Friday, July 30, 2010

How Our Garden Grows

"Mom, come here! You have to see these cucumbers! They are HUGE!!!!!"

"Mom, can we please pick the kale so we can make kale chips? I love kale chips!"

Come on, what mom doesn't like to hear the excitement in their kids' voices when they are talking about vegetables?! What could be better?

Every year we plant a garden. Usually it includes a wide variety of tomatoes and cucumbers. This year we decided to go big! We planted a Square Foot Garden and we love it! It was a bit of work in the beginning but that's what husbands are for. :o) Hee hee. Seriously though, it wasn't that hard and you can purchase kits with all the boards pre-cut and ready to go if you like.

The idea of the square foot garden is that it is a raised bed which means you can put it anywhere. You don't have to till the earth, you simply build the box and fill it with dirt. Easy Peasy! This design means you can even put it on your driveway or rooftop.

Another cool thing about it is that the vine plants grow vertically. My hubby made a trellis and we have watermelon, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers growing upwards so we can fit more into the space.

The box can be made in many sizes but the standard size is 4x4. We made 2 boxes that are 4x8 so we got lots of goodies. The box is divided up into 1x1 foot squares and you can plant each item in its own square. The book helps you plan it out and tells you how many of each vegetable will fit into the square. Tomatoes fit just 1 per square but cucumbers fit 4 and carrots fit 16. Pretty cool.

We have onions, garlic, butternut squash, collards, kale, watermelon, carrots, 6 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of cucumbers, tomatillos, peppers, and a great variety of herbs. Now that the season is winding down I may see about putting in some cool crops for the fall. It's so fun.

If you have always wanted to try a garden and you just didn't know where to start this is a great way to get started. Even if you have experience with gardening like we did, you might want to give this a try. It looks so neat and tidy, requires a lot less work, and gives you a big bounty for little space.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nurturing Your Creativity

As a Holistic Health Coach I help people find balance in their lives whether it is with food, career, relationships, home environment and more. One of the areas that people seem to either love or hate is the area of creativity. I have some clients who embrace their creativity and others who feel they don't have a creative bone in their body.

The truth is we are all creative, some of us find different ways to express their creativity. People get wrapped up in the idea that creative equals artistic and that just isn't the case. Creativity can be expressed in so many different ways. People are creative in problem solving, cooking, planning, taking pictures, fashion, home decorating, singing, and more.

I personally am a very creative person and I tend to be artistic. I have always loved to draw and when I was in high school I had a true passion for art. I took just about every class they offered and I joined the Art Club and the Art Staff. I loved it!

Somewhere along the way I got the idea that I wasn't good enough to really be an artist so I gave it up. I guess that's that old perfectionism rearing its ugly head. Of course if you add on my busy lifestyle it makes it even more difficult to find the time to create.

Recently I got the bug to start doing something. I decided that I wanted to do an art journal because there was no pressure involved. I didn't have to create anything for anyone else but myself and if it was no good, it didn't really matter.

It has been freeing! I have been loving every minute of it and if truth be told, I am a bit addicted. I carry my journal around with me everywhere. I doodle constantly and I even decided to try my hand at painting one morning which resulted in the painting I am sharing with you today. Embracing my creativity has felt so good. It is making me feel complete.

What do you do to express your creativity? Is it artistic or is it practical? Or have you been suppressing your creativity lately? What can you do today to unleash your creativity?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe was included in my July newsletter. It is really delicious. My kids couldn't get enough of them and I even shared them with people outside of my home and they all loved them. I will admit that my 16 year old decided that they tasted "weird." Let me tell you, he is suspicious of all food I make though and if it has a hint of healthy to it, he's out.

When I told him about the cookies he said, "are they the ones with the beans in them, cuz I'm not eating those." Hee hee. By the way those bean cookies are delicious. I will have to make them and share the recipe with you soon. So I guess what I am getting at is just ignore what the 16 year old says...I mean come on, he's 16! :o)

The recipe came from one of my favorite books, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. The book is all about the author's experience eating local. She moved onto a Small farm with her family and for a year only ate what was grown by them or could be found in her neighborhood. It was fascinating to see the challenges they incurred and the simple joy they experienced learning to live a simpler life.

She also shared some of their favorite recipes and this cookie recipe was one of them. I switched out the all purpose flour for some whole wheat pastry flour. This stuff is amazing. It is so finely ground that it doesn't have that "whole grain taste" but you are still getting all the benefits. I highly encourage you to go out and buy a bag and see how you like it.

One of my colleagues tried the recipe after I posted my newsletter on Facebook and she loved them so much she shared them with her people. She said the key is to make the cookies small so they get crisp on the outside and stayed chewy on the inside. I like my cookies small so I made them that way too.

My tip is to not store them in a air tight container. They will become soft and lose their crunch. The cookies are super moist so I just left them out on the counter and they stayed perfect. Enjoy!

