Ultimate Red Juice -- Perfect for Spring!

Ever notice how each season gives us lots of new food inspiration, even though with modern farming technology we can get off-season foods readily? I love eating and drinking in alignment with the seasons and I know our bodies function best when we do so.

Post-winter I begin to crave the brighter side of the rainbow of garden goodness, leaving behind heavier, warming dishes and reaching for lighter, cleansing, cooling treats.

Nothing says spring to me like just-picked herbs, baby veggies, succulent berries and fresh juices!

This Ultimate Red Juice is as gorgeous as it is tasty, and as nutritious as it is lovable. Packed with vitaminC and antioxidants, it tastes enough like heaven that even your littlest/finickiest juice-drinkers will enjoy it—even though it’s full of beets!

We can mix in-season ingredients with well stored off-season flavors we love and still reap the benefits, like I’m doing here today with this juice. In the US apples are everywhere pretty much all year long and you can usually find pomegranate seeds in the freezers at natural grocery stores (when I first discovered this, I did a dance at Whole Foods). Both apples and pomegranates boast incredible health benefits regardless of the season and they pair beautifully with the springy strawberries and beets in this juice.

We tend to focus on external cleaning during spring, but April is a great time to do a little internal spring cleaning before you embark on clearing closet clutter. Say that three times fast! And send me a video.

Why not Marie Kondo-ify your home in the coming months with a delightful, fortifying mocktail in hand? This pretty juice might even inspire you to paint a wall its color (I want to!).

Looking for more juicepiration? Bet you’ll like this one, or this, too!

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ULTIMATE RED JUICE

by Maggie Verderame

1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 red beets
About 10 big strawberries
1 medium red apple
(All organic!)

Juice all ingredients on high speed in a typical juicer, or use a masticating juicer if you have one.

Yields approximately 1½-2 cups juice (depending on juicer and state of fruit), making 3-4 half-cup servings.

I highly encourage you to enjoy this on a patio while watching bees buzz and flowers bloom with loved ones.

Summer Solstice Pomodoro

Ahhhhhhhhh, summer.

 

Even though I live in the hot, hot desert, I still love summer!  I love it even more since our raised bed garden has been growing magnificently the last couple years and our tomato “yield” is great.  Because I mean, come on, what says “summer!” more than fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes?!

At least to me.

And my husband.

And our daughter.

You see, our heritages are Italian and we looooove tomatoes!  I’m pretty certain my raised bed garden mostly exists so my husband can solely grow tomatoes.  He humors us with lots of greens, herbs and various seasonal veggies in the garden that, honestly, mostly he and my daughter care for, but those could all die and, as long as his tomatoes survived, he’d feel like a successful farmer.  

Each year he learns more about caring for the soil and when to get tomatoes planted here so we can enjoy them the longest without them stewing on the vine in the desert heat.  Every morning he gets up with the sun and scours his babies, I mean, plants for hornworms, he plucks off unworthy sucker leaves, he rubs himself down with the aroma of fresh tomato stalks (or something, I just know he comes in smelling like tomato plants most mornings).  And each year it gets better and better.

Why not love tomatoes so much?  They’re so full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that they have been proven to help protect heart health, lower blood pressure, improve vision, reduce cholesterol, provide relief from skin irritations, urinary tract infections and diabetes, and stave off certain types of cancers!

Um, wow!  Veggies are UHmazing, UHstounding, and UHtterly fantastic, aren't they?

This early spring, we were super stoked to find organic San Marzano tomato seedlings at our local nursery.  My husband practically broke out in song, dance and tears.  

You see, San Marzanos are his absolute favorite kind of tomatoes.  I know.  He has a favorite kind of tomato.  Don’t you?

These are the Roma tomatoes he chooses to make his infamous “gravy” with.  “Gravy” is what our families call marinara.  It’s a northeastern americanism based on the definition of the Italian words for pasta sauce.  It was a bonding moment for us when we met waaaaay back when because in Miami — where we lived then, there’s not a lot of people saying, “Man, I could really go for some pasta with gravy!”

