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      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

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      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

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      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

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      Healthy pH levels, whether in the colon or systemic, are found when you eat a high-fiber diet, high in vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. Complement this with foods and supplements high in beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, and you will be supporting optimal health (which begins in the digestive system).

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Getting the Poop Scoop on Autism

Filed in Autism, C. difficile, Children, fecal transplant, General, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/25/2017


Autism Hope

A report in Science Daily entitled “Autism symptoms improve after fecal transplant, small study finds” caught my eye immediately.

You see, in one of the episodes of my recent PBS special, Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson, I interviewed a woman who had undergone fecal transplant with great success. She had been extremely ill with recurrent C. difficile bacterial infections when this innovative treatment was suggested. She felt she regained her life through this process. Now I see it’s being used to help young people with autism!

For those of you unaware of this procedure, fecal transplantation is done by processing donor feces and screening it for disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Then the “healthy” microbes are inserted into the participant’s digestive tract to rebalance the gut, known as the microbiome.

The boys and girls diagnosed with autism, ages 7 to 16, initially were administered a two week course of antibiotics to essentially wipe out existing bacteria, with hopes to start with a “clean slate”. Then doctors then gave the participants a high-dose fecal transplant of healthy donors’ bacteria and viruses in liquid form. Over the 7-8 weeks that followed the youngsters drank smoothies blended with a lower dose powder.

Although it was a small study (18 children), the results appeared to be extremely positive. Diarrhea and stomach pains decreased markedly – up to 82%, and parents also reported that behavioral autism symptoms significantly changed for the better. The study followed the participants for 8 weeks after the implantation, and positive results appeared to continue.

Researchers were also able to use laboratory testing to compare the autistic children’s bacterial diversity with their healthy peers following treatment. The participants’ bacterial diversity had improved to the point that the test results were indistinguishable from healthy children. This is such an important finding since previous research has shown that children with autism typically have less diversity of bacteria in their guts, and are also missing some important bacteria that are regarded as markers of a healthy microbiome, as I discussed in this blog.

The relationship between mental health and gut microbes has been researched often as well. So it seems logical that attempts to restore balance to the autistic child’s gut, as so many parents have worked to do over the years with great results through diet and probiotics, would and does result in better health.

It’s exciting to see that research may offer a more direct tool in the future with the potential to improve so many lives. As larger studies are done, it is hoped that researchers will uncover the precise bacteria and viruses that impact very specific diseases. What an interesting future we have to look forward to!

Diet Heals Kids with Crohn’s and UC!

Filed in Children, Crohn's, Diet, The Skinny Gut Diet, Ulcerative Colitis, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/18/2017


For those of you who may have been following me for some time, I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve written many times about the relationship of food to your overall health. The truth is, your diet heals. I’ve even written very specifically relating diet choices to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although the following information may not be necessarily new to you, I hope you’re as excited as I am to read this study that I found in Science Daily – “Novel diet therapy helps children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis reach remission”. It’s really great to see that “food as medicine” concepts are becoming more accepted in the scientific and medical communities.

The ‘novel’ therapy they are using is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and in fact is the work from which my Skinny Gut plan emerged. You may even be familiar with my recent book, Skinny Gut Diet where I outline the principles I practice on a daily basis for my own health.

To see this type of study published by a leading gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. David Suskind, warms my heart beyond description.

In a nutshell, 8 out of 10 young patients with inflammatory bowel disease, after only 12 weeks on the therapeutic diet showed significant improvement of their symptoms and achieved remission implementing the dietary treatment alone. Once again, I suggest – diet heals.

For the medical establishment to actually consider a “cure” that is entirely diet-based is groundbreaking!

The well-known book that brought SCD to the public’s attention, Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elizabeth Gottschall, was first published in 1994. That’s over two decades ago. And the first edition of that book was named Food and the Gut Reaction, and was published in 1987. As with so many other wonderful discoveries, the lag time between the initial discovery and public acceptance can be decades, as indeed it was in this case.

No matter. Thanks to all of you over the years who have been reading labels, completing food journals, making new choices and asking great questions about health and digestion. Also, thanks to you who are now becoming interested in lifestyle modifications today. You all are the embodiment of the new paradigm, the wave of change that recognizes “food as medicine”. Together, along with doctors like Dr. Suskin and mothers like Nicole Kittleson from the study we are making incredible positive changes for humanity! Thank you for being on my team!

