Successful meal planning strategies

Submitted by AnneCherise Jensen

Cooking healthy, affordable meals can often feel overwhelming, especially for working parents and caregivers. Many people feel overworked with little time or motivation to cook, some feel they don’t have the cooking skills or knowledge on what a healthy meal should look like and simply don’t know where to start. Though it may seem overwhelming, there are plenty of tools and strategies you can apply to help make healthy meal planning fit into  your household routine. Here are six tips to help you create successful meal planning strategies at home. 

Create a Family Friendly Menu with the 5 Basic Food Groups: 

Start slowly – aim to eat meals that contain fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low fat dairy or calcium fortified foods. There are a lot of great free, online resources that provide a plethora of healthy recipes – from bloggers, to foodies to Dieticians, the list is endless. Cookbooks are also a great resource of healthy recipes – you can buy these online, at the used bookstore and even at your local Goodwill or Value Village. Trying new recipes can be a bit out of our comfort zone – but is a great way to introduce new flavors, fruits, vegetables and a variety of health benefits into the home. Take an evening to sit down with your family and look through cookbooks together. Have children place sticky notes on the recipes they would be willing to try. Make a menu for the meals you plan on cooking at home Monday – Sunday. Incorporate both some of your favorite recipes as well as some new recipes to keep the menu interesting.  If you can’t plan out recipes for an entire week, that’s ok. Attempt to plan at least 2-3  days’ meals in advance.  Some great online recipe resources for affordable and healthy meals are found below! 

  • EatRight.Org

Make a Running Grocery List: 

Keep a running grocery list throughout the week. Write down the things you run out of, ingredients for a new recipe, and staple items you may be running low on. Refer back to your weekly menu that you planned for you and your household. Look for coupons at the grocery store in the weekly ads to help save money. Make sure all of the ingredients are on the list – this will help prevent unwanted trips to the grocery store throughout the week. Be sure you aren’t hungry before going grocery shopping. This can help prevent buying excess food, while also helping us stay away from processed foods that have little nutrients and health benefits.  

Stock up on Staple Items: 

To help get started with meal planning, try stocking up on the basics, like produce, shelf stable and freezer foods. Having healthy ingredients in your home is the key to successful meal planning!  Invest in ingredients you know will get eaten in your household, and will get used in your favorite recipes. This will ensure you have the ingredients you need to get through the week without having to make unnecessary trips to the grocery store, saving both time, money and energy.  The lists below provide healthy ingredient ideas for both pantry and freezer items from the main food groups. Personalize the list – adding or omitting ingredients that work for you and your household. 

Food Groups Pantry List (

  • Fruits: Raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots and other dried fruits are loaded with dietary fiber. They add flavor and texture to your morning breakfast, midday salad and dinner grains. Canned fruits like pineapple, peaches, and pears are a great addition to meals and snacks -these are a great addition to yogurt and salads. Apples, oranges, bananas are great to have on hand for quick, easy and healthy snacks around the house!
  • Vegetables: Keep a variety of canned tomatoes in stock (diced, crushed, whole, stewed). Use them in soups, stews, sauces, casseroles and more! Also, pick up a bottle of your favorite spaghetti sauce. Look for low-sodium canned vegetables such as mushrooms, artichokes, corn, green beans, chilies, and beets – these are great pantry items because they can add depth of flavor to your meals. Fresh onions, potatoes, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and celery are great vegetable basics to have on hand that tend to have a longer shelf life if stored properly. These are great for soups and side dishes any day of the week. 
  • Protein Foods: Stock up on canned or dried lentils, black, pinto, cannellini, garbanzo and kidney beans. These legumes are a great source of protein and fiber. Toss cooked beans in salads, soups, stews and other dishes. Nut varieties are also a great protein source to have on hand, packed with vitamins and minerals. Canned tuna, oysters, anchovies and sardines are a pantry must — they are a quick way to add protein, healthy fats and flavor to meals. Canned chicken is a great addition to the pantry – great when you’re in a pinch for time and don’t have time to thaw out and cook frozen chicken. Last but not least are hard boiled eggs – these make easy, healthy protein packed snacks that help keep you fueled throughout the day. 
  • Grains: Keep a stash of oatmeal, and other whole-grain cereals in the pantry. Barley, faro, quinoa and other grains provide staples for healthy meals. Also, keep a variety of brown rice on hand — long grain, short grain, and basmati are flavorful options. Spaghetti, penne and other pastas are great for an easy, quick and filling family meal. Give yourself an extra nutrition boost by buying whole-grain pasta or trying pasta made from legumes ( 
  • Condiments to Consider
  • Oil and vinegar: Extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are versatile, heart-healthy options. Other oils, such as peanut, walnut and sesame add a burst of flavor to meals. Pick up different types of vinegar, such as cider, white and balsamic. Each imparts a unique flavor to your recipes. They also make great homemade salad dressings and add great flavor to stir frys. 
  • Stock: Vegetable, chicken and beef stock are the basics of many recipes. Opt for those that are low-sodium or contain no added salt. These are great for soups, stews, roasts, and even cooking rice. 
  • Herbs and spices: Pick up small containers of ground herbs and spices. That way they are as fresh as possible when you use them. These often add extra health benefits and flavor to any dish. Popular herbs and spices include rosemary, cumin, basil, turmeric, pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, dill and paprika. 

Food Groups Freezer List ( 

To help make sure you don’t store food beyond freshness, put dates on the packages before storing in the freezer. Use the oldest first to keep a rotation on freshness. 

  • Fruits: Stash frozen berries and other fruits in the freezer. They are a great way to add nutrition to a morning smoothie. If you have any fruit that is starting to go bad, store it in a safe seal bag and throw it in the freezer. This will help prevent food waste and a great way to save money. 
  • Vegetables:Pick up some of your favorite frozen veggies. These are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients because the flash-freezing process locks in the nutrition. Look for packages low in sodium. Frozen peas, corn, cauliflower, broccoli, and mixed vegetable bags are perfect or adding into soups, stews and stir fries! 
  • Protein Foods: Stock up on salmon and other fatty fishes to ensure you have ready access to healthy fats. Frozen lean meats, poultry, shellfish, and wild game also store well in the freezer. One tip: make sure you move it to the refrigerator one day before cooking to give adequate time for defrosting. 
  • Grains: Whole-grain corn tortillas freeze well and can be used for quick breakfasts, lunches or dinners. Can’t eat that loaf of bread fast enough while it is fresh? Make it a habit to freeze part of the loaf and defrost slices as you need them. Breads will keep their freshness for up to six months in the freezer.
  • Milk and Dairy Products:Freeze Parmesan and other pre-shredded cheeses — toss them into soups, stews and pasta dishes. Low fat Greek yogurt with fruit or in smoothies is a great addition to your weekly menu.  Low fat, frozen yogurt can be a quick dessert for a special occasion (

Choose 1 or 2 days throughout the week to meal prep: 

Choose a day that works best in your schedule to meal prep throughout the week. Take a few hours to wash, prep and cut your fruits and vegetables in ready to go containers. Cook desired grains like rice and quinoa in advance and store them in the fridge. Know what protein sources you are going to cook the night before, and have it defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Having lots of the ingredients prepped in advance will  help save time in the kitchen throughout the week. 

