A Little Zest…

Health, Wellness and a Zest for Life


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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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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 


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A Wand, a Carotid Artery and a Thankful Heart

The title above really does say it all. We all likely have known someone who has suffered a stroke. Much like one of our California earthquakes, strokes are sudden, scary and can be absolutely devastating. But how does a wand, in particular an ultrasound wand, have to do with a carotid artery, let alone a stroke?  Let me share an incredible story of how it personally affected me and in a dramatic way. Recently, Zest for Life produced a health and wellness fair for employees of a local company in which we had health screenings of varying kinds, including a carotid artery screening. At first, the employees were puzzled by the screening, watching the doctor applying the gel to the ultrasound wand then moving it up and down along the neck. Once people saw how easy the procedure was, they began lining up, one of which was my father who was there to photograph the event . It was going to be a quick ultrasound like the previous employees who sat down but this time, something was different. The doctor had a concerned look on his face as he explained to my father he needed to schedule an appointment right away with his primary care doctor due to what appeared to be a significant blockage in his carotid artery. Unfortunately like most men, my father acknowledged the findings but picked up his camera and went about shooting some more photos. I encouraged my father to get in and see his doctor and kept at him in the following days but that appointment never came. A few weeks passed and I got the phone call no daughter wants to ever receive – my father was in the hospital and they believed he may have had a mini stroke. He was sent home the next day and a few days later, he received a call that he had 95% blockage of his carotid artery!  95%! That is not good! He was immediately scheduled for surgery. So now here I was, in a hospital waiting room, praying and counting the minutes for my father to come out of surgery and thinking back to the carotid artery screening, thinking about how such a simple screening can go a long way into eliminating this very situation that I and the rest of my family found ourselves in. My father recovered quickly and we all talked about how prior to this incident, he had been feeling tired, had less energy and was just not himself, but he had no health issues. He was “healthy!” He figured it was just his ripe “old” age of 68! What? 68 is NOT old! There’s no question that his “symptoms” were caused by the blockage. I’m so thankful to God for the carotid artery screening and hope more people get educated on the importance of simple health screenings. In this case, just sitting down and allowing a little wand to run along your neck for the few minutes it takes to potentially save your life.    


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Smile for a Healthier YOU!

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Did you know? 

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive

We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away — but a smile draws them in. 

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood

Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling Is Contagious

When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.
 

4. Smiling Relieves Stress

Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you’ll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.
 

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure

When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger

The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful

Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive

Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.