Back to the Roots Mushroom Garden Review & Giveaway!!

I have been wanting to write a review for Back to the Roots Mushroom Garden since I purchased my own personal kit, at Home Depot, a couple of months ago. First, I must admit, I LOVE Mushrooms, always have! Mushrooms added to a meal make it so much tastier; I add them to my burgers, sauté them, add them to pasta, soup, omelets, eat them raw in salads… I just love them! Imagine my delight, when I stumbled upon a display of mushroom growing kits at my local Home Depot. I had never seen a mushroom growing kit before and immediately snatched one up and put it in my shopping cart. I told my little one we were going to grow our own mushrooms, he enjoys gardening and growing plants so he was just as excited as I was.

Here's a little background on the company.

"Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea during a class lecture of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, they experimented in Alex's fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forget the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!  

Inspired by the idea of producing local, fresh food from what was an urban waste stream, Back to the Roots has since grown to create the Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden which lets anyone, across the country, grow their own gourmet mushrooms at home as well!

Our Efforts Today

  • On pace in 2012 to collect, divert and reuse 3.6 million lbs of coffee grounds this year from Peet's Coffee & Tea
  • Help families grow over 135,000lbs of fresh food at home in 2011!
  • Sustained 10 urban school & community gardens by donating BTTRs premium soil amendment
  • Selling our kits at over 300 Whole Foods nationwide"

The kit looks like this when you first purchase it: 

Once you get it home, remove the front panel from the Back to the Roots Mushroom Garden box (the box has a front panel & a back panel, you can grow oyster mushrooms from both sides!) and cut a "+" in the soil bag. Remove the bag from the box and submerge in water for 12 hours (I use one of my little guys toy buckets and submerge the bag into that, I place a vase full of water on top of it to help keep the entire bag submerged. I also leave mine submerged for 24 hours). Place the bag back in the box and use the included mister bottle to mist with water 2x/day. Just a hint: I mist mine about 3-4 times a day! Place the box indoors, away from direct sunlight, I have mine on the kitchen counter, right next to the window. Sit back & watch your oyster mushrooms grow like crazy! You should see some growth within 10 days… once they first appear, they literally grow by leaps & bounds every hour, it is amazing to watch! Harvest your mushrooms when the caps are between 1-1.5" in diameter. You can then turn the box around & repeat the steps mentioned above for a 2nd harvest. Just a little fyi: I have harvested 5 (Yes, five) batches of mushrooms from my original box… they just keep producing mushrooms. Here are some pics of the mushrooms I have grown! 


I don't think I will buy oyster mushrooms from the grocery store ever again. Why would I, when I can grow my own?! I like knowing exactly where my food is coming from, I know it's fresh (can't get any fresher!) and it is so much fun watching my mushrooms grow, no two batches look the same. I also appreciate what Back to the Roots is doing, they are a green company and are providing much needed jobs for their community. 

Back to the Roots has graciously offered to give one lucky winner their very own Back to the Roots Mushroom Garden Kit, how cool is that?! Giveaway is open to US residents, 18 and older. I will be using Rafflecopter and the winner will receive their kit directly from the company. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



 Disclaimer: While I did receive a mushroom kit to review (I had already bought one for myself!), all opinions are my own. Thank you! 

The State of the Hispanic Caregiver in the U.S. & Comfort Plus


Do you care for an aging family member? Are you their sole caregiver? As our loved ones age, many of us are faced with caring for them. Many Hispanics in the U.S. care for aging family members at home. Some of those aging  family members have health issues, including incontinence. Comfort Plus,, retailer of Tranquility incontinence products, has devoted a lot of time researching issues that the aging Hispanic population and it's caregivers face. 

In an article titled, The State of the Hispanic Caregiver in the United States and the Necesity for More Access to Caregiver Resources, author Zachary Smith, points out some eye-opening facts:

Given the current population estimates, there are roughly 4,000,000 Hispanics over the age of 65. It is expected that in the next three decades, the Hispanic elderly population will increase by 555 percent. The number of elderly Hispanics will quadruple between 1990 and 2020 by increasing from 1.1 million to 4.7 million, and it will nearly triple again by 2050 to 12.5 million. The aging of the Hispanic population suggests that issues relative to health and long-term care will become of increasing importance. Though they are now relatively youthful compared with the general population, Latinos will account for a growing proportion of middle-aged and elderly Americans in the future. By 2050, for example, the Hispanic share of the elderly population will almost triple to 17 percent from 6 percent in 2005.

Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanic whites, but chronic illness and disease typically define their later years. Additionally, Hispanics often face language and cultural barriers as they navigate the health and social service systems. There is a lack of culturally proficient elderly care services geared toward Hispanics. Hispanics have higher rates for the causes of incontinence (diabetes, overweight, Alzheimer’s, etc.) Also, Hispanic women reported more urinary incontinence than did non-Hispanic white women. These higher prevalences were largely associated with diabetes and other physiological issues (Firouz Daneshgari, 2007). Twenty-one percent of Hispanic caregivers cite that they help their care recipients with dealing with incontinence." 

