Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Carb Counting

email from Marsha Koenig

We have been making a lot of changes in how we eat over the last year or so.

It started with wanting to lose the lard. We chose Nutrisystem and had some success, but got tired of them dropping our favorite choices and so wanted to try to continue on our own, eating more real food.  We are trying to cut out sugar as much as possible, mainly due to my husband’s Type II diabetes, but also just for general health improvement. We are also eating a LOT less starch, pasta, bread, etc. We are trying to eat more raw veggies and fruit, plus nuts.

For the past several months, I’ve been trying to eat Keto based low carb meals. We vacillate on how well we do. My husband is cooperating, but eats too much fruit, cookies, and other stuff,  and doesn’t really care about trying to get into ketosis, since he’s basically the weight he should be now. I’M the one who still needs to lose the lard, going for another 30 lbs or so.

The thing I used in the past with success is MyFitnessPal.com.

When I started doing keto, things got a bit confused for me. If I stay at the 20 grams a day level for carbs, the program says I’m not eating enough calories. I’m not really sure what to do about that. I can probably just continue to use it, record my eating to make sure I’m at the 20 carbs level each day and ignore the message. I would like to find a carb counting program that is more tailored to keto, if possible.

I have a great source of recipes, not counting the good sites online, and that is Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan. I’m re-reading the background material again, trying to get and stay motivated. The recipes are delicious. They’re not a whole lot of work and don’t require a bunch of ingredients that are difficult to find. I have truly never found a recipe book which has recipe after recipe we like.

Tonight I’ll make her ‘Sausage,Cheese and Egg Bake”

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Monday’s Harvest

It’s been about a week since I’ve been able to get out to the garden. Needless to say, there is a LOT to do out there now.

I did some weeding and harvested this zucchini and some tomatoes. I’ll go back out there later and prune a bunch of stuff and do more weeding.

We have some cantaloupe!  I used several plastic ‘bowls’ with holes in them that allow the cantaloupe to grow while keeping them off the soil.  I have no clue if we’ll actually get anything edible, but I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas watching them grow!

I’ll try to get some pics of the garden later to share.

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Wednesday Tomato Harvest

Our ‘nook’ planter (the planter between the porch and the back of the house that we converted to a square foot planter) is providing us with a wealth of tomatoes now! My husband just asked me to cut a cold one up for him for a snack.

We have been extremely lucky this season, even though it has been a weird one weather-wise, and we feel truly wealthy in tomatoes. :0)

If you come by the house in the next few days , I’ll be happy to share them with you!

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Good News and Iffy News from the Garden

Good news and iffy news from the garden today.

GOOD NEWS – more ripe tomatoes and it looks like lots more to come.  The radishes and sweet red onions seem to be doing fine.

IFFY NEWS –  I have a lot of ‘greenery’ and blossoms from my zucchini and cantaloupe plants, but the actual veggies and fruits are looking wimpy.  In three days of my concentrating on other parts of the yard, the weeds are trying to take over. The heat index is 105 today, so I’ll have to wait until dusk to do anything out there. I’ll weed as much as I can and then put some extra fertilizer over things and see what, if anything, happens.

I absolutely LOVE trying to grow veggies and fruit. I have a wonderful set up, with chest-high wooden 4′ x 4′ planters filled with Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and several kinds of compost) and an irrigation system for consistent watering. I have unlimited hope and enthusiasm, but little expertise, though I’m reading and learning what I’m supposed to be doing on a regular basis. Thus far, the list of things NOT to do again is growing much faster than the successes, but my motivation is still strong.

Each lunch and each dinner features fresh, ripe tomatoes from our own garden. I ‘spiralized’ (made spaghetti-like stuff with the aid of my kitchen gadget) from one pregnant-looking zucchini from our own garden and my husband pronounced it ‘yummy.’  Next year I plan to grow yellow squash, too. We’re spiralizing that, too, and my husband is shocked that he enjoys both of these. He did say, though, that he’ll TRY some as a substitute for actual pasta, but doesn’t hold high hopes for the idea yet. I’m hoping I can convince him. :0)

 

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July 6th Harvest

 

After we got back from relocating the raccoon this morning, I went to check on the tomatoes and the garden. I harvested these from the larger planter – the plants I thought were going to croak earlier because the leaves were turning yellow and falling off. These plants still don’t look ‘healthy,’ but they are producing delicious tomatoes. The nook planter beside the house has only two plants in it and they are HUGE, green, and leafy. I’ve only gotten two ripe tomatoes so far. There are lots of green ones, though, and lots of blossoms. There might be a lesson here somewhere, if I can just figure out what it is. I would appreciate some opinions from people who know what they are doing in the garden.

