Pack a Healthy, Hearty Lunch


Welcome to Losing It with Jillian Michaels, the program designed to help you shed pounds, increase energy, and finally get fit for life!

Take the time to pack your own lunches. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating and once you get into the habit, you can experiment with the ingredients and flavors. Try these tasty pita sandwiches and then come up with your own twist!

Get the recipe

Look, there’s nothing lovely about “love” handles. Belly bulge and love handles are due to excess body fat, not lack of muscle. Zero in on your problem areas and whittle down your middle with this specific stretch.

Perfect this move


Pack a Healthy, Hearty Lunch


Take the time to pack your own lunches and cook your own dinners. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating if you prepare it yourself — no heavy dressings or hidden ingredients! Once you get into the habit of making your own meals, you can experiment with the flavors you enjoy. Whether you’re a kitchen pro or a newbie cook, try these simple but tasty pita sandwiches for your next meal!

Amelia’s Italian Pork Pita Pockets


  • 1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 8 boneless pork loin chops, 2 oz. each[field grazing  Grass fed -organic raised]
  • 2 green bell peppers, each pepper cut into 8 lengthwise strips
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 8 slices and separated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 8 100% whole wheat pitas, cut into halves
  • 4 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1 oz. slices, cut in half


Heat oven to broil.

Coat a large baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange pork chops and vegetables in a single layer on baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed. Brush mixture on both sides of pork chops.

Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat for about 6 to 10 minutes, or until pork is browned and vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from oven and divide pork and vegetables among pita pocket breads.

Add 1 slice of cheese to each sandwich and enjoy!

Makes 8 sandwiches (4 servings).

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins

Nutrition Facts
Number of Servings: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 240
Total Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 75 mg
Sodium: 280 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 21 g
Protein: 21 g

Recipe Source: National Pork Board

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Maintain a Healthy Weight
Are you struggling to stay at a healthy weight without gaining or losing extra pounds? It’s vital that you eat the same amount of calories as the amount you’re burning. Find out what you should know.

Protect Your Pets (and Yourself!)

Tuesday September 25

Listen to This Week’s Podcast!
Have you ever been in the hospital? If so, I’m sure it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. This week, healthcare expert Myrtle Potter is joining us with advice on how to survive a hospital stay. Get her tips!

You’re avoiding toxins found in processed foods, personal products, and cooking tools. What about your pets? Your four-legged friends can introduce a new range of chemicals into your life and you need to make a few choices about their care.

Protect yourself and your pets from toxins

We were taught years ago to sit or stand and stretch one muscle group at a time. That type of stretching is actually best for AFTER your workout. To warm up, perform 5-10 minutes of cardio, then some form of dynamic stretching.

Learn more about dynamic stretching

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Free Health Clinic Resources

Blog Entry Free Health Clinic Resources Sep 3, ’10 11:04 AM
by Ann for group lrdjournal

Free Health Clinic Resources



Last week I posted on Facebook that I got my lab results back from my physicals with Dr. H. and Dr. V. (In case you are wondering, all was well except that my mercury level is twice what it should be. Time to start cutting out the tuna and eating more cilantro!) So, I decided to stress to everyone how important it is to get regular physical exams — they really are the best way to get a jump on health issues before they become problems! I then challenged everyone to get a full physical done that week. I was so saddened by what happened next!

I saw so many comments to my post from people who didn’t have health insurance or the finances available to get those necessary check-ups. While this problem in our country has been well publicized, seeing it come out of the mouths of my friends hits home — very hard. In the future, I have decided to make this issue a top priority — helping people like you get access to health care.

To that end, I did a little digging and I got some help from Dr. Van Herle and my Empowered Media and teams to find some national and Los Angeles County-based resources that provide — or can help you locate — free or no-insurance-needed medical and dental clinics in your area. I wanted to share that information with you here on this blog. I cannot personally endorse these web sites, medical facilities or the care that they provide, so be sure to do your homework before deciding which free medical or dental clinic to go to — just as you would when making any important health decision.

Seriously guys, I encourage you to be proactive about your health! I can arm you with tools, but you have to do your part too. So don’t put your physicals off another day. Make a bloody appointment for a check-up now! No excuses!


