Vegan Valentine Treats!

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!  We found a couple of yummy treats to share with loved ones that might be better solutions to the classic box of chocolates with extra tips that’ll help keep you and your family on track to a healthy new year.

Heart Shaped Bites

Heart Shaped Cookie Cuts

{Photos courtesy of Help Ornament My Eden.}

Replace the white bread for whole grain bread & add almond butter to make it complete.   Kiwi’s are in season right now and also make a perfect heart.

Visit the frozen aisle

 

Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie

{You can find this delicious, creamy recipe here at allrecipes.com.} 

Since strawberries are not in season, frozen is a great alternative since most frozen foods are picked at their nutritional peak and preserved with only losing a small percentage of its nutrients.  ***Remember to replace the sugar (the recipe calls for 1.5 tsp.) with 1 to 2 dates.  The dates will amp the nutritional value while giving you the sweetness :)

For a little Indulgence ;)

 

vitamix nutella

 

 
{Video, recipe and photo from Vitamix.}

 

We hope your day is full of love, laughter, vitamins, kisses and hugs!

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7 Benefits of Grapes

Eating foods with the highest level of nutrients per calorie can significantly increase longevity.  Grapes, a very nutrient dense food, can help protect you and your family with these awesome benefits:

1. Combat cardiovascular disease (CVD)

CVD is the leading cause of death in the US, claiming over 600,000 lives every year. Grapes can reduce the likelihood of your family developing CVD by,

  • Clearing and inhibiting plaque buildup in the arteries
  • Reducing LDL (the bad cholesterol)
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Preventing cell aging

Help her fall in love 3

2. Reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation is extremely stressful for the body.  Inflammation is often thought to be a significant factor in causing cancer, CVD and autoimmune disorders – even minor nuisances such as psoriasis and rosacea!  In addition to being a powerful anti-oxidant, grapes also have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

3. Balance blood sugar

Grapes have a low glycemic index especially when they’re consumed whole with the skin – even better if you can get into eating the crunchy bitter seeds!  According to The World’s Healthiest Foods,

Studies have now connected grape intake to better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity. We suspect that the strong phytonutrient content of grapes plays a key role in providing these blood sugar-related benefits.

4. Anti-aging & Longevity

‘Nough said.

5. Protect your brain

ROS (reactive oxygen species) are reactive oxygen-containing molecules that have important roles in cell signaling as well as homeostasis (your body’s way of keeping things balanced such as your PH).  Under normal circumstances, this is exactly what should happen.  However, when ROS levels increase dramatically, cell structures can be damaged and over a long period of time can lead to what’s known as oxidative stress.

What does this have to with grapes you might ask?  Grapes can prevent excess accumulation of ROS from forming in the brain.  While there is still much needed research to better understand the affects grapes have on the brain, there is an overwhelming amount of research that shows oxidative stress is a contributor to a plethora of diseases including Alzheimer’s.  Enjoying grapes on a regular basis is a risk-free precaution worth taking.

6. Anti-bacterial & Anti-microbial

Grapes contain oligopeptides, AKA peptides, which are small protein-like molecules that have anti-bacterial properties.  The phytonutrients found in grapes are also anti-microbial.  All of this combined with grapes’ vitamin C can help keep your little one from getting sick.

7. Butt-kicking cancer fighting properties.

If you have the time to watch this, it is certainly worth it!

{A bit of history}

According to The Journal of Nutrition,

“The medicinal value of the grapevine and its fruit, Vitis vinifera, has been recognized for over 6000 y. In ancient Egypt, sap from grapevines was made into an ointment to treat skin and eye conditions. The fruit was crushed into wine elixirs or ripened to serve as therapeutics for a multitude of conditions, including nausea, constipation, cholera, smallpox, liver disease, and cancers.”