In the larger square foot garden, I couldn’t do much because the irrigation system was going. I have large, leafy-looking zucchini plants now with large yellow flowers and a few actual zucchini!  I harvested one pregnant-looking one so far. I have several now that might get large enough to harvest.

I also have the cantaloupe plants whose arms are spilling out over everything with lots of blossoms. There is one small cantaloupe that I have supported by a plastic round thingie with legs and holes in it. I have no clue whether we’ll actually get anything worth eating, but it’s great fun to watch the progress. \

The onions are expanding, even though their tops were so damaged in several storms I elected to cut them off.

I need to do some weeding out there and then I’ll take pics to share.

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Tomato Harvest July 1, 2019

I’m feeling spoiled and rich after going out to check on our tomato plants this afternoon.

We’re enjoying sharing one or two (depending on their size) for lunch and again for dinner each day. I already feel that our crop has been worth every penny we paid for plants, cages, food, bug spray, bone meal, etc.  How could one feel down when looking at such a beautiful sight!

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is our garden, minus two tomato planters on the opposite end of the house. It’s a raised-bed, square foot garden.

“Raised bed” – because we built six 4’x4′ wooden boxes, put them on top of metal supports (like tables) at about my chest height, so I don’t have to get down on my hands and knees, or bend over double to garden.

“Square foot garden” – because the only ‘soil’ we have up here on top of our ridge line was trucked in so we could have grass around the house. We tried to have a regular garden, enriching the soil, etc. and it was a dismal failure. After several years I was delighted to find Mel Bartholomew and his book, Square Foot Gardening, where he explained that we could ‘create’ a growing medium much like soil ABOVE the ground and grow veggies!

We surrounded our garden with fencing, since we do have deer running around. Usually I have bright neon-colored tape running around the outside to warn the deer so they don’t run into the fencing. The rains and sun deteriorated the tape and I haven’t put more up yet. We have chicken wire around the bottom to deter rabbits and other cute critters from breaching the fencing, although I would think it would be difficult for them to climb up the metal legs to get to the veggies. Our garden door is looking a bit sad these days. We’ve had so much to deal with after losing so much of our electronic goodies in the recent storms that I haven’t bothered my husband with it. You might get a giggle out of the sign on the door. We did that when we first got the CNC set-up in the shop, where we can do computer-guided cutting of sheet metal. That was one of the first things we cut out. The poor thing is rusted now, but it’s one of my favorite things.

 

This sweet, oddly shaped thing is probably the world’s smallest cantaloupe. I have no clue whether we’ll actually get anything edible, but it’s fun to try.

 

I’ve never seen zucchini growing before and I’m fascinated. We may not get much of a crop, but I’m eager to check what we have each time I go out.

 

With all the rain and strong sun we’ve had, I can’t keep the weeds out of here, but I’m trying to keep them down as much as possible so the sweet red onions have room to grow.

 

This is the latest group of radishes. I’m hoping they do well. The last crop was better than I’m able to get at the store.

 

Here is today’s harvest. I was so pleased to see more ripe tomatoes. And these, except for one, all came from the plants in the long planter that had yellow leaves and were looking spindly recently. I added bone meal and some tomato food, and they have responded well, although they don’t look as healthy as the two plants in the planter beside the house. MAYBE it’s a good thing to have much less greenery – leading to better production of tomatoes….

And this is my first zucchini!  I have no clue why this one looks pregnant. The ones at the store don’t look like this. It’ll be interesting to see if it tastes good or not.

I was planning to spend more time outside this morning, but the wind picked up, the skies darkened, and I heard rumbling thunder. I hurried inside, closed the garage door, and prepared for the coming storm. My phone was even sending me messages about lightning and heavy rain right outside of Greenwood. We didn’t get the storm! NOW the sun is out again. Go figure.

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Tomatoes!

 

Last week, before the awful storms hit and we lost so much stuff, I was telling you that I was worried about the tomato plants in our long brick planter at the side of the house. They were really sad-looking, with yellow leaves and dead branches. I put bone meal into the soil around each plant and then gave the whole planter tomato food and crossed my fingers.

With all that has been going on, today was the first time I went to look at the plants. This is the first of what I HOPE will be a really good harvest. The tomato cages were bent over, so I went back and got some rods and anchored them, hopefully making it so the plants will stay upright. I cut off more dead stuff, but the plants were looking much healthier. There are lots of green tomatoes on those plants, plus the two really lush looking plants in what I call the nook planter between the porch and the back of the house. I guess the difference in the amount of sun the two planters get is the difference on what the plants look like. It’ll be funny if the puny looking ones produce more tomatoes than the lush looking ones…

Guess what will be part of OUR dinner tonight!

