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Mar 112016
 

Event: Fiesta/Jewelry Sale/Auction fundraiser to benefit the school bus funds of Troncones and Majahua, Mexico

When: Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The Silent Auction and Jewelry Sale start at 4 pm, followed by a live auction, a dinner, and music by Corky Carroll .

Where: At the Huracán Bar, Costa Brava Restaurant, Troncones Beach (Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo), Mexico

Many many people and businesses have donated amazing gifts for our auctions: Restaurant meals, Lodging (one person donated a 3 bedroom condo for an entire week!), cool tours (a Sunset Cruise & a Snorkeling trip on the Picante amongst them), full day rentals of bikes and boards, various personal services (photos, hair styling, massages, manicures), shopping certificates, beautiful art work, and so much more. We also have a BUNCH of new-to-us jewelry that has been donated by friends, neighbors and residents over the last year for the sale.

Costa Brava Restaurant in Troncones is offering some lovely dinner specials for the event: Beautifully presented Tenderloin Beef, juicy and tender medium rare, 150 pesos with dessert included. Chicken breast stuffed with perfectly cooked veggies, cream sauce and mashed potatoes, 130 pesos with dessert included. Both of these were test driven by two of our representatives and got great reviews.

They’ll also be offering a Vegetarian Quesadilla with or without Shrimp, 120 pesos (with Shrimp) and Costa Brava’s regular menu items will still be available.

Margaritas will be 2 for 1 during the Silent Auction and Jewelry Sale. These events will take place at Costa Brava’s new HURACAN BAR.

Make your dinner reservations: 755-553-2808

All proceeds from the Silent Auction, Live Auction, Jewelry Sale and various raffles will go to benefit the Troncones and Majahua School Bus Transportation Funds.

Troncones Auction fundraiser 2016

Dec 072015
 

The Instituto Municipal de la Cultura (Municipal Ministry of Culture) of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, is proud to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Orquesta Sinfonica Infantil y Juvenil Zihuatanejo (Zihuatanejo Children’s and Youth’s Symphonic Orchestra).

Time and place:

Tuesday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m. at the Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) at the corner of Ejido and 5 de Mayo streets in downtown Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

There is no charge for this event.

Visit the Zihuatanejo Children’s and Youth’s Symphonic Orchestra Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OrquestadeZihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo Children's and Youth's Symphonic Orchestra

Dec 122014
 

The Internet Archive at Archive.org features an old book, The Chayote: A Tropical Vegetable, that details the characteristics and properties of the tropical vine and squash native to Mexico and the Caribbean, citing documentation by Australians, Spaniards, and other Europeans who arrived in the New World during the early colonial era.

Sechium chayote espinas

By hillary h (Flickr: chayote espinas) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASechium_chayote_espinas.jpg

The book mentions that one of the first European references to the chayote was by Francisco Hernandez, a Spaniard who spent seven years in Mexico during the mid-sixteenth century and wrote extensively about his time there. He described the chayote as a “plant bearing fruit like hedgehogs.”

The chayote in Mexico is planted in February and harvested from August through October. The creeper, which likes to be guided along fences or trellises rather than extending on the ground, is largely free of disease. Although the plants thrive in well-drained soil and in a warm climate, they will also grow relatively well in colder and more harsh conditions.

The roots are edible and the vines and leaves can be used for fodder; some even claim that the young shoots can be used as a substitute for asparagus.  The tougher vine stems have also been used for basketry and weaving. The flowers, according to this book, are great bee attractors, providing lots of nectar for the insects.

The book goes into great detail about the plant, its history, its cultivation, and its uses, and it includes several recipes. It also features a number of photographic plates of the fruits, seeds, leaves, and flowers of the several varieties that exist.

The Chayote: A Tropical Vegetable
Author: Cook, Orator Fuller, 1867; The Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org


More chayote resources and information:

How to Prepare Chayote from The Latin Kitchen: http://thelatinkitchen.com/entertaining-how/technique/how-prepare-chayote. Tips on how to choose, peel, seed, and cut chayote for eating raw, baking, steaming, pureeing, or boiling.

Growing Chayote from Organic Gardening at Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-chayote-zmaz80ndzraw.aspx#axzz3LdGqfRnA. How to cultivate the chayote vine in tropical and sub-tropical climates of the world.

The Chayote: information on the different chayote varieties and characteristics of each, from Botanical Online: http://www.botanical-online.com/english/chayote_food.htm


 

 

Nov 172014
 

A surfing and body board tournament will be held at Playa Bonfil  in Acapulco, Mexico, on November 21, 22, and 23, 2014, in memory of Mexican surfer Evencio Garcia. There will be music, beach and pool parties, surf school, and plenty of other surfing and beach activities over the weekend.

