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Spice It Up!
If the only spices you have in your cupboard are salt and pepper, it is time for you to “Kick it up a notch!” Cooking with fresh herbs not only makes adds fragrance, color, and curb appeal to your dish; but, it enhances the flavor.
I never used fresh herbs because the dried herbs seemed simpler and less expensive, but it’s cheap if you plant your own herb garden. Spring is the perfect time to do just that! This year, I decided to start my garden from seeds indoors and it has been much cheaper. I only have my spinach in the ground as of now. Here are all my early vegetable starts–radish, pepper, tomato, zucchini, cucumber, onion, beets, squash—
and here are my herb starts—
basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, chives, oregano, thyme, mint
Here is how easy it is to start your own herb garden…..AND FUN! Here are just a few of the most commonly used herbs:
Rosemary: My personal favorite. It is an annual (have to replant it each year), but can grow from late May thru August. It can flourish with little watering and even though it prefers full sun it can tolerate slightly shady areas.
Basil: It is also an annual, but once it “takes off” there is no stopping it. Plant it in various stages. In other words, plant one or two in May and then another in June and maybe even July. You can never have too much basil. At the end of the season, you can take what is left before the first freeze and make pesto sauce. (I will tell you how to do that later, when we get to that point.) Basil needs lots of sun and normal watering. The most important thing to remember is to always take from the top. You never want it to flower, so keep pinching the tops off.
Chives: Yea! Chives are a perennial (comes back without replanting) so if you get a good base and established roots, they will come back time and time again. Chives are a gimme. It likes sun, but can tolerate it at dusk or dawn. For best results you should divide your root “clumps” every 2-3 years.
Cilantro: Not so easy and personally I think the hardest herb to grow. It too, is an annual. Plant it in early spring. It does great until the end of May and then dies off. At that point I go to market and buy it at a dollar a bunch. Not worth the headache at that price.
Dill: It is technically an annual. However, I have seen dill “pop-up” throughout my yard via the seed that float through air after the season is over. It is pretty easy to grow. Like Rosemary, it prefers sun, but can grow in the shade.
Mint: It is a perennial and will take over your entire yard. Therefore, I would recommend growing it in a pot or other controlled environment. Especially, since I don’t know very many uses for it other than it is fabulous in juicing and beverages/desserts. It likes sun, shade, rain, no rain….beware.
Oregano: Is also a perennial that needs to be controlled or it will turn into fragrant ground cover. Now while there are several more uses for oregano, you need to be sure to keep it contained year after year. Like mint, it requires no TLC and is happy to get what it gets in hopes of being “picked” for that next marinade.
Parsley. It is a perennial. It is one of the most commonly used herbs. In fact, it is probably the only one that most people use fresh or regularly with salt and pepper. I always keep it in my garden mainly for color. It honestly costs about $ .75 a bunch at the store.
Sage. It is a perennial that demands little care. Most importantly, at the end of the season, cut the stems and split the roots periodically through the years. It likes sun or shade. Are you beginning to sense a trend….perennials are a piece of cake!
Thyme. Last but not least. It can come back, but it does demand care. It is a slow-growing herb so it’s only request is to keep weeds and all other herbs AWAY! It needs its space.
I love some of Dee’s older posts that are so insightful on how we are brain washed into thinking we need to eat so much. It is a complete attack on all of our senses—
Our wonderful country has transformed into one in which many fortunate citizens are overindulged, overstocked and overfed. I see so many kids who have such an air of entitlement. Many of us use money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need. There is this great sense of getting more, needing more, wanting more. Restaurants and fast food chains jump right into the game of giving us what we want. When you look at a commercial for, lets say, a pancake house you can see exactly what I mean. First, they give you the price of something-99 and then you see the combo – stack of pancakes, two kinds of meat, two eggs and a side of home fries. All of this is for one person. This is such a common assortment of food and it is set up to please every part of the palette, that we really don’t stop to realize that the Grand Slam could easily satisfy the hunger of three or four adults. I know that when I am presented with the option of such a meal, I act before I think…I don’t want to do without the potatoes, and the savory, salty, crispy bacon tastes so great; it all goes really well with scrambled eggs and then there is the warm, fluffy texture of melt-in-your-mouth pancakes – a wonderful symphony of food. The truth is, I’ve had MANY weekday breakfasts that consisted of one hard-boiled egg. And that was a sufficient bit of food to hold me over from morning until lunch. But when we have all of this bundled into one fine presentation there are a couple of things that food marketers use to sabotage our senses. First, there is the “value” catch. For $2, I can order one egg but for another $1.50 I can make it a sandwich with cheese and bacon and for a total of $5 bucks, it comes with tater-tots and a small OJ. So I might have only wanted or needed one egg, but I choose the whole lot. Second, there’s the waste factor. Now that I’ve ordered all of this food, at a bargain price, I need to eat it all as to not waste it. I may have realized I’m full after barely starting to consume the meal, but there are only two alternatives once it’s in front of me – throw perfectly good food into the garbage or eat it.