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I love kids! They are so cute and so uncensored. This is a true story about a conversation I had with a group of kids. You gotta love it!

The other day we were sitting at the pool with about 8 kids. They were taking a break and most of them were eating ice cream. The smallest little girl engulfed her Sponge Bob Popsicle before any of the other kids and I made a comment about how much she loves her sugar.

From there the conversation took off. The older boys (9) started telling me that they didn't eat that much sugar...their Popsicles didn't have much sugar in them. Of course I had to correct them and let them know that they were eating just as much sugar as their little friend.

They proceeded to tell me about how they liked vanilla ice cream and that didn't have any sugar in it. Ha, I assured them that it did. Then someone said they thought maybe they should just get sugar free ice cream. Of course I told them how sugar free items are usually made with chemicals that were not meant to be eaten.

Then someone asked if that's what's in diet pop. I told them that it was. A few of them said they knew it was bad for you. One even said that if you drink 2 diet drinks a day for a long time you could get cancer.

Then one of them said, "Well, I guess that's why they call it DIE-it pop!"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How to Eat a Whole Head of Cauliflower...BY YOURSELF!

I was a raw foodist for a while. During that time I remember making something called cauliflower popcorn which was dehydrated. It tasted pretty good but then again everything I ate tasted pretty good because I barely ate anything.

During my raw food days I noticed a great deal of improvement in my digestion. I have struggled with digestion issues for about 12 years and I felt really good during that time. I now realize that it was less about the raw food diet and more about being grain free.

I am now eating cooked and raw foods but I have been staying away from grains and my stomach is thrilled. I recently tried adding in some popcorn and while it tasted delicious, it didn't agree with my body. But it tasted so darn good!

So last night I decided to look up that popcorn cauliflower recipe and give it a try. I didn't find the original raw recipe. I found something better! It was so simple, so easy, and oh my gosh, so good. I would love to tell you that my family liked it but I never gave them a chance to try it because I ate the whole thing myself. Yum!

I added a bit of garlic powder to the recipe but I couldn't really taste it. I might try to double the amount next time or just leave it out. The recipe says to leave the pieces the size of golf balls. I made mine a bit smaller and in the end, I found that the smaller the pieces, the better they tasted so next time I am going to make all mine teeny tiny. It will cook faster too.

It really doesn't make that much so if you are going to make it for other people, I would suggest you double the recipe. I think this one is a winner! Let me know how you like it.

Cauliflower Popcorn
1 head cauliflower
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces. Throw away all of the core and the thick stem.
  3. Combine olive oil, salt and garlic powder in a bowl. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat.
  4. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (you can skip that it if you don't have any but it makes it easier to clean up).
  5. Roast for 1 hour, turning 3 or 4 times until most of each piece is golden brown. The browner they are, the better they taste.
  6. Serve immediately

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Birthday Butter

My youngest son turned 8 on June 21st. We like to really celebrate birthdays around here. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed, it's all about you. You get to pick where you want to go, what you want to do, and what you want to eat. You can't get yelled at and everyone else has to treat you like royalty. Let me tell you, my little guy ate that up.

For his dinner of choice he picked macaroni and cheese. I wasn't about to break open a box of the nasty stuff so I hit the Internet and found a scrumptious recipe of the real, honest to goodness macaroni and cheese. It was loaded with five different kinds of cheese and heavy cream. It was made with regular pasta and I even buttered the dish although I left out the pancetta at my son's request.

You might be surprised to hear that I made such a thing for my son on his birthday but I am not an extremist. I believe in the 90/10 rule which means we eat healthy 90% of the time and we splurge the rest of the time. Now to be honest I eat more like that but the kids are probably more like 80/20 and I think that is OK too.

I have to tell you that the smell that was coming out of the oven while this monstrosity baked was overwhelming. It was crazy good. Even though I am allergic to every single thing in it, I had to take a bite just to see what I had created and wow, was it delicious! The whole family loved it and thanked Aidan for his birthday request.

The next day we had a bit of heavy cream left over and we decided to make some butter with it. It is a simple thing to do but I wouldn't say it was easy. You simply put the cream in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Add a marble and start shaking. You shake and you shake and then you shake some more. You are supposed to get butter in about 20 minutes but it took us longer. It didn't help that for a long time the kids were shaking and I don't think they were really doing the best job at it. The important thing was that we were all having fun.

The key is to listen for the marble. In the beginning, you will hear it clanking around in the jar. Then when the butter starts to solidify you will stop hearing. You are not quite done yet. Keep shaking until you start to hear the marble clanking again. Strain off the buttermilk and enjoy.

It was THE BEST butter I have ever tasted. You can see my little guys eating it up on some bread. They couldn't get enough! Let me know if you give it a try.
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