Pomegranate jam and sweet escapes

Pomegranate Tree

Pomegranates are an Intriguing and Powerful Fruit that stirs up the imagination.

As I make my Pomegranate Jam, I think of the Shakespearean phrase, ‘Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree…’ and memories of playing the part of ‘Juliet’ at eighteen years old without ever seeing a pomegranate tree or the fruit itself. This is odd because I was raised as a vegetarian. Yet decades later, there is a pomegranate tree growing in my backyard.

Pomegranates are a Powerful Antioxidant!

The pomegranate looks similar to an apple on the outside but inside the skin you’ll find a multitude of tiny berries that are beneficial to your health and beauty.


Pomegranates are good for you!

Can you eat the seeds in each juicy morsel? Yes, chew it good, the seeds contain oil, an isoflavones (also contained in soy) so it becomes creamy in your mouth. The juice squirting in your mouth from each berry is quenching and soothing to your throat. Also, feel good knowing that you are getting nutrients including 5 polyunsaturated fatty acid that helps with cell regeneration.

Picking a Sweet Pomegranate… Beware of Creepy Bugs!

I always pick fruit at the market that have markings on the skin because I know the bugs like sweet things too. Because of our hot summer, my pomegranates were already bursting on the tree. This made the seeds easy to get out. However, it invites creepy large bugs. Yuck!

The bugs looked slow-moving so I carefully ventured into the tree to pick a pomegranate. What just flew above my head? Was it one of these bugs? Yikes, they fly! The Leaffooted Plant Bug was well camouflaged within the tree!

I ran to my house to get my cell phone so I could take a picture of these little critters. Can you see the creepy crawlers? It won’t be easy to see the bugs but that’s what makes it fun! Are you game?

Play with a friend. Where’s ‘Waldo,’ the bug? (Reminiscent of the children books, ‘Where’s Waldo’ or in some countries, ‘Where’s Wally.’) Hint: In this collage of two pictures, there is a bug in each picture. If you have trouble finding the bugs, you can click on the picture to enlarge it. ;-)


Leaffooted Plant Bugs in the Pomegranate Trees!

Natural Pomegranate Jam Recipe

(made with Lemonade and Pectin)

This simple pomegranate jam recipe contains no added sugar! It is sweetened with a little honey and lemon aid that I made from fresh lemon juice (lemons from my tree). Of course, you’ll also need fresh pomegranate seeds and pectin (pictured).


Natural Pomegranate Jam with Pectin


I suggest that you put on an apron so you don’t stain your clothing and wear tight fitted rubber gloves to protect your nails.

Soak and Separate Pomegranate:

I soak each cracked pomegranate in water to cleanse it and then put it in water again to get the seeds out while the pomegranates are immersed in water. This is an easy way to loosen the seeds because the seeds sink and the pulp floats. Then, I put the pomegranate berries/seeds through a strainer, discard any unwanted remnants and keep only the best. One large pomegranate yields about one cup or less of berries/seeds.

~ This recipe makes three cups of my Natural Pomegranate Jam.

~ First open the package of Pomona’s Universal Pectin (pictured) containing no sugar or preservatives. The information /instructions that are found in the inside of the package is plentiful and can be confusing, so I have made it easier here:


3 cups of lightly mashed pomegranate berries/seeds

1 cup of fresh lemonade (lemon juice and water sweetened with stevia and honey or agave)

2 teaspoons of calcium water (powder is in package – 1/2 teaspoon of powder to 1/2 cup water)

1/2 cup of honey * Ikaria honey has many health benefits; it is rich so use less.

2 teaspoons of pectin (powder in package)

Glass jars with tight lids (let jars and lids sit in hot water until needed)


In a bowl, add 1/4 cup of  lemon aide with the mashed pomegranates and keep the mixture on the side for later. Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup of juice and honey in a pan with the calcium water and boil separately. Then, put this mixture in a blender and add pectin until powder dissolves in juice. Put pomegranate mixture in a pan and bring to a boil. Pour the pectin mixture from the blender into the pan and return to a boil. Remove mixture from heat and fill the warm, empty jars with the jam mixture, leave some room at the top and screw the lids on tightly. When the mixture cools, it will harden into a jam. Put jam in to the refrigerator when the jars are cool. Enjoy!


Powerful Connections & Sweet Escapes

No matter how far or near, the power of love connects us to those who have touched our hearts. That wonderful energy triggers our memory and senses just by listening to a song or eating food.