Cook Enough for Leftovers: 

If you can master the beauty of leftovers, take advantage of it! In the long run, it will end up saving you a lot of time and money. Some meals are easier to re-cook than others, but try experimenting in the kitchen with what works for you and your family.  

Invite Kids into the Kitchen to Help Cook and Clean: 

Preparing and maintaining 3 meals a day, especially for a large family, can be a huge chore. Try inviting kids and other family members to help lighten the load of kitchen / food responsibilities. This is a  great way to have some bonding time, as well as teaching opportunities to those who may not feel as confident in the kitchen as others. Parents – have children help with setting the table, washing the dishes, meal prepping and kitchen clean up. This is a great way to get them comfortable and familiar with cooking and kitchen responsibilities. 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Main Image: CDC website 

The art of soap making with Amoreena Anderson

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Everybody sees soap as this magical thing, and it is kind of magical,” said Tulalip tribal member, Amoreena Anderson. “It cleanses your pores and takes away all the dirt and bacteria off your body, binds it to a molecule and washes it away.”

At a young age, Amoreena found her passion while on shopping trips with her mom in Mount Vernon. Little did she know of all the lives she would positively affect when she was drawn to a section of a local food co-op where they sold handcrafted soap, and her teenage, curious mind began to wonder how soap is made.

“My mom used to take me to the Skagit Valley Food Co-Op and they would have all these handcrafted soaps, I was always interested in knowing how they were made,” she said. “My mom told me she made soap before and I would probably learn when I got older. From that moment on, I was completely into it.”

She spent the next few years researching how to craft soap. If the co-op visits were the prelude to her journey in soap making, the first chapter took place in 2012 when she began experimenting and created her first product, which was a big hit amongst her family and co-workers.

She stated, “I have carpal tunnel and was always typing as a data entry clerk, so I started making shea butter body whip, basically whipped shea butter that I would add essential oils and vitamin E. My friend used to trade me massages for the body butter, it was for her child who had a skin condition. I believe all the high-end essential oils are wonderful, they reap all the benefits that you could use and I really wanted to know more.” 

Amoreena explained that after receiving positive reviews about the body butter and learning more about essential oils, she was ready for the next challenge. Purchasing her first home in 2013, she now had the necessary space to fully immerse herself into her passion project.

“I had a typical first timer experience as I started perfecting my methods and recipes. They have soap calculators online that are very helpful in helping you get the right consistency. Cleansing and moisturizing are the two most important factors. Depending on your skin type, you can modify each batch to meet your specific needs. And then there’s also the oil properties; soy bean, coconut, shea butter, a lot of exotic oils that all have different properties. Pretty soon I had a lot of people who wanted to buy soap from me, so I start selling soap. But, I wanted to do more.”

“I had a typical first timer experience as I started perfecting my methods and recipes. They have soap calculators online that are very helpful in helping you get the right consistency. Cleansing and moisturizing are the two most important factors. Depending on your skin type, you can modify each batch to meet your specific needs. And then there’s also the oil properties; soy bean, coconut, shea butter, a lot of exotic oils that all have different properties. Pretty soon I had a lot of people who wanted to buy soap from me, so I start selling soap. But, I wanted to do more.”

Growing up Tulalip, she learned about the traditional lifeways of her people and knew a great deal about harvesting and the medicinal properties that plants contain. She wanted to expand her knowledge on the subject of herbalism even more to incorporate different plants and herbs into her soaps, salves, candles, bath bombs, and lotions to help people with their everyday ailments. She enrolled in an herbalist course to get a better understanding of the healing abilities that various plants offer. 

“I took a class to learn different ways I could incorporate a holistic approach, to help people heal their skin issues and symptoms because a lot of herbalism can treat those symptoms,” said Amoreena. “Depending on the plant you’re using, some of these plants are adaptogenic and they alleviate and eliminate symptoms completely. I really feel like I’m doing my best work, sharing my passion for my work in general to give to my community. Whether it be information or product, it’s very empowering and uplifting and I like to not only give to them, but ask them if they would like to make soap with me, if they want to go harvesting with me, or if they want to sit in and watch.”

Amoreena’s soap making journey was off to a great start. In fact, if her story was a biopic on the silver screen, the next few years would play out like a montage as her business, known officially as Coast Salish Soaps, took off. Not only was she selling soap to multiple families within the Tulalip community, her products were being shipped nationwide and could even be found for sale in other countries such as Canada, Italy, Japan, Germany and England. The quality of her products was spoken of highly by her clientele who provided testimonials and side-by-side before and after pictures to back up their reviews.

A major component to her success is the fact the she shares her knowledge with her consumers. When people approach her with different skin issues they wish to address, she not provides them with a product that works, she explains why it will work, what to expect and how the issue may have arisen in the first place.  

“I really do care,” expressed Amoreena. “I have sensitive skin. My kids have sensitive skin. A lot of it stems from the food you eat. Your liver is basically your body’s second brain, and your skin is the largest organ on your body. Your skin is considered to be your second liver. Everything your liver doesn’t process out, comes through the skin and you end up having skin eruptions; eczema, cirrhosis, endocrine diseases are linked to the liver and heavy metal. There are so many people who suffer from skin flare ups like dry skin, rashes and they don’t know where it comes from.”

She continues, “When you go all natural with handcrafted soaps like I make, sometimes you go through a detoxing process for your skin and it’s weird for the first two weeks, but then you’re all good. A lot of people say soap irritates their skin and think what is sold over the counter is soap, when it’s not actually soap, it’s chemicals. People like it because it doesn’t leave soap scum, one of the complaints that happens regularly with handmade soaps. But then they’ll notice their skin is a lot drier, itchier, and tight-feeling, and that’s because their using surfactants versus soap. With what corporate America gives the public to use, small-business-handcrafted-soap-makers are really valuable people inside their communities, to bring that knowledge back to people. It’s empowering for a lot of people to take back control on what they use on their bodies.”

All great success stories are not complete without trials and tribulations, and Coast Salish Soaps are currently weathering a momentary hiatus brought forth in the form of an injury when Amoreena took a spill and broke both of her wrists. Although she hasn’t been in business for about a year, she still receives requests on the regular. When she has the necessary helping hands from her kiddos and plenty of notice in advance, Amoreena will occasionally concoct a batch of soaps to donate for local memorials and funerals in the Tulalip community. 