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Our Keto Journey Begins

Since my husband has 10 or so pounds to lose, and I have 30-35 pounds to go, we have started the Keto eating plan.  I’ve also told you that we’re going to be host parents, starting in August, to a 16-year-old soccer player from Italy. This way of eating will be MUCH more amenable to cooking for a family again, rather than the Nutrisystem plan we were on.

Recently I ordered Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan of KetoKarma.com.  In the book, she explains her own weight loss journey (a loss of 120 pounds), the Keto eating plan, and a good recipe section, plus resources for further study, etc. I like her recipes because, so far, I’ve only had to go online for ONE ingredient.  Instead of finding several recipes that sounded possible or interesting, I feel as if I’ve won the lottery on good recipes to try!  The recipes are straight-forward, not fancy, and sound wonderful.

Last night I tried the first recipe from the book. It’s called “Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Bake.”  My husband’s reaction was, “This is YUMMY!” and he said it two or three times. He also remarked, “This tastes too good to be what we’re supposed to be eating.”  We went out today to get another Pyrex pie plate so that I can double the recipe next time. The leftovers are good in the fridge for 4 days, and a serving is great for actual breakfast (though we enjoyed it for dinner), a snack, a lunch…. We can simply pop a serving into the microwave.  We agreed this would become one of our staples.

My biggest problem is getting my husband to pay attention to the details of the new plan. He is a Type II diabetic. With the Nutrisystem plan, he was able to eat some fruit again – something he sorely missed. I’ve told him that fruit is quite limited on this plan, plus he should forego the sugar-free ice cream he’s been eating at night. (Right now I’m trying to entice him with strawberries and heavy cream for tonight.)

If you’d like to try the recipe above, here is the link

ENJOY!

I’m hoping to be able to give you progress reports as I try to lose the rest of the lard.

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Ready to Plant More!

This picture gives you a good idea of how our raised bed, square foot garden is set up. You can see the six boxes. Each is 4 foot square. Each has a sprinkler in the center with hose connecting the boxes to one master control that irrigates the garden each morning for 10 minutes. Each box is divided into ‘squares’ by running wire in two directions. You can also see that there is fencing around the garden to keep out large critters. It also has chicken wire running around the bottom for little critters.

The rains lately caused an explosion in the garden. The plants were spilling out of the top over the sides. I couldn’t see the squares anymore. It took me three days to get things harvested, washed, and either put in the fridge or distributed to friends. I finished cleaning up the garden this morning so it’s ready to plant some new things. My husband and I will see what is available in the coming week that looks interesting.

We have about 5 heads of lettuce that might still make. The green part of the onions is over my head. :0)

I think this is zucchini squash. I also have some cantaloupe plants.

The jury is still out on whether sweet little plants like these that are dotted around the garden are weeds or spinach. I’m hoping for spinach. Time will tell.

This sweet little guy is celery, transplanted from sprouting in the kitchen. I cut off the end of some celery I bought at the store and put it in water. It’ll be fun to see what happens.

I keep telling you about Mel’s Mix, the soil alternative I use instead of real dirt in my garden. I buy peat moss, vermiculite, mushroom compost, barnyard compost, and cotton burr compost from the local co-op and put each ingredient in one of the garbage cans. I then put the ingredients in the correct ratio into our portable concrete mixer.

This is easy to use and mixes things SO much better than I was doing before with a shovel in my wheelbarrow. When mixed, the mixer will move down to dump the ingredients into a bucket, the wheelbarrow, or whatever, and I transfer it to the garden boxes.

I’m hoping we’ll find something fun to plant next week. Fingers crossed!

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Day Three of Harvest

I tackled the last of our six 4’x4′ wooden raised boxes in our garden today. I got 4 heads of lettuce, leaf lettuce, and radishes. This finishes the harvest of the food that suddenly grew after all the rains we’ve had. I still have some heads of lettuce and other things in the garden. I’ll clean up the last box after the harvest.

I’m really new at this, not having a clue what I’m doing, but I have so much FUN trying to grow some of our food!  Today, after harvesting, washing, and bagging up the produce, I called several friends and asked them if they would like some of it. I had some extra one other year, but this is the first time I’ve had such good-looking produce, and the first time EVER for actual heads of lettuce! :0) I spent about an hour driving around and spreading the wealth!

This is the last of the radishes I planted. Radishes are wonderful because they produce quickly and can be grown directly from seed in the garden in any season except for the dead of winter.

 

I can’t believe how much leaf lettuce I got! Since I harvested the large heads, I also processed the leaves around the heads.

Usually our weather is too ‘something’ (too hot, too cold, too much water, too little water, too much sun, too little sun) for a nice crop. This year we lucked out and I couldn’t be more delighted.

