The Grecian Garden

Living a nourished life

Real Food, Real Health, Strawberry Fig Muffins, and a Give-away!

   Jan 06

Real Food, Real Health, Strawberry Fig Muffins, and a Give-away!

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Sunshine in a glass: Juice 6 carrots, 1/4 beet, 2 small handfuls of spinach, 1/2 meyer lemon, and a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root. Simplify.

There’s a spectacular giveaway below, but first real food 101:

Calories. Fat. Protein.  Carbohydrates.  Low carb. Aspartame.  High carb.  Metabolism.  High protein.  Paleo.  Primal.  Raw.  Skim milk.  Vegan.  Vegetarian.  Whole wheat.  Adkins.  South Beach.  Special K.  The food pyramid (My plate).  Low fat.  No fat.  Diet soda.  Sugar free.  Soy milk.

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We’ve created a monster. A false nutrition monster moving faster and faster that won’t be slowing down unless you take the reins.  It is a waste of time to go through the positive (but mostly negative) accolades for the above nutrition buzzwords.  I’ll make one exception for “counting calories”.  How is it possible to enjoy eating when you begin a meal with math?

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Eggnog smoothie: Blend 1 1/2 cups almond milk eggnog, a banana, and 1/2 cup ice. Sprinkle w/ cinnamon. Simplify.

(almond milk eggnog recipe)

We can stop the madness of all the get healthy fads by following one single step so easy that your grandmother or 3-year-old nephew will understand.  First, I propose we do one thing to end the confusion: SIMPLIFY. What if there was one simple principle to follow that prevented disease and reversed illness?  There is.

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Thyme roasted green beans: Slather with coconut oil: fresh green beans, 1 chopped onion, and 1 sliced yellow pepper and place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme and bake at 450 for 20 minutes, stirring half way. Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving. Simplify.

1.  Eat only what God created for food.

Food that God created comes from the earth in the form of plants or from healthy animals. Dr. Weston A. Price in the 1930′s discovered the power of eating real food by studying traditional cultures not affected by modern influences.  I recognized the power of eating real food when I healed my own body from severe food intolerances, a parasite,  and heart problems.  In short, I got my life back simply by eating real food.

What is Real Food?

Real food is nutrient-dense and in its whole, unrefined form; think fresh lemons as opposed to bottled lemon juice.  Real food is free of chemicals, additives, synthetic ingredients, and preservatives.  Produce is organic and never genetically modified.  Avoid canned produce and choose fresh, frozen, or lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables.  Animals are free to roam on pasture and receive plenty of sunlight and exercise.  In order to retain or increase vitamins, enzymes, and minerals,  food should be minimally processed and properly prepared using traditional methods to guarantee the best nutrient availability (ex. soaking, sprouting, fermenting, etc.) When you are buying something from a grocery store, be sure to read the label.  Zoom into the ingredients list; if it is long with unpronounceable words, avoid it!

Real food is easy to identify and includes:

apples, oranges, pears, pineapple, grapes, cherries, blueberries, kiwi, lemons, limes, grapefruit, pears, mango, papaya, cranberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, plum, carrots, spinach, garlic, asparagus, sweet- potatoes, cabbage, squash, fennel, swiss chard, tamari, lettuce, zucchini, onions, peas, egg plant, sweet peas, pumpkin, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, natto, leeks, cucumbers, peppers, celery, miso, spinach, jicama, kale, herbs, beans/legumes*, brown rice*, nuts*, seeds*, grass fed beef, pastured poultry, lamb, wild caught fish, raw cultured dairy, butter, eggs, olive oil, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, carob, chocolate, etc.  Too many to list!!

Non foods: avoid

Genetically modified foods, hydrogenated shortening, fruit snacks, V-8 fruit smoothies, canned fruit, juice boxes, canned vegetables, Twinkies, canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, fast food, cellulose (wood pulp), Doritos, foods labeled “low fat”, pasteurized dairy products, Cheetos, processed and prepackaged foods, Oreos, Big Mac’s, tofu, additives and preservatives on ingredient labels, white sugar, Taco Bell, candy, white flour, textured vegetable protein, most food products in the center aisles of the grocery stores, etc. Too many to list!!

*Beans, nuts, seeds, and grains:

Nuts and seeds-  Nuts and seeds can be difficult to digest if not properly prepared.  Soak nuts and seeds before consumption to make them easier to digest and allow our bodies to absorb their nutrients better.  Soak raw nuts and seeds overnight in salt water, then rinse and eat or store in the refrigerator.  You can also dehydrate them making them nice and crispy. The soaking process reduces enzyme inhibitors and phytates which are anti-nutrients.