National Medical and Dental Free or No Insurance Needed Resources:


Free Medical Clinics in Los Angeles County:

  • The Burke Health Center, 2509 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica Ca 90405 (310) 392-8630
  • The Venice Family Clinic, 604 Rose AveVenice, Ca 90291 (310) 392-7875
  • Harbor UCLA Community Clinic, 593 West 6th Street, San Pedro, Ca 90731 (310) 547-0202 (Also at Harbor for children, ages 0-17)
  • HCC Do Knabe Pediatric Clinic, 731 S. Beacon Street, San Pedro, Ca 90731 (310) 732-5882

Wild Foods: Face Cream, Smilax Bamboo Stirfry, Wild Mustard Vinegar, buckwheat

Blog Entry Wild Foods: Face Cream, Smilax Bamboo Stirfry, Wild Mustard Vinegar, buckwheat by Ann for everyone

Cowgirl Face Cream

Friday January 26, 2007

Cowgirl Face Cream

Who says we have to limit wild food plants to just gastronomique delights? Our skin happens to be our largest organ, and it ‘eats’ and absorbs what we put on it. When I was introduced to California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) I had to let out a big yeehaw! It is commonly known as cowboy cologne, since it’s said that the cowboys used to rub it all over their bodies before a night out on the town. Well, it’s 2007 and this wanna be cowgirl reckons it’d be alright for the ladies to partake as well.

I have been making my own lotion for some time, not wanting to feed my skin with the colorings/fake scents/preservatives/etc. so often found in today’s skin care products. The following is my favorite face cream recipe, adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s original. Smooth it over your body as if you’re anointing yourself with precious balm.

Cowgirl Face Cream

2/3 cup distilled water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel

¾ cup apricot, almond, or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup coconut oil, or cocoa butter
½ to 1 oz beeswax
4 Tbsp dried California sagebrush, packed loosely

Use some cheesecloth to tie up the California sagebrush into a ball. Then drop the ball into a crockpot dedicated to infusing oils, or set up a double boiler on your stovetop (see photo below). Infuse your oils on the lowest heat setting possible for at least 4 hours. If using double boiler method put on lowest setting and cook for ½ hour. Turn off the heat and let stand, reheating when you are ready for the next step.

The next step is to take out your cheesecloth ball of California sagebrush. Sqeeze out all of the oil being held inside and add your beeswax. Oftentimes you will not get an already measured piece of beeswax, but they will have written how many ounces you have on the front of the bag. Heat a knife over your stovetop and use its heat to help cut the beeswax into one ounce pieces. You will then be ready to place your 1-ounce of beeswax into the infused oil (and if you cut the whole chunk into 1-ounce pieces you’ll be ready for the next time you make face cream).

While the beeswax is melting over low heat, in either your crockpot or double boiler, mix your waters. Set the waters aside for later. Once your beeswax is melted into your infused oils, pour them into a blender. Let cool until they become creamy looking (you can speed this process by putting the blender in a cool area). Once it becomes a cool semisolid, turn on your blender at its highest speed and SLOWLY drizzle the room temperature waters into the oils. The key to this emulsion is to pour the waters into the oils, not the other way around. Blend just until it looks like frosting, but don’t over beat…it will thicken as it sets. Pour into cool sterilized glass jars and keep away from heat.

Smilax Bamboo Stirfry

Tuesday May 8, 2007 in

sunny johnson wild food plants

Break out your chaps and leather jacket! Catbriar season is on on the east coast, and the more you can protect yourself the more of those crisp delicious tendrils and shoots you can harvest. This plant also goes by the name of greenbriar, and a few other nice and not-so-nice names. I believe the one in the photograph below is Smilax rotundifolia. Bend the end of the vine where still flexible and it will easily snap off (thorns on the flexible shoots are soft and flexible as well).

I spent a few days in Maryland, just south of Washington DC, with family. How patient they are with my wild food experiments. We ate the dish described in the recipe below for nearly every meal. The wild garlic and bamboo shoots are widely available right now as well, and along with the smilax can also be eaten raw. Snap off young bamboo shoots (photograph below), peel off outside skin until you reach tender inner core, and slice. Continue slicing and removing tough outer skin as you move up the shoot.

Smilax Bamboo Stirfry

4 c smilax, cut in 4 inch segments
1 c bamboo shoots, sliced
1/8 c oil
1/2 c wild garlic bulbs and tops, chopped
1/2 t wild ginger powder
1/8 c soy sauce

Put oil into pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is heated add sliced bamboo shoots. After about 1 minute add wild ginger powder. After one more minute add wild garlic and smilax. Stir thoroughly, turn heat to high and add soy sauce. Let cook for one minute and serve immediately.

Wild Mustard Vinegar

Friday May 11, 2007 in

sunny johnson wild food plants

Check out that bee’s back leg! It looks like its bubble is about to burst. This bee has trapped a fine amount of pollen into what I think is its leg pouch. While they gather nectar from the blossoms, they also get some pollen into their leg pouch to bring back to the hive to feed to the larvae. The pollen that sticks to their leg hairs helps to pollinate other plants. Bees are not the only pollinators on the planet though, click here to read more about the birds, bats, butterflies, moths and others who all play a part in fertilizing 3/4th’s of our food supply. When I found this patch of wild mustard there were well over a hundred bees buzzing around. That buzzing, that buzzing! It felt like their wings were going to buzz me to someplace I’d never been buzzed to before.

