I can’t lie – it can be tough living a healthy lifestyle. It can be downright confusing, even frustrating at times. Everyday there is something new to learn, something that you shouldn’t be eating, or should be eating, or something you once thought you should be eating, but shouldn’t anymore. It never ends. Bottom line is that unhealthy foods (sugar, processed foods, chemicals, additives etc.) are the reason why people are sicker and even fatter than ever before. How do you know what’s really good for you and what’s just junk food disguising itself as healthy? Check out some of these so-called health food products that may have had you fooled.
5 ‘Health Food’ Products to Avoid
It should really be called, “Sugarwater”. The first two ingredients in Vitaminwater are actually sugar and water. Go figure. The sugar they use in Vitaminwater is called crystalline fructose, a processed sweetener that has been linked to health problems. The sugar content of this drink is seriously disturbing. If you drink a bottle of Vitaminwater, you are actually ingesting 33 grams of sugar – that’s a little over 8 teaspoons in one serving (remember every 4g of sugar is equal to 1 tsp)! The “vitamins” in Vitaminwater, are not really vitamins. They are synthetic, meaning they are made by man. They are not the same vitamins our body can utilize as if we were getting the vitamins from our food. For much healthier options check out these recipes:
2. FroYo (Frozen Yogurt Shops)
Please don’t do it, don’t give into the hype! Frozen yogurt is a highly processed product.
I know, so sad, I can actually hear hearts breaking right now. These cute little frozen yogurt shops that keep popping up everywhere you turn…but don’t be fooled. Just because it’s “yogurt” does not mean it’s healthy. So, even though these little shops are fun and cute they are still serving highly processed dairy products with harmful additives like these:
- Guar gum
- Sodium citrate
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Cellulose gum
- Disodium phosphate
- Red Dye 40
Eek!!! That’s just to name a few! These are actually the ingredients I saw at our local FroYo shop.
What do you do instead? Instead get yourself some good plain Greek yogurt (Greek works best because it’s nice and thick) and instead of being sweetened with chemicals you can sweeten with maple syrup, raw honey or Stevia. And if you feel you’re missing out on the fun topping assortments they have at those shops, make your own little assortment using chopped nuts (pecans are my favorite), seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower), dark chocolate, granola, dried and or fresh fruits.
3. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
Regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more added sugar, and that is because they took out some of the fat, so they needed to replace it with something. Don’t be scared of fat. Every cell in our body depends on fat, good fats that is, and peanut butter is a natural source of this healthy fat “monounsaturated”.
Instead look for an organic peanut butter and if you want to sweeten it, stir in a bit of honey or maple syrup.
4. Energy Bars
Convenience does come at a cost. Most commercial energy bars are nothing more than candy bars with a few nutrients thrown in (which are most likely synthetic) and contain ingredients are bad for you like soy protein, gluten, chemicals, preservatives and other nasty hard-to-pronounce fillers.
There is good news here. There are a few good energy/protein bars that I have seen. You just have to read your labels, the fewer ingredients the better. Another good alternative to these energy bars is to make your own.
5. Fooled by Fat Free
Often times we see these labels (Fat Free) and we automatically think that these products are healthier choices than the ones without that label. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there too. Unfortunately that’s not really the case. If you think about it, if all the fat is removed from something, a lot of the taste of the product will be removed along with it (because good fat just tastes yummy). So what do the big food giants do to compensate? They add other ingredients like sugars, flours, chemicals, fillers and salt. These ingredients add the flavor back in, while keeping the calorie count high.
Fat free may sound like a healthy choice, but the reality is that our bodies need fat. And it’s not so much the amount of fat you eat that’s important it’s really the type of fat. Remember, there are good fats, and bad fats! When it comes to your health you need to be consuming the good fats which are things like coconut oil, ghee, raw nuts, avocados, and pastured free-range eggs.
There are many more junk foods masquerading around looking like health foods, which other ones have you been fooled by?