I’ll try to get pics tomorrow after finishing the cleaning up. I’m hoping we’ll find other interesting things we can try to plant at the local stores tomorrow, too!

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Working in the Garden

We have two planters of tomato plants. We converted the planters from being regular planters – filled with regular and potting soil – to square-foot planters, filled with Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and compost.) The planter above is 8 feet long by about 2 feet wide. Last year I planted six plants in this planter and they soon grew to be a dense ‘jungle.’ This year I’m planting 4, trying to give them more space. I also read that I should prune them more to encourage fruit production, rather than greenery. I have to admit that this scares me a bit, but I’m going to try it, limiting their vertical growth in particular and trying to prune any large sideways branches. We LOVE sliced fresh tomatoes, and could eat our weight in them daily, so I’m HOPING that this experiment is successful…

 

This is the second tomato planter. It is in a ‘nook’ formed by the back of the house and our back porch. It is shielded from the elements more than the other planter, and sometimes results in the only plants that do well. These actually have some yellow blossoms!

 

And THIS – is a really nice weed, or SPINACH!

I am finding several like this, right in the middle of squares of Mel’s Mix in the garden planters – as I harvest and weed around them. I was unable to get the seeds to sprout in the greenhouse for some reason, and I was unable to find ANY spinach plants being sold locally, so in desperation I finally just planted some seeds in the middle of several squares in the garden and kept all of my appendages crossed. As you can see here, I put a popsicle stick in the soil showing ‘spinach.’  Appendages – including my eyes – are still crossed, because I’ve never seen spinach at this early stage, so it looks different from the plants I have purchased.

Since it is not raining right now, I’m planning to get out and tackle the last of the six 4’x4′ wooden box planters in my raised bed, square foot garden today. It’s so full I can’t tell what is there. I’ll report back, and then plan to see what exciting things the locals may have for me to plant to take the place of the things I’ve harvested. I’ll try to get pics of what’s out there now. I’m still stunned that so much needed harvesting already!

I plan to call friends and share the veggie wealth this weekend. :0)

I hope YOUR weekend is fun and productive!

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Day Two of Harvest

Yesterday I harvested a bunch of radishes, two heads of lettuce, and some broccoli. Today I harvested MORE radishes

And FIVE heads of lettuce!

I’m going to call some good friends to see if I can spread the wealth over the weekend.

My husband fixed our new-to-us riding lawn mower this afternoon and got the lawn mowed while I worked in the garden. I just listened to the weather and it sounds like we may have just finished in time for the heavy rains to start. They’re supposed to last all evening into tomorrow morning, so it was good we could take advantage of a break to get some things done outside.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful day, too.

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Today’s Harvest 5-2/2019 – So FAR!

This is actual head lettuce!  I’ve only had one other head form like this is the past several years, being content to enjoy cutting off the outer leaves as long as possible and enjoying them in salads. I think there are several more heads out there NOW!  Woo HOOOOO!

My broccoli isn’t impressive to look at, like the nice heads you see at the grocery store, but it’s nice and tender. Since my husband isn’t overly fond of broccoli, I make soup from it for myself. :0)

 

These are absolutely the best radishes I’ve ever grown. They are large and perfect – no spots or anything, and better than you see at the store! I’m like a kid at Christmas!  I enjoy eating lots of raw veggies and some dip for my lunch, so my mouth is watering in anticipation!

I’ll do another session in the garden after we have some lunch. I have a lot more to harvest, and then there is a LOT of weeding to do. (The weeds love Mel’s Mix, too.) Mel’s Mix is the soil alternative we make to go into the planters. It’s a combination of peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different types of compost as you can get (I’m using mushroom, barnyard, and cotton burr, plus compost I make on my own – when it works. :0)

I recently planted some zucchini squash and some cantaloupe. I also tried planting some spinach seeds directly into the garden, since I am still a serial seed killer on the ones I’ve tried in my greenhouse. I’m eager to see what’s what – WHEN I get things thinned out enough to tell!

I certainly don’t save any money trying to grow some of our own veggies, but I LOVE the planning, planting, care, and harvesting – plus I know our food is healthy. Since we eat a lot of raw veggies and salads, this is a truly fun thing to do.

I’ll let you know if any of the spinach seeds have sprouted and will take more pics as I get the garden back in control.

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Today’s Planting

Michigan State University

We looked for spinach plants at four different places while we were out, ASKING at each place. The consensus seemed to be, “We have seed, but no plants this year.”  I have officially thrown in the towel on getting spinach plants, just hoping that the little sprouts in the middle of several squares in my garden are, indeed, sprouting spinach seeds.