Caring for an aging family member can take a toll on you financially, emotionally, socially and physically. I have seen this firsthand with my father-in-law. For the last year, my father-in-law has been the sole caregiver for his wife. She has Alzheimer's, and it has progressed very rapidly. At times, my father-in-law has been overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for her, 24/7. One of his main complaints is lack of information. He often feels like he is all alone, he is constantly looking for resources to offer him assistance. I try to do what I can to help, from over 500 miles away! I scour the internet, looking for any agency the can help provide him with advice, training tools and workshops to attend. He has actually attended a couple of workshops, with his wife in tow, trying to educate himself on what it take to be a caregiver. He is doing the best he can, he prepares all their meals and makes sure his wife takes her meds. He takes her to all of her Dr's appointments and makes sure she is safe while at home. He does all this while also caring for himself, he has diabetes. His wife used to be the one taking care of him, making sure he ate the right things, and took his insulin on time. Now the roles are reversed and he spends his days caring for her, and trying to learn all he can about the new role of caregiver that he has been thrust into. 

As difficult as it is for my father-in law to find information, it is even more difficult for spanish-speaking caregivers to find information that they so desperately need. There is a lack of spanish language materials available online. Comfort Plus seeks to change that! Comfort Plus' goal is to not only provide the best products on the market, but also provide the best services possible to help home caregivers. One way they are doing this, in a big way, is by revamping their website. On, they have a section called “Comfort Plus Para Ti.” It is a Spanish-language section that helps people find the correct products that they are looking for, as well as provide pertinent caregiver informational resources. 

One of the topics Hispanic caregivers said they need more info on is Incontinence. Comfort Plus, are the "Incontinence Care Specialists" and their Tranquility products are the most absorbent products on the market. They provide unsurpassed skin dryness, odor elimination, and leakage protection. Due to their efficiency, they help save the user money.Tranquility products require fewer changes due to their superior absorbency, making the user more comfortable and requiring less work from the caregiver.  You can order Tranquility products online, in the comfort of your home and have them delivered to your door. No need to leave the house, after all, that's where you're needed most! Comfort Plus has given me a discount code to share with all my readers. Use LMB2012 at checkout for $10 off any case of Tranquility products. 

Comfort Plus is on Facebook, "LIKE" them to keep updated on incontinence and caregiver issues. You can follow them on twitter also, (@ComfortPlusZac). It is encouraging to see a company reaching out to the Hispanic community, like Comfort Plus is. Hopefully others will take note and follow suit! ;)




This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and ComfortPlus Online. However, all opinions expressed are my own. 


Menopause Tips To Try!

Have they started for you yet? I'm talking about Hot Flashes! 

Upon reaching middle age, many women are affected by hot flashes. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent hot flashes from interfering with your everyday life. One step you can take to keep your hot flashes to a minimum is to eat a healthy diet and to drink plenty of water.


The Importance of Water

The unwanted hot flashes that come along with menopause can cause your body to lose water as the result of perspiration. In order to stay hydrated, it is important that you replenish lost fluids. To do this, you should opt for foods high in water content, these foods include watermelon, tomatoes and chard, to name a few.  A vast majority of fruits and vegetables have relatively high water content, which makes them ideal food choices for women during menopause.

Another tried-and-true method of replenishing water is (you guessed it!) drinking plenty of fluids. Drinking plenty of water will not only help to decrease your risk for dehydration, but water can help to combat bloating and water retention. You know, the kind that leads to swelling in the hands, ankles, feet and even face. Nothing worse than waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror & seeing a bloated version of yourself. 


Healthy Diet Wrap-Up

 Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, that is low in saturated fats and sugar and high in lean protein may also help ward off hot flashes. There is evidence to show that a healthy diet can help ward off the weight gain that sometimes accompanies menopause, and keeping your weight within normal limits is also fundamental in warding off hot flashes.

In addition to a good diet, another good way to relieve menopause symptoms is to use supplements and vitamins. Kuhl Care, a new product to relieve menopause symptoms, is receiving fantastic reviews (especially for preventing hot flashes) so it might be worth looking into.

Do you have any menopause tip to share with those of us that are entering perimenopause? I would love to hear them! 

Dear ADHD … You Suck!!

This post has been a long time coming. I hear from so many moms of children and teens with  ADHD,  and the complaints are all the same: It is so difficult to raise a child with ADHD and no one really understands! Well, I understand. When our oldest was in 2nd grade, he was diagnosed with ADHD. Since Kinder, I had been getting notes from his teachers saying he “needs reminders to stay in his seat” and “has trouble staying on task.”  When his 2nd grade teacher suggested we have him tested for ADHD, it was no surprise. When the doctor handed me a checklist of signs and symptoms of ADHD and asked me to check off all the ones that pertained to my child… I checked them all…it was as if the checklist had been written specifically for my child!  

