Utensils needed:

  • Large frying pan
  • Pot
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Paper towels
  • Potato masher


  • 1 Extra firm tofu
  • 2 Onions-diced
  • 2 Tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 Cups brown or white rice
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, turmeric
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Avocado, sliced or made into guacamole
  • 2 Cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 Cup pre-made salsa
  • 12 Taco shells


  • Take tofu square out of package and wrap the bottom and top in paper towels to drain out all the water, occasionally press the paper towels to help express the excess fluid-set a side. Keep squeezing all the water out – the drier the tofu, the better it fries.
  • Cook the 2 cups of rice per directions-set aside.
  • In a frying pan sauté onions till golden brown.
  • Add to the sautéed onions the tofu square. Smash the tofu with a potato smasher till the tofu in in little pieces resembling ground beef.
  • Cook till tofu browns
  • Add: salt, pepper, garlic power and turmeric to your taste
  • After the tofu is browned and a little crunchy add the 2 cups rice-mix well
  • Run the taco shells under water for 30 seconds to make moist
  • Fill with the taco shells with the filling and place on cookie sheet
  • Bake the taco with the filling at 350 for 10 minutes
  • Fill tacos with: tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, salsa and hot sauce


School-year health tips

Oh boy! School’s been in session for a while now and the weather is beginning to change. Sitting in classrooms all day and not getting to play outdoors is taking a toll on your child’s body (not to mention his psyche!). The excitement he may have had about his new backpack, lunch bag and cool clothing has all but vanished only to be replaced with piles of homework. Let’s face it — your child is stressed out. This means that his immune system is vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.

Parents, too (especially moms) can begin to feel a little anxious as the spelling tests, math quizzes and book reports need to be completed. And concerns ranging from “Is my child making new friends?” to “How do I teach my child to handle that bully?” begin to surface and can really heighten that sense of worry.

At this point you may be asking, “What can I do to keep me and my child from catching colds and flu?” “What can I give my children to relieve their nervousness about their social situations or passing tests?” Or “What can I take for my nerves?”

Good news! There are MANY herbs that help both kids and parents strengthen their immune systems and quell their nerves.

Prevention is best!

As a trained and certified herbalist (and a practical mother of seven) I am a firm believer that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. I encourage parents to adopt the enlightened practice of using herbs to nip that cold, flu or nervousness in the bud, before it has a chance to blossom into many days of missed school and inflict untold misery.
My suggestion is to keep one or two excellent immune herbal tinctures blends* on hand to administer to your children (and yourself) at the first sign of an illness. A drippy nose, sneezing, achy-ness or an emotional shift means it is time.  Nerves, tension and anxiety suppress the immune system, thereby increasing ones’ child’s  vulnerability to the viruses and bacteria that just love to ‘hang-out’ in classrooms.I make herbal blends to fit the exact symptoms as they arise but for those of you who do not have a ‘personal herbalist’ it’s a comfort to know that there are commerically available herbal blends that work wonderfully.

One of my favorite herbal immune tinctures for kids is David Winston’s Healthy Kids Compound. And for adults, I like David Winston’s Immune Adapt (a Fu Zheng formula).

When and how to take herbs

Herbs can be given morning and evening when the person is well, but should be increased to three or four times a day if the person seems to be coming down with an illness. All members of the family should begin taking herbs if one member of the household begins to show signs of an illness. It is also a good idea to take immunity building herbs when a dramatic change occurs in the schedule or when an emotional challenge comes up in the family. Generally speaking, schedule changes and negative emotions are stressors; stress weakens the immune system. This is preventative medicine at its best.DOSAGE: Depends upon the age and weight of the person. Common dosage of an adult is 25 drops; children range from 5-15 drops.

View Sara Chana’s “Giving Herbs to Children” (click on video, below)

Giving Herbs to Kids

Nervous tension and stress

For kids and parents who are nervous or having trouble sleeping I suggest Skullcap and Lemon Balm. They can be mixed together or taken separately. Skullcap is best used for nervous tension and anxiety feelings; you can feel the calming effect within 20 minutes of taking this herb. It works wonders for children who are anxious and fearful (please note: Skullcap should not be mixed with psychotropic medications such as Prozac, Ativan or Zoloft). Lemon Balm is a calming and relaxing herb. It is also anti-viral. It can be given after school if a child is unable to relax, or at the first sign of a cold. This herb is gentle and very soothing. Finally, most importantly, remember to breathe. When the nervous system becomes agitated and anxiety is nipping at your heels, stop running. Turn around. Sit down. Breathe slowly and deeply.