Making Pomegranate Jam renews my connection to a special friend, Robyn Whatley – Kahn who is living on the island of Ikaria in Greece. She specializes in the quality of Archaeologous guided tours to the area where pomegranates first grew, namely Turkey, where some scholars claim is the location of the Garden of Eden.


Views of culture sites in Turkey – Quality tours and healing works with Robyn Whatley-Kahn

 Turkey is loaded with biblical history. Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat (Agri Dagi) in Eastern Turkey. Ephesus in Turkey is the burial ground of St. John which is now a huge Basilica of St. John (in ruins and excavations) When walking in Ephesus, you are walking the footsteps of Apostle Paul, Mother Mary as well as Cleopatra, Alexander the Great…

Robyn and I have a past of traveling and entertaining together in the 70’s girl group, The Golddiggers. Now, we are both  involved in healing, I am an exercise coach/therapist and Robyn is a Body Talk practitioner. The bonds of the past powerfully unite us.


Book: Beyond Our Wildest Dreams and The Golddiggers during the mid- 1970’s

Pictured are Maria Lauren, Dean Martin, Linda Eichberg – (top row) Maria Lauren, Linda Eichberg: Alberici Sisters, Joyce Garro, Peggy Gohl, (bottom row) Patti Gribow and Robyn Whatley-Kahn.
In the book, Beyond Our Wildest Dream, my sister, Linda Eichberg and I fondly remember times as members of The Golddiggers during the groovy 70’s. As insiders, we tell backstage stories of entertaining with icons including the Rat Pack. Some of our “Golddigger” sisters and other notables share their prospective during this special time in showbiz too.
It’s a fun time of sisterhood and friendship when the TV Variety Show was prime and celebrity legends ruled the Las Vegas strip. Our readers have found it to be a sweet escape!
Wishing you the sweetness of life,
Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio
Your Powerful LIFE blog
 cropped-maria_lauren_fitness_expert.jpgYour Powerful LIFE blog is about Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment…
Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. I have not been paid to promote any product on this post. All content is copyrighted.


Confederate Flag Debate – American Pride


Marianna Riccio, fitness model

Independence Day, the Fourth of July is a time for celebration, barbecues, pool parties and fireworks! This month, it seems that the fireworks have not stopped when in comes to flying the Confederate flag. 

I’m proud to be an American and I’m honored to sing our National Anthem and God Bless America at community ceremonies while our flag waves freely. I believe in free expression but I don’t understand the display of the Confederate flag at public events amongst the southern states. I would also think that I was in a time warp if I saw the Yankee flag exhibited in the northern states. The Civil War is over, folks! OUR American flag of these UNITED States has survived many trials and tribulations of war, generation to generation. All ethnic backgrounds have shared the battle field to protect our freedom and our flag.

My friend, fellow author Augustin Stucker is an expert on the Civil War Presidents and posted the following argument that is based on historical facts:


Author, Augustin Stucker

“Even Jefferson Davis would oppose the Confederate battle flag in government/public forums. Surprised?

Not nearly as surprised as I was by the number of people checking my book, Lincoln & Davis: A Dual Biography of America’s Civil War Presidents,” looking for support for their side of the argument. The argument, of course, is whether the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of racism or southern heritage. As is detailed in my book, if you accept the fact that the flag is a symbol of southern racist heritage, then you get to have it both ways. (I apologize in advance only for the length of this post.)

So how can I be so sure of my assertion that Jefferson Davis – President of the Confederacy and one of America’s greatest promoters of the southern slavery system – would adamantly oppose those who claim the flag merely represents their southern pride and heritage? I rely on those pesky details called historical facts.

Let’s start off with the term, “state’s rights.” Word use and meanings change over time. What we think of as state’s rights today is entirely different from what it meant until near the end of the 19th century: Slavery. Many of the founding fathers, including those from the south, were extremely ashamed of allowing slavery to remain part of the makeup of the United States. It was such an embarrassment that nobody wanted to use the term “slavery.” The word was not even mentioned in the Constitution. Slavery was considered so vulgar and distasteful that nobody dared used the word in public. Euphemisms were required, so in the South slavery was “our peculiar institution” and nationally it was known as “state’s rights.” In those times, when you spoke of state’s rights, you were discussing slavery, and everybody knew it. This brings us to the people who claim the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and was fought for state’s rights. Those people are what I like to refer to as wrong. 100% wrong. When South Carolina, the first state to secede, declared their reason for its secession, they asserted in writing their one and only reason for doing so was to preserve slavery in their state. Nothing more, nothing less. Other seceding southern states made the same declaration. And when the Confederate Constitution was created, it was remarkably similar to the U.S. Constitution. Except for a leading clause proclaiming slavery was and forever would be the law of the would-be new nation. So, knowing at the time that state’s rights meant slavery (and nothing else), and with the blatant wording of each state’s secession acts, plus the declaration in the Confederate Constitution, anybody claiming the Civil War was fought for any reason other than slavery is not only denying the facts of history, they are also denying their own beloved southern heritage.

