Experience Nature Through Food – Radio Interview

I was a guest on The Wellness Journey radio show on 06/24/14. Host Lynnis Woods-Mullins and I talked about Experiencing Nature through Food – Enhancing Our Health and Life! Here is the replay:

Discover Health Internet Radio with The Wellness Journey on BlogTalkRadio

To find out more about, and to purchase our ebook – EXPERIENCE NATURE THROUGH YOUR FOOD – click here.

Spring Garden Salad

Spring Garden Salad

Last week we were invited to a potluck celebration. We put together a salad with 25 ingredients that were local and organic. Most of them were growing in our community garden. The rest came from our local farmer’s market. The salad included:

Lettuce – 4 different varieties
Kale – 3 varieties
Swiss Chard
Collard Greens
Mustard Greens
Bok Choy
Beet Greens
Sweet Potato – Grated
Green Onion
English Peas
Snow Peas
Mexican Sage

It was so much fun to do a walkabout of the garden and collect all the edibles that were ready for picking. We tossed it lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The salad got rave reviews.

What is growing in your garden that you would add to this salad?

Bacteria is Our Friend

I have written blog posts on making cultured veggies that include the benefits of eating foods rich in friendly bacteria.

Here is an in depth video uploaded to YouTube in March of 2013 on the microbiome project and other related research, called Friends with Benefits: The Human Microbiome.

The video description reads: “From birth on, we encounter and become home to hundreds of microbial species. In fact, the 100 trillion bacterial cells inside us outnumber our cells ten to one and bring eight million bacterial genes to cohabitate with our 22,000 genes. This enormous and diverse ecosystem — the human microbiome — functions as another organ.

“Scientists are only just beginning to understand its influence on human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition. Some microbes may affect diseases like obesity, Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and even our mental health. Venture into the mysterious realm of the gut and learn how the microbiome impacts human health.”

Experience Nature through your Food Ebook

Introducing a new ebook we think you’re REALLY going to like!

Ebook cover sm.
This delightfully engaging ebook invites connection with nature and inspires transformation and adventures of the heart.

I co-authored and published this ebook with Angelyn Whitmeyer of IdentifyThatPlant. It’s been a very exciting project to work on, and besides the end result of a beautiful, inspiring book, we have also created New Earthlings Press.

With a beautiful ebook format,  we offer 42 guided experiences to help you become more aware and to take inspired personal action to re-forge your connection between nature and food.

Joyfully, we are donating 10% of the sales proceeds of this ebook to A Promise of Health, to support their pioneering homeopathic healthcare model, delivering sustainable and effective care to Mexico’s medically underserved indigenous people.

Will you help us make this a wildly successful venture?

Please visit New Earthlings Press for reviews and more info about the book and the press, and to purchase your copy of the ebook. Do you know someone who loves nature (and/or food) and might be interested in this ebook? Please share this blogpost with them, and also post on Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest and any other social media sites you participate in. Also, we welcome your ideas regarding who might enjoy and benefit from the book.

Thank you for your participation in this creative project!

Claire Mandeville



Caffeine in Soft Drinks – Guess What?

Soft Drinks

Just when I think (or maybe hope) I’ve heard it all, along comes a piece of information that is news to me. As a Food and Wellness Coach, I help my clients assess how their choices are working for them.  I am very familiar with the the downside of “soft drinks”  …. sugar or artificial sweeteners, flavorings and additives, carbonation, drinking less water, etc. However, until this morning, I had not considered the source of most caffeine in these drinks. I listened to a recent NPR Morning Edition story called “Wake Up and Smell the Caffeine. It’s a Powerful Drug,” Here’s what I learned:

Most of the caffeine in soft drinks comes from factories in China.

“Naturally extracted caffeine is burned out from heated-up coffee beans. But most of the caffeine used in soft drinks is actually synthetically produced in Chinese pharmaceutical plants. After visiting one of these plants…. (Read more)

Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

Salt and the Sea

So, what’s the argument – doesn’t all salt come from the sea? Yes, of course, “table salt” is “sea salt.”  The use of  the terms “table salt” versus “sea salt”  is a good attempt to distinguish the salt most people call “salt” from its healthier, whole food counterpart.

“Table salt” is a highly refined, highly processed “sea salt.” After being mined, it is heated and chemically treated. It is bleached, as most salt in it’s natural state is whitish-gray or even pinkish in color.

“Table salt” is the equivalent of “white sugar,” “white flour,” and other refined, de-natured foods. In processing salt, the minerals – other than sodium and chloride – are removed, and often iodine is added in. Iodine is one of eight trace minerals that are very important in small amounts.

“Sea salt” is the unrefined salt obtained directly from the oceans through natural evaporation. Manufacturers do not refine it like other types of salt. Therefore, it contains varying amounts of minerals and trace minerals (including iodine) and other nutrients. “Sea salt” therefore is considered a healthier option than “table salt.” It is available in coarse, fine and extra fine grain size.

Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains (and fish, eggs and some meat and dairy, if you choose) insures that we are providing our body with enough iodine and all the other nutrients we require. Eating one sheet of nori a few times a week (dried seaweed used in sushi/vegetables rolls), or any other seaweed, will most likely provide enough iodine, and lots of other nutrients. For more info, visit EarthClinic.

Grated Summer Salad

Grated Summer Salad

An abundance of vegetables growing in our summer garden inspired this salad. I prepared it with all raw ingredients. Here’s what I did.

In a food processor (you could, of course, use a hand grater) grate:

2 carrots
1 zucchini
1 cucumber
2 beets (or 1 large)
1/4 cup onion (or more to taste)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss well.