Sunlight Offers New Benefits

Filed in General, Immune System, Longevity, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/09/2017


Blue Healing Sunlight - brendawatson.com

Through the years I have blogged repeatedly on the importance of vitamin D to our immunity, and actually all aspects of our health. Today I read some interesting research out of Georgetown University Medical Center that suggests another powerful benefit of getting some sunlight on your skin – totally separate from vitamin D yet still related to our immune systems.

The researchers are talking about “blue light”. In fact, some of the positive attributes of vitamin D may actually be due to the helpful activity stimulated by this particular band of sunlight.

Apparently blue light actually makes your T cells move faster. The cells themselves literally respond to the light. In order to work, T cells need to move. Their job is to get to the site of an infection as quickly as possible, like you’re body’s own ambulance service. Sunlight increases how fast your T cell ambulances get to the scene of the accident!

Technically speaking, sunlight helps to create hydrogen peroxide in T cells, and that hydrogen peroxide is what makes them move, like gasoline for the ambulance.

Interestingly, stimulating vitamin D through the skin requires UV light, too much of which can promote skin cancer, however it seems this blue light is very safe. Of course the next step is to determine how much blue light might be most effective in a therapeutic situation and possibly apply that through blue light lamps to increase immunity and health.

Those of us familiar with alternative therapies are no strangers to various light therapies. I love to see scientific research supporting the practices that many of us have embraced decades ago.

As winter is upon us it may become much more difficult to spend time in the sunshine, although most of us realize the benefits. Supplementing with vitamin D is always an excellent choice, and also adding in vitamin K as support adds even more benefit. I’d like to encourage you to consider an outdoor activity with friends and family that will up your exposure to the blue in sunlight, and make some great memories as well.

Lutein Ups “Crystalized Intelligence”

Filed in Adults, Brain, Diet, Longevity, Mental Health, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Posted by Jemma Sinclaire on 01/04/2017


Lutein, greens and crucifers - brendawatson.com

The time-honored phrase “eat your greens” has taken on a new twist – with a spotlight on lutein. It has to do with “crystallized intelligence” which is the brain’s ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime. I read about this last week in an article in Science Daily.

A recent study reported in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience focused on lutein, one of several plant pigments that are contained in a living diet. Lutein is found primarily in leafy green vegetables, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and also in egg yolks. Lutein has been found to accumulate in the brain (this is a good thing!) where it seems to protect the neurons.

The areas in the brain where lutein is discovered have been associated in previous research with healthy functioning of the brain as it ages. In particular, this study imaged parts of the temporal cortex through MRI and also collected blood samples to determine lutein levels. High blood lutein levels seemed to parallel the appearance of thicker gray matter in the parahippocampal cortex.

Researchers feel, and I quote “We did find that lutein is linked to crystallized intelligence through the parahippocampal cortex.’ And they go on to say “…our finding adds to the evidence suggesting that particular nutrients slow age-related declines in cognition by influencing specific features of brain aging”.

As our abilities to identify and scan the brain continue to grow I know that more and more nutrients that we take for granted in healthy diets will be shown to be star players in healthy brain and body aging. Generally, this information probably seems as obvious to you as it does to me, and as we know, the more scientific evidence that is gathered, the more people sit up and pay attention. That will increase our chances for a truly healthy future.

One more little tidbit – in a study done by the University of Warwick it was actually found that eating more fruits and vegetables, up to eight portions per day, can substantially increase people’s happiness levels over time!

So there you have it. Improved cognitive function, more happy! As we love to say in Rule 2 of Skinny Gut Diet – Eat Living Foods Every Day to Balance Your Gut! In addition to balancing your gut, as an extra bonus you will balance your brain and your emotions too.

Social Media for Weight Loss

Filed in Adults, Diet, Fermentation, General, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Jemma Sinclaire on 12/27/2016


Social Media Support

By now we’ve traversed the majority of the most sinful food offerings this holiday season, and the residuals may still be with us on our hips. No worries. Let’s simply begin again. It’s time to make a few sincere decisions to enjoy some different foods and behaviors to usher in a healthier new year. Notice I mentioned different foods – not less. I’m not talking about deprivation here. So please let’s consider how using social media may drive success.

