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The Official Blog of The GEM.

Diamonds on your inside. That’s what we want. Don’t you? This blog is a place to visit for guidance, humor and wit about healthy, happy lives. We only have one life. Make it count!

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Organic Food & Juice – Are the Benefits Worth It?

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organic food and organic juice Are organic foods really worth the hype and the extra money? These are questions that are raised every day.

In the GEM life, it’s pretty black and white, and ORGANIC WINS EVERY TIME.

The benefits of organic food:

1. No harmful pesticides. Many of these pesticides cannot be washed off of the produce–as they penetrate the entire vegetable. They are also cumulative. These toxins get stored away in your fat cells and continue to build.  The idea of “it’s just a little bit” is as absurd as saying I’ll just have a little bit of arsenic on my apple. You cannot wash enough of the toxins off. Period.

2. No GMOs. That is genetically modified organisms. If you aren’t clear on what those are, don’t feel bad. Even the scientists who created them can’t predict what will happen to humans when they are consumed. Monsanto created the “Round Up Ready” soybean and corn. This means that the powerful pesticide will kill everything around it except the bean itself. Great, you think. Not really. These crops have been modified so that if an insect eats it, the insect’s insides are destroyed. But it’s OK for humans to eat it? I’m no rocket scientist, but … hell no. Did you know that all of Europe, Australia, Canada, Russia and many other countries DO NOT allow these ingredients in their food supply because of the health dangers? We must vote with our wallets.

3. Organic produce contains the same veggie DNA as our grandparents consumed. Sounds a lot more comforting. An heirloom tomato is heaven. Conventional ones aren’t even worth the sea salt and pepper you sprinkle on them.

4. The meats you consume are not over treated with powerful antibiotics and fattened with GMO, nutrient deficient corn. They are also humanely treated–not crammed into slaughter houses and mired knee deep in waste. Happy animals produce happy food. Eat grass-fed, free range, pasture raised. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT, MEAT-EATING PEOPLE.

5. And I have to continue to implore you to never eat artificial food colorings and artificial sweeteners. These cause ADHD and allergies in children, brain tumors and neurological disorders in adults, among other toxic side effects.

The government standards for “organic” include a national list of approved synthetic and prohibited non-synthetic substances for organic production which means that organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of:

  • antibiotics
  • artificial growth hormones
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • artificial dyes (made from coal tar and petrochemicals)
  • artificial sweeteners derived from chemicals
  • synthetically created chemical pesticide and fertilizers
  • genetically engineered proteins and ingredients
  • sewage sludge
  • irradiation

So … conventional, non-organic food may contain these ingredients? Did you know this? I am certain not many of us do, since sewage sludge and artificial growth hormones aren’t on the label. Sewage sludge alone is enough to shift my attention to organic!

Take a look at this experiment. It left me speechless. If this doesn’t confirm the data, nothing will. Way to go Elise!

Love yourself, love your family. Buy organic.

It just might be the best weapon in your arsenal against disease. Organic too expensive you say? Have you priced cancer lately? Pick the Dirty Dozen and go from there.

You owe it to yourself and your family. OH, and drink your organic, nutrient dense juice everyday. It is super power that helps combat and flush out the environmental toxins we can’t help but consume.

See you at The GEM, where honestly organic is how we roll.

New Year’s Resolutions. On Ground Hog Day

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It’s a new year. Again.  And now it’s Ground Hog Day. Again.  Just like the Bill Murray movie, it just keeps happening over and over. It’s been a whole month since the parties, the tinsel, the family, the indulgence. I say it’s now down to business.

We hear it every year. It’s time for your resolutions–a time for reflection of ourselves and our lives — present and future. Be better, smarter, happier, stronger, thinner, richer, kinder. It’s what we do after January 1. It’s another one of those, ‘everybody’s doing it’ things, and we follow.  Did you try it?

Now it’s February 2nd, is it too late? Did you fail already? “Oh well, maybe next year,” you say.

HEY.  Don’t be simple-minded.  The “New Year” is not the only time we should reflect and make positive changes. I say start today, Ground Hog Day.