  “I usually have a feeling of gratitude when I do my work. When I’m called upon to make soap for memorials, or funerals for our give away practices, I always try to oblige. An important part of our culture, in the potlatch system, is our giveaways.”

Amoreena wants her loyal customers and interested parties to know that her love and passion for soap making hasn’t faltered through trying times, and that she plans on elevating her brand once she is back to 100% and healed from her injury. And although she constantly works with Native plants of this region, such as Devils Club, and has even rendered bear fat to use in her products, she wants to incorporate more traditional teachings and medicine into soaps and creations. 

“One of my favorites to make is the emulsified sugar scrub because you’re in total and complete control of how moisturizing or cleansing it is, and how silky it’s going to turn out and how much lather it will have. My healing butter infused with plant medicine is another favorite. Soap is my favorite, that’s a given because that’s the base of my business. I like to make lotions and heavy creams upon request. Liquid soap is most definitely up there, people really like the liquid soap. My son’s out fishing and he’ll come home and it will take the fish smell right out of his skin. Any stinky smell, it’s just gone, don’t have to re-wash your hands from anything potent smelling. It’s really good for your skin too, it doesn’t leave it over dried.”

To stay updated on the latest news about Amoreena and Coast Salish Soaps, please join the Coast Salish Soaps group on Facebook and be sure to give their business page a like as well. Amoreena may not be selling products at this time, but she is always willing to share the knowledge she has attained over the years with those who are inquiring. 

She expressed, “My goal with my business is to empower the people, to give back to the community. It’s important that we uplift each other and share our knowledge to keep our Tribe and our community empowered. You’d be amazed at what a bag of liquid soap, that’s full of essential oils, can do for somebody’s mental health just by that ritual of showering and inhaling the essential oils in the steam.”

Did you know?

  • Devils club salve is a sacred plant native to the United States, Canada and Alaska regions. They like to grow in areas that have a lot of moisture. A little bit can go a long way. It’s an anti-flammatory and it has multiple uses beyond herbalism that are sacred and spiritual. The plant itself will smoothen out kinked muscles, it will alleviate the pain and bring circulation in. 
  • Magnesium is a mineral that our bodies need, it’s something that our body doesn’t reproduce on its own so you need to get it from food sources or topically. Magnesium does hundreds of positive things for your body; it relaxes your heart, it relaxes all of your muscles so you can get proper blood flow to damaged tissue, it alleviates leg cramps, it works with nerve damage like neuropathy that diabetics can get, it helps immensely with headaches and can be a very powerful pain reliever.

TVTC grad showcases skills by building Tulalip elder a chicken coop

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Earlier this summer, Tulalip elder Terry Parker Sr. was sitting on his front porch when inspiration struck. He thought to himself how wonderful it would be if his beloved chickens had an area to themselves in the front yard, with a clear line of sight from the porch.

“I called my son Torry who operates a construction maintenance company and let him know of my idea,” recalled Terry. “He said he had a young Tulalip man in mind, and that this would be a good solo project for him.” 

The young man was Gerald Williams. A recent graduate of TERO Vocational Training Center, he was eager to further develop his construction skills while demonstrating everything he learned under the tutelage of TVTC instructors.

“Gerald came to my house and we talked about the design and specific dimensions I had in mind for the coop. He was quick to grasp my idea and make it into a reality,” said Terry.

And so Gerald got to work. Nearly two months of hard sweat and labor under the summer sun later, he completed a pretty elaborate coop for the Mr. Parker’s chickens. Complete with ample storage space, outdoor range for the chickens to stretch their feathers, and a running water spigot. 

After painting his completed project a nice mellow yellow color, Gerald beamed with pride when Terry took in the finished product a few weeks ago.

“It’s exactly what I wanted. The quality is top notch and made to withstand our Washington weather,” Terry said from his front porch while admiring his new chicken coop. “Gerald is just a fantastic person. Doesn’t talk too much, just gets down to work every day and does his best.”

At 74-years-old, Terry thoroughly enjoys keeping chickens. They give him a daily routine to adhere to and now being able to watch them from his front porch, they bring additional peace of mind. The relationship is healing as well. Terry takes great care of his chickens, giving them an eye-catching living environment and good feed so they’ll lay many eggs.

“Their eggs are medicine. With my diabetes, eating eggs everyday helps keep my blood sugar down and [improves insulin sensitivity],” explained Terry. “Keeping chickens is something my wife and I enjoy very much. We can’t thank Gerald enough for building us this amazing coop. My hands go up to him.”

Don’t let summer slip away without a family outing to Garden Treasures u-pick farm

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Have you been desperately wanting to have a family outing before summer is over, but haven’t found the opportunity to do so yet? There’s still time to make it happen and an ideal destination is an organic u-pick farm located just over 20 minutes from the heart of Tulalip. Conveniently located off exit 208, Garden Treasures is an everyday, local farm stand, farmers market and garden center.

Going out to a farm to pick your own produce gives children a sense of where food comes from, demonstrates the satisfaction of seeing how seeds grow into fresh produce that nourish your body, provides a great opportunity to get some fresh air and sunshine while social distancing, and it’s just a fun way to spend a summer day together as a family.

“I really enjoy having elders and kids visit the farm,” said elder advocate Dale Jones. “They have big smiles on their faces while enjoying the opportunity to be out in the farm and eat the fresh foods. Our elders are happy to visit with each other again and sit and work with the plants or watch us make tea and lavender bundles. The kids can see how the food grows and they learn how it is better for them than fast food and candy.”

Spending time outdoors while wandering the vast fields and green houses at Garden Treasurers is the perfect opportunity to get back to nature, both physically and spiritually. Their seasonal u-pick garden is full of berries, vegetables and an assortment of flowers. They don’t use any synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, so your u-pick experience is safe, clean, and natural.

All Tulalip tribal members, their families, and any patients of the Tulalip Health Clinic are encouraged to take full advantage of a unique partnership between Garden Treasures and Tulalip’s own Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. From 9am to 5pm on Wednesday, September 16th and 30th, those listed above can visit the farm, enjoy a healthy bite to eat, and get a tour by Diabetes Care staff. Most importantly, every Tulalip household is allowed to pick up to $30 worth of nutritious produce from the garden.

Unlike overly priced grocery stores and organic shops, $30 worth of fruits and vegetables at Garden Treasures goes a long way. You can easily pick an assortment of sweet and spicy peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, zucchini, strawberries, huckleberries, edible flowers, carrots, celery, and some herbs with the $30 credit. Numerous Tulalip individuals and families have done just that, and for many it was their first time ever picking veggies. 

Donna and Jim Furchert brought their daughters, Joy and Patience, to Garden Treasures and came away with quite the colorful harvest. “We’ve never picked fresh fruit or fresh veggies before, so I wanted us to experience this as a family,” explained Donna. “We’re going to incorporate everything we picked into our dinners over the next few days.”

