Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sowing Millions Project

Seeds of Change is a company who is committed to preserving biodiversity and promoting the use of sustainable organic agricultural practices.  They sell organic products like salad dressing, pasta sauces and rice.  The company is currently doing a Sowings Millions Projects to spread their philosophy.  When you sign up you get 25 seed packets for the price of shipping $4.99 (approx. $75 value).  Seeds of Change will also give a matching donation to the American Horticultural Society. You do not get to choose the types of seeds you would like, but they are all organic and non-genetically modified.

Speaking of seeds, don't forget to register for Garden Planning Monday, April 4.  We will be discussing high value crops, organization of rows and watering systems.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chia Pudding

For breakfast, a snack, dessert or a cute, green furry pet. Ch-ch-ch-chia.

While the chia seed is not cheap, when you look at it's nutritional profile it kinda is.  It contains more iron than spinach, more antioxidants than blueberries, more fiber than beans, more calcium than milk, and more potassium than bananas. Not to mention that it is a complete protein and an excellent source of omega three's.  This is a super food in it's own right and versatile as all get out.

Add a couple tablespoons to your smoothies. Use to thicken sauces by just mixing in the seeds (about 1 tablespoon per 1/2 cup) and letting the mixture set up for 20 minutes.  You can make a "chia gel" by mixing 2 tablespoon seeds and 1 cup water, refrigerate overnight.  This gel is flavorless, will keep for a month and can be used in yogurtsalsa, soups, and salad dressings.  Chia gel is also a great egg replacement; 1/4 cup gel equal 1 egg in a recipe.

 One of my favorite uses for chia seeds is chia pudding.  A really flexible recipe.  You can go basic with just the seeds milk and sweetener.  Vanilla adds a nice flavor and I love the spices, but you could also go chocolate by mixing in 2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder, this would slightly hide the brown specks in the pudding.  My favorite milk to use in fresh coconut milk, almond milk is excellent, but cow's milk or goat's milk would do the trick too.  As always; the creamier the better!

3 cups milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a quart jar.  Stir well and refrigerate overnight.  Especially great with sliced strawberries, bananas, peaches or mangoes mixed in before serving.

How do you like your chia?
links; Hearth and Soup Hop, Menu Plan Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Happy Homemaker Monday, Monday ManiaFight Back Friday, Recipe Swap, Finer Things Friday

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring 2011 Class Schedule

Spring has sprung!  I can’t get enough of this weather or of the garden.  I am completely consumed with it right now, excited about he blossoms and the emerging fruit.  On my birthday we stopped by Agritopia in Gilbert where we took a stroll in a community garden.  LOVE <3.  They had a large area set up with 14 foot square plots, people were tending to their plants and discussing methods and hiccups in growing.  Gardeners are wonderful people.

I did a gardening class earlier this year, it was lots fun, I learned a lot and met lovely people.  The class ran very long and many of my main points were skimmed because there is just so much to discuss!  I reorganized my material into three, more in depth, classes that include valuable information. 

These classes will be held at my home in East Mesa. Contact me via email at to register. Class fee will be collected at the start of class. No children please.

Garden Planning
What, where and water.
Monday, April 4 from 10 to 11 am
$10 per person

The 13 nutrients all plants need.
Monday, April 11 from 10 to 11 am
$10 per person

Vertical Growing and Pruning
Get more from your vining crops.
Monday, April 18 from 10 to 11 am
$10 per person

By popular demand:

Kefir 101
Get started with water and dairy kefir
Monday, April 25 from 10 to 11 am
$15 per person

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

When the stars align we enjoy this classic Mexican dish; breakfast lunch or dinner.  We eat a lot of Mexican food around here. Sometimes it is nice to mix it up, same great flavors but a completely different combo.  Typically this meal is all about leftovers, hense the stars align reference.  I use my flour or corn tortillas and green chili beans.  Sautee some hash browns, fry some eggs, yummo.

If you ever find yourself at Liberty Market during breakfast hours, they have a burrito variation of this that is excellent.

1+ tablespoon coconut oil
2 medium potatoes, grated or cut into matchsticks
1 pepper (sweet or hot) diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup pinto beans
4 eggs
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
6 warm tortillas

Cook and brown potatoes in coconut oil in a fry pan over medium heat.  When mostly cooked, push to the side and sautee veggies.  After about 5 minutes add beans and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook and season eggs (we like over easy) in a separate fry pan.  Mash them and divide amongst the tortillas.  Sprinkle each taco with cheese and add a couple scoops of hash browns and top with the bean mixture.  Optional topping include sour cream (kefir cream), salsa and guacamole.
links; Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, Cooking ThursdayFresh Bites Friday, Foodie Friday, Recipe Swap, Frugal Friday, Finer Things Friday, Fightback Friday

Monday, March 21, 2011

Low Nitrogen

I had a great visit from my Mom and sister a few weeks ago.  Then I enjoyed my kids (and a bit too much racquetball) over spring break.  Now things are getting back to normal and I am tidying up my garden. Thought I would write some quick thoughts on the blog before I go out tomorrow to celebrate my birthday :)

I got my soil tested, and it was way low in nitrogen while everything else was great.  Plants need nutrients to thrive as much as we do, lack of fertilizer is a common problem in home garden's.  Slow growing plants, light green foliage, small fruit, lack of flowers, all point to botanical starvation. Since I already have my garden all planted out, I can't incorporate the dose of nitrogen that my garden needs all at once or I would kill many seedlings.  I applied a half dose of blood meal, a slow absorbing source of nitrogen, followed by fish emulsion, which has quick absorption but is very low dose so it doesn't burn. After our great day of rain today, all those nutrient could really get into the root zone and start to break down to become available to the plants!

