Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables

Looking for some inexpensive, fresh, local and great tasting winter fruit and veggies? Here’s a list:



Brussel Sprouts




Winter Squash





Turnips and Rutabagas


Sweet Potatoes


Citrus Fruit


Dark Leafy Greens



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This Woman’s Work

So I sit in this chair beside her hospital bed, waiting on Momma. For once in her life, everything revolves around her. She’ll be coming home soon. I can hardly wait. I have time to sing with her and talk with her and reminisce. This time is going by so fast. I’m torn between wanting her to stay here with us and wanting her to be free of the pain. On the one hand, i’d like for her to be with me always. What a novel idea. But while the mind can live on in infamy, the body needs rest.  So i sit and watch and attempt to comfort her. I rub her back, her butt, her legs, her tummy…not necessarily in that order.

She came home a few days ago and we went about the tasks of cleaning and cooking. I washed linen and lucy. i cut apples and administered meds. We did every thing we could do to make her comfortable. She left this space in peace and serenity. I said the prayer of protection over her twice. She is now at peace.  She takes our love with her and we keep her love with us. Take your rest, Mom. You deserve it. Save a seat for me.



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Wendi! Sistah of the Month


Hello My Sistahs!
Check out our Sistah of the month for November – Wendi O’Neal.

Wendi O’Neal is a cultural worker, facilitator, and educator who was born and raised in New Orleans. Ms. O’Neal has worked in local, regional and national justice organizations; but her heart’s work is rooted in the US South, especially the kind of organizing that happens around kitchen tables in the Black belt and Appalachia. She regularly facilitates adult students in how to use story circles, and has been a teaching artist for 4 years with the Ashe Kuumba Institute with students ages 6 – 16.

Wendi uses freedom songs and story circles to share Black resistance movement culture, traditions and history. Her areas of interest include the role of the local New Orleans CORE chapter (Congress of Racial Equality) in the Freedom Rides of 1961, Freedom Summer of 1963-4, SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers use of song in justice movement, the Albany Movement, and the children of the Selma Voting Rights Movement.

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Food Safety Tips

I don’t often think about getting sick from food poisoning. It’s just something that doesn’t happen to me . . . or does it? Hmmm. Sniffles, congestion, headache, itches, blurred vision, diarrhea, gas and dry skin can all be signs of food poisoning. Didn’t know that huh? Neither did I. Here are some tips to keep you from getting sick and blaming it on the weather or pet dander or whatever.

CLEAN: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often

Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
  • Wash your hands after playing with pets or visiting petting zoos.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
  • Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
  • Keep books, backpacks, or shopping bags off the kitchen table or counters where food is prepared or served.
  • Download the CLEAN fact sheet.

SEPARATE: Don’t Cross Contaminate

Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread. When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Always start with a clean scene ― wash hands with warm water and soap. Wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops, and utensils with hot soapy water.

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and in your refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Use a food thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes, to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Download the SEPARATE fact sheet.

COOK: Cook to Proper Temperatures

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods.

  • Use a food thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes, to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Cook beef roasts and steaks to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145°F. Cook pork to a minimum of 145°F. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F throughout the bird, as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all ground meat to 160°F. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links eating undercooked ground beef with a higher risk of illness. Remember, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your burgers.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny. Don’t use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F.
  • Cook fish to 145°F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
  • Make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive) when cooking in a microwave oven. For best results, cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to 165°F.
  • Use microwave-safe cookware and plastic wrap when cooking foods in a microwave oven.
  • Download the COOK fact sheet.

CHILL: Refrigerate Promptly

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Do not over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to help keep food safe. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the temperature is consistently 40°F or below. The freezer temperature should be 0°F or below.

  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, and other perishables as soon as you get them home from the store.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food, or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90°F).
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave using the defrost setting. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Use or discard refrigerated food on a regular basis.
  • Download the CHILL fact sheet.

Keeping Cold Lunches Cold

Prepare cooked food, such as turkey, ham, chicken, and vegetable or pasta salads, ahead of time to allow for thorough chilling in the refrigerator. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use. Keep cooked food refrigerated until time to leave home.

To keep lunches cold away from home, include a small frozen gel pack or frozen juice box. Of course, if there’s a refrigerator available, store perishable items there upon arrival. Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags are best for keeping food cold, but metal or plastic lunch boxes and paper bags can also be used. If using paper lunch bags, create layers by double bagging to help insulate the food.

Some food is safe without a cold source. Items that don’t require refrigeration include whole fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, unopened canned meat and fish, chips, breads, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, and pickles.

Keeping Hot Lunches Hot

Use an insulated container to keep food like soup, chili, and stew hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot — 140°F or above.

For more information, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

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5 Unexpected Side Effects of . . . Constipation

I know, it’s not exactly lunch or dinner conversation, but constipation is something that we should really talk about. This article was found on the Food Matters website, written by Laurentine Ten Bosch and shared by me!

After all, 63 million Americans report having sluggish bowels. So chances are that you – or somebody you know and care about – may be having problems in the poop department! LOL!

Furthermore, constipation isn’t merely a painful inconvenience. It can impact many areas of your health and wellbeing, sometimes in very surprising ways.

