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, May 30, 2012

Falling for coconuts

Or so it seems. I had a bad fall yesterday. Some friends were at the door and I opened it enough to squeeze out or so I thought. We have a household of sweet little dogs...all one time strays. One is especially incorrigible and snuck right past me in the blink of an eye. I fell splat over her and skidded across the porch on my elbows, knees and cheek.

Pretty sore journey and a terrible way to greet my pals but luckily, we caught errant pup Annie before she took to the hills. It amazes me after 10 years, you'd think she'd show a little gratitude and not bolt for the blue any chance she gets. Oh well. Once a roaming terrier, always a roaming terrier, I guess. Note to self.

Anyway, a bag of frozen peas later, I decided to "dress" my wounded face in coconut oil. I love it. It is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and very soothing. The tropical fragrance is divine...takes your mind elsewhere. My kiddoes have used it, too, on the Grand Ones...for their diaper area and as a perfect oil for baby massages. It is also nice to rub on dry hair ends and use as a body moisturizer for adults. Yes...this is the same coconut oil I love for cooking...simple does it again. Go get yourself some. Take a Women and Wednesdays stroll (no falling please) to any super market. Choose from several organic brands...I like this one...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I think I already have a post by this name is a great mantra! Keeping things simple seemed like the way to go over the weekend.

I am having so much fun with all my projects and seem to be making headway! Yay! Good thing...I hear that the Grand Ones are in various stages of exploration, each one doing something new and different. Lots of cute squeals and giggles, flipping over, almost sitting up on their own and getting all fours ready to crawl. Both are bright-eyed as can be, love to "stand up" and look ready to "step out" on the town. Yikes! They will be here before I know it and so it will be Projects-Are-Me around here until they come!

Just in case you also need a little KISS in your life, I thought you might like to see the salad I made yesterday...a little impromptu because once again, it was dinnertime before I knew it! This is a lovely summer/spring salad and the colors a reminder and thank you to those who gave their lives so fully so that we could live ours so freely.

How was your weekend?  

Berry Walnut Salad

a big bunch of basil, chopped
fresh strawberries (can you believe it...our local strawberry season is over already!!), hulled and sliced
fresh blueberries
fresh mozzarella balls
toasted walnuts, chopped

Vary amounts based on number of people eating this salad. I used about a half pint of both strawberries and blueberries, around 10 mozzarella balls and a half cup of walnuts along with a big bunch of basil. Mix all and drizzle with a good balsamic vinaigrette. I also sprinkled on some herbs de Provence and sea salt.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Given that this weekend is summer's "kick-off", the original post for today was going to talk about summer "CPR"...Choose, Protect and Repeat...just going over a few rules for using sunscreens and having fun-in-the-sun safely.

So not me but you get the picture!

First is "C" for "Choose". Choose a sunscreen with as few ingredients as possible, as few harmful chemicals as possible and preferably loaded with organic ingredients. If you need help, email me and I can recommend a couple. Sunscreen is a must for every age, every skintone.

"P" is for "Protect". Wear hats, sunglasses (please do this...your eyes and lids get way too much sun exposure. Look up information on cataracts and blepharitis and don those shades!), invest in a beach/poolside umbrella and try to stay out of the sun during its peak burning times...about 10-3. Also, drink lots of water, eat lots of deep green and deep yellow veggies, a bite or two of dark chocolate and drink green tea. Avoid lots of sugar during the summer...I know it is hard to pass up all those fruits and frozen goodies but their high sugar content causes so much inflammation and your skin doesn't need any extra heat! Also, have a bottle of olive oil handy. It is great to apply after sun exposure.

"R" is for "Repeat" applications. Know how to properly apply sunscreen: 20 minutes before exposure, apply a shot glass full to all exposed areas including hands, ears, back of neck, lips. Yes... a shot glass or about 1 ounce is the correct amount! Few people use enough. I go through several tubes a month. Reapply often during exposure!!!

