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Arugula Pesto July 31, 2008

Filed under: Recipes — aprasek @ 8:40 am


  Here’s a recipe inspired by one of my favorite movies, “My Blue Heaven”. In the movie, the manager of the supermarket asks Vinnie Antonelli (Steve Martin) if he found everything he wanted:

Vinnie: Arugula. I haven’t had arugula in six weeks.

Manager: What’s that?

Vinnie (with his mafia/gangster accent): It’s a ve-get-able.

     Oh yes, arugula is a vegetable- and a really good one at that. It’s a peppery/spicy green that makes an amazing pesto. Here’s my recipe (Remember that my recipes should have the word “about” pasted before each ingredient- I just can’t follow the rules…):


Arugula Pesto

2 cups packed, fresh arugula leaves (I throw the soft/pliable stems in too)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (cold-pressed, organic if possible)
½ cup RAW pine nuts (I like walnuts too)
1 clove garlic (this is a minimum of one clove- roasted garlic is yummy too)
1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
A bit of freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Put all ingredients into blender/food processor and pulse until it reaches the consistency you like (some say to add the oil last- I don’t notice a difference, but feel free to experiment). Use pesto on bruschetta, pizza, mixed with sauteed veggies, in soups, with pastas…

You can keep pesto sealed tight in the fridge for several days or fill pesto into ice cube trays, freeze and then transfer the “pesto cubes” to a sealed container in the freezer. Add frozen pesto right into dishes when heating or thaw in the fridge for use.


A few quick things:

  • If you like parmesan in your pesto, only add it if you’re not planning on freezing the pesto (add the cheese into the dish later).
  • If you don’t want arugula, try Basil, Parsley or Cilantro.
  • You can also experiment with walnuts or almonds instead of pine nuts.
  • Try to get organic herbs/greens if possible- they’re all over the farmer’s markets or you can always grow herbs inside (come on over and visit my herb and hot pepper garden in our apartment!).
  • Arugula is full of vitamins C & A, folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium and more. It was also once considered an aphrodisiac… which leads me to a side note…          

    This would be a great date night- arugula pesto and “My Blue Heaven”! If you need to go to the store to pick up any of these ingredients, Vinnie Antonelli has a great pickup line for you to use on an unsuspecting shopper or your significant other:

Vinnie:  You know it’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen food section.

Shaldeen:  Why is that?

Vinnie:  Because you could melt all this stuff.


Happy Arugula eating and movie watching 🙂



Because Ludacris says so. July 30, 2008

Filed under: Environmental Wellness — aprasek @ 6:15 am

Ludacris is going bling green. Tommy Lee too. This is a pretty funny commercial:


     This is an ad from Planet Green, the new eco-conscious television station launched in June by Discovery Communications. Ludacris and Tommy Lee are starring in the go-green reality show, “Battleground Earth”… should be interesting… As for other viewing options, the channel runs 24 hours, so there’s got to be something for everybody in there. Unfortunately, being that the rabbit ears on our TV don’t pick up the station, I have yet to see the channel in action. Comment here if you’ve seen the station- tell us what you think! 

     The website for Planet Green is pretty good– this may be due to the linking up with TreeHugger.com as a sister site. If you’re not in the mood to search around a website, you can play the Planet Green Game. It’s a little slow moving, but gives some great info. If you’re bored at work or looking to procrastinate, it will do the job and as a bonus, you’ll get some tips to save the earth. Just a warning though, the game has sound so turn down the volume if the boss is in earshot. Have fun playing green!


Breathe in, Green out…




Cosmetic Safety Database July 29, 2008

Filed under: Personal Care Products/Cosmetics — aprasek @ 1:15 am


A few posts ago, we talked about cell phones and cancer. It’s interesting that cell phones have attracted so much attention as a potential carcinogen while beauty products have been largely ignored.

Cell phones might be pinned to your head a few hours per day, but cosmetics (lotion, shampoo. soap, aftershave, foundation, lipstick, deodorant, etc.) are on your body all day long, from head to toe. They are quickly absorbed by your body’s largest organ (the skin) and enter the internal system quicker than the time it takes you to listen to a voicemail.

It has only been a year since I became really aware of cosmetic safety concerns. I had always just stayed away from animal testing and trusted that the ingredients were safe. I continue to be shocked by the information I’ve gathered since then. Really, some of these products have some seriously nasty chemicals in them. I really don’t like to tell people what to do- you know my mottos; make your own decisions, listen to your intuition, experience your own life journey, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But, I’m going to put out an order right now:

Men and women, you must check out the Cosmetic Safety Database (called Skin Deep).

