Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let's Fill Up the Universe!

I had a completely different thought to share today, until I read my Facebook page. A post took my breath away.

A friend's daughter, my daughter's age, underwent breast cancer surgery yesterday. Oh my.
Oh my.

And so this Women and Wednesdays, I want to share thoughts of good health, no...GREAT health and hope they surround my friend and her daughter.

Here is what I know that is some good news. Every day we have brand new cells...a fresh start in every part of our bodies, minds and hearts. Who knows exactly how cancer starts. But we do know how we can start off our new cells. Feed these "newbies" well and focus a good chunk of your lifestyle on them. 

This holiday season, if you do nothing else, take great care of yourself, your loved ones and educate yourself on how to live "free" of some of the harmful foods, harmful chemicals and harmful thoughts in your life.

I am right here learning all I can along with you and will keep adding recipes and resources. Won't you join me? Let's fill the universe with thoughts and actions for great health. xoxox

Monday, November 28, 2011

Speaking of "Taking Ten"

Here is a list of the 10 most power-packed foods for winter health, just in case you have a little E.R. today. Eater's Remorse. Good news...go ahead and keep indulging. Just load up on these and hey, then you can feel free to say, "Yes, I will have seconds of that yummy sweet potato pie!"

1. Kale ( me consistent!)
2. Cucumber (extra water for healthier skin)
3. Carrots
4. Spinach
5. Avocados
6. Chia Seeds (I add them into my shake)
7. Brazil nuts
8. Beets
9. Cashews
10. Filtered Water

Some of you may want to actually detox a bit after the Opening Holiday Eating Weekend and so here is a recipe that will do the trick. And remember, all the green shakes I have posted are perfect Holiday cocktails!

Beet, Fennel and Fig Salad (adapted from Candle of my fave NY restaurants)

Cranberry-Sage Dressing

1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. finely chopped shallots
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed if frozen
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 fresh sage leaf, chopped
1/3 c. filtered water
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until softened, about five minutes. Add cranberries and cook, stirring, until softened and begin to pop, about five minutes. Set aside to cool; transfer to a blender. Add vinegar, rosemary, sage, water, maple syrup, salt and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil and process until smooth.


1 lb. fresh beets
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and halved
olive oil for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. cashews (pix and original recipe use pecans)
1/2 lb. baby arugula or spinach
1 pear, cored and thinly sliced (optional)
6 fresh figs, cut into wedges (if available; if not, there are ample dried ones)

Heat oven to 350°F. Wrap beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Put the fennel on a separate baking sheet, cut side up, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Put the beets and fennel in the oven and roast until fork-tender, about 30 minutes for fennel, and 50 to 60 minutes for beets. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into thin slices; cut fennel into very thin slices.

Meanwhile, spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about five to eight minutes.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the beets, fennel, pecans and pear; gently toss. Drizzle with dressing and scatter figs over salad. Serves and detoxs 6. Yum

I am sad to leave Thanksgiving behind because among other treats, it means the Crazy Target Lady is singing her last hurrah. "There will be some serious repercussions..." is one of her most hysterical ads. Laughter is a great detoxifier, too, and goes perfectly with this joyous salad. Here she is. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Minding the Store

of my own well-being this holiday season may seem selfish but it is something I aim to do. I love giving my time to others. The hope that I have helped out in some way and the joy I get from giving feed me well, emotionally and spiritually, but can leave me feeling physically a little worn around the edges.

As a little girl, I was always intrigued by certain gifts my grandmother had in her stash labeled "To me, from me". Those boxes seemed kind of strange at the time. I never really knew what was in them, but now, I have a guess.

I saw this article online about taking time for yourself and the recipe really resonated. I am going to get some little boxes and put these weekly lessons in them. Then, as I am doing things for others, I am also going to open my own "To me, from me" gifts and take ten this holiday season. To restock my store so to speak.

And so, my Thanksgiving and Women and Wednesdays wish for all is that peace is a recipe that also intrigues you, you bring it home, make it and enjoy an abundant serving that fills your plate and feeds you well. Then, you pass peace and its recipe on to all your loved ones, your community and Mother Earth. 

I love this beautiful table from Vogue 2006

and I would add The Peace Rose to it and of course, lots of these

Peace of Well-Being and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

For the Green Love of It, Sip and See...

How healthy you will be this holiday season! Today is officially the opening day of "Crunch Time". And, although Thanksgiving and Christmas are, by choice, waaay simpler for me than Halloween, there is always lots to do and lots of people to care for...even more this year!

