Notice the legs and feet? Those are Mishy's.

As part of my need to build community, I organized an organic strawberry picking tour at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, CA. Over thirty parents and children of various ages joined my daughter and me on a wagon ride throughout the farm as our guide brought us an array of organic and incredibly fresh fruits and vegetables to sample and learn about. How do you know if something is a fruit? If it has seeds. Is a pepper a fruit? Yes. A squash? Yes. How about a cucumber or avocado or even zucchini? All fruit because they all have seeds. What is the one vegetable that has flowers? Chinese greens. This tour was educational and delicious.

Mishy eating the roots of a spring onion.

Two years ago, my husband, daughter and I went on this very same tour. Our daughter wasn’t even a year old so I wanted to bring her back. My husband had to work. Perhaps this will become an annual tradition? I would love that. I think my daughter would love it too. Maybe next year my husband will join us? He still remembers the sweet spring onions and he normally detests onions. Mishy nibbled on the roots of the spring onion. She said they were sweet. (Later I went home and used the onions for a shrimp broccoli brown rice dish.)

When we got off the wagon and onto the organic strawberry fields, after a quick tutorial on how to pick strawberries – with two hands and with care so that you are just breaking the stems off and not hurting the rest of the plant, especially if there are any flowers on the plant because each flower is a potential strawberry. The group walked carefully along the strawberry fields and ate as many strawberries as our bellies could contain. The tour includes one pound container of strawberries per child and while the parents were eating, the children were adding to their containers. Mishy said she was on a quest to find the most delicious strawberry in the world. Right before we were to go back on the wagon, Mishy found it and ate it and said, “I just had the most delicious strawberry in the world!” Mishy told this to the tour guide as well.

Mishy on the organic strawberry fields.

Tanaka Farms has been offering tours of their certified organic farm for a number of years and they have it down to a science. It’s really a fun and educational adventure on a real working organic farm in Orange County.

Here are a few tips about organic farming: Tanaka Farms plants their strawberries with their spring onions to deter insects and other animals from eating their strawberries. Want an easy way to stimulate this in your home garden? Crush a clove of garlic. Mix it with water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the strawberry plant or any plant in your garden to deter insects from eating in. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about rabbits eating your vegetables or fruits – maybe read Peter Rabbit by Beatrice Potter?

A scarecrow with our guide by banana trees.

I remember when I was younger my favorite field trips were going to the farm. I dressed in my jean jacket and jeans and wished I could live on a farm. Now, I wish my daughter and I could go visit Tanaka Farms once a week and continue to find the best strawberry in the world. I’ll be organizing a watermelon tour for July. Details to be posted on the FieldTripsSOCAL yahoo group.

Details:

Tanaka Farms

They offer organic strawberry tours yearly from March-June, watermelon tours where you pick your own watermelon from June-August as well as Pick Your Own Pumpkin tour in the fall and a Christmas tour in the winter. Please check their website for other special events and information on their CSA – to get organic produce delivered to your home or near your home and continue supporting Tanaka Farms and organic farming.

http://www.tanakafarms.com/

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We love Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss. We first encountered it celebrating the Co-Opportunity’s birthday. Co-Opportunity is our local health food store. Mishy tried it and right then and there, we bought our first pint. Since that birthday celebration last fall, we have bought many pints of Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss. Mishy loves ice cream. She’s also lactose intolerant. Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss is completely organic, vegan, non soy, non dairy, and also sweetened by top quality agave – the kind of agave that doesn’t effect your blood sugar.

Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss comes in a variety of tantalizing flavors. Our favorites are Mint Galactica, Pineapple Coconut, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Island, Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge, Naked Almond Fudge, and Naked Coconut. Those are all the flavors we have tried. I’m sure if we’ve tried their other flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cherry Amareto, and their Dark Chocolate Bars, we would love them as well. They’ve just announce four new flavors and we are very excited to taste them once it hits our local health food store. Their four new flavors are: Lunaberry Swirl, Chocolate Walnut Brownie, Ginger Cookie Caramel, and Mocha Maca Crunch.