Nuts like organic walnuts are one of nature’s richest foods. They have good quality protein and are even higher in fats (as oils) than seeds. Nuts make a perfect easy, filling, snack on the go. But don’t think all nuts are created equal. Roasted and salted are best avoided. The salt is not needed and roasting affects the oils and decreases the B vitamin and mineral content. With that in mind, beware of places that dish up the salted nuts, such as bars or airplanes. Eating nuts in their most organic, raw form is best. And, while all nuts have a bunch of nutritious properties, today the spotlight is on organic walnuts.
8 Health Benefits of Organic Walnuts
- Walnuts contain a high level antioxidant, called polyphenols. These protect the body from molecules that damage the tissue.
- The abundant amounts of omega-3s, including alpha-linoleic acid, are shown to help improve a variety of cardiovascular functions like blood pressure, and blood clots.
- They are great for brain health, containing a number of neuro-protective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. It’s no wonder that this nut looks like a brain!
- Walnuts help reduce risk of breast and prostate cancers.
- They’re good for weight control – just a handful will give you longer lasting energy.
- Walnuts contain melatonin which is a compound that helps induce sleep.
- They’re great stress fighting properties.
- Walnuts contain biotin which helps strengthen hair, and can also help reduce hair loss and improve hair growth.
Recipes with Organic Walnuts:
Savory Organic Walnut Spread Recipe
- 1/2 cup organic walnuts
- 1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 clove of garlic chopped
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Toast ½ cup of walnuts in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Blend with a chopped clove of garlic, a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, the juice of 1 lemon, and sea salt and pepper. Serve with veggies or crackers.
- 2-4 cups organic walnuts
- Filtered water
- Sea salt
In a large glass bowl add your walnut, sprinkle a little sea salt, and then pour filtered or purified water over the walnuts so they are completely covered. Leave them to soak overnight or up to 10 hours. Drain them well then store in jars or storage containers and store in the fridge for up to a week. Also if you have a dehydrator you can dry them on low heat or (nut seed setting) until slightly crispy, and store them. Use them like you would any recipes or just for a perfect easily digestible snack!
Chocolate Energy Balls Recipe
- 2 cups organic walnuts (soaked or raw)
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large food processor, process the organic walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil/ghee, cacao, vanilla and sea salt, and process again until sticky (forms a ball and comes off the sides).
Form dough into 1-2″ balls, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then stick them in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life. I like them frozen the best! You can also press the dough into a pan lined with parchment paper and freeze, then cut into bars.
6 More Tips for How to Use Organic Walnuts in Recipes
- Chop them up and add to yogurt with some fresh fruit.
- Make a grain free granola.
- Sprinkle on top of hot cereal.
- Soak them to make them more easily digestible.
- Nice crunchy addition to any salad.
- Throw into your smoothies for a boost of good fats.
Do you eat organic walnuts? What is your favorite way to eat organic walnuts?
The little pale seed we know as the kidney-shaped cashew “nut” is slightly sweet, delicate in flavor, and firm, but slightly spongy, in texture, which is what makes this nut so versatile in the kitchen. I have organic cashews on hand at all times. I make cashew milk, smoothies, granola, cookies, sauces and even mayonnaise. The cashew is one of my favorite staples to use in the kitchen! Plus these recipes are great for vegan and dairy free diets!
Before I get to the recipes here are 4 quick health benefits organic cashews can offer:
1. Cashews are high in copper which is helps play a role in elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment.
2. Just a handful or two of raw cashews a day is equivalent to one dose of Prozac for mild depression.
3. Cashews have tryptophan with the essential amino acid L-tryptophan which is broken down into anxiety-reducing, snooze-inducing niacin. Even more important, tryptophan is also made into serotonin, one of your body’s most important neurotransmitters. Serotonin gives you that, good mood feeling.
4. Cashews are also high in magnesium which is great for heart health and building strong bones.
They are also usually more affordable than other nuts as well.
Uses & Recipes for Organic Cashews:
Cashew Milk Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups soaked raw cashews
- 3 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons raw honey or pure maple syrup (more or less to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
- A pinch of sea salt
Throw all the ingredients in your blender and blend for 3 minutes. Pour into a container and keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
* To soak, cover cashews with filtered water and let sit for 2-4 hours, if you let them soak too long they may get mushy.
