you.  So I'm going to try the "showing up"  tactic for a while and see how it goes.   I remember when I first started blogging for my jewelry business in 2008….. I had no idea about blogging  and how to start, but I just showed up and tried to write.  That's where I am again now.  I'm going to try showing up more often again and see where it takes us.

What about you?  Is there something that you are trying by just committing to showing up?  Let me know and we can support each other.
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Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this week's list of things that make me realize that everything is tickety-boo.  Feeling tickety-boo doesn't mean everything is perfect, but is more that you focus on the good things in life and they keep you going and then you see more good things.

Photos by Dean Johnson

  • my nephews birthday yesterday - and have a lovely chat with him on Facetime
  • eating quince puree on my oatmeal for breakfast, from the quinces on our trees
  • having friends around for dinner
  • the vase of red roses picked from our garden.  So pretty. They look like they should be a painting
  • the smell of cloves and ginger cooking and filling the house
  • watching two acorn woodpeckers in the olive trees
  • starting a new role at Ceres and enjoying it
  • hearing my friend is doing well
  • hearing good news about another friend's diagnosis
  • finally figuring something out after my voice lesson, and enjoying practicing
  • admiring the work in the photo attached.  They are glass beads, made by Elizabeth Johnson. Doesn't that fruit look incredible.  I've never seen her work before but came across it on Daily Art Muse.  I want to eat those gooseberries!  
  • finishing and thoroughly enjoying the first season of the Danish program Borgen.  We both loved it.  And then I found out there were two more seasons :-D
  • planning Christmas pressies!

I hope you are feeling tickety-boo too!


Ceres gluten free, sugar free, dairy free dessert class

Saturday's "blissful celebrations" class was great! We made 4 different desserts plus a caramel sauce all of which were gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.

 We made:
  •  a lemon cheescake - the base was just almonds and dates and the filling was based on cashew nuts
  • profiterole puffs made from choux pastry and filled with a coffee creme patisserie
  • strawberry and pink peppercorn quinoa cookies
  • chestnut roulade filled with coconut milk "cream" and pomegranate.

There was a lot to cook (and eat!), in a limited time span with lots of new techniques, but everyone did a great job.

Hope you enjoy the photos of the class :-D  Thanks to all who came and especially to Kendra and Alysha who volunteered to help me.

Gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free dessert cooking class

Tomorrow is my GF, SF, DF "blissful celebrations" dessert cooking class at Ceres in Sebastopol.

We will be making and tasting:

Lemon (un-)cheesecake

Coffee choux puffs

Pear cake and 
Chestnut roulade.

There is still time to sign up. It's a hands on class with lots to learn.  Come join us!

And as a bonus, if we have enough time, I'll teach you have to make a "march of the penguins", perfect to adorn any winter dessert - but no one will ever eat them!!


Triple bean truffle

I've been working on a recipe for a truffle that is healthy.  This one is gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

It's called "triple bean truffle" and your job is to guess the three beans that I use in the recipe!

I will be demonstrating a bite size morsel, probably not this one but something else at an event this month at Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol.

The event is the Second Annual Cancer Journey: Nuturing ourselves, Loving ourselves.  The keynote speaker is Michael Lerner, the President and Cofounder of Commonweal, who will present on "Intentional Healing with Cancer".

I heard Michael a couple of weeks ago at the Annie Appleseed conference and cannot recommend him highly enough.  His talk there was wonderful, so whether you have cancer or not, I urge you to come and hear him talk at this event.  There is lots more going on at the event too so check out the info page and sign up.  Hope to see you there.

Light as a feather cake

I made this cake with just three ingredients - and one of them was 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice!

It is lovely: so light as a feather.

It uses just eggs, lemon juice and almonds! How simple is that.

The frosting is pomegranate seeds in a cashew and almond cream.

I think this could be one of the recipes I use for my gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free dessert class coming up in October. I'll tell you more about that as the time gets closer and I've decided what we'll make.

Have a great weekend.  Hope your mood is as light as a feather!