My friends Jamie and Karma

When things get rough, my friend Jamie writes everyone she loves a group text. You’d have to know Jamie to know why this is funny: she’s the sweetest, kindest person on the planet. Gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, loves every living thing. This thing she says is code for her having a bad day and no one—NO ONE—takes it seriously. It always says the same thing:


sunshine2Stuff isn’t always sunshine and lollipops around here. I try to write things that will lift your hopes and help you choose things that elevate life. Only true things, of course.

I’ve shared a number of times that I realize that despite the opposition and eye rolling, my kids mostly LIKE that they are fed crazy-healthy food and are crazy-healthy as a consequence. I like to tell you some of the times my kids actually seek out the good habits I’ve taught them.

But just so you know? It isn’t always like that. I have moments of wanting to send out a text to the universe saying I HATE EVERYONE. Sometimes my son says mean things and I feel like a failure. Like, “I’m sick of green smoothie life! I don’t want to eat the weird brown bread with yellow and brown seeds in it! People make fun of me at school.”

He then begins cataloguing the breads I buy that he likes, and the ones he doesn’t, and I get cranky, too, and tell him I’m not particularly interested in the catalogue rankings.

I seriously doubt this idea that kids make fun of Tennyson for BREAD. Or, maybe I don’t doubt it, and actually I’m just totally insensitive to the plight of people who are mocked for having brown bread in their lunch. Maybe I think that being made fun of for stupid things, and surviving it, builds character.

One day last week Tennyson texted me an SOS:

“Come check me out of school PLEEEEEEASE! Someone wrote me a mean note and called me gay for NO REASON!”

People say girls are drama. Not at my house. The wailing, hypersensitive, emotional person at my house is…..a boy.

Sometimes I might even say mean stuff back, when I’ve had it up to my eyebrows with wailing about dumb data I can’t conjure up any sympathy for. I may or may not have once said,

“Yeah? You don’t like it? Go over to your dad’s house. Start walkin’. There’s a whole bunch of junk food over there.”

(I hate when I’m a master manipulator. Because that stops him cold in his tracks. He’d much rather be here, so he caves in and says so, and I feel both smug and guilty.)

So what I’m saying is, I am in the trenches with you. Sometimes I get a ridiculous amount of whining about The Program here. One thing I’ve learned, through parenting, and marriage, and divorce, and life in the fast lane… that just because today is LAME doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be AWESOME.

karmaIf you put a lot of awesome out there, a lot of awesome comes back. It’s Ecclesiastes 11:1. “Cast your bread upon the water. And after many days, it will come back to you.” The law of karma.

Last week I played a tennis match with a teammate who has been sidelined by injury and a busy life for SEVEN YEARS. Her first match back on the court. Little bit rusty! All three sets went to tie breakers.

In the third tiebreaker, we were up 10-9. The winner is the first to 10, and you must win by 2 points. So, it was MATCH POINT. I served the ball, and we rallied for a while, and I put the ball away neatly inside the baseline. The game was over.

Except our opponent yelled, “OUT!” I looked at my teammate in horror. The other team has the right to make calls on their side of the net. You can throw a fit, but there’s no line judge, so what’s the point?

I didn’t say a word. No need to expend pointless negative energy. I went back and served my next point, and we won it. Now we were up 11-10.

It was the other team’s service. We’d struggled to return the serve of our opponent who was up—she’d aced us once, and we’d struggled to return her slicing serve the whole match. Consistent, never a double-fault.

She served it into the net. Second serve, she tosses it up. And……serves it into the net again.

The match is over. Her face is horrified–her only double-fault of the day–and what a time for it to happen!

Welcome to the Land of Karma, baby.

gumballIf you put bad stuff out there, bad stuff comes back. Let’s don’t be concrete about this, because it’s an abstract concept:

If you put a lot of good stuff out there, it’s not like a gumball machine. Sometimes you put the quarter in and nothing comes out. Or a sharp nail, or a pointy rock, or even a gooey booger, comes out, instead of the pretty orange gumball you wanted. (It’s a METAPHOR. Hang in with me.)

But most of the time a gumball comes out. Sometimes TWO! If you made a line graph of it, putting quarters in gumball machines gets a LOT more gumballs than boogers!

Awesomeness tends to beget more awesomeness. Awesome people are attracted to other awesome people. Sick people (emotionally or physically) are attracted to other sick people.

