Green Smoothies for Dummies by Jennifer Thompson

Book review by Miriam Baxt – http://www.betweenskyandearth.com.au & http://www.australianrawfoodnetwork.com.au

My apologies to the author – the original post of this article had the wrong spelling to her surname (now corrected).

I have been having green smoothies, on and off for over 3 years. I never bought a book as there was SO much information – free – on the internet. Plus the free community support you can tap into via social media makes it much easier than back in the 80’s when I first got into raw food.

BUT, you know what?! I am so grateful for the opportunity to review Jennifer’s book. I really liked it and happily recommend it. It covers a lot of ground about many aspects to going raw and making and drinking/eating green smoothies. There were a small number of issues for me personally but they did not really impact the purpose of the book.

Jennifer has a great, easy to read, minimal jargon style of writing. When Jargon is used, it gets explained as do many other aspects like equipment and certain types of foods. While this is mostly a beginners guide, it has good recipe sections for stages of life or special needs like pre- & post-workout nutrition, preconception, pregnancy, babies, kids, detoxification and chronic illness. You do not need to read the whole book or start in a particular spot but you will get a much better appreciation of the great health benefit of green smoothies if you can take the time to read it through.

Jennifer also refers back to other sections to reiterate certain information. The main thing lacking with this was a page number. Maybe in the next edition, the copy editor might consider adding them in plus a few other aspects that need a tidy up (sorry – I am a pedant for editing!)

Do note that while there is no dairy in the recipes, this is not a true vegan book as some recipes include bee products for their healing powers. I personally found the amounts of honey too much. BUT Jennifer regularly reminds the reader that it is ok to modify the recipes and she does state if something should not be used. All recipes come with basic a nutritional breakdown too. Also, before each recipe containing bee products there is an excellent allergy warning.

There are some good extras on the publisher’s website – http://www.dummies.com which Jennifer regularly remind the reader about. If you are using the e-book version, that makes it very easy to open to the link if you are using a smart device. I honestly cannot compare this book to any others as I do not have any other green smoothie books – and I honestly feel you do not need another one. You may want to expand your knowledge by learning more about what is in season when, what you might be able to grow for yourself and how to grow it. I am big on experimentation, so encourage everyone to go and explore new ingredients. I hope it will spur you on to delving deeper into the raw food lifestyle and culinary delights – especially those that can be done without much more equipment than what you already have in your kitchen drawers and cupboards!

I love how Jennifer supports the idea that you do not need a high speed blender. I started with a good basic kitchen blender and I instinctively blended the fruit and liquid first before adding the greens – just as Jennifer recommends. The main reason I chose to switch to a high speed blender was to make a smoother blend and to blend up root vegetables for savoury blends. (You need a stronger motor for blending raw beetroot.)

The things/details I would like to see improved –
* I was a bit surprised by the non-inclusion of some items in the “superfoods” section as they are in some of the recipes – eg. Chia, Hemp, Carob, Cacao.
* the book is obviously written for the American audience so perhaps either be a bit more generic with some of the details or include better information for other geographic zones. This is relevant for a few things such as blender brands & models, the “dirty dozen” list,
* the pictures were poorly included – a few pages slapped in the middle of the book and not well explained i.e. no reference to “from left to right” or “from the back to the front”. I would have preferred to see them next to or much closer to their recipe and interspersed which makes for a nicer reader experience.
* there were a few copy editing issues – all extra words as opposed to missing words or incorrect spellings.

Peace to all,
KISS for Life,
Miriam.

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Busy Bee – My “To Do” List

Well, here in Melbourne, Australia we are experiencing typical early spring weather in late spring. Our summer officially starts on Saturday! Christmas-New Year is rapidly approaching and I am busier than ever with community work and trying to do some business marketing too.

I am getting a bit anxious as next week I am part of a team of 3 presenting a talk on Permaculture Gardening, on behalf of our local council, to around 100 people. I used to do sessional tutoring at Monash Uni but never lectured. That was 18 years ago and I am feeling very out of practice I must say.

My part is a quick rundown on Permaculture before my 2 colleagues show how it is applied in urban gardens. Permaculture is such an expansive subject area. It is best presented at least partly in the outdoors. We have to present it in an auditorium, so less than an ideal setting.

