Texas Tropical Trail – September 20, 2011

One of our favorite things to do every month is go to the Texas Tropical Trail Partner Events, including tours and educational presentations, that celebrate the heritage of south Texas.  The public is invited to these events and we wholeheartedly recommend them.

The first thing on the agenda was a welcome coffee at the La Feria, Texas fire station at 115 East Commercial Avenue.

La Feria, Texas Fire Engine

La Feria, Texas Fire Engine

From there we proceeded south to the Longoria Family Cemetery located in a rural section at the junction of Hwy. 281 and FM 506.  The Longoria family was among the first Spanish settlers to arrive in the mid-1770s.  Juan Rosas Longoria and Maria Solome Cruz were among the men and women who introduced ranching into the area with techniques brought from southern Spain.  The Longoria Ranch stretched from what became Sebastian to the Rio Grande.  They also farmed the land and participated in the early development of irrigation systems in the Rio Grande Valley.  The Longoria Cemetery holds the remains of an estimated 371 family members and is today maintained by Longoria descendants.

Longoria Family Cemetery

Longoria Family Cemetery

Eduardo Longoria, one of the descendants, met us at the cemetery.  He makes sure that the cemetery stays well cared for.  We would have loved to spend hours poking around in it because that’s one of my favorite things to do.  But we had to move on with the tour.  We’ll go back someday when it’s not so hot.

Just a little ways down the road we stopped at Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church, established December 29, 1880.

Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church

Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church

Next we went to the Aloe King Farm and Processing Plant at 1947 Mile 6 North, Mercedes.  Established in 1979, this family-owned business is one of the oldest commercial aloe farms in the Rio Grande Valley.  The current owner, John Segrist, took over the business from his parents who started it.  The elder Segrists are still very active in the business, primarily running the gift shop and giving tours, and Mrs. Audrey Segrist gave us a very interesting lecture about the healing aspects of aloe vera and how they started their business.  She also mentioned that her husband just turned 90 years old and he was out conducting a tour while she talked to us in the gift shop.  Amazing!

Valerie Bates at Aloe King Farm

Valerie Bates at Aloe King Farm

Mrs. Audrey Segrist of Aloe King Farm

Mrs. Audrey Segrist of Aloe King Farm

After leaving the aloe farm, we headed to 1800 South Rabb Road to visit the new La Feria Nature Center, a lovely park that includes numerous walking paths, a children’s playground, and wetland areas to attract birds.  It was very peaceful.  And we saw a roseate spoonbill!

La Feria Nature Center

La Feria Nature Center

We returned to the firehouse for a lunch catered by Los Amigos Restaurant.  Afterwards we had a presentation on the history of La Feria by Betty Jo Dunlap, Town Historian.  I find it fascinating to learn about places and the people who started them.  Most of the time we zip through towns in our closed up cars and never give a thought to the people who are living out their lives behind the houses and shops we see flying by the window.

The board meeting followed and it is open to anyone who chooses to attend.  The next monthly events will be on October 18, 2011, in Rockport and November 15, 2011 in Donna.

When you drive across what seems like the endless miles of Texas, it’s so easy to make assumptions about it, especially the less scenic parts.  But every acre has an interesting history just waiting for us to open the door and peek in for a preview.  Then if you like the previews, you can “set a spell” and dig backwards in time for the long version.  Every one of these little towns, as well as the big cities, have great museums that tell their story.  I urge you to give them a try.



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Taste of Harlingen 2011

Looking for something fun to do and getting to eat at the same time?  The Harlingen, Texas Arts and Heritage Museum is hosting the Taste of Harlingen 2011 on Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6-9pm.  The theme is “Propellers and Pin-ups” and you can even go in 40′s style attire.  There are eighteen participating restaurants, music is provided by the Dean Canty Orchestra, there will be a wine tasting, and an opening fly-over by the Commemorative Air Force Museum, Brownsville.  Tickets are $55 pre-sale and $65 at the door.

There are some interesting exhibits at the museum.  If you like history, food, music, and wine all rolled into one, then, what a deal!  The Rio Grande Valley of Texas has a unique history and I invite you to get a little taste of it.

For more information, go to www.tasteofharlingen.com.

