Exactly Why Artificial Sweeteners Are Terrible

sweet miseryAspartame (or brand name Nutrasweet).  Joe Mercola says it’s the most dangerous substance added to foods. I might quibble with that, because mono sodium glutamate is a neurotoxin every bit as deadly. And the nitrates and nitrites in cured meats are potently carcinogenic.

I’d agree that aspartame is a TOP THREE worst things, to avoid at all costs.

A chemist discovered this concentrated sweetener when testing a drug. Although it was approved in the 70’s, a neuroscience researcher and a consumer attorney objected, and the FDA put the approval on hold.

aspartame3Unfortunately it would not be on hold forever, because chemical company Monsanto bought it and the rest is history. We have over 4,000 food additives approved for use by our FDA, and literally the majority of complaints to the FDA about health problems caused by food additives, are related to aspartame alone. There is far more evidence of the harm caused the American public by aspartame than there ever was about saccharin, which was Americans’ chemical sweetener of choice prior to the 1980’s.

The main complaints to the FDA are related to death, and seizures. Headaches and migraines are also common. When I stopped drinking diet soda many years ago, even though I drank only 3-4 sodas a month, my own migraines stopped completely, never to return.

Others of the 90 documented symptoms of aspartame consumption include dizziness, depression, weight gain, rashes, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, vision and hearing problems, loss of taste, memory loss, joint pain, breathing problems, heart racing, vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hormone problems, and many more.

Why would ANY of these symptoms be acceptable to us, in order to eat a toxic chemical? And those are just the symptoms we FEEL. What is happening underneath the hood, that we don’t see or feel? What is happening to our disease risk? There is strong evidence that our soaring Multiple Sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases are related to massive consumption of aspartame (and MSG) in North America and Europe.

Physicians and researchers have also documented how chronic conditions can be triggered or worsened by eating this deadly chemical. Those include brain tumors and lesions, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, and more.

ExcitotoxicityNeurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D., has been a tireless researcher, publishing his results of the effect on the American public of the twin neurotoxins that nearly every American eats: monosodium glutamate and aspartame. He references nearly 500 scientific articles about the neurological damage and other symptoms

He calls them excitotoxins, which means that they “excite the nervous system to death.” Don’t you want your nervous system, myelin sheaths intact, to keep you calm and happy for many years to come? If so, stop eating all Nutrasweet. You’re killing neurons every time you eat it.

Even gum. It’s got to go. It was the last thing to go, for me. But gone it is. No more diet sodas. Anything in a regular store that says “sugar free,” check the label, and avoid all aspartame and Nutrasweet 

splendaSplenda is new enough that data isn’t available. Give it another decade. But saccharin was pushed out of the market by the manufacturers of the patented chemical Nutrasweet. The Nutrasweet bullies, trying to make an exclusive spot in the marketplace for their product, leveraged a study showing that massive quantities of saccharin caused cancer in rats. A much higher level of saccharin than any human could ever eat. I’m not saying this to defend saccharin. For all we know, low doses cause cancer too. It’s a safe bet that eating chemical sweeteners is a bad idea in general. But I’m making you aware of why the entire marketplace shifted from thousands of products sweetened with saccharin, to thousands now sweetened with aspartame.

It’s becoming widely known that aspartame, now, is phenomenally neurotoxic. So the fight to molecularly alter a sweetener, patent it, and foist it on the American public, is underway.

rats in maze

Enter Splenda. Be cynical here. This is where your critical thinking skills serve you well. Watch what has gone on, which is a fight over the money made on addiction, nothing more or better than that, and stay out of consumption of these foods. To participate is to be no better than rats in a maze.

truvia deceptionTruvia. Truvia is the newest of the chemical sweeteners. It’s rather insidious marketing ploy is to align itself with stevia, which Americans began using later than much of the rest of the first world, due to the government strong-arming tactics of Nutrasweet’s owner, Monsanto. This isn’t stevia. It’s molecularly altered FROM stevia, so now it’s a synthetic chemical with sweetening properties.

Ask yourself. WHY would a manufacturer take a legitimate herb like stevia and change it? There’s one answer. PURE PROFIT. Because you can patent it and make a billion dollars. Don’t buy in. Your body does not recognize a synthetic chemical as food. It does not digest, assimilate, or eliminate non-food items. We have learned this from long, hard, sad experience.