And so, that is how my thoughts started out for this Women and Wednesdays post. However, they are a little divided given the study released last week on "good cholesterol". I am among the genetically high good cholesterol folks they talked about. For years, I have been told I have "0" cardiac risk despite being born with a slight heart defect and having a sibling with cardiac woes. Now, I know the study was sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, has me thinking. I am on the lookout for a cardiac screening in the next month or two. In times past, the doctors and nurses would all hover excitedly over my cholesterol numbers..."Look, she's one of "them"!" I am going to pursue this further so that the only CPR in my future hopefully relates to the beginning of this post.
Bottom line for the start of summer...know your alphabet and know your numbers, ladies!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chili'n here at Project Central

Yep, that's what it is around here. Exciting. Looks as if my home were a rug and all four corners were gathered up, given a good shake and everything ended up a'jumble up in the center. Yep...that is pretty close to how things look here. I have enough to do to put a month of Sundays to work! First thought was garage sale. My lovely neighbor is working hard to convince me otherwise.

Here is one of the successes of last week...a forlorn, falling apart nightstand that I was encouraged to pitch to the curb.  But,'s "real" wood...solid beech and weighing in at about 50 pounds! They don't make them like this any more.

I decided a little rescue work was at hand and powered up the sander. Now...first things first...I am a real klutz and machinery of any kind (except the Vitamix) and I are a tentative mix. But, I really love old things...clothes, jewelery, furniture, accessories with a "feel" of history to them. Couldn't bear to toss it to the street. Just give me an afternoon with it...

Here is how it turned out! I am pretty psyched and now looking around the house for more sanding projects! Furniture...beware!

While I was scurrying to get this done, I also needed something for dinner...something that would just bubble and stew while I was figuring out the sander and exactly what to do next without creating trouble.

This recipe from Dr. Oz fit the bill and was delicious, although a tat on the spicy side...not overly so but it did have a kick. Definitely have yogurt available. It will cut the heat down to a nice chillin' level. Don't let the list of ingredients make you hesitate, either...go for it!

Dr Oz: Food Network’s Veggie Chili Recipe

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large chopped onion
2 large chopped bell peppers (1 green, 1 red)
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
Kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
½ to 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce (chopped)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 corn tortillas (tear into pieces)
½ C brewed coffee
1 (28 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes (crushed them with your hand)
2 Tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ head cauliflower
½ C finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus torn leaves for topping (optional)
Shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, sliced scallions and/or plain Greek yogurt, for topping (optional but highly recommended!)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrots and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots begin to soften (8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle, tomato paste and tortillas and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste is brick red, about 4 minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick. Add the coffee and simmer until almost completely reduced (about 30 seconds). Stir in the tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans and 2 ½ C water. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens slightly (about 1 hour, 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, trim the large stems off the cauliflower (or sand down a nightstand) and coarsely grate the florets on a box grater. About 10 minutes before the chili is done cooking, stir in the grated cauliflower. Cook 10 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped cilantro and season with salt (to taste). Add some water if the chili is too thick. Ladle into bowls and add toppings as desired. The herbs added at the end make it pop. Makes a lot!

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 18, 2012

That's what friends are for...

My friend, The Divine Ms. M, responded like many of you did to Wednesday's post that "soul food" and "friends" go together, a perfectly delicious match of wonderful food seasoned with camaraderie. Friendship is some of the best food there is...period! She passed on a recipe from a friend she loves to me to share with you. It is fast, simple and because it is from one friend to another, just a perfect way to make the world go 'round! Have a great weekend!

Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes and Basil (pix and recipes adapted from Green Lite Bites.I have "farm marketed" it up some to fit with your weekend foraging!). I would also add some gorgeous watermelon radishes...just because they are so beautiful!)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use Eden Organics for BPA-free cans)
About 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (look for the multi-colored ones, there may even be "  first of the season maters" in the farmers' market!)
25 large basil leaves, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced (maybe some fresh garlic tossed in, too.)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons local honey
pinch of sea salt

Toss all ingredients together and chill for at least 20 minutes, allowing all the flavors to merge. Eat it with friend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chew on this...

I am always pretty focused here on Women and Wednesdays on "skin food" products and ingredient awareness. Today is going to have a little different focus: soul food.

While it is really important to watch what comes in on your fork and through your skin, I feel it is also really important to feed your soul well and that one cannot be truly "well" without that which nourishes the soul.  As a little girl, "soul food" for me was two things: horses and the sea. Good grief, I loved my horse, Topper. He was my best friend. Look at how we are mirroring each other...