Find out five of the top, unexpected side effects of constipation, and how you can take action today to get your bowels back in good working order!

Firstly, What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Constipation?

There is a wide variation in what is considered to be ‘normal’ in terms of bowel habits.

As a very general guideline, constipation is classified as having less than three bowel movements per week. Other symptoms can include:

  • Straining to pass a bowel movement,
  • Feelings of incomplete defecation (i.e. feeling like you may need to go a bit more, even once you’ve finished),
  • Having small, dry and/or hard stools,
  • Experiencing a feeling of ‘fullness’ in your rectum.

(If you notice any of the above symptoms, or a change from your usual bowel habits, it’s always best to get this checked out.)

This is obviously an unpleasant situation to deal with in the bathroom, but did you know that constipation could be affecting your life and health in other ways as well?

1. Constipation Can Cause Headaches (Or Is At Least Associated With Them)

Headaches can be caused by many things, and experts have now added constipation to the list of possible causal factors.

Why? The first possible reason is stress. Being able to poop properly is a basic human function that’s very easy to take for granted…until it’s taken away from you.

The pain, inconvenience, worry and pressure of being constipated – and feeling your insides continue to fill up, block and bloat – can truly cause a lot of stress. This anxiety can in turn trigger tension headaches.

Also, a very common cause of constipation is dehydration. Your bowels need a sufficient supply of water to produce soft stools. When you’re not drinking enough water, fecal matter can become dry and compacted, creating the hard ‘pellets’ of poop that are common with constipation.

In this case, while the constipation does not directly cause headaches, the associated dehydration can. So by drinking more water, you may get a twofold relief from constipation and headaches!

Lastly, there is some evidence that headaches may be induced from toxin buildup during constipation. Your bowels are a major outlet for your body to eliminate toxic materials; if this waste is idling for longer than it should, it may be reabsorbed back into the body and trigger headaches.

2. Constipation Can Cause Breakouts!

Experts acknowledge the link between what happens in our gut and what shows up on our skin.

Fundamentally, constipation can be a sign that your inner ecosystem of gut flora is a little strained. And when our friendly flora isn’t in tip-top condition, it can manifest with more than just constipation. Ultimately, your skin can suffer too.

Skin conditions such as puffiness, acne, dark circles under the eyes and even rashes can all stem from internal gut issues.

Remember also that the skin is your body’s largest organ and does perform some functions of elimination. Therefore, toxins that enter through the body through unhealthy foods, or accumulate during constipation, can cause zits and other blemishes.

So if your body can’t get rid of toxins via the normal route (i.e. the bowels), it may break out via your skin instead!

3. Constipation Can Make You Lose Your Appetite

It is common for many people with constipation to lose their appetite.

But please let it be known that this is not an effective weight-loss strategy! 😉

(Besides, constipation often causes a bloated and distended abdomen, which probably doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the goals of dieting!)

The type of appetite loss that accompanies chronic constipation is not a pleasant form of hunger suppression. Rather, it is a pervasive malaise that makes eating food feel like a total ‘turn off’ and real effort. Kinda like that weak, ‘off-food’ feeling you get after being sick – it’s not a vitalizing experience!

You see, the digestive system is a finely-tuned, well-honed machine of interconnecting parts that is constantly feeding messages back to the brain and your organs. Every time you eat a meal, special nerves that line the inside of your stomach are stretched, which triggers something called a mass movement.

A mass movement?! “What Is THAT?”

Well, have you ever noticed that, often, you feel the urge to poo within half an hour of eating a big meal? That is the magic of a mass movement in action! As you eat, nerves in your stomach stretch and neuronal signals are sent to your bowels to say,

“Hey down there! We’ve got another load coming through – it’s time to move things along.”

Your intestines are designed to respond by propelling food further through your digestive tract, hence the need to visit the toilet

With constipation, this feedback loop is interrupted. Instead of clearing space, your brain and stomach get signals that things are backed up. Just like any production line, it’s inefficient to keep adding more into the mix until congestion has cleared.

In other words, your body can shut down the urge to eat (i.e. put more in) until it’s taken care of the other side of the equation (i.e. what’s going out).

4. Constipation Can Give You Hemorrhoids (Ouch!)

Constipation is typified by a straining sensation when you attempt a bowel movement.

Just like any muscle that is trying to carry a workload that is heavier than its capacity, there’s going to be some wear and tear.

The length of our intestines is covered by smooth muscle fibers that propel food and waste along our digestive tract. When these muscles are put under pressure (such as during prolonged constipation), they also exert extra force on the veins which line the rectum.

During constipation, these veins can be stretched beyond their normal capacity, so that they are no longer able to hold their shape and integrity. Sometimes this is to the extent that they no longer stay within the internal cavity and protrude from the anus.  This can be uncomfortable, indeed!

5. Can Constipation Give You Bad Breath?

According to one Danish study, yes.

This research showed that almost one quarter of bad breath may be attributed to constipation! Other reports indicate that people with constipation commonly notice a bad taste in the mouth or recurrent episodes of bad breath.