And so, it is really important that I stay well and have fun munching away the days but don't put on too many pounds (easy for me...lifelong battle) or climb up too many sugar highs. Delicious on the way not much on the way down! (I love the actor in Target's wired and hysterical, she looks like she is going to pop!)

This morning I turned to my blender to officially toast the holiday season life-saving green shake, seasonalized with lovely green apples, mint and pomegranate juice. A shake of cinnamon, a little ginger and of course, greens. They aren't just for decorating!! Eat 'em up!

These shakes are a salad to sip on and a great way to build a body up...sip by sweet sip. They are rich in antioxidants that cool inflammation (think anti-aging!) and deliver a big alkaline boost to your body (think healing, think calming!). If you don't want to DIY this shake first time around, go to Whole Foods and ask for their "Trice". Our local Whole Foods juice bartender, Anthony, has a radar, apparently, and knows when I am in the store. He always has a freshly juiced Trice waiting for me and sometimes, even comes to find me and hand delivers it! Thanks, Anthony! Abrazos!

For the Green Love of the holidays, take a sip and get your glow on!

Fall for Greens Shake

1-2 large leaves of green kale (or a big handful of spinach)
quarter sized slice of fresh ginger
several leaves of taste (I like lots)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 organic green apple
5-6 raw almonds or walnuts
good shake of cinnamon (I also add a good shake of turmeric)
3 ice cubes
pomegranate juice and filtered water or chilled green tea to total about 1/2 cup (you can add more to make it the consistency you like...slushy or juicy)

Toss all into a blender and blend away. Add more liquid to make it thinner if you like. Add protein powder (I have a great one) if you are having this as a meal. Serves 1-2.

Friday, November 18, 2011

We've been "Sliced"

This pillow poses a very worthwhile question. One I would love to answer. Chocolate is a such a powerhouse. Strong enough to hold its own as a stand alone food group!

This pizza slice poses a question that was all over the news yesterday.

Seriously...this is being taken seriously? Pizza is a vegetable? Goodness. Leaves me almost speechless. Kind of reminds me when I worked with a family convinced mac and cheese was a veggie as well because it was listed as a "side" on restaurant menus. *Sigh*

The answer doesn't require a degree in nutrition. Apparently, just ask a lobbyist.

I just cannot believe how the bodies with the most future are the pawns in all this. Our little ones. Sickening. No wonder the stats on obesity and diabetes are so predictable. Our kids being mainlined right into chronic disease.  Any chance at optimal health sliced away...for what? A subsidy??? For more on this read playing-potato-pizza-politics

Well, I am shaken up. Now, I need to call my congressman. Done. Next, I need a little TLC. Done. These cornmeal waffles sound de-lish and no...don't even go there with the "Are these a vegetable?" thing.

Not a Vegetable Cornmeal Waffles (adapted from Stuart)

1 cup unbleached flour (I mix in some whole wheat as well)
1 cup stoneground cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs (organic preferred)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (organic preferred), melted
2 cups buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the melted butter into the eggs, and then stir into the buttermilk.

Combine wet and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Cook according to waffle maker instructions.

Serve with a small pat of unsalted butter and real maple syrup or with a syrup made from mashed berries.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shoppers: (Wo)man your Wallets!

Yes, we women are the shoppers in most families. We buy most of the goods whether it is food, bath towels or health care. You know how I like to shop? With a real person. I do love some online sites a bunch...especially for goods that are not in my market and so I don't mean to discredit those. However, I do like to call and talk to a real person when I can.

And, I do love some big stores, especially those with a "real person" presence, too. As I said in Monday's post...I like to know who's making my coffee, my food, my pots and pans, my skincare.

It was with much applause and "WAY to GO!" that I read on article in Sunday's NYT Business Section...about a little town in New York that banned together and sold shares to create its own department store instead of "Big Boxing" it. Love that!

There's magic inside!

And so, this Women and Wednesdays post is about opening the door and feeding your community with your share of shopping dollars. Next Saturday, November 26th is Small Business Saturday. Mark your calendars! What a perfect time to buy from someone you know, from a shop down the street. Even better if they source from individual manufacturers and artists instead of Big Suppliers.

Whenever possible, I like to buy vintage or repurposed goods. I love a good story and have romantic notions about the history of what I am buying. I buy from happy people, in happy shops. Shops that treat both me and their employees well. Even better if they are working towards a more sustainable present and future.