We also make smoothies with Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss. Here is my favorite smoothie recipe:

Coconut water

Frozen strawberries or frozen raspberries

Frozen banana

Ground flaxmeal

Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss – any flavor will do

Blend whatever amounts of each ingredient in the blender and put it in a cup. Serve to the favorite people in your life.

*Natural Traveling Momma is very excited to give one reader in America two coupons to try out any flavor or two of Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss. You get two coupons for 2 pints of organic, non dairy, non soy, raw food, and absolutely delicious coconut bliss! Just comment below. For an additional entry, click on to Larry and Luna’s website which is below and make another comment.

AND one reader in CANADA wins two coupons to try out any flavor or two of Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss. Just comment below and say you’re a Canuck! For an additional entry, click on to Larry and Luna’s website below and make another comment. Don’t forget to mention you’re a Canuck!

Larry and Luna’s are available at most fine healthy food stores including Whole Foods. This giveaway ends March 31st at 5PM. Good luck!

Details:

Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss

http://www.coconutbliss.com/

Babba’s away and I’ve been recovering from an infection so Mishy and I have been laying low these last couple of days and having a wonderful time doing nothing. On Tuesday, we went to Whole Foods for lunch and to buy Mishy ghee. She loves butter – it’s fat for her brain as it develops , yet she’s lactose intolerant. Whole Foods carries organic ghee, which is both lactose and casien free. After shopping, we sat and ate lunch at Whole Foods in one of their booths. Well, I sat as Mishy played peek-a-boo with a man sitting behind us. I love how she makes friends so easily and effortlessly. Every once in a while, she checked in on me, as any friend would do, and then resumed her game – until it was time for him to go. She waved good bye, he wave back. She hugged me and then started to play with someone else at Whole Foods, sensing I needed a bit more time to chew on my salad. I bought a huge salad at the salad bar because my eyes continue to be bigger than my stomach.

Mishy watching Christopher Hawkley Rollers at The Victorian during the Food Trucks weekly event

In the evening, we headed to the Santa Monica Gourmet Food Trucks on Main Street. The food trucks are there every Tuesday evening from 5:30PM-9:30PM at the same location as the Sunday Farmers Market near Ocean Park Blvd. We’ve been going there as a family since December and I wasn’t quite sure how it would be with just the two of us. We don’t really go for the food anymore, some weeks the selection at the trucks offers delicious and healthy food and some weeks, it is rather difficult to find anything we want to eat. An association of 120 food trucks randomly picks which six to eight trucks will be there that week. Some food trucks we love? Soule Food for their shrimp toastie and lamb gyro, Nom Nom Truck for their banh mi, Let’s Be Frank for their healthy hot dogs – they do exist and are delicious, if not expensive for hot dogs at $5.50 per dog. What brings us to the weekly Food Trucks, if not for the food? Mishy’s told me she has a boyfriend and his name is Christopher of Christopher Hawkley Rollers – who plays outside at The Victorian from about 6-8PM and then inside, starting at 9PM. Mishy says she wants to join his band and travel with him.

Christopher Hawkley Rollers

Before we left for the Food Truck, Mishy quickly changed her clothes and made sure she was wearing the shirt she painted at her birthday party – “So he’ll know who I am.” She had worn that same shirt the last time she saw him during her birthday week when he sang Happy Birthday three times and she couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like I was watching my girlfriend get ready for a night out on the town, except, my girlfriend has to sit in a car seat for safety and the law. When we got to the food trucks, there was no parking available in three surrounding parking lots. I asked Mishy if we could go back home and walk back in the stroller – it’s a 30 minute walk. She assured me we’ll find parking. As soon as she said those words, we did. I love how reassuring she is.

Mishy dancing with the shirt she painted

At the food trucks location, she immediately wanted to see Christopher. He was playing and she beamed when he welcomed her and said he missed her. She asked me to ask him where he had been last week – out of town – and also tell him she missed him too. She started to dance. I love watching her dance. The freedom of her moves and expression. Her joy at feeling the music. She invited me to dance and I did, but I became self conscious and started taking pictures. She let me be. (It’s funny. I dance all the time with her when we’re at children’s concerts, but when it’s sort of for adults – I have the thought in my head that I should be dancing better. I’ll get over it. One day. Perhaps it’s because I took too many structure dance classes when I was growing up.)