Grains, beans,and legumes– Grains  can also be difficult to digest and cause a myriad of health problems (insulin resistance, joint pain, weight gain, leaky gut syndrome)  if not properly prepared.  By soaking, sprouting, or fermenting (sourdough) grains and beans we reduce their phytic acid levels allowing us to digest them properly and easily absorb their nutrients.  Phytic acid binds to minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron etc.) making it difficult for our bodies to absorb them.

To prepare grains/beans/legumes, soak 1 cup  in water with an acid added 1 tbsp of : whey, lemon juice, or vinegar, for 12 to 24 hours or longer, rinse and proceed with cooking.  You can also add a pinch of baking soda or salt instead of the acidic medium.  Whichever method you choose, they make the beans easier to digest.  In addition to soaking, sprouting can also be done to increase nutrients. You can buy sprouted bread, cereal, whole grains, flour, beans, and legumes if you don’t have the time to prepare them.

If you do not soak, sprout, or ferment your grains, or buy sprouted grain products then the grainfree lifestyle is for you.  Since most people do not soak or ferment their grains, many opt to go grain free.  I personally feel much better on a grain free diet and eat grains only a few times (3-5) per year.   When I do eat grains (brown rice, amaranth etc.)  I soak, sprout, or ferment them.  When I eat beans I soak and sprout, then cook them.  Note that it’s not necessary to avoid phytic acid completely, just reduce it as much as possible. Check out this article, Living with Phytic Acid, for research.

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One of my first sprouting experiences! This was in March of 2009 and I sprouted kidney beans. I still sprout beans and enjoy the process of having a science experiment in my kitchen.

Animal products –Animal products are only healthy when the animals themselves are healthy.  For instance, cows should be able to graze freely on grass and other greens while not being exposed to hormones or antibiotics. Poultry should be organic, meaning no use of hormones or antibiotics, and free range so they can eat plenty of bugs and get their daily dose of sunshine and exercise.  Choose wild caught fish instead of farmed as farmed fish are fed a high soy diet.  I purchase my high quality protein from U.S. Wellness Meats and Eat Wild.  I purchase fresh, wild caught fish from a local fish market.

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Pineapple ginger salmon. I'll be sharing this recipe on my next post, and yes it's simple icon wink Real Food, Real Health, Strawberry Fig Muffins, and a Give away!


How do I incorporate real whole foods into my diet?

1.  Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables several times a week.

2.  Eating fresh fruit every day alone or in smoothies.

3.  I eat a salad everyday with lots of fresh veggies, lettuces, greens, sprouts,  and herbs.

4.  I make a soup every week using home made bone broth with a ton of vegetables added in.

5.  My side dishes at dinner time are very simple such as a stir fry of vegetables or a simple roasted vegetable.

6.  I cook  high quality protein on the weekend and use it to create different meals throughout the week.

How do you incorporate real whole foods into your diet?  Tell me in the comment section below for a chance to win a 32 oz jar of Tropical Traditions extra virgin coconut oil!!


Below is a simple and healthy muffin recipe that combines two of my favorite fruits, figs and strawberries.  These are fabulous for breakfast and I’ve been known to slather them with my homemade chocolate ganache for dessert.

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Strawberry fig muffins

Strawberry fig muffins

Gluten, grain, dairy, and refined sugar free.

It took a few tries to get this recipe perfect as my juicy strawberries were throwing off the liquid to dry ingredients ratio.  The arrowroot powder really helps to absorb the extra juices.  Organic strawberries are the way to go to avoid excess pesticides.  I’ve found that when purchasing non-organic strawberries, their flavor is flat, and they get moldy quickly.  With the organic strawberries that I bought, I was able to make these muffins, pancakes, and four servings of smoothies!  Definitely worth the extra cost for it to be organic, as four uses for one small container is actually very economical.

2 cups almond flour

½ tsp salt (I prefer Himalayan, Celtic, or Real salt)

½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup arrowroot powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ cup coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or butter

½ cup honey

1 large egg

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup chopped strawberries (I used fresh strawberries, I’m sure frozen would work)

1 cup chopped figs (I used fresh)

¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin pan with cupcake liners. I use the foil liners.

2.  In a large mixing bowl whisk the almond flour, salt, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and cinnamon.

3.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, egg, and vanilla.