We got zucchini and cantaloupe plants today and I’ll plant them in just a few minutes. I’m not sure how I’ll do this because both of these would rather be on the ground in a place where they can spread their runners wherever they want, but I’ll give it a try. If I’m successful at all, I’ll use my spiralizer gadget to make zucchini noodles for myself.

My husband looks appalled when I mention zucchini or yellow squash ‘noodles,’ cauli ‘rice’ or ‘mashed potatoes,’ or spaghetti squash ‘spaghetti,’ so I’ll make these for myself and make him regular pasta, potatoes, or rice rarely. He does love cantaloupe, though, so I’m especially hopeful I can get some of these to grow well. Fingers crossed.

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Garden Progress 4-21-2019

I now have enough of OUR fresh grown broccoli to make some soup!

 

And this is the lettuce I harvested. I could have brought in lots more. We eat salad each night, but I’m not sure we can keep up with all we’re growing this time.

 

This photo shows many of our lettuce plants, plus you can see the onions in the rear of the picture.

 

This is the second row of planters. You can see the broccoli plants and some of the radish sprouts.

 

I planted several squares of radishes. I eat some raw every day at lunch, along with carrots, cherry tomatoes, and celery.

I have all appendages crossed that this is one of several sprouts of ‘something’ I HOPE is SPINACH!  Time will tell.

 

Close up of one of the lettuce plants. This is ONE plant taking up a whole square. It’s HUGE.

 

This isn’t a garden plant, but I’m so pleased with it this year. It’s a perennial ‘something, and it has had only weak blooms each spring until now. I just love it!

More work tomorrow, but it’s that time of year! :0)

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First Harvest of Spring 2019

My broccoli is a bit scraggly-looking, but it should be tender and flavorful. I’m going to use it to make soup.

 

Unless something bad happens, it looks like we’ll have the best lettuce ever. This was harvested today – the outer leaves from just three of our plants. This filled two gallon fridge bags. We’ll sure enjoy some of this for our main meal salad dinner tonight!

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Veggies After the Storms

We had some really hard rain off and on yesterday, with more this morning, so I was a bit worried about what I might find in our raised bed square foot garden.

We built 6 ‘boxes’ that are each 4 feet by 4 feet, installing them on metal supports about my chest high. This enables me to enjoy adding soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting without having to get down on my hands and knees, or bend over double.  You can see 5 of the 6 boxes in the photo above.

 

I planted one whole box with sweet red onion sets. I’ll leave these alone until harvest, other than weeding and maybe thinning out as the bulbs grow.

 

This is a combination of broccoli plants and radishes that have just sprouted. No sprouts from the spinach yet. :0(

 

Here is some of the lettuce plants and more radishes. I’ll start harvesting some lettuce leaves tomorrow.

This is what I call the NOOK planter, since it is cradled by the back of the house and the end of the back porch. The tomato plants are quite sheltered from the wind here, plus get more shade.

And this is the second tomato planter. It is more exposed than the other. It seems to depend on the year whether the tomatoes produce better in the sun and wind or relative protection and shade.

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Square Foot Garden Progress April 8 – 2019

Inhabitat

 

Here you can see four of the six planting boxes we built. The wooden ‘boxes’ are supported on metal table-like structures that allow me to do most everything chest-height, without having to bend over or get down on my hands and knees. I really love it.

Other than the lettuce and red onions you can see here, I have broccoli plants, plus radish seeds and spinach seeds. (The spinach seeds in the greenhouse aren’t doing anything and I can’t get any spinach plants locally this year, so I just planted some seeds directly in the garden and will let you know if anything actually comes up.)

 

Here are the broccoli plants. I have things really spread out. He suggests one plant per square, but not next to each other, to discourage pest problems and disease.

I do follow his suggestions that you keep track of where you plant things each year, and the next year plant them in different squares, a crop rotation thing.

 

Here’s a close up of one of the broccoli plants. See the baby broccoli head?

 

Here’s a close up of the lettuce. This says, “Head Lettuce”, but I harvest leaves for salad as it grows and either produces a small head, or doesn’t. My love is the fresh lettuce leaves each night!

Although Mel suggests planting 4 lettuce plants in the same square, my results are better when I spread things out.

 

This is an 8-foot brick planter on the opposite side of the house from the garden. We converted it to a square foot planter, emptying out all the top soil and filling it with Mel’s Mix (mixture of peat moss, Vermiculite, and as many different types of compost as you can find.) I’m using barnyard, mushroom, and cotton burr, plus any compost I can make from our scraps.

 

This is a second brick planter that is about 4 feet wide that sits in a nook created by the back of our house and the screened back porch. The tomatoes are more protected here, and usually survive better than the ones that are more susceptible to the wind.