On the average, I’d place big fat bets on karma. I’d place more bets on karma than Lady Luck in Las Vegas, or anything else. Most of the time, good is rewarded and bad is punished.

Apply it to parenting. Apply it to nutrition habits. Apply it to attitude.

Victim behavior and negative talk makes bad stuff flow my direction like a magnet. I stay away from it.

And when I’m tossing all kinds of good bread out on the water? The brown bread with yellow amaranth and brown flax seeds in it, which people apparently make fun of in 7th grade?

I totally expect big helpings of good stuff, eventually.

Give karma a big hug for me, when you see her.

The Power of One: the influence of a nine-year old

Check out this news article about what happened when a nine-year old girl began documenting online the appalling nutrition served in her school. Do you have a child who, like my Emma, loves good nutrition and wants to change the world? The internet makes that possible. Would your child like starting a blog, taking photos, and writing about what masquerades as “food” (menus designed by dieticians!) at her school? We need more kids like this nine-year old!

After my son pitched the entire game in a 12-1 win against undefeated Skyline, we had to play them again. My girlfriends arrived in Las Vegas without me, right about the time that, at the bottom of a third overtime inning, our boys lost in a heart-breaking split-second call at first base. They are not state champs, but they beat the team who is, in a five-inning game. Unfortunately, being in the loser’s bracket, we had to win twice, whereas they had to win only once.

I spent a lot of time with my family watching 7 games last week. I had this convo with my sibs:

Ben: Did you read that Nutella lost a class action lawsuit for claiming its product was a health food? If you’ve bought it in, like, the last 18 months, you can get a refund.

Me, laughing: No. I don’t believe it. No one thinks Nutella is good for you. I mean, SNICKERS are good for you then. They have peanuts in them.

Ben: Yes they do! We were at our good friends’ home and the mom was saying, “I am so thankful for Nutella, because it’s the ONLY healthy thing I can get my son to eat.”

Me: No she did not say that.

Ben: Yes she did.

Betsy: Did you hear about Davis High School? They got fined $15,000 for selling soda in the lunchroom. Federal law requires them to pay $0.75 for each violation of that law, so they went back and figured out how many sodas they had sold, and fined them accordingly. BUT, they are allowed to sell Snickers because they have peanuts in them. Also they can sell soda, but only before and after lunch, in vending machines.

Ben: Corn is in corn syrup, and it’s a vegetable, so……

Me: Almost all corn in America is genetically modified! And high-fructose corn syrup is one of the worst things you can eat, the worst of the sweeteners.

Ben: Robyn. We already know that. I was joking.

Robyn: Sorry. I’m ranting.

Triple Doubles and Green Smoothies

Here’s a photo of Tennyson and his green smoothie today. Could eating 20+ servings of vegetables and fruits daily be a factor in his Triple Double last week? (No, that’s not McDonald’s latest offering. In basketball, it’s the rare feat of earning double digits in three different categories. Saturday Ten had 11 assists and steals, 12 points, and 10 rebounds.)

My 17-y.o. son Kincade told me today that he was talking to his friend’s mom. He told her, “Most people’s moms? When their kid leaves, she says, ‘Love you! Be safe! Have a good day!’ MY mom? She calls out, ‘”Did you drink your green smoothie?'”

I laughed but was a little indignant. I said, “Hey, I do better than that! I say, “Did you drink your green smoothie? LOVE YOU!'”

Ah, my legacy as the health-food-nut mom.

Kincade often rates the smoothie. His assessment today: “Solid effort, Mom!”

Yesterday I took cookies into Tennyson’s classroom for his “half-birthday.” I am a founder of Ten’s charter school, so it’s a small place and we all know each other. So every member of the administration and teachers in the hallway, on the way to the 5th grade classroom, stopped me to say, “What does GreenSmoothieGirl make for classroom treats?”

It was peanut butter cookies, from Ch. 11 of 12 Steps. Coconut oil (with some applesauce substituted for it, avoids the cookies being crumbly), home-ground whole-wheat flour, natural peanut butter, unrefined salt (and less of it than a traditional recipe calls for), unrefined coconut sugar, organic free range eggs, no-aluminum baking powder.

Ten said they were a big hit.

When you earn the label of the earthy-crunchy mom, make sure you don’t blow it and let people down! They’re going to expect good things from you. (I could never show my face again if I took donuts into that school. Not that I would anyway!)

do you “make” your kids finish dinner?