My involvement has also got me on a steep learning curve of some of the more finessed aspects of presentations – when I was last at University, there was no Power Point! There was not even email or the internet for public use.

So, more specifically, my part is a quick rundown on “What is Permaculture”…. in about 30 minutes max! It is nearly 12 years since I did my Permaculture Design Certificate. That taught me What is Permaculture and how to use it in 72+ hours! (I even got to teach one small portion of our PDC.)

I love teaching but I’ve always presented to smaller groups so I am feeling challenged. Our presentation is not yet complete. One of my colleagues is taking care of the presentation slides. So, at least that is one less thing to stress about.

We are doing the presentation as representatives of our local Permaculture group – South East Suburbs Permaculture. The group is part of Permaculture Victoria. We have started forging a good relationship with the council since applying for (and receiving) a festival grant.

The group also recently launched a Beehive Hosting scheme. It is a community project to get help maintain healthy honey bees in the region. (Australia is very fortunate to have little beehive health issues.)

After next Wednesday I’ll take a couple of days breather and then I must get my head down with my Food Coach studies. I have a lot of work to do and I hope to get it all done by end of April 2015.

Over the summer I also have to put together another presentation for the council on Green Cleaning. I get to do that one on my own. I’m not sure if that is a good or not so good aspect.

On the more personal side, my husband’s family celebrates Christmas so there are two events to go to – the extended family and the immediate family. On my side we have a wedding. My sister is getting married in February.

We homeschool the kids so that means there is always something needing our attention. Having 5 chooks also tends to result in needing to stop them destroying something in the garden. (Sometimes they are assisted by the kids!)

On the business side of things I have plenty to do too. Update the webshop a bit. Launch my new project – Australian Raw Food Network. I am also setting hubby up with something too.

How about you? What’s on your agenda for the next few months?

Peace to all,
KISS for Life,
Miriam.

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Mothers of Invention

I have had a crazy few months since my last post. My apologies for the absence.

I have also had severe writer’s block – not because I do not have things I want to write about, but because I get overwhelmed about all my potential blog post ideas running around my brain.

I have also “met” some interesting Mums. I “met” in that place where so many people now spend (too much?) time – Facebook. I’ve been trying to upgrade my skills and understanding of this technological and cloud age that is very foreign to me. This has brought me into the circles of women in business at various stages on that pathway.

I want to tell you about one of the Mums & her product. I have wanted to share this for weeks now. This lady’s name is Leanne & her product is called the Cozy Dozee. See her website for videos and product links – http://www.cozydozee.com. I really wish either I had thought of making something like this for my kids or had been able to buy it when they needed it (we are past this stage now).

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What is the Cozy Dozee? – well, a picture really does paint a thousand words but basically it helps you keep your child’s head in a comfy & better aligned position so that it does not flop about while they sleep in the car.

Simply put, Cozy Dozee is a gentle head support for sleeping children in the car.
The key benefits are, it helps:
– correct neck posture
– improve sleep quality and comfort
– reduce parents stress levels and distraction on the roads.
Watch a video, find out more and buy online at http://www.cozydozee.com

So many mothers become inventors out of necessity or perceived necessity and so has Leanne. I doff my hat to her and all Mothers of invention.

Peace to all,
KISS for Life,
Miriam.

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Is Crowdfunding just charity without the tax concession?

Have you heard of Crowdfunding? Do you know what it is?

I have done a lot of thinking about crowdfunding the last 2-3 years – both as a potential contributor and as a potential fund raiser. It is a little more complex in practice if you are not in North America.

This is what Wikipedia says:

“It usually involves the collection of finance from backers—the “crowd”—to fund an initiative and usually occurs on Internet platforms. The initiative could be a nonprofit (e.g. to raise funds for a school or social service organization), political (to support a candidate or political party), charitable (e.g. emergency funds for an ill person or to fund a critical operation), commercial (e.g. to create and sell a new product) or financing campaign for a startup company.[citation needed] One crowdfunding expert described it as “the practice of raising funds from two or more people over the internet towards a common Service, Project, Product, Investment, Cause, and Experience or SPPICE.”[2]”

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdfunding )

Most crowdfunding platforms require the money seeker to give a reward to the contributor. Most also require that the money seeker apply to start a campaign. In The USA, crowdfunding can be used to raise business capital, but that is not the case here in Australia.