Our grandmothers called it gravy.  So, it’s gravy!

Gravy is great!  Admittedly, though, it’s a little heavy in the summertime.  Enter (my personal favorite use of San Marzanos):  POMODORO SAUCE.  This one is not called gravy by our families.  I don’t exactly know why other than that it is fresher and lighter and quicker to cook.  

 

I digress…

 

Ahhhhhhhhh, summer.  It’s the summer solstice.   

HAPPY SOLSTICE!!  

I absolutely love celebrating nature.  Living in the mojave desert, we don’t experience the full spectrum of seasons at our house, but I have found that celebrating them with ritual and observation anyway makes them all the more meaningful.  

In my yoga practice, I pay extra attention to Suryanamaskara (sun salutations) during a seasonal shift.  I drink in every inhale and fully release every exhale.  I honor the rising and the setting sun every time I reach upward or fold forward.  I do a few more rounds of these than usual and I mix in every traditional style of sun salutation.

Through yoga, we are always working toward true balance — just like nature does.  We are part of nature.  We reflect it, and nature reflects us.  Nature is constantly moving in the direction of equal light!  We are either ascending to long days full of light, or descending to shorter ones with more darkness.  Our bodies, through yoga, are equally expanding and contracting into and out from a state of balance, equilibrium, symmetry.  

Additionally, as a family we do something to acknowledge the change of seasons.  Sometimes we spend time in nature.  Other times we leave gifts for the birds and fairies in our garden.  We may make little alters or tablescapes with seasonal goodies.  And then there are the days when we decide to fully enjoy nature’s bounty and make a delicious meal out of only seasonal vegetables.  

That’s what we've done for this summer solstice.  One by one, we’ve been picking the San Marzano tomatoes and setting them aside from all the other varieties our garden is gifting us this year.  We’ve been eating and enjoying the cherry tomatoes, the heirlooms, the beefsteaks and the pear/grape ones while the San Marzanos piled up in a bowl in the fridge awaiting a very special event:  Solstice Family Dinner!

The star of the dinner show?  Pasta Pomodoro!

As I mentioned, Pomodoro is a light, fresh, summery tomato sauce.  It’s very quick to prepare and very hard to mess up.  It’s utterly delicious when you strike the right balance of flavors and it goes well on virtually any kind of pasta, spiralized veggies or spaghetti squash.

In the true tradition of our grandmothers and moms, there’s no real “recipe” for this dish, so I’m going to do my best to give you base quantities to use, but I want you to use your eyes, nose and tastebuds to make it perfect for you.  If it seems too dry, moisten it up with a little more olive oil.  If you looooove garlic, add more.  Be sure to salt it just enough to brighten the tomato flavor without overdoing it, and do not, I repeat, do not give in to the urge to cook this just a little bit longer.  Turn off that heat and step away from the stove!  After all, it’s summer.  Keep it cool!
 

May the longtime sun shine upon you and may you share this meal with people you love!

 

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POMODORO SAUCE
for approximately 1lb of pasta

We love this so much, for our solstice meal we broke out the fancy china pasta bowls!  It’s super tasty as is, or, for some added pizzazz, sprinkle on a little parmesan or drizzle on hot pepper oil/add a dash of dried hot pepper flakes.

10-15 Plumb/Roma Tomatoes (preferably San Marzano variety)
20 small/10 large Fresh Basil Leaves
12 Fresh Garlic Cloves
¼-½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

  • Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Then slice each half in half lengthwise again. From there, cut the long strips into chunky pieces, approximately 2 inches thick.

  • Stack the basil leaves and gently slice them into thin strips or ribbons.

  • Carefully peel the garlic cloves and remove the root edges. Thinly slice each clove into discs.

  • Add the olive oil to a deep skillet and heat it over medium heat. Once the oil is just warm, add the garlic and let it cook mildly for 3-5 minutes. Do not burn the garlic and avoid over-stirring so the pieces maintain their disc shape and do not break. Once the garlic is softening, add tomatoes, basil and salt to the skillet. Stir to coat everything with oil. Cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat, crack in some fresh black pepper and toss again. Let sit in the warm skillet for up to 5 more minutes and then pour over hot cooked pasta or veggies.