Mishy asked him to sing one of her favorite songs from his Comes Around Again CD, Home. He did and she was so excited, she laughed and jumped in one spot during the song. Anyone may get this CD at the Food Trucks by donation. He gave it to her for her birthday present and she makes us play it in the car all the time.

I love this picture of Mishy dancing

Once his set was over, she said she was hungry and we went to grab some food. While we stood in line, Mishy and I talked to two other girlfriends – two young women originally from Minnesota, who now make the Westside of Los Angeles their home. They have been friends since they were 6 years old. I’m hoping when Mishy’s older, we still can be friends and hang out at the food trucks. I will understand if she rather be with other friends she’s made, though.

For the rest of the days when Babba was away, we went horseback riding at Silver Horse Healing Ranch, toddler yoga at Kids Revolving Yoga, and grabbed absolutely healthy and delicious food at Fig during their Fig at Five promotion. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 5-6PM, all the food on their menu is half the price and you can order the food to pick up. Fig in Santa Monica is located inside the Fairview Hotel on Wilshire and if you want to pick up your meal, just call, order your meal, ask them when it will be ready – usually 15 minutes after you order and then while you are in your car on the way, let them know you’re on your way and they will deliver your meal to your car with even compostable cutlery. Don’t forget to tip well.

We picked up our food and headed to Douglas Park, where we sat and watched the ducks and played in the playground while eating roasted tomato soup, braised chestnuts, miso eggplant, scallops, and pastaless lasagna. We had plenty of left overs, which Babba enjoyed when he returned.

While I really liked being with Mishy and she with me, she told me on the eve of Babba’s return that her favorite time is when we are all together. “Me, Babba, Kitty, Momma – a family – all the family.”

Details:

Santa Monica Food Trucks

Tuesday from 5:30PM-9:30PM at The Victorian on Main Street. Their are many public parking lots in the area as well as meter parking on the street.

Christopher Hawkley Rollers

http://www.christopherhawley.net/

Silver Horse Healing Ranch

http://www.silverhorse.org/

Kids Revolving Yoga – tell Tiffany, M.J. sent you. She might give you a special rate. I believe 3 yoga classes for $25.

http://kidsrevolving.com/Kidsrevolving/Welcome.html

Fig Restaurant

http://figsantamonica.com/

Bonus Photos:

Here are some photos of times we were at the Food Trucks with one of Mishy’s friend, John Cariani.

John carrying Mishy at the parking lot of The Food Trucks

Mishy and John running at The Food Trucks

Still running.

Ordering at No Tomatoes!

Mishy and I were given a selection of Clif Kids Z Bars and Twisted Fruit to taste and sample. Rebecca, Mishy’s favorite cousin was staying over at the time and sampled the bars with us. Clif Kids Z Bars are made with organic ingredients and contains 12 essential minerals and vitamins without any hydrogenated oils, or corn syrup or preservatives or artificial flavors.

Here is our very subjective take on the different bar flavors.

Blueberry

This was Mishy’s and my overall favorite. The blueberry taste was powerful and tasty. It did taste sweet to me, though it only contains 23 grams of carbs, which, 11 grams is sugar and is made with 9 grams of whole grains.

Honey Graham

Rebecca’s favorite. She found it exactly the right combination of sweet, chewiness, and satisfying. Both Mishy and I liked it as well.

Chocolate Brownie

My daughter is a huge fan of chocolate. This was also a near favorite of hers. Rebecca enjoyed this flavor as well and me, who is not a chocolate fan because when I was younger, someone gave me 6 chocolate bars and I ate them all at once – I liked this flavor too and was surprised I did. Maybe chocolate will have a place in my life once again.

Chocolate Chip

Chocolate Chip was also a favorite of Mishy’s. Rebecca liked the flavor as well and I didn’t get a chance to try any. It went that fast.