Evaluating your life should not be an annual occurrence.  It should be a monthly reoccurrence. These things should be done on a regular basis, say, every three months re-evaluate. We should call them New You’s Resolutions and make it a habit, regardless of the time of year. Take a quick look at where you are and where you want to be. This is especially useful for diet regimens.

Nonetheless, as mired in tradition as it is, New Year’s (or Ground Hog’s in this case) resolutions, if you are so inclined to jump aboard, can enrich your life and the lives of others around you.

  • What will you change?
  • Will you try to improve?
  • Where will you focus your positive energy?

For the record, I’ve never, EVER shared my resolutions—especially not on such a public platform … for many reasons. Some are simply a level of privacy I like to keep. Others are because I don’t want to be held accountable in case I decide I don’t want to follow through. But this year, I decided the revealing my own hopes, thoughts and goals might cause others to think a bit about their own lives. To better reflect and even, take action.  Plus, it is February 2nd, which eases the Hallmark card pressure for me.

Copying from my paper is OK in this instance. So, in the spirit of it all, here goes. (And don’t judge, not out loud at least).

  1. Go to church each Sunday with my family. I’ll admit I have not been a church goer. But I realize my family and my children need it. Integrity, morals, respect for God and others, a sense of belonging. You get that at church.
  2. Blog twice a month. This is for you AND for me. I need to pin down my thoughts, capture them, act upon them. You can journal your thoughts. Ten minutes is all it takes. It is amazing how cathartic it can be.
  3. Be gluten-free. No exceptions. I know it makes my belly bloated.  I’m 43 and I don’t need to look like I’m four months pregnant all the time. It also negatively affects my mood (both the gluten and the bloated belly). Here are some great tips on going gluten free.
  4. Yoga three times week. I SWEAR this yoga thing works miracles. I find quiet and peace and I lose the achy joints. I FEEL AWESOME. There are different types of yoga. Find one that works for you.
  5. Make a date once a week. This will be really difficult to do, but I need that time, albeit short, to re-connect with my husband. And on the note of reconnection …
  6. Make love to my husband more often. (Here’s that privacy thing). Sex is an integral part of your relationship. It’s a connector, a relationship re-kindler, an actual mood booster. Just do “it.” (Don’t copy this one exactly)
  7. Read more books. At least one will be about self or family improvement. Reading makes you smarter, keeps your brain in shape, keeps you busy and out of trouble. I love humorous and happy books.Recommendations are welcome. Reading Boys Adrift right now.  NOT a funny book but incredibly insightful.  Need a fun one next.
  8. Work for nutritional balance for my children. It affects their mood, their energy, their well-being. Teaching kids early the importance of healthy food can circumvent a lifetime of food issues. I am in awe of the research that supports this.
  9. Walk with a friend once week. It’s either this or $200/hr therapist. Whether intended or not, a good hour talk with a friend can allay a week’s worth of anxiety. Sure you can meet for tea at The GEM, but I like to kill two birds with one stone.
  10. Share my love of disco. Ongoing fun and laughter is something we all need to look for and create every day. Sing, even when you don’t feel like it.

May my ideas spur your ideas! Please share one Ground Hog Resolution or all. I want to hear them.

10 Ways To Increase Your Energy

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Waking up each day with vibrance and energy–like every day is your own disco party–would be awesome, wouldn’t it? No late afternoon dips, no struggling to wake up in the mornings. So many of us struggle to find enough energy.  The good news is there are ways to increase your energy, naturally and easily.

Many factors contribute to our sense of energy and vitality ~ those that zap us and those that invigorate. The foods we eat, the people we meet, how we move our feet. These things can either increase our energy or decrease it.

The culprits for depleting us are stress-related. Think four types:

  1. Chemical – Food or Drug
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Physical

The main foods and substances that decrease our energy are:

  • Caffeine, coffee, diet sodas, alcohol, too much meat or not enough, processed/chemical laden foods, tobacco, milk/dairy, sugar and artificial sweeteners and trans fats/fried junk!! It is important to note that certain prescription drugs also zing our energy including anti-depressants.

Foods that increase our energy:

  • Foods that are alive have life force. Food that goes bad is good food. Unprocessed, whole foods: grains, vegetables and beans. These foods have all the components of their original, natural state: fiber, vitamins and minerals. Processing removes these elements. A great rule of thumb I like is: If microorganisms cannot thrive on it, what makes you think you can? Does it come in a box and has a “shelf life?” Then it should be pushed aside.