1/3 cup olive oil
Juice from one smallish lemon
1/4 cup of fruit juice – I used apricot/mango
Dash or 2 of sea salt and pepper

Top with fresh sprouts and parsley. (I almost sprinkled sunflower seeds, too – so any seeds might be worth a try). Here’s an easy, easy way to grow your own sprouts.

I’m already thinking of many variations on a theme. Any fresh vegetables are candidates. If I had snow peas or sugar snaps (we already ate all we grew), they would surely be included. Others high on my list to try:

finely chopped kale
green beans
sweet red peppers

Consider using your creation as the filler for a wrap or rollup.  Try using tender fresh collard leaves (cut in half) as the rollup. If you haven’t ever tasted raw collard, you are in for a pleasant surprise.  They are mild and sweet-tasting.

I encourage you to play with this and come up with whatever inspires you. Post your experiments and ideas for others to enjoy, too.

Growing Sprouts Easily

Sprouting Seeds - #6 Ready to Eat

Sprouting seeds is really nothing to shy away from. Once you have the few supplies that you need to sprout seeds easily and effectively, the few minutes a day it takes to grow sprouts is well worth the effort for the nourishment and eating pleasure they can provide.

Here’s what you need:

1. Sprouting seeds of your choice – some of our favorite are mung, or a mix of alfalfa, radish and broccoli seeds. It is easier to sprouts seeds of a similar size, so that they are all ready at the same time, and you don’t risk some of them rotting. However, once you have some experience, you will find that it is possible to successfully sprout seeds of varying sizes. Of course, you can always have more than one jarful growing at the same time, with smaller seeds in one, and larger seeds in another.  You can combine them when you are preparing your food to eat.

2. A wide-mouthed jar with a sprouting screen top – I use a quart jar, and a plastic screw-on sprouting screen lid. I got the lid at a local natural foods store. You can also order them online.

2. A cloth to cover the jar for the first day or two.


Sprouting Seeds - #1 Soaking

1. Soak seeds for 3-4 hours (smaller seeds) or 6-8 hours (larger seeds) in 4 parts water to 1 part seed. Use warm (not hot) clean unchlorinated water.

Generally you will find that 3 Tablespoons of seed is a good amount to grow in a quart jar.

Sprouting Seeds - #2 Rinse and Drain

2. Rinse and drain the seeds several times initially. I take the lid off to fill the jar with room temperature water, then put the lid back on and gently swirl water around in the jar. Make sure that seeds are not all clumped together on the side of the jar as you are draining them.  They should be spread out fairly evenly. Sprouts should be rinsed and drained 2-3 times each day.

Sprouting Seeds - #3 Cover While Inverted

3. Leave the jar inverted with air flowing into it.  I use a shallow ceramic bowl, and lean the inverted jar on the wall, with an inch or two of space between the screened jar lid and the bottom of the bowl. Cover the jar to keep out light until the seed sprouts are well developed (2-3 days).

Sprouting Seeds - #4 Uncover and Continue top Rinse and Drain

4. Once the sprouts are developing, and you have removed the cover, continue to rinse 2-3 times for the next 24-48 hours.  The sprouting time will vary depending on the room temperature and seed mixture.


Sprouting Seeds - #5 Ready to Clean

5. When the sprouts are well-developed, gently move them to a large bowl of cool water, separate the clumps, let the hulls float to the surface, and skim those off. Doing this will make the sprouts even tastier, and keep them from fermenting or rotting for a longer time.

Sprouting Seeds - #6 Ready to Eat

6. Refrigerate the well-drained sprouts in a plastic bag or glass or plastic container. Sprouts are best fresh and used within 2-3 days.



Sprouts have been eaten for thousands of years, and provide a wide variety of nutrients with very few calories.  You may be interested in this science of sprout nutrition resource page for more information.

There are other methods for sprouting, utilizing various sprouters that are on the market. I have used many different kinds over the years, and have returned to this method both for its simplicity and minimal space requirement. However, if this does not meet your needs, just do a websearch for sprouters and you are sure to find something that will work well for you.

Nature Heals

CA picnic

There’s something so glorious about being outside on a warm winter day with family and friends, and sharing food! What a joy to be in nature – feeling the warmth of the winter sun – the grassy-sloped earth our picnic blanket. Our eyes take in the beauty of the water below, and the rich blue sky overhead. Even the houses across the pond evoke a sense of gratitude, that humans can live with ready access to more open spaces.

Food that sustains our wellbeing cannot be separated from nature. Our food choices either support our connection with nature – our wholeness and aliveness – or create interference and disconnection from our natural world. And it’s been said that what is truly good for us is good for the earth. In an article about Natural Healing with Natural Foods, Natural Society writer Mike Barrett reminds us that “…nearly all foods are healing foods.”

I invite you to say yes more often to being in nature and eating the food gifts that nature offers  – without altering the essence of the gift.


Planterbox Kale – From Seed To Seed

I’ve lost track of just when we planted the kale in the planter boxes on our back porch. For sure, it’s been over a year ago. The kale thrived through the winter here in the southeast. We amended the soil with organic fertilizers and enjoyed the tender leafy greens several times a week.

Several months ago, the plants began to flower. By then, the plant stalks had reached over 5 ft. tall. The plants were still producing tender green leaves which we continued to harvest.


Slowly….magically… the flowers gave way to seed pods. At this point, we were delightfully thinking about the seeds we could collect, dry and save to grow more kale this fall! We are now watching as the pods swell, and will wait for them to dry out and turn brown before we remove them from the stalk to save.


In the meantime we have kale, along with lots of other greens, growing in hay bales in the garden. This is our 1st year experimenting with growing in bales. The yield has been very high,and the bales that are inside stacked pavers are holding up quite well.

For more info on planting in hay or straw bales, here are a few websites:

No Dig Vegetable Garden

Garden Guides