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Simple ways to lead a healthy and nutritious life!


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Growing Food Can Be Super Easy! You Can Do It!!

Leading a healthy life can be quite confusing and for some, even frustrating.  One of my favorite ways to incorporate healthy foods into my life is to GROW MY OWN FOOD.  Simplicity, my friends.  Simplicity.  My first year gardening, I had no idea what I was doing and my vegetables still grew well and provided me and my family with enough veggies during the summer months for me to feel like a success.  Since then, every year has gotten easier.  Companion planting, pest control, soil tests…it’s enough to make someone think having a garden is too much work.  IT’S NOT! Just give it a try.  My two favorite summer crops and the easiest for me to grow are cucumbers and zucchini.  I had so many I was giving some away, which I wanted to do anyway because what’s having a garden if you aren’t going to share with family? 🙂

The savings of having a garden are out of the world.  I’ll put it this way: a packet of non-GMO seeds (let’s pick zucchini) will run you about $2-2.50 from Baker Creek.  Each packet comes with approximately 15-20 seeds (don’t quote me here I am just guessing from how many I have planted and how many are left in the pack).  One seed (plant) will produce between 4-6 individual zucchini (again I am going with my personal experience in my garden).  That means that each packet will provide you with approximately 75 zucchini (at 15 seeds per pack and 5 veggies per plant).  That, my friend, is a GOOD DEAL!

The savings of planting your own veggies and fruits are beyond awesome.  Even if you just plant a few of your favorites, the end will be worth the time you take.  I haven’t even touched on the fact that growing your own veggies and fruits allows you to control what goes in the soil (or doesn’t go in the soil! ahem! Monsanto….) and also if you have kids, this allows them to see where their food comes from and why that is important.  My kids love helping me in the garden and having their own plants to water and watch grow.  It’s a learning experience that they love.  Reminds me of last year’s garden when we would wake up and go outside to harvest kale for our morning smoothies! It was something they looked forward to and I really want to them to cherish those memories and hopefully continue on the tradition with their kids.  Far too many kids don’t have a clue where their food comes from and why it is important to go back to basics when it comes to food and simplifying how we eat these foods.  Processed is out and fresh, homegrown is in!

Kim’s Novice Tips to Get You Started:

  • Make sure you start your seeds at the appropriate time.  Some veggies and fruits take longer so make sure to read the packet to familiarize yourself with the timing, amount of sun and water, etc.
  • Give your plants room to breathe.  Some will need only a little space while others, will spread out like wildfire and may need to be trellised.
  • Water in the morning or evening.  Watering in the summer heat with the sun beating down may scorch your leaves.
  • Companion planting! Google it and read up! Plants have friends and foes. In my experience, marigolds are always friends of plants are good pest deterrents.
  • Look into organic or homemade pest control.  I cant tell you how many different types of concoctions I made with garlic, spices, and herbs to try and rid my garden of pests and critters. Those darn cats!
  • Last, start your seeds in organic soil.  Harden them off before you plant them outside and save yourself the sadness when they wither away in the harsh conditions in the transition from inside to outside.   Gently run your hand over the top of the sprouts every now and then to strengthen the roots and get them ready for the wind.  Put the seedlings outside for a few hours in the sun and the dark to get them used to the different times of sun and moonlight.

Most of all, don’t get frustrated if some plants die on you.  It’s trial and error and once you get down in the dirt and get closer to nature, you will find that having a garden can be quite therapeutic.  The rewards in the end are worth it, and quite TASTY!! Nothing beats a homegrown veggie in the summer.  Homemade pickles? Yes! Zucchini bread? Oh yeah! Fresh, sweet watermelon? I can taste it already! (My daughter picked out Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon from Baker Creek this year and I am excited to try it!)

Don’t think for one second that you can’t do this.  If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a garden, start out with a small one.  Plant one or two things.  Trust me, when I was planting my first garden I had no clue what I was doing and I didn’t even know if anything would grow.  I didn’t have any fancy nutrient rich soil or the big gardener hat and tools for my garden.  I had a few seeds and some regular old dirt.  You live and you learn. LIVE HAPPY AND HEALTHY!

This is the soil I use to start my seeds indoors.

This is the soil I use to start my seeds indoors.

 

These are my kids broccoli plants. They water them everyday and are excited to watch them grow!

These are my kids broccoli plants. They water them everyday and are excited to watch them grow!

So far my kale, carrots, green zebra tomatoes, and copia tomatoes have sprouted!

So far my kale, carrots, green zebra tomatoes, and copia tomatoes have sprouted!

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March is National NUTRITION Month!!!

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I love making memes. I could fill this entire blog with nutrition memes but I will spare everyone.  Seriously though, eat ALL the colors! Did you know that the colors of fruits and vegetables have special characteristics and specific benefits?

RED: Provides powerful antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may be beneficial in controlling blood pressure, preventing heart disease, lowering bad cholesterol (LDL), and warding off various types of cancers.  Examples of such powerful substances include ellagic acid, quercetin, and lycopene. 

ORANGE AND YELLOW: Extremely beneficial to eye health, lowers LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promotes collagen formation, helps build healthier bones by working with certain minerals, and helps balance the pH levels in the body.  Examples include zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, lycopene, and potassium. 

GREEN: These power-packed foods can help boost the immune system, detoxify the blood, fight free radicals, reduce LDL levels, regulate bowel movements, and promote all-around general health.  Some powerful green phytochemicals include chlorophyll, lutein, folate, and zeaxanthin.

BLUE AND PURPLE: For heart health, weight management, lowering blood pressure, fight inflammation, improving motor skills, and cancer prevention.  Examples include resveratrol, ellagic acid, vitamin C, and fiber.

Did you notice a trend in the above-mentioned descriptions?

These fruits and vegetables share characteristics and phytonutrients.  They all work together to provide a myriad of powerful benefits.  This is why you see so many of us nutritionists preaching to “eat the rainbow” or “eat the colors”.  You want as many of these nutrients as possible when choosing a meal.  Let’s say you are making a salad.  Instead of just lettuce and dressing and a smattering of pre-cut vegetables thrown in, choose to make the salad with as many veggies/fruits as you see fit.  The traditional salad is no more! Push that big bowl of iceberg lettuce to the side and make room for SOME COLOR!

Choose more nutritious greens, such as a spring mix, romaine, or spinach.  Or use cabbage or something more non-traditional lettuce.  This recipe from one of my favorite sites, Oh She Glows, uses red cabbage as a base:

http://www.agfg.com.au/guide/recipes/recipe/rainbow-salad

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There are SO many ways to incorporate colorful fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks to ensure that you are getting the full benefits of the foods, as well as getting the correct amounts of fresh and raw foods.  Choose quality produce, preferably organic, using the “clean 15, dirty dozen” guidelines.  Grow your own organically, if possible.  Let me tell you I cannot wait until spring to start my garden! This winter seems like it will never end! I am adding organic radishes, beets, and corn to my garden this year, along with the 13 other non-GMO veggies and fruits I planted last year! SO EXCITED!

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HAPPY AND HEALTHY EATING!! HAPPY NUTRITION MONTH! 🙂