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Blue Paradise

Blue for the water, blue for the sky.  We love our new home in Corpus Christi, Texas and are amazed that more people don’t flock here.  We have been all up and down the Texas coast and this is our favorite spot.  We like the attractions and amenities of the big city combined with the beauty of the bayfront.  The small towns didn’t quite do it for us.

Now that we’re getting settled in we are having fun exploring the area’s activities and restaurants and meeting lots of great people.  Our new friend and local artist, Louis Garcia, invited us to a wine and cheese reception at the Art Center of Corpus Christi at 100 North Shoreline Blvd. yesterday.  So much beauty to behold!  And we really enjoyed talking to the artists about their work.

Louis Garcia with his painting "Duilia"

Another great art opportunity is “Art for the ARK”, hosted by Louis Garcia and supported by friends of the ARK (Animal Rehabilitation Keep), to be held at Coffee Waves, 1007 State Hwy. 361, Port Aransas, Texas.  There will be a reception on June 30, 2011, 5-7pm, where you can meet the artists and Tony Amos, the director of the ARK.  The artists have donated an original piece of their art to benefit the ARK.  The art will be for sale June 30 – July 4, 2011.

We have been to art museums and galleries all over the world but they’ve mostly been in big cities surrounded by more large buildings.  This is the first time we had the pleasure of walking out the door of the Art Center and sauntering down the seawall to drink iced tea at a great little place called, of course, Seawall Food & Spirits.  It is situated on McGee Beach and is a fabulous place for sitting and staring at the water while all your stresses and anxieties seep out of you and disappear into the sea breeze.  They serve a variety of food and beverages, including alcohol, so everyone can find something to fit their preference.  The owners, Howard and Tami Ulrick, are delightful people with many years of restaurant experience. They are open, I believe, from 10am – 10pm.  So if you’re not a daytime, hot sun beach bunny, then you can come in the evening when it’s cooled down and enjoy two tranquilizers – margaritas and blue paradise.

"Seawall Food & Spirits" at McGee Beach on Shoreline Blvd.


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Taking Care of Yourself When Eating Out

It’s not always easy to find a restaurant that prepares food that fits your needs.  Most restaurant food is too high fat, too salty, and too overcooked.  But you don’t have to allow that to be your undoing.  If you have your boundaries set firmly in your mind ahead of time then you’re less likely to waver when faced with the menu and the food aromas.

I eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables so when I eat out I usually look through the available salads.   Bear in mind that the cheaper restaurants typically use iceberg lettuce and limp tomatoes with a huge dollop of fatty dressing.  You don’t want that!  A lot of places that don’t have a better selection of salads using dark, leafy greens and a variety of vegetables might at least have a Caeser salad which uses romaine lettuce.  They always seem to use too much dressing so you will need to ask for it on the side.  It’s okay to ask for what you want.  If you’re willing to ask for what you want then tell them you want a salad and give them a list of ingredients that are acceptable.  You can carry around an index card that has them listed and ask them to give it to the chef and see if he will create a nice salad for you.  Ask for the dressing on the side and a vinaigrette is better than a creamy dressing.

If they have a selection of possible salads that use good lettuce but have other ingredients you don’t want then ask for a substitute.  If I want to eat vegetarian and their best salad selections have meat on them then I will ask for avocado or something else in place of the meat.  Most places are willing to be flexible.  If they’re not then maybe you shouldn’t be eating there.

When selecting your meat or fish it’s best to choose grilled or baked.  Beware of seasonings and cream sauces.  Prepackaged seasoning mixes are frequently used and they contain MSG and other chemicals.  That’s just asking for a headache not to mention the damage to your brain cells.  Tell them you want either no seasoning or just salt and pepper or whatever you desire.  The cream sauces are very fatty and may also contain chemicals.  I usually ask for no seasoning and it tastes just fine.  Just know that they always oversalt everything.  Have you ever noticed how thirsty you are after eating out?

If you’re getting cooked vegetables then steamed are best.  You don’t need a boatload of butter to make them taste good.  And if you have to load your baked potato with butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and cheese then why bother?  Just a little bit will enhance the flavor and your arteries will thank you.

As for dessert, you are better off not eating sugar at all.  But if you feel deprived without it then at least share it with someone or take the rest of it home for later.  As for me, if I had a whole pie in front of me I would eat it right then and there so I don’t even go there.  It’s addictive and it makes me crazy, not to mention the inevitable headache.

