Walking beneath the Muir Woods National Monument sign was like stepping into an outdoor cathedral, a shrine to nature on full display.

“This is a sacred place,” said Annie. She and LJ continued silently, marveling at the magnificence of the soaring ancient Redwoods and Coast Oak trees. They had decided to celebrate LJ’s next turn around the sun with a hike in a place that inspired gratitude and humility.

After spending hours exploring the park’s trails, they walked over to Muir Beach for the birthday picnic.

As they strolled, LJ observed, “Annie, you know there is only 5% of old-growth Redwood forests remaining, and they store up to 3 times the amount of carbon of any other forest. They are the tallest trees on earth.”

They arrived at the beach, and Annie pointed at a spot to spread the blanket, “How about here? You are so right; those thousand-year-old goliaths and their forests are key to combating climate change. They are an inspiring reminder of our need to preserve and protect all forests around the world.”

They laid out the food and settled down to enjoy it.

LJ poured two cups of his famous homemade lemonade, “our breakfast of oatmeal with hemp and chia seeds; both good sources of antioxidants (hair, skin, and nails) and fiber sustained me during our hike, but I am ready for lunch.

“I hope you like this, sweetheart,” Annie handed him a plate of the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich, spicy dilled pickles, and pickled carrots.

He took a bite and smiled, “this sandwich is hitting the spot. I taste pumpkin seeds, which I know are a good source of healthy fats, iron, calcium, and beta-carotene (converts to vitamin A). The sunflowers seeds are adding the satisfying crunch factor as well as vitamin E and B1 (converts carbs to energy).”

“Great, I also made a Flaxseed pudding for a sweet finish. I blended the ingredients because ground flaxseed is digestible and gives the body access to its omega-3 fats, vitamins, and minerals compared to whole flaxseed with its insoluble fiber shell the stomach can’t break down.”

“This is a special birthday lunch, babes. Thanks for including the pickles and carrots with their probiotic benefits.  The emphasis on low-carb seeds with their flavor, fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fat provide the same nourishment for us as they do for their respective plants, and that’s a good thing.”

Annie smiled, “all these seeds are rich sources of protein, which tells us we can get adequate amounts from plants. By changing one small habit such as mindfully eating mainly plant-based meals, we can save the Redwood forests, earth, and ourselves.”


Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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