These wild mustard flower tops make for a very jazzy herbal vinegar. I picked those flower tops and added about 1/8 cup flower heads per 1 cup apple cidar vinegar. Ha’s Apple Farm makes wonderful unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. They sell their products at various farmer’s markets in the LA area, and also market them on their website. Making herbal vinegars is fun and easy to do, but be sure to put your mixture into a clean jar, with no metal lid (vinegar will react with the metal – or put wax paper between metal lid and jar). Soak plant material for about a month and then strain it out.

California buckwheat chapati

Thursday February 8, 2007

Chicken curry n wild tortillas

I actually found a few Calfornia buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) flowers in bloom on the trail to Eagle Rock, in Topanga Canyon State Park, last weekend. This really speaks to the amazing biodiversity of this plant. I’ve been harvesting it since September, and will continue to do so until the rains wash the seeds away. This extremely wide range in harvesting time isn’t as common in cultivated plants, which are designed to perform under a more narrow set of conditions.

When you are 100% certain that you have correctly identified Calfornia buckwheat, you can begin to harvest it. I think the leaf structure is similar to another common plant of the chaparal, chemise (Adenostoma fasciculatum). And although the seed head balls of the buckwheat are distinctly rust colored, the seed head balls of black sage (Salvia mellifera) could be confusing to the beginner. So again, once you are 100% confident of your identification, harvest the seeds and clean out any sticks, twigs, or insects. Place the seeds and chaffe into a coffee grinder, spice grinder, blender, or mortar and pestle. Grind until you have a fine flour. This flour does not have gluten, so you will need to mix it with a gluten containing flour if you wish to use it in a similar manner.

I learned to make chapati over an open fire . If you do not have an open fire, or gas stove in your kitchen, simply skip the open fire method described below and let them cook longer in the pan. Chapati’s are a bit lighter than tortillas, and I’ve found they’re good for the more fibrous consistency of the buckwheat.

California buckwheat chapati

1 c California buckwheat flour
1 c unbleached white flour, or flour of your choice
clove of garlic

Mix California buckwheat flour and unbleached white flour in medium-sized bowl. Pour in small amounts of water until you have a pliable dough. Separate dough into 5 separate balls and cover with a hand towel. Take one dough ball out and roll it out onto a well floured flat surface using a rolling pin. Roll as thinly as you can and place into a hot pan (I like to use cast iron) for roughly 10 seconds on each side. Then use tongs to pick up your chapati, move your pan to the side, and place the chapati directly over the open flame until it puffs up. Make sure to fire both sides and watch the air bubbles expand. I like to then brush them with butter, rub them with a garlic clove that has been cut in half, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.

Wild Foods: Sagebrush, Nasturtium, Eat The Weeds video

Blog Entry Wild Foods: Sagebrush, Nasturtium, Eat The Weeds video by Ann for everyone

Wild Foods: Sagebrush, Nasturtium, Eat The Weeds video

California Sagebrush Tea

Monday January 29, 2007

California Sagebrush Tea

Despite its common name as cowboy cologne, California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) is used by Native Americans predominantly as a woman’s plant. This evergreen shrub, found in the foothills of California’s coastal sage scrub plant community, is abundant and wonderfully aromatic. Its dried out silver-green leaves are narrow and cluster in bunches. I have really come to crave the flavor of this tea.

California Sagebrush Tea

12 cups water
2 Tbsp dried California sagebrush (loosely packed)

Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Add sagebrush and let steep for at least 4 hours. It’s best to let it steep overnight, strain out the sagebrush, and refrigerate the remaining amount.

The lines between food and medicine are oftentimes blurred. I believe this is why the term Food is Medicine is so universal among cultures. I look forward to using California Sagebrush as a seasoning in roasts and other foods that would compliment its strong flavor.

Wild foods commonly available in urban areas of the Sonoran desert:
1. Amaranth
2. Purslane
3. Mesquite Pods
4. Barrel cactus fruit & seeds
5. Prickly pear pads & fruits
6. Lambsquarters

Wild foods commonly available in wild spaces of the Sonoran desert:
1. Mesquite pods
2. Ironwood seeds
3. Prickly pear pads & fruits
4. Saguaro fruits
5. Cholla buds

Nasturtium Hors d’Oeuvres

Thursday July 19, 2007 in

sunny savage wild food plants

In keeping with the spirit of foraging for free foods, I’ve been getting a lot of nasturtium leaves, unopened flower buds, flowers, and seedpods. I know, it’s a garden plant. But this South American native has naturalized itself here in California and is found growing in many places where it was not originally planted. So many folks I know are unaware of their edibility, so I thought it was good to highlight them here. All parts above-ground are edible, and although we call them nasturtium’s, they are actually of the Tropaeolum genus.

