Holistic health
It seems crazy that we are living in the 21st century, with some of the most advanced technological innovations known to man, and that the U.S. spends more per capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world, yet we continue to become sicker and sicker  instead of healthier.

Yet it's true.

Over the past decade or so, the U.S. has made headlines - not for its advanced healthcare system, but for the fact that we now rank lower than almost every other developed country when it comes to a number of health and longevity factors.

In the World Health Report 2000, the U.S. healthcare system was ranked 37th in the world! In 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita, but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy (New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 14, 2010).

And it's not getting any better! In 2014, Time magazine reported that in the 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey, the U.S. healthcare system ranked dead last in "efficiency, equity and outcomes" out of 11 countries including France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K..

And in 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) stated in their annual Health At A Glance Report that "Life expectancy in the United States is lower than in most other OECD countries for several reasons, including poorer health-related behaviours and the highly fragmented nature of the US health system."

How can this be? How can a country that spends more than any other country in the world on healthcare be so unhealthy?

Canned salsa
It has been a while since I posted a recipe, and I thought summer would be a great time to share one of my favorite ways to preserve some of summer's fresh garden bounty!

My husband and I both love homemade salsa, but we usually make the fresh kind, which only lasts a couple of days. Last summer, I was so overwhelmed with our incredible tomato harvest that it was all I could do to keep up with just canning plain tomatoes. However, I wanted to try canning some salsa and see how it turned out, so I made just a few pint jars as an experiment, using a recipe I found online.

It was honestly some of the best salsa I've ever had - made even better by the fact that most of the ingredients were from our own garden! This year (after a panicked search for the recipe through my recipe books and Pinterest account, when I finally found that I had printed it out on a piece of paper) I doubled the amount, and perfected my method with a few tweaks.

Here's the recipe (with pictures), plus a few tips for success:

Paleo Eats cookbook
Today I've got a special treat for you....

The folks over at PaleoHacks (one of my favorite healthy eating blogs) are giving away FREE copies of their new Paleo cookbook, and I wanted to make sure to let our readers know about it while there are still copies available!

If you've ever wanted to try Paleo eating, or just want some new delicious and healthy recipes to add to your lineup, you can grab your copy via the link below.

The author is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, so you know the recipes will be absolutely scrumptious, and he has been practicing Paleo eating himself for many years. In fact, Pete credits eating meals like the ones described in his cookbook with helping him lose over 60 lbs!

Garden fresh foodNothing like dinner from the garden!
Well, the moment I had been waiting for all summer finally arrived last week: my first cucumber & tomato salad! :-)  Although we have been regularly harvesting some form of produce from our garden for at least two months now, for me, the REAL harvest doesn't begin until the tomatoes are ripe. This is always a bittersweet moment for me though, for as much as I love garden-fresh ripe tomatoes, it also signifies that the end of summer is drawing near.

This summer has been a perfect example of why I think people find gardening so interesting - and so frustrating,  at times: Every year is different

This summer is completely opposite from the last, at least weather-wise. Last summer our main challenge was keeping our plants from drowning due to the nearly constant rain! Cooler than normal temperatures made the season long and a bit slow, but most of our plants loved all the water.

This year has been okay with rain so far (at least in our neighborhood) - until the last couple of weeks (but really no extra to speak of, and I haven't seen the garden "moat" since May). Now the grass is beginning to turn brown from lack of rain, and I am having to water almost constantly. The long, cold spring delayed many crops from going in the ground until much later than usual, but the consistently hot summer has helped things catch up - particularly the peppers, which have been producing for several weeks now - more than a full month earlier than last year!

Now that the tomatoes are finally starting, the bounty begins in earnest: counters loaded with so many piles of produce it's hard to keep them all straight. Overflowing trays and colanders of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, eggplants, green beans, oh, and did I mention cucumbers?