Peanut Butter

This one ranked high too. Let’s face it – we liked all of the above flavors almost equally. I was surprised by this because they are pretty tasty and while I try to give my daughter whole fruit and vegetables, sometimes, having a Clif Kids Z Bar will be pretty handy on our adventures.

S’Mores

This was the least liked flavors. Rebecca enjoyed the first chews, but then felt there was a slight aftertaste. Me, being not a big chocolate fan found the bar overly sweet without the same kind of balance I encountered with the Chocolate Brownie bar. Mishy? She liked it. She finished the bar over the next couple of days.

The Organic Twisted Fruit flavors were enjoyed by Mishy alone. She eat them up over the course of this week. She liked all of the flavors equally – Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Grape, Tropical Twist, Pineapple, and Sour Apple. These are great on car trips. Because they are dried fruit, we just make sure to brush her teeth and rinse afterwards.

Details:

Clif Bars

http://www.clifbar.com

They have a variety of adult bars and products too – which I haven’t tried 🙂

There are places we go to because I love watching Mishy play. There are places I love because I get to explore with Mishy and learn things I have forgotten long ago and there are some places I never want to leave and wish I was a child again so I can spend days playing by running in the grass, petting and feeding the animals, listening to music, being in nature, playing ping pong, throwing the basketball into the basket, eating popcorn, making pita bread, trying new and adventurous things, and just being joyful. Shalom Institute is one of those rare places in which spending seven fun filled hours seem much too little. We would have stayed longer except the event we were there for was only five hours long. (They were very gracious in letting us leave slowly.) We have found Mishy’s summer camp – in a few years when she’s six years or older. In the meantime, we will be visiting Shalom Institute at all of their festivals throughout the year and may stay with them for a weekend during one of the family camps. (Their next family camp is in May.) We were at Shalom Institute this Sunday for their annual Tu B’Shvat Festival – a festival to celebrate the birth of trees. Here is a photo essay of our time there.

Feeding one of their two ponies.

Petting a goat while he scratches a tree.

Relaxing together

The animals at Shalom Institute are friendly, yet respectful and you can trust them completely. I felt very safe letting Mishy roam around in the animal stall.

Watching others jump in one of two bouncy houses which were set up for the event.

Touching a Tegu lizard, native to Argentina, brought by Reptile Family

Reptile Family is a family owned business set up to educate children of all ages about reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods. They visit schools, preschools, and do birthday parties and corporate events.

Making a wax mold of Mishy's hand - trial run

Holding the wax mold of her hand

Wax Creation’s hand molds were very popular throughout the day. Mishy still cannot stop looking, touching and comparing her mold.

Watching the lemonade smoothie being made by man power

Drinking lemonade

Mishy and Babba connecting while eating popcorn

Watching Robbo perform

Robbo, a Parent’s Choice winner and father was one of the highlights of the stage shows.

Posing with a Burmanese Python

Shaping the dough to make pita bread

Cooking the pita bread on a hot stone

Details:

http://www.shalominstitute.com/

For their camp programs, including an upcoming Women’s Retreat in March:

http://www.campjcashalom.com/yearroundprograms/index.php

Reptile Family:

www.reptilefamily.com

Wax Creations – which makes rainbow wax molds:

www.waxcreation.com

Robbo – Parent’s Choice Winner:

http://www.blanketkid.com/

Peeled Snacks – Giveaway

January 17, 2011

Mishy enjoying her pine-4-Pineapple Peeled Snack

We just got samples of Peeled Snacks in the mail today. Mishy was very excited to taste them. She tried all of the six varieties – Cherry-go-round, pine-4-Pineapple, much-ado-about-Mango, Banan-a-peel, Apricot-a-lot & Apple-2-the-core. Her favorite was pine-4-Pineapple, a close second was Apricot-a-lot, followed ever so closely by Apple-2-the-core – well, frankly, she loved them all and she really has a worldly palette – having traveled around the world and a half in her 2.11 years of life. I do trust her palette because there have been any times when she would try something first and tell me it’s delicious or not and sometimes when it’s not, I’ll still eat it, but she won’t. (That was the case for dinner tonight.) The dried fruit in Peeled Snacks Organic variety pack are incredibly fresh, full of flavor, sulfate free and organic. My favorite is Cherry-go-round. (I didn’t get a chance to try the pine-4-Pineapple because Mishy ate it all because I could even ask for one.) I also like much-ado-about-Mango, Apricot-a-lot – well, I too like all of the flavors and I am sure I would have liked pine-4-Pineapple as well.