Two peas in a paddock

After he passed out of my life, I always thought I would get another horse...a dapple grey one to be exact. I had big dreams of continuing to ride and show this horse of my dreams. As an adult, I quickly realized that was not going to happen (thank goodness for the constancy of the sea!) and I stumbled upon a quirky substitute. I love goats. They are adorable!

And so, I have taken a particular shine to a new store in town, White Goat. It is in the same retail space where I found the fabulous green table that is Our Green Table (see sidebar for the story on it and look at the background of most of my pictures!).

Charming little white tables

Fabulous white linen bags (I have mine in the bathroom already!)

and looks like this

in shades of this

White Goat is "soul food". It is peaceful, beautiful and inspiring. Furnishings and accessories span every shade of white from grey to deep cream. There are also little touches of aqua, beautiful "sea" things and gorgeous goods that have lots of history...charming bottles from France that look like they have been held by many other hands, rustic fabrics like linen, ticking and burlap and antiques given new life. Dried lavender and rose buds are just waiting for you to scoop into cute fabric bags so you can take some aromatic TLC home. Wonderful art lights up the get the picture. The whole store is a feast for the senses and soul. And so, if you live in Little Rock and need a little '"soul food"...go, and chew on this...

And, follow them on Facebook, too, here:White Goat. Happy, soul-full Women and Wednesdays! What are some of you eating for "soul food" today?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothering beyond Hallmark

To all women who have "mothered" or "originated or given rise to" a garden, a cat's purr, a dog's tail wagging in glee, a baby's smile, a neighbor's hello, a cause, a community's strength and a family no matter how it is defined, this day is for all of you. Happy Mother's Day!

Special love goes to the mothers "old" and the mothers "new" in my life. I love you with all my heart. To my own mom, my son and his family, my daughter and her family, my pups and my fledgling garden, you light my way. xoxoxoxo

Friday, May 11, 2012

Someone else can take the cake...

I'll have the PIE!

I love pie. Really love it. Good pie that is. So much so that on a family vacation years ago, when we arrived at our hotel, right there in the lobby, I spotted a revolving case full of the most gorgeous pies I had ever seen and I thought..oh my, I am in paradise!

As well as eating them, I also loved making them. When we were in Mexico, I even had a small pie business featuring 4 or 5 of my family favorites. It was lots of delicious fun.

Imagine my delight last weekend at our local farmers' market, Hillcrest Farmers Market, when I locked eyes on this...

a vintage-y looking pie cart loaded with all kinds of pies...whole pies, pie slices, mini pies, little pies baked in cute little Mason jars. Drool! 

Fresh Strawberry Heaven!

Mini Pies, Cute-as-a-Button Jar Pies...pies, pies, pies, oh my!

Then, I learned all these beautiful pies were made with family recipes, local ingredients and baked in energy-saving, recycle-perfect glass pie plates and jars. (You can turn down your oven 25 degrees when baking in glass!) These are the very eco-friendly, super delicious pies I dream of serving right here on Our Green Table. Every bite fits all Our Golden-Green Rules (on sidebar)! More drool!

Fresh local strawberries piled sky high over a white chocolate glazed crust...a slice of cloud nine!

Pie Wizardess Leah sells her Pie in the Sky pies at several local spots and also has a great website, where you can check out her whole sky full of pies and where her luscious cart will be heading. I will be getting my pie fix following her to the Quapaw Quarter Home Tour on Sunday. Maybe I will see you there...just don't try to cut in front of me in line!

Just in case you are eager to whip up a little of your own heavenly magic, here is a recipe from Leah! Have a great weekend! xox

Brownie Nutella Mini Pies

Brownie mixture:
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (get yours from a local source!)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 squares unsweentend baker's chocolate
1/4 tsp. instant coffee (not regular coffee grounds!)
1/4 cup flour
small jar of nutella
1 cup whole almonds - toasted and coarsely chopped

Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Add salt and instant coffee. When melted, let cool away from heat while mixing sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Add chocolate mixture to bowl and mix very well. Finally, add flour and mix just until blended.
For the mini pies, use a homemade or store-bought refrigerated pie crust, and cut into 4-inch rounds. Line 12 ungreased muffin tins with the rounds allowing a small edge to hang over each muffin cup. Fill each crust-lined muffin tin 2/3 full with brownie mixture and bake 350 for 30-35 minutes or until muffin edges are slightly browned and brownie center are puffed. Let cool completely on wire racks.