The day after Halloween, I posted on my facebook page that I paid my kids $20 for their bag of candy, like I do every year, and then I threw it in the trash.

I got some indignant responses, saying, “Geez, at least give them to candy giveaway programs for the troops!” and the like.

(The two who said that are friends who were on my high school’s drill team. In other words, people who don’t know much about where I am now and what I do.)

Anyway, some of my fellow health nuts went, well, nuts on them. I was a non-participant in the ensuing debate, which you can see on my FB wall. But if I’d wanted to get all argumentative (I didn’t and don’t), I’d point out that if I don’t want to feed my kids poison, why would I want to feed it to the people defending my country? (Or anyone, for that matter. Death row inmates, maybe, if I could be really certain they are guilty.)

Yes yes, I know, the troops will get candy regardless–if not from me, from someone else. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it.

(Have you seen the story about the burning Carnival cruise ship, and the people onboard who were “rescued” with a delivery of Spam and Pop Tarts? LOL!)

The other day at my tennis workout, Laura, one of my teammates and a friend of mine for 20+ years said, “Robyn, I went all Red today.” (She’s speaking of one of my favorite subjects, Taylor Hartman’s Color Code, which you may google at will. Everyone close to me knows you have to understand the Code or you won’t speak my language. I eventually buy any friend who doesn’t “get it” The Book. Which is now inexplicably renamed–for political correctness?–The People Code.)

Anyway, Laura’s daughter Gabby came home from school saying that her friend gave her the brownie out of her school lunch. (I’m talking about the lunch they SELL at school.) So Gabby had two brownies–her own and the friend’s. Gabby was about to throw them away when the lunch lady said, “You’re not going anywhere until you finish your lunch” and required Gabby to eat everything, including the two brownies. “I almost threw up!” Gabby reported to Laura.

Laura was incensed and described the incident wherein she pointed her finger in the principal’s face about this (she’s a White/Yellow! out of character!) and had a little chat with him about the lunch lady.

I said this, separating the “making” kids do it issue from the junk food issue. “Yeah, um. I require my kids to finish their salad, veggies, fruits. If they don’t want whatever ELSE we’re having, like whole-wheat pasta with pesto, for instance–I don’t care.”

I often have this debate with someone in my life who regularly reiterates the mantra that children shouldn’t be “forced” to do anything. I agree that it’s not only pointless, but also impossible, to force anyone to do anything. (I’ve written before about the unforgettable experience I had many years ago, watching a friend of mine force-feed her son a hot dog, because she was terrified he wasn’t getting enough protein.) But could it be that this argument often functions as a smokescreen for the real issues:

Are we willing to parent? Do we take a stand on things we think are important? Requiring a child to do something she’ll learn from–for example, complete homework, eat foods containing live enzymes, treat others with respect–isn’t a bad thing. Are they “forced” (negative word) just because it’s required and there’s a consequence for non-compliance attached? We adults are all required to do things every day. Forced? No, but our feet are held to the fire, and if we choose badly, negative consequences follow. I’m pretty sure you and I work part of every day to pay the rent of some folks sitting behind bars thanks to this very principle.

“Well, sure,” Laura said, “it’s one thing to require your own child to finish her carrots.” But a bunch of junk food? She told the principal, “A brownie is a waste from the minute it is created! After you eat it the rest of the day is about getting RID of it.” (There’s that consequence thing rearing its ugly head again.)

And Laura, my friends, isn’t a health-food fanatic. She’s just a regular mom. She’s at her ideal weight and incredibly fit. Disciplined about food consumption like no one else I know. Laura’s is one of the testimonials in my book The Green Smoothies Diet. She’d been told she was pre-diabetic until she started green smoothies. She has brought one to the gym every morning for the past few years since I taught them to her. She takes one to a handicapped woman in her neighborhood, regularly, and she evangelizes for green smoothies constantly. When one of the dozens of women we play tennis with at the club asks, “WHAT’S THAT?!” about her disposable see-through cup of sludge she’s drinking, she points at me. I take it from there.

Anyway, Laura continued, “When I see somebody nagging their kid to finish their Thanksgiving pie, I think, ‘Why? It’s PIE!”

She said it, not me. Well, now I know I can confide in Laura, at least, if not the popular girls from high school, that I dump all the Halloween candy in the trash. (Lest you think I’m an ogre, let me say this: I do let the kids keep three pieces.)