We will find out only later what THIS white chemical does to the people who jumped in the maze and willingly started running around in it, gobbling up the pellets.

Be a free mouse. Run around in the field, eating grass and normal mouse food. Stay out of the maze.

malitol

Maltitol. It wrecks your gut. It’ll give you horrible gas, and your stomach will do flips. How can this be anything but bad for you? I can find little published on the health effects of sugar alcohols, but if you eat something with maltitol, the immediate effects give you clues that this is problematic as a “food.” 

steviaStevia. Use it if you want. But try to get away from everything needing to be super-sweet. I haven’t seen real evidence, but I’m reading more claims that your pancreas is stimulated by the SWEETNESS of a food, so replacing one toxic sweetener with a nontoxic one may not solve all our problems. Learn to love the taste of real food.

Stevia, at the end of the day, is still a crutch. I don’t know of any ill-health effects reported from its use. Still, only the refined version avoids “aftertaste,” so that’s mostly what’s being used. The less you use it, the better, if you’re serious about a whole-foods diet. However, I’m not concerned about it as a very minor part of the diet, and it would be my sweetener of choice in those I’m reviewing here.

Saccharin. It’s made a slight, half-hearted attempt back on the market. It was put on a rail out-of-town for causing cancer, but the studies did use massive amounts of the sweetener. That said, I wouldn’t call it safe. It’s probably preferable to aspartame, but that’s akin to saying it’s better to have prostate cancer than colon cancer. That’s true, but why have any cancer at all?

In conclusion, I’d far rather have you eat SUGAR than aspartame (Nutrasweet) or Splenda or Truvia. Sugar is deadly for your health, don’t get me wrong. But, eating neurotoxic chemicals is even worse.no sweeteners

fruitdatesnatural-sweetenersThe best sweeteners are fruit and dates. Those are whole foods with fiber (to slow impact on the blood sugar) and many health benefits. The next-best are coconut sugar (my current favorite, lower glycemic index and high in minerals, neutral flavor), raw/organic agave, Grade B maple syrup, raw honey, brown rice syrup, or molasses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl for Arizona, part 4 of 4

Chris: What’s the best way to combat diarrhea?

GSG: If it’s chronic, it’s likely evidence of a degenerative colon issue. Start getting a probiotic-rich FOOD in your diet every day. (Not just a pill, which is inferior.) For example, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, homemade sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables. Eat whole foods, which have a lot of fiber, as you nurture your digestive tract so it can heal—you are not likely absorbing good nutrition, until you do. Eat a banana every day for the magnesium.

Angela: Is agave as bad as high-fructose corn syrup?

GSG: No. It’s been hyped that way by a few. There may be companies cutting corn syrup into their low-end product (but most don’t). I don’t think it’s really RAW, ever, despite the labels. It’s not a high-nutrition food by any means. I think you should use it very sparingly if at all, because it’s likely that agave’s alleged “low glycemic impact” has been oversold to us, the public. I am not a fan of using less processed, but still concentrated, sweeteners, except on a very limited basis if you feel you need treats and are trying to avoid the worst-of-the-bad villains (HFCS, refined sugar, aspartame). Currently my favorites are stevia (for green smoothies, etc.) and unrefined coconut palm sugar for baking. Agave is a distant third option, along with real maple syrup and raw honey.

O.A. Black: Do oxalates in spinach bind to calcium and cause kidney stones?

GSG:  I have probably been asked this more than 1,000 times in classes and online. I believe the idea that we need to avoid green foods because of one compound in them (which are likely friend rather than foe) may have originated with Sally Fallon. Regardless, it has been passed along and passed along, and I have yet to read any evidence of it. Just claims. At first people would tell me they don’t eat raw spinach–just cook it–because they are terrified of the boogeyman OXALATES. Then people would tell me they won’t eat spinach COOKED, only raw!–because of the same boogeyman. Sigh.

 

 

 

 

Broken ribs, Thai Lettuce Wraps

Day 4. It turns out I have a couple of broken ribs. Good times! Ice and heat, ice and heat, and this morning seems a bit better than the past few days. But I am going to Boise and Twin Falls anyway, in 2 days!

