A Little Zest…

Health, Wellness and a Zest for Life


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Deliciously Healthy Stuffed Peppers

Gluten free, dairy free – Blood Sugar Solution Compliant

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Prep time: About 30 minutes | Cook Time: 8-10 minutes | Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 Medium Bell Peppers (we used red)

1.5 lbs Grass fed ground beef, bison, chicken, turkey or lamb (we used beef)

4-6 Cloves garlic, pressed or chopped

1 Regular sized can chopped tomatoes, drained

1 Small can tomato paste

1 Large zucchini, chopped

1 Cup mushrooms, chopped (we used oyster mushrooms for more flavor and texture. We also love Maitake  aka Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms for their earthy flavor)

½ Medium onion, chopped

Salt & pepper

Crushed red pepper (optional)

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TOOLS

Garlic press

Sharp chefs knife

Mesh strainer

Bowl

Large fry pan

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350°
  • Line baking sheet with foil.
  • Slice peppers in half and remove hard top and seeds
  • Rub peppers with olive oil then place open side up on lined baking sheet
  • Place peppers in oven for 30 minutes
  • Clean and chop zucchini
  • Chop onion
  • Clean and chop mushrooms
  • Chop or press garlic cloves
  • In a large skillet, add remaining olive oil in pan on medium heat
  • Add in onions and saute for a few minutes until translucent
  • Add in chopped mushrooms and saute them for 5 minutes to remove a lot of their moisture (this is called sweating them down)
  • Reduce heat slightly and add in garlic cloves, can of drained tomatoes, chopped zucchini,
  • Add in tomatoes and saute for abt 4 minutes just do the tomatoes meld into the mixture
  • Place mesh strainer over a bowl and spoon vegetable mixture into strainer. Let sit.
  • Add in ground need to pan and cook until.done, about 5 minutes
  • Add in can of tomato paste and mix well
  • Add in strained veggies and mix until well blended
  • Add in salt, pepper and desired seasoning and spices (we used a delicious spice blend called Grand Bazaar Everyday Blend from our favorite spice shop Spice & Tulips which consists of Marash chile, garlic, Sumac, oregano, parsley, peppercorn 
  • Remove peppers from oven and spoon beef and veggie mixture into each half of the peppers. Over stuffing is good!
  • Return baking sheet with stuffed peppers to oven for about 8 minutes
  • Remove from oven, sprinkle crushed red pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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Zest for Life * P.O. Box 28704 *Anaheim CA 92809


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To Bee or Not to Bee?

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I’ve heard for quite some time that “honey” can be great for many things – hair, nails, acne, skincare, and combating allergies, especially if it is local to the region in where you reside.

Although I experience seasonal allergies, I have never tried bee honey with the intention of reducing or even eliminating my allergies. I only used honey atop my goat cheese and crackers – which by the way is so delicious and a must try!

So on my last trip to my local farmer’s market, I came across Temecula Valley Honey Company locally sourced from Southern California and decided to give their honey and bee pollen a try.

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I purchased the California Bee Pollen, the Wildflower Honey to put on my cheese & crackers18227e8ae60fcc1d5886ed9abdc6d505 and the Buckwheat Honey to apply to blemishes on my face, or maybe not!

Bee pollen is known, especially in the naturopathic world as an apitherapeutic product because it contains groups of chemical compounds that are made by bees and used for medicinal purposes.

Although I had heard about honey and it’s medicinal benefits for allergies, I didn’t know why the honey has been touted as being effective in treating allergies, so I inquired with the bee-keeper representative. She stated that it is the actual bee pollen in the honey that is important for allergies. She was selling both the straight pollen, honey and honeycomb. The difference between honey and straight pollen is that honey has sugar, hence more calories and carbohydrates and bee pollen is just pure pollen, directly from the plants and flowers. It is not sweet and actually has a bitter taste.

I decided the best option for me was to go with the straight pollen and add it into my morning protein shakes. It was suggested that I started out with ¼ or ½ of a teaspoon, gradually increasing to 1 teaspoon.

So here I am, it’s a beautiful Spring morning and I am giving my new bee pollen a try! I added ¼ of a teaspoon to my Vanilla Complete along with a few fresh strawberries and a banana. I didn’t notice the pollen in my shake!  According to Dr. Axe 1 teaspoon 3 times per day is suggested, for a maximum of 60 day.

Shop your local Farmer’s Market to find honey and bee pollen local to your own region.

Did you know? One teaspoon dose of pollen takes one bee working eight hours a day for one month to gather. Each bee pollen pellet contains over two million flower pollen grains contains over 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen. That is amazing!