Are you thinking – “what?” I know – neither Facebook or Twitter taste delicious. Not a lot of calories are burned as you furiously type. And I still insist that social media can make a great impact on your health – no chewing required.

Would you agree that the trick to creating a positive outcome around any goal you set is accountability? In my experience, goals really do manifest when we write them down and – here’s the most important part – when we tell other people. We recently experienced that first hand with our Skinny Gut Diet group.

So think about it – where better than on Facebook or Twitter to announce your intentions to your friends – all at once? You will undoubtedly get lots of “likes”, a few “loves” and many words of support. These can be motivational nuggets when those treats you’ve gotten used to nibbling on over the holidays seem to be calling your name. We’ve had a Skinny Gut Facebook closed group for some time now. Stop by and check it out. You’ll notice a lot of evidence of tremendous motivation and encouragement there!

You may even find that a few of your friends continue to inquire as to how you’re progressing toward your objectives. Again, support and encouragement are vital to reaching any goal that makes a difference in your life! I think you may find others eager to join in your commitment too! Stating a goal publicly is courageous, and inspiring beyond what you might imagine!

Moving into 2017, I challenge you to get creative and design some new habits around your food choices. Fermenting veggies is totally fun and easy, and you know these efforts will ultimately be a great gift for everyone’s digestion and waistline! Here’s even a probiotic-rich dessert snack, perfect for football season, that provides those good bacteria and is amazingly delicious.

Let’s face it, deprivation rarely results in a real-life eating plan that makes a long term difference. The trick is to find a program that offers simple concepts and basic rules for success. Also recipes that provide a lot of tasty enjoyment and at the same time, contain healthy ingredients. I’m very proud of my book Skinny Gut Diet, as I have seen hundreds of people make real lifestyle changes and enjoy great success with the program.

We are so fortunate these days to have many options and ways to substitute ingredients to surprise our friends and neighbors. My favorites are grain free, gluten free, minimal sugar recipes. Recently I blogged on making brownies with pinto beans and a bit of almond flour. I’d suggest you wait to mention the pinto beans until your friends are chewing up their last bite. They’ll be clamoring for the recipe, no doubt. It’s so much fun to create guilt-free decadent desserts! Post those on social media too to spread the fun around~

Most importantly, don’t by shy – share your triumphant moments! We can all succeed together as your own determination and momentum builds. Happy healthy motivated 2017 to you!

Heart for the Holidays

Filed in Adults, Heart Disease, Heart of Perfect Health, Stress | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/19/2016


Protecting your heart - from Brenda Watson's official blog

With the holidays now in full swing, rarely do we find a person who doesn’t experience some type of added stress. “Joy to the world” is sometimes difficult to achieve as we frantically shop and make arrangements to accommodate the arrival of friends and family. Some of us are reminded of those that are no longer at our table, and for others, this can be a lonely time for many reasons. Even extreme happiness can be stressful! No matter your situation, please keep these recent articles in mind prompting you to protect your heart – both physically and emotionally.

Intuitively we all know that our hearts work very hard during extreme physical effort. Most of us feel similar strain when we are under severe emotional upset. The INTERHEART Study, a huge global investigation of more than 12,000 people who experienced their first heart attack revealed that anger and emotional upset doubled the risk of an attack. And get this – engaging in heavy physical activity when highly emotional more than tripled the risk! Beware of arguing with your spouse when you’re dragging your Christmas tree into the house!

Last Monday Science Daily shared an article written by a cardiologist from Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center. See that here. There is a phenomenon called “silent heart attack” that primarily strikes women, generally in their mid-50’s to mid-70’s. As we race through these December days striving for perfection, it may be easy to ignore the more subtle symptoms of this stealthy condition. Often the stress of the season may be compounded by another traumatic event like a death in the family, an auto accident, money issues. Ignored, this condition can be fatal so please listen up.

Dr. Kurrelmeyer tells us “Most of the time people who are experiencing a heart attack will have pain in the chest, shortness of breath, etc. Silent heart attack symptoms might be as simple as indigestion, flu-like symptoms, or feeling discomfort like a pulled muscle in the chest or back. It’s important to have these symptoms checked as soon as possible to avoid scarring or damage to the heart.”

