Hall Newbegin of Juniper in nature harvesting

Interview with Hall Newbegin of Juniper Ridge

We recently had another chat with Hall Newbegin, founder of Juniper Ridge, to learn more about what inspired him to develop the California-based wilderness fragrance company.

Tell us about the process of producing your essential oils. What’s that look like from harvest to bottle?

We start by choosing a place. That location dictates what and how we harvest. It’s pretty straight-forward. A small group of us sets out on a trail and we go deep. We all stick our noses in the dirt and come up with a consensus on what makes that place smell the way it does. Once we’ve figured that out, we start harvesting.

Take Redwoods and other conifers of the West, for example. We get a lot of our redwood essential oil from trees that fall down in winter storms. We are commissioned as the cleanup crew and collect materials from the site. If we’re not collecting fallen trees, we obtain permits from the US Forest Service or State Parks to venture into the woods and trim the bottoms of tall trees. The trees respond well to pruning, and of course keep growing taller and taller, well out of the range of even the most acrobatic wildcrafter. Neither the trees nor the ecosystem are harmed by this type of careful pruning. Everything we do is done with permission and harvested sustainably.

Essential Oils by Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics

What makes your essential oils unique and stand out in quality?

There are no shortages of reasons we’re unique – we’re the freaks of the industry! Our problem traditionally has been that we’re so far out there no one understands what we’re doing.

We’re the only aromatics company in the world doing what we’re doing; harvesting the natural materials extracting the aromatics from beginning to end, so we have complete control over every step in the process.

We’re also the only company working with local western plants from the mountains – so we have that added differentiator. One hundred years ago, before the advent of synthetic / petrochemical fragrance, this would have been totally normal, but today it’s just freakish.

You harvest ingredients straight from Mother Nature. How do you ensure that you are doing this ethically, as stewards of the land?

Here are just a few of our guidelines for sustainable harvesting, which we always follow and have modeled after those set forth by the legendary hippie herbalist Howie Brounstein:

  • Do you have the permission or the permits for collecting at the site?
  • Are you at the proper elevation?
  • Is there any natural or chemical contamination?
  • Are there rare, threatened, endangered, or sensitive plants growing nearby at any time of the year?
  • Is wildlife foraging the stand?
  • Do you have the proper emotional state?
  • Look around after harvesting. Any holes or cleanup needed?
  • Are you picking herbs in the proper order for a long trip?

It’s a long, thorough list, but following it in detail keeps us diligent and responsible in our work. In addition to meeting the qualifications on this list, we make sure to only take excess growth, that is, smaller plants that won’t survive in the middle of larger, mature plants. Generally speaking, we harvest one plant for every hundred you see.

In addition to ensuring we harvest plants sustainably, we also give 10% of our profits to groups that defend western wilderness. In the beginning I used to write checks for $50 bucks to wilderness groups and they’d be like “thanks” but now we can write checks for thousands of dollars to wilderness groups – if I can use this business to put that kind of focus on protecting the few large remaining scraps of western wilderness, wow, that’s great.

What aspect of what you’re doing at Juniper Ridge most excites you?

Most people dream about getting bigger, but I dream about getting smaller, more specific and weirder. The only way forward for us is to keep digging into beauty. I want our priority to always be doing our best work to capture the spirit of a place and put it in a bottle. As long as we’re digging deep into the wild places we love, we can keep bringing you aromatic snapshots of our beautiful world.

How do you come up with new ideas? What gets your creative juices flowing?

It’s all so intuitive. It’s really more artistic than scientific. When I’m out there on the trail, my rusty gears start turning in my head. I smell the dirt and leaf covered logs and it just gets me going.

Did you have any mentors or creative influencers that inspired you on your journey?

Neil Young, Iggy Pop, Jerry Garcia and Lou Reed come to mind immediately. They were the first people to whisper in my ear and tell me to go out there and do the weird thing. When I was 13 or 14 years old, I listened to “Walk on the Wild Side” over and over again. Lou Reed was singing about street hustlers, transgender folks, junkies and a world so much bigger than anything I ever knew growing up in suburban Portland. It freaked me out, but I figured, when you’re frightened by something, it usually means you should be checking it out.

Around that time, I started going off script of what my family and the world expected of me. Then later on it became all about the nature and place based freaks – Gary Snyder, Wallace Stegner, David Wallace, all those folks. They were the ones who started singing more directly to me about place.

I’m a wilderness perfumer, which is a job that’s never really existed before and may never again. I’m a total freak, so it shouldn’t surprise you that my inspirations and heroes are freaks and wanderers, people who aren’t afraid to chuck everything that came before them and try something new.

Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea by Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics

What inspired you to produce tea? How did this product innovation come about?