Once my son began taking his meds, the change was immediate. He was able to sit still in class and complete his work. His teacher was amazed at the rapid improvement. But once his body got used to the medication, it would cease to work. We changed his meds several times though out elementary and middle school. We did not give him the meds on weekends, I wanted his body to have a chance to rest from the meds, I really hated that he had to take them at all. As our son grew, I would often have people ask me if he was still on meds, and why was he still on them. These people were friends and family members. “I don’t think he needs to be on that stuff, ” they would say. “There’s nothing wrong with him, he just needs to learn to behave.” Yeah, I heard that one a lot! And every time I heard it, I would cringe. ADHD is not something you can just “get over.” It’s a REAL diagnosis, just like diabetes or asthma. Would you tell someone with diabetes to stop taking their meds? Or that there is nothing wrong with them? I don’t think so, yet people think nothing of telling me that there is nothing wrong with my son and that ADHD is just “an excuse.” ADHD is not an Excuse for his behavior, it is the Reason for his behavior!!

Then there are the parents whose children were diagnosed with ADHD and now one year later their child is off the meds and doing fine in school. First, I am very happy for those parents, and their children. I am happy they are no longer exhibiting the signs and symptoms of ADHD- I am happy that they no longer have to take medication for it. But at the same time, it makes me wonder if the initial diagnosis of ADHD they received was accurate in the first place. Please do not compare my child to yours. My child struggles with ADHD on a daily basis. He detests taking his meds and I often find his pills in the trash after he leaves for school in the morning. He doesn’t talk about it much, but I know he hates that he has it, and the stigma attached to it. 

My child is not “misbehaving” because he hasn’t been taught any better. He’s not a “bad kid,” in fact, it’s quite the opposite. He is a very polite young man when out in public, his teachers say that he is extremely polite and sweet, endearing even. He is impulsive and often does things without thinking. Many kids, especially teens, are impulsive, but usually not on a daily basis! We constantly have to remind him to think about what he is doing. Simple chores like emptying the dishwasher can take him 30-45 minutes to complete because he is easily distracted and will start doing something else. 

Schoolwork, let’s not even go there, ok?! If it is a subject he does not care for- his attention span is zilch. Getting him to do his homework has been a BATTLE for over a decade now. We literally have to stay on him to finish, heck, to even bring a book home! Don’t get me wrong, he is very intelligent- that makes it all the more frustrating. We know he is capable of doing the work- but his ADHD makes it extremely difficult for him to remain on task. He was blessed with wonderful teachers this year, teachers that truly cared about him and worked with him to get his assignments turned in. His English teacher told me, “He’s smart, he knows the work, every time I call on him; he always has the right answers.” 

ADHD has robbed my son of friends, he has very few. I have seen him interact with other kids… or should I say, try to. His behavior is very different from theirs. They are able to sit down and just chill, while he is always jumping around and being “hyper.” I’ve heard the other kids tell him to “calm down,” not knowing he really isn’t able to. He does not go out with other kids his age, he stays home with us. He has no social life, other than when he goes to his Fire Explorer meetings and events. He is very interested in Fire Explorers and we are encouraging him to remain active in the group. Perhaps a career in Fire Fighting is in his future!

Did you know the brain of children with ADHD is different from children without it? Well, it is!  “Using new imaging techniques, researchers found that children with the hyperactive form of ADHD had 2 1/2 times more of a brain chemical known as glutamate, which acts like a stimulant in the brain. In addition, the brains of children with this subtype of ADHD also had lower than normal levels of GABA, a chemical that has inhibitory properties in the brain. Both of these chemicals are neurotransmitters that carry signals to and from nerve cells in the brain. Researchers say these differences may explain the behavior of children with poor impulse control.”Glutamate is an excitatory amino acid that leads to easier stimulation and excited neuronal pathways,” says researcher Helen Courvoisie, MD, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. “GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and inhibits those pathways in the brain.”In addition to revealing differences in brain chemistry, the study also showed that these gaps correlated to the children’s scores on tests of language, memory, sensory, and learning skills.”

There it is, in black & white, PROOF that ADHD is real, and not just some excuse for a child’s “bad” behavior! ADHD is considered a mental disorder, did you know that?! I am not a bad parent, YOU are not a bad parent. I know what my son is capable of- I know that his ADHD diagnosis is real and valid. He may have to deal with ADHD and it’s effects for the rest of his life. My son is not his diagnosis. He is intelligent, polite, a quick learner, a hard worker, caring, funny and eager to try new things. I will continue to speak out for my son. Being the parent of a child with ADHD is often frustrating, unless you have a child with ADHD, it can be difficult to relate. ADHD sucks-but it does not affect how much I love my child. I would do anything for him, he is my pride and joy!  And a couple of weeks ago, I got to experience something that once seemed so very far away: his high school graduation! 


Take that, ADHD!!!