Surfing Tournament November 2014

Playa Bonfil, Acapulco

Surf school

Beach party

Evencio Garcia tournament

Surfing poster

Ritual surfer

 Posted by on November 17, 2014
Jun 242014
 

The Acapulco Pacific Lifeguard association is hosting a world surfing day contest on Wednesday, June 25 at the beach of the Acapulco Princess hotel in Acapulco, Mexico.

The tournament begins at 8:00 a.m. in celebration of International Surfing Day as well as the anniversary of the Acapulco Pacific Lifeguards Union. There will be surfing, beach football, music, food, and fun.

World Surfing Day Contest 2014AcapulcoGuards

Nov 232013
 

Things were hopping today at Zihuatanejo’s Saturday organic and natural products market on Playa Principal at Plaza del Artista in downtown Zihua on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Juanito Zihua and Banda Cuatro-Cuarenta were playing, and many who stopped by the beachfront market took advantage to dance off the excess energy after partaking in the fabulous natural food snacks offered: things like spicy tinga de jamaica; vegan tamales made with squash blossoms, beans, and rajas en salsa verdetepache (fermented pineapple juice); kombucha (fermented tea of many flavors); organic coffee; vegan brownies; and locally-made wine.

eco-tianguis zanka 2013

Local organic fresh produce available included arugula, limes, papaya, bananas, green beans, grapefruit, basil, chives, okra, and star fruit.

Here’s what you missed today if you weren’t there:

 

Oct 182013
 
(If you’re just joining us, this is the last of a series of posts about our travels to Istanbul and Barcelona. Check prior posts for more info.)

We spent two-plus unforgettable days wandering the streets of Istanbul. We took a bus from the old sector over the Galata Bridge, through the more modern area of Beyoglu, over the Bosphorus Bridge to touch our feet on Asian soil at the Beylerbeyi Palace, back through Taksim Square, returning over the Golden Horn to the area of our hotel. We explored the depths of the Basilica Cistern, built in 532 AD to supply water to palaces of old Istanbul, and looked out over the rooftops of the city from rooftop terrace restaurants.

Istanbul port area and the Galata Bridge

Istanbul port area and the Galata Bridge

We ate well (and often!), got lost and tired in the winding streets and bazaars, and knew we just didn’t have enough time to see even a fraction of what we wanted to see. But we enjoyed everything we experienced.

The boat tour on the Bosphorus and up to the Black Sea, the comprehensive tour of the museum of the Hagia Sophia, explorations of the streets on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, a visit to the Topkapi Palace grounds, and museums, a downright thorough scouring of each and every corner of the Grand Bazaar, and side trips to fascinating places like Ephesus and Cappadoccia will all just have to wait until our next visit. They give us a lot to look forward to.

Okay, to finish off, here’s a small gallery of photos shot around the streets of Istanbul. It’s a city that should be on everyone’s world itinerary wishlist.

 

Oct 172013
 

There’s one thing that a visitor to Istanbul must not miss: the Turkish bath!

Suleymaniye Hammam

On the evening before our flight out of Istanbul, we moseyed into a Turkish bathhouse that we’d seen advertised. It was the Suleymaniye Hammam next to the Suleymaniye Mosque in old Istanbul. It was advertised as accepting couples only and catering to first-time visitors. It was convenient to our accommodations and reasonably priced. We were greeted, explained the steps of the ritual, and asked to wait a short while before being initiated into the process. We lounged barefoot on cushions of a predominantly wine-red hue punctuated by tan and gold, surrounded by natural woods, tapestries, and low, carved tables topped with brass urns. Soft threads of Turkish music spun out of hidden speakers.

After fifteen minutes or so, we were asked to go up into our private changing room where we disrobed and donned items provided by the hammam: light shorts and a bikini top and towel for me, a simple wrap-around towel for my husband.

Suleymaniye Hammam in Istanbul: reception area
Suleymaniye Hammam in Istanbul: reception area

Thus dressed, we were brought back through the waiting area and ushered through a heavy door into a warm room in which several people swathed in white robes–from head to toe, almost–were sitting on wooden benches drinking tea. Everything was hushed. We were led through another doorway into the inner sanctum: a totally stone and marble-lined, majestically domed space partially divided also by stone walls into eight or nine sections, the steamy central section holding a big marble slab supposedly heated to 40 degrees celsius. In the side niches were taps and fountains with very hot and very cold water. The corner niches each held two individual marble slabs–the massage tables, it turned out. A plaque on the wall stated that here the Sultan Suleiman had bathed.