One more recipe from Michelle’s garden to deal with the lettuce onslaught, one of my favorite things, Thai Lettuce Wraps:

Thai Lettuce Wraps

1 head lettuce – any kind, but a firmer leaf works better

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated

1 red chili de-seeded and finely sliced (you can leave this out if you want it mild)

2 shallots, finely sliced

1 C firm tofu, chopped into small squares

1 carrot, grated

1 egg white, organic, free range

1/2 C shredded red cabbage

3 green onions

2 C larger sprouts (bean, sunflower)

3  T lime juice

2 T Nama Shoyu

2 T fish sauce (or more Nama Shoyu – but the fish sauce does make this taste really good!)

1 T agave

2 T olive oil

Put 1 T. oil into wok or large frying pan.   Stir-fry garlic, ginger, chili and shallot for one minute over medium high heat.   Add tofu, carrot, cabbage and green onions and the other T olive oil.   Stir-fry for one more minute.   Add lime juice, Nama Shoyu, fish sauce and agave while stir-frying.   Push ingredients to the side and add the egg white.   Mix in with other ingredients.   Add sprouts, stir and remove from heat.   Taste and add fish sauce or salt if needed.

Serve in lettuce leaves and eat by hand.

More garden recipes, and a bedside update….

Thanks for all your kind emails and Facebook messages. I’ve been sleeping 12 hours a night since my accident Saturday; still unable to walk or do much of anything without acute/stabbing pain in my lower back/hip, and I wonder if it’s nerve damage, as I landed approximately on my hip’s sciatic nerve. I am hoping to get a PT friend of mine to come over today and start thinking about a diagnosis. My tennis team forfeits tomorrow without me. I am so used to boundless energy; thus this has been humbling. (I still plan to be in Boise and Twin Falls this weekend!)

Now, more from Michelle Jorgenson’s garden creating:

“So, next in the garden is rhubarb.   My family loves rhubarb, but you can only do so many things with it!   I’m still working to perfect the healthy rhubarb crumble, so I’ll send that some other time.   But, I did come up with a tasty fresh fruit crisp and some rhubarb strawberry jam.”

Rhubarb and Berry No-Bake Crisp

1 1/2 C chopped rhubarb

1/2 C water

1  T agave

1 C strawberries, sliced

1/2 C blueberries

1 C oatmeal

1/2 C pecans or almonds

1/4 C wheat germ

1/4 C coconut oil

1 T honey

pinch salt

1 t cinnamon

Put chopped rhubarb , agave and water in a small saucepan to cook.   Bring to boil and cook until rhubarb breaks up- about 3-5 minutes.   Remove from heat and cool.    Mix oatmeal. nuts, wheat germ, coconut oil, honey,  salt and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Add strawberries and blueberries to the cooled rhubarb.   Serve berries topped with the oatmeal mixture.   Can put plain yogurt sweetened with maple syrup on top.

Sugar Free Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer jam

4 C chopped strawberries

3 C chopped rhubarb

2 C water

2 T orange juice

6 T honey

6 packets stevia

2 packages unflavored vegan gelatin

Sprinkle gelatin over surface of water in a saucepan and let sit for a few minutes.   While it sits, chop the fruit.   Add chopped fruit and juice and bring to a boil.   Reduce to a simmer and cook until rhubarb starts to break up – 5-10 minutes.   Remove from heat and add sweeteners to taste.   Transfer to canning jars and close with lids.   Cool, then put in refrigerator or freezer.   Will thicken as it cools.

Makes about 5 pints

Mother’s Day Blueberry Dessert

The more you eat raw food, the simpler it becomes. When I’m by myself, what I eat at home tends to be bare-bones, if I’m not in restaurants with friends. But when I have a Sunday dinner for my family, or a special occasion, I make it fancier. I’m not always the greatest at planning ahead, so sometimes I open the fridge and make something up, based on one ingredient I’d like to use.

Yesterday my two youngest kids made a lovely Mother’s Day dinner. I had a quick brainstorm about how to make the two pints of blueberries (currently in season) in the fridge into a dessert.

I put some young Thai coconut meat (1/2 cup?) and coconut liquid (1/2 cup?) into my BlendTec, with a little lemon juice (1 Tbsp?) and agave (2 Tbsp?), plus some cashews (1/3 cup?) and 6 frozen strawberries. I whizzed it up into a cream sauce and served it with ½ cup blueberries in each of five crystal glasses as a parfait. Yum, everyone gobbled it up.

(I put question marks after the measurements because I didn’t measure, so these are guesses–don’t hold me to them!)

more thoughts about agave

As if we haven’t done this subject to death.