I read a good article on growing tomatoes lately. It suggests planting them deeper than I have been, and then pinching off some of the ‘arms’ that sprout, as well as pinching off top leaves to keep the plants more compact, rather than allowing them to grow as tall as they like. The article says this encourages more fruit rather than so much greenery. Since fresh sliced tomatoes is one of our very favorite things, I’m going to try this, hoping for a great harvest.

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Square Foot Garden Progress – 3-26-2019

Gardening Lovers

I found some broccoli plants yesterday and got them into the square foot garden. (Still no spinach, but I’ll check with the co-op tomorrow.) Meanwhile, today I’m planning to start new spinach seeds (ever hopeful) in the greenhouse and plant some radishes in the garden.

Here are the current pictures of the raised bed garden –

 

Sweet Red Onions

Broccoli

More broccoli

Head Lettuce

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The Garden is Started!

I planted sweet red onions in this planter about a week ago. I had to cover it with a sheet because of a cold snap, but they seem to be doing fine.

This picture is taken from the other side of the garden. You see the onions, plus most of the other raised bed boxes, plus the area behind the shop where the cement mixer is covered by a tarp to protect it from sun and rain, plus the covered trash cans containing the ingredients of Mel’s Mix.

 

A little different view.

 

I bought 18 head lettuce plants yesterday and planted them in the garden. It’s really hard to see the wire marking the squares, but if you look carefully, you can see I planted one lettuce plant per square. Mel Bartholomew of Square Foot Gardening says you can plant 4 plants in one square, but my experience is that our garden does better much more spread out.  I planted the plants in every other square. This is the way we ‘rotate’ our crops in Square Foot Gardening. I keep track of where I planted everything last year, and plant them in different squares this year. I also plant something different in every other square – I’m hoping to find spinach plants, so that any problems (bugs, disease, etc) don’t spread as badly from plant to plant.

 

If we have a cold snap, I can cover these three planters in a row with king-sized sheets, hopefully helping them survive to the next morning.

I have a call in to our wonderful co-op about spinach plants. There is a chance that the plant guy will bring some before the weekend, so I’ll call on Monday of next week. In the interim, I’m starting over planting spinach seeds in the greenhouse. Fingers crossed!

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Not ONLY…

Tips4Home.com

I guess it’s this cold weather we’re having. That’s my excuse and I’ll stick with it!

Yesterday it was like I had a tapeworm!  I not only wanted comfort food (read heavy calorie, high fat, hot, delicious), but a LOT of it! I simply used every trip anywhere near the kitchen to stuff my face. UGH. I gained a pound a half yesterday!

 

flickr.com

Hopefully, I can do better today….

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Playing With Your Food? – Take 36

123rf.com

 

disneyfoodblog.com

 

en.bentoandco.com

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The Long and Short of It

Jeff Jett – LinkedIn

The short answer is 43 pounds lost and 44.2 inches lost to date, since my ‘heaviest and lardiest.’

The longer answer is we’re trying to take care of ourselves, now that my husband and I are getting ‘long-in-the-tooth’ and would like to maintain or increase our quality of life for as long as we can, enjoying our lives to the fullest.

Since we both have health issues, my husband gave up added sugar and I gave up added salt. We are limiting our red beef, concentrating more on chicken and fish, veggies, fruit, and nuts. We’re both trying to drink more water. I’m trying to exercise. My husband said, “Now that I turned 75, I don’t HAVE to worry about exercising.” – as if he ever has. I am exercising more than I ever have, with the exception of when I was teaching swimming every summer and working in a restaurant part-time to help pay my way through college.  I continue to encourage him to exercise.

I’m concentrating on stretching, balance, core strength, and reaction time. Basically just trying to consciously move more. I’m doing a combination of yoga, abdominal exercises, walking, elliptical trainer, dance, and Wii Fit Plus each week. Sometimes I’m successful and get it all in, sometimes not. I’m trying to pat myself on the head (and give myself a gold star on my desk calendar) when I do well and not beat myself up when I don’t.

The same on eating. My husband is almost where he needs to be on weight. I still have a lot to lose to get to my goal of being in the healthy range on BMI and insurance charts. We’ve been on Nutrisystem, but are on hiatus now, trying to eat our way through the remaining food while not having more sent. In May we’ll probably change to A LA CARTE. We are doing our own thing a lot of the day and are needing the packaged stuff less and less. I’m substituting healthy recipes we really like for the entrees.

