Friday, February 5, 2016

15 Soups That Will Actually Cure Your Cold

1. Coconut Ginger Carrot Soup

Creamy is where this incredible coconut ginger carrot soup recipe goes. Have your heard so many delicious flavors in one recipe title? Even better, this soup is an amazing immunity-booster just in time for cold and flu season.

2. Immune Boosting Vegetable Soup

Tis the season for colds, flus, and sickey germs everywhere. This supremely flexible ingredient soup is the perfect antidote to all that.

3. Flu Fighter Chicken Noodle

Loaded with good for you ingredients and full of flavor – this absolutely delicious chicken noodle soup makes for a wonderful dinner! It’s also a tasty remedy for battling off a nasty cold or flu!

4. 5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili

All you need are few simple ingredients to create this delicious 5-Ingredient Easy White Chicken Chili recipe. You can make it quickly on the stove, or let it simmer all day in your slow cooker.

5. Healing Green Tea and Chickpea Soup

This recipe is for a marvelous, healing soup with some cold-fighting garlic-y tortilla triangles for dipping. It’s a triple-carb affair (naturally) because your body needs the fuel so, yes, now is the time to eat chickpeas, pasta and bread in one meal. There are veggies in there too and it’s the perfect base to add some shredded chicken or tofu to if you desire.

6. Roasted Carrot Ginger

Besides the vigor added from the fresh ginger, the flavoring of this soup comes from a little bit of ground coriander and allspice. Simple.

7. 15-Minute Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

Despite the speediness of its assembly, this soup has an amazingly complex, flavor. Enjoy the richness of the coconut milk, the spicy of the curry paste, the tangy bite of the lime to the funky awesomeness of the fish sauce.

8. Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Turmeric Soup

This roasted carrot and sweet potato soup is warm, comfy, and healing for the soul. And with turmeric – a natural anti-inflammatory will ease all pain.

9. Turmeric Miso Soup with Shiitakes, Turnips and Soba Noodles

To “cleanse” your body of toxins is to treat it well. By that, we mean more fruits and vegetables, clean food free of preservatives, and more home-cooked meals. We know the thought of making a home-cooked meal can be daunting, given busy schedules and such. But what if you could make this delicious (and healthy) soup in 20 minutes?

10. Turmeric Broth Detox Soup

Make this fragrant detoxing Turmeric broth, then make the soup your own. This one meal can easily be made in 30 minutes or less! If you feel like slurping, add in some rice noodles, chickpeas and kale

11. Cleansing Detox Soup

This oil-free Cleansing Detox Soup is packed with all the good stuff, and by good stuff we mean immune-boosting natural remedies like fresh lemon juice, fresh zingy ginger, bright turmeric, balancing cinnamon, and a touch of spicy cayenne. Detoxifying vegetables and leafy greens like kale, broccoli, celery and carrots will cleanse, nourish and make you feel whole.

12. Golden Beet and Fennel Soup

This Golden Beet and Fennel Soup is an earthy creamy healthful soup. full of nutrients and fiber. Not only is this golden beet soup not red, it also hits the spot on a cold winter’s day. BOOMshakalaka!

13. Thai Yam Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger

Vegan and gluten free, this recipe for Thai Sweet Potato Soup is healthy and light, and will bring a little sunshine into your life with its bright, warm flavors.

14. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Superfood Soup

This soup has a hint of sweetness and is spiced with chipotle chili powder, cumin, and turmeric. Black beans, sweet potato, and red cabbage all make a superfood star appearance dressed with cilantro and avocado.

15. Immune Boosting Garden Herb Stock

There is nothing more of a sialagogue than a pot of stock simmering away on the stovetop and this vegan garden herb stock is a recipe you will definitely want to make again and again.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

14 Edible Plants You Can Grow Indoors

Many of us dream of having our own vegetable patch, but it can be challenging to find the ideal space – and that’s assuming you have a garden at all. If you don’t then you’re in luck, you don’t need a large out door plot to grow all your ideal crops, for many edible plants all you need is a sunny spot inside.

The idea of growing an indoor farm, full of healthy food you can spoil yourself with over summer may sound too good to be true. But with a little love and care, whether you live in a house or a flat, you can grow a variety of fresh veg, fruit and even edible flowers ready for your next dinner party – guaranteed to impress.

