Archive for August, 2011

Peachy Keen (Why eating in season makes delicious sense!)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

A few years ago, my husband planted several apple, pear and peach trees on a sloped, sunny spot alongside our garden in the backyard.  We’d dream of the day when we could pick our own fresh fruit right from the tree – for free!  The first year, we got nothing, nada, zilch – Did we do something wrong? Were these dud trees or something?  Perhaps they were too young to bear fruit?

The next year, the trees grew larger and we started to get tiny little red pears on one of them.  They were so cute! A few days later, due to the dry weather, the tree snapped in half and all the little pears fell and never made it to ripeness.  The following year, a herd of deer (or something!) had a field day and devoured pretty much all of our fruit and most of our garden for that matter while we were on vacation – tomatoes and everything  – GONE!

So this year, we were not even going to get our hopes up – we pretty much gave up and were content with looking at our pretty, bare trees, feeding the wildlife, without tasting the fruit ourselves. Until one summer day in early August, there they were!  Beautiful, yellow, red and orange colored  (albeit smaller than store bought) PEACHES!!!  Finally!!!

We picked a dozen or so and they were DEE-VINE!  I’ve only picked and eaten apples and pears from PYO picking orchards before – the taste and juiciness of our peaches were amazing!  The natural fruit enzymes of the peaches popped in my mouth they were so fresh and alive.  We decided to make a peach cobbler, found a recipe online and tweaked some ingredients to make it a little healthier.   Our first, fresh Peach Cobbler was, to quote Rachael Ray, DEE-LISH!

Our fruit tree experience reminded me of the benefits of eating seasonally, locally and from your back yard (if possible).  The taste, cost, nutritional value and personal satisfaction of that peach cobbler couldn’t be bought anywhere!  It took some patience, yes (a few years!), but it was so worth it!

Oh, and before I share the Peach Cobbler recipe, let me share a little bit more of our peach story.  We decided to let the other 30 or so peaches that remained on the trees ripen and grow a little larger, so we left them alone for a few days.  Can you take a guess at what happened?

We came home from a weekend away and found that we were robbed again!! The herd of deer (or whatever “it” was/”they” were), sauntered in the backyard and ate them all – not one peach was left for us to enjoy!  (On the bright side, at least they left the tomatoes this time.)  The lesson learned was that you have to strike while the iron’s hot and harvest as soon as nature’s bounty is ready — or someone (or something) else will!

Here’s an easy Peach Cobbler recipe from Whole Foods.  I use most recipes as a template – feel free to substitute ingredients to suit your taste and dietary preferences:


6 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (we had about 8 cups of peaches)
1 3/4 cups flour (we used Gluten Free)
6 tablespoons sugar (we used about 4 T of Xylitol/Birch bark natural sweetener)
2 teaspoons almond extract (we used 1 t vanilla)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
10 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces and chilled, divided (we used 5T)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup half-and-half (we used almond milk)


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup of the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, almond extract and lemon zest and juice. Pile mixture into a 10-inch baking dish or pie plate, then dot with 2 tablespoons of the butter; set aside.

In another bowl, combine remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add half-and-half and lightly toss together until a soft dough forms. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto peaches until surface is almost covered. Lightly pat down dough to evenly distribute over the top, but leave spaces for the peaches to show through. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is golden and peaches are bubbling.


Per serving (221g-wt.): 330 calories (120 from fat), 13g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 4g protein, 50g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 31g sugar), 40mg cholesterol, 290mg sodium


About the Author:  Evelyn DeDominicis is a certified Holistic Health Coach and Workplace Wellness Consultant whose intention is to guide individuals and organizations on their journey to living in optimal, sustainable health and life balance.  She offers 1:1 coaching, group coaching, cooking classes and wellness consulting to individuals and organizations.  Evelyn recently joined the Cheetah family to launch Cheetah Wellness – a unique wellness education and behavior change approach using Cheetah’s Accelerated Learning and Project Management techniques.  You can learn more about Evelyn at and more about Cheetah at

From Pigtails to Poised

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I rounded the corner into the driveway at the end of my usual 4.5 mile run. The three cars were parked in their prescribed positions. The two cats perched in their ordinary look out spots awaiting my return and their evening meal. But one thing was very different. The gate of the Toyota was open and its contents announced the achievement of an important milestone.