When brownie pies are cool, the centers will sink to form a small indention. If this doesn't happen to all the brownie pies, you can create a small indention or hole with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon. Fill the indention on each pie with 1 Tbsp of Nutella. Top with chopped almonds. Enjoy! Will keep in airtight container for 1 week.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I love horses, but

Not this one...

This Trojan Horse embodies the Personal Care Products Council, a "safety" board set up with representatives from the largest corporations within the personal care/cosmetic industry. In other words, an internal source for "Yes, that's safe to use! No need to reformulate!". That's the bad news...

The great news today is that a bill is actually before Congress about cosmetic safety!!! It's only taken 30 years!!  Congress "also decided not to attach the industry cosmetics bill to a fast-moving must-pass FDA-related bill" thanks to a flood of phone calls and letters from informed and concerned consumers "demanding that any cosmetics safety bill must lead to meaningful reform that... protects consumers, workers and your right to know what’s in the products you use. "

The wrong horse is attached to the cart. Please read the link below and contact your representative. It's Women and Wednesdays, let your voice be heard. Let's do this right, get rid of the harmful ingredients putting our present and future at risk and not be lulled into "safety" by the cosmetic giants and their lobbyists. Remember that you and your family use, on average, 14 products a day!!! And our littlest ones are the most at risk.

See what you think...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Those sweet babes are rolling!!! Yippee! Oh, it is so much fun watching those Grand Ones roll into new antics. (Thank goodness for the wonders of videos and technology!) Now they are flipping and rolling over and very much pleased with themselves to boot. Their smiles are so bright...definitely rival the gorgeous Supermoon! Such sweet ones! Oh my.

I rolled from one thing into another this weekend, too, and ended up with a full plate of comida auténtica for Cinco De Mayo. It's funny, because except in Puebla, this "holiday" is really celebrated way more in the U.S. than it is in Mexico. At any rate, it is a great reason to try out some new platos mexicanos.

Here are some pictures of what I made. I had only intended to make up a big pot of heirloom beans but like I said, one thing rolled into another and all (except breakfast!) were quite good with that mint julep!

Huevos Revueltos...Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Chopped prickly pear cactus paddle that turned into

 Ensalada de Nopalitos...Prickly Pear Cactus much fun to make and eat!

Tacos de Verduras (veggie tacos) flipping over in the pan to join

Heirloom Frijoles

Dinner complete with Queso Fresco and both Mole Verde and red Salsa Fresca 

It was lots of fun cooking and watching these dishes evolve! And, oh my...wait until you see dessert! I will show you that Friday. Don't miss it!

Tomatoes are not very flavorful yet and so I am going to share another salsa recipe, also from Saveur. This picture is theirs as well, although we do have the same dishes!

Spicy Pineapple Salsa

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 jalapeños, stemmed and minced
1/2 small red onion, minced

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients; serve at room temperature. Makes about 1 1/3 cups.                                                                                                     

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'll have my mole with mint, please...

Time sure has a mind of its own, right? It needs to back off "fast forward"!  I can't believe how fast this week went. This weekend is both the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo or in my world, mint and mole. I will definitely be trying my hand at a mint julep and also at a new recipe for mole.

Actually, to simplify my life and the weekend, I should just put a straw and sprig of mint in tall glass of mole. Oh my goodness, I love it. When we lived in Mexico, we went several times to Puebla (Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla) which is home to some of the most gorgeous tile and pottery, most intriguingly carved doors and wood trims and of course, world famous mole. And, the markets in Mexico...divine

Breakfast in Mexico served on fabulous talavera

I saved this Saveur magazine from last May.

I really like that magazine. The photography is stunning. In my other life, I would love to be a food stylist/ fun! Look at this squash blossom salad...