Photo courtesy (from left to right): winesisterhood.com, wherethecookiesare.com,vegetariantimes.com

{Photo courtesy (from left to right): winesisterhood.com, wherethecookiesare.com,vegetariantimes.com}

Making grapes a part of your day-to-day

  1. Wash well & choose organic (when possible) – You can use a water/vinegar solution from Good Green Habits or Sarah’s salt with baking soda from Nature’s Nurture.
  2. Read about themOur Oliver & Friends’ Great Grape Adventure is a children’s book packed with fun adventure and filled with sneaky education about health that’ll get them super excited about eating grapes.
  3. Freeze them –  Frozen grapes make a perfect replacement for candy.  Kids absolutely love them.
  4. Enjoy them in a salad –  The vitamin C in grapes is a perfect way to increase the veggies’ nutrients. Check out this mouth watering vegan salad from Vegetarian Times (shown above):

Roasted Shallot, Squash, Grape, and Green Bean Salad

Serves 4

This salad’s earthy flavors heralds the arrival of fall. Grating garlic on an Oxo or Microplane zester/grater delivers the same burst of flavor as crushing garlic in a press, but it’s faster and easier to clean up.
  • 6 oz. green beans, trimmed
  • 1 butternut squash with 4-inch neck
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup red grapes
  • 1 ½ Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. finely grated garlic
  • 1 large bunch watercress, thick stems trimmed (4 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Blanch green beans in boiling, salted water 2 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

3. Cut 6 1/2-inch-thick wheels from neck of squash. (Reserve remaining squash for another use.) Peel and halve squash wheels. Toss squash and shallots in bowl with 1 1/2 Tbs. oil; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Place squash and shallots cut side up on baking sheet. Transfer green beans to same bowl, and toss to coat with oil that remains in bowl. Place green beans and grapes on baking sheet, separated slightly from squash and shallots. Roast 8 minutes, or until green beans are crisp-tender and grapes are warmed through. Remove green beans and grapes to foil sheet. Roast squash and shallots 15 to 20 minutes more, or until browned.

4. Whisk together remaining 2 1/2 Tbs. oil, vinegar, rosemary, and garlic in bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

5. Divide watercress among serving plates. Divide squash, shallots, green beans, and grapes among serving plates, and drizzle with dressing.

 

Please remember to share with others that health is a learnable skill and a journey worth taking.

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References

Brain Aging: Models, Methods, Mechanisms: ch.15 – Oxidative Stress and the Aging Brain: From Theory to Prevention.
Carmelina Gemma, Jennifer Vila, Adam Bachstetter, and Paula C. Bickford
CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2007

Antimicrobial and other oligopeptides of grapes
Olga L. Voronina, Alexander Zamyatnin
Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria, Departamento de Informatica, El Centro Cientifico Tecnologico de Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Chile. alexander.zamyatnin@usm.cl
Biochemistry (Mosc). 2010 Feb;75(2):214-23.

Grapes and Cardiovascular Disease
Mustali M. Dohadwala and Joseph A. Vita
The Journal of Nutrition. 2009 Sep; 139(9): 1788S–1793S.
doi:  10.3945/jn.109.107474

Berkley Springs’ Ice House Artist Co-op Book Event

Last week we attended a book event hosted in Berkeley Springs‘ beautiful Ice House Artist Co-op.  We had a great time meeting wonderful people & talented authors.  If you’re ever in the area, the co-op is a great place to stop by, especially after receiving a relaxing spa treatment available a couple of blocks away  :-)

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Located in the heart of the historic town, the gallery provides a friendly atmosphere for talented artists to display their craft.  Here’a bit of info. pulled from their website:

The Ice House Artists’ Co-op Gallery was opened in April, 2000 in conjunction with the efforts of the Morgan Arts Council who owns the Ice House and is transforming into a responsive and creative arts center. The Artists’ Co-op relies on the volunteer support of its members, and the friendly help of the docents. The artists pay a monthly fee to staff the co-op. 20% of each sale is returned to the Morgan Arts Council for use of their gallery space.