Inside the trunk of the car were well organized and neatly stacked plastic containers filled with the essentials an eighteen year old needed to start a new phase of their life. Clothes, books, personal care items, small fridge and athletic equipment, you know the basics. It was the pair of boldly displayed bright blue Nikes that triggered the flashback and a moment to remember.

It was 1997 and a hot July 4th morning. Her big brown eyes were adorned with long lashes and always smiling. Two pig tails swept her blonde streaked hair to the top of her head and bopped with each step she took. Sporting shorts to just below her knees and a white imprinted t-shirt almost as long, she ran her first official road race. The race distance was about 100 yards, perfect length for a four year old. She gave it her all and walked away a winner.

It was also the day of my first official road race. Mine was longer though, two miles. I was able to complete the entire distance, mostly walking. Needless to say, I didn’t place in my age group, but I too walked away a winner because in the weeks that preceded this milestone, I had taken action to begin to improve my health and focus on becoming a positive role model for my daughter. It would be the first of many road races for both of us during the next 14 years.

Although I suspected my role modeling of healthy actions and choices would impact both of my girls, it wasn’t until several years later when they began to make their own sports and activity choices, the significance of the role modeling became evident. Healthy snacks preferred to junk food, after school clubs, involvement in sports and community activities chosen over hours of endless TV.

When I jogged around the corner on Tuesday and saw the car in the driveway packed with all her gear ready for the 750 mile road trip that would begin her college adventure, her imminent departure became a reality. But even as the lump in my throat grew and I swallowed hard to fight back the tears, I knew she was well prepared for the journey and ready to face new challenges. 

About the Author: Jill Hart, Project Management Professional (PMP) and owner of Brain Logic, LLC helps companies integrate the voice of the customer into their design products, technology and processes.  When she’s not focused on her business or family, she enjoys running, biking, blogging, teaching and cooking.

Hit the 500 mile walking mark on my 1000 mile walking goal in a month of tragedy and triumph!!

Monday, August 1st, 2011
This was the view from my Mom's hospital room after her brain biopsy.  Miracles can and do happen.

This was the view from my Mom's hospital room after her brain biopsy. A wonderful sign that there might actually be a pot of gold for all of us out of this whole experience.

I hit the 500 mile point in my walking goal on July 3rd. The rest of July though was fraught with two significant distractions – an unplanned week long stay in NYC to be there for my Mom undergoing a brain cancer biopsy and managing a very painful digestive problem. Plus the heat and humidity in the river valley where I’m staying has made it unbearable to be outside walking after 8 AM or before 8 PM. I’m starting August having to play catch up. The good news, I am in fantastic shape from all the walking, swimming and tennis. And it’s no problem to bust out 7 or 8 miles in under two hours. I added playing tennis 50 times to the end of the year to my thousand mile walking goal.

Switching to a Vegan lifestyle has been made much easier with the fantastic support from Teri Cummings - our holistic health counselor.

Switching to a Vegan lifestyle has been made much easier with the fantastic support from Teri Cummings - our holistic health counselor.

And I am adopting a total plant based diet for the next six months. I made this rather drastic move initially to support my Mother’s recovery from brain cancer. We found out three months ago she had an inoperable brain tumor. We immediately went into high gear to help her heal from this and the tumor has not grown based on the changes she was able to make to her diet and lifestyle. I have led the alternative treatments – one of which has been a mostly plant based diet. I wasn’t as strict with it myself and until recently cheated quite often. The very good news, that while we recently discovered her tumor is an aggressive grade three type of tumor, it has not grown in three months since they discovered it. Now the plant based approach to eating is my preference too – it helped heal my digestive ailments. And just what am I going to do with all those cattle?