- 1/2 raw cashews
- 1/4 cup milk (can use unsweetened coconut, almond, cashew or cow’s milk)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup avocado oil (or olive oil)
Combine the milk, cashews, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in blender and puree. With the blender still running add the oil in a very slow and steady stream until the mixture is thick and creamy. Makes about 3/4 cup and keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Use as you would any mayo!
Cashew Balls (2 Ingredients) Recipe
These are great for a quick snack for the kids’ lunch. You can add any other ingredients to them or even roll them in coconut flakes! This is a quick base recipe!
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 10-12 medjool dates (pitted, trust me – they can ruin your blades)
Throw in your food processor and blend until the mixture starts to stick together. Form into little balls or even bars!
Cashew Cream Recipe
This is much like making cashew milk. Only using less water. You can personalize cashew cream with any spices or sweeteners you like. Add honey and pour it over a bowl of strawberries. You can use it when recipes calls for heavy cream. It’s also good as a dip or a topping on tacos! You can also spread it on your sandwiches instead of mayo or use it as a dressing. The options are endless. Here is a base recipe.
- 1 ½ cups raw unsalted cashews
- ¾ cup filtered water, plus more for soaking
- ½ – 1 teaspoon sea salt
Place the cashews in a bowl and fill with filtered water at least an inch above the cashews. Allow the cashews to soak for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Drain and rinse the cashews well.
Place the cashews and filtered water in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until desired consistency.
Your cashew cream will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can be frozen for up to 6 months. If you choose to freeze it, be sure to run it through the blender really quickly after you defrost it to eliminate any lumps.
- For a sweet cream, add pure vanilla extract, salt, and sweetener (if using ¾ cup water, add 1/8 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Also add 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, or a pinch of stevia, or a few dates.)
- For a savory vegan cream, add a little salt and perhaps juice from half a lemon, miso, fresh or dried herbs, etc.
How do you use organic cashews in the kitchen?
Celebrate the luck of the Irish with these organic recipes. for St. Paddy’s Day They might be nontraditional, but they sure will bring a bit o’ fun (and green) to your day!
Three Organic Recipes For St. Patrick’s Day
Upgrade the Snamrock Shake! This nutrient dense green smoothie is reminiscent of a creamsicle. Except in this smoothie you get all the health benefits with none of the guilt!
- 1/2 cup organic Greek yogurt (can try coconut cream to make it dairy free, or another dairy free yogurt option)
- 1 cup organic greens (kale, spinach or combo of both)
- 1 tablespoon raw honey or more to taste
- 1/2 frozen chopped organic banana
- 1 medium to large organic orange
- 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk (almond, coconut milk work well)
- 1 cup of ice
- 1 tablespoon organic chia or flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon of melted organic coconut oil (pour in slowly while blender is going, to make sure it mixes well)
In blender throw all the ingredients and blend until smooth. That’s it!
This soup is so quick and easy to make, it’s all made in a high powered blender (Vitamix or Blendtec). You can modify this to your liking – using different vegetables, and spices if you would like. It’s a perfect green meal for St. Patty’s Day.
- 1/2 pounds organic asparagus spears, cooked (could also use broccoli or a combo of both)
- 1/2 cup organic half and half or whole organic milk
- 1/2 tsp organic garlic powder
- Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Organic sour cream or crème fraiche
- Place asparagus and chicken broth into the Vitamix container and secure lid.
- Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to High.
- Blend for 6 minutes or until hot. Reduce to low speed; remove lid plug.
- Add half and half through the lid plug opening. Blend for 10 seconds.
- Season with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and serve.
Kale Chips Recipe
These are a great St. Paddy’s Day snack. Not only are they green, but they are packed full of nutrients!
- 1 large bunch of organic kale (tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces)
- 1 tablespoon organic avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil, or melted coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400°F.
- If kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel; transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic, and pepper. Using your hands, massage the oil and spices to evenly coat. Fill 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap. (If the kale won’t all fit, make the chips in batches.)
- Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 12 minutes total (make sure you check to make sure they don’t burn)
What are your favorite organic recipes for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you have any good and/or healthy traditional or nontraditional organic recipes you make?
We might all agree that maple syrup is definitely one of our favorite staples to make a breakfast perfect. Who doesn’t like drowning our pancakes or waffles in it ? When I was little I would make sure I poured my syrup into every little indent! Nothing made breakfast taste as delicious as maple syrup did. But, did you know that you can you can use maple syrup for more than just breakfast? Turns out you can use it in savory cooking dishes, baking, and much more!
Let’s make sure we get something straight, first. Pure maple syrup is not to be confused with “breakfast syrups” or “pancake syrups” like Mrs. Butterworth’s, Aunt Jemima, or pretty much anything you get at a diner or a fast food restaurant. Those are not made from the sap of maple trees, but from high fructose corn syrup and other flavor compounds. American labeling laws prevent these imitations from carrying the word “maple” on their labels, but unfortunately people are still fooled nonetheless.
Maple syrup currently comes in Grade A and Grade B varieties. Grade A is lighter in color and in flavor while Grade B is darker, richer and more flavorful. It’s the one food I can think of where Grade Be is more desirable than Grade A! This is changing, however. In 2014, Vermont adopted a new grading system for maple syrup. It will be fully implemented in 2015 so you’ll soon start seeing new labeling on pure maple syrup. All maple syrup will be identified as Grade A but they will be distinguised by color so you’ll see Grade A Golden, Grade A Amber, and Grade A Dark.
The Golden maple syrup is the lightest in color. It has a very mild maple flavor slightly thinner than the other two. Good for drizzling over pancakes or for adding to cocktails
The Amber maple syrup is one grade darker in color and has more flavor and is thicker like honey. Also good and what I prefer on pancakes, or toppings on ice cream or other desserts.
The Dark maple syrup is still darker and has a deep, rich maple flavor and is usually very thick. This is the best to use in baking and cooking but can also be used on pancakes and dessert toppings.
7 Tips for Cooking with Maple Syrup:
- Mix maple syrup with an equal amount of Dijon mustard and use the mixture to glaze baked ham, roast pork or baked salmon fillets.
- Drizzle a little warm maple syrup on cooked vegetables (examples: mini carrots, wedges of squash, or slices of parsnip) to add decadent sweetness.
- Drizzle a little maple syrup on top of a spicy soup to balance its heat.
- Make a tasty vinaigrette to dress about 8 to 10 servings of organic salad greens by whisking together 3 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup olive oil, with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
- Drizzle over plain Greek yogurt for a bit of sweetness, top with berries or nuts.
- Add a tablespoon or two to your smoothies (especially pairs well with banana and nut or nut butters).
- Warm or cold, it makes a wonderful sauce for ice cream; sprinkled with a few chopped nuts.
How to substitute maple syrup for sugar in baking:
In baking, replace 1 cup of white sugar with 3/4 cup of maple syrup and reduce by 3 tablespoons the other liquid content in the recipe for every cup of maple syrup used. Because maple syrup is brown and granulated sugar is white, this replacement will darken your baked goods and cause them to brown quicker.
Maple Syrup Recipes from shopOrganic:
What is your favorite use for maple syrup? Do you use it in other ways than just for breakfast?
Despite what you might believe, starting out your day with an organic breakfast is actual easy to do! You can find almost anything organic these days, including cereal, oats, nuts, fruit, eggs, bacon, pancake/muffin mixes, yogurt, and so on. Don’t think that just by starting to eat organically means you have to give up your old foods. Quite the opposite, you can still eat your favorite breakfast dishes, but now just healthier versions of them!
Here are five easy organic breakfast ideas to help get you started and hopefully inspire you to create your own organic meals!
Scrambles are a go-to dish in my family. Quick, easy, and on the table in no time. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand, fresh or frozen. Sauté them up in organic coconut oil then add organic eggs and you’re done!
2. Chocolate Smoothies
These are my kids’ favorite breakfast currently. Smoothies are a great, quick way to get nutritious nutrients into your kids before school.