We make things that bring the mountains into people’s day-to-day lives. So whether that’s done through wild harvested aromatics, or a wild harvested tea … I just love it all and get so excited about it! I started making those teas as some of my first products I sold at the farmers markets 20 years ago. They languished in obscurity for years, but I didn’t care.

A normal business would have discontinued the teas a long time ago, but I do things for love, never for money. So I stuck to them because I knew they were beautiful and sure enough now they are one of our strongest sellers. If you make something truly beautiful from the inside out, eventually you’ll find your audience.

Pick your favourite:

Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea or White Sage and Wild Mint?

I’m going to go with white sage and wild mint. I tend to gravitate towards southwestern / desert plants in general, but this tea just oozes real magic for me and immediately transports me to the wild sage fields that I’ve been visiting every year now for 20 years.

Red Wood Mist essential oil or Cascade Forest?

Redwood Mist! I love the redwood country so much, and even though I grew up on the slopes near Mt Hood in the cascades and while I love Cascade Forest because it evokes those Summery, fir and pine alpine areas of my youth in the peak of wildflower summer, Redwood Mist is more emotionally resonant and complex for me.

What’s your all-time favourite quote that you live by?

That’s easy:

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in and take responsibility from there” – Gary Sndyer

It’s who I am and what I’ve done with my life. I always see everything through the lens of place. And yes, once you’ve found your place, become part of it in a deep way – smell the dirt, use your animal senses to engage with the place, and then the taking care of it and the stand up for it part just naturally flows from there, because you won’t be able to help yourself – you’ve fallen in love and you’d do anything to protect it to make sure it’s ok.

Learn more about Juniper Ridge and their products.

Hall Newbegin of Juniper Ridge, California

Hall Newbegin, Founder of Juniper Ridge, shares his story

What do you do when nothing smells better than the forest? You bottle it up and bring it home – and that’s exactly what Juniper Ridge, a California-based wilderness fragrance company does – with the utmost sensitivity for nature.

Hall Newbegin founded Juniper Ridge in 1998 and almost two decades later, the company is flourishing and offers a range of all-natural essential oils, incense, body wash, smudge sticks, tea and more. We asked Hall to share the story of how Juniper Ridge was conceived. Very quickly, it was obvious – he has a very special love for nature.

Here’s what he had to say.

I didn’t have a business plan or philosophy or anything when I started my business. I didn’t envision a fully-fledged plan, I just wanted to make something beautiful. I had my truck, clippers, a copy of Jepson’s Guide to California Plants and I just spent time out there learning. Smelling, crawling around on the ground and sticking my nose in the dirt.

There were so many different teachers who took me under their wings and started teaching me about the plants. I’ve never been very good at the Marketing/Business side of the industry.

For me, it’s all about the plants, the places and that quiet feeling that I get when I’m out on the trail.

That’s the germinal idea that inspired the beginning of Juniper Ridge; that rich quietness that descends on you after you’ve been out backpacking for two or three days – I live for that feeling.

I’ve spent my entire adult life learning about plants and places. I dabbled in some medicinal herb classes but found the classroom setting a little inappropriate given the material. I wanted to be out there.

I spent my twenties learning plant names and wild mushrooms, learning about harvesting from various teachers and fellow wilderness junkies. I spent my thirties working with plants and getting more intimate, and now, well, it keeps getting deeper and more interesting.

I feel like nature is this giant book and I’m only about halfway through the first chapter.

Hall Newbegin of Juniper Ridge in nature

Developing intuition and our animal senses

It feels like, the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m really into paying attention to my intuition when I’m out there now, if my nose is telling me “wild bolete mushrooms,” I dive off trail and start looking. I don’t know if it’s something I smelled or some kind of primitive hunter-gatherer thing I’ve awakened, I just know my instincts. I’m just really interested in developing that intuition.

We’re animals and we see nature with our noses. The things we’re putting in that bottle, well, people can’t help but be taken someplace. You’re going to have a deep emotional response to some of the things we make.

Sometimes I stick my nose into an old rotting log, a patch of wet soil, or a handful of redwood and I start breathing it in and, I don’t know, I just can’t get enough of it and it starts to make me feel really good. This can lead to awkward scenarios on the trail when I’m laying on the ground with my face in the dirt moaning in ecstasy!

We’re animals, all of us – it’s the easiest thing to forget- we’re animals and we see nature through our noses.

Enjoying “scent” doesn’t just belong to me, or the 12 folks who work here, or the handful of perfume noses in the world, or the best chefs. It belongs to all of us. It’s our heritage as humans. “Scent” doesn’t happen only at a department store perfume counter, it happens when you’re eating, drinking wine, beer or coffee, gardening, and hiking.

Please do pay attention. Your nose has so much to give you. It’s given me so much pleasure in my life, it’s just such a rich world and it’s there for all of us.

