DIY Garden Health

Zucchini boats

How to make zucchini boats using ingredients you already have!

Got zucchini? We’re making stuffed zucchini boats and if you have the zucchini, you really shouldn’t have to leave home for ingredients!  You can really use your leftovers to stuff them — hence cleaning out the fridge and bringing you closer to zero waste.  It’s a win-win!

So we will make the recipe according to what I had in the garden and in my fridge….

One ingredient that isn’t flexible is your zucchini… you’ll need large ones to use as your shell.

Trim the ends of the zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out your seeds and pulp.  Don’t toss it… you can use the pulp and seeds as one of the ingredients.  I save my seeds for planting and I share them on our Etsy site

Back to the ingredients… again use what you have.  I grabbed onions, bell peppers and more zucchini from the garden and chopped it all up before adding it to a skillet.  This is where you would add your zucchini seeds and pulp.  Cook the ingredients for about five minutes.

Next you’ll spoon everything into your zucchini boat.

I started with tomato sauce, then black rice, cooked veggies and topped it all off with vegan cheese.

Let it cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Garnish it with fresh veggies and you’re done… Looks and tastes so yummy and you can make it as healthy or decadent as you want.

Let us know if you make it and if so, what ingredients you use! 


Ingredients (Flexible)

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
  • ½ cups shredded cheese
  • Other ideas – mushroom, rice, beans, spinach


  • Trim the ends off zucchini. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and pulp.  Save the pulp/seeds for the meal, or save the seeds for planting.
  • Add ingredients to a skillet…  I used onions, bell peppers, and sliced zucchini.  Cook for about five minutes
  • Spoon everything into your boat, I started with tomato or spaghetti sauce, then added some leftover black rice, then my stir-fried ingredients and topped off with vegan cheese. 
  • Place in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish and bake, uncovered, at 350° until zucchini is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • When finished, add fresh garnish.  I used onion and society garlic chives from the garden.  DELISH!




Do you love chocolate? I do!

I’m sure you’ve heard all of the reports that chocolate is bad for you… and other reports that say chocolate is simply getting a bad wrap and it’s actually healthy.  Well, both sides are right… kind of.

Most of the chocolate you find in stores these days have high amounts of sugar, tons of calories and there are even animal products like milk and butter — lots of it.

It turns out there is a healthier alternative – just take the traditional chocolate, minus all of the added sugars and other stuff.  You’re left with an ingredient that’s actually considered a superfood — CACAO.  

The cacao tree produces pods. Inside each pod, you’ll find more than 30 cacao seeds. When you eat chocolate, you’re eating the seeds of the cacao fruit.

It’s technical name is the Theobroma cacao tree—which translates to “food of the gods,” because the Mayans and Aztecs believed it was a gift from God… and for good reason.

But before we talk about the benefits… There is a distinction that should be noted between chocolate, cacao, and cocoa. The term cacao is reserved mostly for seeds that have not been roasted, while cocoa is used to refer to any manufactured product from the seed which would include chocolate.

Now let’s talk more about why some of our ancestors put cacao on such a high pedestal;

Cacao is one of the highest sources of magnesium in nature, full of iron, zinc, copper and selenium.

Even more, the seeds are full of polyphenols, which are plant compounds with antioxidant properties. And it’s not a small amount…

Cacao contains more antioxidants per gram than blueberries, goji berries, red wine, raisins, prunes and even pomegranates.  And those antioxidant properties have been shown to protect you from diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Cacao also packs more calcium than cow’s milk… so it’s definitely a powerhouse.

With all of those vitamins and nutrients, it makes since that consuming cacao can help with conditions like stress and depression, heart health and even help reduce blood pressure.

And that’s not all — is also rich in flavanols. Flavanols help support neuron production, brain function and improve blood flow and supply to brain tissue.  They’ve also been linked to the prevention of age-related brain illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. 

I could go on and on about the benefits of adding Cacao to your daily diet.

