Thursday, June 28, 2018

Banana Berry-Nut Bread Rocks for the 4th of July

Banana Berry-Nut Bread That Rocks

By Cal Orey
I have a thing for banana-nut bread, have had since I was a kid. Of all the recipes I’ve used, this one, dedicated to the festive holiday, is one I especially like. Traditional banana-bread calls for ripe bananas. When making this particular quick bread this week it was strange because I got a banana flashback to 2006.
During a book tour with the late geologist Jim Berkland we had an unforgettable earthshaking debate about bananas. (He’s the man who predicted the San Francisco Earthquake that rocked the Earth on October 17, 1989 during the World Series.) We had time to pass before our Barnes and Noble Bookstore signing in Walnut Creek. So, he decided to drive us to Mount Diablo (an amazing geological region he pointed out to me, curve by curve; and it was one of the four places did predict earthquakes to happen every month). I was getting mega motion sickness. He graciously offered a banana—it was too ripe. He didn’t get it that I like my bananas fresh without any ripe nature to them. I resisted.
While making this bread, I added the dry ingredients to the pureed ripe bananas and recalled our drive, the signing (it was crowded and he got a lot of attention), and our other book tours (even one at our former South Shore bookstore), radio gigs, and visits at his home and mine. So while we bickered like father and daughter over the overly ripe banana, this time around in my kitchen the mushy banana was accepted--it made a super bread. So here, this banana-bread of mine may rock your taste buds like it did mine with its extra flavor.

Blueberry Banana-Nut Bread
1 ¾ cup sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup European style butter
½ cup sugar (I used granulated white)
2 organic eggs
¼ cup organic half-and-half
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
½ cup fresh blueberries, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, half-and-half, and vanilla. Stir in fresh bananas and berries. Fold in nuts. Spoon batter into a bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until golden brown and firm on top. Cool. You can leave in pan and cut slices. Serve 8-10.
This banana-bread is ideal for breakfast, brunch, a snack, or dessert. For a pretty look, you can sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top, or with a dollop of whipped cream. Topped with fresh strawberries (and blueberries for the Fourth) makes it special. I still like my bananas almost green and very firm, but ripe bananas are phenomenal with strawberries and will make your home-style bread rock.
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Surprise Twist on Trail Mix for No-Cook Summertime Fun

By Cal Orey
Here comes the sun and summer. It’s a time to celebrate fun and no-cook foods. Grilling fish, poultry, and vegetables outdoors is popular but so is enjoying an abundance of fresh fruit (such as berries and melons) and vegetables (salads and corn  on the cob) and fun finger foods without a lot of fuss.
Enter trail mix and ice cream with a twist. Trail mix or “gorp” is a word not uncommon to hiking fans. This mix of nuts and dried fruit goes back to seventies. It was touted as a popular energy snack for hikers and health-conscious granola guys and gals, like me. Its wholesome ingredients can include dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. As the season is changing around the Lake, I’ve learned that by enjoying fun foods, like trail mix, can make summertime fun at work and play.
Last summer when I was traveling to Victoria, B.C., I’d munch on trail mix (the pricey kind you buy in a bag at the airport). Once in Canada I followed the plan to swim in the morning, savor the harbor and boating in the afternoon. One day when walking on the wharf, I was taking photos of a lone sea otter that made me feel welcome like I was in San Francisco. After the unique bond, I treated myself to an ice cream cone. Sitting down on a bench overlooking the water, I reached into my purse. A bag of trail mix fell out. I thought, “I’m going to sprinkle the nut and fruit mix on the ice cream for a nice crunch.” Not only was it a twisted treat, to this day the combination of trail mix and ice cream are two treats I like and take me back to that special day I loved. So here, go ahead and enjoy my Canada-inspired summer fun fare.
Summertime Trail Mix
¼ cup golden raisins or dried pineapple
¼ cup ginger (crystalized)
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup banana chips
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sweetened coconut or popped popcorn (optional)
In a plastic container, combine the dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, banana chips, and seeds. Serves 4. You can eat it by the handful as a snack or top it on granola or oatmeal for breakfast.
Trail Mix Ice Cream Cone
2 cups premium gelato or ice cream
4 ice cream cones (your choice of type, organic, preferably)
½ cup Summertime Trail Mix
Put ½ cup of ice cream into each cone. Top with trail mix. Or if you’d like, you can simply put the trail mix into the cone without ice cream. Serves 4.
This trail mix combination is ideal for warmer days. The ingredients in the mix are lighter than what I use in fall or winter. The superfoods boast a summer-ish slant. And the ice cream or gelato (chocolate chip or vanilla bean are super) are decadent and even good for you in moderation. So, as summer arrives go ahead and mix it up for the thrill of it whether you’re working or playing hard.
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bundle Books--Healing Powers Series, #7 Superfoods Coming to You!

By Cal Orey
Bundle Up with 
Healing Powers Series
 this Summer
 (Vinegar, Olive Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea)
Before Superfoods is Ready this year!

Did you know the keys to a long life and vibrant good health can be found on the shelves of your local supermarket?

Apples, leafy greens, shellfish, yogurt—even ice cream and pasta. The latest scientific studies reveal that many of the classic foods you’ve always loved are superfoods that can supercharge your health! Not only are they delicious, they’re affordable—plus these essential farm-to-table favorites can work with any diet plan, from the balanced Mediterranean Diet to the hunter-gatherer Paleo plan.

With over 50 recipes for both cooked and raw dishes, including smoothies and soups, a detox juice fast and a jump-start pounds-off diet, this down-to-earth guide will show you how to get healthy and stay healthy with body-friendly superfoods.

*Boost your immune system with citrus and nutrient-dense berries, including fresh, frozen, and dried. 

*Enjoy the healthy fats in eggs and nuts, including nut butters, to fight inflammation, slow the aging process, and lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

*Trade white sugar for antioxidant-rich sweeteners like maple syrup, the newest superfood!

*Create home remedies designed to ease anxiety, improve sleep, boost brainpower and enhance energy.

*Keep your home spotless for kids and pets using eco-friendly superfood-rich formulas. 

*Pamper your mind and body with the same food-based treatments that health spas use, including ingredients like seeds and seaweed. 

Now you can indulge in a Pesto Pizza or Berry Basil Smoothie, a Chicken Bone Broth or dark chocolate gelato, while chilling with an ancient-oats facial or relaxing in a warm, herb-scented bath. Infused with heartwarming stories and inspiring legends, The Healing Powers of Superfoods will take you to a world of wellness that starts at home with our favorite foods from Mother Nature—enjoyed in a new way with an exciting twist!
(Back cover excerpt from The Healing Powers of Superfoods, pre-orders at available fine bookstores everyone, including online)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Volcanoe(s), Earthquakes, is the West Coast Next Up?

Double Volcano Happenings
(Should You Be Nervous?)

* The Big Island is not in the Ring of Fire... the big horseshoe that surrounds the Pacific Coastlines

* Hawaii'a Kilauea and Mauna Loa Volcanoes are linked

Guatemala's Fuego volcano is located within the Ring of Fire

* The May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in WA was the most destructive in the history of the U.S.

Technically HI is in the Pacific Ocean but not in the
Ring of Fire
My Earth changes forecasts for this year included shaky ground and volcanic activity in the United States. I also pinpointed the state of Alaska and Yellowstone which may turn heads with unusual action creating alerts...and more. Well, more is happening right now, indeed. During the spring, Yellowstone captured scientists’ concern but so has the Big Island in Hawaii. Read on—discover if these two volcanoes are on the road to destruction and how it may affect you.

Super Tremors in Yellowstone
Earthquake and volcano gurus will tell you, Yellowstone National Park—America’s restless supervolcano  is due for another eruption. The power of a supervolcano, they say, is 1,000 times greater than a normal volcano. But Yellowstone, a geologic park, has shown past volcanism and ongoing seismic activity for years. In May, earthquakes and eruptions are creating a buzz about the question, “Will it blow?” After all, the park sits over an active volcano. And Steamboat Geyser has erupted three times which is puzzling scientists.
Monterey Bay Area is a target of faults
between the Pacific and North American plates. 
While a possibility of a great eruption could happen, late geologist Jim Berkland noted back in the early 21st century, it likely could experience renewed volcanic activity-which it is doing. However, he added, it “should not approach the mega-eruption of mid-Pleistocene time.” And I agree with the maverick scientist who predicted the major 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake four days before it rocked San Francisco and Northern California. But volcanic activity doesn’t stop in Yellowstone.

Hawaii’s Big Island Kilauea Volcano
On Friday evening, May 4, I received a phone call from my sibling. He said with a sound of excitement, “Evacuations are happening in Hawaii. The volcano erupted!” After all, we have family on the Big Island. When I logged onto the computer I was welcomed with a 6.9 earthquake rocked the island. Since it happened on land, there was no tsunami or casualties happened like the Loma Prieta shaker.
But as the volcano continued to erupt while tremors continued, mandatory evacuations took place 30 miles from Hilo. Two rural subdivisions, Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are in danger because of volcanic bombs (fire), avalanches of hot rock, and lethal gases including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. (On June 4, one interesting report puts the past and present-day Kilauea events and Hawaiian lifestyle  in perspective.)

Is Hawaii’s Volcanic Activity Unusual?
The fact is, Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island has spewed lava almost continuously for 35 years since 1983. And it has started acting out again and may not end soon. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world—erupting on and off for thousands of years. But the question remains, what’s going on?
Conservative geologists and volcanologists will tell you there are not enough details about why—but new magma (lava underground from below the volcano) got injected up into the volcanic mass structure. The consensus is that this region is not stable—and may fall into the Pacific Ocean one day.  Could it cause a tsunami on the West Coast? Experts will tell you there is only a five percent chance of this happening.  But there's more...

Are Yellowstone and Hawaii Volcanic Activity Linked?
Some scientists will tell you the present and future volcanic activity may be a trigger effect and caused by climate change. Centuries ago, past periods of loss of glaciers were followed by a spike in volcanic activity. And history often repeats itself when Earth changes occur. Eruptions caused by the melting of ice at the Antarctic (image of disoriented polar bears come to mind) are making it easier for magma to reach the surface and feed volcanic eruptions.
What’s more, you may be thinking, “Are these two volcanic geological parks linked to the ongoing activity?” Perhaps it is a trigger effect. Back in 1980, on March 27, Mount St. Helens eruption happened; it was followed by the great volcanic blast on May 18. Then, in late May, Mammoth Lakes, California (a dormant volcanic region) began experiencing seismic activity alerting United States Geologic Survey scientists to issue warnings.
While Mammoth Lakes four significant earthquakes in a few days and hundreds of smaller ones didn’t amount to another volcano episode like Mt. St. Helens, it did cause alarm. Also, while it’s better to be safe than sorry, tourism plummeted and the real estate market suffered.

So, Do These Volcanic Events Affect You?
If Yellowstone blows or Kilauea continues to spew lava, these happenings certainly can affect people and the Earth. The sulfur dioxide can have adverse health effects by affecting healthy air quality. In the immediate area people who live nearby can suffer from the ash which can affect people with respiratory problems.
Sulfur dioxide can also effect the environment by wreaking havoc on weather and climate—and cause a cooling effect. Not only can volcanic activity displace people who may not be able to return to their homes, but air travel due to ash clouds and aircraft engines get too hot and can become dangerous.
The worst-case scenario? Well, Kilauea can affect the sea life in the Pacific Ocean and air flow, whereas, Yellowstone can do much worse ending up in a nuclear winter by shrouding the U.S. with ash turning Earth into a volcanic ice age. Go back in time, almost two hundred years after the eruption of Tambora, temperatures dropped, causing crops to die and famines in America and Europe. So, yes, these present-day volcanic happenings can change life as we know it on the earth but hopefully the activity will fizzle and not sizzle this time around.

San Andreas Fault Zone—Tick-Toc

A widely felt 4.5 earthquake rumbled nearby Palm Springs, the region seismologists believe could give us a major 7.8 shaker, well overdue. My prediction: A stronger quake could happen before the summer. The Big Island may start up again with its volcanic activity in June and/or  July. And, an underwater earthquake in the Pacific Ocean—near Hawaii or Japan—could also be sobering events.

Update: On May 17, Kilauea volcano erupted sending plumes 30,000 feet into the sky. The effects are growing but nobody knows how severe this event will be. On June 4th, 500 earthquakes in 24 hours were reported. A downgraded 5.5 was the strongest earthquake.