SkullcapHerbalist & Alchemist Skullcap Glycerite
Lemon BalmHerbalist & Alchemist Lemon Balm Glycerite


1) H2O: The first is a jug of purified water that kids need to bring to school every day and be encouraged to drink! Dehydration makes concentrating difficult, which in turn makes it difficult for a child to transition well. Hydration is an easy and inexpensive way to help a child succeed academically and socially.

2) FOOD: The next thing is to give your child snacks to take to school that contain oats or nuts and you should be able to read and understand what the ingredients are! I really am impressed with Kind bars. They are easy to carry around and quick nutrition for kids who do not have nut allergies. For kids with allergies and especially nut allergies I am super impressed with the products made from EnjoyLife. Their products are wholesome,very tasty and convenient for kids to eat at school.

3) AVOID: Stay away from MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) – also called tortilla yeast, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein. MSG is an excitotoxin in the brain, meaning that it over-stimulates the brain, causing the production of excessive amounts of dopamine. This creates a drug-like rush that provides a brief sensation of well-being. In the process, though, brain cells are destroyed. Studies show it can impair memory retention.


Consider how amazing the blueberry is. It is a miracle fruit in the category of ‘super-foods.’  The blueberry is ranked as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Women love them because they are low in calories, high in fiber and also vitamins C and K. Blueberries help to enhance digestion, are a great ‘first-food’ for babies, aid with varicose veins and prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s).


I suggest that my clients wait to offer any solid food to babies before 9 months or do so when the baby has between 4-8 teeth. When it is time to offer solid food to your baby blueberries are high on my list!

The fruit is portable, delicious, healthy, and it doesn’t have the allergenic concerns associated with other berries. They are obviously best eaten when they are picked fresh in the summer, but since they are frozen immediately after they are picked, blueberries will retain their vitamins and nutrients after they are frozen. They make a great treat in the winter as well.

Moms love blueberries because it is easy to puree them, fresh or frozen, in a blender jar.  Just add water until the desired consistency is reached. You can also add them to smoothies.  Blueberries are also terrific all on their own.  They make a great finger food for older babies.  Be mindful that they can pose a choking hazard so it is probably a good idea to cut any large berries in half before feeding.


Herbalist Mimi Hernandez, MS, RH (AHG) raves about using blueberries with her clients who suffer with varicose veins.  I have found this also to be true for my clients. They feel less pain, less swelling and less inflammation after 6 months of ingesting 1 cup of the berries each day.  I also love the Herbalist David Winston’s new product called Blueberry Solid Extract.  It can be spread on toast, added to oatmeal or simply eaten by the spoonful all year round.

Why blueberries for veins? Varicosities (big bad blue veins) can only form if there’s weakness in blood-vessel walls, or if there’s significant pressure within the vein to overwhelm healthy vessels. By strengthening the vessel walls, which are made of a complex network of collagen, proteins,  and smooth muscle, one decreases the likelihood they will dilate or distend. The goal is to build up the structural matrix and to shrink existing varicose veins.  Why are blueberries so helpful with veins? Because, blueberries boost blood flow and are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids, which ultimately improve vein elasticity and increase blood flow in the legs. Blueberries also have anthocyanins which are antioxidants used to help strengthen the vessel integrity and thus reducing varicose veins.

Click here for information on how to cure Urinary Tract Infections using Blueberries >>

Learn how Wild Blueberries combat diseases and promote healthy aging >>

Products I recommend so you can enjoy blueberries all year long:

David Winston’s Blueberry Solid Extract (BBS)

Vitacost 100% Pure Blueberry Juice Concentrate — 16 fl oz

Melissa’s Produce Organic Dried Blueberries

I have had great success helping my clients with Chronic Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) using blueberry in the form of a concentrate.

The dosage for the prevention of UTI’s is ¼ cup of the pure blueberry concentrate stirred into one liter of water and sipped throughout the day.

As an herbalist I also encourage my clients to have an herbal mix to treat and prevent Urinary Tract infections. I like the blend from Herbalists and Alchemist UT Compound by David Winston which includes herbs in a wonderful combination that helps to clear the infection and help sooth the bladder. Typical dose is: 20-40 drops (1-2 ml) taken 3 times per day over a period of a few months (although you need to speak with an herbalist the dosage may need to change depending on weight and age and condition of person).

Please understand this: it is NOT that blueberries are antibacterial and kill the bacteria responsible for UTI’s; rather, it’s that the blueberries have a component that inhibits bacteria from proliferating and living on the bladder wall.