We’re giving ourselves permission to eat out when the mood strikes – a quality of life issue for us. Last night we ate dinner at The Dari, one of the new restaurants in Greenwood, Arkansas. Last night we got a seafood platter and two plates. This gave each of us plenty of food without overeating. We enjoyed our splurge/treat without breaking our diet. I made it a point to ask at the front counter who was responsible for the seafood. Several of the cooks raised their hands. I gave them a two-thumbs up, a big grin, and told them they were WONDERFUL.

I have to get a blood test on the 18th of March to see if I’ve improved in a couple of areas. Fingers crossed.

 

 

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Are YOU also older than Dirt?, Challenges, DIET!, exercise, Healthy Eating, quality of life, taking care of yourself

Progress in Planting

Raised-Bed Square Foot Planters in the Garden:

Yesterday I weeded one of the six raised bed square foot garden planters. It’s 4 feet x 4 feet.

Today we bought two bunches of Sweet Red Onions and I got them planted. Since they’ll stay where they are until they are ready for harvest (August or after) I planted them without stringing strings across to make ‘squares’ for planting. I just tried to give them room enough to expand to be good-sized, small sweet onions. I spread some fertilizer in the planter and then watered them.

I think they’ll make it through any freezes we have between now and spring, but, just in case, I can spread a king-sized sheet over the planter for protection.

I’ll try to weed one planter each good day, so hopefully they’ll all be ready to receive plants soon.

 

_____________________

Greenhouse:

 

Two of the covered seed starters had water beading on the inside – a good thing.

 

This one was dry, even with the cover. I sprayed the plants with water again and used a different cover. Hopefully, it will hold the moisture in.

I’m not sure how long it takes for the seeds to sprout. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas!

I’m planning to cut back our rose bushes today, plus give the wisteria some phosphorus fertilizer.

 

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Sunday Afternoon Project

Alamy

I’ve told you that we’re becoming more independent on our cooking and eating now that we’ve been on Nutrisystem for about 8 months. We’re going to switch to their A LA CARTE plan, only ordering what we truly want each month.

This means I’m cooking more for dinner mainly. We’re eating whatever I cook plus a large side salad most evenings to try to watch our portions on the cooked part of the meal.

We also read The Longevity Code and are trying to eat more poultry and fish, rather than red meat, lots of veggies (raw and cooked) and avoid things like white flour, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. We’ve already cut out as much sugar as we can, and I’m not using any added salt these days.

Today’s project is condensing my recipes into hopefully one notebook. I’ve been gathering them from various sources, and I had piles of them in the kitchen, office, and in three different notebooks. I’m trying to discard recipes that have a bunch of stuff we’re now trying to avoid. Some can be altered into more healthy recipes with some substitution.

I’m about 2/3 finished with the project now. I’m going to feel better when the recipe I’m looking for is easy to find and I’m not distracted by my old style of cooking or my taste buds teased with things that are now definitely off the list!

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On the Other Hand…

Delish.com

I made a “Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili” last night. The recipe is from Delish.com

My husband called it a ‘stew’ rather than chili, but then tasted it and said it was, “Yummy!” When I asked if we should freeze the rest of it, he said, “No, I want to have more tomorrow.”

High praise, indeed.

Thank you, Delish.com

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Setting Up in the Greenhouse

Right now it’s 60 degrees F., so I used the opportunity to go ahead and get some seeds planted in my greenhouse.

It’s REALLY windy outside, so I propped the open greenhouse door against the side of the greenhouse and put a chair up to it so it wouldn’t blow closed and lock me in. :0)

I prepared three flats (72 plants each) and planted one flat of iceberg lettuce, one flat of spinach, and one flat of Simpson lettuce. It was 70 in the greenhouse, so I’m HOPING that even if it gets to freezing in the mornings, it will stay above that in the greenhouse. I’ll check on the flats tomorrow. If this is successful, I’ll take pics so you can share the sprouting.

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Filed under anticipation, Arkansas, Favorite Things, Gardening, greenhouse, Healthy Eating, quality of life, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds, Starting - Growing in a Greenhouse

Triumphs to Not-So-Much

I’ve told you that I’m trying to learn to cook in a fashion that’s healthy, delicious, and will keep us on the path to losing more of the lard.  So far, the verdicts have been “triumphs” in some cases to “not-so-much” in others, depending on who is doing the deciding.

  • I made “Basic Broccoli Soup” with a recipe from The Longevity Code.  My husband gave it a Thumbs Down – mainly because he doesn’t like broccoli. I loved it, and am eating the rest of the recipe I made for snacks and as part of lunches. I will continue making it, keeping some on hand all the time. The only thing I don’t like about the recipes in this book are that it doesn’t list the number of servings for a recipe or nutritional content. You just have to trust that it’s healthy. He’s a doctor, though, and he’s not selling any of the foods or ingredients in the book, so I do.  (If you’d like the recipe for this, I posted it under “The Longevity Code” in the categories on the right side of the blog page.)
  • Yesterday I made “Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche” a recipe I found online. The one I used was from SkinnyTaste.com.  If you click on the link here, it will take you to the site with the recipe.)

