More Garden Progress: The Arbor & Fence

My husband has been hard at work; the arbor and fence around the new garden annex are finished. He’s decided to leave the posts long on the new section for now. We may need to tie a barrier around them if the corn gets too tall and the deer become too persistent. I’m not an expert on organic garden design, but bit by bit, I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.

I thought I’d show you some before and after pictures:

raspberry bush view1 More Garden Progress: The Arbor & Fence

2009

garden 4 More Garden Progress: The Arbor & Fence

2010: Those are blueberry bushes on either side of the arbor & a raspberry bush between the blueberries and roses.

More photos from this year . . .

garden 1 More Garden Progress: The Arbor & Fence

garden 3 More Garden Progress: The Arbor & Fence

I guess I’d better get to weeding . . .

The potatoes in the white boxes are growing like crazy. I keep covering the green with dirt and it keeps shooting upward. We’ve gotten a load of rain lately, so things are a bit muddy right now. I plan to work on cleaning up this area over the Memorial Day weekend.

Please let me know how your gardens are coming along and how you’ve chosen to design your garden space.

Green & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

happy breakfast Green & Healthy Breakfast IdeasThe other day I wrote about smoothies and while I tend to drink them any time of day, I often incorporate them into breakfast because they’re yummy and they’re also highly portable.

There are a few other things I like to eat for breakfast and I find that when I do take the time for this important meal, I feel better for the rest of the day. I’m also less hungry and less inclined to go on a mad search for sugar-filled snacks mid-morning.

My goals with my breakfast choices are to include organics whenever possible, real foods (which is to say, not processed or packaged), something with protein and some complex carbohydrates. I’ve also been using more ground flax seeds. I’ve known for some time they they are good for us, but as I’ve been reading Tosca Reno’s books, The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged! Green & Healthy Breakfast Ideas and The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids: Simple Strategies for Lasting Health and Fitness Green & Healthy Breakfast Ideas I’ve learned even more about the benefits of these little seeds. In addition to the heart healthy goodness attributable to the Omega-3s, Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), fiber and lignans in flaxseeds, these little powerhouses also act as a mild laxative to help keep our systems moving.

Now, onto the food. . .

3 Green & Healthy Breakfast Ideas:

Oatmeal + Fixin’s

I start with rolled oats (not quick oats). Often they are organic and usually they are purchased in bulk.

I usually cook them in the microwave with almond milk or water.

Then I add in 1-2 Tbs. of ground flax seeds, chopped walnuts, a drop or two of pure maple syrup, and some kind of fruit — blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or chopped apple.

This breakfast is delicious and filling.

Eggs and Toast

I usually boil 1/2 dozen eggs (pastured) at the beginning of the week and keep them in the refrigerator.

In the morning, I toast two pieces of Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread and spread it with just a bit of homemade butter. Then I sprinkle some ground flax seeds on top.

If I’m eating at home, I slice one boiled egg onto a piece of toast and eat it that way. If I’m eating on the go, I simply eat the egg and the toast separately. I try to eat a piece of fruit as well, or make a simple smoothie of frozen fruit and a bit of orange juice and water.

Garden Omelet

This is a summertime favorite because I can grab vegetables right out of the garden or at the farmer’s market.

You can really make the omelet any way you want to. My favorite is very simple with only three ingredients:

Eggs

Fresh spinach leaves

Chopped heirloom tomatoes

Sometimes, I’ll add in some feta cheese or other vegetables if I have them on hand.

It’s important to point out that I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. I’m not suggesting that these ideas are perfectly healthy or that they will appeal to everyone. So far, though, they’ve been working well for me.

I’d love to gather more ideas for healthy breakfast foods. Please let us know what you eat for breakfast by leaving a comment below.

Photo Credit: Toobig4pond

Where Should Your Organic Dollars Go?

shoppers guide Where Should Your Organic Dollars Go?

It’s hard to know where to spend your precious organic dollars. Fortunately, Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) has just updated their Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce where they list the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen.” The Clean 15 are the least sprayed fruits and vegetables and therefore the safest bets if you want to skip organic. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 most heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables, so whenever possible, it’s best to buy these organic.

There are many reasons to avoid consumming pesticides, not the least of which is the often unknown impact of these chemicals on our health. According to an article on CNN Health, a recent study has found that “Kids with above-average levels of a common pesticide byproduct had twice ADHD risk.”

I’ll list the Dirty Dozen below, but the EWG has created a handy printable guide that will fit in your wallet. Click here to get it. Dr. Andrew Weil has come on board this year extolling the virtues of the Shopper’s Guide. You can watch a short video of his comments while you’re there if you’d like.

The Dirty Dozen – Buy these organic:

Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Blueberries
Nectarines
Bell Peppers
Spinach
Kale
Cherries
Potatoes
Grapes (Imported)

One way we’re saving money is by growing some of our own. For example, this year we’re growing strawberries, potatoes and bell peppers from this list. Good luck with your organic shopping. Let me know if there’s anything I can help with.

Photo Credit: FoodNews.org

Mmmm. . .Smoothies

smoothie Mmmm. . .Smoothies

I’ve been trying to find easy and delicious ways to increase my intake of good foods. One of my favorites is the smoothie. There are two combinations I’m really into lately and I thought I’d share them with you.

The first one I learned about from Hannah Keeley. I’m no longer sure of the exact amounts her recipe calls for, because I tend to estimate as I’m tossing things in the blender. In other words, consider this an adaptation.

Blueberry Energy Smoothie

Frozen blueberries (I use organic wild blueberries)

Orange juice

2 Tbs. ground flax seeds

2 Tbs. wheat germ

Blend and enjoy. Sometimes I’ll add in frozen raspberries as well for an extra fiber boost. (Did you know that raspberries have a whopping 8 grams of fiber per cup??)

Strawberry Almond Milk Smoothie

Frozen strawberries (organic whenever possible – strawberries are heavily sprayed with pesticides)

Almond milk

1/2 cup rolled oats

1-2 Tbs. ground flax seeds

This has been my go-to smoothie of late. It’s so yummy and keeps me full all morning.

There are so many wonderful options for making smoothies. Please share some of your favorites in the comments.

Photo Credit: terriseesthings

Why Blogs Are So Cool (And Important) Part 2

Last month I told you all a story about how I found a blog (Steady Mom) that mentioned a nonprofit (Love146) that moved me. I then wrote a post and that post moved someone else — someone who happens to live in the same town I do. She mentioned Love146 to people she’s connected with and as a result, Love146, was selected to receive a donation far greater than the one I could contribute on my own.

I’m happy to report that the numbers are in.

During the month of April, The Thrifty Quaker thrift shop sold enough merchandise to allow them to donate $1,644.42 to Love146.

All because of a blog post that beget another blog post that someone else read and decided to take action. And that’s the key. I read a lot of great blogs and a lot of great blog posts. I often think, “Isn’t that nice, what they’re doing over there?” or “I should help with that.” But these thoughts are usually put aside and later forgotten. A lot can be accomplished if we use our resources and take action on things that are important to us.

I hope to spend more time taking action. How about you?