The huge portions that restaurants serve is another issue.  Ask for a takeout container as soon as they bring your food and put half of it away.  I have a friend who puts an ice chest in her car every time she eats out so she’s always prepared.  She always gets two meals out of one.  You can feel virtuous about not wasting food.  If the starving people on the other side of the world could be helped by our cleaning our plates every time then world hunger would have been eliminated a long time ago.  How about this?  Every time you refrain from overeating, put some money in a piggy bank and periodically donate it to a food charity.  Or if you want to be charitable to yourself also then save that money towards the new clothes you’ll be able to buy when you lose weight.  The point is to feel good about yourself.

The other day I was at a networking luncheon where I had no choice in the meal selection.  The salads were already on the table when I got there.  I ate it without the dressing and then was able to have a second one because of someone who didn’t show up.  I put the cooked meat and vegetables in a plastic container that I had brought with me to save for my husband.  I hid the dessert behind the table centerpiece and just kept passing the bread.  I had snacked a little before going so wasn’t ravenous, which helped.  Since networking is a necessary part of my business I can’t avoid it but I refuse to let it derail me from my healthy journey.

Taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally is a vital part of staying on track with your food and physical health.  That kind of topic is dealt with on my other blog website at http://www.DrAnnBDavis.com.  Check it out!

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Working Out The Kinks

I just got back from a NIA class at Synergy Studio in San Antonio, Texas.  I feel really good all over.  My friend has been trying to get me there for six months and I finally was ready and I’m glad I went.  It was a good workout without overdoing it, especially since I’m out of shape.  I can’t really explain what NIA is except to say that it incorporates a number of different movements and it’s not hard and pounding like aerobics.  You just have to try it to find out whether or not you’d like it.  The Synergy Studio offers yoga, Tai Chi, belly dancing and Pilates classes also.  My main interest is yoga and that’s what I’ll be going back for mainly.  They are located at 300 East Grayson where the old Pearl Brewery was and has now been converted into neat shops.  We ate lunch at the Farm to Table restaurant afterwards and I had a yummy salad with the best Caesar dressing ever.  Also, don’t miss the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning.

I love exploring new places and welcome suggestions from anyone there who knows of some good places to be a healthy traveler.

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The Cholesterol Wars

One of the most important journeys that the Two Healthy Texans undertake is the one that brings optimal health.  Some people are determined to stay on their journey to disease regardless of the consequences and those are the ones that no one can help.  But for those who are willing to make an effort there’s many different options and it can be confusing.  Mainstream medicine tries to force us down the drug path.  I have actually heard doctors yelling at their patients and attempting to shame or threaten them into taking prescription drugs.  I guess that works on a lot of people who get scared and think they have no other choice.  But I prefer the natural path.  It’s the path that God created and it works.

If we lived in a pristine world and ate a perfect diet then that would be all we needed.  Our bodies are designed to heal themselves when given nutritious, clean food, air, water, sleep, exercise and sunshine.  But, alas, that can be difficult in this world we live in now.

When the pharmaceutical companies created a drug for lowering cholesterol, all of a sudden cholesterol became the enemy.  There are varying opinions about whether or not high cholesterol contributes to heart disease.  I know of people with low numbers who had a heart attack anyway.  There are many factors to be considered and that’s just one of them.  I am not interested in arguing that point right now.   What I am is appalled at how medical doctors push the statin drugs.  They not only have significant side effects that cause new problems but everyone seems to have lost sight of the fact that really low cholesterol numbers are not good either.  I had a friend recently tell me about when she was on statins that her doctor insisted she would die without, her total cholesterol got down to 103 and she could barely walk because of the muscle weakness in her legs, which is one of the side effects of statin drugs.  That is an outrageously low number and her quality of life was severely impacted.  I just wanted to scream when she told me about it.  Needless to say, she is no longer on the drugs and I educated her on what she could do naturally.

I educate people.  I do not diagnose or prescribe.  If someone wants a natural alternative for lowering their cholesterol then I tell them about Red Yeast Rice, CoQ10, Niacin, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional changes they can make.  Red Yeast Rice acts like a statin but without the side effects of muscle weakness, memory problems, etc.  You do need to take CoQ10 with it, though, just like you do with a statin drug.  I know of one couple who brought their total cholesterol numbers down by 105 and 70 points.