Thanks to what I have learned from my friend Deb, who owns a fair trade store in Savannah, Georgia, Go Fish, I am working hard on asking more questions before I buy something.

Instead of just asking:
"How much is this?" and, if appropriate, "Does it come in orange?"
I always try to find out..."Who made this?" "How is it made and where?" and "What is it made of ?" (for toxicity reasons). For example, I know the made-in-the-U.S., family-created skin care I love sources from 4 women-owned companies, sources organic ingredients whenever available and uses one fair-traded ingredient. I know there are no children harmed to create these products. Those facts are as huge a "sell" for me as the wonderful results I get.

And so, woman your wallets and head out to shop like it matters this holiday season. Because it does.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Morning Joe: Choir Master

Where I have the best Internet is on my sun porch and so I do most of my computer work there. Right outside one of the windows is a dogwood that is home to the sweetest sounding little wrens. Such a lovely little tune they sing. Recently, their song has been growing softer and less frequent. I think they are busy gathering up their goods for the big fly south. Time to have a cup of java in their honor.

As you know, I swear by the Environmental Working Group's research and toxin/safety evaluation of our water, food and personal care products. One change I would ask them to make, however, is to include both coffee and bananas on the "Dirty Dozen" or "Dirty 14" list. For my little birds friends as well as my human friends.

When the birds fly south, they hang out near coffee and banana plantations, many of which are pesticide and herbicide depositories. When migratory birds eat from these poisonous farms, many don't come back or if they do, their song is forever changed.

Organic coffee is still expensive (while lots of other organic choices, due to increased education and demand, have come down in price).  Couple "organic" with another important element, "fair trade" and the best coffee will ring up at $12-$13 a pound or more.  Well, here is a discovery for every coffee budget...Fara Coffee

I bought some recently at Whole Foods (for $8.99 mind you) and loved it. So much so that I actually called the company and thanked them for what they were doing. Love that I can do that and have a human actually answer! They buy from 100 year old farms that have always done the right thing. Awesome. Their website tells the whole story. 

However, I did notice an absence of "organic" certification on the bag. The person I spoke with said that, while always organic, they are in their fifth year of the seven year process to be officially certified. Love that. Think I will have another cup.

Perfect, Song-Filled Java

Start with cold, filtered water and for every 6 ounces of water, use 2 tablespoons freshly ground coffee. Brew as desired and pour into your favorite, made-from-hand mug.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bean such a beautiful week...

Just gorgeous...bright blue skies, a little cooler air (come on down, temperature!) and a moon at night that is so beautiful, so magical. I just love looking at it. Woke up in the middle of the night and just gazed at it, mentally reciting my fave moon book, "Goodnight Moon".

And, that is not a typo in the blog post title. It is to remind me not to continue gushing at the moon's loveliness and share some other lovelies with you: beans. I do love them and eat them almost every day. They are a wonderful, inexpensive protein, packed with lots of other goodies, too, like fiber and B vitamins. Very alkaline, they give the body what it needs to heal. And, there are so many beautiful varieties...

Market in Mexico brimming with beautiful beans. "Hola, Senor...Yo quiero comprar todos!!"

Many people shy away from them due to fear of "issues". Here is what I have found. If beans cause you some gastric distress, it is your body telling you you are not eating enough fiber and so instead of stopping, keep eating beans! Once you have a better fiber intake, eating beans will be uneventful. Most of the problem anyway comes from sugar-y bean recipes. Beans have a lot of stored sugar of their own and adding lots of extra sugar can be trouble!

This week, I made a bean dish that I had first with Johnnycakes and then with brown rice and also made my fave bean chili. It occurred to me that I have never shared my easy peas-y way of cooking beans. Many people also shy away from beans because they think cooking them is hard, takes too long or requires a ham hock (not!). Last night's chili, from dried beans to these beautiful bowls, was done in a little over an hour.

Here is how I did it: Bean Basics

Wash and sort beans. Place in a large Dutch oven and cover with water about 1-2 inches above the beans. Let soak. (I start mine off soaking in the morning and just let them sit 'til I am ready to cook them...from 4 hours to all day). When ready to cook, do not rinse. Use soaking water for cooking.

Saute in olive oil some onion, garlic, carrots, green pepper, celery...whatever veggies you like, until they start to soften a little. Add to beans. Bring liquid to a hard boil, boil 5 minutes and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are done, from 1-3 hours depending on the bean. I usually add a couple of bay leaves to the water and often, Herbs de Provence. Make sure beans stay covered by at least 1 inch of water.