That being said, it doesn’t have the same sweetness as chocolate.  It’s actually more on the bitter side, closer to a coffee bean.

You can find cacao in several forms… nibs, powder, butter, even a paste.

So how do you consume it?

We eat raw cacao daily and I’ll admit, it’s not like eating chocolate.

But there are lots of ways to add it to your daily diet… including blending it into a smoothies, adding it to warm coconut milk with a little honey and vanilla, you can even add the raw cacao nibs to your trailmix!

You’ll get the most nutrients and antioxidants by eating it raw.

And if you are really craving chocolate, pure dark chocolate is best.  Look for a cacao content of 70 percent or more.  That’s what I use for baking.  So be creative… it’s worth the benefits!

More Fun Facts —

The cacao trees are native to Central and South America, but they can also be found in Africa, too. In fact, 70% of the cacao produced today comes from Africa.

As for growing… I’d LOVE to own a cacao tree, but unfortunately Phoenix isn’t close to ideal. Cacao trees really only prosper in warm rainforests and if you want to grow your own you’ll have to replicate that environment. Hawaii, parts of southern Florida, and southern California are examples of places in the U.S. where you can have better luck.

Let me know if you are successful!

Cacao is just one nature’s secrets to living a healthier lifestyle.  We have an entire page of even more natural remedies. If you have natural remedies you use, please share them — it takes a community!



It’s known in my household as sleepy tea because of chamomile’s calming effect.

But it’s so much more than that.

Chamomile is one of the most commonly used herbs in tea, and that isn’t simply for its great flavor. It has a multitude of health benefits that will make you want to add a cup to your daily routine!


Chamomile has a high antioxidant content as well as many calming properties. It has long been used to treat anxiety and nervousness because of its ability to soothe the nervous system. That of course can also help reduce stress. The calming properties make it a wonderful sleep aid too.. Again it’s why we call it sleepy tea.. A cup of chamomile tea is often useful when you want to get to sleep, and stay asleep. 


Stomach aches are another thing that chamomile can relieve. It is well known for its ability to aid digestion and overall gastrointestinal discomfort. That makes chamomile a great natural remedy for stomach pain, indigestion and diarrhea. 


The antioxidants in chamomile make it a very versatile healer, too. Internally, chamomile has been shown to reduce blood sugar and bad cholesterol. This means that it can help keep the heart healthy and be a preventative to high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as a treatment aid to certain diabetes conditions. Externally, chamomile can be found in many skin products as it can reduce the effects of eczema, and overall improve the glow and complexion of your skin.


With all the benefits of chamomile, it’s a great thing to have around, so the fact that it is quite easy to grow makes it even better. Chamomile does well in full sun, although it prefers the weather stay below 100 degrees. So growing in the early spring in Arizona will be best for the plant. 

To plant from seeds, you simply scatter the seeds and softly press them into the soil.  Don’t cover them with soil because they need light to germinate. Water them immediately and continue to water the seeds consistently for one to two weeks while they germinate. Once the plant starts to grow, not much watering is needed. Then when it’s time to harvest, you can dry the flowers out in a jar and you have a healthy, natural homemade herbal remedy. 

We actually take our flowers fresh from the plant and add them to our tea.


Even if you’re not a grower, chamomile is widely available. You can find it in skin care products, capsule form or, most commonly, as a tea. So consider a cup of chamomile as a healthy addition to your routine. Oh and a little bonus – refrigerate those tea bags after use, and they might be able to get rid of those dark circles under your eyes too!

We have an entire page of natural remedies. If you have natural remedies you choose, please share them — it takes a community!

Health Household

Coconut oil

How coconut oil can be your new best moisturizer and more.

Coconut oil is the pinnacle of healthy fats. It’s meteoric rise in popularity is by no means a fad, and by all means for the better. One very popular use for coconut oil is in cooking, where it successfully adds good fat to your meal and makes food easier to clean off of dishes, but there are some valuable medicinal benefits to coconut oil that you might not know about, so here you go!