We were told to lay ourselves out on the hot, central marble slab for about forty minutes to cook. This was to soften our tissues, relax us, and detoxify us through intense sweating. Occasionally we doused ourselves with cold or at least cool water from the side taps for relief. We lay on the slab (there were one or two other couples in with us most of the time, each couple at different stages of “doneness”), sighed, and stared through the steam at the fabulous dome above. The boys who did the body washes and massages padded in and out periodically. Sounds of splashing water and sometimes sharp slaps came periodically from the massage niches. Finally, we were called into one of the corners and each asked to sit on the low step beside a fountain. We each had a boy attending to us.

First we were sluiced down with warm to hot water and scrubbed thoroughly with invigorating exfoliating gloves the boys used. Then water was poured over us from head to toe, and we were asked to lay ourselves out face down, each on one of the two flat marble massage tables (no cushions here!). The boys enveloped us in incredibly soft and very hot blankets of suds, after which they gently but firmly pummeled us and kneaded us until we felt even more floppy, then we were rinsed. We turned over and the process was repeated on the top side. Once done, they washed our hair, rinsed us off again, and told us we could lay out and relax a few more minutes in the steam room before they would initiate the final rinsing, drying, and cooling off process.

We were taken to a small room where we discarded our shorts and towels and rinsed ourselves off one final time. We were thereafter wrapped head-to-toe in soft, white robes. We were escorted into the anteroom with the wooden benches through which we’d entered and told we could sit, cool down, and rehydrate here with water, coffee, or tea for as long as we wished before going back to our changing room and returning to street clothes. We stayed there quite a long time. I’m not quite sure if we were just unwilling or totally unable to move.

Back in our clothes, we settled down on the cushions in the reception area once again and were served cups of hot apple tea. Mmm. The whole Turkish bath procedure normally takes about ninety minutes, but I think we were in there for significantly longer out of choice, what with our prolonged pre- and post-steam bath relaxation periods. Why go anywhere else when it’s so comfortable and warm?

As we floated contentedly out the door into the streets of late-afternoon Istanbul, our wrists were spritzed liberally with rosewater for one last, sensuous touch…

The real reason I want to return to Istanbul is not the general intrigue of the city on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, but it is to go back to the Turkish bath.

Oct 162013
 

I don’t know much about mosques, but their immense proportions, sweeping arches, majestic domes, towering minarets, intricate tile work, and auras of devotion inspire awe and quiet contemplation.

The major mosques we visited in Istanbul permitted visitor access between the five prayer times, when the Islamic call to prayer echoes eerily over the rooftops. Before entering, we had to remove our shoes, which either could be left at the entrance or carried in plastic bags provided by the mosque.

Women are required to cover their hair and shoulders; men are asked to wear long pants instead of shorts and also to use shirtsleeves. Disposable shawls or capes are provided for those who don’t have adequate items of clothing with them. Visitors are asked to maintain silence inside the sanctuaries.

Inside the New Mosque, Istanbul

Inside the New Mosque, Istanbul

Tilework at the New Mosque

Tile work at the New Mosque

The Blue Mosque exterior

The Blue Mosque exterior

 

Domes of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Domes of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)

The Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), once a church, it was converted into a mosque and is now a museum. View from a distant rooftop terrace.

 

 

 

Oct 152013
 

Some of the most fascinating aspects of Istanbul are its bazaars, and once we had our breakfast at the hotel, we were set to go out into the streets and discover them.

But first, a few words about the breakfast buffet that was included in the Agan Hotel room price. In addition to wonderful, fragrant coffee, tea, and juices, we were treated to a variety of sesame-studded rolls and sweet breads; cheeses and cold cuts; roasted eggplant; sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers; olives of all sizes, shapes, and colors; yogurt with a couple of choices of cereal; and bowls of fresh fruit that included grapes, apples, bananas, nectarines, pears, and figs. There was also a chafing dish holding hard-cooked eggs and sausages. I was heartened to see fellow travelers, even businessmen who looked as though they hailed from other parts of Asia and the Middle East, sitting down to mounds of fresh fruit to start their day.

Once fortified, we stepped out into the streets and headed to the Spice Bazaar. It was only a few blocks away: a walk of perhaps fifteen minutes, although we took somewhat longer as we stopped and peered into shops along the way and visited our first mosque, the New Mosque, just outside the entrance to the Bazaar (I’ll be putting up a separate post with photos and commentary on the mosques).

Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Outside the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul, near the New Mosque.