As for the flag itself, the “stars and bars” design causing such an uproar today was never the national flag of the Confederate States of America. Three official CSA flags were designed and used, but since they are not part of the problem, we can ignore them. The “stars and bars” was created as a battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia. It was intended to, and did, distinguish the Confederate army and troops from those of the Union. After the war the design was so popular it was copyrighted as the emblem to be used by groups such as the United Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

And here’s where it gets confusing for most people. As a design to distinguish Confederate soldiers, descendants of those soldiers argue the flag is their way of honoring their ancestors and southern heritage in general. Which is about as myopic an argument or excuse as I’ve ever heard. The troops it was designed for were fighting in a rebellion against the United States for the singular cause of preserving slavery. Any and all other arguments – “most the soldiers fighting didn’t own slaves,” or “my ancestors never owned slaves” – are irrelevant. They were fighting to preserve slavery, pure and simple.

On a personal note, one of my great-great grandfathers was a doctor who owned a small plantation outside of Macon, Georgia. He owned up to perhaps 10 slaves, and when the Civil War broke out he served as a doctor in the Army of Northern Virginia. What he saw and experienced in the war made him an alcoholic. He lost his small plantation after the war, but continued to practice medicine the rest of his life. He never flew any Confederate flags, displayed any “rebel” mementos in his home, nor pass anything of that nature down to his family. He is now remembered by my family as a loving family man who successfully passed on the practice of medicine to his two sons. I do not deny my ancestry (note to Ben Affleck – own your ancestry, don’t deny it – unless you are the same person they were). Nor do I wallow in it. Personally, I would tell other southern descendants who only “honor” their slave-holding ancestors by displaying the Confederate battle flag that they are either lazy, lacking in imagination, hypocritical, or all three.

Now let’s bring Jefferson Davis into the mixture. Yes, he was a southern plantation owner who owned dozens of slaves. As a leading southern politician he was the major advocate for the continued expansion of slavery. He was, however, hardly alone in his attitudes. The vast majority of Americans then were extremely racist by today’s standards, including his political opposite, Abraham Lincoln. (Read my book for the irrefutable evidence that, for the majority of his life, Lincoln was a racist. He obviously overcame his upbringing and belief system, which I believe makes him even more exceptional a human being than most people believe him to be. Yes, it’s another controversial statement, but the facts support the truth.) Back to Davis, the facts were he never believed a war should be fought to keep slavery alive, even though he constantly used the threat of war as a political lever to maintain the South’s political power. He was drafted, much against his will, to be the President of the Confederacy, and only served because he felt it was his duty.


Book by Augustin Stucker

After the war Davis was the most prominent figure and representative of the failed Confederacy. He was imprisoned for almost a year before the federal government realized he could not be tried for treason. Secession was not then, nor is it now, against the law. It’s just not a very good or practical idea, as the Civil War proved. Davis became the living embodiment of “The Man Without A Country,” and while he encouraged all other former Confederates to swear allegiance back to the United States, he did not do so himself because that would have been admitting the effort to secede was wrong. Still, when he wrote his biography, he concluded it by acknowledging the war proved the effort at secession to be wrong, and that the United States should go on in perpetuity.

Davis was not ashamed of the Confederacy – he believed Confederate soldiers were the greatest and most honorable soldiers ever to have fought in battle. But Davis never wanted to revisit the war or its causes. Once it was over, it was over, and people should keep moving forward with their lives. He never collected any Confederate mementos. He never flew any flag other than that of the United States outside of his home. And, in spite of a lifetime of promoting slavery and inequality among men, Davis recognized the law of the land. Following passage of the 14th Amendment Davis treated all men equally, engaging in business transactions with both blacks and whites.

I am not claiming he deserves forgiveness and absolution for all the loathsome beliefs he expressed through most of his life. But at least he turned the corner for himself and was trying to do the right thing.