Although women are primarily at risk for this condition known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, it can also be experienced by men. Stress hormones actually shock the heart, causing the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart to malfunction.

Since heart problems in women aren’t as obvious as those men experience, I thought it might be helpful to offer a list of symptoms to be aware of right here. Please share this article with those women you love.

  • Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath.
  • Discomfort, pressure, heaviness or pain the chest, arm, below the breastbone or in the middle of the back.
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting or dizziness.
  • Fullness, indigestion, tightness in the throat area.
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats.

In my recent book Heart of Perfect Health, I discuss with renowned medical doctors and surgeons the importance of heart health and how disease is created. We also offer instructions on ways to maintain your cardiac health. Tips are given on various cutting-edge testing procedures that will reveal your own heart’s condition along with complete instructions on a heart healthy diet to provide you with vitality throughout this year, and for years to come.

Difficult as it may seem in the moment, male or female, the bottom line is – take a breath and do your best to relax. As Dr. Kurrelmeyer so poignantly reminds us – “The holidays should be a joyous time spent with family and friends at home, not with doctors in an emergency room.”

Yummy Chocolate Holiday Splurge!

Filed in Allergies, Gluten, Gluten Sensitivity, Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/08/2016


Chocolate Black Bean Brownies - brendawatson.com

Every year the month of December stimulates my “splurge” button – regarding different foods that is. I know I’m not alone. So I’d really like to share with you a chocolate treat I found that manages to be vegan, gluten-free and grain free. It’s even reasonable with regards to sugar content, especially depending on your ingredient choices. I’m going to provide all sorts of substitutions to get your creative juices flowing!

Let’s make some “Flourless Sea Salt Chocolate Squares”. I noticed this easy and interesting recipe first in the December issue of Canada’s Alive magazine, and decided to have some fun with it.

Ingredients

1 – 14 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 – cup coconut oil, melted (better than butter for maintaining your figure)
1 – tsp vanilla extract
2/3 – cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for garnish
1/2 – cup almond meal
1/4 – cup coconut sugar or evaporated cane sugar or a zero-calorie sweetener like Lakanto
1 – Tbsp ground chia seed
1/8 – tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/4 – cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips
1/4 – tsp flaky sea salt or larger granule sea salt, with a bit extra for garnish if desired

Added fun and color on top – candy canes – crushed. Look for canes at your local health food store made with natural cane sugar and vegetable dye. Any extra candy canes can certainly brighten your tree!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8” x 8” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal.

Pull out your food processor and puree the pinto beans until smooth. Add coconut oil and vanilla. Blend until smooth, and scrape down the sides. Add cocoa powder, almond meal, sweetener of choice, chia seed powder, and fine grain sea salt. Pulse in chocolate chips carefully. Use a thin spatula to smooth the mixture into the pan. An offset spatula may be easiest if you have one in your kitchen. If you’re adding candy canes, now’s the time to crush them and sprinkle them on top before baking.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until edges appear dry. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt while still warm if desired. Cool completely in pan, cover and chill in refrigerator until cold. Remove from the baking pan using the parchment overhang. Slice into 16 squares and garnish with a dusting of additional cocoa powder and flaky sea salt if desired. (I like to make my servings on the small side which discourages overindulgence!)

These may be stored up to a week in an airtight container.
Of course, minimizing the chocolate chips will lower the sugar content, however even preparing the recipe as it is offered, each serving contains right around 2 teaspoons of sugar. While that’s not something that we on Skinny Gut Diet want to consume daily, it’s certainly a reasonable holiday splurge!

Enjoy and happy holiday~

Cut the Stress, Free Your Mind

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Dementia, Depression, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Stress, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/01/2016


Free Your Mind From Stress - brendawatson.com

One of the joys of the holiday season is when we reconnect with our families, young and old. Of course, it’s great fun when we get to hear of our Grandparent’s exciting trip they took to Ireland last year. But for some families the reunions are more bittersweet, as we notice the progressive changes that a year has taken on our loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Last weekend I saw an impactful edition of 60 Minutes on TV. Follow this link to view it yourself. In summary, it documents the struggles of a unique Columbian family that has a rare and disastrous genetic mutation, resulting in roughly 50% of their lineage to fall prey to very early onset Alzheimer’s followed by an approximate 10 year decline into oblivion. The episode is extraordinary to watch (grab your Kleenex box), and a clinical trial has begun that may offer incredible insights and even a possible cure into this dismaying disease. Please note that this type of Alzheimer’s is very rare. My prayers go out to this brave family.