The primary benefit is as a moisturizer, and it’s a terrific one. Coconut oil soothes dry skin as well, if not better, than a lot of lotions. That makes it a great alternative treatment to common skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. The benefits don’t only come from the moisturizing properties from the fats either. The acids found in coconut oil actually have well documented abilities. 

Some of the primary fatty acids found in coconuts are powerful antibacterials. That means it doesn’t only heal and soothe dry skin but it fights the bacteria that can cause many rashes and other skin conditions. The antimicrobial benefits are also speculated to help treat acne, though more research is needed. 

Coconuts are probably something you can’t grow in the garden, but it is widely available and many brands offer organic and non GMO versions you can use all over your home. One little extra suggestion; you can use it to whiten your teeth. When you’re winding down at the end of the day, swish some coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes and your smile might brighten in a matter of days. Oh and I almost forgot, there are almost no known risks to consuming or topically applying coconut oil, so try it out at home and let us know if it works for you!


Willow Bark

How Willow Bark is Nature’s Prime Pain Reliever


Willow bark is the closest thing to nature’s aspirin there is. As a matter of fact, it is basically the precursor to it. The active ingredient found in willow bark is Salicin, which converts to salicylic acid in the body, the active ingredient in aspirin! 


Willow bark’s use dates all the way back to 4th century Greece where they would chew on the bark for quick pain relief. Today not a large amount of clinical studies have been done, but preliminary ones have shown benefits, and it is very widely used. 


Back pain is something we humans deal with quite a lot, and willow bark has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing it, on top of being a healthier, natural alternative to pain medication. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can reduce pain from injuries as well as muscle and joint pain from arthritis. This anti-inflammatory tree bark can also be used to help reduce fever. 


Another recommended use is to help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. And if you’ve ever used a non-prescription acne treatment you probably noticed that the main ingredient again, is salicylic acid, so willow bark is believed to be capable of reducing acne related lesions as well. And let us not forget the main reason we reach into our cabinets for aspirin at home either – headaches! So if you’re one of many whose stomach does not handle aspirin well or you just want a natural alternative, willow bark is great for helping with headache and migraine discomfort. 


Willow bark is quite regularly nicknamed nature’s aspirin, and for good reason. For most aches and pains willow bark is a natural option that is widely accessible in many forms. As a bonus to pain and inflammation it can even be used as a natural treatment for acne too. 


Maybe you can’t grow a willow tree in your garden, but that’s alright. Willow bark can be purchased in tablet form, in its bark form (which some people chew on, use in tea and in tinctures), and even found in skin products. Isn’t it amazing how much tree bark can do for you?




How Garlic Helps the Body and Brain


Garlic can be found in just about any home, but most probably don’t know just how many health benefits it actually has, ones that might even help you live longer! 


Garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, it was actually given to Olympic athletes as a way to enhance performance and reduce fatigue. Today, studies in people with heart conditions have shown that garlic can lower peak heart rate and improve endurance during exercise.


One well known use is as an immune system booster and combatant of the common cold. It has been known to reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms, making it a great additive to a nice bowl of soup. But the most significant benefits of garlic are ones that you most likely haven’t heard yet, and this little plant could do you a lot of good in the long run.


Did you know you can use raw garlic to treat cold sores? Yup! Garlic has anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial enzymes that help combat the blisters.

There are several cold sore remedies using garlic but one of the more popular ways to get the benefits is by using the clove.

Peel the clove and slice it in half.  Then just place the garlic on the cold sore for 5-10 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times per day.  Some say it’ll cut your recovery time by three days.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S, and garlic has a surprising amount of ways to help prevent it. Garlic is naturally anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure. It even helps regulate cholesterol and in preventing plaque build up in arteries. And that still isn’t the most impressive thing garlic can do.