Six-year-old Patience said she liked digging for carrots and peppers the most and was super excited to stumble upon the strawberry patch. Of all the foods though, she was seen devouring cherry tomatoes straight off the vine at every opportunity.

Catrina Cultee was another first timer to the local, organic farm. She brought her 5-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, and niece Manaia. “It’s out first time out here and we absolutely love it!” marveled Catrina while perusing the fields. “Never knew we had a u-pick farm this close to the reservation. This seems like the perfect way to get fresh vegetables and fruit. It’s a way to get the young ones excited to eat more vegetables, too, because they can pick them themselves.”

When 14-year-old Manaia came across the greenhouse full of sweet, spicy and Pablano peppers she was instantly in heaven. Turns out the teenager loves spicy food and got some ambitious ideas while picking to her heart’s desire.

“I definitely want to make a sauce from the tomatoes and peppers,” beamed Manaia with two handfuls of peppers. “I love spicy food! I’m looking forward to making burritos with all these veggies, some meat, and peppers, of course. Being out here, all the different flowers, seeing sunflowers taller than me, is so cool. The giant zucchini is crazy. I didn’t know what it was at first because I’ve never seen a vegetable like that before.”

For Tulalip citizens desiring to eat healthier and want to add a variety of vitamins and nutrients to their everyday meals that will naturally boost immune systems, fruits and vegetables is the answer. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases. Plus, eating fresh produce is vital for health and preventative maintenance that will make you just feel better and have more energy.

In addition to all the health benefits is the wisdom and positive encouragement the Diabetes Care and Prevention Program staff have to offer while visiting the farm on September 16th and 30th. They will be there to answer all questions about the nutritious foods and offer advice about healthy meal making and dietary requirements for those managing diabetes.  

“I am getting to an age in life when it’s important to pass down knowledge and share my gifting with others, especially the younger generation,” explained Roni Leahy, Diabetes Program coordinator. “I love being with all the people and listening to them talk about their experiences in the garden or the kids discovering how the plants they eat grow. It is such a precious opportunity to talk about the plants and how important they are in health of our bodies. This truly is prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

“My favorite part is seeing the community members and their families out at the farm enjoying the vegetables and knowing they are going to go home and prepare a meal they will all remember and enjoy,” added Brooke Morrison, Diabetes Program assistant.

Visiting Gardening Treasures u-pick farm to harvest the freshest foods will boost your health without creating a dent in your wallet. Bringing the kids can only help them create a lasting relationship with nature and plant seeds of curiosity and excitement for eating a variety of vegetables. Maybe even, this will be the inspiration your family needs to plant a garden at home.

“I couldn’t believe how big their fields are and how many different kind of vegetables they offer. It was really, really nice being able to pick whatever I wanted,” said Tulalip elder Virginia Carpenter. “I haven’t picked strawberries since I was a teenager, some 70 years ago.

“I’d tell anyone in Tulalip, whether an elder, youth or anything in between, the trip to this farm is worth it and you’ll really enjoy it,” she added. “To walk around outside and be around all the fresh flowers and see all their goods, it really puts your mind at ease and makes you feel better with everything else going on in the world right now.”

For more information about the two upcoming Garden Treasures community days brought to you by the Tulalip Health Clinic’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, please call 360-716-5642. 

The coming weeks are the perfect time to still find ripe strawberries and garden-fresh produce at your local, organic u-pick farm. Spending time outdoors, the most natural form of social distancing, beats waiting in line at the grocery store and will help support your local farmers.

Meant to bee

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Ten years ago, Tulalip tribal member Mary Jane Topash was enjoying her undergrad experience at the University of Washington when the opportunity to view an informing documentary about bees presented itself. She quickly found herself captivated by their importance to the environment and high level of interconnectedness. The dream to someday become a beekeeper was created that day.

Fast forward seven years to Mary Jane perusing Facebook when an advertisement for a local business, Snohomish Bee Company, offering classes to become an apprentice beekeeper pops on the screen. Her interest again sparked, she clicked on the ad and followed through with the class. 

“It didn’t cost that much at all, like $100 maybe, and for two days they taught me all about the lifecycle of bees, beekeeping, and honey production,” recalled Mary Jane about the apprenticeship class. “There’s a short test at the end. After passing you get officially certified as a beekeeper. The best part was getting to learn a bunch of cool facts about bees and why they’re so vital to a healthy planet.”

Cool facts like at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, and here in the United States, bees are the most important pollinators. Bees earn their reputation as busy workers by pollinating billions of plants each year, including millions of agricultural crops. Their importance cannot be understated. Small bees play a big role in one out of every three bites of food we eat. Without them, many plants we rely on for everyday nourishment would die off.

After receiving her beekeeping certification in 2017, the ambitious tribal member was eager to put her skills to use, but was forced to wait until the timing was right. She needed to accumulate the necessary supplies and have enough dedicated free time to properly nurture a start-up hive. That’s time she just didn’t have while working fulltime at Hibulb Cultural Center and balancing her school work in the pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Cultural Studies from U.W. 

Enter the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and a state-wide ‘stay home, stay healthy’ order. It may have taken a few years, but all of a sudden Mary Jane had an ample supply of free time to achieve her beekeeping dream. Plus, the Tulalip Tribes had just issued their membership a stimulus check to help cope financially in times of uncertainty. Well, uncertain for some, but not the aspiring Tulalip beekeeper. The same day that stimulus payment hit her bank account, she purchased the necessary gear and supplies to create her own colony. The most important supply? The bees, of course. 

“Bees are purchased in pounds, so I bought a 3-pound box of Italian honey bees. That’s about 10,000 – 12,000 bees and one queen,” explained Mary Jane. She started her own bee hive on April 29th. “In the beginning stage they are completely reliant on me to provide them with food, which is sugar water. I’ve gone through a 25-pound bag of sugar in just one month. In a few more weeks they’ll be self-reliant and won’t need me to feed them. Until then they are my bee babies.”

That previous spark of interest fully aflame now as a passion project, the 30-year-old revels in the time she’s had to build a reciprocal relationship with her bee colony. From planting them their own garden with a variety of flowers to learning their behavioral patterns from dawn until dusk, Mary Jane proved she is meant to bee. So much so that she’s already looking forward to expanding her bee family next spring.

“This whole experience has been a great way to channel energy. Overcoming the natural instinct to run or swat around bees, especially an entire hive, is an intellectual challenge,” admitted Mary Jane. Overcoming those fear-induced natural reactions, like to not flinch if a bee is buzzing by her face, shows a level of understanding about the nature of benevolent bees.

“This is my way of giving back because honey bees are so important to our environment,” she continued. “From our plant life to water to honey and their own hive, how these little guys all work together for a common goal is just amazing.” 

