Friday, March 30, 2012

Broccoli Sprouts

Last week, I caught myself spending a bit too much time perusing through the internet trying to find the perfect price on seeds for sprouting.  Luckily, I have come to a place in life where I am aware of when I pushing myself to the brink of obsession and know when to stop now.  My problem..the natural foods co-op offered a pound of alfalfa seeds for sprouting at the best price, but delivery time wasn't soon enough for me.  Whether it be broccoli or alfalfa, I must have sprouts with my tomatoes!!  It's one of my many quirks :).

Then, I had one of those "ah, ha" moments.  Duh, have a ton of broccoli in the front yard going to seed! With some good planning, the seeds can be dried and sprouted just in time for the first round of tomatoes.  Here's how...

I have a garden full of broccoli looking like this and attracting bees like crazy, so I haven't cleared it out yet.

A closer look shows all the cool little seed pods shouting off each flower stem.

As they get large enough, you just pick them off and let them dry in the sun.

Or, if you have more patience than me.  You can wait until the whole stem is covered in pods that are ready, and just pluck the entire stem and let it dry out.  Either way :)

When they are dry, you will break the pods open and collect your seeds.

Broccoli sprouts are the most nutrient dense sprouts you can consume.  One ounce of broccoli sprouts contains 4% of the recommended daily value of dietary fiber, 15% of the recommended amount of vitamin C, and 2% of the recommended intake of calcium.  Studies have even shown they sprouts contain an anti-cancer compound called sulforaphane.  Healthy and delicious...who wouldn't want to eat these everyday?!?!?
Keep an eye out for the next post on how to sprout them...I can't wait!!

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade Butter

One of the class experiments that my kids rave about for months after they experience it is always butter-making.  It will usually be around the Fall and either their teacher or one of those really fun moms will bring in baggies or little jars of cream for the kids to shake up until it turns into a beautiful, luscious, creamy BUTTER!!!   I have I mentioned that I adore butter!   

Butter has gotten a pretty bad rap over the years.  Contrary to popular belief, it actually contains nutrients that are GOOD for your heart like Vitamin A, Vitamin K, antioxidants and lecithin.  The kicker...the levels of these vitamins are very low in the average stick of butter found on the grocery store shelf.  If you are looking for a healthy version of butter, buy grass-fed.  

Why grass-fed?  Because in some grain-fed butters, these vitamins are lacking completely.  High levels of these vitamins can be found in grass-fed butters.  Do a quick experiment at home.  Buy a stick of grass-fed and one of the regular grocery store sticks.  Open them up and look at the color.  This in itself will show you the major difference.  

Why is the grass-fed so yellow?  It's the higher levels of carotene and Vitamin A (like carrots).  I think it is so fun that the level of vitamins is actually visible to the eye!!!  Quality grass-fed butter comes from cows that eat a more nutrient rich diet.  They are eating what God designed them to eat--grass.

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate--bringing forth food from the earth...   Psalms 104:14 

You can find grass-fed (pastured) butter in most grocery stores.  I just made my own, because I had some grass-fed cream that needed to be used up's fun!


Are you ready for's the hardest thing ever (just kidding).

Pour cream into bowl.  Beat with mixer until the fat separates from the liquid (past the stage of whipped cream).  Strain off the liquid (buttermilk) and Enjoy!!!

I used the buttermilk to make some muffins, and then put the butter on the muffins...heaven!!!

Happy Butter Making!! 

Here's a qui    

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Exciting News!!

I got the confirmation this morning...Big Life, Little Garden is now affliated with Blendtec!!  That means that our readers will be the first to know about all the great deals and any fun going-ons at Blendtec.  That also means lots of fun posts on how to use a Blendtec if you have one!  If you don't have one, as of this morning, you can purchase one right through Big Life, Little Garden!! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

Back when I was pretty much nothing short of a mall-rat give or take a few years in the maturity department at the ripe age of 26, one of my favorite things about the mall was the soft pretzels.  I think I used the excuse that I was sharing it with my daughter, so the impact they had on my hips (never mind my health) was somehow if a nine-month-old made that much of a dent in my caloric intake.