The plant world is an amazing one.  Everything we need for food and healing has been provided.  It is up to us to learn about what we need to stay on the journey of health instead of disease.  It is our responsibility to take care of what we’ve been given to live out our life in.  There’s a lot of information out there.  Just look for it and choose wisely who you work with.

Happy Trails!

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Traveling the Rocky Road

Staying on a healthy food plan while traveling is indeed a road full of rocks and holes.  And taking that first bite of fried or barbequed whatever can send you down a bottomless hole that’s hard to crawl out of until you’re so disgusted that you finally manage it our of sheer desperation.  I didn’t do too well on my recent trip but have learned from it.

First, if you’re traveling with people who don’t care about healthy eating then you’re going to have to be extra diligent and strong willed.  If you’re eating in restaurants you’ve got several choices.  You can go to a separate healthy restaurant while they chow down on barbeque, fried chicken, or their desire of the day.  You can go with them and take a chance on getting a halfway decent salad that you can eat while they shovel in the stuff you know isn’t good for you but smells so good.  Or you can take your own salad and veggies with you.  The waitstaff may look at you strangely but as long as there are other paying customers at your table they’re not likely to say anything.

When you’re traveling by car you can take an ice chest with you that carries a bounty of goodies.  Fruit is easy and doesn’t always need to be refrigerated.  You will need to prepare ahead of time by cutting up veggies, making hummus, grilling meats if you’re a carnivore, making or buying whole grain bread and crackers, and whatever else suits your tastes and is portable.  Be sure you include lots of water.  It will make you stop more but you don’t want to get dehydrated.  Also, having little munchies helps you stay awake if you’re the driver.  Grazing is better than eating a big meal because a full stomach can make you drowsy sometimes.

Before you start your trip, get on the Internet and find the health food stores and healthy restaurants that are in the cities you’ll be passing through or staying in.  Most healthy restaurants tend to be vegetarian and that makes it difficult if you’re traveling with meat eaters so you may have to take turns getting to choose the restaurant.  It helps if your companions are respectful of your choices.  A lot of people are very defensive of their bad habits and ridicule others so hopefully that’s not the case for you.  And sometimes you just have to make exceptions.

The more you travel the more you see that most of the world doesn’t care about eating healthy or even realize that it’s an enjoyable option.  A lot of people equate healthy food with styrofoam.  The best thing you can do is be a good example and not let  their choices overly influence you.

Despite the food issues, we did have a great time meeting distant cousins and tracing the family tree.  We uncovered some mysteries that I’m itching to solve.  It gets more and more difficult as you move back in time.  A lot of information is non-existent or unreliable.  But the search is addictive and lots of fun.  I love to travel and see new places.  I suspect that if I had a motorhome I could just keep on going all over the USA.

Happy Trails!

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A Healthy Day Out in the Texas Hill Country

If you’re looking to get out of San Antonio for a day, there’s no better place in my opinion than Kerrville.  Of course, I’m prejudiced because I have family there and have been visiting there regularly for over twenty years.  But it’s a beautiful place in the hills with the lovely Guadalupe River running right through the middle of town.  They frequently have festivals and activities going on or you can just go for a day of antique shopping.  But good news!  You don’t have to eat unhealthy food while you’re there like you do in many small towns because there usually isn’t any other choice.  I am pleased to tell you that you have several choices starting right downtown.

The Sunrise Antique Mall at 820 Water St. is a huge two-story building containing a treasure trove of antiques and fun items to browse through and buy.  I have made many excellent acquisitions there over the years.  You can spend hours there just roaming and looking.  The owners and staff are so friendly and helpful and they always remember me.  Don’t forget to ask about their cats!

When you get hungry you can just meander down the street to Lightways Restaurant at 804 Water St.  It is vegetarian, both cooked and raw.  It is owned by a husband and wife team.  He has an amazing healing story about raw vegan foods and they will feed you well.  Many of the items are organic.

If you just have to have some meat then stop in at Francisco’s which is right next to Lightways on the corner.  It’s address is 201 Earl Garrett.  It is more mainstream food but very well done and high quality at an affordable price.

If you want to eat some salad in large quantities then there’s Salada at 225 Earl Garrett.  They have a soup, salad, bread and dessert buffet.  I won’t be there to watch you so you can have some bread or dessert if you want!