My first sight of the Spice Market was the gardening section. Talk about landing right where I wanted to be! There were seeds of all kinds, pots of fresh herbs, bags of potting soil mixed with bags of dog and cat food (that was my first indication of what I’d learn later in the day, that Istanbullus are absolute cat lovers), and miscellaneous gardening paraphernalia.

The smells and the sight of mounds of spices: cardamom and turmeric, anise and mint, coriander and ginger root, peppers and cinnamon, assailed us in the Spice Market. Interspersed with these spices were piles of dried figs, dates, apricots (both sulphured and unsulphured), apples, raisins, and many other unidentifiable products. Mountains of pistachios, sesame seeds, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds beckoned. Tempting displays of glistening and sticky baklava, dripping with honey and studded with pistachios, and Turkish Delight wafting fragrant essences of rosewater, pomegranate, and citrus, overwhelmed us.

Figs and dried fruits at the Istanbul Spice Market

Figs and dried fruits at the Istanbul Spice Market

Spice Market in Istanbu

The sights and smells of the Spice Market in Istanbul assault the senses.

The intervening streets between the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar were also filled with stores and stalls. We found ourselves in one, never-ending market. We passed by hardware outlets and dry goods stores, clothing retailers and fresh fruit vendors. I had a luscious glass of fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice (tart!)–my only adventure, except for a bag of hot, roasted chestnuts and samplings of Turkish Delight, in street food in Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar was a cavernous, covered maze of stalls and storefronts encompassing many blocks. Storekeepers chatted us up as we passed, attempting by any means possible to get us into their clutches for a hard sale of whatever it was they were offering. The range of goods in the Grand Bazaar was very tourist-oriented with lots of carpets and cushion covers, some antiques (I’m not sure whether to encase that word in quotation marks or not), many embroidered silk shoes, harem pants, spice grinders, leather goods, handbags, water pipes, brass and copper work, hand-made olive oil soaps, and, again, mountains of Turkish Delight.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Inside the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Istanbul street markets

Istanbul street markets

Cats prevail in Istanbul

Cats prevail in Istanbul: at the Grand Bazaar

Turkish carpets and kilims

Turkish carpets and kilims

Bellydance outfits and clothing

Belly dance outfits, harem pants, and other colorful clothing

 

Jul 252013
 

I don’t know how well cute describes an archaeological site, but that’s the closest term I can find for the neat and compact ruins that are found just outside the town of Tingambato between Uruapan and Patzcuaro, Michoacan.

Besides the archaeological site of Xihuacan (also called La Soledad de Maciel or La Chole) near Petatlan and Zihuatanejo, Tingambato is the site that’s easiest to get to from Ixtapa Zihuatanejo that will give you something of the the sense of what it must be like to visit the tremendously large and extensive sites of Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, and Chichen Itza in other parts of Mexico. Except at Tingambato, the structures and dimensions seem miniaturized.

Tingambato is calculated to date from between the first and second stages of the Meso-american Classical Period (450-900 AD). Tingambato comprises two pyramid bases, a ceremonial center, a ball court, a number of what appear to be habitations or residences, platforms, and a tomb, all contained within a very small and compact area. The pyramid is easily climbable. The ball court is of a size that even I could imagine playing on it. The site itself is on a gentle slope surrounded by avocado trees and, most of the year, the greenery of the higher elevations. You don’t have to walk kilometers from the parking lot to get there. It’s perfect for a short but sweet afternoon visit, and yet in the site, you can see examples of so many of the structures and configurations that make up larger sites.

How to get there: Turn off the Uruapan-Morelia highway at the Zurumucapio Caseta (toll booth) between Uruapan and Patzcuaro. From the town of San Angel Zurumucapio, head toward Federal Highway 14. At the junction of the highway, turn toward Patzcuaro and follow to road to Santiago Tingambato. The site is on the edge of the village and anyone will be able to direct you there.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission, 28 pesos; Free on Sundays and holidays. Admission free for children under 13, the elderly, students, and teachers with valid ID.

 

Jul 202013
 

Cats, boas, a vegan fair, and dinner…

What an unusual day!

First, an early morning phonecall informed me that my cat, who resided at our office instead of our house, had almost–almost–been devoured by a boa constrictor. She was saved in the nick of time by a  vigilant and fast-moving relative who valiantly batted the snake with a broomstick until it released poor Sushi-the-cat’s head and body from its grasp. The boa, perhaps somewhat stunned by the broomstick attack but apparently no worse from wear, slithered quickly up into the hills behind the house.