- 2/3 cup raw cashew nuts
- 2 cups filter water
- 1 cup ice
- 3 large frozen bananas
- 4-6 pitted dates (or to your desired sweetness)
- 1 big handful of organic greens (kale, spinach) optional but will provide minerals and good source of folate.
- 3 Tablespoons raw organic cacao powder
- 1 Tablespoon organic coconut oil melted
- 1 tsp organic cinnamon
- A pinch of Himalayan sea salt
- *for a little spicy kick add a few dashes of cayenne powder!
Throw all the ingredients, except the melted coconut oil, into a high power blender and let it go until you get your desired consistency then slowly poor in the coconut oil. Add more ice or more liquid for a thicker or thinner smoothie.
3. Overnight Oats
Once you make this, you will never go back to cooking your oats on the stove. This is so quick and easy and the options are endless!!
- ½ c old-fashioned oats
- 1 c milk of choice (cow, almond or coconut)
- ½ c berries of choice
- 2 Tbsp. nuts of choice
- 1 Tbsp. Maple syrup or raw honey
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning!
Not only are organics good for you, they taste good too. There are many organic pancake mix brands to choose from, here are a few of my favorites.
- Nature’s Path Organic Buttermilk Pancake Mix
- Bob’s Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix
- Wholesome Chow Organic GF High-Protein Pancake Mix
- Pure Pantry Organic GF Pancake & Baking Mix
Granola is always a great way to start your day. It’s quick, easy and very versatile. You can have it cold with your choice of milk, throw some fresh berries in it, or you can use it as a topping on your hot oatmeal or Greek yogurt! And of course you can have it in bar form too! Some good organic granola options are:
- Nature’s Path Organic Granola
- GoRaw Organic Simple Granola
- From the Fields Organic Cereal & Granola
- Two Moms in the Raw Organic GF Granola
- 18 Rabbits Organic Gracious Granola
And there you have it! Five organic breakfast ideas to start your day right! What are your favorite organic breakfast meals?
With the cold air and breezy winds, our skin takes quite a beating during the cold dry winter months. Chapped skin and lips are no fun, so how do we keep our skin moisturized all winter long? I have a few organic body care recipes I like to keep on hand, especially during the winter when we need to take extra special care of our skin.
You will find that I use coconut oil in all these recipes. There is no doubt in my mind that coconut oil is best skin care product you can use. That being said, a small amount of people are allergic to coconut oil, and can show irritation. Its stability, antimicrobial properties, moisture retaining capacity makes it an ideal protective agent against dry skin and cracking of the skin. Pair this with vitamin-E and it will add to this property greatly.
3 DIY Organic Body Care Recipes
This is a great all body moisturizer from head to feet to help protect you from the cold dry months. I would recommend putting this on right when you get out of the shower, which will help it to absorb into your skin better.
- 1/4 cup shea butter (It has natural antibacterial properties and is great for preventing stretch marks, for wound healing, and as an anti-aging treatment for skin. It naturally has an SPF of about 5)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup jojoba oil (you could use olive oil or almond oil)
- 1/4 cup cocoa butter
- Optional: 10-20 drops of essential oil. Peppermint, lavender, chamomile, tea tree
- Few Drops of Vitamin E
Gently melt and stir over medium-low heat until the mixture is liquid. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to partially set up. I usually stick it in the fridge and check every 10 minutes. Once the mixture is partially set, add the essential oils of your choice, and whip with a hand mixer or mixer (until the body butter is fluffy and stiff peaks have formed.) Spoon into your favorite container. I like to use mason jars.
Chap stick/Lip Balm Recipe
Don’t throw away your old chap stick containers…clean them out and save them to make your own healthy, organic chopsticks. This recipe is so simple and quick. My kids love to personalize them with their own choice of essential oils.
- 4 tsp Organic Coconut oil
- 2 tsp beeswax (used as a natural thickening agent)
- Add in: 1-2 drops of essential oils, we like peppermint and chamomile
- 6-8 drops of vitamin E
You can do this over stove top in a small double boiler pan, or you can do this with a glass measuring cup. Just slowly melt coconut oil, add in beeswax stir until combine and melted. Take off heat… let cool and add in essential oils and vitamin E. Pour into containers. I like to stick them in the fridge until ready.