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* There is also information discounting medicinal claims stating there is no scientific evidence that bee pollen provides any health benefits. When it comes to supplements, natural doesn’t always mean safe.  Experts are warning that taking natural bee pollen supplements may come with the risk of suffering a serious allergic reaction, including life-threatening anaphylactic shock. So for those of you who are allergic to bee’s, you may want to stay clear of bee pollen and of course, if you experience any swelling call 911. A Little Zest is strictly for informational purposes only and it is up to each and every person to do their own research and be aware of their own potential risks. 

Nut Allergies & Asthma

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I recently became aware of nut allergies through a friend whose 10 year old son is extremely allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts. It is a scary way to live and this young boy’s mom & dad must be so careful, not just about what their son eats, but what he touches and what he breathes.  That means everything from soap, laundry detergent, air freshener, cleaning products, playing in the same room with someone who is eating nuts, etc. Unfortunately, mom & dad aren’t around 24/7, so this young boy must be cautious when he is offered anything from anyone. He must ask “is it safe?”  If he doesn’t know for sure if something is safe to eat, he doesn’t eat it.

Because of my son’s friend, I decided to do a little research on tree nut allergies. Sadly, I came across a young boy via the internet named Oakley who passed away in January 2017 from eating a piece of pound cake that unknowingly had nuts in it. Oakley only had a mild allergy, but the nuts in the pound cake were overwhelming and took his life way too soon. This is tragic and could have been avoided and I believe there needs to be more awareness regarding such allergies. RedSneakers.org is a website dedicated to raising awareness of asthma and allergies, specifically nut allergies through the creation of educational programs and community outreach. #LIVLIKEOAKS #redsneakersforoakley #nutallergyawareness

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Along with peanuts and shellfish, nut allergies are also one of the food allergens most frequently linked to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that impairs breathing and can send the body into shock. Symptoms of a tree nut allergy include: Abdominal pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting. 1 in every 13 children suffer from food allergies, says the FARE – Food Allergy Research and Education.

So what is a tree nut you ask?  Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, Shea nuts and walnuts. Tree nut allergies are distinct from peanut allergies, as peanuts are legumes, whereas a tree nut is a hard-shelled fruit.

Nut allergies are very prohibiting to those who suffer and can easily be overlooked. It can lurk in a simple oil or extract that is used to make a brownie or fry  a chicken.  It is surprising to me how many people, especially children, who are being diagnosed with such allergies and how little those who do not suffer from such allergies know. Allergies can be lethal and thus it is important to understand them more. If you or someone you know suffers from allergies, checkout these cool signs to help keep everyone in your circle informed and reminded.

Because of my recent awareness I was sharing with my friend a laundry detergent that I use and thought she might be interested because it is natural and could be a great option for her and her son. I learned right away that although this particular laundry detergent was 100% biodegradable, has no phosphates, no sulfates (SLS/SLES), no fillers, no optical brighteners, and no dyes or fragrances, it was not necessarily safe.  My friend asked, “does it have any tree nut oils or products?” I was quick to be reminded that although nuts are natural too, they can be unsafe. Just because this detergent was free and clear of many harmful chemicals, I didn’t even think about whether or not it was actually safe and free of nuts.  Together we checked the full ingredient list and we were thrilled to find out that Norwex’s Ultra Power Plus laundry detergent is considered safe in my friend’s son’s world! This was great news and something I was so excited about so I  decided I had to share because Norwex products are such a perfect option for those who not only suffer from nut allergies, but asthma and other allergies alike.

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Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent


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Split Pea Soup Does More Than Warm The Soul

There is something special about opening the door to your home and the wonderful aroma of a roasting ham is permeating from the oven and dazzles the senses. It means of course a dinner with a lean, but flavorful protein followed by the lunches of ham sandwiches. But there also is another gem of a meal that comes with that left over roasted ham and ham bone  — Split Pea Soup.

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Split Pea Soup does more than warm your soul. An absolute favorite of many and the healthy ingredients yield a nutrient-dense meal in which consuming the soup has a number of health advantages. The simmering of the split peas, fresh carrots, celery and onions packs a flavorful punch of nutrition goodness.

The dietary fiber without contributing to the calorie content of the meal, keeps you full throughout the day! You can eat this wonderful soup to lose weight and prevent unwanted weight gain.This same fiber also lowers the levels of cholesterol in your blood.  Split Pea Soup also helps you reach your daily Potassium and this ingredient activates and enzyme in the body to support metabolism! Split Pea Soup brings home a healthy dose of Vitamins A & K, Calcium, Magnesium and Iron.

In a nutshell, a diet high in legumes such as peas can lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. If that isn’t enough, it can help heal digestive disorders such as  Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS and decrease the risk of developing certain types cancers, especially breast and prostate cancers.