After getting the cat, Sushi, to the vet, whose assistant re-christened her “Milagro,” or Miracle, and after being assured that she had sustained no damage to bones or organs (the poor mite has been severely traumatized, though, and appears to just want to hide and stay away from the big, bad world), I was able to get on with the other activities of my day, one of which was to stop in at the local organic and vegan products expo and fair that was being held down at Zihuatanejo’s archaeological museum on the main beach.

In our area of the Pacific coast of Mexico, there’s a small but growing community of growers of ecologically friendly and organic products, as well as producers of healthy and hearty snacks and gardening and personal care products. A number of tables were set up at the museum, and the producers showed off and gave samples of their wares. There was organic coffee grown in the hills above Zihuatanejo; samples of delicious basil and chipotle hummus and homemade peanut butter; bags of rich, natural organic bokashi compost for plants and potting; herbal mixtures and oils; locally made coconut oil, coconut granola, and maracuja juice and sweets; locally harvested honey and home-produced jams made from fruits of the area,  locally harvested sea salt; dehydrated fruits and veggie snacks, killer homemade kimchi, and raw sprouted hummus. It was quite the spread and it was good to see things like this happening more and more often in Zihuatanejo. A lot of thanks for the organization and promotion of the events has to go out to the local Cooperativa Vegana group, which sells and promotes a lot of these products. Look for them in the stores at Casa Marina next to the basketball court in downtown Zihua (yes, that’s the same location as the SPAZ animal shelter).

By the time I was finished at the expo, and after such an exciting morning, I was hungry. Armed with bounty from the fair, I headed home and started devising my meal. This is what I came up with–simple but satisfying, and perfect for a hot summer’s day:

image

Hummus and Kimchi Open-Facers

I had some rustic rye bread that I used as my base, but you can use wholegrain crackers, cucumber slices, jicama slices, or even just leaves of lettuce  to make them more into roll-ups if desired.

On the bread, I spread a layer of friend Patti’s fabulous raw sprouted hummus that has a lovely little spicy kick to it. On top of the hummus, I placed a half-moon of creamy avocado, followed by a small mound of Patti’s killer  kimchi (it was my first taste and wow, was it good!). I sprinkled it all with fresh, chopped arugula and holy basil from the garden, and dinner was served. I dug in. Mmmm. Mmmm. A few fresh grapes to clean the palate and voila, dinner was then gone!

Jul 122013
 

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On a side street in the heart of the historical center of Mexico City, close to Parque Alameda and Bellas Artes (the Palace of Fine Arts), is a small, unassuming restaurant called simply Restaurante Vegetariano. It is open only for lunch and caters to the personnel of nearby offices and businesses.

It is in a neighborhood of somewhat old and decrepit buildings, slightly to one side of the tourist-transited Juarez street and core pedestrian passageways. The streets and buildings are grey and soot-covered, and the businesses around the restaurant all seem to focus on refrigeration or washer/drier repair and service–potbellied compressors and plastic washer agitators are everywhere. If you look for this restaurant, don’t expect to see nice decor or any ambiance other than that of a simple, working-class neighborhood.

Restaurante Vegetariano, Mexico City

Restaurante Vegetariano

On a recent visit to Mexico City, my husband and I dropped in for quick lunch. We scaled a narrow stairway up to the first floor above street level and entered a small and crowded apartment that had been converted into a restaurant. The two diminutive rooms fronting the street held about six small tables topped with standard faux wood Formica with accompanying straight-backed chairs. Small framed photos (magazine clippings?) of Marilyn Monroe and flowers hung on the walls. The tiny kitchen had barely enough space for two people to work. The hallway connecting the rooms and leading to the bathroom held a narrow table that served as a wait station, holding the necessary tableware, napkins, and glassware for replacing table settings. It was a bit crushed and crowded but clean, and the food smelled good.

We sat at one of the tables and were immediately served a jug of chilled lemongrass tea and given menus that listed the fare for the day. Each meal included an opening course of mixed green or fruit salad and a choice of hot vegetable soups or cold beet juice, kefir, or yogurt  After that, we could choose from a listing of different main courses with prices ranging from $48 and $70 pesos per meal. You can also choose from a more basic, daily set meal for a price of only $30 pesos.

We went for the $48 peso-a-plate menu and chose the green salad for starters. We were served healthy mounds of mixed leafy, green lettuce, tomato, cooked beets, carrots, and alfalfa sprouts served with a homemade yogurt-based dressing or just oil and vinegar. My husband chose the hot noodle and vegetable soup followed by beans and nopales (sauteed prickly pear cactus) with mushrooms, and I had the beet juice followed by brown rice and beans. There was a nice homemade chile sauce on the table, whole grain bread, and homemade gomasio (sesame seeds ground with salt). Portions were good and the food was simple but tasty and nicely prepared. When finished, we were each given a small slice of whole wheat banana bread. The meal was more than satisfying. It was like eating at home, except I tend to prepare less of a variety for each meal. I’d certainly go back and eat at the Restaurante Vegetariano again.

