Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Crock Pot Lentil and Sweet Potatoe Soup

Here’s a yummy recipe for these cold, cold days we’ve been having!  Love the simplicity of crock pot meals.

Crock Pot Lentil Sweet Potato Souplentil soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1.5 cups chopped green beans
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 64 oz vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Turn heat on low and cook for 10 hours, adding a little more broth at the end if soup seems too thick.

Time:

10 hours

Roasted Root Vegetables

How about another great recipe!

It’s the time of year when we need great recipe ideas so here’s a follow-up to yummy beets.

Roasted Root Vegetables root vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds root vegetables (use potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch wedges
  • 2  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½  head garlic, separated into cloves peeled and rough chopped
  • Chopped fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the root vegetables and onion in a roasting pan.
  2. Toss all ingredients BUT the garlic with the olive oil and maple syrup then salt and pepper to taste. Do not crowd the vegetables.
  3. Roast the mixture for a total of 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, scatter the garlic in with the vegetables. Continue stirring every 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and evenly browned.
  4. Before serving, add a sprinkling of fresh chopped herbs for garnish.

Yummy Beets!

Beets are a great source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are also a phenomenal source of betalains.  The detox support provided by betalains includes especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione.

I decided to pick up some good looking beets from the farmers market the other day.  I haven’t eaten beets for so long but they looked beautiful and I couldn’t resist.  I took them home and started looking up recipes.

As I was looking on line, I decided to kind of wing it and play around a bit.  I’m so glad I did because the dish ended up tasting amazing.  We made ours on the grill but they would be just as good in the oven.  Hope you like it!

NOTE:  One thing to keep in mind, beets will stain your hands.  Wear gloves if you have them while your peeling them.  Also, peel beets just like you would a potato and then soak in vinegar water before you cut them up.

 Roasted Beets

Ingredients:  Close-up of beet

  • 4 Cups Beets
  • 2 Cups Carrots
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • ½  Yellow Onion
  • Drizzle Olive oil
  • Drizzle Honey
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • To Taste – Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (if you are baking them in the oven).  Clean, peel and cut beets, carrots and green pepper into bite size pieces.  Finely chop onion.  In a bowl combine first four ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and honey.  Add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme or two teaspoons of dry, then salt and pepper to taste.  Toss all ingredients.

If you are doing the beets on the grill, put the mixture on a double layer of aluminum foil big enough so that there are a couple of inches on all sides of the mixture.  Then cover with a single layer of foil.  Bring the bottom layers up over the top layer and fold inwards to where the juices stay in the pouch.  Cook until the beets and carrots can be penetrated easily with a fork or knife.

If you are doing the beets in the oven, you can either put the mixture in the foil, put it on a sheet pan and bake it in the oven or put the mixture in a baking dish with a cover on it until the beets and carrots can be penetrated easily with a fork or knife.

Portion Control

Anyone who is trying to watch their weight will tell you that portion control is one of their best allies.  But what is portion control?rasp

By definition: Portion control is understanding how much a serving size of food is and how many calories or how much food energy a serving contains.

It’s very evident that the American diet no longer consists of true portions.  A perfect example would be an order of pasta.  Today’s average serving is enough to fill a 10 to 12 inch plate or bowl.  Even just 10 to 15 years ago, the same order would be equivalent to a side order portion today.

Also consider that it’s not just at a restaurant or at home that portions can sneak up on you.  When you read labels and see the information given, make sure to look at the serving size and how many servings are in the container.  It might say it’s only 50 calories in a serving but there may be 2 to 3 servings per container.

Some people find that actual measurements help keep them in line where others prefer a visual to compare to.  I’ve put together a list of both measurements and visuals to help guide you to better portion control.

Of course these examples are just averages.  For more accurate readings use a calibrated kitchen scale (I purchased a cheap one at Target) or measuring cups and spoons.

  • Fist = 1 Cup of rice, pasta, fruit or veggies
  • Palm = 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry
  • Handful = 1 ounce of nuts, seeds or raisins
  • Thumb = 1 ounce of hard cheese or nut butter
  • Thumb tip = 1 teaspoon of oil, butter or sugar
Other serving size references:

1 serving:

  • 1/2 cup, cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup ( 4 leaves) lettuce
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/2 mango
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • 1 cup yogurt or milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces of cheddar cheese
  • 1 small chicken breast
  • 1/4 pound hamburger patty

Stuck on Cilantro

I am in LOVE with Cilantro!  I love the spiciness of it as well as the texture. And check out all of the added benefits Cilantro in your diet can provide!

It is such a versatile herb.  Here are a few of the ways I’ve been using it this summer:cilantro

  • In a marinade (Awesome for grilled chicken)
    • Olive oil
    • Agave
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Cilantro
    • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Hummus – Find your favorite Hummus recipe and throw in some Cilantro.  It’s awesome!
  • Juicing or smoothies – I know, it sounds weird but it is so refreshing.
  • In a salad – This is the easiest of them all.  Throw in a handful of leaves into your next salad be wowed by the punch of spice that it brings.  It’s perfect with a sliced apple on top.

Do You Know What You’re Eating?

plums There is something to be said about turning a blind eye and staying naïve to keep a positive attitude.   I have just one problem with that… I’m too inquisitive!

So I’m walking along the produce isles, taking in the beautiful array of colors in front of me.  But then my curiosity and slight OCD take over and I start thinking about how many other hands have touched the same apple and cucumber that I just picked up.  That’s where it all starts…

Here’s some thought provoking information about the produce you buy.

Did you know that most of the produce that you buy at a grocery store could have been harvested weeks and months if not almost a year ago?

It is a common practice for most produce to be harvested early and finished with a chemical spray called ethylene gaswhile in transit.  Yes, produce does emit ethylene naturally while ripening.  But, chemists have taken this natural gas and turned it into a liquid form to spray on early harvested produce.  It is in this form that it’s harmful to us.

Did you know that even some organic apples have a wax coating on them?

This is where it gets tricky.  Many would say that wax has no place being on food.  But consider that some produce naturally has a coating or “wax” on it to help protect it and keep it moist.  The most common types of wax are actually a derivative of animals, minerals or vegetables.  So now it becomes a matter of choice.

Or, how about the fact that produce is handled by many sets of hands that may or may not have been washed after their last trip to the bathroom.

Enough said.

Needless to say, by thinking that buying organic will solve all of the chemical and bacterial issues that consumers need to be aware of is just not going to cut it.  Best bet, by local and in season.  Then, when you get your produce home and begin to prepare it, follow these guidelines to prevent as much chemical and bacterial contamination as much as possible.

  • Soak produce in a 5:1 water to white vinegar ratio for about two minutes
  • For denser produce, scrub the outsides with your hands or a clean cloth
  • Drain and rinse for a good 30 seconds to a minute in clean, running water
  • Store in a clean container different than the one it came home in

Calling all Gardeners

Cool black dirt, baby plants looking for a home, mouth salivating at the possible vegetables that will be enjoyed in just a few short weeks.  Yep, it’s gardening time!  This is only the second time we have done a garden together and I’m hoping this season we have better luck.  gardening

I grew up with a huge garden every year.  It has always been my goal to replicate the bounty that my parents could produce.  Someday, I will succeed!  For now, we have two 4×8 raised beds and a few pots.  This year, we are doing beans, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, spinach, kale and herbs.

Tell me about your gardens!  I want to know your tricks of the trade.  What veggies do better next to others, which do you start by seed and plant?  I realize there are hundreds of books on the subject but I prefer firsthand experience to learn from.