Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Orthodox Christmas Tree

I really like to see this posted on the internet about the real history behind the famous Christmas Tree:

Happy NEW Year!

Let us get ready for the last church service of this 2014 year and welcome properly in church the NEW YEAR 2015 with prayers, psalms and incense!
“…And the smoke of the incense…ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Rev 8:4)
On January 1st The Orthodox Church celebrates St Basil and in his honor we prepare a wonderful sweet bread, called Vasilopita!
 The Story of Vasilopita
One of the more beautiful and inspirational traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church is the annual family celebration of the Vasilopita. This original event which happened in Cappadocia of Caesarea in the last half of the fourth century, is very much alive in our Orthodox homes each year.


1 cup butter
2 ½ cups sugar
7 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup almonds, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 bag of whole blanched almonds

  • Cream butter and sugar for 10 minutes, add egg yolks and flavorings.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except egg whites.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff in a separate bowl.
  • Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Blend well.
  • Grease baking pan (round 14” pan).
  • Pour in batter and tuck coin (thinly wrapped in Aluminum Foil) into batter, then hand lay whole blanched almonds around perimeter of surface.
    (You can also spell out the current year in the middle of cake)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Note: For a smaller cake, prepare half of recipe, and bake in a 10” round greased baking
pan for about 30 minutes.
For a gluten-free recipe: replace wheat flour with 2 cups of quinoa flour + 1 cup of corn flour.
Gluten-free Vasilopita 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PerioBiotic Probiotic Toothpaste


PerioBiotic™ Toothpaste is a mild, non-irritating and fluoride-free toothpaste. Like probotics in the human intestinal tract, beneficial flora in the mouth are critical to maintaining an oral environment conducive to healthy teeth and gums.

PerioBiotic™ contains Dental-Lac™, a patent pending and clinically tested functional Lactobacillus dental hygiene probiotic not found in any other toothpaste.

Results of a randomized placebo-controlled clinical study involving 40 volunteers with periodontitis showed that Dental-Lac (Lactobacillus paracasei ADP-1 strain) significantly inhibited the growth of periodontal pathogens, decreased total bacterial count and improved probing pocket depth. Furthermore, a specific Lactobacillus paracasei strain, demonstrates its ability to kill off harmful strains of oral bacteria including streptococcus mutans, a significant contributor to dental caries, tooth decay and periodontal disease.

In addition, PerioBiotic™ contains two active ingredients that have been shown in research to promote dental and oral health via their cavity-fighting abilities: xylitol and calcium glycerophosphate.

Product Contains: Water, calcium glycerophosphate, xylitol, glycerin, calcium carbonate, carageenan, spearmint oil (Mentha viridis), maltodextrin, Lactobacillus paracasei (Dental-Lac), citric acid, potassium sorbate, Yucca filamentosa powder, stevia leaf extract (Eupatorium rebaudianum bertoni) .

Recommended Use: Apply PerioBiotic toothpaste on to a soft bristle toothbrush. Brush thoroughly after meals for at least 1 minute. Spit out the excess solution, and for maximum benefits do not rinse to allow longer contact of the natural ingredients to the teeth and gums. Brush 2 to 3 times per day or as directed by your health care professional.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Can Parents Change Their School's Food?

This is a debatable question for sure; one that I used to think was a no-brainer. Yes, if parents are loud enough and demanding enough then eventually it  will happen, but that is not the most efficient or pleasant process for either side. The problem is that changing a school food program is no easy feat. In particular, it requires understanding and consideration of many nuances that parents aren’t always aware of up front.

Celeriac Fries with DAO-Boosting Olive Oil

This recipe is from
1 celery root, cleaned and washed, cut
Lemon juice
Salt, 2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp thyme
Cut  celeriac root into fries, toss them in antihistamine, mast cell-stabilizing, pain-killing coriander; osteoporosis-preventing, diamine oxidase- boosting olive oil, (DAO is a histamine-degrading enzyme in gut); antihistamine and antibacterial garlic; antihistamine and anti-inflammatory superstar thyme; a squeeze of lemon juice and a touch of sea salt or Himalaya salt. Place in oven at 350F for 40 minutes or longer if you like them very crunchy.
I hope this will help when having problems with allergies especially for those people with MTHFR mutations.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gluten-free Tiramisu

Start by making the Gluten-free Ladyfingers- I do not like to use cream of tartar or xanthan gum, so I had to improvise and the batter was too runny to use a pastry bag to give the well know shape you would need for the Tiramisu.
Gluten-free Ladyfingers
1 ½ cups of King Arthur gluten-free flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
¼ tsp salt
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
Directions: Whip the egg whites to form peaks, using an electric mixer. Separately beat the egg yolks with sugar, vanilla, salt. Add baking powder and the flour. Fold in the egg whites. Pour the batter on a baking pan in a thin layer and place in oven for 9 minutes at 375F. Allow to cool slightly and then cut into 2 inches long ladyfingers (about ½inch wide). You can make about 20 ladyfingers.