But the benefits don’t stop there, growing your own greenery will give the satisfaction of harvesting your own foodstuff, save you money and added health benefits making your five a day a walk in the park. You might even start replacing that takeaway pizza with home-grown veg packed with vitamins and minerals.

You can grow almost any plants indoors with a loving hand, best growth occurs in areas that receive plenty of sunlight, such as windowsills. But for those of you who just don’t have a sunny spot to make the most of, grow lights can allow you to cultivate your edible plants in even the darkest of corners.

Although growing conditions vary from plant to plant, a few general rules should be followed. If you’re starting completely from scratch, sowing seeds on moistened soil, covered with plastic wrap and kept in a warm area will get your plants off to the best possible start. Also ensuring all pots and containers have drainage holes or a layer of grit to prevent root rot and overwatering will make sure your plants stay strong and healthy.

For more on edible plants you can grow indoors – including sowing and harvesting times – check out our helpful infographic below.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Do You Know About Bioregional Eating?

Eating bioregionally is gaining in popularity. Here's what you need to know, including how it differs from the locavore moment.
Growing local has its merits, but a growing movement suggests perhaps we need to let the region dictate what we grow locally. (Photo: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock)
There's a growing trend in sustainable food that sort of fine tunes locavorism. Sourcing from within bioregions is the one of the big food trends for 2016, according to Forbes, and although eating bioregionally has a lot in common with locavorism, it's not the same. What are bioregions and how can paying attention to them help us eat and live more sustainably? Here's a primer.

What are Bioregions?

A bioregion is a "geographical area with a unique combination of plants, animals, geology, climate and water features." When it comes to growing and raising food, each bioregion will have foods that it can naturally sustain and foods that it cannot.

Bioregional Eating vs. Locavorism

I have neighbors here in New Jersey who have a lemon tree in their house. They are avid vegetable gardeners and grow seasonally in both their backyard and a plot in a community garden. They certainly do their part to support the locavore movement. That lemon tree is something completely different, though. The climate where we live doesn't support citrus, so the tree is purely for fun. The number of lemons the tree produces may never equal or surpass the amount of money it costs to buy and sustain the tree, and the resources used to make sure it thrives are considerable.

I mention this not to put down my neighbors. In fact, I would love a lemon tree in my home. It would be fun to pick a fresh lemon each time I needed one, but I've established that my enthusiasm for growing my own food doesn't match my enthusiasm for eating it. So I mention this as an example of how growing locally isn't always sustainable.

Food that comes straight from your backyard has been hailed by many as the holy grail of sustainable eating for about a decade now. It's the ideal that resonated with me when I began my personal blog about eating local in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region. What I've come to learn along the way, though, is that eating sustainably is much more complicated than buying everything I possibly can from within a 100-mile radius.

Tomatoes grown in a hot house during every season may be local, but the practice isn't necessarily in keeping with bioregionalism. (Photo: Tree of Life/Shutterstock)

As with the lemon tree example, just because it can be grown locally doesn't mean it should be grown locally, especially when you take sustainability into consideration. My friends' lemon tree barely makes a dent, but large-scale production of foods that a bioregion doesn't naturally support can make a big dent in un-sustainability. Take for instance, energy-intensive hot houses that grow tomatoes out of season that are sold within the region. Are the tomatoes local? Yes. Are they sustainable? It gets more complicated then, doesn't it? They may (or may not) be more sustainable than a tomato grown in a warm region and shipped across country. Both methods of obtaining a tomato in the winter months in a place where they won't grow naturally use a lot of energy.

The concept of eating bioregionally seems to fine tune locavorism. Eating a locally grown hot house tomato in February is not eating bioregionally; eating a farm- or garden-grown tomato in July is. To truly eat bioregionally, we should forgo all fresh tomatoes once they're out of season.

Bioregionalism Beyond Food

This concept is easy to grasp when it comes to food, but it goes beyond that.

Your food bioregion may contain several towns, more than one state, and even more than one country. Part of bioregionalism is the idea of basing our political borders on nature. When you do that, you can see how it could get complicated fast. Instead of several different local, state or even national governments existing within one bioregion, there would be one political government within its natural borders. If we arranged "political structures around ecological regions and the cultures within them," argues Rachael Stoeve in Yes magazine, there would be sustainability in many areas of life.

There's a whole other blog post to write about that aspect, but it's interesting to look at the food concept with that broader scope. The decisions made about the resources within a bioregion would be more likely to benefit the environment and the people than corporations and those with a financial interest. That's something to chew on.

