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


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


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)

Grand Bazaar Seasoning from Spice & Tulips 1_Grand_Bazaar_1.8_oz_1024x1024


Garlic press

Sharp chefs knife

Mesh strainer


Large fry pan


  • 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!


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

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


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.


Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent

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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. 


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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