Here is what the research says, “The compounds responsible for inhibition of bacterial adherence are called proanthocyanidins. The proanthocyanidins found in blueberries prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract. Blueberries contain certain molecular compounds that help prevent urinary tract infections; however, blueberries do not have direct killing effects on the bacteria. Instead, blueberries prevent urinary tract infections by altering the bladder tissue in such a way that the bacteria are not able to adhere for long enough to establish an infection. Therefore, when the bladder is emptied during urination, the bacteria are flushed out along with the urine, and an infection is avoided.

newsletter-blueberry pudding cake
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup rice milk
3 tbsp. healthy margarine, softened

  1. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. Toss the blueberries in the cinnamon and sprinkle with lemon juice.
  3. Spread blueberries evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  5. Stir in milk and softened butter. Spoon batter over the blueberries (it will be thick and clumpy).

3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch or kudzu*
1 cup boiling water

  1. Mix together sugar and cornstarch and sprinkle mixture over top of batter.
  2. Slowly pour water over all (DO NOT STIR!).
  3. In an oven that has been preheated to 350°F for at least 15 minutes, bake until the cake appears done (about 45-50 minutes)

Kudzu powder

How to use: 1.5 tablespoons of kudzu powder to thicken 1 cups of liquid. Kudzu comes in small chunks. To thicken a liquid, crush the chunks into a powder, mix them with enough cold water to dissolve the chunks, then mix with the hot water. You can find kudzu in health food stores.

Kudzu, a member of the legume family, is high in complex carbohydrates, helps balance the acidic nature of many foods, and is soothing and cooling to the digestive tract. In clinical studies in China it has also shown to: lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and protect against heart disease.

website-Oatmeal cappucinno cookies
Ready for a treat that is Yum and actually has some healthy ingredients?
3 ½ cups Spelt flour (white or dark your choice)
1 cup Oats
1 cup coconut shredded (and shredded again in your food processor)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine (I like earth balance)
1 ½ cups raw sugar (I like Jamaican choice)
½ cup real maple syrup
3 eggs
1 heaping tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
In your food processor please shred your cup of coconut so it is very fine
Next add to the coconut and mix well: margarine, eggs and sugar
Then add: maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon-mix well
Combine the dry ingredients: spelt, oats, baking soda
than add into wet mixture
Next add: Chocolate chips
Form into balls and bake for 12-14 minutes
Let cool on rack and ENJOY

website-Oatmeal cappucinno cookiesInline image 1


These have to be the BEST cookies I have ever tasted! Wow, melt in your mouth, knock-your-sox-off cookies.  If you want to ‘blow-your-diet’ this is the most satisfying way to do it!

2 cups white spelt flower

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Mix well set aside

2 sticks Earth Balance margarine-softened

1 cup organic fine sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp rice milk

Mix well

2 Tsp cappuccino powder

2 cups old fashioned oats

Zest from one orange

Mix well

Add: 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix gently (but don’t over-mix)

Form into small balls and bake on cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes

Cool on rack and ENJOY

young couple breastfeeding

Photo credit: MercA Bellera/E+/Getty Images

Dads often complain that they feel left out when their babies are breastfeeding. They feel they want to jump in and help out, but have no idea where they could be useful. They see the mom and baby struggling and don’t really know how to offer help. Many will say to me, “Hey, if I could just breastfeed for my partner I’d gladly do it!” But, the truth is that, no matter how much we have evolved and men and women have become “equal,” men still do not have the breast milk to offer the baby. (Perhaps that’s not a pretty image or even a pleasant thought.) Yes, it is true that mothers can pump their milk and put it into a bottle, but the healthiest way for babies is to get the breast milk is directly from the breast.

So how do dads support and help during breastfeeding time? Here are a few ways dad can help while mom and babe breastfeed:


Grab a handful of pillows and plop them behind the mother’s back, under her arms and in front of her to help support her baby.


Dads can also be a huge help by holding down the baby’s flying arm while the mother is trying to achieve a good latch. Women always seem to struggle with the babies arms.


Offer to burp that baby. It is hard for a woman to get up once she is finally comfortably sitting or lying down, and most dads become “master baby burpers.” The good ones can be seen dancing and singing around the room waiting for that magical burp to come out.


Changing the baby’s diaper will also be helpful for the breastfeeding mom. Women often struggle to find their “perfect” breastfeeding position, so it is difficult for the mother to get up to change the baby, afraid to lose that “flawless” position.


Encourage mom to take a break sometimes from the baby, after the baby has finished breastfeeding, so she can take a shower or sit calmly to eat a meal. Being together with a well-fed, burped baby is the best “hanging-out time.”