Everything that we take in is food for our body, mind and spirit. 

Here are 10 ways to increase your energy:

1)  Ease up on the java and “energy” drinks.

  • The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar ups and downs, making mood swings more frequent. Stimulants like caffeine and sugar may seem to give an initial energy boost, but they actually cause a dip in our energy and blood sugar levels. Green tea is an excellent substitute.
  • Drink more juice. Juicing daily, you provide your body with a high dose of naturally-derived nutrients that boosts your health, support your body’s natural cleansing processes and helps keep you well-protected against toxins and disease. A fresh juice stands in a league of its own. It is simply the best energy drink on the market! Take that, Red Bull.

2)  Water water everywhere! Lots of it.

  • Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Before you go to sugar or caffeine, have a glass of water with lemon and wait a few minutes to see what happens.
  • Many times you think you are hungry when really it’s your body asking for water!
  • Drink 32 oz of water as soon as you wake up. Have nothing else until that is consumed.

3)  Eat your greens.

  • Think: Green is spring, the time of renewal and refreshing, vital energy.
  • Greens are full of vitamins and nutrients especially CALCIUM and great for improving circulation, lifting the spirit, purifying the blood and strengthening the immune system.
  • You can always DRINK YOUR GREENS TOO.


  • Sugar is just plain bad. It promotes disease. Sugar causes mood swings, depression and fatigue. And the more you eat, the more you want!
  • Avoid sugar and chemical-filled artificial sweeteners. NEVER, EVER NUTRASWEET.
  • Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia (they have lower glycemic loads).

5)  Animal Protein. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat. Fried foods are still a definite NO.

  • Eating too much meat, dairy, chicken and eggs can lead to low energy. So can eating too little! Grass-fed, pastured and wild are always good determinants when choosing your meat and fish.
  • It is always a good idea to cut back on dairy. (Acidic, mucous forming, bloating, yuck). Spinach, kale, collards, broccoli are all excellent sources of calcium.
  • Beans are always a great choice for protein. We do NOT need as much as conventional wisdom states.
  • Fried foods zap your energy. Stay away from them.

6) Chill out. Go to bed!

  • When you are tired or stressed, your body craves energy. Instead of answering the call of the late night snack, get to bed earlier and see what happens. Turn off the lights and TV. Without proper sleep, your body cannot properly detox, heal and repair itself.
  • Magnesium is a great supplement to aid in relaxation. I love “Calm” magnesium tea. It really works.
  • Believe it or not, daily breathing techniques can help. Six deep breaths morning and night can really take the edge off and help with emotional and physical stress.


  • Physical activity is key. Start with simple, walk with 15 minutes a day or take a yoga class and increase from there. It really does energize you! Even when you don’t feel good, moving will make you feel better. It is a proven fact!

8)  Love yourself.

  • Find activities that restore your energy, such as a walk, a bath, visit the DMA, a movie or whatever you enjoy. Schedule a weekly date with yourself to do these things! This is incredibly vital to your internal energy source.

9)  Get in touch with your spirituality.

  • We are spiritual beings in a physical world. All facets of your life need attention for your whole body to feel good.
  • Find ways to get in touch with your spiritual side, be it meditating, dancing, drawing, going to church or temple or being outside in nature.

10) NO ENERGY VAMPIRES. Get rid of relationships that drain you.

  • People can suck the life force out of you. It doesn’t mean that they are bad, but it is good to notice who drains you and why.
  • See if you can change those relationships by communicating and setting boundaries or, end them.

If all else fails, call a friend, meet at The GEM, and drink your juice! We will atleast have the disco music.

What is Matcha?

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Matcha is the super power of all green teas. It has so many incredible benefits–so much so that it should find its way into your daily routine. Your health can’t afford not to consume this incredible emerald liquid.

So, what is matcha? Matcha tea is a finely ground green tea powder. Matcha’s super high-quality tea leaves remain covered from sunlight for 20 days before picking to accentuate the color and enrich the amino acid content. These rich green leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder, in a way that keeps oxidation to an absolute minimum.