Skin Deep is a database created by researchers at the Environmental Working Group. Here’s what they have to say:

“Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 25,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn’t require companies to test their own products for safety.” 

As far as the cosmetic industry is concerned, the FDA is like a tuned-out babysitter with an iPod (basically stares in the other direction, largely distracted, but may shout some disciplinary words here and there). Just because a cosmetic is sold in the U.S. does not mean that it’s safe. We must be conscious and educated consumers to protect our health.

Skin Deep is really easy to use. Just search a brand, ingredient or company and you’ll get all the information you need to help you decide which products you would like to use. You can also check out the “What not to buy” section for some products to stay away from. This section even gives a handy list of products that contain PLACENTA. Yeah, that would be extracts from human and cow placenta used to soften skin and hair. Am I the only one that find that completely disgusting?!? I’m picturing a big cosmetic factory with employees hard at work in the “placenta room” creating the next new fad out of a cow’s afterbirth… oh goodness, I’m gagging now… Sorry, back to the topic…

I’ll keep posting my favorite cosmetic products on posts to come (I’ll have Charlie- the hubby- share his faves too). In the meantime, are there any safe products that you use and recommend? Share them here (comment below)! (No placenta products please.)


Breathe in, Peace out… 



Naughty Monsanto July 28, 2008

Filed under: Environmental Wellness,Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 12:05 am

     I received many emails regarding the “Future of Food” post asking for more info about Monsanto. First off, Monsanto isn’t some far-off business that only makes products for farmers. Do you use Roundup? If so, you’re a direct consumer of Monsanto. Do you eat food? Then you’re probably consuming Monsanto. Yup, this company is definitely present in each of our lives. Below are a few clips from a great Doco, “The World According to Monsanto” (You knew I’d give ya a Doco recommendation, right? I know, I’m so obsessed!):

     Whether GMO’s are a concern for you or not, a big issue with Monsanto is in the manner in which they operate their business. Monsanto does a lot of dirty business (I’ll probably be on their hit list now for sure…). Take a look at Percy Schmeiser’s story. Or, read the letters Monsanto sent to the Nelson family farm. There are many, many more stories like this.

 What can we do to make a difference? Lots:

Sign a petition (takes you to Organic Consumers website petition- also “Millions Against Monsanto”). 

We can commit to purchasing as much organic and local food as possible. The Local Harvest website can be a huge help.

Check out “Millions Against Monsanto” (website).

Take a look at the Greenpeace report, “Monsanto’s 7 Daily Sins.” Pretty crazy…

     Also, check out the Monsanto website. In my opinion, the whole site is a gooey attempt at trying to clean up their crappy reputation. It’s almost comedic that they have a site like this and then behind closed doors they are knowingly risking the health of billions, suing the pants off small farmers and stealing the lands that have belonged to family farmers for generations. Ick. Monsanto leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What do you think? Is Monsanto authentic in their effort to change?

Breathe in, Peace out…





Laloo’s goat’s milk ice cream July 27, 2008

Filed under: My favorite things!,Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 12:05 am

Ah, Sunday. Here is my favorite “thing” for the week…


     Laloo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream. I know, it might sound a bit frightening, but let me assure you, it’s amazing. I am mainly a vegan, so there are not very many animal products that I can recommend. But, holy goat, I would bathe in this stuff if I could! The flavors are absolutely phenomenal and you can tell this stuff is made with love. The goats of Laloo’s are happy little creatures that have 350 acres of Sonoma County to frolic around. They eat the grass and move about- basically living the life of a real goat. The higher activity level, the consistent diet and the low-stress life for the goats are just a few of the factors that result in a healthier milk product. Additionally, goat’s milk has less lactose than cow’s milk and can often be handled by those who are lactose sensitive or intolerant.

     The only drawback; Laloo’s is expensive. Laloo’s goes for anywhere between $6 and $7- for a pint. Yeah, a little spendy. But, when the stuff is that expensive and so delicious, you try to make it last. It’s a great yield sign for those nights when 1 pint seems like an appetizer.  

     Visit the website and check out some of the yummy flavors. My favorite is Black Mission Fig, but I haven’t tried all of the flavors- yet. You can also type in your state and zip code to find the closest store that offers Laloo’s.