Before his death he expressed his love for the United States. He felt proud to be an American, and in fact did great service to the United States as a soldier and politician outside of his stances on slavery. He believed in the Bill of Rights, and certainly supported freedom of speech. Logically, however, he also recognized the difference between what a private citizen can express and what a government can express. If an individual wishes to fly the Confederate battle flag on their own private property, they are free to do so. If a state or governmental agency does the same thing on government or public property, however, it is much more problematic. The state or government has the obligation to represent all the people, not one select group or another. For that reason alone, the state should remove all questionable emblems from state properties and public places, and set those emblems aside in museums for proper historical context.

Jefferson Davis was a very complex man. He was absolutely on the wrong side of history when it came to slavery and racism. But on this particular issue today, I have every reason to believe he would be on the right side.

To those people who wish to wallow in their ignorance and blind (or maybe not so blind) bigotry and hatred, I say go ahead and knock yourself out. Exercise your freedom of speech and fly all the Confederate flags you want on your personal and private property. But don’t insist on infringing on my rights and the rights of millions of other Americans who find your symbols repugnant. Keep those symbols off the public property which belongs to all Americans. A little civility and common sense would go a long ways in keeping the United States truly united instead of continuing to divide us.” – Augustin Stucker


Thank you Augustin for your thoughtful and powerful argument. You have expanded my mind in the process.

The American flag represents equality for all. To touch on another issue, I accept the separation of religion and government as I don’t think anyone should be told what or how to believe. On the other hand, I must admit that it gives me a feeling of security to have the words, “In God We Trust” on our money and “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance but that’s me. I think our nation needs the blessing from above. Please know, if you sneeze, I instinctively say, ‘God bless you.’

It is unfortunate and deplorable that slavery still exists today. A fellow blogger that I am following tells a story of a woman who was unwittingly sold into slavery but was able to escape. The post is called, Psalm 12:15 (Rescue).

Wishing you freedom and blessings,

Maria Lauren, AKA: Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog


Marianna_Riccio R1-210Fitness model, Marianna Riccio is an entertainer and certified fitness instructor who is passionate about being healthy.

Watch Marianna and her mom (Maria Lauren) demonstrate exercises!


Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerMaria Lauren is a Motivational Speaker, Author, Entertainer and Lifestyle Educator.

Your Powerful LIFE blog is about Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment… 

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

Lighten-up June Gloom!


Inspirational Quote – Alberici Sisters: Linda Eichberg and Maria Lauren – Beach Yoga

Does June gloom get you down? If you live in Southern California, you know that June brings some gloomy weather but it also brings some record breaking hot weather too. This change in temperature affects your temperament. It gives me an unsettled feeling, to say the least!

Time to lighten-up the heaviness of a busy week. Time for sharing peaceful moments with God, family or friends. Time for a change of scenery.


Prayerful Meditation

Malibu beach is my favorite destination for an escape to Relax-n-Renew. This weekend, sunshine was predicted but the morning brought cloudy and cold weather. My daughter and I took off for the beach anyway.

Upon our arrival, we were met with a cool mist of drizzle and thick clouds covering the mountains as dolphins played in the unusually calm waves that were close to the shore line. It was a perfect beach day for being in a peaceful place of awakening the body and mind.

The damp weather was contributing to my body feeling achy and stretching always makes it feel better. So, I started doing some Yoga movements to deeply breathe away my discomfort. My daughter wanted to work up a sweat and did an energizing Circuit Training workout with her friends a few yards away.

As I practiced my Yoga postures, it seemed that a family of dolphins kept swimming by to say, “Hi.” After about an hour of stretching, I sat in stillness to do “Alternate Nostril Breathing,” a relaxing breathing meditation. I swear a dolphin looked over to me with a smile reminding me of my playful nature.

In this bubble of misty contentment, the Source of light, God was shining. It was still foggy at the beach when my daughter, Marianna and I headed back home to the Los Angeles valley where the sun greeted us and everything was coming up roses!

“The light always shines on the love that intertwines us.” ~ Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio


Marianna Riccio

Enjoy the light of your loved ones. Wishing a Happy Fathers Day to all the dads whose love and diligence protects their children. I’m especially thankful for the positive motivation from my dad!

Light, love and playfulness to all,

Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

My Website


Maria Lauren is a Motivational Speaker, Author, Entertainer and Lifestyle Educator.

This blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.