The value of teamwork in a honeybee colony is a lesson humans could definitely benefit from, especially now in an age of seemingly endless polarization and incessant squabbling. One worker bee makes only about 1/8th of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life, but a thriving colony where everybody is doing their part can produce 10+ pounds of honey per year. 

Speaking of the liquid gold, Mary Jane is curious as to what flavor of honey her bees will produce. They are surrounded by a cove of blackberry bushes and towering maple trees to forage nectar and pollen from, so odds are the locally sourced honey will taste of maple berry. The flavor won’t be confirmed until the fall when the honey is ready for harvest. 

“It would be pretty cool to incorporate Lushootseed into the name of the honey,” said Mary Jane of using the traditional language of her Coast Salish people. “Haven’t decided how just yet, but it makes sense because everything my bees use to produce their honey is given from the Tulalip land.”

Lessons and valuable teachings offered by beekeeping is something Mary Jane looks forward to passing on. Recently, her 10-year-old niece Jada has shown an interest and joined in on the veiled activity. Overcoming a fear of being stung is already quite the accomplishment for a fledgling helper, and with more time maybe her curiosity will lead to becoming a nurturer of bees like her aunt. 

Until the ‘stay home, stay healthy’ order is lifted and Mary Jane returns to the normalcy of her day job as an assistant director at Seattle’s Burke Museum, she will continue to enjoy her gifted time sitting on the porch watching her young pollinators perform their dance between surrounding flowers and blackberry bushes. She can’t help but beam with happiness witnessing her bee babies play their critical role in managing our ecosystem. Her decade old dream now fully realized.

Grow your own food

A fun, family activity

By SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator, AnneCherise Jensen 

Spring is here, now is the perfect time to grow your own food! If you want to eat local, know where your food comes from, save money and reap healthy rewards, try starting a home garden. Gardening is a fun physical activity, providing you with great tasting produce and, ultimately, saves you trips to the store. Not to mention there’s a harvest of benefits when you involve kids in the process. 

Research shows children living in a home with a garden eat significantly more vegetables than those without access to a home garden. Gardening as a family is the perfect opportunity to acquire an active hobby, get some fresh air, learn more about plants and become self-sufficient. Gardening can be overwhelming if you haven’t had much experience, so here are 8 simple tips to help get you started.

Calculate your space. Before buying plants or seeds, calculate how much space you have (ground or container) that gets adequate sun. Most vegetable plants require at least six hours of light each day. Some plants require more space than others, such as squash, others require much less space, such as spinach and lettuce. Herbs can also be grown with very little space, even inside. You can purchase plant starters at most garden stores such as Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart. 

Know what grows. When buying your plants, ask what varieties will do best in the conditions you have to work with. For example, several compact tomato plants do particularly well in containers, and some plants are easier to grow, such as potatoes, strawberries and snap peas. If you have friends, family or neighbors who garden, ask them what has grown well in their yard. There are multiple online resources, magazines and books that can help guide you through the details of this process. 

Soil Matters: Soil is the strong foundation to any healthy garden.Good soil provides access to nutrients, water, air, stabilizes plant roots, and assists plants natural resistance to pests and diseases. Before planting your starters or seeds, make sure your soil is ready to support the growth of your plants. Your soil may benefit from added compost or adding specific nutrients depending on what you’d like to grow.  Check out this site for more information about varieties of vegetables that grow well in the Pacific Northwest, and soil nutrients that may be helpful for certain plants.   You can also ask an associate at your local garden center to point you in the direction of the perfect soil products, they are a wealth of knowledge! 

Start Small. Remember, you don’t have to start with an extravagant space when first starting out. The easiest way to become a sufficient gardener is to start small, slowly building in space and knowledge, there is always something new to be learned year after year!  Your new garden can be as simple as a few window boxes of herbs to installing a few garden boxes in the backyard. Think about what produce you and your family will eat the most and try panting those. Salads are a great place to start, plant salad greens, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even berries — all are kid-friendly and easy to grow.  Sunflowers are another fun addition to the garden. They grow quickly and can be dried for the seeds.

Make Kids Part of the Planting and Growing Process. Depending on their age, children take to gardening differently. For example, preschoolers tend to be fascinated with exploring dirt, digging holes, planting seeds and working the garden hose, while older children may be more interested in how a single seed turns into an edible plant. Try a few fun, reliable plants such as carrots, potatoes, squash and lettuce. Ask children which fruits and vegetables they would like to grow. Teach children responsibility by assigning each child a watering, harvesting or weeding task. Allowing children to be involved in every step of the process will get them excited to taste the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.

Encourage Taste Testing. Gardening exposes us to a variety of fruits and vegetables, and so encourages taste testing straight from the ground (after a quick rinse to remove dirt) and at the dinner table. Show kids how a tomato can taste delicious from the vine or in dishes such as fresh salsa, marinara sauce or tomato soup to bring the experience full circle.

Go Herbal. Herbs are perhaps the easiest plants to grow and can be a good place to start when gardening. Herbs usually grow easily, so you’ll probably have more than enough. Choose a few herbs to start, such as parsley, cilantro, basil and rosemary. Don’t worry if you have too much by summer’s end. An excess of basil can be made into pesto, frozen in ice cube trays and stored in the freezer to use during the fall and winter. And, all herbs can be dried.

Gardening in Small Spaces. No yard? No problem! Try using large pots placed on the patio or porch to grow foods such as tomatoes, salad greens and even cucumbers. Most herbs can grow in small pots on indoor window sills. No matter how much space you have, there is always room for a few, flavorful plants.

If you’d like to learn more, visit Tilth Alliance for Online Gardening Classes, a Gardening Hotline to answer your questions, and other gardening resources for families during this time of social distancing.

Whether you start a small or a large garden, learning about the growing process is a great educational opportunity for you and your family.  Odds are kids and parents alike will enjoy the time they spend together outside while learning something along the way. Gardening is the great opportunity to know where your food comes from, while becoming self-sufficient on your own food supply. If you start now, you’ll be surprised as to how much food you will harvest by the end of the growing season. Not to mention fresh produce and homemade canned goods are the perfect gift for friends and family.  Remember to have fun, be creative, and get a little dirty along the way – it’s all part of the process. 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


sc̓ədᶻx̌ Nettle berry popsicles

By SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator, AnneCherise Jensen 

Looking for a healthy, fun and creative way to try Nettles this summer? Check out this Nettle Berry Popsicle recipe. It’s the perfect healthy summer snack for kids!  As warmer weather approaches, this is a great way to turn any herbal tea into a crisp, refreshing treat for your friends and family. Since Nettles are in abundance this time of year, this is a great activity for not only in the kitchen, but outside as well. So grab your basket, gloves, and scissors and check your local woods for a nearby Nettle Patch! We have some wild crafted popsicles to make.