 

Halloween Loot, Minus the Poot! (that's my wee girl's word for "poop"; maybe I shouldn't have let her name this post)

I L♥VE Halloween!!  With a capital heart!

Since I was old enough to be a greeter for all those excited trick-or-treaters, one of my absolute favorite parts of Halloween has always been giving out treats.

In my house we don't eat chemicals, pesticides, GMO's, food dyes, refined sugars, or excesses of sugars of any kind.  So, why would we give that out to all the sweet witches and ghosts who visit our doorstep?

When all is said and done, kids want to have fun more than anything!  I believe we put too much emphasis on sugary "treats" in our culture and not enough on the treat that is pure joy.  JOY HAS LASTING POWER!!

Soooooo ... many, many years ago I decided to give out toys and useful, fun stuff instead of candy.  MANY years ago.  Like, long before the words "gluten intolerance" or "nut allergy" were ever uttered in common vernacular.  Once they were, it was simply convenient that I was already in the flow of finding fun "treats" to share.

The first year I spent Halloween with my husband and he saw me gathering Autumn themed pencils to give out to kids, he said, "Ok. I'm gonna ask you a question.  I'm only gonna ask it once and then I'll move on, but I HAVE to ask.  Are you SURE -- POSITIVELY, ABSOLUTELY SURE -- that you want to be the lady who gave out pencils on Halloween???!!!"  I was sure.  And he stood corrected as the kids went through our stash, genuinely excited to pick out the pencil of their choice!  Not 1 egg was thrown at our house.  ;)  Now we have our own wee kid with a hilarious pencil fetish and year after year, no matter what else we give out, there are always pencils in the mix.  My husband still laughs and shakes his head, saying, "Pencils!  They really like the pencils!"

Why yes those are monster temporary finger tattoos.  Why yes those do double as tattoos AND monster finger puppets.  GENIUS!

Why yes those are monster temporary finger tattoos.  Why yes those do double as tattoos AND monster finger puppets.  GENIUS!

BE READY FOR FUN!  If you would like to give out non-junk-food items, and need ideas, some that have worked well for me in the past are:

  • Bubbles (small bottles)
  • Stamps
  • Super balls
  • Tiny journals
  • Mini crayon boxes
  • Whistles
  • Rings (big enough to be safe for wee ones)
  • Mini parachute people
  • Mini toy cars/airplanes
  • Stickers
  • Finger puppets
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow Sticks
  • Necklaces (especially glow ones!)
  • Mini games
  • Mini activity books
  • And of course, PENCILS!  (Fall ones, sparkly ones, lego ones, monster ones...)

You can find these at discount stores (like, $1/Reject stores), craft supply stores, Target, and online at Oriental Trading Company or Amazon.  Be sure to check locally owned makers and toy shops as well!

Check for environmentally friendly options and always get nontoxic toys!  They do exist, even in the $1 bins! :)

Please consider doing this.  It teaches kids about being healthy, it gives kids with allergies and special needs a treat they can enjoy (and puts their parents minds at ease), and it inspires creativity and play.  Plus, less chemically-laden candy sold sends a message to candy companies to clean up their acts.

Thanks!  Happy Haunting!!

My Family Loves The SWITCH WITCH! Does Yours?

Hooray!!!!  (Or, "Weehoo!!" as my wee girl says!)  The Switch Witch came!!

Those are some of my favorite words to hear hollered from my doorstep!

Running out, magic wand in hand to see what magic was left on our doorstep!

Running out, magic wand in hand to see what magic was left on our doorstep!

For those of you who don't know about this, let me first say, I did not create this.  The second I heard of it years ago, I knew we would be adopting it into our annual Halloween tradition as a family.  More and more I am learning that many naturally inclined parents haven't heard of this and are at a loss when it comes to trick or treating, so I'm sharing how it works here ....