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2015 Baltimore Book Festival

This past Saturday was our second Baltimore Book Festival.  Despite the ferocious winds, we had a great time making new friends and spending time with Fruityland supporters that came from many miles away! Thank you everyone who came out.  We LOVE YOU!

 

{The Real Alvaro from Fruityland! You can see the illustration of him in our banner}

{The Real Alvaro from Fruityland! You can see the illustration of him in our banner}

 

{Our enthusiastic little reader.  His favorite illustration was the Grape Queen one :) }

{Our enthusiastic little reader. His favorite illustration was the Grape Queen :)}

 

Balt Book Fest 2015 Table

{A part of our display encouraging readers that there are few gifts better than the gift of health}

THE Best Gazpacho Recipe you’ll ever try.

I realize that’s a bold title, but I wouldn’t put it there if I couldn’t back it up! This cold Spanish soup is a healthy must-have for hot summer days. It’s super easy to make and makes an elegant first course or a simple refreshing treat after playing in the pool. A convenient dish to have on hand, you can make it hours in advance and store it in the fridge.

Most importantly, kids love it!  We had plenty left over and within the same day, Oliver, Alexandra and Peter demolished it.  I think it has an extra attractive quality to them since no heating is necessary. Of course, the amounts of the ingredients can increase or decrease depending on your taste & what’s available in your fridge. Enjoy every sip even more knowing one serving is full of Vitamins A, K & C.

Gazpacho

Ingredients:

2 lbs ripe tomatoes (roma are a good choice), washed, cored, and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 cucumber, peeled well, and roughly chopped. (Make sure it is not bitter before you use it!)
½ a piece of a green onion, white/very light green part only (about 3 to 4 inches)
½ a red pepper, washed, seeded, and chopped
½ a green pepper, washed, seeded, and chopped
2 Tb sherry vinegar (or any wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry on hand)
½ tsp salt
6 TB virgin olive oil
1 piece of bread, (try a baguette kind) preferably stale, soaked in water and then squeezed, about 4 inches long)
Cold filtered water (as much as needed to make your gazpacho smooth)

Recipe:

Put in about ½ cup of cold water into your blender. Throw all the other ingredients in and process until smooth and creamy adding a little bit of water at a time if it is too thick. Make sure that the blades don’t heat up gazpacho, so process slowly and then turn up to smooth out further. Put your finished mixture through a sieve. Pour into a carafe and store in your fridge. Garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil, small pieces of cucumber, thinly sliced green onions, and little bits of chopped tomato, or just throw in an ice cube and serve in a glass. Enjoy!

Served in a glass

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Fruityland’s Reader of the Month

We’ve mentioned this in the past that sometimes the workload of a small family company like ours can be daunting… until we connect with our readers.  Ellyssa Simpson is nothing short of that inspiration.  Her perseverance, energy and attitude has us revitalized and calling her Fruityland’s Reader of the Month!

Elly Reader of the Month

While I was visiting some schools in North Carolina, I had the pleasure of meeting Ellyssa and her exceptional mom, Tiffany. I was impressed with their communication regarding nutrition and how great both of them looked despite Ellyssa’s condition.  ‘Elly’, as her mom calls her, developed type 1 diabetes when she was twelve months old. She is now 5 and looks great! I know many parents have the same difficulties as Tiffany does, so I asked her what has worked for her and if she had any recommendations for other parents.

“Elly eats a balanced diet and I think that has been important with her good health today. She enjoys fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, so I know that helps too. She has been taught that eating is a priority and she cannot play or have privileges unless she has eaten all of her meal, so I have never had issues with her and eating. She takes multivitamins and probiotics, but no other medications other  than  insulin.