Monday, December 14, 2015

20 Gluten-Free Treats for the Holiday Season

It's mid-December, which means it's time for some holiday sweets. You won't find wheat flour in any of these sweets, but it's one ingredient you'll never miss. Whether you follow a gluten-free diet or not, these desserts from cookies and candy to cakes and edible gifts, will make your holiday season complete.

1. Caramel Pecan Turtle Clusters

It's hard to resist the addictive combination of buttery pecans and chewy homemade caramel nestled under a creamy milk chocolate shell. Wrap up a few in pretty tissue paper and give a box as a holiday gift.

2. No-Bake Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies

The only thing better than a no-bake cookie is one that involves a winning combination of Nutella and peanut butter.

3. Crisp Meringues with Whipped Cream

This is just about the simplest dessert imaginable. You can make it with meringues purchased at the grocery store or at a bakery, or make them yourself. Together the crisp meringue and soft cream melts together into one sweet and simple dessert.

4. No-Bake Sesame Coconut Ginger Cookies

Moist and naturally sweet with a gingery bite, these cookies contain just five ingredients and couldn't be easier to make.

5. Coconut Snowballs

When it comes to cookies, deliciousness usually arrives in the form of flour, butter, sugar, nuts, and chocolate. But when you can't eat any of those foods, coconut — in all its delicious forms — is your new best friend.

6. How To Make a Chocolate Soufflé

Not only are chocolate soufflés one of the most heavenly things you can eat with a spoon, but they're also surprisingly not all that hard to make.

7. Classic Southern Pralines

You can call the praline a cookie, because it's shaped like one, but it's rightfully a type of candy. These no-bake treats are made entirely on the stovetop, and take just 15 minutes.

8. Eggnog Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows make the perfect gift this time of year. And what better way to celebrate the season than with eggnog?

9. How To Make the Best Coconut Macaroons

Crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle — a good coconut macaroon has some texture for you to bite into. As long as you have some shredded coconut stashed away in your cupboard and a few eggs in the fridge, a batch of sweet macaroons can be yours in less than 30 minutes.

10. Holiday Nut & Fruit Brittle

Enrobed in caramelized sugar, the nuts and seeds in this holiday nut brittle look like little gems. It's easy to swap in your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and spices to create your own unique version.

11. Raspberry-Coconut French Macarons

French macarons make the most perfect, bite-sized presents. These macaron shells feature finely ground freeze-dried raspberries for sweetness and color. The raspberry flavor is subtle, and pairs beautifully with the coconut filling.

12. Baked Eggnog Custards

This seasonal treat is surprisingly light and smooth, with a subtly sweet eggnog flavor and a slightly boozy aftertaste.

13. How To Make Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

There's a lot to love about chocolate-covered strawberries. The crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth shell and the cool, sweet strawberry beneath. Whether you serve them for a party or give them as a gift, they're bound to be a hit.

14. Gluten-Free & Vegan Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread, in all its many forms, is a classic holiday treat. And this moist, richly flavored gingerbread cake is certainly not one to be missed.

15. Heavenly Hash Bars

Just when you thought you'd filled your arsenal with enough delicious homemade holiday treats, along came heavenly hash to sweep them all under the carpet. The combination of bittersweet chocolate, roasted almond, and marshmallow is truly a gift.

16. How To Make French Meringue

With a crisp outer shell, slightly chewy center, and a subtle sweetness, baked meringues are a melt-in-your-mouth delight.

17. Chocolate-Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

Dried figs are a sweet and easy treat any day, but dip them in chocolate and sprinkle with a little sea salt and they become a treat worthy of anyone's holiday gift list.

18. Raw Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bites

These truffles might be raw and vegan, but trust me — they still taste like an indulgent treat. They'll certainly suit nearly everyone on your gift list.

19. Sweet and Savory Roasted Cashews

These crisp and flavorful roasted nuts offer a little something for everyone. There are brown butter-sage cashews if savory is your thing, and cocoa-dusted cashews for those of us with a sweet tooth.