The Chinese CDC did a study that saw a reduced risk in lung cancer with regular consumption of garlic. Garlic has strong antioxidant properties that help fight against brain damage and free radicals. The Medical University of South Carolina even studied how some compounds found in garlic could actually help eradicate brain cancer cells! What could be better than a wonderfully flavorful vegetable that can help lower blood pressure and fight cancer cells and cold sores? Oh wait, one that is also easy to grow almost anywhere!


Garlic is a simple plant to grow. It needs well drained soil and a lot of sun. Bulbs can be purchased from a garden center or online. Once you’ve received your bulbs, put them in the fridge for approximately six weeks before separating the cloves and planting 3-4 inches deep in the soil. When harvesting you can use the smaller bulbs in the kitchen, and break up the biggest and healthiest to repeat the process. Bonus: they are also a natural pest repellent so the rest of your garden will thank you too.

My favorite type of garlic is Society Garlic.  The flavor is AMAZING!


Garlic is delicious, easy to grow from home and has incredible health benefits. If you’re like me you put garlic on every other meal, but maybe now you’ll put it on everything. If for some reason you aren’t a fan of the pungent flavor, no worries, you can still get the health benefits by taking garlic extract supplements. Help your heart, your brain and your dinner by adding a little more garlic to your life!


Don’t forget, whatever ailment you have, I’m sure there are several natural remedies that can help!  We have an entire section of natural remedies on our page.



Lavender is one of the most well known flowers for it’s scent and color. But lavender also has loads of medicinal properties and can be used as a remedy for quite a few ailments. It is best known for its soothing abilities, and there are not many issues it cannot soothe. The most common uses for lavender are as a remedy for stress and anxiety, insomnia, and headaches and migraines. It can be consumed as a tea, used topically as an essential oil or used as aromatherapy.


While some of the benefits from lavender are not studied and proven, the widespread use of the flower and the positive results support its effectiveness. But that’s not to say it has not been tried and tested. According to the American Cancer Institute, lavender can help patients deal with the side effects of cancer treatments. Internally it can be used to alleviate digestive issues, and consumed periodically to strengthen the immune system. Lavender tea is even an approved treatment for sleep disruption, restlessness and stomach irritation in Germany.


Lavender has long been used as an additive to bath water as well to calm the body and mind, dating all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome. Its topical uses are well documented also. Lavender has antibacterial properties that can be used to fight bacterial infections externally. It also soothes many skin irritations like sunburn, acne and eczema. Lavender oil could even be kept next to the stove to quickly treat flesh burns. Perhaps the greatest part about this miracle flower? It is not only very inexpensive and available online, but quite easy to grow yourself!


Lavender is a hearty plant that does not require methodical or delicate care, and it does especially well in arid climates, like Arizona. Lavender should be planted in the spring and somewhere that it can get a lot of sun. Your seeds should be planted about 12 to 18 inches apart in well drained soil. Giving your plants some compost to get off to a healthy, hearty start is always a good idea. Lavender does well in dry areas so constant watering is not necessary. When your plants reach full bloom, you can harvest the flower to make your own oils, to put in your pillow case for a better night’s rest, or drop in a cup of tea.

We have an entire page of natural remedies. If you have natural remedies you choose, please share them — it takes a community!

Garden Health Household


How to use peppermint for health


Peppermint isn’t just a classic holiday flavor – there are so many benefits to peppermint that I was shocked to find out! Most of us see peppermint flavored snacks and treats everywhere – gum, candy canes, peppermint bark, peppermint mochas, and so many more mint items! But nothing beats fresh, authentic peppermint. Let’s break it down. 


Peppermint is in the mint family and is actually the result of a cross between watermint and spearmint. Peppermint is indigenous to the Middle East and Europe, but is now grown all over the world because of its popularity. It has even been used for thousands of years in homeopathic medicine as well as to garnish and flavor food. In fact, peppermint itself contains menthol and limonene, which are natural essential oils. (They are to thank for mint’s cooling and refreshing taste and scent!) Peppermint’s properties are what makes this little green, leafy perennial herb so powerful.