Restaurante Vegetariano D.F. menu

Restaurante Vegetariano D.F. menu

If you’re in the area, remember that the Restaurante Vegetariano is only a couple of blocks away from Calle Dolores, where Mexico City’s Chinatown (a scant block-long stretch of restaurants and small shops selling the standard Chinese lanterns, incense sticks, noodles, and soy sauce) is found. You might want to check that out, too.

Restaurante Vegetariano
Calle Articulo 123 No. 40, Depto. 5, 1st floor, Centro, Mexico D.F. (Between Luis Moya and Dolores). Tel: 5512-1470.

Open Monday to Saturday from 1:00 through 5:00 p.m.

Mexico City is one the world’s largest cities; its metropolitan area holds more than twenty million people. It is the country’s center of industry and commerce and offers tremendous cultural and commercial variety.

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Jun 192013
 

So much has come out lately in health news circles about the wonders and benefits of avocados. The avocado is touted as a superfood, effective for conditions and ailments ranging from osteoarthritis to cardiovascular disease, from dry skin to depression. As more studies come out about its properties and qualities, we can see that, indeed, we might all do well to incorporate the avocado into our regular diets,

The avocado tree is native to Central and South America. Its common English name comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) language, ahuacatl, although in South America is known as palta. It is also known in the United States as the Alligator Pear, perhaps because of the thick, sometimes bumpy, alligator-like skin of some of the varieties.

avocado

Avocados are cultivated widely in California and Florida in the United States, as well as in other mild and sub-tropical climes around the globe; however, the hills of Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico constitute one of the most productive avocado-growing regions of the world: That’s lucky for us here in Zihuatanejo, where we’re only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from that fertile area; we have avocados almost year-round, and most of the time at reasonable cost. The local markets and supermarkets often carry the smaller, thin-skinned, native or criollo varieties, even though the principal commercial variety is the buttery, smooth Haas. The Haas is favored by avocado producers because of the fine texture and flavor of its flesh, its high oil content, and its thick skin that allows it to easily be transported long distances without great spoilage.

Avocados have been highly regarded in Mexican herbal folklore. Traditional uses include taking a tea of the skin, seed, and/or leaves first thing in the morning, prior to any other food or drink and for three to four days in a row, as an antihelminthic or an antiparasitic (expeller of worms and other parasites). The oily avocado pulp and sometimes the fresh leaves are used to treat sores and wounds. Both are said to be effective for dry skin conditions and skin blemishes. For hair loss, folk medicine recommends grinding or pounding the leaves or seeds with water and working the paste into the hair and scalp.
(http://www.medicinatradicionalmexicana.unam.mx/monografia.php?l=3&t=&id=7088)

Try this killer, vegan Frozen Choco-Mint Pudding made with avocados

In a recent article (http://omtimes.com/2012/10/13-great-benefits-of-eating-avocado-seeds/), Dr Paul Haider talks about the quality and concentration of beneficial substances in the avocado seed and avocado seed oil, not just the flesh, citing studies that show that avocado seeds contain high concentrations of antioxidants that are beneficial for the gastrointestinal tract and immune system, soluble fiber that can help prevent cardiovascular disease, and a flavonol that shows promise as an inhibitor of tumor growth.

One method the article suggests for using dried avocado seeds is to place them in a bag and crush or pound them with a hammer, and then grind them, a little at a time, into a powder in a super-strength blender or grinder. The powder can then be added to smoothies, soups, and baked goods.

The thought of using the seeds makes me happy: those seeds don’t break down well in the compost heap, but I always feel guilty throwing them into the regular trash.

Avocado nutrition dataAccording to NutritionData.com, avocados contain significant levels of protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folic acid, dietary fiber, potassium, and, of course, those healthy fats.