When beans are soft, add salt and season to taste. Do not salt in the beginning of the cooking process!! It will toughen the beans and you will go hungry or lose a tooth.

That's it...easy and fast as can be! Try it out this weekend and let me know how yours turned out. I go with heirloom beans when I can find them. The taste difference is amazing and they are such pretty beans. Plus... as with any heirloom, they keep the (bean) family magic alive. Happy Weekend! And a BIG "Thank YOU!" to all our veterans, today and every day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sun-Washed Living

Last Wednesday, while still reveling in the afterglow of Halloween and Day of the Dead, it struck me that I needed to learn more about marigolds. They are the ceremonial flower of Day of the Dead and, on a recent visit to New York, I had also seen them as a garland encircling the memorial picture of Dadaji, beloved head of my Indian family.

Without even knowing their symbolism, I have a soft spot for marigolds anyway and have them growing in my garden every year. The spring I was pregnant with my daughter, I planted "Honey Bee" marigolds and sure enough, had a sweet, honey of a daughter arrive a few months later.

Marigolds symbolize the sun, the glowing origin of all life. They symbolize that we each, always and forever, will have a place in it.

Which brings me to this week's topic for Women and Wednesdays...children. So much of what I learn and share does have to do with the here and now but really, more with the hope new generations of life, our children and their children, will have healthier, happier, longer lives free from as much chemical harm as possible. And it is possible.

That is why last week, I let out a LOUD cheer that Johnson & Johnson FINALLY admitted their dirty ways. Imagine passing off the dirtiest "No More Tears" Baby Shampoo to the U.S., Canada, Australia, China and Indonesia as if we wouldn't find out and challenge them on it! Well, the challenge worked and they have agreed to reformulate.

Would I recommend their products once reformulated? No. Probably not. I can recommend products now that I know are safe and started out that way. No reformulation needed. Many remaining ingredients in the new J & J's Baby Shampoo will still not be sun-filled and life giving. They are only removing the quaternium-15 (formaldehyde) and 1,4-dioxane. Yes, scary stuff. And still a long way to go from "No More Tears" to "No More Fears".

Cultivate your marigolds and your sun-washed place in the universe. Here is the article: removing carcinogens from baby shampoo.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making a Meal of It

I went to Arkansas' first Cornbread Festival over the weekend and had a blast. It was so well done...such fun! A fabulous day, The Bernice Garden showing off its fall splendor and beautiful new roof, toe-tapping music, lots of great vendors, fun shops and yummy restaurants along South Main Street...couldn't have been better. I love that part of our town. Feels like a village, the kind of city living I adore. And, even more to love, I saw lots of my pals and neighbors there, too. Check it out here cornbread festival and don't miss it next year! Combine people and food and I am in!

Both professional and amateur chefs showed off their best and everything cornbread was ready for tasting...from Granny Penny's Cornbread (no relation!) to cornbread that was firecracker hot, ice cream sweet, cracklin' and fruited. The greens from Ashleys @The Capitol Hotel were sublime...oh my! And, so were some of the gorgeous vintage cornbread skillets and pans. Just beauties.

Not coming from a family with a cornbread tradition, here is my prior cornbread culinary experience: Thomas' Corn Toaster Cakes (yeps from the English muffin folks), cornmeal mush (you may know it in its gentrified glory as polenta. I know it as "mush": sliced, fried and covered with butter and maple syrup for breakfast), and I-could-eat-by-the-bowlsful, Indian Pudding. 

In my bread making days, I also used cornmeal to dust my loaves with a little extra crunch and did actually make a de-lish corn-type bread in Mexico. Hmmm...maybe that recipe is festival worthy!

Anyway, it is safe to say that Saturday, just sampling, I ate more cornbread in one day than I have eaten in my entire life. Made a meal of it actually. Leaving, my eye caught another booth, tucked away in the garden, serving Johnnycakes. Oh...add those to my short list. I do remember having them as cornmeal pancakes. They are really yummy and can be sweet or savory. I think I will make some up tonight to go with some fabulous beans I have simmering.

Johnnycakes are a culinary legend in their own right, too, and there are separate Johnnycake festivals, just in case you are wondering! Like they say, one good thing leads to another.         

Not having a family recipe, I snagged this one from the official Johnnycake site: Johnnycakes. Hope you'll flip for them and mark your calendars for next year's Arkansas Cornbread Festival! See you there!