Among the recipes that caught my eye was one for a green mole. Thought it would go well with Our Green Table...ha! It looks simple enough and, hey, as long as I have the blender out for those mint juleps. At the end of the post, check out a delish option for those of you on the go.

Mole Verde (from Saveur)

8 ounces tomatillos, peeled and chopped
2 jalapenos, stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt (I am starting off with 2-3 teaspoons, adding more if needed!)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 8" flour tortillas, toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil (Saveur said to use canola, but I am not fond of it)
4 cups low-sodium veggie broth

Heat tomatillos and jalapenos in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until darkened and thick, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender with cilantro, salt, garlic, tortillas and about 1 cup veggie broth. Puree.

Heat oil in a 6 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, add tomatillo sauce and fry, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a paste, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 3 cups veggie broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes.

For those of you scurrying around town this weekend, chase down a food truck. Here is what I had for dinner last night. Ole! Have a great weekend!

Luscious avocado and bean taco from

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pass the Peace

In the month since I have been home, I have directly known a couple of people and several businesses that have been robbed and of a person who was murdered. The first day I was back, I was in Whole Foods and a "woman around town", in her Sunday Best, barged ahead of me in line, plopped herself in front of the checker and said, "I only have a few things." Never even acknowledged she had to practically run over me to get there. Later that same day, I heard a man exclaim, in public, in a very loud voice, "You stuck-up *****!"

Makes me sad, real sad. I don't know...what has happened to people? In this "Women and Wednesdays" post (also see note below), there are four ideas I have to share...none original and everyone's for the taking...                                                            

1. Cultivate kindness

2. Speak "kindness" out loud

3. Take a stand

4. Grab a hand and pass the peace

Note: also see yesterday's post below for the weekly Women and Wednesday's update on important health news.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Still smokin'

Normally, I don't post on Tuesdays but this can't wait...Oh, but before I start in, I am going to breathe in some fresh morning air and wish you Happy May Day!

While in New York for the arrival of those precious grandbabies, there was an afterbirth complication or two that required a specialist. We were sent to the top specialist in NYC and to top rated Mount Sinai Hospital. I was very impressed with the doctor, course of treatment and experience and so when I got the following report, it grabbed my attention.

I am still quite upset over the smoke screen (I felt it so) from L'Oreal's sustainability VP about lead and other additives in their products. (See April 16th post.) Remember that L'Oreal has 23 brands, the top 5 lead containing lipsticks tested by the E.P.A. and to my knowledge, does not source many (if any?) ingredients from organic, pesticide-free materials. Her comment that they were not bothered by the lead in their products because lead is everywhere and we really don't ingest lip products (tell that to a toddler) still has me choking on the smoke.

"Consumers have had it with the current system that tolerates cosmetics companies outright lying to consumers, putting dangerous chemicals in our products, and getting away with it"

-Lisa Archer, director of the
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund

While mine are spelled out here, you do need to form your own opinions about what is safe for your loved ones and what isn't, whether they have learning disabilities or not (the focus of the Mount Sinai report). When you do your own research, you will "own" this passionately, like I do, and really take it to heart. I don't want to "convince" you, only empower you to learn more. I think the following report also has significance for your pets as well. They certainly are getting a lot of human diseases. And, for adults, senior citizens and Alzheimer's. Let me know what you think about it and about the ABC News report at the end of this post!

Here is Mt. Sinai's report on the impact of the top 10 toxic chemicals:

I know that some of you reading this are already struggling with learning disabilities and illness in your families and my heart goes out to you. But, I think every day has good news for every body...there are new cells coming on board this very minute and every day we can learn something new to help our loved ones' overall well-being and feed them well with good clean food and good clean products..Just changing your food and products to what we talk about here will eliminate a good chunk of that top 10 list. That is what Our Green Table is all about! Is it always easy? No, It takes time, energy and commitment. But, L'Oreal had one thing right...WE ARE WORTH IT!!! 

Please let me know how I can help further! I can come talk to your family, co-workers, even throw a party for your pals. Inform. Empower.Party...sounds like good, clean fun to me! xoxoxo  

P.S. There was also an excellent piece on ABC News with Diane Sawyer last night about the issue of untested chemicals in cosmetics. Here is that link to the new report: