The weather here in Southern California lately has been gorgeous. The bees are buzzing, the birds are chirping and spring is in full swing. Eric has been doing a ton of birding (aka bird watching) this year, more than ever actually, and logging in his finds on the ebird app. Yep, there’s an app for that. And what better way to get yourself outside than to go looking for different species of birds in your local area?
Whatever draws you out, now is a beautiful time to be checking out local nature trails, county parks, wilderness areas and national forests. Early morning is usually best, as it’s not yet too hot, the birds are still pretty active and the sun is nice and low, if shining at all.
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum)
What’s got Jennifer extra excited this season is all the native California Buckwheat in bloom! The bees are loving it and so is she. If you follow us on social media, you’ve probably seen a couple of her Buckwheat shots. The fully opened blossoms are light pink, off-white looking from a distance, in bunches of six-petaled individual flowers. So adorable and pretty! And the bees know it too.
Not be confused with buckwheat flour, ground from the buckwheat grain, used to make pancakes and soba noodles. Our native California Buckwheat has been used as a traditional medicinal plant by Native Americans for headaches, wounds and other ailments. A decoction of the root is used for hoarseness and inflammation of the throat. (source)
Last month and still now in June, these flowering shrubs are covering the hills of Orange County, making our hikes that much more enjoyable.
We’ve also been seeing the black sage in bloom, with light purple blossoms coming out of the fluffy bud clusters. Rub your fingers on the leaves or the buds and you’ll enjoy that intense sage scent during your hike. The bees are loving these flowers too.
Locally, sage comes in black, white, purple, desert and many more. The word sage comes from the latin term, salvere, which means "to feel well and healthy, health, heal". (source)
So what happens when a bee enjoys the nectar of a particular flower and brings it back to her hive? Honey!
As you’ve likely (hopefully) already enjoyed by now, we’ve been serving up our delicious jun using different honeys and green teas. And Buckwheat and Sage are definitely two of our favorites, and now you can start to understand why.
What’s better than honey from a plant that grows natively in your local area? Not much! So what other plants bloom around here and offer sweet nectar for our bee friends?
While not a native per se, Eucalyptus grows all over Southern California, and the red blossoms that bloom in late winter/early spring are another favorite of bees. You will likely see Eucalyptus trees even on nature trails. They were planted here probably hundreds of years ago and thrive in this climate that is so similar to their native Australia.
The Eucalyptus look blends well with our chaparral and coastal sage scrub landscape, making these trees seem like they were “born” here. We welcome the Eucalyptus openly, enjoying the lovely aroma of their leaves and of course, the delicious, dark and not-too-sweet honey from their blossoms.
✨ Stay tuned as we’ll soon be offering up a new jun flavor using Eucalyptus honey with an organic green tea varietal. ✨
There are so many beautiful things to see, smell and hear on your next hike or picnic out in nature. We hope you’ll find your local area brimming with activity this time of year and will take a moment to appreciate all that goes on in the wild, while we relax at home sipping on some jun.
Nature reconnects us to ourselves, our magnificent inner-being that is always guiding us to the best version of who we truly are.
So tell us. What have you been enjoying this spring that connects you to nature? What birds, bees or other pollinators have you noticed out there? What's your favorite way to feel aligned and at peace? We'd love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.
Thank you for reading and we’ll see you in your inbox next month!
Love & nature,
Jen & Eric
Lately I’ve been tuning into podcast episodes while I exercise, rather than the usual high energy workout music I used to thrash to. I’m finding that learning something while I move, focusing intently on the message works so well for my motivation. I can cruise through a workout or a walk/hike with ease, interest and energy.
One of my favorite podcasts is The Reluctant Vegan Podcast, a young couple in Melbourne Australia who are lovely to listen to. They were both vegetarian and she (Jess) went full-on vegan, dragging her beloved Dan along, reluctantly. So they decided to record the journey of trying veganism for six weeks.
Mostly in the beginning he talked about simple things like switching to soy or almond milk in his coffee and finding vegan butter and vegan “cheese” at the nearby grocery stores. As the episodes progress, they begin discussing more global issues, like horse racing and factory farms.
