Archive for Health & Well Being

Agave in Landscaping

Agave isn’t just grown for it’s syrup. It’s actually a very pretty ornamental succulent that could liven up any yard. Especially yards in in the South West or Western part of the U.S. I came across these great photos of different varieties of agave used in landscaping in California from Sunset magazine. I aspire to have a dessert garden someday.


“The light green leaves of a colony of A. attenuata contrast in this combo with the nearly black rosettes of Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’.” – Sunset Magazine. I like the contrast of green and deep purple in this garden.
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Laundry with Soap Nuts

The last time I was in a health food store in Palo Alto (California) I saw a box of Maggie’s Soap Nuts. They were $10 for 4.5 oz box. I would try it if it was a bit cheaper. But better if they had free samples for customers to try first. At the moment I’ve been using commercial Arm & Hammer Essentials for my laundry and just add some borax for extra cleaning power.


Photo of dried soap nuts from ECO-CAN news.

I’ve never even heard much about soap nuts and decided find out more about them. A few nuts can be placed in a cotton drawstring bag, then add to your wash. It can even be reused several times. Soap nuts are safe for washing silk, woolens and other delicate fabrics. Anything soap related to me is fun, especially ones that grow naturally on trees.

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Rooftop Gardens & Urban Farmers

A great way to bring a bit of nature into city living is having a rooftop garden. People usually think of rooftop city gardens as only being in New York City. Usually places used to hold cocktail parties. But rooftop gardening is nothing new, it has been seen in the Hanging Garden of Babylon to the Kensington Roof Garden in London , England.

The popularity of roof gardens have grown in many other cities in the United States as well. Even people in Vancouver, B.C. are joining in on rooftop gardening too. From hotels, restaurants to local organizations. I think that is a great use of extra space and a way to add a bit of green space. It may even help clean the air too.

englandrtgarden2Photo credit: Risc’s Rooftop Garden.

Another successful rooftop garden comes from England. The one pictured here is of Risc’s edible roof garden. The garden is complete with over 120 species of edible and medicinal trees, shrubs, vines and plants from around the globe. You can read more about the place here.

Rooftop gardens are usually seen as ornamental gardens, but the idea of growing your own food is gaining popularity. A great organization based out of Vancouver, B.C. by the name of City Farmer’s has a collection of stories about their work in Vancouver, Canada, and about urban farmers from around the world.

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Best Skin Care Supplements

Beauty magazines are always talking about the latest skin cream that will take away the wrinkles or soothe the occasional skin problems. But little do we realize that taking supplements can also improve our skin from the inside out. A healthy diet can also do wonders for you skin. Since we don’t usually get our vitamins from the everyday food, it’s fine to add supplements.


A diet consisting of fish is very good. But watch out for the high levels of mercury, especially found in tuna. Wild salmon such as the one pictured here is one of the better pick.

Here is my list of what I think is the best skin care supplements to use daily.  Please click here to see the list.

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Pomegranate Fruit & Leaf

Pomegranates are amongst one of the most popular superfruits. These superfruits are classified as fruits with very high antioxidant levels. They include blueberries, Acai berries, and goji berries. I remember years ago not many people heard of this fruit, let alone knew how to eat them. One summer I bought a huge pomegranate for my friend as a treat and she didn’t know how to eat it. The fruit ended up being part of her home decor.

pomeleavesNow you can find just the seeds (packaged in plastic containers) at the super market. It is commonly used in salads. The fruit itself consist of many small seeds. The colors range from white to deep red, and are called arils. I have found that the deeper the color, the more tangy the seeds. The ones my mom grows in her garden are very sweet. The skin is light red and the seeds are almost white to pink. It gets even sweeter when it ripes and the skin starts to crack a bit.

Just like the loquat fruit I mentioned earlier, the leaves of the pomegranate can also be used to make tea.  To continue reading this post, please go here.

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Loquat Fruit and Leaves

Loquats are one type of fruits that are first to appear in spring. While most other fruits don’t appear or ripen up until summer or autumn. The loquat tree is also considered to be an evergreen, as the leaves do not turn brown and fall, very much like citrus trees.

These fruit trees originated from China, but can bee seen growing in much warmer climates of the U.S., from Texas to California. Even in the warmer parts of Europe too. They are actually fast growing trees and very easy to propagate. The best part is that they are drought resistant trees. So this would be a great time to grow one, especially when water is scarce.


As seen here, the photo of young loquats and leaves growing in San Jose, Ca. This photo was taken in springtime. The leaves are glossy green in the front but fuzzy in the back. And the fruit itself can be a bit fuzzy like a peach too.

The fruit is tangy to sweet. But it is delicious when it ripens and turn yellow. Loquat fruit and leaves have high concentrations of Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A and Ascorbic Acid.

The leaves can also be used to make tea. I have made tea with some of the dried leaves and the taste is very light.

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Agave Syrup

I don’t think of myself as having much of a sweet tooth as I enjoy eating fruits more then candy. But once in a while I can satisfy my need for sweets with a cup of fruit infusion tea and add a small teaspoon of agave syrup. I also like to add it to my cup of coffee too. It has a light sweetness to it. But I have not tried it with pancakes or baking yet.

Agave syrup is something new I’ve come across. I have noticed some fruit drinks use agave syrup as a sweetener too. It’s much sweeter then honey and it’s from the same plant used to make tequila. It’s made from the nectar of the blue agave plant, which is grown mostly in central Mexico. In Popular Science’s article, Agave Nectar, A Sweetener for Any Occasion, they described how the juices are expressed from the core of the plants and then processed to produce the nectar. Then after the juices are extracted, they are heated to break down the carbohydrates.


larryn2009 of took this nice picture of blue agave plants at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. They look like they are easy to grow in a sunny climate. I might have actually seen a few of these grown as landscaping in California.

Time magazine wrote in it’s June 2008 issue that the future of agave syrup does look promising. It’s interest has grown amongst heath conscious people. And popularity has grown in countries such as Germany, New Zealand, and Japan. And in the U.S. , many food manufacturers want to add it to drinks, ice cream, ketchup, amongst other recipes.

Cane sugar and honey are fine as natural sweeteners, they are better than high fructose corn syrup. But agave syrup surpasses them all. And you don’t need to use as much, as the sweetness is concentrated. And if you are diabetic, the The Chicago Tribune adds, “It scores around 20 on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly carbohydrates break down during digestion. Cane or beet sugar scores around 70. Agave nectar’s score is so low on the scale that diabetics can use it as a sugar substitute.” Ingested sugar is still burned as energy or stored as fat, so you still have to be careful to not over indulge on agave syrup. It has plenty of calories and you can find yourself needing to exercise more!

products-agaveflavourMadhava Agave comes in different flavors too. Imagine adding this to your morning coffee! Sweet Cactus Farms also sells agave syrup. And Madhava Agave has a great photo gallery of the farm and these interesting looking plants.

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