Goji Berry Tea + Benefits and Other Uses

I’ve had really low energy this pregnancy and my brother-in-law Jared, who happens to be a gifted healer, suggested adding goji berries to my tea in the mornings and then eating them. They’ve become such a pleasure in my life that I had to share the benefits with you.  And don’t forget your kids.  Olivia and Joshua love goji berries!


Native to the Himalayan Mountains, the goji berry has been used for thousands of years for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

A good protein source, these miracle berries contain 18 amino acids (including all of the 8 essential ones). They have a whole host of other vitamins (A, c, B-1, B-2, B-6 and E) and trace minerals including calcium, cooper, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. They are rich in carotenoids that protect your vision, and antioxidants to repair your skin. They’ve also been shown to increase energy, athletic performance, help digestion and reduce stress and fatigue. They also have anti-aging and UV protecting properties. Need I say more?

How to incorporate them into your diet

  • Make a tea: add them to warm water or herb tea and then eat them after you drink it.
  • Enjoy them plain, in oatmeal or trailmix
  • Add them to homemade granola, scones and muffins
  • Use them for garnish: on shakes (try the ABC Shake), soups (amazing on pumpkin and butternut squash varieties) and in salads.

Important to note, while doing my research I came across some precautions with goji berries. They are in the nightshade family (with eggplants and tomatoes) and some people can be allergic, so monitor your reaction. They also tend be a high pesticide crop, so get yours from a reliable source. And lastly, it’s always good to check in with your care provider when adding new foods to your diet, especially when on prescriptions. These have been known to negatively effect those on blood thinners.

I’d love to hear, how are you using goji berries? And please link to your favorite recipes with them so that we can all enjoy!

Heavenly Pumpkin Bread

“Where’s the pumpkin bread?”  “It’s gone.”  “What?!  I haven’t had any yet!”  This is a frequent conversation in the Van Der Beek household.


Our dear friend Joanie surprised us with her glorious skill one day, baking!  At 11 years old she was already walking the neighborhoods selling her goods.  Later on she trained in Paris under a Le Cordon Bleu chef.  Her gluten and refined sugar free pumpkin bread is moist, flavorful, makes the house smell like a cozy fall afternoon AND is easy to make (James has made it with great success)!  Joanie is sharing her recipe with us as our first ever guest blogger. (Note: we use cup4cup flour when we make ours).

By: Joanie Cusack

Growing up, pumpkin bread was a fall staple in my house. I lived in Michigan, so the change of season brought along a drastic change in temperature, which we accompanied perfectly with pumpkin bread.  I believe that there is something very natural and healthy about the heartiness of fall/winter time eating. It’s okay to eat a little richer, denser foods and let yourself relax a little. Our body needs the change. Below is a one loaf pumpkin bread recipe that has been adapted to be gluten and refined sugar free.


  • 1 ½ cups gluten free flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup canned organic pumpkin puree (you can either buy this in BPA free cans or in a box)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ water
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice or pumpkin pie spice

Process: Preheat oven to 350 and spray the inside of the bread pan with olive oil orcoconut oil spray. You can also use butter.

  1. In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) together and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl beat the two eggs with a fork until they are light in color and slightly foamy, add the water, oil, pumpkin, maple syrup and spices and mix with a whisk until smooth.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients, at this time you may want to use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the batter, once it is well mixed – there will still be clumps and that’s okay – pour into the prepared pan. Drop the pan a couple of times on the counter to level off the batter and release any air bubbles.
  4. Cook, uncovered at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Don’t worry if towards the end of the baking time the top of the loaf starts to darken in color, that is normal. If it gets to be too dark you can always cover the top with tin foil.

Flood Reflection from Colorado Resident Robyn O’Brien

130913085212-lyon-colorado-flood-restricted-horizontal-galleryMy friend, Robyn O’Brien, who lives in Boulder Colorado raises some thought provoking questions when she shares her reflection on the impact the flood has had on her family and friends.  A beautiful piece.  You can read it here.

I must admit, I had not watched the news on this once, as it’s very difficult to see yet another catastrophe.  After reading Robyn’s blog, I finally brought myself to witness what’s been going on through these 20 photos CNN posted.  Let’s all pray, send healing thoughts, love, whatever it is that you do, to all those affected.  And as Robyn suggests, perhaps we should question, “Can we be smarter about this?”

The Healing Benefits of Palo Santo


My girlfriend, Lacey Mackey of Natureal Mom, discovered the healing and spiritual purpose of Palo Santo on a recent stay in Ojai.  The sweet woodsy aroma alone was enough to lure me into purchasing some sticks to burn myself (you can get them here).  They’re also known to cure a hangover and ward off mosquitos.  Perhaps the perfect way to recalibrate for fall, you can read about all the beautiful benefits here.

The New Chipotle Ad is INCREDIBLE!

Whether you’re ordering the veggie burrito or steak, I think most of you will agree that over the years factory farming has become an incredibly cruel process that is both tragic for animals and our health.  Chipotle’s new, beautifully done ad cleverly depicts the manipulation of our current food labeling system.  “Natural” means nothing and the FDA continues to get heat for the lack of regulation.

To tout Chipotle a little further, a few months ago they announced plans to banish GMO foods from their restaurants, keeping with their mission statement of “food with integrity.”

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?

Expressing oneself doesn’t come easily for many, myself included.  And the burdens of unprocessed emotions can take an incredible toll on the mind, body and spirit.  Furthermore, until processed they can prevent one from learning new concepts.

This post from The New York Times focuses on children, how to protect them and enhance their learning ability by teaching them the art of processing and expressing emotions.  While the article focuses on school programs (worth looking into for your kids school), you can apply some of these concepts at home with yourself and your children.