I still get hit with an occasional craving for one of those warm, melt in your mouth delights, and this recipe is just the thing to satisfy.  The kids love them in their lunches too!!  Throw in a veggie and some good, raw cheese and they are on cloud nine thinking they got something extra special for the day.


  • 1 1/8 cups Water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 3 cups Whole White Wheat Flour (fresh milled, organic if you have access)
  • 3 tablespoons Honey (raw and local)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 quarts Water
  • 1/2 cup Baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons Butter, melted (organic)
  • Coarse Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 425

Mix together first four ingredients.  Knead for 10 minutes (by hand or can use dough hook on stand 


Let rise until double in size.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface.

Divide dough into eight balls.  Roll each into a 20-in. rope; 

Form into pretzel shape

In a saucepan, bring water and baking soda to a boil.   Drop pretzels into boiling water, one at a time; boil for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. 

Place pretzels on greased baking sheets or a wired rack over a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. 

Lightly brush with butter. Sprinkle with salt.  Enjoy!!

Happy Monday!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

For many, buying 100% organic is not an option either due to availability or budget constraints.  In either of these cases, knowing which fruits and veggies are most or least contaminated in the growing process provides excellent ammunition when trying to make decisions while grocery shopping. 

I got this list from EWG.  The Enviromental Working Group is a Washington DC based team made up of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers who make it their sole purpose to "use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment".  Check them out on  Their website has all types of great information!!

What are the dirty dozen you ask?  They are the 12 fruits and veggies that leave the consumer most exposed to chemical toxins from pesticides and fertilizers.

This is the most current list in order of contamination--apples being the most contaminated. 
Sweet Bell Peppers
Kale/Collard Greens

What is the Clean Fifteen?  The fifteen fruits and veggies that leave the consumer least exposed to chemical toxins from pesticides and fertilizers.  I'm not saying don't buy these organic, but if the option is not there to buy organic, then "settling" is ok :)  Buying organic whenever possible supports the environment and eliminates your consumption of chemical toxins through your food (which is always a good thing).

Here's the list with mushrooms being the cleanist.
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe - domestic
Sweet potatoes
Happy Shopping!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Transitioning the Garden--Spring Planting

Even though it is so hard to believe that yesterday was the first day of Spring, considering our weather in the high 80's for the past two weeks, I am so excited it's officially here!  We came to the conclusion a few weeks ago that unless God had a seriously different plan, the odds of another frost were right up there with pigs flying (watch us get another frost  So, the Spring plants are in the ground...woohoo!!

Not that I am tired of eating all the yummy winter veggies, but how many different ways to prepare cabbage can a girl come up with?!?!  I am SO ready for some new variety.

I am especially ready for some tomatoes!! 

We loaded up the car last weekend and headed over to the community garden to plant these beauties.

Three rows of them!! I can't wait!!

We ran out of space and had to start pulling onions so we could plant tomatoes in between them.  Sometimes you have to do unconventional things like that to make use of the space you have available.  It always ends up surprising me how pretty mixing the plants can look.  

Another 30 or so tomato plants got a new home in the front yard amongst the broccoli.  As the broccoli goes to seed to collect for sprouting, we will be replacing them with peppers and eggplant...if the tomatoes leave some room :)

We are experimenting with a few new varieties of cucumbers this year, and put those down last weekend as well.

Our experiment with dumping some corn seeds in a pot seems to be working...a little too well.  Aesthetically speaking, I'm a bit nervous about the end result of this one.

Here's what's left of the Winter garden.  They will soon all be replaced with cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, okra, peas, beans, a new round of herbs, ground cherries and tomatoes.  

Farewell Winter, Hello Spring!!!