Your thoughts?

what I do every day, in my family

In a couple of interviews I’ve done for people lately, I’ve been asked, “What do you do in your family to ensure a healthy diet with lots of enzymes and nutrition?”

I find myself thinking, “Really, you want that in a 30-second sound byte?” I mean, everything I do is about that. I’ve written whole books about it.

But it’s a good exercise to have to boil it down. Like you, I have times when I’m better, and times when I get a little lazy or at least busy. But these are quick-n-dirty habits that “stuck” with my family, that I do every single day without fail. They involve a snack, breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

  1. Always the green smoothie. Make it in the morning, put a pint for each kid in the fridge, follow up to make sure he/she drinks it after school. Automatic 7 servings of greens/fruit for each kid.
  2. Homemade kefir for breakfast. Sometimes I just blend a banana in. I add pea protein powder for my 17-y.o. Occasionally I add frozen strawberries. This ensures a healthy microbial population in the gut, against all the nasty critters we’re exposed to throughout the winter.
  3. A raw vegetable and a raw fruit in the brown-bag school lunch. My mom always did it. I always do it.
  4. Big green salad of some kind for dinner. Most often it’s romaine and spring greens, with whatever veggies are in the fridge. Bell peppers, cukes, and tomatoes are staples. On our busiest nights, dressing might be as quick as pouring a little EVO and raw ACV on the salad and tossing it. Automatic guarantee that dinner will have enzymes supplied, for whatever other main dish I might serve.

Those ideas are detailed in Steps 1, 2, and 10 in 12 Steps to Whole Foods. But they’re the things we never slide off the wagon on. They go a long way, even if we are not perfect on vacation or in someone else’s home. I sometimes feel awkward about people who seeing me as GSG instead of just . . . me. (Regular girl next door. Single mom. Doing my best but with good days and bad days.) I feel like I need to say, occasionally, hey, I’m not perfect either. I always mean to have a fermented vegetable on every dinner plate, but sometimes I forget. I know my kids eat crap at school and their dad’s house sometimes, and if I told you I’d never eaten a brownie with ice cream, I’d be lying. Remember how I always quote my Grama, who was my original inspiration:

“It’s not what you do occasionally that will kill you. It’s what you do 95% of the time that will save you.”

Those four things I’ve just listed, I can tell you with confidence, we ALWAYS do them. With those four things in place, 60-80% raw is almost assured. With those four things, we’re far, far ahead of our culture’s low standards.

How can I promote healthy school lunch in my area?

After my Renegade Lunch Lady blog entry, Emily asked, “What I want to know is what can I specifically do in my area?” She refers to turning nutrition around in the institutions that serve our children. Especially schools. And any organizations that outreach to families.

Well, there are macro issues–for the community organizers and big thinkers. And there are micro issues, for those who just want to take a small task in their local area. ALL these ideas are good ones, and you can start with JUST ONE if you like.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers although I have done most of the things on my list below. So readers, please look deep and tell me,

What have you done?
What have you seen others do?
What do you see that needs doing in your community?

Macro ideas:

Talk to a state legislator and find out local laws, and start the grassroots movement towards good legislation. Find the legislator who wants to sponsor a bill and work with him/her.

Talk to your elementary, jr. high or high school principal about school policy. Propose one. Enlist the help of other parents, finding out what they’ll support. Start a petition.

Help your school (esp. private and charter schools) find a high-nutrition option for school lunch vending.

Petition to get rid of junk food vending.

Sign Jamie Oliver’s petition for healthier school lunches here:

Micro ideas:

Make a veggie platter for your child’s school holiday party.

Go into the classroom and teach a little class about gardening, and get their hands in the dirt. Plant in little pots in the windowsill if planting outside isn’t an option.

Teach kids where food comes from. You think they know but they don’t!

Go into the classroom and do a green smoothie demo with samples. (Teachers will love it.) Talk about the power of green foods with chlorophyll, the “blood” of plants.

Do a tasting involving veggies and fruits, dips like yogurt or hummus or a roasted veggie spread on whole-grain crackers. Talk about why these foods are better for you than junk like
Cheetos and sodas and cookies. PRAISE children for their good choices and open-mindedness as they taste and express their opinions.

Other ideas, please share them. We have some rockstar parents who read this blog and are bucking national trends, so tell us what you do in your child’s classroom.