The reasons for this association are not completely clear. However, one theory is that constipation may lead to the proliferation of toxic gut bacteria, which produce malodorous gases. Kinda weird to think of these gases floating up into your mouth, right?

Ways To Treat Constipation

As you can see, there are many things that can cause constipation. As with any multifactorial health issue, there are many factors which can help.

Once you’ve ruled out any underlying medical issues or food intolerances, here are some diet and lifestyle strategies that can be very effective at treating constipation:

  • Don’t Hold On: While I agree that going anytime, anywhere, is by no means a socially-acceptable solution, the less that you ‘put off’ going once you feel the urge, the better!
  • Exercising Regularly: Physical activity sends blood flow to the entire digestive tract and can also stimulate a bowel movement.
  • Lower Your Stress Levels: Stress and your emotional state has a very real impact on digestion. If you think about it, we even acknowledge this in everyday colloquialisms such as feeling ‘butterflies in your tummy’ and being ‘sick to the stomach’. Chronic stress can result in inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and unpleasant digestive disorders such as constipation. Meditation, yoga, massage, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, aromatherapy and homeopathy can be great stress reducing tools.
  • Dial Up Your Fiber Intake: It is believed that our ancestors ate up to 100g of fiber per day, whereas the average modern American hits less than 14g daily.  Bump up your daily intake with high-fiber foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, chia, (soaked and activated) quinoa and brown rice, organic prunes, soaked legumes and fresh produce. Just go slowly, though, as the bowel often doesn’t like a sudden change in fiber intake!
  • Stay Well Hydrated:Hydrationis one of the strongest determining factors as to how soft your stool will be. A great article on how to tell if you’re chronically dehydrated can be found here
  • Mind Your Medications: Certain antidepressants and NSAID medications can cause constipation. In fact, some supplements can, too! (Particularly iron and calcium carbonate.) It can be worthwhile to check if any pills you currently take may be adding to the problem.
  • Trial A Probiotic and Eating More Fermented Foods. One study found that levels of the good bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteriawere significantly higher in people who didn’t experience constipation. Therefore, you can top up your levels of good bacteria with a high quality probiotic supplement and regular hit of fermented foods!

Hopefully, by now you will agree with me when I say that constipation shouldn’t be a taboo subject; it affects a lot of people and can seriously impact your health.

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Are you making this mistake in plating your food?

The next time you sit down to eat, take a good long look at your plate before you dig in. The food you’re eating and the way you prepared it might be totally healthy, but there could be another, almost invisible factor causing you to eat more than you originally intended to. And if you’re interested in losing or maintaining your weight, letting this little mistake slip under the radar could be getting in the way of your goals.

Your portion sizes might be too big, and the way you plate your food could be the reason why. Your healthy-eating game plan seems airtight: You diligently set your brown rice down, top it with a lean protein like chicken, and finish things off with veggies. But here’s the rub: Arranging your food in this format may cause you to accidentally pack on too much of some foods and too little of others. According to Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., owner of The Wellness Whisk, when you plate your carbohydrate and protein first, “by the time you get to the veggies, there’s little room left on the plate.” In a well-rounded meal, she says, veggies should be the main focus. So you don’t want to plop them on the plate like an afterthought.

“Changing the way you view your meal to make the vegetable section your primary focus is so important because they contain all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water your body needs,” Yeung explains. So what’s the best way to plate your food? Veggies first, then protein, then grains—if it sounds upside down, that’s because it is. This method, developed by Yeung, is called plating backwards, and it’s an extremely simple solution to the common too-big-portion problem.

Making it a mealtime habit is easy. When you plate, Yeung says you’ll want to aim for your portions to be 50 percent non-starchy vegetables, 25 percent lean protein, and 25 percent carbohydrates. If you plate the classic way (carbs, protein, vegetables) you’re more likely to end up with 50 percent carbs and 25 percent vegetables. To strike the right balance, she says, “Start by filling about half your plate with vegetables, then add protein and carbohydrates in about equal portions.” And if you’re still unsure about your portion sizes, she suggests usingMyPlate’s visuals as a guideline.

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Helpful Hints and Tips

  • Add variety to your meals – try vegetarian options, like bean burritos, portabello mushroom burgers or spinach lasagna. (Love me some spinach lasagne!)
  • Fruit and plain low-fat yogurt go great together. Enjoy them for breakfast or as a snack. If you must, add a tiny bit of stevia or a teaspoon of honey to sweeten. Or try mixing in a shake of ground cinnamon.
  • Walk your way to your goal weight. New to walking? Start slow and gradually add minutes. Not new to walking? Get a Sistah to walk with you!
  • If it bothers your knees & joints to run, try bicycling or swimming (like Nikkia) for a great aerobic exercise.
  • To help you eat fewer calories when eating out, order an item from the menu (like an appetizer or a side vegetable) instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
  • Pay attention to the food as you eat it and sloooowww down. Drink water as you eat and put your fork down between bites.
  • Chew each bite 25 – 30 times. This helps both satiety and digestion.
  • Feel for your satiety level and stop just before you feel full (this takes practice).

Try at least ONE of these tips and see how you feel. Love it? Incorporate it into your days. Hate it? Choose something else. You have options.

In Sistahly Love,


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