Happy Planting!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pantry Raid #14: Yogurt

I've put off the yogurt post for a while now thinking most everyone knows that the kind you buy with all the pretty packaging that tastes like something besides yogurt is loaded with all kinds of bad for you sugar and additives.  Then, I look at the grocery store shelves and have to question that thought...obviously, someone is still buying it in large quantities or they wouldn't be reloading all those empty spaces on a nightly basis.

Honestly, I've never in my life looked at the ingredient list on any of the flavored yogurts until just now.  I used to buy them all the time as a substitute for cake or cookies when I was having a craving.  One day, years ago, to cut out the sugar for the kids, I stopped buying them.  Had I read the ingredient list, I think even back then, I would have been shocked.  I cannot believe all of this stuff is added to a container of yogurt.  Here's the ingredient list for a popular low-fat strawberry flavored variety.  I found it on Amazon (had no idea they sold yogurt), because I got all frustrated trying to find any ingredient info on the manufacturer's website.  I always have to wonder why the manufacturers make it so hard to find their ingredient lists.  Even for their more "natural" options, where they advertise no corn syrup or additives...where's the ingredients list??'s the list.

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Strawberries, Modified Corn Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, Aspartame, Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Natural Flavor, Red No. 40, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.

Wow!  I don't even want to know what the key lime pie, apple turnover or red velvet cake flavors have in them.  I did a quick search for the popular Go-gurt sticks that are packed everyday in kids lunches all over the country.  I was shocked at just the sugar content.  There is as much sugar in one of those 2.5 oz stick as there is in the above 6 oz cup.   Just to be a little nerdy, there's 13 grams of sugar per every 2.5 oz.  That's 5.2 g per ounce.  There's 65 g of sugar in a 20 oz Coca Cola.  That's 3.25 g per ounce.  Huh...guess you're better off sending your kid to school with a Coke than one of those sugar (corn syrup) sticks.

Let's take a deeper look at the ingredient list for our strawberry yogurt.

Cultured milk is just milk that has been mixed with a yogurt culture and allowed to ferment.  That is how you make yogurt.  What strikes me as odd here is that they are using nonfat milk.  I have done my fair share of making yogurt and have learned one thing.  The less fat in the milk, the runnier the yogurt.  So, how are they getting their yogurt all thick and creamy??

The answer...

They add Whey Protein Concentrate, Kosher Gelatin and Modified Corn Starch as thickeners and texture enhancers.   Kosher just means it conforms to the Jewish standards (laws from the Old Testament) on how to handle foods.  Modified corn starch is exactly what it says. They take an already processed food made from GMO corn and modify it's chemical makeup even further so that it does a better job of thickening.  Whey Protein Concentrate is the cheapest form of protein on the market.  It's just a concentrated, powdered form of protein derived from whey, which is the byproduct of cheesemaking. 

Now that we have a nice thick yogurt, time to make it taste like something else.  Even in my house where we eat plain yogurt, if we add anything, it's always something to sweeten it up.  We mostly use raw honey.  They use High Fructose Corn Syrup and Aspartame.  I have been all over the corn syrup topic in the Pantry Raid posts.  To sum it up, it's science-made and our bodies don't react well with it at all.  Aspartame is another beast.  It's not even derived from a "food".  I say food in quotes, because GMO corn isn't a food either.  Aspartame is a chemical concoction made 100% in a lab.  It is a very controversial ingredient with research claiming it can cause headaches, anxiety, memory loss, depression and many more severe side effects.  The FDA says that have done the counter research and proven otherwise.  Either way, it's a chemical and it was not designed by God for our bodies to consume.

A little more flavor is added with Strawberries and "Natural" Flavors.  Yey for the strawberries...they are actually in there!  Too bad they are on the Dirty Dozen list (the list of the 12 fruits and veggies with the highest levels of chemical residuals from chemical pesticides and fertilizers in the end product).  Since strawberries aren't a natural flavor enough, the manufacturer added more "natural" flavoring (insert sarcasm here).  Wonder why they don't say vanilla extract, strawberry juice or something like that?  What exactly is a "natural" flavoring, and what kind are they adding??