How about giving the mom a wonderful a foot or shoulder massage? Okay, this may not really be a breastfeeding tip but it can sure make your lady happy! Moms usually sit or lay in contorted positions when they are first learning how to nurse properly. Mom will forever be thankful to you for soothing 

Mother Nature’s foods and herbs bloom with the colors of vitality. Her rainbow spectrum of purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red bears not only the richness of beauty but nutrition and antioxidant power as well. The same colors that reward our senses can give us clues about important phytonutrients (‘phyto’ means ‘plant’) in common foods and healing herbs.

It all begins with the sun. Although sunlight seems to have a golden glow, it’s really made up of all the colors of the rainbow. Plants appear to be green because they reflect the green rays, while absorbing the reds and blues. The color green tells us that chlorophyll (literally, ‘green leaf’) is present, and the darker green a plant looks, the more chlorophyll it has. This is one reason why we’re advised to eat our dark leafy greens: abundant, nourishing chlorophyll. Curiously, an important part of the chlorophyll molecule is almost identical to the part of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood. This is one bit of science supporting the traditional wisdom that dark greens (including wild greens like Dandelion and Nettles) are good for ‘building the blood.’

Dark green also announces the presence of an important companion of chlorophyll, folic acid (folate). The word ‘folic’ comes from the word for leaves, or ‘foliage’. Folic acid is critical for the proper development of the nervous system and all pregnant women are advised to get plenty of this nutrient for their growing baby’s health. Folic acid also ‘builds the blood’ through encouraging the development of oxygen-bearing red blood cells, and so helps prevent anemia and fatigue.

In one of the greatest miracles of Nature, chlorophyll and its companions transform pure solar energy into food and medicine. When sunlight enters chlorophyll, it sparks a series of energetic reactions which ultimately lead to the production of the simple sugar, glucose.  This vital molecule, which is the parent off all other phytonutrients, just happens to be the same molecule we call ‘blood sugar.’ Plants and people have a lot more in common than we might have realized! Both plants and people use glucose to build other molecules, as well as for a source of ready energy.

But chlorophyll can’t work alone. It needs protection from the harsh UV rays in the sun’s energetic spectrum. Too much ultraviolet, and photosynthesis begins to release an excess of damaging free radicals. (You may have heard of free radicals in relationship to antioxidant vitamins and supplements. For humans, free radicals contribute to premature aging, the development of degenerative diseases like arthritis and cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Antioxidants in greens, veggies, and colorful fruits help neutralize the free radicals and prevent tissue damage.)

These free radicals generated by over-stimulated chlorophyll could destroy sensitive plant tissue, but they don’t, because the plant has its own built-in antioxidants! Inside a busily sunbathed leaf, hidden by the dark green of the chlorophyll, these yellow and orange antioxidants are at work quenching free radicals and protecting the energy-generating source of life on Earth. Warmly colored antioxidants, they are known as ‘carotenoids,’ named after the familiar orange garden carrot. (When leaves display their brilliant fall colors, we’re seeing carotenoids).

As it just so happens, these same carotenoids protect our cell membranes, keeping the linings of our blood vessels smooth, and making sure our cholesterol and triglycerides aren’t damaged by oxidation. These molecules include the familiar nutrients beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. Many naturally yellow, orange, or red vegetables will be rich in antioxidant carotenoids, including sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin, citrus fruits, sweet and hot peppers, and tomatoes. Even leafy vegetables have carotenoids, we just can’t see them underneath all that green.

Another nutrient that finds its way into our diets is the molecule that gives curry its bright orange color: the curcumin found in turmeric. This potent phytonutrient is a supreme antioxidant, an effective anti-inflammatory, and a reliable tonic for the liver. Curcumin has been used since ancient days in the practice of Ayurveda, and is one of the most highly regarded remedies in modern phytotherapy. Along with its companion molecules (a phytonutrient never works alone), it’s used in formulas to treat and prevent many inflammatory diseases including allergies, arthritis, and cancer.

In the reddest part of the phytonutrient rainbow, we find two different tribes of molecules: the orangish-red xanthophylls and the purplish-red anthocyanins. ‘Xanthophyll’ means ‘yellow leaf,’ referring to autumn colors, and ‘anthocyanin’ means ‘cyan-colored flower’ which comes from the fact that flower colors are often the work of these molecules.