View the products Hall and his team have created.

herbal tea, healthy beverage

Top 5 Classic & Exotic Herbal Teas

Need a pick-me-up? Turn the kettle on and reach for your favourite teacup. Tea is much better for you than sodas, juices and cream or sugar-loaded coffee. A hot cup of herbal tea can wake you in the morning and relax you in the evening.

Herbal tea comes with a wide range health benefits. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, can soothe an upset stomach and insomnia and can put a troubled mind at ease. A steaming cup of herbal tea can help to relieve nausea, bloating and an array of common ailments.

Herbal tea doesn’t come from a specific plant but is rather an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark that are extracted in hot water. Consuming herbal teas means were are receiving the benefits of plants in digestible form.

To ensure that you are reaping the full benefits of your tea of choice, be sure to follow the steeping directions. Sometimes steeping for 10 to 15 minutes is required to bring out all the healthful properties. Also note the temperature indicated on the tea box – with some green teas, the water should be cooler than boiling temperature.

While there are many different types of herbal tea, these are some of our favourites.

yerba mate herbal tea | healthy

1.Yerba Maté 

This traditional South American tea is brewed from the leaves of a flowering tree and is known as nature’s original energy tonic. Nutritious and energizing, it contains nearly twice the amount of antioxidants compared to green tea. It’s also rich in B vitamins and minerals that help to combat stress.

This tea is traditionally consumed in a mate gourd with a bombilla straw. Look for organic yerba mate for a smooth, clean flavour.

herbal tea, healthy beverage

2.Ginger and Lemon

Known for strengthening your immunity, ginger and lemon tea is one of the best teas you can have. It’s been used for thousands of years to help treat colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines and hypertension. Ginger is now is one of the most popular dietary condiments in the world (Surh et al. 1999).

Organic Green Tea | Healthy Living | Zebra Organics


3.Green Tea

If you aren’t drinking green tea yet, it’s time to start now. Packed with antioxidants that help protect against cell damage, research has established that green tea features cancer-fighting, happiness-boosting and brain-saving properties. Having a cup first thing in the morning will enhance mental alertness. Green tea can be enjoyed in many ways, from matcha green tea lattes, to tea bags, or class loose-leaf versions. Green tea is most beneficial if it is steeped at a warm, not boiling, temperature.

Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea by Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics


4.Douglas Fir Spring Tip

Delight your senses with flavours of bright citrus, herbal mid-tones and earthly base accents. Harvested from the Douglas Fir tree native to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, this tree is second in size to the two California Sequoia species and grows to enormous proportions. It’s important to ensure that you are purchasing a sustainable product when it comes to Douglas Fir Spring Tip tea. Try this tea by Juniper Ridge. It is a dedicated steward of the wild lands where they ethically and sustainably source the raw ingredients that go into this tea and all their products.

We supports companies that seek to build a harmonious relationship with the land, as well as creating economically viable environmentally friendly organizations.

White Sage and Wild Mint Tea, Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics


5.White Sage and Wild mint

Suffering from stress? This tea will help put you back into the right frame of mind. This is a cozy, complex tea that tastes as good as it smells – its scent is calming and reminiscent of winter. Its top notes are refreshing mint, herbal mid-tones and resinous base accents. Harvested from the Mojave dessert in California and Nevada, the longer you steep this tea, the more earthy tones will be uncovered.

Juniper Ridge has gone above and beyond to create tea that captures the heart and spirit of nature. Juniper Ridge products are truly unique, sourced from remote areas of the west coast of the United States. These are relatively untouched environments where plants thrive and are places we may never get to visit but we can at least experience their exquisite scents.

BGreen food Team, Organic Health Food, Zebra Organics

An Interview with Alan Sklar, co-founder, BGreen Foods

In today’s day and age, a gluten-free lifestyle is growing in popularity. Even if we aren’t required to eliminate it from our diet for health reasons, many of us are choosing to. (In the USA, this number tripled between 2009 and 2014 according to the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine).

To learn more, we spoke to Alan Sklar, one of the founders of BGreen Food, a producer of 100% organic, non-GMO, naturally gluten-free foods since 2012.

What triggered your interest in gluten-free and organic foods?

I’m celiac myself. That’s how it all came about. I couldn’t find good tasting food that was good for me. I realized that a lot the food we consume contains added sugar and is filled with corn. I wanted good food that was non-GMO, non-artificial and healthy.

[Wondering what’s wrong with corn? It’s starchy food that’s high in cellulose, a fiber that is difficult to digest. Due to its high glycemic index, it can cause intense blood sugar spikes, which can ultimately make a person feel more hungry].

Would you recommend gluten-free foods to anyone? Or only people with intolerances?