Don’t despair, I have some good news for you here should you have concern about a bit too much forgetfulness lately. From an entirely different perspective, an encouraging article I read in the Wall Street Journal this week wants us to know that although Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, the chances of actually having a dementia condition like Alzheimer’s at a relatively early age – and early is defined as between 50 and 65 – is actually more remote than you might have imagined.

If you’ve been concerned, it’s far more likely that you are simply experiencing very normal age-associated declines in cognitive skills that can be greatly exacerbated by other lifestyle factors like exhaustion due to sleep issues, overwork, drug side effects, substance abuse, depression or adult attention deficit disorder. The general term for this situation is “brain fog”. Yes.

STRESS, along with a buffet of the choices we are casually offered in our society to deal with demanding circumstances to the best of our ability can magnify memory and cognition issues – and fog us up like we live across the bay from San Francisco. Uncover the stress that is intensifying the symptoms and clarity can again be yours.

Of course, if you have watched a family member decline into senility, you may be more sensitive to changes you note in your own life. And worrying that you are not at the top of your game can be absolutely debilitating. A well-intentioned physician may prescribe you an aid that doesn’t really benefit your particular situation. Or a seemingly relaxing habit like a drink or medication before bed may rob you of much needed deep sleep and clarity in the long run.

I’m not saying to ignore memory and cognition lapses. I am saying to love yourself, take a deep breath and attempt to evaluate the stress level you’re expecting yourself to function at. Would you even suggest that level of stress to your 30 year old niece? Probably not.

And if you are seriously concerned that your thoughts seem to be slipping, seek out an expert such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a neurologist who can review your symptoms and run appropriate tests.

In my experience, dietary choices and toxicity are always involved in any type of cognitive and mental issues. Caring for ourselves by making healthy meal choices, drinking plenty of water, exercise – all these are guaranteed to clear away a bit of that fog. And a great research study I read the other day (one of many) clearly demonstrates that probiotics, those good bacteria in your gut, may help boost memory and learning for Alzheimer’s patients. If they can do that for someone that already has symptoms, imagine how helpful they may be for the rest of us!

My greatest wishes are for you to enjoy a clear and joy-filled holiday – and please remember – cut the stress! You’ll free your mind!

Hygge this Thanksgiving with Friends and Family

Filed in Adults, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/23/2016


Hygge and Relax by the Fire - brendawatson.com

This year has flown by – and shortly we will be celebrating my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving! I attempt to celebrate every opportunity for simple gratitude, and how lovely to have an entire holiday focused in that way. With great appreciation in mind, I’d like to share with you a lovely Danish word that fits in perfectly with the essence of the season – hygge. Pronounced “hoo-gah”, it can roughly be translated as “coziness”, although that one word falls very short of the happiness it embodies in the Danish culture.

A lovely book was written by Londoner Helen Russell called The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. She shares her best explanation of hygge as “a complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.”

Interestingly, the origin of the word hygge is from the Norwegian word for wellness. The word is transformed from noun to verb to adjective as often as possible in Danish dialogue, reminding each other (and now us) how often pausing to enjoy and be grateful can help us to maintain health and happiness.

Beautiful examples of ways to enjoy hygge might be savoring a warm cup of soup, snuggling up by a fire, or enjoying an intimate night with friends or family.

As winter approaches across our country, many people will find themselves feeling trapped inside by inclement weather. Rather than seeing this time as an inconvenience, perhaps you’ll remember to hygge and view your time inside as an opportunity for coziness and choosing enjoyable moments.

I offer you a few examples of hygge that may thaw those potential winter blues.

Take time to make a special comfortable space inside your home where you can feel warm and cozy, perchance read a book, maybe cuddle under a favorite comforter, while you may enjoy your four-legged companion snuggled there too.

Lighting a candle can create an ambiance in a room like nothing else. In fact, the Danish are never without candles in their homes. One note – try to avoid candles made with paraffin which contain toxic chemicals. 100% vegetable based or beeswax candles with cotton wicks are easily available these days and will insure a healthful environment.