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that, allergic reactions aside,  it can't be strawberry flavored unless it's really red, so Red Dye #40 is added to make sure we get it that it's REALLY strawberry flavored.  I guess white yogurt with little red flecks of strawberry just doesn't get the point across? 

Then, because the product needs to last through storage before it's shipped to the distributor, shipping to the distributor, storage until it's shipped to a store, shipping to a store, storage until it gets to the shelf, sitting on the shelf until it's bought and sitting in our refrigerator until we eat it (which can be a long time if it gets pushed to the back of the frig), plenty of preservatives are added like Citric Acid and Potasium Sorbate.  Potasium Sorbate is made by neutralizing potassium hydroxide with sorbic acid.  It can be a skin, eye or respiratory irritant.  Citric Acid is another chemical compound...not lemon juice like I used to think :)

Last, but not least, the need to add back in what was taken out through processing the milk is there, so a little Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Tricalcium Phosphate are in there for good measure.  All of which being synthetic supplements. 

I find this all to be so amazing, considering that perfectly good yogurt can be made by just adding a bacteria starter to heated up milk and letting it ferment.  Cook down some strawberries and pour them over top with a little honey and voila...strawberry yogurt--very yummy strawberry yogurt might I add :)!

I'm going to have to post a How to Make Yogurt guide soon so you can try this out for yourselves!!

If you're not in a yogurt making mood, just buy the plain organic yogurt and flavor it yourself.  If you want to buy the already flavored varieties, just look for the ones made with nothing but real food.  You will probably still be eating "evaporated cane juice" which is just a fancy name for sugar, but it will be much better than corn syrup and aspartame!! 

Happy Tuesday!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Water the Flowers, Not the Weeds

I don't know about all of you, but there seems to be a constant background noise in my house that drives me to want to climb on the roof, stick my fingers in my ears and sing out loud to drown out the noise.  Ha...that would be quite the!!

On a bad day, the bickering between siblings starts within five minutes of waking up and doesn't end until they lay their precious little heads down and fall asleep.  A good day is really not much better.  It drives me batty!!  I am baffled on a daily basis as to things this kids can find to argue about.

Please tell me I am not the only one feeling this way!?!

So, I am constantly turning towards myself and my ability to parent.  What in the world are we doing wrong???  Totally spent and in pure out desperation, I spent the better half of this morning scouring the internet looking for thoughts...someone out there has had to have fixed this problem. 

What I are never going to stop fighting.  Um...that stinks, but made me feel better about our parenting skills at least. 

Then, I read something that stopped me in my tracks...

The gist of what I read was water the flowers, not the weeds.  Well, that makes complete sense from a gardening perspective.  I can look at the kids' good behavior as little flowers blooming them into loving, responsible adults and the bad behavior as weeds stealing the nutrients from the little flowers.  If I water the flowers and not the weeds, eventually, the flowers will choke out the weeds.  Not that the weeds ever go away, they just aren't thriving.  Just like gardening!  Genius!!

How do you water the flowers?

First and foremost, water them with God's word.

"... do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

I like to look at the exasperation part as watering the weeds.  Every time I respond in a negative way to all the fighting, I am just watering the weeds.  Sometimes, it's so hard sometimes to respond any other way.  Like most moms, I'm just tired, over worked and under paid.  Maybe this little change will help me with that as well.

Looks like, in our house, it's time to start watering the flowers.  We've been working on a piece of this by trying to teach the kids that responsibility leads to privileges.  It all ties together, because part of being responsible is treating your siblings with love and respect (the training and instruction of the Lord).  So, out come the jars and charts, and an extra dose of positive reinforcement is on it's way.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

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Seriously, when I first saw this recipe, I thought...GROSS!!  Well, a year later, I just couldn't help myself...they just sounded too interesting not to try.  The verdict...double yummo!!!  If you like moist, chewy brownies, you will like these.  And, they are SUPER easy to make!!

I didn't have any nuts like the original recipe called for, so I dressed it up with my new favorite thing...Chocolate Coconut Whipped Frosting.  I am convinced that the frosting added the double to the double yummo!

You guys have got to try these!!  My main tips--keep them refrigerated and make sure you let them food processor do it's job thoroughly.

Adapted from recipe

4 oz. Chocolate Chips (use high cacao 65% or higher, organic. Can use unsweetened chocolate...just add a little more honey)
1 c. Butter, unsalted (organic is best)
2 c. Black Beans, cooked soft (you can use a can, just look for BPA free lining and organic)
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1/4 c. Strong Coffee (I boiled down that morning's leftover coffee with the grains in it and strained)
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
4 Eggs (free range farm fresh if you can get them)
1/2 c. Honey (raw and local)

1 can Coconut Milk, refrigerated overnight  (BPA free lining, organic)
2 Tbsp. Cacao Powder (organic)
1 Tbsp. Honey (raw, local) 

Preheat oven to 325.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals.  Set aside to cool.

While chocolate is cooling, puree black beans, coffee and vanilla for two minutes or more making sure the mixture is smooth.
Add sea salt, eggs and honey.  Keep pureeing it for a few more minutes.  Add chocolate once it is cool to the will cook the eggs if it's not.  Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool in refrigerator.

Open can of coconut milk, remove solidified portion from the top leaving the liquid behind.  Whip on high speed with honey.  Gradually add cacao powder on slow speed being careful to incorporate well before returning to a high speed.  Top brownies with frosting and return to refrigerator.  Chill for an hour and enjoy!!

Happy Baking!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Must Watch Food Documentaries

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Two years ago, I read an article about a documentary called Food, Inc.  I got a free trial to Netflix, watched it, begged the hubby to watch it, and our family's way of eating was changed forever.  It took two years and a ton of research to get to where we are with our eating, and there's still much more room for improvement.  Over the two years, we've made changes that have stuck and ones that haven't.  Sometimes it feels like we take two steps forward and ten steps back.  Then, there's times where we plow forward like a freight train and never look back.  The kids aren't always perfectly co-operative, but the always tend to amaze me in the areas that I think they are going to buck...which is always a pleasant surprise.

My point being that Jesus is only perfect one that has and will ever walk the earth, so we are never going to get it 100% "right" no matter how hard we try.  Everyone's family is different, so what we do in our family is not always the best for other families.  I love that so many of you are taking our ways of life that I post about and trying them out to see what works for you!!  I get so excited when I get an email or a comment about things that are working for your family and the changes you are seeing in kids behavior, your energy levels and so much more!  That's why I keep posting!!

Since so many of the changes we've made are because of information I received from documentaries, I wanted to share a few of them with you.  Get the free trial to Netflix and watch them.  I'm not saying to go running out and change everything you do based on what these films show you.  Nor, am I saying my family believes in everything you will see on these films.  Just watch them and make your own decisions based on the information they provide.   I found all of them "enlightening" in one way or another.  I'm sure I missed a few good ones any that you can think of in the comment section, so nobody misses out :)

Food Inc.

The Future of Food

King Corn

The Beautiful Truth

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Super Size Me

Meet Your Meat-(not on Netflix it's here

Deconstructing Supper

Food Matters

The Gerson Miracle

Forks Over Knives

What's On Your Plate



Friday, March 9, 2012

A Reflection

I was digging through some old bible study paperwork yesterday and came across the lyrics to Casting Crown's song "American Dream".  One of my past bible study teachers had handed out a copy.  From the looks of it, I folded it in half, wrote some prayer requests on the back and stuck it in a folder.  I know I prayed the prayers, but must have never opened it back up again to read the lyrics.  Funny...had I read it back then, I probably wouldn't have given it a second glimpse.  I might have even turned my nose up to it.  After some serious refining from God over the past few years, it could almost be an anthem for our family.  It was a sweet reminder to me that this simpler life He has given us works so much better than the old one we tried to create for ourselves.  Thank you Lord for opening our hearts to your plan for us and saving us from our...