The Pubmed website lists a number of studies on the health benefits of avocado. Here’s some further reading for those interested:

Avocados and Cancer Prevention: a study in which avocados were found to contain several bioactive substances such as the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, as well as vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, which together have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cell.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15629237

Avocado and Blood Cholesterol levels: A study that suggests that an avocado-rich diet can improve the lipid profile of certain patients.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8987188

The Avocado and Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity: This study reports on phenolic compounds present in extract of avocado peel, pulp, and seed that show antioxidant and antibacterial activity.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21480593

The Composition and Health Benefits of the Hass Avocado:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23638933

For general information about the avocado and all its benefits, visit: http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/healthbenefits/avocado.htm

And for those who like to delve into the background and history of what we consume, here’s an interesting historical tidbit on the avocado in trade and commerce

After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, Mexico tried exporting avocados to the US. The US government resisted, claiming the trade would introduce Tephritidae fruit flies that would destroy California’s crops. The Mexican government responded by inviting USDA inspectors to Mexico, but the U.S. government declined, claiming fruit fly inspection was not feasible. The Mexican government then proposed to sell avocados only to the northeastern US in the winter (fruit flies cannot withstand extreme cold). The US government balked, but gave in when the Mexican government started erecting barriers to US corn.

Another argument is that the lower prices generated by Mexican (and Chilean) imports would increase the popularity of avocados outside of California, thereby assuaging the loss of profits due to the new competition.

Today, avocados from Mexico are allowed in all 50 states, because USDA inspectors in Michoacán (where 90% of Hass avocados from Mexico are grown) inspected fruit in Uruapan. Imports from Mexico in the 2005–2006 season exceeded 130,000 tonnes.

In 2009, Peru joined Chile and Mexico as an exporter of avocados to the US.

In the US avocados are grown in California and Florida, where land, labor and water are expensive. Avocado trees require frequent, deep watering to bear optimally, particularly in spring, summer, and fall. Due to increased Southern Californian water costs, they are now costly to grow. California produces 90% of the United States’ avocados.

As of 2013, Mexico leads international exports, with other significant production in California, New Zealand, Peru and South Africa.

Wikipedia contributors, “Avocado,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Avocado&oldid=559814292 (accessed June 19, 2013).
 Posted by on June 19, 2013
Feb 252013
 

The Alternative Daily published an article about the health benefits of gazpacho*, a cold, tomato-based soup that is brimming with flavor and nutrients, citing research published in the journal of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases** that points to the ingredients of gazpacho containing properties helpful in protecting us against conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases in general.

Gazpacho is an incredibly fast and easy-to-prepare dish that is, in my opinion, one of the best transition meals to a vegetarian, vegan, or raw whole-foods diet . . . or simply a light and very healthy addition to an omnivore’s regular, everyday fare. There are myriad recipes and variations, but with all of them you can have, within minutes and with the help of little more than a knife and a blender or food processor, a tasty, hearty, refreshing, and thoroughly satisfying raw summertime soup. Although many versions call for canned tomatoes or tomato juice as well as roasted peppers for extra flavor, which would take the recipe out of the pure “raw food” category, it is a simple matter to prepare the soup with totally raw, fresh ingredients to get the benefit of their natural nutrients and enzymes.

Making this (the oil-free version) into a “tomato-vegetable smoothie” and simply drinking it down is one of my favorite gazpacho modes of consumption–so simple!

Raw Gazpacho

  • 8-10 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Water or vegetable broth
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped. Discard any large seeds.
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or use 3-4 spring onions with tops)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil (this can be omitted if you want an oil-free version)
  • 1/4 c chopped, fresh basil
  • 1 T vinegar apple cider or wine vinegar
  • 1 T fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1⁄2 t ground cumin (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions

If serving as soup, set aside 1 T each of chopped tomato, cucumber, and onion, plus a sprig of basil.

Process or blend the tomatoes until liquefied and smooth, adding a bit of water or vegetable broth if necessary. Add all other ingredients except salt and process or blend to desired consistency.

Add salt to taste at the end; however, this recipe packs a lot of flavor even without the addition of salt, so be sure to taste it well before adding the salt.

To regulate the tanginess, add more or less lemon juice and/or vinegar to taste.

Depending on your own preferences, make your gazpacho thick and creamy by blending or processing all ingredients well with minimal liquid; thick and chunky by pulsing the mixture less thoroughly; or thinner and lighter by adding more liquid and blending well.

Chill and serve garnished with the reserved chopped tomato, cucumber, and onion, and a sprig of basil.

Fresh tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes

*  “Got Gazpacho? Amazing Health Benefits From This Cold Soup!” can be found at http://www.thealternativedaily.com/got-gazpacho-amazing-health-benefits-from-this-cold-soup/
** The website of the journal of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases can be found at http://www.nmcd-journal.com/

 

Oct 202012
 
Zihuatanejo: La Ropa Beach

Zihuatanejo: La Ropa Beach

Zihuatanejo is a place where first-time visitors tend quickly to become regulars, where new-comers scheme about how to return—be it next month or next season—to stay longer, or maybe forever. Our tropical, white sanded beaches are lined with coconut palms in whose peaceful shade the unsuspecting visitor can be entrapped and enchanted for life … beware!