Yes. Try going gluten-free for two weeks and let your body tell you how you feel. You’ll find articles that discourage a gluten-free diet if you are not Celiac because of a loss of nutrients. This isn’t true.

[There are many gluten-free grains including quinoa and buckwheat that are a great source of protein and fibre].

Be sure to read the labels, as not all gluten-free foods are created equal. I recommend avoiding those with added sugar and fat.

How do you ensure you’re sourcing the highest quality food?

Most farms that we source from are in very rural areas, far from anything else. The reason for this is because there’s a reduced risk of contamination. Most people aren’t aware that most of the corn in USA is genetically modified. If Monstanto has a farm down the street, who is teaching the birds and bees not to migrate from toxic fertilized crops to migrate to organic crops? I take aerial photos of the products we’re using to make sure they are not cross contaminating with toxic substances.

Can you tell us about the farms you source from? 

We have a really wonderful relationship with a farm in northern China near the Russian border. It’s located near the longest river in China, in a very rural area. That river feeds minerals to a beautiful mountaintop where our black rice is grown. It’s cultivated by hand with wicker baskets, without the use of machinery.

The farmers have the utmost respect for the rice and their ancestors that originally planted it. Once they accidentally spilt some grain but refused to proceed until they had retrieved it all. The way in which they cultivate and harvest rice has been passed down from generation to generation. This family and farm really care about what they do. You don’t get that in this kind of world.

I’ve never seen black rice look as beautiful as it does when it comes from this farm. It’s like every grain is sparkling. We’ve tried to source this rice from elsewhere but we always find it’s got a brown, white or red tinge. It’s not as pristine as this rice.

BGreen Organic Food, Zebra Organics

You offer a few different types of pasta. What’s your best seller and why?

Since 2012 we’ve been offering five types of pasta (and black rice). The best seller would have to be the buckwheat pasta. It contains 12 grams of plant protein per serving, which is very important to vegetarians. It’s like eating one hard-boiled egg. Body builders love it, as well as vegans and vegetarians that are looking for more plant protein.

Black rice, BGreen Food, Zebra Organics

For those that haven’t tried black rice pasta, can you tell us a bit about it? What makes it black? 

Black rice is black due to the heavy concentration of minerals it contains. It accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the rice grown in the world. It’s known as the “forbidden rice”, as centuries ago it was reserved for Chinese royalty only. Nobody else could eat it.

It takes us two weeks to turn black rice into black rice pasta. That’s how long it should take but I’ve heard of some companies cutting corners and only making the pasta in 20 minutes. We invest the proper time and energy to create a high quality product. We are required to test for carcinogens three times to ensure the product doesn’t arsenic. We’ve been able to craft a product that contains 100 times less than what’s allowed by FDA standards. 

What product can you not live without? 

I would say the black rice and buckwheat pasta. Our black rice pudding recipe is really popular. It’s vegan and is made with coconut milk, vanilla, orange zest and coconut sugar.

What sets you apart from other organic food companies?

Our dedication to knowing that our products are gluten free, non-GMO and organic. We don’t deviate from that at all. A lot of companies have two or three gluten free or organic products to offer but the rest are full of sugar. We are fully committed to only offering 100% organic, non-GMO, naturally gluten free foods.

Our products are rich in nutrients and are flavorful. That combination is hard to find. We’re fortunate enough to produce food that people thrive on. They literally feel the energy of eating pure buckwheat products, compared to something else. I’m proud of what we produce and how clean the food is.

What’s coming down the pipeline for BGreen?

There is a black bean pasta that we are looking at creating. Stay tuned for more details!

How do you see the health food industry evolving and what role will BGreen play?

My ambition is to make organic, gluten-free, non-GMO foods mainstream and priced right. I don’t want people to think these are hippie herbal foods. I want them to know that they taste great and they feel great when they eat them.

These days we eat so many foods that are GMO and are very processed. A lot of people go through life without being aware of why they have migraines or why they have bloating. These are minor issues in this day and age but they are often related to what we put in our body. People don’t realize that they don’t need to eat as much when they eat nutrient-rich foods, compared to empty calories. Be sure to read the labels on packaging so you know what you’re eating.

Interested in trying BGreen Food? View the selection.

Sprouted beans, Healthy Nutritional Food

Don’t Doubt the Sprouts

Sprouted Foods – Are they actually healthier?

Have you started to notice sprouted foods in grocery stores? Sprouted trail mix, pasta, nuts, seeds, bread – they are popping up everywhere. Are they actually more nutritious than non-sprouted plant foods? We’ve done the digging to find out the basics.

What is Sprouted?

When you think of sprouts, alfalfa and bean sprouts may be the first that come to mind but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Every sprouted food is a type of seed. Picture sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds – but that’s not all. Chickpeas, green peas and split peas are seeds as well. Some grains, including lentils, are known as a “pulse” which means they are harvested for their seeds. These can also be sprouted, as well as some legumes, quinoa, oats and nuts.