But first, let's be clear -- all of this is easiest when we are yogically kind and mindful parents ALL YEAR LONG who model and promote a natural lifestyle.  Not pushing ideas on our kids. Not making a big deal out of food. Rather, just eating great, natural foods and being ready with simple, clear, consistent answers regarding food choices and how they effect our minds and bodies.  Having to explain over and over again on an annual basis why they can't partake in Halloween fun stinks.  If you simply live a certain lifestyle all the time, you avoid this altogether.  I also feel we must allow kids to make some food choices on their own -- even occasionally ones we don't necessarily love.  They are here on their own journeys and it's empowering for them when we can step back and remember that.  More often than not, they're going to try that hot dog or way-too-sugary-sweet piece of cake and realize it's not all it's cracked up to be.  Being a little less attached and a lot more balanced about it all will bring a sense of ease to the whole situation, and probably less rebellion on the part of our kids.

But. I digress ....

We LOVE Halloween.  We especially love the idea of merry making in our community by trick or treating and dressing up in creative costumes with friends and family!  It can be such a bummer to have to either skip the trick or treating merriment or, make your kiddos sad by not letting them keep their loot.  Solution? Enter -- The Switch Witch!

Every year we trick or treat with the best of 'em and when we are done, we go through our loot to see what of our stash is keep-able and what isn't. (Keep-able:  anything made with no chemicals, nasty preservatives, artificial ingredients, artificial food dyes.  There actually are some things people give out that aren't things I'd buy, but we deem keep-able.  In the case of Halloween every treat doesn't have to be organic, they just have to be free of additive crap that stunts our health.)  Before bed, the "ick" stash is left outside on our doorstep for the Switch Witch who wanders the land after dark in search of goodies for her magic brew which powers her broom. If a child chooses to leave her something, she gratefully switches it out for a longer lasting toy and/or more healthful, festive treats.  Easy peasy.  Plus!  It extends Halloween into November 1!! (In our house, it is how we kick off Day of the Dead!  We get to start by celebrating our excitement for our lives and then we honor those who have passed.)

Reading her special note from the Switch Witch!

Reading her special note from the Switch Witch!

This next part is all me:
For older kids, the Switch Witch is still very effective.  When it becomes noticeable that perhaps some belief in magic is waning, the Switch Witch simply leaves a note with her switch treats explaining that now they are getting bigger so it is up to them to keep magic alive and to uphold their choice to eat naturally.  She will continue to come and switch out their loot and they can continue to have as much Halloween fun as their heart desires for as long as they want!  However, it is up to them if they would like to be surprised, or if they would prefer to spend the next year planning something (within reason) they would like to have or do that the Switch Witch could provide for them.  Some parents choose to openly take the Switch Witch's duties over, giving her more time for the wee kiddos of the land, while other families always love the element of surprise and gifting.

LOOT!

LOOT!

It's a good day when your kiddo literally jumps for joy at the sight of new airplane pajamas!! 😍 We receive things like yummy, healthier, organic treats, new pj's, coins, small toys/craft kits, games, puzzles, books, coloring books -- limitless possibilities for FUN!  This fun, these memories ... these will last way longer than icky candy would!

Fun & Festive!  Voila!  Now you know (if you didn't already).  Happy haunting!!

NEW Broadcast ;)

Negativity and violence seem to be the loudest headlines these days getting all the attention. It’s hard to stay grounded with so much fear and anger energy coming at us all the time. And in this day and age of social media on top of media-media, it really is coming at us all the time. Even when we are vigilant about what we allow into our day to day, somehow, it’s there. Sometimes we can just feel it. Sometimes we hear about it through the grapevine. Sometimes we pay close attention to it. How can we as members of one human family not pay some attention? We care!



So I’m here with a little news-reframing love note for you today (and a little recipe gift below...). A simple pop-in to say I feel your caring and I am caring along with you. I see your concerns and I am concerned along with you. I feel your days of exhaustion and therefore momentary indifference and then your rising up again into positive action. I am right there with you. My hope is that you will take time EVERY day to remember no matter what is going on around you, YOU ARE A LIGHT BRINGER! You can be the change you wish to see in the world. You are PLENTY and you are PERFECTION and you make a difference!!