20. How To Make the Easiest Chocolate Fudge

This classic fudge has a dense, textured chewiness as you bite into it, and then melts in your mouth. It's a classic holiday gift to give for a reason.
[via The Kitchn]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to Correctly Plant Tomatoes to Get 5–8ft Plants

How do we plant a tomato, you might ask?  With a ridiculous amount of stuff in the hole, is the answer.  When someone ropes me into telling them and I start the long answer, I eventually see their eyes glaze over.  That’s the point where I say, “Then you throw in the kitchen sink and cover it all up.”  To date, no one has laughed at that joke. I think they’re just either too overwhelmed by the real stuff we put in there, or they actually believe we’re throwing in a sink.

This is how we plant a tomato.  First off, let’s take a look at our sexy specimen here on the left.

We started this beauty in our heated greenhouse in late January. We potted it up to a gallon container about 3 or 4 weeks ago.  It will go into one of our freshly prepared beds, shown to the right.

The tomatoes are placed three feet apart. I’ve learned over the years that spacing them closer than that means less fruit.  We dig a nice deep hole to accommodate all the additions – the exact depth is dependent upon how tall the seedling is that you start with.  We want the plant to be almost completely submerged into the soil, and the fish head and amendments put into the hole need to be covered with a bit of soil, so we plan accordingly for the depth.  This particular hole ends up being almost two feet deep, and is ready for our first goody, these impressive fish heads.

We get them from the restaurant we grow for, Manresa.  You might be able to get them free from a good butcher or fishmonger.  I even know of someone who called a few restaurants in their area and was quickly rewarded with a nice bounty of juicy fish heads.  Fish tails, spines, guts, as well as shrimp, crab, or lobster shells are all good as well.  Some of you may worry about critters digging these up later.  We’ve never had a problem with animals digging up my tomatoes, and we’ve got three dogs, two cats, and what seem like an endless supply of raccoons living on the property.  I stress the point that this is the first thing that goes into our very deep planting hole.  That may help keep it from getting dug up.  You can see the six inch long fish head staring up at us from the bottom of the hole here.

If you’re reticent to put the fish head in the hole, or simply can’t get your mitts on any, we recommend using fish meal as a substitute. Two handfuls is about right. We get ours from Gardner & Bloome.

The next thing that goes into the hole are a couple of aspirin tablets and some crushed chicken egg shells. The aspirin is to help jump start the plant’s immune system.  You can read more about that science here.  We’ll put three or four crushed egg shells into the hole as well. You can see our three colors of eggs from our fancy chickens – yes, those are green eggs in there. The eggs supply a nice calcium boost, which will help prevent blossom end rot, that nasty brown patch on the bottom of tomatoes that lack calcium (the fish head bones and bone meal also help with that).

Bone meal is the next to go into the hole.  We put in a heaping handful of bone meal.  This is a nice organic phosphorus source, which is essential for blossom production.  More blossoms, more fruit.  Bone meal also increases calcium availability for the tomato. This is also a Gardner & Bloome product.

We then put in two handfuls of Gardner & Bloome’s Tomato, Vegetable and Herb Fertilizer. It’s an all-purpose  organic fertilizer that contains the essential macronutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassiun. Their mix is a very nice 4-6-3 of those nutrients.

We also recommend putting a handful of pure worm castings in the bottom of the hole.  We amend our beds with worm castings and we also spray a worm casting tea on the plants while they grow.  Really great stuff.  Worm castings are available for sale at our tomato plant sale.

The hole is complete (sans kitchen sink) and we’re now ready to pop in the tomato plant.  We trim off the lower leaves, be there one, two, three or more, leaving only the top-most leaves.

We put an inch or two of soil on top of the amendments in the hole.  The plant is eased out of the pot, and before it’s placed in the hole, I sprinkle a third of a cup or more on the rootball with a product called Xtreme Gardening’s Mykos, which is a mycorrhizal fungi that attaches to the roots, growing as the root ball grows.  It protects the plant from some diseases, such as verticillium and fusarium wilts.  If there are any “silver bullets” here, it is this healthy addition of mycorrhizal fungi.

Once the tomato is in the hole, we double check the depth by judging how far out of the ground the plant will be sticking.

If it’s going to be too far down, we’ll remove the plant and add some more soil.  If it looks like it’ll be up above the soil more than we want, that’s too bad because we ain’t gonna be fishing them fish parts and all that other stuff up out of that hole and digging it deeper.  No siree.  So we try our best to gauge the depth of the hole according to the height of the plant we’re putting in.

We then back fill GENTLY – only one quasi-firm push settles the soil around the plant.