Now back to the title of my blog, “diminishing returns.” Wouldn’t you say that the very first bite of a piece of chocolate cake is the best bite? The second one is pretty good, and maybe the third. By three bites your mouth is very happy and has had a good chance to fully experience the great flavor. The more you eat, the less fabulous the taste. While the flavor is still good, these subsequent bites from number three to clean plate are really somewhat mechanical, you just keep going and going until the food is gone without the ability to savor the dish as you did with bites one through three. If you order a meal at most restaurants, get a carry out container right up front to box half for another meal. You’ll be amazed to see how many double portion meals you get and how full you feel after only eating half.
Posted on May 15, 2016 by in Body, Diet, Guest Blog, Nutrition, Organic, Weight Loss, Whole Food Leave a comment
Meet Dee- She needs shoes!
A few years ago, I introduced you to my dear friend Dee. She invited us on her weight loss journey and did quite a few posts regarding her story. I just wanted to repost a few of these because:
1. I miss Dee!!
2. I always love her posts and admire how real and down to earth she is! Hope you enjoy them as well.
Dee is a mom! Dee wants to lose weight. Dee believes we need to eat healthy. I love Dee. She has invited us to follow her weight loss journey with her because she can’t see her feet! Please follow her amazing posts with me! She is inspiring! And to Dee, thank you for admitting that you aren’t perfect and this isn’t an easy thing to do! We should all have that much integrity.
Funny how people are ashamed to share their weight. I don’t mind telling people who I weigh 190 pounds. When I’m speaking to someone and the issue of health or weight comes up, I freely share my weight…the real number. I share my age too, 49. People are sometimes surprised that I’m 49, but no one has ever reacted surprisingly to the 50 extra pounds. I’m guessing it’s because if they are speaking to me in person, they can see the extra pounds…mostly around my middle. I don’t like this section of me but I’ve gotten used to it. I chose this photo, taken from my chin looking down to show you what I see when I look at my shoes. Get it? No shoes. I’d like to see my shoes and have started a new goal to get there. After years and years of dieting, I am a diet expert. Most overweight people are diet experts. The trick isn’t knowing what to do, it’s doing it. If you want to jump into the journey, I would love the company. It might not always be pretty, but it will always be real.
Posted on May 3, 2016 by in Diet, Guest Blog, Humor, Nutrition, Spirit, Whole Food Leave a comment
Chasing the Moon
Around 5am September 1st, 2013–the Aurigids will be entering the meteor stream in the last hour before dawn. So it’s a perfect way to start Sunday by checking out the shower around 5am. It is extra special because the Moon enters a new phase on September 5th and will be located near the Sun. You will be able to find a crescent moon in the early morning and approximately 14-20 meteor showers before dawn. With a bonus attraction, the Moon passed Jupiter today the 31st and will still be visible in the am along with Mars.
I’m not usually an astrology freak, but researching the correlation of the mind, body, and spirit has helped me be grateful for all the intricate connections between the Earth and how our bodies function. It really does make me feel more complete when I pay attention to how I blend with the Universe. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday weekend!!! Enjoy!
Posted on August 31, 2013 by in Mind, Spirit 2 Comments
Labor Day Recipes
Happy Labor Day weekend! The long weekend brings lots of get togethers with food as the main agenda! Don’t waste your weekend slaving behind the stove—
Instead, load up your slow cooker with one of the following crowd-pleasing dishes. I’ve listed the recipes in countdown order— if you have a favorite, please chime in below. Happy Labor Day!
10) Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup. This is filling, delicious, and is different enough to gain lots of attention on the buffet table. Easy to stretch by serving rice, and fixen’s like sliced avocado and tortilla chips.
9) Lima Bean Casserole Cassoulet. I love serving this to guests and listening to the conversation. “what type of beans are these?” “I’m not sure. some sort of large pinto beans or something?” I usually wait until the pot is practically empty before coming clean that they were lima beans.
8) Honey Lentils. Delicious, nutritious, vegan vegetarian, and such a fun offering to bring to a picnic. I get the nicest emails about these lentils!
7) Pesto Spinach Lasagna. I need to run to the store to pick up the ingredients for this! You have never had a better vegetarian lasagna. So so good.
6) Hirino Psito. This is a wonderful main dish to serve to guests. Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and beer mix together to create a savory sauce that perfectly compliments the sweet contrast of brown sugar and cranberries. Win!
5) Brie with Apricot Topping. To make this more user-friendly for guests, insert an oven-safe dish into your large slow cooker and load the ingredients into the dish. Then remove the dish (use mitts!) and serve with your favorite crackers (we like Glutino a lot). Do not add water in the crockpot around the dish.
4) Pomegranate Beef. When we host a dinner for new friends, I usually make this. This keeps picky older relatives happy, along with the kids (note to self: I need to update some of these photos!). I’ve made this for television audiences, and served it at the Disneyland Food & Wine Festival, where the kitchen chefs gave rave reviews, which made me cry. This recipe was also featured on Oprah.com!
3) Cream Cheese, Sausage, and Rotel Dip (mommy crack). The ingredients are odd, the taste is not. Make this and you’ll be happy.
2) Potluck Beans. We can’t have a potluck countdown without potluck beans, now can we? These beans have bacon. Nuff’ said.
1) Original Taco Soup. Feeds a bunch, easy to throw together, and everyone LOVES it. This has been our number one potluck bring along for the past 12 years.
Honorable mention: Black Beans with Cilantro. I ran out of numbers— this is a great bean recipe.
Enjoy your long weekend!
I used to think my sister-in-law was crazy for raising chickens. I educated myself on nutrition and realized that what Atticus Finch told Scout in, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was a prediction of the future. He said not to judge a person until you had heard their story. I now realize that I was ignorant and superficial in those days. We have to keep ourselves realistic because we are all products of the society in which we were raised. We don’t know everything, we know what we are told. Atticus was right; As was, Hippocrates when he said , “Let food be the medicine”. Thank you for this post because we all need to educate ourselves and not judge others–they may just be two steps ahead of us!
Continuing on with what I can eat, here are some things I’ve not only learned to like, but I actually look forward to eating them.
I used to think people who were vegetarian were strange (no offense) and I thought that veganism was half-crazy. Now, I am deeply remorseful for my hasty judgement. With all I’ve learned about plants as food lately, it seems as though they have had the last laugh.
|Falafel with Homemade Tzatziki|
First favorite – soy milk in coffee. What a blast of fantastic flavor. I first tried it as a shot of soy in my Starbucks espresso. It was heavenly and I doubt that I’ll drink coffee any other way. Putting dairy milk in my morning coffee was the last bit of regular milk I had failed to give up…milk’s off my list.
Beans, lentils, legumes, peppers, onions! For lunch today, I made falafel with tzatziki. Last weekend, lentil soup. Tonight, my sister’s recipe for Chicken Marbella. Black beans go in my salad, refried beans with salsa are a quick hunger cure, chickpeas in a salad…good all around.
And finally, as a grand gesture apology to all my vegan friends – silken tofu! It is amazing when blended with non-dairy milk and fruit. Check out this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs: Strawberry Mango Fruit Ice.
Remember that protein plays a key role in providing energy and feeling full. The reason we are told to stay away from “the white stuff” like sugar, white pasta, white bread, white rice and potatoes is that these foods are quickly digested, simple carbs made with one or two sugar molecules, they lack fiber and pass quickly into your bloodstream. Complex carbs contain a string of sugar molecules that digest slowly and keep blood sugar stable, full of fiber and filling. Because they are found commonly in whole plant foods they are high in vitamins and minerals.