Gluten-free ladyfingers

4 eggs
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
 ½ cup milk
1 box of mascarpone cheese
20 Gluten-free Ladyfingers
1 cup cocoa powder or chocolate powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coffee
¼ cup Amaretto
Directions: Beat the egg yolks with the sugars and vanilla. Add the milk and over the low to medium heat stir until a thick cream forms. It will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. In a mixing bowl, combine together the cream and the cheese. Make a strong coffee and add Amaretto. Allow to cool. Whip the eggs whites using an electric mixer and when the form peaks fold in the whites in the mixing bowl until fully combined.
In a tiramisu bowl layer the ladyfingers, cream and powdered cocoa. Repeat X3. The ladyfingers have to be dipped in the coffee - liquor mixture for a 5 seconds, one by one prior to arranging them in layers. Cover tiramisu with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!

Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen

Evangelism by the Deacons
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Acts 6:8-15
51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
The Stoning of Stephen
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 7:51-60
May we all follow St. Stephen’s example and defend our faith!

Read about The Location of the Stoning of St. Stephen in Jerusalem:
and about: The Recent Discovery of the Burial Place of St. Stephen:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Came, Glorify Him and bring Him gifts from your soul! Remember the adoration of the Magi!
The word “magi” is the plural of “magus”, the name given to a philosopher and astronomer. The three Magi are thought to have come from neighboring countries of Arabia, Persia and Ethiopia. They came with gifts for the King! They followed the star. It was not an ordinary star, but an angelic power appearing itself in the sky at the Annunciation, about nine months before the Nativity. Stars move from east to west, but this star moved from east southward to Jerusalem. It shun like the sun during the day, moved when the Magi moved, and rested when they did. They arrived in Jerusalem in the day of the Nativity, but the star hit itself there so that others would not go to Bethlehem; so the Magi asked the whereabouts of Jesus. When they left the city, the star reappeared, and descended near the earth to show the exact location of the cave. It is said that the Holy Family remained in the cave for forty days, until just before the Presentation in the Temple.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Let us get ready

Church of Nativity - The silver star marks the birth of OUR LORD
Our lives are filled with cycles and The Orthodox Church liturgical calendar is rich in rituals of celebration in a cyclical way. All of our intuitive desires for ritual celebration are properly fulfilled in the Orthodox Church in her cycles of prayer, fast and feasts. The holy celebrations of Christ’s Nativity begins quietly with the 40- day fast- a time to prepare both the body and the soul. Now, we are towards the end of this fast and so close to meeting The Lord!
The Five Days of Pre-feast
The five days just before Christmas are of particular importance. These days have very special liturgical hymns and celebrations that are similar to the yearly Holy Week services.  The Troparion sung repeatedly during this period says: “Make ready, O Bethlehem; for Eden has been opened for all.  Prepare o Ephratha, for the tree of life has blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin; for her womb did appear as a spiritual paradise  in which is planted the divine Plant, whereof eating we shall live and not die as Adam. Christ shall be born, raising the image that fell of old.”