Cell phones and cancer? July 26, 2008

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 12:05 am


Yeesh, practically anything in excess can cause or progress the development of cancer. Mobile communication devices have received special attention because these devices are plastered to millions of ears on a daily basis. After soaking in the research for a bit, I’ve befriended such words as; “vestibular schwannomas” and “frequency division multiplexing electrical impedance tomography system.” Hmmm…

Forget all of these big words, the real question is, “Can cell phones cause cancer?” The answer: Maybe. Unfortunately, there is not enough long-term research to really know. Additionally, there are some serious limitations that seem to plague the research (Feel free to skip over this if research doesn’t excite you as much as it does me!):

  • Participant recall bias. Individuals who are diagnosed with cancers originating in the head or neck may be more likely to recall their dominant phone use to also be on the side of the tumor. Additionally, they may recall higher frequency and duration of use. This bias may result from the desire to bring answers or a sense of control amidst the cancer.
  • Type of mobile communication device (and frequency of headset use), age of user and location of use. Different phone models emit different levels of electromagnetic radiation at different locations (e.g., rural, city, moving car). Depending on the above conditions and levels, radiation can penetrate the brain differently. It may be difficult to control for some of these differences in the research.
  • Position that the user holds the phone for use. Is the phone being firmly pressed against the side of the head? Is the phone constantly pinned to the body (in a belt loop or pocket)? Does the user use speaker phone often? Does the user use text messaging? How might these different methods of phone use influence statistical findings or be controlled in the research?
  • We’re dealing with cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is a very mysterious condition. The progression of cancer can take decades and can be caused by many different lifestyle, environmental and genetic influences. Pinning down cell phone use will be very difficult unless we start seeing cell phone shaped tumors consistently showing up on the dominant phone talking side. Which raises another question, are the potential effects of cell phones only limited to cancers and tumors in the neck and head? Is it possible that these effects are influencing cancers in other parts of the body? Oh, the concerns could be endless…

So, should all cell phones be burned?

Nope, we don’t need to go that far. I mean really, look at those boat anchors people were holding up to their face in the 1930’s and 40’s (photos at top of post). Those communication devices were radio frequency energy hot beds. And now, decades later, we are not dealing with a pandemic of walkie-talkie shaped tumors or brain cancer diagnoses. One thing we can be sure of is that SAR ratings are more intense for children (Specific Absorption Rate is a measure of the strength of the magnetic field that is absorbed into the body). But, we don’t know if this energy damages the brain- right now it’s just a number telling us how much energy is getting in there. Because there is no clear “yes” or “no” in the research, I would say you might as well err on the side of safety. Making a few changes is pretty easy and can have some other beneficial health bonuses. Here are my suggestions if cell phones are a concern to you:

  1. Get a hands-free set to plug into your phone and put your phone a bit of a distance away from you. This can also help you hold proper posture when talking (decreasing neck, shoulder and back tension). I’m not digging the suggestions for the wireless Bluetooth though… it would seem to me that the Bluetooth would be like stuffing the actual phone into your ear canal, thus increasing the energy penetration. I’d go for the old hands-free with the wire.
  2. Use speaker phone or text message when possible.
  3. Don’t let kids talk a lot on the cell phone. This shouldn’t be a huge concern anyway. I got all the way through high school just fine (with lots of extracurricular activities) without a cell phone. Perhaps the kids have a cell phone for emergencies.
  4. Get a cell phone with a low SAR rating. You can check here to see the highest SAR phones and here for the lowest SAR phones. (These are U.S. models.)
  5. Use a landline when you can.
  6. Don’t stress. Worrying too much about all the things that could give you cancer is no way to live at all. Randy Pausch, the amazing professor from Carnegie Mellon, inspired millions to live their life more fully each and everyday. Dr. Pausch, passed on this morning (Friday), after living with pancreatic cancer for almost two years. Be sure to watch his “Last Lecture” if you haven’t already.


Peace in, Breathe out…




Cell phones and cancer July 25, 2008

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 12:02 am

Oh goodness, time has really gotten away from me this week. My sleep log looks absolutely horrible (see “Pillow Gossip” post)…

Today’s post will be on cell phone use and cancer. But, because of my squinting eyes and comical attempts at putting together sensible sentences, I’m going to have to give you the real post this evening. I am sorry folks 😦  Until then, you can read the official “warning” that Dr. Ronald Herberman distributed to all faculty and staff at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. The media has gone a little crazy with this release, but the controversy does deserve attention. Be sure to check back tonight for the update.


Zzzzzzzz’s in, zzzzzzz’s out…