From the consensus of many people commenting on my blog about Mercola coming out against agave, it looks to be about 50/50. People who’ve had a positive experience with that product, versus people who’ve had a negative experience. The only ways I can explain this are (a) we are all individuals, with varying reactions to the same foods, and (b) wide variability in sources.

I went to visit my friend Francine last week and grilled her more. She owns a thriving female hormone clinic called Wellnique in Orem, Utah, specializing in bio-identical hormones. (This keeps women off synthetics like Cytomel and Synthroid, which is a very good thing.) She is a licensed nurse practitioner (requiring an M.S.) and nutritionist. Here is the gist of our conversation:

Robyn: “Francine, you’ve told me that you have Type II diabetics in remission from making no other changes in diet besides switching from sugar to agave. You know there’s a lot of debate right now about various types of agave, and inferior suppliers, and whether agave really has less blood sugar impact.”

Francine: “I absolutely have had amazing results with GOOD agave. When my patients have used the cheap stuff, they gain weight. But with the Xagave brand, which is raw and organic, and they are very involved in their sourcing, I have had tremendous success.

“I often read studies about various things and try them in my clinical practice. If I don’t get the results in my patients that studies guarantee, I’m not going to use it.

“For instance, some studies show that alpha lipoic acid supplementation combats visceral (belly) fat. But I have yet to see any evidence of that in my patients. So I don’t recommend it any more. I want the science AND the positive results in my patients.”

Let me be clear here (Robyn writing): sugars impact your blood sugar, period. Organic and raw from a reputable company like Madhava, GloryBee, Xagave are the ONLY forms of agave I would suggest, and use them sparingly. Let greens and vegetables be the staples of your diet.

Use fruits/dates for the most part when you want sweets. Consider the concentrated sweeteners if you choose not to give up “treats” that remind you of your comfort foods–and not every day. I eat a treat only on occasion after a very healthy (raw or mostly raw, often probiotic-rich) meal.

Joe Mercola and GreenSmoothieGirl on agave

In the natural health space, Joe Mercola is very much a Goliath, and I’m very much a David. Today’s topic: my affinities and differences with his philosophies.

Dr. Mercola responded to my blog posting and newsletter of a week ago, about agave.

I stand firm that drawing fear-based parallels between raw, organic agave from a reputable company and tequila or HFCS is “ridiculous” as I said before.

A raw agave plant is to agave is to HFCS—as an orange is to orange juice is to Tang.

I disagree with Joe Mercola on a variety of issues, including his promoting and selling whey protein, beef, tanning beds, and his metabolic typing theory with no real basis in science.

This whole agave controversy reminds me of something I remember from when my kids were little. There was a group of parents who were furious with the Barney show. The parents decided to form a coalition to fight the producers because they’d decided Barney was really the devil in a big purple suit, teaching kids about séances and witchcraft. The lawsuit, as I recall, referred to Barney the Dinosaur as promoting Satanism.

As a young mother, I remember reading about it in the paper and laughing out loud.

There are so many true evils in the world hurting children. Sweat shots, kiddie porn. Too-heavy backpacks full of textbooks. Let’s not forget McDonald’s products and marketing program. Just to name a few.

Why spend precious energy creating fear about a harmless TV show that has the dinosaur imagining things and disappearing?

That’s how I feel about the agave controversy. Again, I disagree with People Magazine calling it a “superfood” as much as I disagree that it’s going to hurt us when used in moderation.

I have interviewed experts as well. I feel confident that predicting nutritional catastrophe because someone adds a bit of agave to her green smoothie takes away from the real, more meaningful debate.

Let’s attack the true villains gaining traction in the food world: Monsanto; modern practices in raising beef/poultry; corn/soy products taking over the food supply; processed foods; fast foods; GMO foods; pasteurized and irradiated foods.

There’s plenty of evil without attacking the little bit of maple syrup, honey, agave, or stevia we whole-foods advocates use. (Each of those has pluses and minuses. Agave’s pluses are lower blood sugar impact as well as availability in raw/organic form.)

The whole debate takes away from the basic premise I reiterate here over and over:

Plant foods are good preventive medicine. We alter them to our detriment. We have to get back to our roots. Less processed is better, less concentrated sweeteners is better, more natural is better. Whole is good; fractionated and refined is bad.