Face Cream Recipe
- Coconut Oil
For most people, pure coconut oil is all that is needed for moisturizing the face. It is naturally full of collagen supporting lauric acid and is easily absorbed by the skin. Even for oily and acne prone skin, coconut oil’s natural anti-bacterial properties make it a great option.
I always put a tiny scoop on right after I wash my face or shower. I like to keep a jar of it in my bathroom, so I don’t forget.
4 More Tips for Healthy Winter Skin
- Pass on hot showers. I know nothing sounds better than hoping into a nice hot shower when you come in from the cold, hot water dries out our skin and strips it of our natural oils. Instead try a luke warm shower and limit that too 5-10 minutes.
- Water. Water is naturally hydrating, so keep up on your water during the winter months as well. Aim for 8 glasses of water a day.
- Thermostat. When our home is too hot, it can make the air even drier. Keeping the thermostat at a comfortable temperature between 68-72 degrees F will help protect your skin.
- Change out of wet clothes. Wearing wet clothes and shoes can irritate your skin and cause, redness and itchiness. Make sure to remove wet gloves, socks, and pants as soon as possible.
If you don’t want to make your own products try these:
- Nourish – Organic Body Butter
- Andalou – Lavender Shea Hand Cream
- DeVita – Perfecting Time Moisturizer
- Dr. Bronner’s – Organic Lip Balm
What do you use to keep your skin protected from the winter cold?
Have you thought about starting your own organic garden? There are so many benefits to starting your own organic garden: it’s cost effective, especially when you plant the vegetables you buy and use most in your home; it helps reduce the toxic chemicals and pesticides that we get from conventional foods, and you don’t have to worry about what kind of fertilizers and pesticides they are spraying on your crops; and it’s really a wonderful tool for your family, especially if you have young children, get them involved!
Here are 3 easy ways to start your own organic garden:
1. Kitchen Window Herb Garden
If you are new to gardening and want to see what all the fuss is about. Start small. Try growing a few herbs right in your kitchen. You can even just start with one or two plants! For growing herbs in your kitchen. It’s best to have a south-facing window that gets direct sunlight for at least 4-6 hours per day during the winter. If you don’t receive that much light, use supplemental lighting such as florescent shop bulbs to ensure proper growth of the herbs during the winter.
When you’re taking care of your new herbs, don’t forget the most common killer of houseplants: not enough water. To monitor the thirstiness of your plants, poke your finger into the soil once every 3-4 days. If the soil feels dry, it is time to water.
Some good choices for your window herb garden: parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and winter savory and peppermint.
2. Raised Beds
I’m a big fan of raised-bed gardening. This is what we do in our family. Here are some reasons you might want to consider raised beds as well:
- More control over the location of the garden, you can pick a good spot which gets the best sun.
- Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants.
- More efficient draining.
- Because the beds are raised it can be easier on your back and knees due to less bending and stooping.
- Easier to keep out weeds (one of my favorite reasons).
- The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season.
- Better ability to keep out ground-dwelling pests (chicken wire is great at keeping moles away).
- Perfect for kids who like to help in the garden.
Head over to This Old House to learn how to build your own raised bed.
3. Container Gardening
Container gardening is wonderful for people who live in the city or apartments without a yard. No yard is no excuse for why you cannot grow your own food. Containers come in every size…you can use small ones for your windows, larger ones for your porch, deck, or balcony, or you can hang them too! Containers also make it easier for you to control the soil, light, water and fertilizer.
Some Important Tips for Container Gardening:
1. Go Bigger
The greatest challenge of container vegetable growing is watering, because the soil dries out faster in pots than in the ground. A bigger container or pot will help it not dry out as fast, so get the biggest you can fit in your particular space. It’s fine to mix compatible plants in a single large pot. Make certain that any container has holes so excess water can drain away from the soil.