1 cup  white cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
Bacon drippings (or know my choice!)

In a medium bowl, place cornmeal and salt.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water to a rapid boil; remove from heat. With the saucepan in one hand, let the boiling water dribble onto the cornmeal while stirring constantly with the other hand. Then stir the milk into the mixture (it will be fairly thick, but not runny).

Generously grease a large, heavy frying pan (I like to use my cast-iron frying pan) with the non-bacon drippings (!) and heat. When pan is hot, drop the batter by spoonfuls. Flatten the batter with a spatula to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. Fry until golden brown, turn, and brown on the other side (adding more non-bacon drippings as needed).

Serve hot with butter, maple syrup, or applesauce or use to sop up "pot liquor" from beans.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Taking Comfort

Good 'Til The Last Drop

I hate leaving Halloween behind. Yes, I know...only 360 days 'til it's back BUT, I do love to linger in the afterglow. Putting everything away is painful.  It is nice to see that several neighbors are still in the linger mode as well. We had a fabulous time this year and a couple of new houses playfully joined in.

To me, Halloween is spirited in every sense of the word. Out of the 500 plus kiddoes we had brave our walk, I bet not more than 1-2 did not say "Thank You" or wish us "Happy Halloween!", too. Not that those salutations were solicited or expected either...all just uttered joyfully. The kids (of every age!) were playful, so colorful, so creative, so sweet, so fun...the human spirit at some of its best. Even my daughter commented, "Are people always this polite and nice? This is impressive."

Yes...always. I believe that is our basic human spirit and what I experience every Halloween is impressive and reaffirms my faith.

Even Veggies Do It!

I was chagrined to come in and catch a news story on how parents are preventing their children from Trick or Treat-ing...saying Halloween is a fearful, scary hell-iday thay they don't want their kids to enjoy. As a matter of fact, they want their kids to be frightened of it. To me, it's the same as teaching your kids to be scared of life and the people you'll meet living it. That's just me.

Made me so sad that I needed some comfort food.

Apple Squash Gratin (picture and recipe from fellow reveler Martha Stewart)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, trimmed of roots and tough outer leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, well washed and dried
Coarse sea salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus leaves for garnish
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 pound apples, such as Gala, Cortland, Baldwin, or Macoun, peeled*, halved, cored, and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (toss in an Arkansas Black apple for color)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add leeks and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add sherry and sage and cook until liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes; set aside.

In a 2-quart shallow baking dish, arrange squash in overlapping layers; season with salt and pepper. Spread leeks evenly over the squash.

Arrange apples in an overlapping layer over the leeks. Brush apples with remaining tablespoon oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 45 minutes.

Uncover and sprinkle cheese over the top. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. The tip of a paring knife should easily pierce the gratin. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sage leaves. Serves comfort to 4.

*I rarely peel anything. Too many goodies in the skins to toss in the garbage. It will make the gratin more "rustic" in appearance, too, which I like.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Franken Pumps

I have a thing for pumpkins. The interesting thing about carving pumpkins a couple of days ago was the fact that each one had such a different seed quantity. Mine was almost devoid of seeds. Remarkably few. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be too aware of how many seeds, just how to get them and the slimy strings out!

But, last Sunday there was an article in the paper about Monsanto and how anxious they are to dominate the produce aisle and seed industry...way beyond the corn and soybeans they do now. Scary.

Was my pumpkin a Franken Pump? A GMO gourd? mitigate that sorrowful thought, I ran out and bought some heirloom varieties to savor. what's real here? Stuart weighing in.

Also, to savor, are the seeds. They are so rich in magnesium and fabulous fats. A handful a day will help keep the disease demons away. Magnesium helps relax nerves and muscles and gives your mood, bones and circulation a boost. They are filling, too, and the good fats really help give your skin a glow. Grab a handful, eat them raw or toasted and let me know how you enjoy them! I grind them up in my morning shake, sprinkle on salads and cooked veggies or eat as is. How 'bout you?

Keep your hands off my pumps!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

and so is The Day of Days!!

Today is Day of the Dead...the Mexican fiesta day that got me totally hooked on Halloween and the fact that Halloween is not a one night stand! Why not celebrate all week?! Most cultures around the world have some sort of celebration today. Come on...Party on!

To do so, just gather up some marigolds, a candle or two, your favorite sugar coffins and skulls and of course, pan de los muertos, a delightful sweet and sugar-y bread complete with baked-on bones. See pictures below.  Have a great (ful dead) day!