Simple advice for a better life.

My Suburban Garden – May Blooms

may-flower-hardy-geranium-bloomI promised to keep you posted on the progress of my Suburban Garden, and my  flowering plants of the month.

Here are my May blooms:

White German Iris


Pastel German Iris


Purple Japanese Iris


Blue Japanese Iris


Royal Blue Columbine


Jacob’s Ladder


Hot Pink Peony


White Peony


Red Rose

Flowers are such perfection of nature…..wouldn’t you agree?

Frappuccino – Smoothie Recipe

If you really have to have the “Java Jolt” in the morning, rather than a more mild smoothie start, here is a quick and simple smoothie recipe to get your going.


  • 1 Tbs. instant espresso (regular or decaf)
  • 1 cup fat free yogurt (organic is my preference)
  • ½  cup skim milk
  • 3 Tbs. of sugar, or sugar substitute (optional)
  • 4 ice cubes


Place all ingredients in a blender and blend, or frappe, into a smoothie.

Fat Blasting Berry Smoothie – Recipe

oikos-organic-fat-free-smoothieIf you are looking for a nutritious, refreshing, simple, and filling snack (or breakfast on the go), nothing beats this Berry Smoothie.   It takes only 5 minutes to prepare, and it is packed with multiple high-nutrient foods, which fill you up, and taste great.  This recipe makes two 8 oz servings and only 144 calories per serving.


  • ¾ cup instant oatmeal (prepared with water or skim milk)
  • ¾ cup organic skim milk
  • ¾ cup mixed fresh or frozen berries
  • 2 tsp. whey powder
  • 3 ice cubes, crushed

Place all ingredients in a blender, and beat, or frappe, for 5 minutes, and your smoothie is ready to enjoy.

Tip. For variation I use 2 tsp. of ground flax seeds instead of the whey powder (which I also like to add to my cereal, or oatmeal).  I also like to use 5.3 oz of Oikos Organic Fat Free Plain Yogurt in my smoothie, and use other fruit like banana, strawberry, peaches, or whatever fruit I have available on hand.

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt – Review

oikos-organic-yogurtI love yogurt, not only because it tastes great, but also because it is a very healthy part of my diet.  The main ingredient in yogurt is milk, live and active cultures, plus other ingredients such different fruit and flavors, fortified with vitamins.   Yogurt is made by adding cultures of certain bacteria to milk. These microorganisms convert the lactose in the milk to lactic acid. The lactic acid gives yogurt its characteristic tart taste and causes the milk to form a soft curd.

Yogurt is a great source of calcium, for strong bones, as well as an aid  to speed up metabolism and improve digestion.

If you use yogurt, you already know that there are many different companies producing it, and in many different textures and flavors, as well as calorie counts.  There are regular yogurts, light yogurts, fat free yogurts, organic yogurts, baby yogurts, and lately I came across Oikos Organic Greek Yogurts, made by Stonyfield Organic Farms.

In the chart below, I have compared Oiko’s Organic Greek Nonfat Vanilla yogurt (I was not able to find any Low Fat Oikos Greek yogurt), with Stonyfield Low Fat Organic Vanilla yogurt, and Low Fat Vanilla store brand yogurt.   The Oikos Organic Greek yogurt is made by Stonyfield Farm, is very thick, creamy, has the least sugar and sodium, and is high in protein.  All Stonyfield organic yogurts are made with 5-6 live active cultures, which most yogurts (like the store brand here), use only enough live active culture to meet the requirements.  The flavor used in Stonyfield organic yogurts is also obtained from organic ingredients.  The blueberry, vanilla and honey flavors, which I tried in the Oikos Organic Greek yogurt,  were very natural tasting,  as if you were having fresh fruit, real vanilla bean, and raw honey.

I was very surprised by the large variance in all the listed Nurtition Facts groups  in the Stonyfield Low Fat yogurt versus the store brand Low Fat yogurt.   As you can see the store brand yogurt is much higher in calories, total fat, sodium and sugar, and contains half the calcium, fo the organic yogurt.  The price of the Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt was $2.19, the Stonyfield Low Fat Organic yogurt was $1.99, and the store brand Low Fat yogurt was $.89.  So here is proof to the famous quote: “you get what you pay for”.

My daughter buys only the Stonyfield baby yogurt for her daughter, and my granddaughter absolutely loves it!

Nutrition Facts Oikos Organic Greek Nonfat Vanilla yogurt Stonyfield Low Fat Organic Vanilla yogurt Low Fat Vanilla store brand yogurt
Calories 110 130 170
Calories from fat 0 0 15
Total Fat 0 0 1.5g
Sugar 11g 24g 28g
Sodium 60mg 111mg 95mg
Protein 15g 7g 6g
Calcium 20% 30% 15%
Ingredients 5 live active cultures 6 live active cultures Meets National Yogurt Association Criteria for live and active cultures
Taste and texture Very thick and creamy Half the thickness of Oikos Smooth and not as creamy, and much thinner texture
Slightly tart As tart as Oikos Quite tart
Real vanilla bean taste Same as Oikos Tastes like instant vanilla pudding

Organic – What Does It Mean?

Cute Jersey Cow

When we think of the word “organic”, we relate to something that is natural, wholesome, crude, unrefined, untreated.   Most often we think of fruit and vegetables which have been cultivated in harmony with nature, and not treated with chemicals found in fertilizers and pesticides.  However there is also organic milk and milk byproducts.

So, you say- how is organic milk different from any other milk?  Isn’t all milk already pure and natural?

The answer is:  Yes, all milk is a natural product, but organic milk is even more pure.  There are special dairy farms, which are producing organic milk, which means that their cows are fed special natural feed, such as corn, soy and hay, which also was grown on organic farms without chemicals and pesticides.

Organic farms and the milk industry are also very strictly regulated by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) with processing, handling and labeling procedures.  These regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones (rBGH – recombinant bovine growth hormone) in cows producing organic milk.  These cows are also required to have access to fresh air and pasture.   Organic production prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).

Even organic product labeling undergoes strict regulations by the USDA, such as:

  • 100% Organic – means that this product was made with 100% organic ingredients.
  • Organic – means that the product was made with at least 95% organic ingredients, with strict restrictions on the remaining 5%, including no GMO’s.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients – means that the product was made with minimum of 70% organic ingredients, with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMO’s.
  • Products which are made with less than 70% organic ingredients, may list specific, organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

One of the more popular organic dairy farms is Stonyfield Organic Farm in NH.  They make organic, and non-organic products, to cater to customers from all walks of life.  Organic products, whether agricultural or dairy, are slightly more expensive, in comparison to their non-organic counterparts.  The higher prices are a direct result of lower demand for organic products, as well as the cost of production, packaging, and labeling of these products.

Stay tuned to my next upcoming post, where I will provide you  with some very useful information about organic and non-organic yogurt.

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