Our Peeled Snack Organic Variety Sampler which was quickly opened and eaten! You've got several more life long customers now.

They come in colorful convenient packs which are perfectly portable and yes – when we are traveling and I need a snack, I will buy these – especially when we are in the airport and there are very limited healthy food options. That is one of the reasons why I am glad there are Starbucks at airports – I can always get a herbal ice tea when I am craving something refreshing, not sweetened, and healthy. Now, I will grab a pack of Peeled Snacks or two or three for my journey.

Peeled Snacks are 100% all natural tasty treats of dried fruit and dried fruit and nut mixes with no added sugar or fat. They’ve been featured in O Magazine, Family Circle, Self, Gluten Free Living, Good Housekeeping, Rachel Ray Magazine among others. Good Housekeeping magazine choose Peeled Snacks as a healthy kid-friendly snack “a perfect alternative if your child is tired of raisins — contain one serving of real fruit each and no added sugar or oils. ” They are available at all Starbucks in Canada and the U.S. and I have the pleasure of being able to giveaway an  “Organic Fruit Picks Variety Pack” to the winner – this contains 12 individual snacks. Theses have a retail value of $23.99

The giveaway  is for US addresses only.  You may also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and their website.

http://www.facebook.com/Peeled

http://twitter.com/PeeledSnacks

http://www.peeledsnacks.com/

http://www.starbucks.com/

To enter, please make a comment. If you like them on Facebook, you will get an additional entry. If you follow them on Twitter, you will get another entry. If you click on to their website, you will get another entry. If you click on to Starbucks’ website, you will get one more entry  – which means you can have up to four entries! (Please comment separately for additional entries.)

Good luck! The contest ends midnight, Feb. 1st, 2011.

UPDATE: Congratulations, Marie. You’ve won the organic sampler pack!

Once in a while I have a craving for something sweet. Because I generally like to eat as healthy as possible, I have a preference that my sweets contain some nutritional value – be it antioxidant rich dark chocolate or non hydrogenated nut butters or are made with organic ingredients. I have come to adore the sweets from Tia’s Bakery because they are delicious and healthy. Tia’s Bakery uses coconut or almond flour as their flour of choice – which happens to be gluten free so it is absolutely safe for those suffering from celiac disease. Their products include a variety of cookies, chocolate bean brownies – trust me, these are divine – and strawberry shortcake – another personal favorite.

They are launching Nationwide and in celebration of this, Tia’s Bakery has offered 6 readers of this blog, a free pack of cookies mailed directly to your home or office – your choice. You may choose from either oatmeal raisin or peanut butter or be surprised!

What else do I love about Tia’s bakery? The president of the company is a homeschooling mom. I find this so inspirational that a homeschooling mom can have a flourishing business and still be there for her child.

To enter the giveaway, please email me your name, mailing address, and choice of cookie or if you would like to be surprised, write – surprise as your choice to: naturaltravelingmomma@gmail.com – by midnight, Jan 9th, 2011. Mishy and I will draw the names on the morning of Jan. 10th, 2011.

If you would like to comment on any of my posts, please do.

Details:

Tia’s Bakery:

http://www.tiasbakery.com

If you don’t find Tia’s Bakery products in your local store, request them! They are available at many Whole Foods and other organic grocery stores including Co-Opportunity and P.C. Greens in Southern California.

UPDATE: The winners of the 6 pack of delicious cookies are: Sarah, Jeanne, Laura, Rebecca, Jennifer, and Sharon! They have been shipped and I hope you enjoy them. (I have emailed you privately.) My husband cannot believe they are healthy because they are so tasty!