 "American Dream"

All work no play may have made Jack a dull boy
But all work no God has left Jack with a lost soul
But he's moving on full steam
He's chasing the American dream
And he's gonna give his family the finer things

Not this time son I've no time to waste
Maybe tomorrow we'll have time to play
And then he slips into his new BMW
And drives farther and farther and farther away

So He works all day and tries to sleep at night
He says things will get better;
Better in time

And he works and he builds with his own two hands
And he pours all he has in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are comin' crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

His American Dream is beginning to seem
More and more like a nightmare
With every passing day
"Daddy, can you come to my game?"
"Oh Baby, please don't work late."
Another wasted weekend
And they are slipping away

'Cause he works all day and lies awake at night
He tells them things will get better
It'll just take a little more time

He used to say, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"
But if he loses his soul, what has he gained in the end
I'll take a shack on the rock
Over a castle in the sand
Now he works all day and cries alone at night
It's not getting any better
Looks like he's running out of time
'Cause he worked and he built with his own two hands
And he poured all he had in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are coming crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

All they really wanted was You
All they really wanted was You
All they really wanted was You

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Date in the Woods

I'm not sure I would have ever believed it if someone told me 10 years ago that, one day, my idea of fun would be hanging out in the woods with my husband...crazy!!!!  Dare I say this, but I have come to this strange place that a "date" afternoon with my husband that included a stroll through the woods, checking out the scenery (we saw some really cool mushrooms...still have to look up what these are),

shooting a rifle and testing a game camera was...enjoyable?   I am still awstruck that I just wrote that!!!

I now understand what it is about the woods that draws the hubby to them.  It's so quiet.  Much more quiet than when I stick my fingers in my ears and run to the bedroom closing three doors behind me as I find myself hiding in the toilet room of the master bath to save myself the angst of hearing "mama, mama, can you..." one more time.  Sitting in the woods almost feels like you are on another planet.  Even while my house is silent right now, I can still hear the sounds of lawn mowers, of cars driving up and down A1A and the refrigerator humming.  It's much different than the God made sounds of a bird chirping, leaves falling or the wind blowing.  Those sounds just seem to be more calming, as if God intentionally made them that way.

Wow...I've never thought about that until I just wrote it.  Even the sounds God created are for our pleasure.  Just one more reason to be thankful today!!

Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Soupless Veggie Soup

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One of my favorite things to cook on a cold winter evening is a big bowl of veggie soup.  Mostly, I love the intoxicating smell that spills from the kitchen into the entire house...yum!!!

In a pinch for time, a quicker version of my favorite soup is just as yummy!  I call it Soupless Veggie Soup.  Why?  Because it's all the same ingredients without the soup part...very original, right?  lol!

Soupless Veggie Soup Recipe

Because I'm being lazy, I didn't write organic on each ingredient.  Always buy organic ingredients when you can find them.
4 c. Chicken Broth, unsalted (homemade if you have it)
1 c. Barley
1 c. Lentils
1 tsp Sea Salt
Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp Butter
3 Stalks Celery, chopped
1 Large Carrot, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 c. Cremini Mushrooms, chopped
2 c. Spinach or Beet Greens, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp Sea Salt
Pepper to taste

In saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add barley and lentils.  Cover with lid and lower heat to low.  Cook for 1 hr or until grains are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add more liquid (water or chicken stock) while cooking if needed.

Heat saute pan to medium and melt butter.  When butter is melted, add celery, onion and carrots.  Cook until tender, add mushrooms, spinach, garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook until spinach wilts.

Taste both grains and veggies.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  (I give you the teaspoon as starting place...always taste to see if you need more).