Foraging Nettles 

Stinging Nettle, or sc̓ədᶻx̌, has been used as a traditional Coast Salish medicinal plant for thousands of years. This highly valued plant is often found in streambeds, forests and disturbed areas with rich wet soil, usually facing the sun. Stinging Nettles, can be found from the coast to the mountains, and are found in abundance on the lush Tulalip soils. Stinging Nettle, scientifically named Urtica diotica, is a perennial herb with opposite deep green leaves with serrated edges and tiny greenish flowers. The stems are square, and plants grow 3-7 feet tall annually. 

Harvesting season runs March – June each spring. Once the Nettle plant begins to seed in the warmer summer months, the leaves can only be used for drying purposes. If consumed raw past this point, nettles can be toxic to the liver and kidneys. When harvesting Nettles, be sure to wear thick gloves as they will sting you! The stalk and underside of leaves are covered with stinging hairs that rise from a gland containing formic acid. Avoid harvesting in areas that are nearby pollutants, roads, pesticides and other chemicals. Cut off only the first 6 inches in the top of the plant. We do this to protect the plant and make sure it grows back the following year.  Once you have your basket filled, the nettles can then be processed by blanching, drying or simply steaming them. Any of these methods will inhibit the formic acid glands (stingers) from stinging you. In this recipe, we will be using dehydrated nettles to make a sweet Nettle tea.  

Dehydrating Nettles 

When dehydrating Nettles, we want to use only the leaves of the plant. The stems are generally not used for food purposes, but can be used for making nets or are effective in compost. There are a few ways to dehydrate herbs; air-dry, dehydrate or an oven-dried method. All methods work effectively, but vary on resources and preference. I personally like to air-dry my herbs, but it can take up to a week. Either way, whatever way you choose, be sure to rinse your foraged herbs in a colander before drying. This also allows any bugs to escape that may be hiding in your basket.  P.S. don’t forget to wear gloves – this is the prickliest process of all.

Dehydrator/Oven Method: Using heat is the quickest way to dry herbs. The dehydrator method requires a heat of 120-140 degrees F for about 12 hours in your average dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can also use an oven. Place herb leaves on a cookie sheet one inch deep or less. Put herbs in an open oven on low heat, less than 180 degrees F, for 2-4 hours. To see if the herbs are dry, check if leaves crumble easily. Oven-dried herbs will cook a little, removing some of the potency and flavor.

Air-Dry Method: Gather 5-10 branches together and tie with string or a rubber band. The smaller the bundle, the easier and faster they will dry. Put the bundle of herbs, stem-side up and hang them by the stem in a warm, well-ventilated room. You can do this by using string and clothespins, amongst other things. Your herbs may be dried and ready to store in as little as one week. This is personally my favorite method, as it preserves the potency and flavor of the herbs. 

Nutritive Properties 

Nettles are known to be one of the most nutrient dense plants on the Earth and are considered a super food in many cultures throughout the world. They contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help maintain the body’s function and mobility. Nettles also contain a high amount of amino acids that are highly valuable chemicals used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. Nettles contain extremely high amounts of Vitamin C, vitamin A, Vitamin D, iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium (29 times more than spinach), magnesium, silica, trace minerals and protein (more than beans). No wonder they are called a superfood!  If you aren’t already consuming nettles, you should be. (Krohn) 

Medicinal Uses 

Traditionally, Nettles have been used both internally and externally for a wide variety of uses. Nettles have been revered worldwide throughout the ages for food, fiber, and medicine. Many people say Nettles help to alleviate allergies as they contain antihistamine qualities that may be effective for acute allergic reactions. Other well-known uses of Nettles that are still being studied include; the strengthening of teeth, bones and hair, insulin resistance in Type 2 Diabetes, prostate health, blood detoxifier, increased hemoglobin for overall energy, reduced pain, menstrual cramp aid, and asthma. (Foret) 

Other Uses

This plant is so versatile, it’s even been used to make natural dye with shades ranging from yellow to deep green. The nettle fibers/stem makes strong cordage and was used for making rope, fishing line and nets.  Rosemary or horsetail with nettle are made into tea and used as a hair rinse to make the hair glossy and stimulate growth. “Sting yourself on purpose… really? Yes, it is true. People have stung themselves with nettle to ease pain. This is officially called urtication and its roots go deep into history on several continents. 

Both in the Pacific Northwest and in Europe, people have stung themselves to cure arthritic joints and to stay awake and alert during battle or hunting. Traditional knowledge is now validated by scientific research. Compounds including histamine, acetylcholine and formic acid are injected into tissue causing an awakening of cellular responses, lymph flow, and nerve and capillary stimulation”. (Krohn) 

As you can see, Nettles are a highly prized and sacred plant that can help keep you and your family healthy. Now that you’ve learned a little more about Nettles, it’s time to put your foraging skills to the test. Here is the summertime recipe you and your family will love. 

If you are a Tulalip tribal member, and don’t have access to nettles but would like some, please contact AnneCherise Jensen and she will supply you with the dehydrated nettle tea.

Nettle Berry Popsicles 


  • 4 cups purified water
  • ¼ cup Nettle Tea (Dried Nettle Leaves) 
  • ½ cup Fresh or Frozen Berries 
  • 2 -3 Tablespoons Honey or Cane Sugar  


  • Infuse dried nettle leaves in boiling water. Let steep on low heat for about an hour. The longer you allow the Nettle leaves to infuse, the more nutrients the tea will absorb.
  •  Add 2-3 Tbsp of honey or cane sugar to the lukewarm nettle tea. Mix well. 
  • Add the ½ cup of desired fresh or frozen berries to the nettle tea. Stir for a few minutes and allow the berries infuse in the water for about 5-10 minutes. 
  • Pour nettle tea mixture into a Popsicle mold. These can be found online or at Walmart, price ranging from $10- $25. If you don’t have a Popsicle mold, you can also use a small plastic cup and Popsicle sticks.
  • Freeze for 2-3 hours, until firmly frozen. 
  • ENJOY! 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Sources: / Research provided Elise by Krohn 

The Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee De La Foret, pg 189 – 194


Sticking to your resolutions with AnneCherise Jensen

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

If you spent this past holiday season reflecting on the last ten years while scarfing down a carb-loaded plate of leftovers and vowing to make personal changes after the last second of 2019 ticked, you are definitely not alone. Now more than ever, people nationwide are practicing better organization skills, picking up new hobbies, reading more books, setting higher goals and planning a brighter future. For many, the new calendar year marks a fresh start, and during this phase people take the time to give much-needed attention to certain areas of their life that they’ve been neglecting.