Now you can get back on Water St. and head to the Carrot Patch at 141 Water St.  They are a cafe located in the Kerrville Health Food Store and you can both shop and eat healthy.  They have soups, salads, sandwiches, burger, smoothies, carrot juice and even wheatgrass juice.

Across the street from the Carrot Patch is a Gibson’s, probably about the only remaining one in the world.  They used to be in every small town when I was younger but they have been usurped by Walmart.  I love the old-fashioned items in there that I can’t find anywhere else.  I can spend hours looking and when I can’t find something anywhere else I’ll go there and sure enough they have it.

Now don’t blame me if you end up eating Mexican food in Mamacita’s which is next door.  You will have to be your own guard and keeping reminding yourself how energized and vibrant you’ll be after eating your greens!

If you didn’t get your fill of antique shopping in Kerrville you can stop off at Comfort or Boerne on the way back home but that’s a subject for another day.

Until then, stay on The Healthy Way!

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Shocking News About Our Food in Movie

“In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. Food, Inc. reveals surprising — and often shocking truths — about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.”

The above is the blurb about the movie “Food Inc.” which I saw recently.  I already knew most of what they were talking about because I’ve read tons of books on nutrition but seeing in vivid color on the big screen made it even more real and harder to ignore.  Organic veggies for dinner, anyone?

If you care at all about the health of you, your family, and the environment then you really need to see this movie.  Most of us are living in a fool’s paradise, stuffing our mouths with non-food that’s killing us.  Yes, I know that’s a strong statement but it’s true and you are the only one who can change it.

Another good subject for a movie would be the huge amount of chemicals that are in our foods that are slowly making us sicker and sicker.  It takes a lot of courage for people to be willing to speak up and be in these movies.  I applaud them for their bravery.  They are taking a chance of having big business come after them and pound them into the ground financially.

Enough said.  You gotta see this movie!

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Grazing at the Quarry

I am always in search of great salads and usually have to settle for mediocre or worse.  Today I hit the jackpot at Piatti at the Quarry Market in San Antonio, Texas.  I love the Quarry Market because it not only has a Whole Foods grocery store but a jillion other wonderful shops.  Built upon the site of a former gravel pit, it is unique and has something for everyone.

But back to the food!  I was browsing books in Borders when my rumbling stomach told me it was lunchtime.  I strolled over to Piatti and read their menu which is posted on the window by the front door.  To my delight, I saw several salads that looked good so I got a table on the patio and settled in with my book to enjoy the breeze, the food, and the beautiful sunny day.  I saw a lot on the menu that looked intriguing – upscale entrees, pizza, and pasta dishes that were reasonably priced.  But I try to eat a high percent of raw fruits and vegetables with some fish so I’m always on the lookout for it.

I ordered the salmon salad and sipped my iced tea while munching on the crusty, chewy bread.  I don’t eat bread very often, especially white bread, but I just had to try it.  It had a great texture and taste and, of course, there was the usual olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in.  One neat surprise was the bottle of filtered water furnished free of charge (the water, that is).  They serve it in a glass wine bottle with a vacuum seal and filter the water themselves.  I commented on how I wanted a bottle like that for myself and the waiter said they would be selling them in the future.  I looked afterwards in several stores for one but couldn’t find one.

When my salad arrived I was very happy to see that it was baby greens and not iceberg.  I hate iceberg!  It is tasteless and has very little nutrition compared to the dark, leafy greens.  My salmon was grilled perfectly and the dressing was a very light vinaiagrette which was wonderful.  I get so tired of heavy, fat and sugar laden dressings.  You might as well order a bowl of dressing and forget the greens if that’s what you want.

I am also happy to report that I didn’t clean my plate!  That’s a really difficult thing to do when the food is good but my stomach was telling me it was full and I’ve been working on getting better at heeding that warning.  Loving myself means taking better care of myself.  It’s strange how some people think forcefeeding is love.  I can clearly remember my mother telling us to clean our plates.  I don’t remember if she invoked the starving people in China thing but I always cleaned my plate anyway so it didn’t matter.  It was my picky, younger sister who always got stuck at the table staring at the food and refusing to eat it.

I will definitely go back to Piatti to try their other salads and possibily some of their entrees.  I can’t tell you anything about the wine because I don’t drink but they do have a full bar.

Don’t forget to have some greens today and I’ll see you soon on the healthy way!

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