Serve veggies over grains...Enjoy!!
Happy Wednesday!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pantry Raid #13: Eating "In Season"

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With an increase in awareness of how our eating relates to the environment and our own health, traffic at local farmer's markets that offer fresh, organic and local produce is on the rise.  More and more Americans are looking to eat cleaner not only for their bodies, but for the environment as well.  So, the question arises...what does eating "in season" mean, and what should I be looking for right now?

God's design is amazing.  He created certain vegetables to grow during certain seasons just as we need them.  For instance, what's the first vitamin we reach for when we feel like we are starting to get sick?  That would be Vitamin C.  When do we get sick the most?  In the winter.  What fruits veggies are "in season" during the winter?  A long list of those containing the most Vitamin C--like citrus, broccoli,  brussel sprouts, butternut squash, kale, swiss chard, bok choy and chestnuts.


What season in most areas is the off season for farmers?  Winter, right?  What veggies are the most long lasting for storage?  That would be winter squashes--butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, etc.  These squash are harvested just before winter and can be eaten all winter long.  Not to mention, these veggies are loaded with Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  One cup of cooked winter squash contains 457% of your daily Vitamin A requirements and 52% of your Vitamin C.  Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and fight off infection, while Vitamin C is an antioxidant and immune system booster.  Crazy, isn't it?!?!

So, as we come off the winter and into the spring, what can we be looking forward to seeing at the market in terms of "in season"?

Here in Florida, it's a transitional time.  The last rounds of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, greens (including kale, spinach, lettuces, turnips, collards, mustards, etc) beets, carrots, citrus, and snow peas will be making their final showings these next few weeks. 

Right now is the peak of strawberry season.  Buy as many as you can!  Eat them fresh now and freeze the ones you can't eat.  Frozen berries are great for summer smoothies, popsicles,  or just eaten by themselves as a cold treat.

In the next few weeks, you will start to see the beginning of spring harvests from farmers that use greenhouses.  This means cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and onions.

As summer approaches, we can look forward to peppers, okra, eggplant, melons, green beans, summer squashes (yellow and zucchini), black eyed peas, acre peas, corn, blueberries and peaches.

It's Monday, so I know I missed a ton!!  Post your favorite fruits and veggies in the comment section if I missed them.

Happy Monday!           

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Country Biscuits

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One of my absolute most favorite things (besides chocolate) is a still warm light, fluffy biscuit topped with a pat of butter and drizzled with honey.  I am seriously drooling just thinking about it!!

I had to wonder though...can you call it a country biscuit if it's whole wheat and healthy :)?!?!

I was obsessed with biscuits this past weekend, and looking at the pics again, I'm thinking this weekend may end up feeling a little deja vu :)   We ate them with venison sausage gravy, with honey & butter and plain.  We ate them in a car and ate them on a (Dr. Seuss raided my house yesterday...I must have heard that book read 15 times in one hour)!      

Before I get all nursery rhyme on you again, here's the recipe :)


2 1/4 c. Fresh Milled White Wheat Flour
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 c. Organic Butter, cold
1/4 c. Palm Shortening
1/2 c. Organic Greek Yogurt
1/2 c. Organic Milk

Preheat oven to 415

In a bowl, mix all three dry ingredients well.  Cut butter lengthwise into 4 quarters and then slice into small cubes (~1/2 inch squares).  Add butter and shortening into dry ingredients.  Using a pasty cutter or fingers, work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles course meal.  In separate bowl, combine yogurt and milk.  Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture. Mix until flour is mostly absorbed.

Turn out onto a floured cutting board.  Flatten the dough out and knead by folding it over itself about 5-6 times.  Pat it down to 3/4 inch thickness and using a biscuit cutter (can use an empty cup or can), cut out as many biscuits as you can.  Place them on a non-greased cookie sheet.  Gather the leftover dough back up and roll out to 3/4 inches.  Cut out biscuits and place on cookie sheet.  Repeat if necessary.

Bake about 15 min or until golden brown.