And I want to say this about Joe Mercola. Some of the things he promotes seem oversold or a bit paranoid to me, and others are counter to what I teach on this site, like an incredibly expensive tanning bed being a good way to get Vita D. However, I respect him tremendously for being one of the first on the internet to start educating people about natural healing. He is smart and educated, and I believe he has good motives.

He and I have the same goal of educating people, empowering them, to eat natural foods and live a lifestyle that avoids reliance on medical solutions such as drugs and surgery.

I agree with Mercola about far more things than I disagree with him about. I appreciate his commenting here on my blog.

Is agave a superfood or a poison?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Dr. Mercola says agave is going to kill me! Is he right?

Answer: I have been inundated with emails about this. In every class I teach, someone brings it up.

First of all, Dr. Mercola didn’t exactly say that, although he allowed it on his web site. Mercola is a brand, a big company, employing lots of people, including staff writers who write stuff for the site and newsletters. The osteopath named Joe Mercola doesn’t do the research and writing. So when I say “Mercola” in this article, I mean “it” (the company/brand/staff), not “he” (the founder of the company).

What I write is all me, by the way–I have no staff writers.

Controversy, right or wrong, unfortunately, adds to Mercola’s 7-figure mailing list and profits. Mercola (and the doctor himself) may or may not be aware that it is wrong about agave. Comparing it to high-fructose corn syrup, or to tequila, is a tenuous, false, almost ridiculous exaggeration. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the organic chemistry differences.

It’s similar to the comment a pediatrician made to me 15 years ago, when I questioned his suggestion to feed my toddler Sprite for quick energy. I said, “Why not an apple?” And he said, “Whatever. Simple sugars are simple sugars. There’s no difference. They all end up as glucose.”

A similar reductionistic argument you’ve heard before is, “A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.” Really? Then why did the vegetarian group in Campbell’s massive China study eat 200 calories MORE than the heavy meat eaters, and they were lean while the meat eaters were overweight? (Exercise was a variable the researchers controlled for, so that doesn’t explain the difference.)

Apparently you CAN eat more calories when those calories are plant foods. Please comment here if you know well, from experience, that the impact on your body of eating an apple is entirely different than drinking a can of Sprite!

Apples have simple sugars, sure, but they also have tannins that remove insulin from the bloodstream and convert the sugars into energy. Apples have pectin and other fiber to decrease cholesterol and slow absorption of sugars on the bloodstream. Sprite has none of that, just a chemical version of fructose and lots more man-made chemicals. I could make this whole post about the egregious comparison the pediatrician made, but let’s move on to the similar agave controversy.

Mercola’s staff writer acts as if fructose is poison. Yes, fructose is the sugar in high-fructose corn syrup, too. One point Mercola and I agree on is the fact that the highly refined sweetener HFCS is deadly. But fructose is the sugar in fruit, too! Is it possible that fructose can be either good or bad?

Here’s a key point Mercola overlooks. Agave’s sugar is a long-chain polymer of fructose, which is not absorbed by the body and therefore passes through you. Thus there’s a much-reduced impact on your blood sugar of consuming agave (versus HFCS, cane sugars, and honey). It’s not hard to document that agave’s glycemic index is one-third that of sugar or honey.

I personally know a nutritionist who has stopped diabetes in a group of her patients with no changes other than switching from sugar to agave.

So is agave on par with excellent whole foods like apples, spinach, lentils, and barley? No way! An apple has fiber and many other elements that work synergistically to support your health.

But as sweeteners go, if you’re going to use them–and please use all concentrated sweeteners sparingly–raw, organic agave is a very good option. And another of my favorite sweeteners, stevia, contains a compound called steviasides, which shut down insulin production in the pancreas–an even better (calorie-free) option, especially for diabetics.

So, the answer to the question, is agave a superfood or a poison, the answer is, “Neither one.” Don’t fear it. Don’t overuse it either.

Power foods? Really?

I saw a People Magazine article last week about 10 “power foods.” They listed agave, along with the aggressively marketed, uber-expensive acai and goji berries. Now I’m not going to diss  acai and goji, which are certainly high in antioxidants.

But if you’re trying to adhere to a budget, do you really want to pay $10 to $60 a pound for these “power foods” from thousands of miles away from your home, when you can buy oranges and apples for $0.69/lb.? Their antioxidant levels may not be as high, but they’re wonderful foods grown close to home that won’t break the bank, and IF YOU EAT THEM REGULARLY they can be an important part of an aggressive anti-disease and pro-energy healthy diet.