The messages I got in my yoga practice this morning were these: Be quiet so I can hear the truth that there is so much wonder and magic in our world! Be mindful with my energy and my focus! Remember that all is well and above all, even when I wonder why I would bother: I AM A LIGHT BRINGER. It’s my calling. It’s my sacred contract. It’s my responsibility to seek out the good, the joy, the light. To live with as much good, joy and light as possible, and to share the good, the joy, the light.



I could withdraw and just try to live a happy life, hoping that my happy energy would have some radiant effect (and I’m absolutely certain that our happy energy does have a profound radiant effect!), but I feel this deep intention to take action and remind you of your splendor!



So, if you have — or someone you care about has — been feeling a bit winded by world events lately, I want to offer you a few little tips to continue to live your bright life…
 

  • When all seems glum or overwhelming, seek first to understand. Remain positive and hopeful; TRUST!
  • Trust that you are loved and supported.
  • Trust that good things are coming and good things are happening NOW.
  • When you’re stressed, you’re likely future tripping or dwelling on the past and looping in an eddy of wanting that which is impermanent to be permanent. Try for a moment taking a deep breath through your nose and, if only for the moment it takes to breathe one breath, BE HERE NOW. (be sure to breathe through your nose and not your mouth, this is more centering for your nervous system)
  • Trust in your amazingness — you are such brilliant design, capable of shifting your thoughts from negative ones to positive ones.
  • Trust that the world is healing. Even when we don’t see or grasp the healing, there is healing happening now. When we look for that, we either find it, or we create it, so look for the healing opportunity of every situation.
  • Accept. Acceptance always moves things along a magical path.
  • Trust that we are all in good hands. When it comes time to choose leaders, choose from a place of heart-ness — that place where we are all connected and want what’s best for everyone. Or step into your own light of leadership and lead with your heart.
  • Nourish yourself. My little voice is very wise and usually quite amusing. Today she told me, “Whole foods are soul foods!” (she also said, “Tea time is me time” and I had a good giggle!) Instead of reaching for that bag of chips or tub of ice cream, see what happens when you care enough for yourself to feed your soul byway of your body with natural goodness. When we treat ourselves kindly through food and proper hydration, we view the whole world more positively so don’t skimp on this step! You’re so worth it and you’ll be able to shine your light more freely when you're nourished.



Along the lines of “WHOLE FOODS ARE SOUL FOODS” and “TEA TIME IS ME TIME” I want to share a favorite Fall recipe with you. I made this for myself this morning, not having had it since last Autumn, and I was so pleased. I felt truly nourished by this tea latté treat.

 

I hope you make a little time for yourself to enjoy this! If you don’t get around to making it for yourself, I think I’ll be serving this at the upcoming Autumn Yoga Retreat Day on 11/11 where I intend to brighten retreaters’ lives and inspire them to live their light. If you’d like to sign up and join this lovely group of humans connecting to heart, light and gratitude, here’s a link with info: AUTUMN YOGA RETREAT DAY EVENT PAGE You’ve still got a few days to receive Earliest Bird Pricing and get 20% off!



Pumpkin Spice Cha Cha Chai Blender Latte
by Maggie Verderame


INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
1 Cup Brewed Magareeshi Cha Cha Chai Tea
2 Tbs Pumpkin Purée (this works with any hearty squash)
1 Tbs Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Tbs Maca Powder
1 Tbs Chia Seeds
1 Tbs Hemp Seeds
1 Tbs Coconut Sugar
1 Tbs Honey -or- Maple Syrup
5 Ice Cubes (standard size)


METHODS:
Add all ingredients in the order they are listed to a blender. Whizz up until smooth.

For a cool drink, use cold almond milk and tea.

For a smoothie, used cold liquids and add more ice cubes.

For a warm latté, use warmed almond milk and hot tea. Omit ice cubes.

 

CHEERS to your health and happiness!  Namast-YAY!

CHEERS to your health and happiness!

Namast-YAY!