Please do not man-handle the soil around the plant by stomping on it or pressing too hard.  That’s not necessary and it expels all the air out of the soil.  Believe it or not, the roots need oxygen down there just as much as they need nutrients and water.

A temporary well is then made around the plant base to catch the first watering. The first watering is the most critical.  We do it multiple times.  Water it in once, twice, three times at least.  Wait a few minutes to allow the water to drain through.  If you have a deep hole, likely way more than 12 inches deep, you will be amazed at how much water it will take to wet the root ball a foot or more under the ground.  So don’t be stingy with the water the first day. Thereafter, you can back off the watering.  Here’s our finished bed.  You can see the tomatoes are spaced pretty far apart:

Drip irrigation will be repositioned on the bed, and staking and mulching has yet to be done.  In the meantime, please feel free to email us or leave a comment below with any questions.

If you’re still not getting the results you want, then consider taking this Tomato Masters class.

You can find more information all about tomatoes on the World Tomato Society website.

Good luck, folks!

[via RealFarmacy, Grow Better Veggies]

Monday, November 2, 2015

Top 7 Health Benefits of Organic Pumpkin Plus Recipes!

Halloween is fast approaching. What do we usually see during this season? Pumpkins! But don’t be fooled thinking they’re just for decor! – they’re actually one of the most nutritious fruits out there that you should eat regularly. Just don’t forget to choose organic and your family’s health will be taken cared well.

Check out these Top 7 health benefits of Organic Pumpkin below, plus the two healthy and yummy pumpkin recipes!

1. Aids weight loss – Pumpkins are rich in fiber, which slows down digestion. A cup of canned pumpkin contains seven grams of fiber and 20 calories, meaning it keeps you feeling fuller longer on fewer calories. Eating food rich in fiber helps people to eat less, and thereby shed pounds.

2. Keep eyesight sharp – Pumpkin’s brilliant orange color comes from its ample supply of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. It is known that Vitamin A is essential for the eye and helps the retina absorb and process light. One cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it the best option for optical health. Additionally, pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that helps prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.

3. Reduce cancer risk – Research shows that people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer. Vitamin A and C are both antioxidants and they act as shields for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals.

4. Protect the skin – Beta-carotene from pumpkins can also help protect us from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays, therefore helping you look younger. The pulp also makes a great all-natural face mask that exfoliates and soothes. Read my review of a great product that uses pumpkin as the main ingredient.

5. It Helps after a hard workout – Bananas are known for being the nature’s energy bar but cooked pumpkins have more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422. Potassium is an essential mineral we need to keep our hearts and muscles working at their optimal levels. Try adding pumpkin to your post-workout snack or meal for the extra potassium boost.

6. Pumpkin Seeds can help your heart – Pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers. These may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.

7. Seeds can boost your mood – Pumpkin seeds are also rich in amino acid tryptophan. The amino acid is important in production of serotonin, one of the major players when it comes to restoring our mood. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help your outlook stay bright.

You can never go wrong consuming this healthy vegetable! And as promised, here are the easy healthy and yummy Pumpkin Recipes that you can try anytime soon! Enjoy!

A. Curried Pumpkin with Raisins

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 lbs Organic pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ¾ cup frozen baby peas
  • Fresh Cilantro, for garnish
  1. Heat butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, add onion, and cool until golden-brown, wait for about five minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more.
  2. Mix in curry powder, salt and pepper. Add pumpkin and cook for five minutes, stir frequently.
  3. Pour in broth and raisins, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Add peas after 15 minutes. Replace cover and continue to cook until pumpkin is tender, wait for 5-10 minutes more. Garnish with cilantro.

B. Pumpkin Caipirinha

  • ½ lime, cut into 4 pieces
  • ½ ounce agave nectar
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 11/2 ounces cachaca
  • 11/2 ounces Organic pumpkin puree
  • Ice
For garnish:
  • Nutmeg
  • Lime wheel
  1. Cachaca is a popular distilled spirit from Brazil that is made from sugarcane. If you don’t have cachaca, substitute with white rum instead. Both spirits are made from sugarcane.
  2. Mix-up the lime, agave nectar, and fresh ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shakerAdd cachaca/white rum, pumpkin puree, and ice. Shake until thoroughly mixed and chilled. Strain into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with grated nutmeg and a lime wheel.
Enjoy these Pumpkin recipes while Pumpkins are still abundant! And don’t forget to share!