4.  Stir the wet ingredients with the dry and fold in the strawberries, figs, and walnuts.

5.  Scoop batter into prepared muffin liners and bake for 25-30 min or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before serving.


Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Give-away!

tropical traditions coconut oil Real Food, Real Health, Strawberry Fig Muffins, and a Give away!

Tropical Traditions sent me a 32 ounce Gold Label extra virgin coconut oil to give away!!  Have you tried Tropical Traditions coconut oil?  It’s fabulous x 10 and my pantry is always stocked with at least one jar.  I love cooking and baking with coconut oil not only because it tastes super rich and silky, but for its incredible health benefits too!  The benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which gives coconut oil  antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.  And no, Tropical Traditions didn’t pay me to tell you all that. icon wink Real Food, Real Health, Strawberry Fig Muffins, and a Give away!

How to enter the giveaway:

1.  How do you incorporate real whole foods into your diet?  (soups, salads, smoothies, etc.)  Leave your answer in the comment section below.

For additional entries:

2.  Like The Grecian Garden on facebook and leave a comment here letting me know.

3.  Follow The Grecian Garden on twitter and leave a comment here letting me know.

You have until midnight on February 1, 2012 to enter.


How’s the new year  new you going?  Have you tried to eat healthy every January and find you’ve fallen off your get fit plan by February?  My next class is for you.  Learn how to shed pounds, get energy, decrease your risk for getting heart disease, diabetes and even cancer…

Recharge 2012: Simple Actions for Lasting Results:

Help your body heal gently and naturally.  Come learn the basics of whole food cleansing and recieve all the resources you’ll need to make a detox easy and effective.

When: Thursday, January 26, 7-8:30 pm

Where: Jacobs Chiropractic & Wellness Center

215 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Cost: $24 ($20 if you bring a friend)

RSVP by Jan 24th to 850-916-7060



This post linked with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, and Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Real Food Wednesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Whole Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, and Sunday School.

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  1. rawesome goddess says:

    this is everything you would need to know to start a journey into the world of real health. i gasped when i saw that beautiful picture of those muffins! oh they look so delicious!

    i incorporate whole foods into my diet, by making them center stage in every meal. then we just fill in the blanks with extra treats like store bought gluten free crackers or gluten free waffles and pancakes:)

  2. Danya says:

    oh yummy….both the smoothie and the muffins look delish Melanie! I’ll have to try them once I’m able to unpack my kitchen. :)

  3. Sandy says:

    Mel… that was a very interesting and healthy post. You covered a lot of territory and a platform for a book… By the way I’m soaking lentils and I have a delicious chicken soup that I made from fresh broth last week.

  4. Wonderful Real Food tips! I incorporate more whole foods into my diet by starting off with juicing or a fruit and veggie smoothie. I try to snack on something that came from the ground…apples, carrots, pears, berries, nuts. And I always have a huge salad for lunch with tons of color. Lately I’ve been making my own salad dressings by pureeing a veggie with olive oil and herbs.

    I’d love to win! I use Whole Foods brand coconut oil and would love to try something new!

  5. I liked Grecian Garden on Facebook!

  6. I already follow you on Twitter. :)

  7. Great post! It’s so simple to eat real food – just go with whole, God-given foods. If it’s been made in a factory, comes in a box, or is otherwise interfered with by people, it’s not to be eaten!

  8. Hi Melanie, Thanks for introducing me to your blog. It’s always great to find other bloggers who believe in real food! It’s so refreshing. Your recipe sounds great. I’m a huge fan of figs. I hope to see you next week. Have an amazing weekend.

  9. Wow, great post, Melanie! I would only add that South Beach has actually brought many, many people to mostly real food. Kalyn’s Kitchen is a wonderful blog with South Beach recipe. When SB loses me is with its products and artificial sweeteners. I’m not entering the giveaway (just got a gallon of Tropical Traditions coconut oil), but did want to say thanks for the post! Off to share …

  10. Jen says:

    I’d love to try their coconut oil. I’ve heard tons of great things about it. As for how I incorporate real foods in my diet…I don’t know. I just do! That’s all I eat. No boxes/bags for me.

  11. kim ledford says:

    I incorporate fresh fruit in smoothies, lots of root veggies in soups and kale is a staple in my diet….yum

  12. kim ledford says:

    i follow you on twitter

  13. kim ledford says:

    I like you on facebook as kim ledforde burley

  14. Jen A says:

    Eating organic whole foods is so much easier in summer when we grow our own. Winter is a little more challenging with less than appealing produce. Not to mention the cost is astronomical. Thanks for the opportunity to win, have been very interested in coconut oil, just not up to the expense right now.