If you struggle with gas, bloating, indigestion, or frequent stomach aches, peppermint is for you! Studies conducted with animals have shown that peppermint extract can relax the muscles in the digestive system from contracting, which causes gastric pain and gas. Another study was done on humans with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) who saw symptom relief from taking peppermint oil capsules more so than patients who received a placebo. In both of these cases, enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules were given to the patients because they allow the oil to pass through the stomach so it can later be dissolved in the intestines, where it really gets to work! Try to stay away from non-enteric tablets of peppermint oil, because some people have experienced heartburn and nausea after taking them, likely because the tablets dissolved in the stomach before reaching the intestines. While very little research has been done on tea, scientists say that peppermint tea should have similar effects on the body.


But that’s not all!


Feeling sick? Well, peppermint can help with that too. Having clogged sinuses and a sore throat are no fun, especially this time of year. Peppermint actually has antiviral and antibacterial properties that can help clear your sinuses and relieve inflammation due to infection. The menthol in warm peppermint tea will soothe your scratchy throat and ease coughing. So, drink some peppermint tea when you have a cold or flu for less throat irritation and clearer nasal passages. Plus, it’s caffeine free so you can get better rest!



Now that you know the benefits of peppermint, you need to know how to grow it! Peppermint is an adaptable plant, but will grow best in a cool, moist climate. It is best suited with partial or full sunlight, but if it is above 85 degrees where your peppermint is growing, you will need to make sure to shade it for up to 2-3 hours. Peppermint also needs a lot of water to keep itself and the soil moist. Keep in mind, peppermint does have a tendency to spread and take over, which is great for me because I like to dry the leaves so I have it all year long for tea.  But if you want a little more control, it may be best to plant in a small pot or contained area. 

To grow peppermint from the seed, lightly press the seeds into moist soil (spaced 18-24 inches apart if growing multiple bundles). Typically, the seedlings will emerge within 7-20 days. Happy planting!


Let us know if you use peppermint & stay healthy!


Don’t forget, we have an entire page of natural remedies to treat all sort of ailments.


Garden Health


How to Grow Black-Eyed Cowpeas

Black-Eyed Cowpeas, also known as a “Southern Field Pea” or “Crowder Pea are one of my favorite legumes to grow because you get sooooo many and there are multiple ways to eat them.

One way is to let the beans dry and cook them… your traditional black-eyed peas.   For this method it’ll take anywhere between 80 – 100 days til harvesting time… and you have options; You can let the pods stay on the plant until they are brown and dry, or you can pull the plants and hang them to dry.  Either way, I usually leave a few plants in the garden beds to dry so that I have an abundance of seeds for planting and sharing.

If you choose to dry them for cooking that traditional black-eyed peas dish, you will simply remove the beans from the pods (shell them), and you’re ready!  I don’t do anything special with cleaning… but I do soak all of my beans for at least 6 hours before cooking them.

 You can also pick the pods while they are green, like a snap pea,  as soon as they are well-filled out with seeds, about 70 days after planting.  For this method, I chop the pods and add onions, bell peppers and whatever else I have in the garden.  So you can really get creative.

The pods are 6″ to 8″ long  and can have up to 15 peas on each one.  That’s a lot of beans! And the vines are resistant to wilt and nematodes. They are cream or tannish-colored with a small black spot. They love heat and are a great source of fiber and protein.

So how do you plant them?

I plant my seeds directly into my garden beds with lots of compost.  But many experts suggest you first soak the seeds for up to 12 hours.  The idea is that since the seeds like a lot of moisture in order to germinate, this will speed up the process because they will already be soft and moist. Then plant them directly in the soil, after your last chance of frost (ideally above 70 degrees.  You don’t need to plant them deep, about an inch into the soil.  They are heavy yielders, so give them some space.  I plant the seeds about three inches apart and I space the rows about two feet apart.   Also it’s best to give them some support, like trellises.  It helps keep the plants off the ground, which gives them more circulation and it should minimize disease.  It also makes it easier to harvest.