Usually, donated money is held in “trust” by the platform organisation, until the end of the campaign. There are several variations in the way the campaigns can be run – for some you can get all the money raised even if you fall short of your target figure. Many platforms do not let you have the money if you do not get the target figure (I believe the Australian ones follow this method).

I want people to be aware, that giving money to a crowdfunding campaign is just a pure donation. Even if the campaign claims that you will get a reward there is no guarantee and no-one can compel the honouring of that reward. However, campaign owners may get “black balled” if the platform company finds out.

This week, as a result of being a Facebook group administrator, I came across a post for a link to a new campaign. The campaign is by three Australians, using an American platform, to finance their purchase of a farm/rural property. They are using the “flexible funding” regime, i.e. they will receive all moneys raised/donated at the end of the campaign even if they do not reach their goal amount. I was rather concerned at the way the campaign represented what they were doing as the disclosure was very muddied. So, I messaged the campaign owner with some questions. One of my concerns was that they sounded a bit like a non-profit organisation – they even use a “.org” suffix on their url. This is the Campaign Headline:

Help the School of … buy land to expand their … programs …

My questions included – were they an RTO? What names were going to be on the title? There was no disclosure about the business name or registration (this is required in Australia) nor any disclosure about what percentage the funds represent of the purchase price.
At least one of the deed owners – a family of 6 – will be living on the farm permanently (this point is disclosed in the campaign). It is not clear if the other two people will be living there or not.

Currently, for their workshops and possibly for residing at, they lease a smaller rural property where they run weekend workshops on health & sustainable living techniques. They bring in/hire other presenters. They want this bigger property so that they can accommodate more people and more extensive courses as well as have somewhere “off grid” to live.

The campaign owner did not “get” my concerns about the lack of disclosure. Shame. People seem to think that just because it is now easier to circumvent a traditional loan, they do not have to disclose much about themselves and their motives.

Their whole concept is good one – helping people be healthier, taking better stewardship of the planet, learning important skills. The execution was and is a bit short of my personal expectations.

Do not get me wrong, the crowdfunding platforms do require disclosure but in my opinion it falls well short of what it should be depending on the campaign.

Yesterday I did a quick online search on Crowdfunding. I came across this unfortunate wrap up of one campaign:

“Despite having raised over $560,000 for the adventure game, and having entered beta in 2013, developer Winterkewl Games has canned the project.”

( source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/07/17/cancelled-kickstarter-game-yogventures-raised-over-500000-in-crowdfunding/ )

Admittedly, this is somewhat a different type of campaign but it demonstrates the fact that not all campaigns end in a positive way.

What am I trying to say then? Basically, choose who you donate your money to carefully. You deserve to have all your questions answered. There are some wonderful campaigns seeking assistence via the various crowdfunding platforms. If you have never considered any of them, go take look. But – do not expect anything other than a good fuzzy feeling if you ever make a donation.

Peace to all,

Kiss for Life,
Miriam.

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Green Washing on the Internet

I have been looking at setting this blog up as a self-hosted one. For me, that decision involves choosing a “green” website host (that offers WordPress).

Well, this is not such a simple task! I kind of knew it would not be as I have had a look at green website hosting in more general terms before. Have any of you gone through this process? What results did you get?

There are a number of larger website hosts offering WordPress “green” hosting plans/options. Unfortunately, most of it is just green washing. All they do is buy RECs. You could just choose a web host and buy some form of carbon offsetting yourself, whether it be actually paying a business that specialises in carbon offsetting certificates or actually investing in tree planting programs and or switching to renewable energy inputs as well as making sure all your other protocols are green.

I live a pretty “green” lifestyle, to the fullest extent I can given my current circumstances. Actually, we got our electricity bill yesterday. Our power usage, compared to the average, is very low. We are a four person family in a three room house. We are all home most of the time as we homeschool the kids. Our usage was comparable to the average usage of less than a two person household. I thought that was not too bad.