Maybe forever…

Zihuatanejo, with its neighboring and complementary touristic community of Ixtapa, is located in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, Mexico on what is known as the Costa Grande. This “great coast” encompasses the Pacific shoreline from Acapulco northward to the border of the state of Michoacan. The twin vacation destinations form a special part of Mexico, with a largely symbiotic relationship between modern, comfort-rich Ixtapa—with its golf courses, manicured boulevards and deluxe hotels—and Zihuatanejo, a growing but still small town that clings to its fishing roots, with a typical town market, one of the most beautiful bays in the world, protected beaches, early-morning roosters, and a slow-moving pace.

Zihuatanejo Style

Zihuatanejo Style

Beaches of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo

The Zihuatanejo area is blessed with a number of fabulous beaches of varying traits. Within Zihuatanejo Bay and in the area around Isla Ixtapa, there are calm stretches of sand and coral ideal for the regular swimmer, snorkeler, and watersports enthusiast. The more open beaches of Ixtapa, Troncones, and Playas Larga and Blanca are somewhat wilder and unprotected, often with a heavy surf in which the swimmer should exercise caution.

Beaches of Zihuatanejo Bay

Playa Municipal and Paseo del Pescador (Fisherman’s Walk): Along the Municipal beach in front of Zihuatanejo town proper, the Paseo del Pescador or Fisherman’s Walk will take you from the regional museum beside the flood control canal over to the pier. Along the tree-lined walkway are many seafood restaurants and cafes, shops, a shell market, and a fish market. Town kids hang out on this beach after school, as do fishermen tending their boats. It is not one of the popular beaches for swimming, but it’s a great place to watch the town go by and feel the breezes coming off the bay.

 

Zihuatanejo Mexico: Paseo del Pescador

Zihuatanejo: Paseo del Pescador

Playa la Madera (Madera Beach) is located between the municipal beach and the outcroppings between town and La Ropa. The municipality built a walkway leading from Madera beach across the rocky shore of the bay toward town. This special walk affords some spectacular views to both sides of the bay and the boat moorings in front of Playa Municipal. Playa Madera is a favorite for boogie-boarders and, when the waves within the bay are right, some of the younger, local surfers. Several small hotels and vacation rental condo complexes overlook the shore.

Playa La Ropa: Lying within Zihuatanejo Bay, many consider La Ropa Beach Zihuatanejo’s finest. Along the 3/4 mile palm-lined beach lies a series of bungalows, hotels, and seafood restaurants. La Ropa beach offers water and beach sports of all kinds, and plenty of room for stretching out and sunning–or just beach walking–along its length.

Playa Las Gatas: An excellent and extremely protected snorkeling beach near the mouth of Zihuatanejo Bay, Las Gatas Beach is accessible by boat from the Municipal Pier.

Zihuatanejo Mexico Coastline

Zihuatanejo Coastline

Ixtapa Beaches

Playa el Palmar: Ixtapa’s popular beach and hotel row offers swimming, watersports, and many other activities. It’s open ocean here with possible undertows; exercise caution. Surfing is popular in the area near the Marina Ixtapa jetty, known as Las Escolleras.

Playa Linda: Located an approximate 10 minutes drive north of Ixtapa, Playa Linda offers a nature preserve, horseback riding and good surfing.

Ixtapa Island: Ixtapa Island, accessible by boat taxi from the Playa Quieta area of Ixtapa, is a snorkeler’s paradise, with a number of great seafood restaurants, beautiful coral beaches, and winding paths affording a range of views.

Zihuatanejo: Barra de Potosi

Zihuatanejo: Barra de Potosi

 Other beaches outside of town:

Troncones Beach and Manzanillo Bay: The Troncones Beach community is located about one-half hours’ drive to the north of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo. Miles of white beach and plenty of water and land activities. There is a popular surfing point at Manzanillo Bay.

Playa La Saladita: A longboarder’s paradise, La Saladita offers long stretches of beach, a growing local community, and one of the best left-point breaks on the coast.

Playa Larga and Playa Blanca: Parts of one continuous beach near the airport with miles of pristine, white-sand and long stretches of solitude. Great for horseback riding and beachcombing. Here you can often see dolphins cavorting in the waves, or during whale season, see whales spouting offshore.

Barra and Laguna de Potosí: At the end of Playa Larga lies Barra de Potosí, lined with numerous palm-thatched enramadas serving fresh seafood, and boat and kayak tours of the Laguna de Potosí—an excellent birdwatching excursion.

Zihuatanejo Mexico: Sunset

Zihuatanejo Mexico: Sunset