What makes matcha so special? First, you consume the whole tea leaf, not just water brewed tea leaves. It is the equivalent of 10 cups of brewed green tea! Second, because it isn’t oxidized at all, all of the antioxidants and rich chlorophyll in the leaf remain.

Matcha gives you the following benefits:

  1. Antiaging free radical fighter. The ability of matcha to absorb free radicals (the ORAC value) is one of the highest in the super-food realm, at about 1,348 units per serving. This is one bad ass antioxidant to keep you forever young.
  2. CANCER HATER. This is the one I love:  Matcha is especially high in an antioxidant called EGCG. Matcha has up to 137 times the amount of EGCG as other infused green teas. This particular antioxidant has shown promising results in helping fight against HIV, cancer and many other disorders and diseases.
  3. Metabolism booster. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that matcha helped with metabolism rate, which holds promise for faster fat loss.
  4. Keep calm and carry on with a spring in your step. Matcha plays both sides of the fence when it comes to energy. One study found that matcha had a relaxing effect without causing drowsiness. This calming effect is strangely coupled with an energy lift from caffeine and other elements from the tea leaf. Coffee can cause the jitters and a caffeine high with a crash afterwards. Matcha, while still containing caffeine, tends to cause a more even, long-term energy rise. Plus, with all of those healthy antioxidants, it is a great way to fight against disease and cancer.

KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY. As with all teas, quality is super important. And cheaper is definitely not better. You want to purchase your tea from an importer who moves through their stock so that you get the freshest product. It is interesting to note that all tea comes from the same plant. The quality just depends on the region and processing method.

How to make it? Use a teaspoon of the magic green powder in a bowl with a third of a cup of hot water heated to just less than a boil. Then mix it with a bamboo whisk (or a latte whip) and you are ready to go.

Get creative. Use matcha in smoothies and salad dressings. Just up at The GEM, a chopped veggie salad with a spicy matcha vinaigrette. Super umami (that’s yummy in Japanese)!

For more information, read Dr. Weil’s article on buying green tea.

Best Healthy Seasonings and Condiments

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Getting bored with your veggies? Do your entrees leave you wanting more?

Spice. It. Up.

So many seasonings are loaded with chemicals: MSG, anti-caking agents. Secretly added gluten with wheat flour. There are probably 20 ingredients you cannot begin to pronounce. That spells disaster for our systems–just say no to the chemicals.

Here are some of the best healthy seasonings and condiments that can change the course of your dinners forever!

  1. Tommy’s Coffee Rub. This is not just for beef! Use it on thickly sliced tomatoes on toast–like a BLT sans the swine. Mash it with an avocado and lemon juice for a new twist on guacamole. P.S. It doesn’t taste like coffee. P.P.S. Tommy is a cute, local Texan. All of his products are yummy, especially the Salsa Roja.
  2. Jalapeno Lime Pepper from Alamo City Pepper Products. Sprinkle on artichokes, add it on wild salmon or halibut with a touch of olive oil, broil for 12 minutes. (See this recipe.) The best fish you will ever eat. They also have a great fajita seasoning.
  3. Casa Fiesta Taco Seasoning. To beans, grass-fed ground beef, Mexican rice. Taco Tuesdays will be awesome again.
  4. Simply Organic Spicy Chili Seasoning. Follow the directions, adding an extra can of rinsed beans. Or better yet, delete the grass-fed beef for a vegan alternative. Your kids may never notice. Add it on top of an organic baked potato. Sooo good.
  5. Simply Organic Ranch Powder Packet. Certainly not perfect, but a great way to wean yourself and your family off of other favs/go-tos. If you wonder why HVR is so bad, take a moment to read the bottle in your fridge. Yikes.
  6. Krazy Ketchup. A truly healthy alternative and it is really tasty. Plus, the owner is a super cool college sorority bud. It can be ordered by the case.
  7. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. Add two tablespoons to your soups for a tangy kick. This is the perfect base for homemade salad dressing. Oh … and lots of great benefits:
    • Rich in enzymes & potassium
    • Support a healthy immune system
    • Helps control weight
    • Promotes digestion & ph Balance
    • Helps remove body sludge toxins
  8. Organic Dijon Mustard. Adds zing to your salad dressings, zip to your turkey roll-ups. Look for brands that only have a couple of ingredients. We like the 365 Whole Foods Brand.
  9. And while we are at it, really good, fresh pickles are really hard to find.  Take a look at the ingredients in the ones you have in your fridge.  Probably have food coloring and polysorbate 80, and some other science experiments.  Try Bubbies. Their pickles and sauerkraut is beyond yummy.
  10. Simple Stuff. Really good Sea Salt and a Black Pepper grinder. Changes the way you look at salt and pepper.
  11. Wright’s of Texas Fresh Green Salsa Mild OR Habanero. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. On chips, on veggies, as a marinade, on fish tacos, on a spoon. Just the right amount of everything. Super fresh, all-natural.
Bodies (and taste buds) will sing. 