The above photo is of some hors d’oeuvres using the leaves as a wrap. Stuffed inside is the julienned carrot, goat cheese and quinoa. I’ve been drying and powdering most of the leaves though, adding them to mayonaise and pasta dough.


EatTheWeeds: Episode 21: Spurge Nettle

Gathering Wild Foods:Pine Tree Seeds

Blog Entry Gathering Wild Foods:Pine Tree Seeds by Ann for everyone


wild,traditional, Amercerican, food,raw,fresh, hickory, wildcraft, herbs, organic, certified, pine nuts,pinon,pinon pine diggercone

Roasted Pinon Pine Nuts

Roasting time depends on how much moisture is in the nut. Pine nut roasting is an ART, not a science. Hard shell nuts are roasted at higher temperatures (350- 375) 10 -15 minutes. Your soft shell nuts should be roasted at 325 350 on a cookie sheet.. It will take 45- 65 minutes depending on the nut size and mositure content. We soak nuts in salt water, then roast, so my roasts take a bit longer. Stir every 10 minutes after 10 minutes. Start testing at about 30 minutes into your roast. Follow pictured guide for doneness. Again, roasting is an art, not a science!!

When harvest began, the men pulled cones from the trees using tools made from large willow branches equipped with a sturdy V-shaped hook at the end. Women and children piled the cones in burden baskets (usually large conical wicker baskets carried on one’s back with a cordage band across the forehead). At this point, the cones were just at the point of opening and were usually full of pine pitch.

In camps surrounding the forest harvesting grounds, the pine cones were processed. This began by roasting the pine cones around hot coals, turning them often, to cause them to open up. Then, the cones could be beaten lightly to cause the nuts to fall out. When a supply of nuts was available, these required further processing since the nuts were covered by a soft brown shell. Cracking this shell would be difficult and would injure the fruit inside The nuts were processed by placing them on a basketry tray with hot coals from the fire. Once introduced together, the whole mass was kept in constant motion, throwing them up and swirling the tray, until the shells were roasted to a hard, crisp dark brown. The coals were removed at this point and the nuts were poured onto a grinding stone where they were lightly pounded with a mano until all of the shells had cracked and falled free of the inner fruit.

Cracked pinenuts are yellow-orange, translucent and soft. They can be eaten at this point and are delicious. Far more pine nuts were harvested than could be eaten raw so they needed to be processed further. At this point, the nuts were returned to a winnowing tray and thrown repeatedly into the air to allow the cracked shells to be carried off by the wind. When the shells were all gone, hot coals were returned to the tray and the roasting process was repeated until the nuts were dry and hard, somewhat darker in color.

At this point, the nuts could be stored in large basketry storage containers for later use. Dried nuts could still be eaten without further processing but the usual procedure was to make a pine-nut flour by grinding them. They were returned to the grinding stone and the mano was used to pound them lightly until they were well fragmented. Grinding was achieved with small amounts quickly so that the fine flour could be pushed off the metate forward into a bowl or onto a tray. A soap-root brush light be used to move the pine-nut flour on the tray. When enough flour was available, it could be warmed in water to make a thick paste; then the paste could be reduced, by dilution, to make whatever consistency was desired. While pine-nut mush may not sound especially appealing, addition of berries, various leafy vegetables, and/or ground meat or fish made it a feast.

Posted on: 11th of November 2008

1 Comment »

Harvesting Southern California’s Plants

Staples include nuts, such as the pinyon and acorn, seeds, such as buckwheat and chia, flowers, buds, berries, such as the wild grape, manzanita and blackberry, greens, such as amaranth and redmaid, cactus pads, fruit, such as yucca and palm, roots, and bulbs.

Many wild plant foods required lengthy preparation before being consumed. Some, such as the acorn and elderberry are actually harmful to humans in their raw form. Preparation techniques removed or neutralized harmful ingredients. Others, such as agave, offer little human nutritional value until cooked.

Food preparation techniques include leaching, drying, grinding, pounding, boiling, parboiling, roasting, flailing, singing (to remove cactus spines), and infusion.

protected are the native crops from a premature and hasty harvest which might damage the plants and reduce their future productivity.

A plant is never stripped of all its seeds or flowers, and when gathering plants from a particular area, some were always left behind to repropagate.

Always thank the plants for offering themselves as food.

The annual plant food cycle begins in February when the first agave is ready for harvest. Later in the spring, buds and greens appeared in quantity, providing much-needed vitamins after winter’s scarcity.

By June or July, mesquite is beginning to ripen. Roots are harvested at this time, and fruits of various sorts become available. In August and September, grass seeds are ripe for harvesting; dates and pinyon cones are gathered. October and November is acorn season, when large groups of people gatherer in the oak groves.

In December and January, when plant foods are scarce, the people rely on stored food and on the skill of hunters.

Comment by Ann LRD