Her exercise routine is whatever she wants to do that day, bike riding, playing on the playground or just playing tag with me or her dad in the house. Basically, her exercise routine is just being 5 :)

Elly uses an omnipod insulin pump and a dexcom G4 glucose monitor. We have been using this equipment since February 2013. Prior to that she was on insulin shots and took a minimum of 4 shots per day.  Her A1c and control have greatly improved since we started using the pump and cgm.

As far as advice for other parents, I can only say this: you are your child’s best advocate. You have to educate yourself to make the best outcomes for your child’s health. Your child’s doctor and diabetes educators are the first line of care, but it is ultimately you who takes care of your child from day to day, and education is key to doing that. Diabetes is unpredictable and sometimes things just happen. Don’t spend time beating yourself up if something goes wrong with your child’s care. Just allow the mistake to be a teaching moment and vow not to make that mistake again :)

The Best Advocate 3

Are there any parents with a diabetic child that would like to share their experience and wisdom?  Please leave a comment below or drop us a note.  We love to hear & learn from our readers.  By the way, we’re posting a special recipe that came all the way from Italy that might be your family’s summer favorite.  Until then!

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Reading & Playing at Winchester’s Handley Library

Fruityland celebrated Family Literacy Day at Winchester’s Handley Library on April 18.  The historic building (built in 1913) is a gorgeous structure that provided us with the perfect setting for this important day.

Unique Handley

Staircase photo courtesy of Martin Prochnik. Handley Library illustration courtesy of Martha Woodroof from WMRA.

What made this day extra special was playing our in the works board game with two amazing little boys. Both four years old, they came at different times to play Frugivoro in Fruityland.  I got such a thrill out of their enthusiasm and excitement.  They even got most of the tough questions!  Our dream is to get kids excited about health and no matter how many reading events we go to, seeing a kid’s face light up and get excited about nutrition is what keeps us going.

Playing Frugivoro at Handley

A big thank you to Handley Library and all the children and parents!

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Love Centered Parenting

We couldn’t have picked a better title for this book.  It is full of love, encouragement and peace. Anyone who is considering getting pregnant, expecting or already a parent can find reassuring, sound, compassionate advice about getting back in tune with your inner wisdom.

booknew

Love Centered Parenting provides advice on nutrition to different birthing options that might not be part of traditional hospital outlets. Beautifully written, we love how the author shares her stories and experiences without pretense or judgment.

If you’re looking for an insightful book that can help you focus on what’s important while providing you priceless information and blocking the endless parenting white noise, this is the perfect book for you.     

Find the book here at lovecenterparenting.com.

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Container Store’s All Glass Containers

glass

YES!  These are such a delight to have in the kitchen!  Here are just a few reasons they’re listed as one of the products that we LOVE.

  • Bake and store in the same container
  • All glass makes it consumer safe & environmentally friendly
  • Easy to store and open (the seal works by the weight of the top itself)  In the freezer the ice seals it completely
  • Easy to see contents
  • Beautiful Vintage design
  • Microwave, dishwasher, freezer safe
  • Since it doesn’t seal completely, they’re the perfect containers for fruits and vegetables since the moisture doesn’t get trapped in, keeping them fresher for a longer period
  • Perfect for storing onion – the all glass makes it easy to clean and the odor doesn’t penetrate the container the way it does with plastic or half plastic containers
  • Easy to stack, store and organize
  • Pretty enough to serve with – nuts, sauces, hummus, etc and then just store away whatever is left over
  • Made in the USA

You can buy them here at the Container Store for HALF THE COST of Anchor Hocking’s version. I only managed to pack one with me to Morocco and I’m missing them so very much :(

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Cheers to Fruityland at Bluemont Vineyard

On Sunday, September 14th we were invited to Bluemont Vineyard to enjoy great literature, beautiful weather and delicious wine!

It was an absolutely perfect day – filled with laughter and even surprise visits from family and friends.  The best part was having my nephew pull out all the stops by dressing up as a bunch of grapes!!!  The kids (and adults) loved it!  Cheers to everyone who came out and made the day SO very special and unforgettable.

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