Sprouted Foods, Healthy Food, Nutritional Food


How Sprouting Works

Sprouting is the process of bringing a seed to life. You are most likely familiar with how seeds work. They consist of the raw materials that grow into a new plant when temperature and moisture conditions are ideal. Sprouted foods are essentially seeds that have begun to grow but aren’t baby plants yet. If a food is sprouted, it’s still very much living and growing.

Once a seed sprouts, the nutritious properties of the seed are released so the baby plant has more energy to grow. The theory behind eating sprouted foods is that those nutrients are more available to us as well, and they are easier to digest.

The sprouting process involves soaking the seeds, nuts or grains in water and rinsing them repeatedly until they begin to grow a tail-like feature. This mimics Mother Nature’s process of turning a seed into a plant. For most seeds, nuts, grains and legumes the sprouting method is more or less the same; it’s just the time that varies.


The Benefits


Enhanced nutritional value

The biggest benefit of sprouted foods is their enhanced nutritional value, as we mentioned above. Studies show sprouted cereal grains are higher in amino acids and B vitamins and contain less starch.


Improved digestion

Sprouted foods improve digestion. The raw materials in the food that become available when it’s sprouted come in enzyme form. Enzymes are crucial to digestion, as they are responsible for breaking down the food and increasing the absorption of nutrients. They would be a good choice for someone with a sensitive gut.


Enhanced natural flavours

Sprouting often enhances natural flavours without compromising nutritional value. We recommend Living Intentions for their sprouted seeds and trail mixes. Sky Island Organics offers a great selection of sprouted trail mixes and nuts, including walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, pistachios and brazil nuts. View their selection.


Scientific research

Promising scientific research exists about the benefits of sprouted foods. A study by the International Plant Grower’s Association outlines the benefits of eating sprouted foods and their anticancer properties. The Whole Grains Council lists additional benefits.


Sprouting at home

Sprouting is not difficult, but there is a risk of bacterial contaminiation. There are some great online resources for sprouting foods at home. Seeds should be purchased from a certified supplier and the seeds and container should be sterilized before sprouting.

Top 5 of our Favorite Farmers’ Markets in the USA

There are so many reasons why one should visit a farmers’ market. What we love most is all the freshly picked produce of course, and the rare opportunity to chat to the farmer directly – you might learn about new ways to store and prepare your favourite foods! Every trip to a farmers’ market ignites a new story. All these markets are charming, in beautiful settings and have their own unique personality.

Farmers market, healthy eating

1. Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, New Mexico

Located at the historic Santa Fe Railyard in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this market is one of the best around that features local agriculture of Northern New Mexico as well as a variety of chilies, foods and an abundance of sauces made from recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

More than just a farmers’ market, you’re in for a truly unique experience. Added bonuses include health screenings, food demonstrations, samples of healthy, affordable meals and even the occasional exercise class.

Location: 1607 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hours: Tuesdays and Saturdays 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Visit their website

 

Wheatgrass shot, Maui Farmers Market, Hawaii, Healthy Eating
Picture by Steven Depolo via Flickr

2. Upcountry Farmers’ Market, Maui, Hawaii

Operating for more than 40 years, this is a magical market has an abundance of organic vegetables (you almost have to go out of your way to find a conventional vegetable on Maui). There are many community chefs that make a variety of vegetarian, vegan and raw foods sold at this market. Apart from fresh, locally grown organic produce you’ll find coconuts, macadamia nuts, fresh fish, tropical flowers, plants and trees, Maui-grown coffee, Lilikoi butter, plus a bunch of new offerings weekly. Check out HawaiiOnTv’s coverage of the Farmers’ Market.

Location: 55 Kiopaa St, Makawao, Maui
Hours: Saturdays 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Visit their website

 

farmers market, healthy eating, healthy living, palm springs

3. Palm Springs Farmers’ Market, California

Our very own Palm Springs Farmers’ Market is part of a seasonal trio of markets called the Coachella Valley Certified Farmers’ Markets. It is open year-round the other two in the valley close for the hot summer season. Although Zebra Organics and Palm Springs are situated in the Sonoran Desert, we are surrounded by a profound variety of very nearby climates that provide the perfect growing conditions for a diverse range of produce. Although this market is smaller than those in larger cities, the quality of produce is outstanding – it will make you want to get out your blender and food processor and whip up your favourite dish.