Using essential oils in a diffuser is certain to lighten your mood. Katherine Thomas, a Canadian aromatherapist and perfumer, offers this simple blend for well-being:
• 3 drops sweet orange
• 3 drops cedarwood
• 1 drop vetiver
• 1 drop ginger

I’ve been told that Danish people don’t struggle with yo-yo dieting. It’s all about their lifestyle. There is no doubt that foods create stress within our bodies that have as serious effects as the stress we encounter from intense situations in our lives. Making intelligent food choices on a daily basis is the key. I believe that as you embrace the concepts in Skinny Gut Diet, internal hygge will be yours.

A behavior I struggle with daily is my tendency to rush around. Hygge is all about lingering. I love that word – lingering. The very thought conjures up feelings of ease and luxurious relaxation. Join me this season in remembering to linger – over a mug of tea, cup of soup, even a glass of water. Perhaps linger in a garden, taking a moment to smell a flower. Hygge is most wonderfully experienced in nature.

And of course, central to Thanksgiving and hygge is gratitude. I know you’ve heard this before, and it bears repeating. Choose to wake up and think of 3 things you’re grateful for and then at night, as you lay your head on your pillow, take a moment to do the same. This simple practice will go a long way towards creating your happiest life. We can practice hygge right here, right now. I wish you endless blessings at this beautiful season.

Fall for Ugly Veggies!

Filed in Gardening, General, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/15/2016


Ugly Veggies - brendawatson.com

I’d like to think that farmers are smiling across America (and hopefully receiving a bit more profit from their labor intensive work!) A new craze I read about in the Wall Street Journal takes a second and third look at previously discarded ugly veggies!

As you walk down the produce aisle of your favorite grocer, have you ever wondered what happens to all the fruits and vegetables that are misshapen, had a blemish, or were otherwise not picture perfect? If you’ve ever had even a small garden you must realize that not all of the offerings look as though they are “ready for their close-ups”! True life just doesn’t look perfect, although produce in most grocery aisles might lead you to believe otherwise.

Steve Lutz from CMI Orchards in Washington was thrilled to get a call from Walmart! They were piloting an “ugly-apple” project and wondered if he had any contenders. His unattractive apples, blemished by hail, might previously have been sold for a loss on the juice market. Although he’ll not receive top dollar for his misfits, the produce would be purchased at a reasonable price. I’d say that call was a blessing!

I didn’t realize that farmers in Minnesota report that roughly 20% of their produce is deemed cosmetically imperfect by industry standards! That’s a huge amount of waste and loss.

Good news for the consumer – the “homely” crops will generally cost us less. And even better news is that their taste will be as good, sometimes even an improvement over their gorgeous counterparts. Once truly ripe, we’ve all experienced that although seemingly “ugly veggies” may be less visually appealing, their flavors can often be rich and wonderful.

Meet “spuglies” which are potatoes considered too big, too small or blemished, a mangled heirloom tomato with the tagline “a scarred heart can still be a beautiful one”, or perhaps a three legged carrot or plums with proboscises. Grocers are getting creative with names, hoping that the “Hip-Hip Carrot” that has extra arms wrapped around its trunk might inspire customers to give an ugly vegetable a try. You may be seeing relatives of these and other offerings at a Walmart or Whole Foods near you~

It was reported in an August Nielsen/Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults that most customers still aren’t particularly excited about buying ugly produce, even thought they said the produce “looked cool”. Eight percent said they might buy a twisted cucumber out of pity.

Pity! Some of the most delicious cucumbers I’ve ever eaten were twisted like they had macaroni in their genes. I guess I’m just blessed to have experienced gardens where I’ve learned to love the myriad differences that Nature provides.

I’m with Kathy Means of the Produce Marketing Association when she says “We don’t care if it’s a mutt or a purebred or small. It can be ugly or conventional or whole. We just need people to eat more produce.” I’m sure she’s speaking from a financial perspective, however I’m thinking of the health of Americans! Rule #2 from Skinny Gut Diet – “Eat living foods every day to balance your gut!”

I can see it now. Someone is going to come up with “Fermented Uglies” and make a fortune!

Chris Tantau, a California peach grower, says it best – “All my children are beautiful”. I couldn’t agree more~