Why I love this podcast is because this couple is so endearing. They are kind with one another and seem to be enamored and patient with each other’s quirks and viewpoints. Dan & Jess are easy on the ears and listening to them made my exercise routine something I finally looked forward to.
So, I just HAD to reach out to them! Wouldn’t you? I found an email address on their website and basically gushed about how cute they are together. And then I did it - I plugged my health coaching practice and training, and asked if they had ever thought about having a guest on their show. What had gotten into me?
To be honest, I wasn’t entirely thinking of myself and had in fact suggested they reach out to one of the many health coaches in Australia I could connect them with.
Of course, in the back of my mind, or maybe the middle, I thought it would be thrilling to be a guest and record an episode together.
After all, I have been vegan for over six years and knew it would be easy and fun to go on and on about the topic, covering nutrition and health, an area they hadn’t gone too deeply into. Yet.
Fast forward to four months later, their interview with me and Eric has been recorded and posted as an episode on The Reluctant Vegan Podcast! I roped Eric in because we now have our exciting jun kombucha business together. The two of us talked to the two of them for a little less than an hour covering:
Have a listen! We hope you love it, or at least find it somewhat amusing as you take a drive or hike up a hill.
Afterwards, we’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below and tell us: Have you considered going vegan or maybe already eat this way? What’s stopping you? Not ready to give up cheese? Share anything you want about being reluctant or, conversely, all for it.
What are probiotics? For starters, they’re the opposite of antibiotics. You know, those giant pills the doctor prescribes every time you get the sniffles and feel like your throat is going to explode?
Antibiotics kill bacteria in your system - in your intestines, blood stream, everywhere. The idea is that once the bacteria that making you sick is dead, you’ll start to get healthy again.
Unfortunately, antibiotics also kill good bacteria. Yep, there’s such a thing as good bacteria - lactobacilli and bifidobacteria - and we all need them. Millions of bacteria live in our digestive tract, keeping us healthy, vibrant and immune to evil viruses and chronic illness.
These good bacteria are called probiotics because they are pro-life. Oh, that means something else these days, doesn’t it? Let’s not get political, just yet anyway. So probiotics don’t kill anything in your system, but rather live harmoniously inside you and they are essential.
If you’ve taken a lot of rounds of antibiotics in your life, or your diet could stand some improvement, you’re likely in need of adding some extra probiotics to your diet.
Rule #1: Eat Your Probiotics
This means that instead of taking a supplement you found online or at the health food store that claims to contain millions upon billions of probiotics and is the best way to populate that gut of yours, you should be consuming your intake of probiotics in food and beverage form. Why?:
“Prebiotics? What the heck are those? I was just learning about probiotics!” We’ll get to those in a minute.
So what you should always do, ideally, is eat fermented foods that contain probiotics, aka good bacteria, and drink fermented beverages - non-alcoholic drinks like kombucha, sauerkraut juice and kefir. This way you’re getting the added benefits of the whole food or drink, like vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids.
Most people’s guts are craving valuable nutrients anyway, so if you’re going to dose up on healthy microorganisms, you might as well add nutritious foods to the list too: sauerkraut, yogurt, properly fermented sourdough bread*, kimchi, kombucha, jun, etc.
Now back to prebiotics
These are foods that pair well with your probiotic foods, kind of like a wine tasting! Foods that prime the digestive system to receive the probiotics, and assimilate and absorb them optimally.
When you eat tomatoes, honey, bitter greens like dandelion, onion or raw garlic, and then add your probiotics, they enter a supremely healthy environment where they can thrive and serve you best.
What have we learned?
Good bacteria populate your gut, aka small intestines, thereby crowding out the bad bacteria - the stuff that lives off sugar and artificial sweeteners, alcohol, chemicals, meat and dairy. The more good bacteria, or probiotics, in your gut, the healthier your digestive system is, the healthier you are and the better you feel!
Questions? Scroll down to the comments section below and ask away! Or tell me: What foods or drinks have you incorporated into your regular diet that are keeping your gut healthy? What are your favorites? I’d love to know!
* Most store-bought bread only contains added dry yeast. Bread made with a fermented sourdough starter is ideal for gut health.