  15. Rachel Blo says:

    I usually incorporate real whole foods into my diet by eating raw veggies, lots of salads, soups, & smoothes. I would love to try Tropical Traditions coconut oil since I’ve heard so many good things about it and seen lots of recipes lately that call for it.

  16. Lynn Paul says:

    I have a small rice cooker in my semi, piece of meat, lots of veggies and keep adding to it for day’s! Better than truckstops or fast food!

  17. Christy says:

    I am new at eating real food. I discovered last May I was allergic to dairy, eggs, beef, and wheat. My food intolerance list was numerous as well. So, I had to learn how to go from a fast-food, non-vegetable eater to eating extremely healthy. I have found that I love salads with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables–something not easy to find living in a small town in the midwest during the winter months. I’ve also ventured out and learned to make my own vegetable stock with fresh vegetables. I love soups during winter and my favorite is a roasted corn soup with sweet potatoes. Mmmm, good stuff! I’ve just started making smoothies for my breakfast meals. I’m finding that I love real food!! I am now making my whole family eat this way. Life without preservatives is SO much better!

    I loved the information in this article! It has inspired me to branch out just a little more. I would love to try coconut oil! I never was a fan of coconut, but I’m finding now that I like the taste. (I eat ice cream made from coconut milk.) I’m now following you on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m adding your link in a post in my blog. :)

  18. Dottie says:

    We eat real food as a habit. I make stocks (from chicken, so far), and regularly make soups by adding stir fry veggies and maybe some chicken. I love getting recipes online for grain-free meals. We make kefir and yogurt and have that in the morning with a raw egg(lately) and some stevia, sometimes carob and a bit of vanilla and honey. I make grain free breads and desserts and make crispy nuts for snacking or adding to recipes. Farm eggs are a big part of our protein and we get farm fresh milk as well and some good cheese…we’re blessed. We use a lot of juicing carrots in the large bag…that and celery and onions are all a staple around here. We also use our garden…still working toward a green thumb and better soil. Great oils like coconut oil and butter are our mainstays. Thanks for entering me in the giveaway!

  19. Swathi says:

    Real muffins looks delicious, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop with a nice article.

  20. Alea Milham says:

    Your strawberry fig muffins look delicious! We don’t do dairy in our house, so I use lots of coconut oil in my baking. Thanks for sharing your recipe with the Hearth and Soul Hop.

  21. This is such an interesting and informative post, and I love those wonderful muffins! Strawberries and figs make such a delicious and nutritious combination. Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  22. Natalie says:

    Great post!! Those muffins look divine. I avoid refined sweeteners, grains, etc. We eat high quality protein and I’m trying to incorporate more veggies in. I just looked up your chicken soup recipe, and I’m going to make broth and that recipe this week! Oh, and I use coconut oil and love it. My mom bought a big drum of coconut oil for me a few years ago and I only have about a cup worth and I really want/need some more!

  23. Natalie says:

    I like you on facebook.

  24. Jack says:

    I stopped drinking coke when I learned there were 13 teaspoons surgar in a can…that was 1981…love your banana ice cream and almond milk recipies! Great advice.

  25. Gloria says:

    I have switched to all unprocessed whole foods since going Gf/soy free/dairy free. I cannot believe how much I am enjoying cooking and eating now as I know my diet is both helping me heal and preventing further illness. I think Kale Chips are my new favorite snack!!

  26. Nikki V says:

    Our family went GF last year. We just found out my son has egg, dairy, and almond allergies. So now we’re learning how to use whole foods better. I’ve been making bone broth soup each week and we’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables as our digestive systems try to get in synch. So far I’ve removed sugar, and next it will be removing it from the diet of the rest of the family. I’m learning lots of new ingredients, thanks to blogs like yours!

  27. Jean C. says:

    I have my own kitchen garden where I grow basil, tomatoes, squash. I buy other fresh fruits and veggies from the farmers market. I freeze my own tomatoes, beans and squash. I make breads with graham flour, because it used all the wheat, has the nutty taste of graham crackers and add fresh fruits in season, such as fresh picked blueberries (a friend has the bushes) strawberries, mango, sweet potatoes, zucchine, or almost anything in season. Learnng to mix and match new ingredients weekly. Soon my fig tree will be filling my kitchen and can`t wait.

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