Perhaps the most shared new year resolution globally is the desire to better one’s health. And as a result, the produce sections at the local grocer are often overcrowded as are thousands of gyms across the country. But more often than not, as the weeks pass by, people start to give in to their old habits and give up on their goals of self-development and personal growth. Staying true to your resolution weeks down the road after the ‘new year, new me’ adage loses its luster is a difficult task to say the least. For this reason, AnneCherise Jensen of the Tulalip SNAP-Ed program took some time to offer a few tips and advice to those beginning their new health and fitness journey in 2020.

We made it to a new decade! Lets begin by talking about the importance of fueling up with proper nutrition and treating our bodies with respect.

Our bodies are a gift we’ve been given by the creator that carries our mental being; our spiritual side and physical side. It holds our heart, our mind, our love and compassion. Everything that we feel, do and think – it all stems from our body. In order for us to thrive as human individuals, we should respect our body and know that everything that we put into it is either feeding disease or fighting disease.

Where is a good place to start for those who are setting out on their first quest for overall better health?

A first good step is to start cutting out the bad foods. Think about the most-unhealthy things that you’re consuming and try to taper away from those foods and drinks. If you’re ordering really sugary beverages every day, that have about ten pumps of syrup, work on slowly reducing it down to two pumps or learn how to make your own syrups. This past weekend I made a homemade elderberry syrup and added it to sparkling water; it was sweet, tasty and still really healthy.

Also, try to cut back from the unhealthy foods like salts and fat and slowly supplement the bad foods with healthy foods. If you’re eating one serving of fruits or vegetables a day, try to up it two.

Any tips on how to incorporate more greens and fruits into your everyday diet?

Don’t be lazy and cook, number one rule. Meal prep ahead of time, buy vegetables and don’t let them sit in your fridge. Cut them up in half and roast them and have them ready to go for the week. Same with fruit. Have those foods around and available in your house, and learn how to utilize them; prepare snack trays for the kids after school, add more veggies to your everyday foods. Like with your pasta, you can add mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic. You can cook big batch dinners, just throw all your vegetables into your crock pots or Instapots. 

Find out what foods your family enjoys and stick to those so that way you’re not wasting your money on food your family is not going to eat. Start with the foods you know people are going to like, find easy recipes that are going to help you make those foods manageable so they actually fit into your diet and then slowly branch off that and try new foods as you go.

With the popularity of the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat burger on the rise, many are experimenting with meatless meals. Any advice for people curious about switching to a plant-based diet?

If you’re going meatless, avoid the meatless burgers at fast food restaurants. Those are full of artificial hormones. The food at fast food establishments, especially McDonalds and Burger King, contain some of the highest carcinogens, or cancer causing agents. They also cause a lot of inflammation as well. 

It honestly depends on how much protein you need. There are a lot of good plant substitutes for proteins, especially beans, legumes, almonds. As long as you’re getting adequate amounts of protein, that’s great. But I would highly discourage you from eating the vegetarian burgers from the fast food joints.

A lot of people, especially Natives, are in fact returning to the diets of their ancestors; wild game, native plants and fish. What are your thoughts on the traditional diet?

I think going back to the traditional diet is amazing, it’s something that I’ve been practicing myself. Over the winter break I harvested four different kinds of mushrooms and a couple different types of trees and am learning how to make medicine with it. Nature is jam-packed with more medicine than we can ever imagine. I always recommend making your own teas, going and getting cedar from your backyard, letting it dry overnight and making a tea with it. You can do that with pine needles as well. Once the nettles start coming out in a couple weeks, you can make nettle tea. There’s always something you can forage at any given time of the year.  

Many health experts encourage people to increase their daily water intake. Why is it important to stay hydrated?

We’re living in a society now where sugary beverages are all around us and it really can be the enemy of our health. Water is good not only for our bodies but for all of our metabolic functions. It helps us digest food, stay awake, stay energized, build muscle mass and rid toxins from our body. As good stewards of the earth, we want to try to avoid plastics as much as we can. Today, we are finding so many chemicals in our water – fluoride, mercury, plastic. So it’s always good for our health to carry a reusable water bottle and have a good water filtration system. For flavor, I like to infuse natural fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, raspberries and strawberries. Frozen fruits are fun, cheaper and add an icy texture. Fruits and vegetables naturally contain a lot of water in them so the more fruits and vegetables you eat; the more water content you’re getting. Try to carry your water bottle with you every day and make it a goal to drink 16-32 oz. of water a day. 

Some people are finding it easier to stick to healthy meal plans by including a cheat day once a week. Should people plan out their cheat days in order to see more success?

It really depends on where you’re at with your personal relationship with food. A lot of people are dealing with food disorders and may overeat and over indulge. Or you might be the total opposite and suffer from anorexia. You have to find the right balance and know your relationship with food. If you can control it, give yourself a cheat day where you have a little more forgiveness for yourself and leniency. On the weekends, I’ll eat two servings of pasta and have some desserts those days. It’s always good to not only feed your body, but feed your spirit because you also want to be able to have those foods that make you happy, so its finding that right balance between the good, the bad and healthy moderation.

What are a few fun ways to stay active during these winter months?

If you’re into snow sports, there’s snowboarding and skiing. You can also go snowshoeing as well up in the mountains. We are getting a lot of rain and it’s kind of yucky to be outside, but there’s always the gym. Right now is a great time to go to the gym because you can get a lot of people motivated in your family to go with you. Do some simple chair yoga and desk exercises. Hiking is really fun too. Some trails are open like Lake 22, Heather Lake, those are local. And just take time to walk at the beach and get outside on those days when we have a bit of good weather.

Any last pieces of advice or words of encouragement for those working to attain a healthier lifestyle and stay true to their goals?

Know that we’re all human. We all have those days where you’re literally driving for half the day and all you can do is go to a drive thru. Just get back on track the next day and give yourself forgiveness and grace because we all have days we mess up, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s okay. Don’t be hard on yourself, just try better the next day.

We have to find strategies that work for us and get together as a community, with our family and friends to overcome the easy convenience foods that like to feed disease. We need to go out into nature and reconnect with those foods and work as a team to eat healthier foods. 

Tulalip SNAP-Ed regularly hosts a number of classes throughout the year, such as the Eat Smart, Be Healthy course. To stay updated on their upcoming events and classes, be sure to like the Tulalip Food & Nutrition Education Facebook page. And for additional details, please contact the SNAP-Ed program directly at (360) 716-5632. 


Warrior’s Stew

Budget-friendly recipe. A special stew that celebrates the return of successful hunters, this can be made with venison or beef. Serves 6


  • 1 pound venison or beef stew meat cut into large chunks
  • 2 Medium onions diced
  • 8 cups Water
  • 6 Cloves garlic minced, or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary minced
  • 1teaspoon Paprika
  • 1teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Tomatoes seeded and diced, or 1 ½ (15 oz.) cans low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 Bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 Medium potatoes diced
  • 2 Carrots sliced thickly, or ½ cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen okra
  • 1 cup Fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Parsley chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Ground black pepper
  • ½ jalapeño chile seeded and minced
  • Lemon Wedges


  • In a heavy soup pot, combine the meat, onions, water, garlic, rosemary, paprika and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours. 
  • Stir in vegetables, parsley, chile and black pepper. Simmer, partially covered for 1 hour, or until meat is tender. If using frozen okra and/or corn, add to the pot during the last 15 minutes. 
  • Squeeze lemon wedges over stew before serving. Serve with Whole Wheat Fry Bread or whole wheat bread. 