2. Watering is Key
Those “self-watering” containers have a reservoir beneath the soil topped with a grid through which the roots can reach down to the water. With these containers you won’t have to water as often, but you still have to be careful and watch to keep it filled. And in the hot summer, mature plants will empty that reservoir fast, so you may have to fill it daily. To help, try spreading some mulch over the soil in pots just as you would in a garden, to keep moisture from evaporating.
3. Start with Herbs
They are easy, especially if you begin with transplants, and will add a fresh-grown taste to almost any meal. Just remember to give them the conditions they prefer. All herbs need full sun, but some, such as rosemary, prefer dryer soil and fewer nutrients; basil needs more fertilizer and watering.
4. Move it
What is good about containers is that you can move them. In the morning you can stick them in the sunshine, and just keep moving them to follow the sun. It might take some remembering on your part but with a container garden you’ll have a lot of options.
Additional Resources to Help You Start an Organic Garden:
- How to Start Your Own Organic Garden
- Starting an Organic Garden: The Top 4 Benefits
- Make the Most of Your Organic Garden: How to Use/Freeze Zucchini
- Find a Community Garden in Your Area (perfect for people who have no room or space at home, and excellent for the community)
Have you started your own organic garden yet? What was the easiest or hardest part for you?
I don’t think there is anything better than waking up to a yummy smelling breakfast. Don’t even get me started on breakfast in bed! Nothing screams “I LOVE YOU” more than an organic breakfast in bed! Here are a few ideas that you can make for your sweetie.
This one is a quick, no fuss recipe, and you can serve it so many different ways. It may be fun to do a little breakfast bar in bed with 5 little cups of different toppings for your loved one to choose from.
Dutch Baby Recipe
- 3/4 cup flour (you can used gluten free flour )
- 3/4 cup milk (cow, nut or coconut milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, ghee or coconut oil
Preheat your oven to 425. In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients except butter together until smooth (sometimes if I’m in a hurry I just throw it all in my blender). In a cast iron pan add the butter and place the pan in the oven and let butter melt while preheating. When done preheating add your mixture to the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until your Dutch Baby has puffed and is golden brown. Serve warm with whatever toppings you like.
Some Topping Ideas:
- Fresh cut fruit – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
- Nut butters like almond, cashew, peanut butter or a chocolate hazelnut would be delicious.
- Maple syrup or powdered sugar.
Sweet Potatoes and Eggs Recipe
- 3 teaspoons organic ghee, butter or coconut oil
- 1 large sweet potato or yam, washed + ends cut (if you don’t like sweet potatoes you can use russet or red)
- 3 large pastured eggs
- shredded cheddar cheese, or other sharp cheese
- salt and pepper
Grate your potato. Heat a 9”-10” skillet that is oven safe over medium heat and add your choice of fat. Once pan is hot, place the sweet potato in the pan and stir frequently until done to your liking. Usually takes about 8-12 minutes.
Set your oven to broil on high. Spread the sweet potato evenly around the pan and create 3 small wells for the eggs. Crack eggs one at a time and pour into each well. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the white just starts to solidify and turn opaque. Sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler, watching closely, until eggs are cooked to your liking.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Goes great with bacon and fresh fruit!
While it’s okay to splurge on special occasions with richer, fattening foods, you might consider using breakfast in bed as a time to show you care about someone’s health.
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 Handful of spinach or kale
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/2 cup liquid of choice (any juice or milk of choice)
- 1/2 cup water
- Ice (if I use frozen fruit then I don’t add much ice, if any)
*Sweetener – if you are like me and still like to add a little sweetness to it, I usually add a few drops of some vanilla stevia or a scoop of raw honey and sometimes a few dates (dates require a super blender).
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend to your preferred consistency.
5 Tips for the Perfect Breakfast in Bed
- Try hiding a poem, a card or a small flat gift under a plate.
- If you don’t have a breakfast-in-bed tray, fold a table cloth in half and lay it down. A nice basket filled with hand-held items like muffins, fruit and the morning paper can provide an elegant low-crumb experience.
- Breakfast in bed isn’t much fun if you don’t have time to leisurely enjoy it. So if you decide to serve breakfast pick a day when they will have plenty of time to eat their breakfast and savor the experience.