Not too exotic, I know. And if you have lots of discretionary income, great. Eat interesting little berries from mountain ranges all the way across the world. (I do really like goji, though I justify the cost only now and then.)

But meantime, common sense suggests that if you stick to greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains grown near you, you’ll be JUST FINE.

As for agave being a power food, no way.

WHAT?! You offer agave in the group buy and it’s in your recipes, GreenSmoothieGirl! WHAT. ARE. YOU. SAYING!

My friends, it is much preferable than sugar. If you get a reputable brand that certifies it to be raw and organic, you should use it for treats that are alternatives to junk food.

But no concentrated sweetener is a power food–except maybe honey, because of its pollen content and anti-bacterial properties. (Still really high in calories. Use it sparingly.)

Anyway, I rolled my eyes at the People article, so mainstream and dumbed down. But I guess nobody wants to hear that boring old broccoli, or almonds, or raw sweet potatoes, are power foods. Yawn. We want something NEW!

People are always writing me, “What do you think of Dr. X’s heart-disease preventing supplement?” “What do you think of emu oil?”

I haven’t studied every new, well-marketed product out there. But keep in mind that for every drop of something-or-other you can squeeze out of the poor emu, or every new pill full of “natural” stuff, there’s a bunch of people sitting around a boardroom strategizing on how a study they pay for can “prove” that you simply must have it to heal 30 different maladies.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. Try it if it’s in your budget. But now and then I like to pull everybody who might be listening, back to the straight and narrow road. That is, simple, whole, unadulterated plant foods. Those we KNOW will heal us and prevent all the awful things we’d rather not die of. If you’re reading the Emu Oil ad online while eating your second Hostess Ding Dong of the day, an examination of priorities might be in order.

Just my $0.02.

raw food: here’s what’s in my dehydrator right now

You know I love my dehydrator, especially this time of year when I’ve got so much stuff coming out of the garden that I don’t want to go to waste. Right now I have all 9 trays full in my dehydrator with two recipes contributed by readers. (I love y’all! Thanks for your ideas and support of each other!)

Tonya’s cheesy kale chips are filling four trays and they are INCREDIBLE, hard to believe how much nutrition you’re getting just snacking. I just took them out and ate a bunch of them while I wrote this. Just press one side of your leaves of kale in the “sauce.” Doubling the recipe will fill your 9 trays.

Here’s my recommendation on the site, if you don’t have a dehydrator yet and want more info (plus one of my recipes for flax crackers): http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/robyn-recommendations/dehydrators/

Tara C. gives this tip for using those baseball-bat sized zucchinis in the garden and I’ve got 4 trays of zucchini moons almost dry–just tried one, and I like them. Super easy

! Silly Dilly Zucchini Moons

Slice zucchini in half length-wise.

Scoop out inner core of seeds.

Turn over and slice thinly (about 3/8-inch thick).

Spread on dehydrator trays and sprinkle with dill. Dehydrate until crispy.

Enjoy plain or with a yummy, dilly dip.

Now that I’ve removed the kale chips, I’m going to use up the big boxful of cherry tomatoes my son hauled in yesterday, with this idea also from Tara C.:

Cheery Cherry Pizza Snacks

(My kids say these taste like mini-pizzas.)

Slice cherry tomatoes in half, toss with pizza seasoning (I get it from Azure Standard) and dry till crisp. Enjoy!

(Tara would like suggestions to improve on this idea.)

Here’s Tara’s last idea, which I’ll try next:

Gingered Zucchini Bites

Slice zucchini as above. Before dehydrating, soak for 30-60 minutes in pineapple juice mixed with 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 1/2 cup agave, and a dash of cinnamon. Dry in dehydrator until crispy. These look lovely in your pantry stored in Mason jars with a little raffia tied on top–pretty enough to give away!

This morning at 5:30 a.m., I made some pesto from the basil, spinach, and tomatoes in my garden. See your Jump-Start collection on the site for that recipe–whole-grain pasta with pesto is one of my kids’ favorites. Then I made a variation on that, some zucchini pesto with barely steamed zucchini, basil, kelp, cayenne, walnuts, sea salt, olive oil, mustard seed, and Bragg’s. I put these two types of pesto in pint jars, labelled them, and froze them. I think I’ll share a pint with a few friends this weekend.