Two very red xanthophylls are found in sweet red peppers, all kinds of spicy red chile peppers, and paprika. They’re called capsanthin and capsorubin. The ‘caps-’ part comes from the Latin name for the peppers, ‘Capsicum,’ and ‘-rubin’ means ‘red.’ Particularly powerful and long-lasting antioxidants, they are oil-soluble and especially good at protecting the integrity of cell membranes. In fact, all of the carotenoids and xanthophylls are oil-soluble, and studies have shown that ingesting them with adequate dietary fat is necessary for proper absorption.

The other kind of red is at the beginning of a phytonutrient spectrum that moves on through purple and blue. There are many kinds of anthocyanins, and they can change color according to certain characteristics of the plant matrix in which they are found. In this way we find an abundance of anthocyanins in dark, rich blueberries; in the nearly-black elderberries, in the red raspberries and strawberries, and in the purple eggplant and cabbage. Anthocyanins are generally antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, tonics for the cardiovascular system, and cancer-preventative molecules.

But what about black and white? In plants (such as Chinese eggplant or black turtle beans) black is really a very dark purple color, so it indicates a richness of anthocyanins. White generally means two things: either an abundance of saturated fats (think coconut) or the absence of many colorful nutrients (as in the inside of an apple or cucumber – most of their nutrients are in the skins). Only refined sugar and salt are nearly pure white. White is also the color of many pharmaceuticals, including the familiar aspirin. So while white things are not always bad for us, the color can sometimes be a flag of caution – like the white tail of a deer!

Finally, some phytonutrients are colorless, but still very active. One special group of molecules with potent antioxidant properties are the OPCs found in grape seed extracts, grape skins, and hawthorn berries. Numerous studies have demonstrated that OPCs help to protect the heart and blood vessels, prevent inflammation in muscles and joints, and discourage the growth of abnormal cells. They also have astringent healing properties to protect the skin and mucous membranes of the respiratory and digestive systems.

The colors of vitality are Nature’s gifts and clues to the inner mysteries of herbal medicines and healing foods. As we bring these phytonutrients into our daily diets, let’s remember the wisdom behind Grandmother’s old saying: The more pretty colors you eat, the lovelier you will be. Healthy is as healthy eats, so here’s the rainbow for thee!


Lisa Ganora, a scientifically trained traditional herbalist, is the Director of the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism in Boulder, CO. Her book, Herbal Constituents, is used in Herbal Programs, Naturopathic Schools, and Universities around the world. ClinicalHerbalism.com   HerbalConstituents.com




Nothing says “gourmet” like a sprinkling of colorful flower petals in a salad, a handful of pansy petals on a birthday cake or a sautéed daylily bud in a stir fry. Edible flowers are a fun and an easy way to add color and flavor to all sorts of dishes.

Most edible flowers are best eaten raw—simply pick and rinse with water. Flowers will taste and look their best right after they have opened, rather than after they have been open for a few days.

There are two important things to remember about edible flowers: first is that not every flower is edible, and the second caution is to avoid flowers that may have been sprayed with an insecticide, fungicide or herbicide.

Some flowers can be poisonous.

So get the flowers from a reputable source or stick with flowers listed below.


This fuzzy-leaved herb has sky-blue flowers with a light cucumber taste. Add to fruit salads, green salads or freeze in ice cubes for cold drinks.


Use the tiny flowers of signet marigolds, such as Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem. Their blossoms have a citrus taste.


An easy and prolific edible flower that’s easy to grow from seed right in the garden. Separate the petals from the center of the flower and sprinkle the petals into salads. Colors range from pure yellow to orange and red. Remove spent flowers and the plants will bloom continuously from early summer into late fall.


Blossoms have a peppery flavor like watercress. All colors and varieties are tasty in salads or as garnishes. Leaves can be eaten, too.


English chamomile has small, daisy-like flowers with an apple-like flavor. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you might want to avoid chamomile.


These flowers have a wintergreen flavor and are pretty on cakes and other desserts.

Recipe for Violet Syrup


  1. Use only the freshest and most unblemished violets. Put violet petals in a deep bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Make sure violets are submerged so weigh down with a heavy dish.  Leave on counter at room temperature for 24 hours.
  2. Line a colander with layers of rinsed cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour violets and liquid into colander, squeezing out juice from the violets you can discard the violets.
  3. Place sugar, lemon juice and water in a saucepan and boil it will turn into a very thick syrup.
  4. When the liquid becomes near the candy stage add violet water and bring to a rolling boil. Boil 10 minutes or until thickened. Pour into sterile bottles. Allow to cool, then seal and refrigerate. Serve with ice water, seltzer, or pour over pancakes or French toast.
VARIATION: Substitute 4 cups fragrant rose petals and add 1 cinnamon stick per bottle of syrup. Yield: 2 quarts.

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