Location: Palm Springs Pavilion, California
Hours: Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Plus a new Summer Market at Westfield Palm Desert, California
Hours: Sundays, 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Visit their website

 

farmers market, heritage cheese, new york city

  4. The Union Square Greenmarket, New York City

Featuring more than 140 regional farmers, fishers and bakers in peak season, this world famous market is open a few days a week and is always a special treat. It is an oasis in the city that provides an escape from the hustle bustle of urban life. It’s known for its fresh fruits and vegetables, heritage meats, award-winning farmstead cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, fresh-cut flowers and plants, wine, ciders, maple syrup and more.

You can’t beat the electric atmosphere in one of New York’s greatest public spaces. As many as sixty thousand people a day flock to the market, from shoppers that come to chat with farmers, to students of all ages that come to learn about seasonality. Since its debut in 1976 with just a few farmers, this market has grown exponentially. Keep your eyes peeled for cooking demonstrations by some of New York’s most popular local chefs.

Location: Union Square, E 17th St & Broadway, New York City, NY
Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Check out their website

 

Eggs, Farmers Market, California, Healthy Eating
Picture by Foodlander via Flickr

5. Santa Monica Wednesday Market

Welcome to the largest grower-only certified organic market in Southern California. Spread out over four city blocks, Santa Monica’s Wednesday market showcases 75 farmers and a vast selection of goods. Three growers have set up shop here since 1981 when the market first opened; Flying Disc Ranch in Thermal, Mike and Sons Egg Ranch in Ontario and Scotts Farms in Dinuba. Chefs from across Los Angeles gather at the market for the first fresh pick of goods. The quantity and quality of produce is astounding!

Location: Arizona Avenue, between 4th & Ocean, Santa Monica
Time: Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Hydration, Fruits, Vegetables, Healthy Diet

Top Hydrating Fruits & Vegetables

Sometimes drinking your recommended daily intake of water can seem daunting. On average, approximately 20 per cent of our daily water intake comes from solid foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Many vegetables that are more than 90 per cent water are low in calories and are easy to digest, making them a great idea for a pre-work out snack.

According to research carried out by the University of Aberdeen Medical School in Scotland, water-rich fruit and vegetables may hydrate our bodies twice as effectively as a glass of water.

Research suggests that they may be more hydrating than some isotonic sports drinks, due to their content of mineral salts, natural sugars, amino acids and vitamins lost during exercise.

“To be properly hydrated, you need to replace fluid lost from the body with one that’s similar to the body’s natural composition,”
– Dr Susan Shirreffs, exercise physiologist and hydration expert at Loughborough University.

“Watery fruit and vegetables often contain levels of minerals and sugar that mirror this, so they can hydrate you more effectively than water alone.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Cucumber
Water content: 96.7%

Cucumber has the highest water content of any solid food. Great in salads or served with hommus, it can be blended with yogurt, mint and ice cubes to make a refreshing and delicious chilled soup. A cucumber can produce similar hydration levels to twice the volume of water with the bonus of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Iceberg lettuce
Water content: 95.6%

Although iceberg lettuce lacks the fibre, folate and vitamin K nutrients found in darker greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce, it has the highest water content of any lettuce. Instead of adding it to a sandwich, it can be used as a wrap for tacos and burgers.

Celery
Water content: 94.4%

Celery’s high water content helps neutralize stomach acid and it is commonly recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux. White containing folate and vitamins A, C and K, celery’s fiber content helps you feel full and curbs your appetite.

Radishes
Water content: 95.3%

Radishes are filled with catechin, an antioxidant that is also found in green tea. They spicey-sweet flavour of radishes can be enjoyed by slicing them up and tossing them with other ingredients in a summer salad.

Tomatoes 
Water content: 94.5%

An excellent hydrating snack that is well-paired with basil and mozzarella as an appetizer.

Watermelon
Water content: 91.5%

Watermelon is one of the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Containing essential hydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, watermelon is also high in vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene, which helps protect the body from UV light.

Spinach
Water content: 91.4%

Raw spinach leaves are rich in lutein, potassium, fiber and folate. One cup of spinach will give you 15 per cent of your daily vitamin E intake, an antioxidant that fights damaging free radical molecules.

Other fruits and vegetables to note are the star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, baby carrots, green peppers, cauliflower and cantaloupe, which are all more than 90 per cent water.

Beans, healthy food

Top 10 Sources of Plant Protein

What is Plant Protein?

By now, we’re all getting used to the idea of protein coming from sources other than meat. It’s found in legumes, vegetables and whole grains and we don’t have to be vegan to prefer it.

Without reeling off big words in physiology, plant protein is just that: protein from plants. Your body doesn’t mind whether you nourish it with protein from steak or nuts, so you’re not losing anything by choosing plant protein. In fact, by reducing your meat intake, you are lowering your risk of heart disease and you will get the satisfactory feeling of knowing you ate your veggies. You’re choosing a sustainable and healthy option!

“I think that the U.S. is one of several developed countries that have just made it seem like protein is so pivotal to our health when in other countries their base diet is plant protein, beans and grains. I think it’s just evolved to be a cultural thing”
~ Dr. Michael Greger, internationally-recognized lecturer and physician

You do not need to combine a plant-based protein with a meat protein for it to become a “complete protein.” This is a myth. Plant protein is made up of essential amino acids, which our bodies can’t produce so they must come from our diet. All essential amino acids come from plants.

Top 5 Sources of Plant Protein

If there’s one thing you take from this post, is should be which foods are rich in plant protein. Dr. Leslie, registered dietitian and instructor at University of Hawaii, explains ideal sources of plant proteins:

“Any type of whole grain, beans (including tofu and edamame and soy milk), and nuts (including peanut butter). In terms of vegetables – primarily from the dark green leafy vegetables, so broccoli, spinach, kale, all of those have protein and a lot of people don’t realize that.”

Here’s our Top 10 List:

(1) Lentils

Lentils are affordable and easy to cook. From soups to curries and salads, lentils are a versatile ingredient that make for a great meat substitute.

Beans, healthy food

(2) Beans

Beans, especially soy beans, are a great source of protein. Beans are great for salads, tacos, chillies, or simply baked and seasoned on their own. If you buy dried black beans, remember to soak them for a few hours minimum, and then simmer them over heat before eating them. 

Source: Ruby Ran/Flickr

(3) Hemp Hearts

Hemp hearts have a sweet and nutty flavour. Sprinkle them on salads and cereal, add them to smoothies and baked goods and blend into stews and soups to thicken.

chia seeds, healthy food

(4) Chia Seeds

Similar to hemp hearts, chia seeds have a mild natty flavour. Sprinkle them on cereal, sauces, vegetables, yogurt or rice dishes. Add them to a glass of water and they will expand and create a gel-like texture.

quinoa salad, healthy grain, healthy food

(5) Quinoa

Quinoa is similar to couscous and is as versatile as rice. It can be served as a side dish with butter or oil, salt and pepper or other seasonings. It goes very well in veggie burgers, tossed in salads or mixed into stews. If you’re looking for a warm, hearty, flavourful breakfast on a cold day, you can’t go past a quinoa breakfast bowl. Trying mixing quinoa with dried or fresh fruit, cinnamon, almond or coconut milk and honey.

Sesame seeds, plant protein, healthy food

(6) Seeds

Protein-rich seeds include hemp, flax, chia, sesame and sunflower. Sprinkle seeds on salads and mix them into desserts and snacks.

Nuts for protein, healthy food

(7) Nuts

Protein-rich nuts include almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios and brazil nuts. Nuts can be blended into smoothies, mixed into salads, yogurt and can be enjoyed on their own as a snack.

edamame, vegetable protein, healthy food

(8) Edamame

If you’ve been to a Japanese restaurant you’ve probably enjoyed edamame as a snack. Edamame are fresh green soybeans. To cook edamame that’s still in the pod, boil the pods in water with some salt, or steam them. They can be eaten hot or cold and can be added to risottos, stir frys or salads.

chickpeas, healthy legume, protein rich

(9) Chickpeas

Chickpeas are incredibly versatile. You can eat them hot or cold, canned or dried. They can be roasted and added to salads, used as a substitute for croutons in soup, or simply seasoned with salt and eaten on their own. They are best known for being turned into hummus.

tofu, protein rich, healthy food, plants

(10) Tofu

Derived from soya, tofu is a staple ingredient in Chinese and Thai cooking. Tofu is an excellent source of not only protein but amino acids, iron and calcium. It’s best enjoyed stir fried or in noodle bowls.


How much is enough?

You don’t have to spend too much time worrying about your protein consumption, provided you eat an array of grains and vegetables.

According to Harvard Medical School, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That is the bare minimum you need to eat to prevent getting sick. This is calculated by: Weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended daily protein intake (grams).

A sedentary young woman that weighs 155 pounds should be consuming 56 grams of protein per day.

Further reading:

If you’re curious about the risks associated with animal proteins such as meat and dairy, this article by the the University of Hawaii will be of interest to you.

Herb infused chocolate

Why you Need to try Herb-Infused Chocolate

Are you a chocolate lover looking to take your passion to the next level? Herb-infused chocolate will take you there. Prepare your palate for flavourful bliss with the combination of herbs and chocolate. For the first-timers out there that haven’t tried this type of chocolate before, here’s why you should:

  • It’s delicious: herbs in chocolate have a mild and balanced flavor and enhance the chocolate.
  • It has a unique flavor: Compared to milk, white and dark chocolate varieties, herb-infused chocolate will leave a unique lingering flavor on your palate. Mint may be one of the most pronounced flavours you will find, but there are many different types available.
  • It contains more nutrients: adding herbs, means adding nutrients. Learn more. Don’t forget that the right kind of chocolate is good for you. Read our blog post to learn more: 7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Chocolate.