- Layer on the extra touches. Use your best china and silverware. Present the meal with a linen napkin. Put a chocolate on the tray or flowers.
- Save time in the morning by using a mix or premixing whatever you can the night before. Most muffin batters can be mixed the night before and stored in the refrigerator.
Even More Ideas for Breakfast in Bed:
- Pancakes are always easy—especially with a mix. You can make them special with a topping or by adding something as a filling. Cranberries, nuts, applesauce, or chocolate chips are popular considerations.
- French toast is always easy. Add a little extra cinnamon or nutmeg and maybe some vanilla extract or orange flavoring.
- Scrambled eggs can be quick and easy. Make it special with bacon bits and cheddar, or sausage, or sautéed vegetables. Nearly anything that you can do to an omelet, you can do to scrambled eggs.
- Strawberries and crème fraiche make for an elegant but easy breakfast dish.
- Pick a granola that he or she likes and serve it as a cereal or a parfait with yogurt.
- Cut fresh fruit and present it in an attractive bowl or on a platter.
- Pick up hot bagels and different flavors of cream cheese.
- Try broiling a grapefruit half topped with a sprinkling of brown sugar.
Have you have had an organic breakfast in bed? What was your favorite item served?
Do you find yourself depressed during the fall and winter months? Do you feel a lack of interest in activities, or feel socially withdrawn? Maybe you tend to gain weight or have a loss of appetite. These are all possible symptoms of having the winter blues also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). No fear, I’m here to give you few tips on what organic foods you can eat to help you with your winter blues!
Organic Foods for the Winter Blues
Leafy greens are packed with magnesium, iron, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. They are also a wonderful source of phytonutrients, helping boost the mood and prevent anxiety. Eat them lightly sautéed, throw them in your smoothie, or eat them raw in a salad.
Eggs, fish, shell fish and yogurt are all excellent choices, all of which have a ton of vitamin B12. When we are deficient in B12, we are more prone to winter blues and depression. B12 is commonly found in animal proteins. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll find B12 in nutritional yeast and in fortified non-dairy milks.
Onions are a high source of antioxidants, not only that they also help to lower stress and inflammation. Onions are also full of vitamin C, which help boost a good mood and prevent depression.
Research has shown that dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa kicks in the production of certain chemicals believed to up the levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter similar to adrenaline in that it helps block different kinds of pain. So when you’re down, pick up a bar with the highest cocoa content you can find and start feeling better instantly. Dark chocolate also lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
Navel oranges contain about 60% (more than milk) of your daily calcium requirements. Calcium is a critical nutrient needed for preventing stress and depression. Oranges and leafy greens’ are a much healthier way to get your calcium requirements, and they are full of other nutrients as well. Oranges are especially high in Vitamin B6 and folate, two critical nutrients for preventing unfavorable moods and depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been praised for their numerous health benefits, including possibly influencing your moods. One study from the University of Pittsburgh found that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to experience moderate or mild symptoms of depression. The highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, and flax seed/flax seed oil.
Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan (like turkey), which lowers stress, prevents depression, and helps with anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly high in protein. They are one of the only seeds to promote alkalinity in the body, which fights inflammation due to stress and a poor diet.
Other Alternatives for Easing the Winter Blues
The kind of vitamin D I’m talking about is the sunshine (unfortunately there are not many food sources with Vitamin D). Yes, it’s not a food, but it’s worth mentioning here. Vitamin D, has been linked to huge increases in immunity as well as lowering depression symptoms. The best way is to be out in the sunshine. If you are lacking in sun, I would talk to your health care professional about a good Vitamin D3 supplement.
As with other forms of depression, exercise can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder. Outdoor exercise will be most helpful. If you can’t exercise outside because it’s cold, rainy or snowy, choose the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine nearest the window at the gym, or exercise in the comforts of your own home. Do what you can, no excuses. Exercise will also help offset the weight gain that is common with the winter blues.
Have you ever experienced the winter blues? If so, what are your favorite ways to make yourself feel better?