We leave you with a couple of healthy pointers for the home cooks out there- you can further limit the calorie intake by simply using broth as a base instead of cream or milk as like we did, and make your own soup chunkier and even more satisfying by adding extra vegetables such as squash. What a healthful soup Split Pea is!

Want the recipe?  Continue reading


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Planet Box to the Rescue

I think many of us can recall a memory or two from elementary school days, in particular those classic metal lunch boxes that displayed images from Star Wars to glimpses of the various lands of Disneyland.

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Although I never liked homemade school lunches because they were always warm and everything tasted like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich packed inside, my nostalgic husband had a completely different opinion. He loved homemade lunches. He actually looked forward to lunch everyday because he knew it was something he was going to enjoy versus the classic cafeteria’s tuna surprise.

Fast forward to today, now conscientious of the environment and making healthier choices, my husband took his lunch to work everyday. He would bring home his canvas style lunch bag at the end of each day that once again, had a stinky sandwich smell from the lunch that had been packed in it earlier that morning…and the all the mornings before. I would wash and rinse the lunch bags with soap and distilled vinegar, sometimes even bleach, but the smell would never disappear. Inevitably, the zipper would break and the plastic lining would deteriorate. 

After purchasing numerous lunch bags made of canvas and never being satisfied, I decided to do some research. Finally, I came across PlanetBox. Although a bit pricey, especially for a “lunch box” I decided to take a leap and purchase one for my husband. I am so glad I did! 

So what exactly IS PlanetBox you ask?  In a nutshell, it’s a shiny stainless steel container with strategically molded compartments for healthy goodies…or a thoughtfully designed and environmentally safe lunch box. 

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The morning after the PlanetBox arrived, it was time to fill it up and put it to the test. No more multiple sandwich baggies that ultimately end up in the landfill. YAY! I neatly tucked a sandwich into one compartment, placed some fresh cut fruit in another compartment, added a nice little side salad in another compartment and included a little container of homemade salad dressing. After assembling the fresh ingredients, I closed up the shiny container and slid it into it’s own canvas case along with it’s very own ice pack, ready for my husband to take to work. When my husband arrived home that evening, he was so excited about his new PlanetBox. He asked me why I hadn’t come across it sooner. The freshness of his lunch and the chill that remained throughout the day from the ice pack was worth every penny. Not to mention the environmental contribution. 

PlanetBox is more than just a lunch box. It serves as a guide for what and how much to pack. They’ve nearly done the thinking for you and now the morning lunch packing routine is so easy. You’ll never forget to pack fresh veggies because the empty compartment will remind you. If you are concerned about overeating, that likely won’t happen because the PlanetBox is designed to hold sensible portions. It is safe and the stainless steel doesn’t retain stinky food odors and ugly stains like plastic containers do. Speaking of plastic, PlanetBox is obviously BPA-free! Last but not least, it’s cheaper to buy fresh ingredients from your local market and pack your own lunch, so that in itself justifies the price tag. Cheers to PlanetBox! We will be purchasing a second one very soon! 

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Dare to Accept the October Unprocessed Challenge!

I happened upon this interesting challenge mentioned by our friends at Farm Fresh To You. For six years now, renowned food writer Andrew Wilder of the blog Eating Rules is challenging all foodies to modify our eating habits for the month of October. Simply put, the goal is to dump the processed junk, i.e. “Frankenfood” that many of us eat daily and replace it with delicious, fresh whole foods. It truly was genius for Mr. Wilder to select October for this cool yet healthy jump-start. According to Wilder, he chose October as the challenge month because it’s the gateway to bad eating habits which begins with Halloween candy. Who doesn’t have that little bowl of spooky sweets positioned directly on the coffee table for all to see? Then there’s the Thanksgiving FEAST or in most cases, left-overs! This of course is followed by the Christmas and holiday parties and family gatherings. It’s a snowball effect. We here at Zest for Life as well as our friends at Farm Fresh to You know that many of our customers have already begun to eat healthier by adding delicious whole foods to their home menus, but with that said, spreading the news of this exciting challenge and offering encouragement with recipes, tips, along with a book giveaway is right up our row of corn! Anyone interested should sign the pledge on Mr. Wilder’s blog and use the social media hashtag #unprocessed to encourage and excite other participants. While there, why not exchange exciting healthy recipes or even better, leave pics of some yummy dishes y’all have created. It’s an exciting time as the leaves begin to change and our high temps reduce into the coolness of crisp mornings. With it comes a bounty of seasonal Fall crops just waiting to be devoured!  Visit Farm Fresh To You to get your fresh seasonal organic produce that is delivered straight from the farm right to your doorstep! #gethealthy #stayhealthy #zestforlife