Although some people complain about Christmas music before Thanksgiving, Orthodox Christians have traditionally started chanting sacred hymns about Christmas in November. Fr. Alexander Schmemann explains:
As Orthodox Christians, we begin the celebration of the Nativity of Christ — on December 25 — with a time of preparation. Forty days before the feast of the birth of Our Lord we enter the period of the Christmas Fast: to purify both soul and body to enter properly into and partake of the great spiritual reality of Christ’s Coming. This fasting season does not constitute the intense liturgical season that is characteristic of Great Lent; rather, Christmas Lent is more of an “ascetical” rather than “liturgical” nature. Nevertheless, the Christmas fasting season is reflected in the life of the Church in a number of liturgical notes that announce the coming feast.
Within the forty days preparation the theme of the approaching Nativity is introduced in the services and liturgical commemorations, little by little. If the beginning of the fast on November 15 is not liturgically marked by any hymn, five days later, on the eve of the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, we hear the first announcement from the nine hirmoi of the Christmas Canon: “Christ is born, glorify Him!”
With these words something changes in our life, in the very air we breathe, in the entire mood of the Church’s life. It is as if we perceive far, far away, the first light of the greatest possible joy — the coming of God into His world! Thus the Church announces the coming of Christ, the Incarnation of God, His entrance into the world for its salvation.
The video features a beautiful selection from the Canon for the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, chanted in Romanian in a neo-Byzantine style. The music is accompanied by images of church life.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Having sung many hymns of anticipation during the 40-days of fast, the feast itself comes to us in full liturgical splendor. Special divine services celebrated on Christmas Eve take many hours to complete in their entirety. We spend the morning of December 24th, a solemn day of prayer and fasting, celebrating Matins, Royal Hours, Vespers and the Liturgy of St Basil, the Great. Finally, on the night of December 24th, awaiting the first star of the dark winter sky, the Vigil Service of Great Compline, Litiya and Matins is sung. The celebration culminates on Christmas morning and the reception of Holy Communion, truly uniting us to the Newborn Savior, Christ the Lord.
In the Orthodox Church the celebration of Christmas does not end on December 25th, but continues for a full week, with many additional Nativity hymns, sung each day. Then the winter feast cycle continues immediately with the preparation for, and celebration of, Christ’s Baptism (Theophany- January 6th), after observing the New Year Eve's service and the special celebration for the Circumcision of Our Lord (January 1st).
 “Life Transfigured”


Friday, December 12, 2014

St. Spyridon

St. Spyridon was born in Askeia, in Cyprus. He worked as a shepherd and was known for his great piety. He married and had one daughter, Irene. Upon the death of his wife, Spyridon entered a monastery, and their daughter, into a convent. He is normally depicted wearing what looks like a basket on his head. In fact, this is the traditional head gear of shepherds on the island during his lifetime.
Spyridon eventually became Bishop of Trimythous, or Tremithous (today called Tremetousia), in the district of Larnaca.
He is well known for the miracle he performed at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. St. Spyridon took part in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325), where he was instrumental in countering the theological arguments of Arius and his followers.
He reportedly converted a pagan philosopher to Christianity by using a potsherd to illustrate how one single entity (a piece of pottery) could be composed of three unique entities (fire, water and clay); a metaphor for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
As soon as Spyridon finished speaking, the shard is said to have miraculously burst into flame, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in his hand (other accounts of this event say that it was a brick he held in his hand).
After the council, Saint Spiridon returned to his diocese in Tremithous. He later fell into disfavor during the persecutions of the emperor Maximinus, but died peacefully in old age. His biography was recorded by the hagiographer Simeon Metaphrastes and the church historians, Sozomen and Socrates Scholasticus.
St. Spyridon is commemorated on December 12.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saint Philothea of Romania (Sf. Filoftea de la Curtea-de-Arges)

It is truly rare to find great role models today among people we know. The heroes seen in cartoons or movies, unfortunately are not real…so were should our children turn for guidance? We can always look at the wonderful saints of the Orthodox Church! Today we celebrate a saint that was just 12 years old! Saint Philothea of Romania, who’s whole relics can be found in Romania at Curtea-de-Arges, Arges County.
To read about her amazing life to your children, see “ Let the little Children Come to Me”, Stories of Children Martyrs:

or on this website:
"Saint Philothea (Philofthea) of Argesh was born in Trnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria, around 1206. Her father was a farmer, and her mother was from Wallachia. She died when Philothea was still a child, and her father remarried.The child was often punished by her stepmother, who accused her of being disobedient, and of giving their possesions away to the poor. Her father chastised her for this, but Philothea continued to attend church services and to do good to others, just as her mother had taught her. As she grew older, she was adorned with the virtues of prayer, virginity, and almsgiving."

 Dear St. Philothea please pray for our children too! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Black Olive Potato Stew

Today I made for dinner a more traditional stew we usually have during the winter lent. It is both gluten free and vegan.
5-6 cups cubed potatoes
2 medium onions, chopped
1 leek, chopped
½ cup chopped carrots
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
¼ cup oil
2 cups tomato sauce, of your choice
parsley, salt, pepper, cumin to taste
In a medium size stainless steel pot with lid, over low- medium heat, lightly brown the onions and the leek in oil. Add rosemary, oregano, carrots and potatoes and 1 cup water and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked- do not allow to overcook them. Add the tomato sauce, parsley, cumin and olives and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Serve with salad or fermented vegetables.