As for when you will see your babies popping out of the soil… My experience has been within a week, but other gardeners say 7-14 days.  So be patient.

20+ seeds for $5

All of our seeds are GMO-FREE, open-pollinated and untreated.

Garden Health

Shishito Peppers

Shishito Peppers – Why all the hype?

Some of my favorite things in the GreenDesert garden are shishito peppers!  I tasted them years ago in a restaurant and I was hooked! They were blistered, had a sweet and smoky flavor and were snack sized, making it too easy to eatJ I had to have more!  The problem was I couldn’t find them in most restaurants or even grocery stores.  So of course I had to grow them… for so many reasons.

But before I share how easy they are to grow, let’s talk about what all the hype is about.

Shishito pepperes are a Japanese heirloom pepper variety.  I can’t write enough about how addicting they are, and extremely easy to make.  But if you eat enough of them, you’re bound to run across a hot one.  The rule of thumb is one in every ten of the peppers will be spicy… except if you eat them with me; For some reason I seem to get all of the hot ones while my family enjoy the rest, and I am still addicted to the peppers!  It’s not like you can look at them to tell which are spicy.  And although some people say the spice isn’t really hot, that has not been my experience, so be prepared.  The hot peppers that I experienced have been really hot, hot enough to make my nose run and my eyes burn.  Granted, I am not a huge fan of spicy… so perhaps my extreme spice is mild to others.  But again, in general, they are not hot. It’s like a sweet, smoky bell pepper.



And you can eat them so many ways.  I add them diced and raw to my salads, eggs, even sandwiches.  But they can be one of your simplest, healthy snacks to make.  You really don’t need much prep because you can eat the entire pepper — seeds, stems and all.  I like to coat them in avocado or olive oil, throw them in a pan, and let them brown and blister.  Sprinkle with a little salt and you’re done.  I often add a little lemon and/or some red wine vinegar to spice it up.  Or even stir-fry it with other veggies from the garden, like onions, garlic and bell peppers.

Obviously it was the flavor that first got my attention; it helps that the heirloom peppers have lots of health benefits including being high in vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium and folic acid.  They’re also loaded with antioxidants, among other benefits!



  • First you want to choose a place in your garden that gets full sun for about 6 – 8 hours per day. You can grow shishito peppers directly in soil, pots or raised beds.
  • I’ve been successful planting our shishito peppers directly into my garden beds. But most experts suggest you start the seeds indoor 6 to 8 weeks before you transplant them to the garden.  Keep in mind, the seeds will germinate faster in warm soil so you can use a heat mat, put them on top of your fridge or whatever method you use to keep the soil warm.
  • Once the seeds have sprouted, which can take as little as a few days, you’ll want to move them to a sunny spot… but not yet outdoors. So you can use a windowsill that gets some sun, use grow lights, or again, whatever creative methods you choose.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not soaked.
  • Next, about a week before transplanting, you’re going to want to harden your plants, to get them ready for their new outdoor home. To harden them, just set them outside for a few hours per day.  Basically it gives the plants stress-free transition.
  • After about a week of hardening, your plants are ready for their big move! Remember, choose a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day.
  • As for harvesting, it varies. Usually they are harvested while they’re still green.  But you can leave them on the plant until they turn red too.  Either way, don’t ignore the abundance of peppers!  The more you pick, the more the plant will keep producing.  If you neglect her and the plant gets overloaded with peppers, that tells the plant to stop producing.

NEED SEEDS? We sell shishito pepper seeds, along with other medicinal sees on our Etsy site

Don’t forget, whatever ailment you have, I’m sure there are several natural remedies that can help!  We have an entire section of natural remedies on our page.