Posted on May 15, 2012 by in Body, Diet, disease, Nutrition, Organic, vegan, Weight Loss, Whole Food Leave a comment
The good thing is that your cholesterol profile isn’t actually that bad. The fact that your HDL is high is wonderful. That represents your “good” cholesterol and it will actually give you a negative risk factor for heart disease if it hits the number 65! Most people need to have an LDL below 130. You are on the right track and if you keep exercising –that HDL will continue to shoot up. Fish oil 1000mg three times a day will help bring your triglycerides down. Put the tabs in the freezer so they will not thaw until they hit your small intestine. Most people stop the supplements complaining of “fish burps.”
My work had a free health screening today. With a finger-prick blood sample and a ten minute wait, they were able to give me some test results and recommendations. This is exciting because it will be a great baseline for future comparison. As I’ve mentioned, I’m 49 and 50 pounds overweight. That calculates to a BMI (body mass index) of 29.3, right on the borderline of overweight and obese. Blood pressure is just slightly high at 122/84 and triglycerides are high at 225. Glucose is good – 107. And the ratio of good/bad cholesterol is good even though my HDL (good) and LDL (bad) levels are a bit off. HDL should be below 40 and mine is 56, LDL should be below 100 and mine is 123. Here is the great part: everything I need to do to change these numbers for the better are (drumroll) eat right and exercise. That’s the magic formula that everyone wants to take in single-dose pill form for instant results. Can you imagine if it was that easy? What’s that saying about anything worth having is worth working for? I’d take a cheap, black market, shortcut to health if I could. But I can’t. Logging off to go walk on the beach for two miles. Anyone who is joining me, keep up the good work and send me a comment so we can support each other.
Posted on April 4, 2012 by in Diet, Guest Blog, Humor, Nutrition, Weight Loss 1 Comment
Attack of the 30lb Sumo
A few months ago, after listening to me nag, one of my BFF’s decided to do a cleansing/detox diet to get healthy. She has 4 lovely children, a full time job, and a crazy busy life. Jody is the most fabulous cook and often drops gourmet meals off for us on a whim. I think we have a kindred connection because those are usually the days I am driving home from work thinking I’m too exhausted to cook and will go postal on my family the first time someone asks “When’s dinner?” The girls are all just chomping at the bit to jump away from their phones and computers to lend a hand. NOT! Then I’ll ask for help, they will roll their eyes and then proceed to bicker with each other the entire time. It’s difficult to cook when you are peeling Emma off of Sid’s back when she has attacked like a sumo wrestler. Jody just knows–she should, she’s a mom. She and her sister, Dee, are incredibly creative, whitty, and enjoy life. They have started feeling so much better after changing their diets, they were inspired to share their story.
Let me introduce Jody and Dee’s mission “Food Forethought”
Food For Thought, Food Forethought
We all think about food. Most of us even have emotional experience relating to liking food, disliking food, craving food, loving food. At some point as an adult, we start to think about food based upon how it makes us feel after we’ve eaten it. When dieting, we obsess about everything that’s on the “don’t eat” list. What do you think happens when one tells herself “I can’t have cheesecake, I can’t have cheesecake, I can’t have cheesecake” incessantly? You will likely give your right arm at the end of the day for a piece of cheesecake. The aftermath of guilt and digestive agony is a recurring nightmare.
Here’s our plan: let’s think about food, what we CAN eat, before we eat it. Food is so much fun! If you look at what the earth provides us, rich in color and nutrition and taste, it’s amazing. We want to take a look at healthy and flavorful recipe options that will change your mind, and change your health.
Here’s the interesting part (and the disclaimer): the contributors of this site are not physicians, not nutritionists, and not culinary experts. We are parents, spouses, full-time office workers, neighbors, and friends. We are on this journey with you, adapting common comfort foods for a healthier life.
As we get to know each other, we will share our secrets and successes and we will encourage each other to persist in this journey to better health. We can do this!
Posted on March 28, 2012 by in Body, Diet, Family, Guest Blog, Humor, Nutrition, Weight Loss, Whole Food 1 Comment