Nutrition Info and more

Serving size: 2 cups. Total calories: 275 Total fat: 9.1 g Saturated fat: 3.3 g Carbohydrates: 25.9 g Protein: 24 g Fiber: 5.9 g Sodium: 580 mg

Publication:  Young, Indigenous, and Healthy: Recipes Inspired by Native Youth Author: Leah’s Pantry; Source: Leah’s Pantry



Budget-friendly recipe. Make this on a Sunday so you can heat up leftovers for an easy breakfast throughout the week. Serves 8


  • 1 1/2 pounds Seasonal vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, turnips or bell peppers
  • 2 Medium onions
  • 4 ounces Low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 12 Medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Dried dill, thyme, or oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground black pepper
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 8 ounces Mushrooms optional
  • ¼ cup Fresh parsley, thyme, or basil


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • Rinse and cut seasonal veggies evenly into small pieces. Peel, rinse, and dice onions. If using, slice mushrooms and rinse and chop fresh herbs. 
  • Grate cheddar cheese. 
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add seasonal veggies to boiling water. Briefly boil, about 30 seconds. Using a colander, drain the veggies. 
  • In a large bowl, whip eggs with a fork until well blended. Whisk in dried herbs. Set aside. 
  • Coat medium skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. If using mushrooms, add now. Add boiled seasonal veggies. Continue cooking until soft and some of their juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes more. 
  • Coat 9-by-13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
  • Layer ingredients in the baking dish in the following order: veggie mixture, egg mixture, cheese, salt, and pepper. 
  • Bake until eggs are firm and cheese is melted, about 35 minutes. A thermometer inserted in the middle should read 160°F. 
  • If using, garnish with chopped fresh herbs. 
  • Cut into 8 equal-sized portions. 

Nutrition Info and more

Serving size: 1 slice. Total calories: 160 Total fats: 7 g Saturated fat: 3 g Carbohydrates: 7 g Protein: 13 g Fiber: 3 g Sodium: 350 mg

Author: Arthur Birnbaum; Source: Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters

Garden Day promotes overall health and wellness

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The beautiful and peaceful Wellness Garden Trail, located behind the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, officially opened on the morning of April 27, as the community of Tulalip gathered to celebrate the first Garden Day of 2019. After a long, cold winter, the plant beds were ready for a new beginning and approximately seventy-five volunteers arrived bright and early to prune and replenish the garden boxes with fresh soil and new plants. 

Garden Day is hosted by the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program and is held periodically throughout the year. Participants of all ages learn how to grow and maintain a garden by cultivating a variety of produce, fruit trees and traditional medicinal plants. The crew, equipped with gardening tools, gloves and trash bags, as well as piles of fresh soil, worked hard while enjoying good company and a view of Tulalip Bay on a gorgeous spring day. 

“We’ve been doing Garden Day since February 2011,” explained Diabetes Program Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “It started at the Hibulb Cultural Center and then it moved to the health clinic in 2014. Diabetes prevention is really what it’s all about. To prevent diabetes, we’re looking to promote exercise and healthy foods. If we can achieve 5-7% weight loss by exercise or nutrition, we reduce our risk of developing diabetes by 57%, by just making little tiny changes. The prevalence of diabetes within Native American communities is higher than non-Native communities. For us, the foods we would’ve traditionally eaten are not readily available to us.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Indigenous Peoples are at a substantially higher risk to develop diabetes than any other race nationwide. Previous records show that for decades, Native diabetics experienced kidney failure due to complications from diabetes. But because of programs like Diabetes Care and Prevention, individuals are now learning how to properly manage their blood glucose and sugar levels, and therefore the amount of kidney failures amongst Native diabetics dropped by a whopping 54% since 2013. 

During the event, the health clinic provides free screenings for both blood pressure and blood sugar levels as hypertension and diabetes are widespread amongst tribal members. Based on the results, the clinic can offer advice and refer them to the appropriate specialist. Throughout the day, about thirty volunteers took the time to participate in the screening to get an update on their health.

In addition to learning about diabetes and growing plentiful green gardens, participants are also treated to a delicious and nutritious breakfast, snack and lunch prepared by the Tulalip SNAP-Ed program. Traditional foods were incorporated into the meal, including nettles in tasty brownie deserts, as well as fruit-infused water. The event also included a giveaway where prizes were raffled off such as gardening tools, watering cans, children’s gardening kits and seedlings of strawberries, cabbage, peas, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumber plants. 

“I came out today because Roni inspired me to start my own garden,” expressed Tulalip tribal member, Tempest Dawson. “This is my third year working on my own garden, and I like to come to Garden Day and follow her around because she knows a lot about gardening and I pick up whatever she has to teach me. It’s important to continue to teach our people about the land and that there are natural foods that we can live off of, instead of relying on the grocery store or processed foods.”

Roni explained that five years ago, tribal member Walt Campbell purchased a shovel, painted the tool gold and brought it to Garden Day to gift to the hardest working green thumb of the day. Since then, gifting golden shovels became quite the tradition, adding a bit more fun at the end of each Garden Day. This time around, two golden shovels were gifted; one to Tulalip youth, Cohen Ramsey, the other to Marisol Raza and her children.

“We won the golden shovel award,” Marisol exclaimed. “It’s for being a hard working person, taking part in Garden Day. We’ve been coming for about three years or so and we absolutely love it. Today we cleaned up the plant beds, removed old plants and pulled weeds, as well as added new soil and compost. We planted cabbage and broccoli. Enjoying that final product is going to be awesome.”

Because the gardeners meet up four to five times annually, they’ve developed close friendships over the years. Young Tulalip tribal member, Kaiser Moses, has attended every Garden Day with his mother since its inception and looks forward to helping out at each event as well as visiting with his fellow gardeners. 

“I’ve been participating in Garden Day since I was about four,” Kaiser said. “It feels like old friends reuniting every year. It’s really fun and great for rebooting for your mental stability. As a group, we all work together to make the garden better and plant some new plants in the garden beds. There’s a bunch of friendly, kind-hearted happy souls who come out every time we have a Garden Day.” 

The Diabetes Care and Prevention Program will continue its busy year, promoting overall health and wellness with a number of classes, programs and Garden Days including the new 26-week Diabetes Prevention class, for those who’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. More details will come before the start of the program in June. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program at (360) 716-5642.