In a couple weeks I will fertilize with all 13 essential plant nutrients to get my soil to optimal nutrient levels for a great summer growing season. I continue to do follow ups with fish emulsion every couple weeks.  Bring on the sunshine!!

What are your fertilizing routines?  Do you have a good way to keep your nitrogen up for the full growing season?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the only safe for consumption vegetable oil.  High in antioxidants, ideal for salad dressings and does not upset the omega 3 to 6 ratio that is so out of whack in the American diet. 

Get  Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Liter Tins (Pack of 2) for only $17.10 shipped with you combine the subscribe & save option with coupon code ZOEOLIV5 at check out. Or 2- 25.5 ounce organic tins for $13.65.
Subscribe and save sets you up with an automatic shipment plan, but if you want to cancel you can do so under “Your Account” and “Manage Subscribe & Save Items.” Prices fluctuate on Amazon, so verify this price before completing your order.
I love that this olive oil is organic and in a tin that keeps light out verses plastic or glass bottles.  The reviews on the site are very good.
links; Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plant a Seed

There are many great movies out that are motivating to take a good look at your eating habits.  They are an easy way to plant a seed in a loved one's mind.

I have not seen a whole lot of them, but would love to catch up and would enjoy hearing your recommendations.  King Corn is next on my list.  Super Size Me and Food Inc. were both well done.  I also love foodie movies like Ratatouille and Julie and Julia.

Right now, Groupon has a coupon for 5 Blockbuster Express rentals for $2.  Check it out.  It is a little tricky because after you sign in, you will go to the arrow by the city at the top of your page and choose the letter "P" in the drop down menu.  Then, select Philadelphia. On the right hand side, under "More Great Deals Nearby" find the Blockbuster Express and click to view and buy as normal.

If you have never used Groupon, it is something worth looking into.  We have gotten some really good deals on food and entertainment, but they have other deals on health and beuty and savings at retail stores.  You don't have to buy anything to sign up, but when you do, you can get email updates with new deals daily.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orange Julius

Thanks to my eldest, we keep pretty stocked in the fresh squeezed orange juice department.  He has got a love for gadgets and has taken a liking in to my grandma's simple little electric juicer.  I can't believe that thing is keeping up!

The orange juice is amazing, but straight juice can be a little hard on the system in quantity. So I formulated this healthy beverage that is more balanced and nourishing.

I have been using coconut milk because we got two fresh coconuts in our bountiful basket last week.  You could use almond milk or whole milk.  The egg adds extra creaminess, flavor and beefs up the snack.  I have read about raw egg whites blocking absorption of B vitamins, so you may want to research that to decide if you want to leave that out.  Sweetener is also optional, it is not entirely necessary, but if you have a sweet tooth, a little bit of maple syrup or coconut sugar makes it a nice treat.  I have found that honey is hard to incorporate with cold things.

I haven't had a real Orange Julius in more than 10 years. It is probably more accurate to say this is my first real orange julius since the establishment serves something that is hardly real.  It is made with orange juice concentrate and a lot of powders.  One is called a "flavor enhancer" and contains;  Modified whey solids, maltodextrin, egg white solids, sugar, karaya gum, natural and artificial flavors, corn syrup solids, guar gum, modified food starch, dipotassium phosphate, titanium dioxide, xanthan gum, dextrose.  Yikes!! Apparently much of this stuff is illegal in Canada because the chain has to use a different formula there which only has six of the fourteen ingredients.

2 eggs
1 cup orange juice
1 cup milk or yogurt
1 cup ice
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
maple syrup or coconut sugar(optional)

Blend all ingredients well and serve.

We got a Magic Bullet from my mother in law for Christmas and it makes these extremely well :)
links; Simple Lives Thursday, Cooking Thursday, Things I Love ThursdayFiner Things Friday, Frugal Friday, Fightback Friday, Recipe Swap, Fresh Bites Friday.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kale Chips

I have these 3 big kale plants in my garden, my side salads a couple times a week were not making a dent in them.  I remembered hearing about cooking it up in the oven into crispy chips.  One afternoon I made a batch with my 5 year old, Brik, who loves to help in the kitchen.  Brik has been looking for something that he can make and sell like his big brother.  I told him that after we finished the first batch he would need to eat a serving to see if it tasted good because he can only sell things that are yummy :)

He agreed that it did, he has made a few batches on his own and has earned $5.  Here is his very own instructional video;

links; Fightback Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie Friday, Frugal Friday, Finer Things Friday, Recipe Swap
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