Herbivore, a farm run by Gabrielle Gaul on the outskirts of Palm Springs, supplies us with fresh-cut organic aloe leaves that are harvested on a weekly basis, as well as herb-infused chocolate.

Located on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, the farm grows an array of herbs, including rosemary, mint and basil, as well as aloe. Once harvested, the herbs are slow-dried for 5-7 days (depending on their moisture content) to preserve and enhance their flavors. In this day and age, slow drying herbs is a lost art. Most big companies abandoned this process a long time ago and replaced it with rapid heat drying, to cut costs. This has negative side-effects, as it results in dried herbs that are almost devoid of taste and nutrients – not the case with Gabrielle’s herbs. Once they are fully dried, they are blended into the chocolate mix.

One of the things that sets Gabrielle’s organic herb farm apart from most others, is her clean, chemical-free, loving growing methods in this pristine high desert area where GMO is not even a thought.

Herbivore-Gabby

We asked Gabrielle a few questions:

What’s your favorite chocolate flavor, or would it be more accurate to say one of your favorites?

My favorite is Salted Pecan & Sage. I’ve always had a thing for the sweet / salty combo.

What made you think of making herb-infused chocolate?  How did you come up with the idea?

The idea struck me when I had a chocolate craving at the farmer’s market. I thought, “I wish someone sold chocolate here… Hey! I could do that!” When I pitched the idea to my market managers, we agreed that it would be have to be a healthy artisan chocolate, utilising the herbs from my farm.

What do you love about the farming and chocolate making, and your business in general?

There are so many things I love about my business. It’s difficult to name just one. To plant a seed, care for it, harvest it and then share it is very satisfying. To share a creation of your own is very satisfying. Working with nature on a small scale, rather than mass producing is very satisfying. To educate folks on the difference between real food and processed gunk is satisfying. Not promoting GMOs, waste, animal cruelty or harm to the environment is very satisfying. Working WITH nature, rather than trying to improve upon it, is the most satisfying.

Zebra Organics was the first ever to give Gabrielle and Herbivore a platform to sell her products, outside of the local farmers market, where we met her many years ago. We are proud to support our friend and passionate artisan farmer/chocolatier Gab and her efforts to produce a quality of chocolate that is rarely seen these days. Her chocolates are a real treat, rich with flavor and texture that surpasses gourmet expectations.

We are happy to help support Gabrielle and Herbivore by bringing her chocolates to your door. Order Herbivore Organic Chocolates from zebraorganics.com

Herb infused chocolate

sauerkraut-cooking

Top Ways to Enjoy Sauerkraut

We recommend eating raw or slightly cooked sauerkraut to maximise health benefits. Exposure to high heat while cooking will kill the probiotic microorganisms in sauerkraut and will reduce their cancer preventative properties.

Sauerkraut goes well with olives, avocados, and fatty fruits. For a simple salad, toss microgreens with olive oil and sauerkraut, and top with sprouted almonds, pumpkin seeds, or pistachios. You can also enjoy sauerkraut straight out of the jar for an instant snack that’s packed with flavour and is rich in probiotic bacteria, beneficial enzymes, and fiber.

Kale, beets and sauerkraut come together to create this Simple Brown Rice and Veggie Bowl. This is a delicious, healthy dinner option.

When shopping for sauerkraut, you may come across different flavours that are a spin off traditional sauerkraut. From red cabbage, to cucumber-dill and apple-fennel, your palate will enjoy the fresh, crunchy texture balanced with a combination of flavours. We are pleased to offer a range of Sauerkraut options at our online store.

Here’s why you should include sauerkraut in your diet:

Reduces breast cancer risk

Here’s some good news for females: Eating three or more serving per week of raw or short cooked cabbage and sauerkraut significantly helps to reduce breast cancer risk. Find more details from US and Polish researchers here. The anti-cancer component in sauerkraut is attributed to the high level of glucosinolates, which limit cell mutation during the initial phase of carcinogenesis.

Promotes digestion

A few teaspoons of cabbage juice or fermented juice from sauerkraut before a meal will assist in digestion by stimulating acid production in the body.

While the priobiotic bacteria helps promote digestion, sauerkraut is also great source of vitamin C and some B vitamins. It can even assist in the prevention of scurvy, a disease that results from a vitamin C deficiency.

Sauerkraut translates to “sour cabbage” in German. Over 2,000 years ago Chinese laborers that constructed the Great Wall of China ate shredded cabbage drizzled with rice wine. It has since evolved into a mixture that contains salt and sometimes spices along with fermented shredded cabbage. The fermentation process increases the vegetable’s bioavailability of nutrients.

Feature image by jules via Flickr