OK. So back to my search for a green website host. I would love to hear about anyone’s recommendations (please say why). I found a couple of articles written within the last four months on options green website hosts. I did a Google search. Now I need to try and compare apples not a fruit salad.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Peace to all,

KISS for Life,

Miriam.

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GSP- Green Smoothie Princesses

Have you ever tried a Green Smoothie?

I first “played” with this sort of liquid meal option a couple of years ago. We had a failed cabbage crop in the garden – the heads had not formed but we had plenty of large green cabbage leaves awaiting our culinary raw food efforts.

I kept it simple – about 3 leaves plus the juice of 1 or 2 oranges & some water. The blender I was using was strong but not high speed (the motor was 800 watts – it still lives but has been replaced as the tool of choice).

I lost a little weight which was nice – child #2 had caused me a lot of trouble in that department. My hormones were “out of whack”. But I did not persist with the idea once our homegrown greens ran out.

Fast forward a year – I was going through a 3 month intense dental treatment program. It involved, on average, one anaesthetic a week. My system was so toxic (I am chemically sensitive, so I was not coping well).

After I finished the treatment I decided to get back to green smoothies. I opted to get a little more adventurous & complex with the ingredients. I also opted to try to not use brassicas.

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These days, my leafy greens of first choice are – Cos, Baby Spinach & Arugula. While brassicas are a powerhouse of nutrition, be careful if you have thyroid issues (like me). I also try to use home grown ingredients whenever possible. Parsley is another favourite to add but be careful of how much as it is very strong.

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I have two daughters (8 & 5) – my Green Smoothie Princesses – who now love their green smoothies! Miss 8 was always a fan but miss 5 was a little more difficult to please. They are not keen on the Arugula as it can be quite strong.

I try to make a couple of days’ supply at a time. This is especially helpful if more than one person will be consuming the smoothies. For instance, today I filled 5 jars. I like re-use 1kg honey jars. They have a good diameter which is easy to hold. It is a good size to fit in a small insulated bag/pouch too. Today’s batches – 4 jars in the fridge door:

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Here is the recipe I used today:

Recipe:
3/8 pineapple
3-4 bananas
1 pear
1 nashi
juice of one orange
large handful baby spinash
half a head of cos
1 medium lebanese cucumber
half a cup water.
Blend.

Before consuming I like to add:
1-2 heaped tspn raw cacao
1 tspn chia
1/4-1/2 tspn macqui powder
3-6 heaped tspns hemp seeds.

Happy Blending!

Peace to all,

KISS for Life,

Miriam.

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Sustainability & Green washing

I was not entirely sure what to call this post. Read on to find out about my dilemma last week.

I want to tell you all about my recent research into disposable cups for a new aspect of the business. I will be required to use either recyclable or compostable disposable cups for the drinks I will be serving.

Being a Permaculturalist in business, I fully support such an ethically sustainable business practice. At least I thought I did – until I examined the so-called “compostable” disposable cups we have here in Australia. Do not get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with the notion of “compostable” disposables. It is the way this gets accomplished that irks me. As well as the fact that the term “compostable” is, well, misleading.

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Firstly, let me tell you a bit about the two cup options. There are fossil fuel based plastic recyclable cups. Then there are paper cups coated in plastic. The plastic is chemically very similar to the other recyclable cups BAR the plastic is derived from either corn starch or sugar cane. It can be composted. This is the same as bio-plastic bag material.

That sounds awesome! I hear you say. I thought so too. BUT WAIT, there is composting and there is composting. These disposables are only compostable in a “commercial compost facility”. Oh, ok, so we will just take them to one. NO! There are none in Australia.

What the … you heard me right. So, they have to be sent to landfill! They cannot be recycled or composted. But it is not quite as bad as it sounds because the bio-plastic will break down – ahem, eventually (as does fossil fuel plastic) – and then the paper underneath will breakdown and there will be nothing left to worry about.

Just do not ask how long it all takes nor how much farming land for human feed is given up to make these non-compostable compostables.

Deary, deary me – the anguish of trying to do the right thing and be sustainable in all decisions.

Peace to all, 

KISS for Life,

Miriam.

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