Weed of Wonder: Cilantro, the Great De-toxifier.

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Don’t take this SUPER LEAF for granted. This herb is not just a random garnish found next to the salsa on the condiment bar at Taco Cabana.

It’s a powerful natural detoxifier.

There are many well-documented benefits of organic cilantro. One super cool fact is that Cilantro might just be one of nature’s best chelation agents.

The chemical compounds in cilantro actually bind to heavy metals, loosening them from the tissues, blood and organs. Cilantro’s chemical compounds then help move these harmful substances out of the body. Mercury excess is a common problem that may be the result of metallic teeth fillings or over-consumption of predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish.

But wait, there’s MORE!  Cilantro also …

  • Eases symptoms of arthritis due to its powerful anti-inflammatory capacities
  • Maintains healthy cholesterol levels
  • Brings relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence (your friends and family will thank you) and an overall digestive aid
  • Wards off urinary tract infections
  • Helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • Eases hormonal mood swings
  • Helps promote healthy liver function
  • Loads of anti-oxidants that eat up those nasty free radicals in our body…things that make us old and creaky.

STATS for this humble backyard herb: 

15% of folates (recommended daily allowance per 100g)
11% of vitamin B-6
45% of vitamin C
225% of vitamin A
258% of vitamin K, one of the richest herbal sources
22% of iron
18% of manganese

This weed has flown under the radar for too long. Cilantro deserves a bowl full of respect!

So how can you get more of this super green? Add it to soups, sprinkle it on salads, douse it on dips. Too much to think about?

Have someone do it for you! Get a double dose of cilantro love when you hang out at The GEM. You can find cilantro in the soon-to-be famous GEM Quinoa Salad and Jalapeno Pesto. Hustle down and get you some cilantro!

Be A GEM. Visit Earth Day Dallas.

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A healthy, happy life. A grounded perspective. The protection of our planet, and our children.

Paramount to our existence. Parts of this we know, parts of this are elusive. How do we get to where we need to be?

Enter Earth Day Dallas, an outdoor festival in Fair Park designed to influence the way we think and live around our health and environment.  It’s fun, it’s free, and it shows us how green lifestyle choices can lower costs of living, improve our health and preserve the planet. Films, fun runs, food, yoga, gardening. Quite frankly, this expo houses so many topics and forums it will make your head spin til you turn green.

This is super cool. And super important. Important to you, to your family, to your planet. And I am THRILLED to be a part of it! I will participate in a discussion called  Farm to School Panel: Reinventing School Food Programs. I LOVE this topic and will serve on the panel.

We owe it to our children, our little GEMs, to guide them into a lifestyle that is healthy, shiny and bright.

I know you will be front and center next weekend to hear this fascinating discussion. In the meantime, here are three things you need to know and practice with your kids.

  • Feed their minds, body and spirits. It is a whole body existence. Health is a full circle.
  • Set the stage – Eat right and with your family. Family dinner time is the key to a successful, functioning family.
  • Offer non-food rewards – Cookie rewards are for the birds, and support an unhealthy relationships with food and success/failure.
Details. Be there or be square (Or Princess Cut if you are in the GEM world).
What:  Farm to School: Reinventing School Food Programs
When:  Saturday, April 21, (though the event  itself is April 21-22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
               5 – 5:45 p.m.
Where:  Hall of State, Fair Park

Who and everything else:  Click here. 

Peace & Happy & Juice