The recipe makes 6 servings. My husband came in while I was serving, and said, “Is that all we get?” so I cut another serving in half for each of us. (You can see we’re still trying to adjust to ‘reasonable’ portions.) The verdict was that I loved it. My husband said it was ‘okay,’ meaning that he’ll eat it – particularly since I served it with a salad – but he’d rather it was not too often. I told him that ‘I’ would eat the rest of it, and am looking forward to a fancy breakfast, plus a lunch and dinner from the leftovers. :0) (I’m going to freeze one portion to see how the heated up serving will taste.)

  • Today I made a “Lemon Cake”  from The Longevity Code book. My husband loves desserts, and I thought that this might be a healthy dessert that he’ll love.

The verdict is in. We both tried it and said, “Blech.” It wasn’t BAD. It tasted lemony. The texture was very dry, so I put some butter on top of the still-warm ‘cake.’ That helped. The dogs liked it fine. All the ingredients are healthy, so we might hand it out to dogs and cats. I may have missed something, but this one – so far – is a ‘Thanks-for-trying.”

 

 

 

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Chomping at the Bit!

It’s too cold outside yet, and I don’t have a heater in the greenhouse, so I can’t start any seeds yet, but NEXT month I’m hoping I can get a head start on the spring planting season.

I’m going through my seeds, thinking I’ll start with lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower this time.

 

I would really love to have some healthy plants grown in my own greenhouse to transplant into our raised bed, square foot garden this spring, instead of having to buy plants locally. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about greenhouses. The problem is that most of the information is written by people who live in pretty cold parts of the U.S.

My experience so far is that unless I have a heater (and we would have to keep it running 24/7 with a 350 foot extension cord running from the house out to the greenhouse) it’s too cold to start anything there yet. We tend to go from winter to way too hot in rapid succession, and then I have trouble – even with the extension cord, an exhaust fan, and the opposite people door open, to keep it COOL enough! So I’m scouring the net trying to find information that will help me deal with the extremes we have in Arkansas.

 

I’m hoping to start some plants the 1st of March. I’ll post pics of my efforts.

 

This is a picture of my spring garden last year in the raised bed planters my husband and I made. There are SIX 4’x4′ planters held up by angle iron ‘tables’ about my chest height. They allow me to weed, plant, and harvest without having to get up and down a million times or get down on hands and knees.

 

This picture gives you another view of the planters. We also used some netting at the end of July and through August when the sun tries to boil plants right in the ground. You can see the hoses and the sprinklers we use to water the plants automatically. They are attached to an outdoor faucet on a timer.

The planters are filled with Mel’s Mix (combination of peat moss, vermiculite and as many different composts as you can find.) We mix the ingredients together in a portable cement mixer and then bring the mix into the planters to top off. Then we stretch string across in two directions to make the ‘squares’ for planting.

I’m starting to plan where the plants will go.  It’s best if you rotate crops in this set up, just as you would if you were planting in the ground. We follow the Square Foot Garden book by Mel Bartholomew, where he suggests how many plants to plant in each square. He suggests one plant per square for things like broccoli, 4 per square for lettuce, 9 for other plants, and 16 for radishes.  We space them wider than he suggests, having healthier plants that way. (He tends his garden every day, sometimes even more. Since we’re not that conscientious, wider works better for us.)  He also suggests that you place like plants away from each other – such as one broccoli, then lettuce, then radishes, then cauliflower in a row to avoid transmission of bugs or any other problems from one plant to another.

I made a grid and I fill them in with what I’m planting where. I use the old one to figure out a new plan for the next ‘crop,’ trying not to plant the broccoli in the same squares as I did the last time.

We have converted two brick planters on the other side of the house to be tomato planters.

I’m at the stage of being excited and doing lots of research and planning.

If you have a greenhouse or do square foot gardening and have tips or suggestions, I would LOVE to hear them!

Can you tell I’m ready for spring? :0)

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The Verdict is In

My husband gave it the Basic Broccoli Soup a try and doesn’t care for it. I think it tastes really good. If you’re interested, here is the recipe –

Basic Broccoli Soup – Dr. Kris Verburgh, The Longevity Code

Basic Broccoli Soup 

¼ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped  (I used minced garlic from a jar)

4 cups water

1 pound broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces

2 vegetable bullion cubes (I used chicken)

Pepper

Finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the water into the pan and add the broccoli, bouillon cubes and pepper. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and blend the broccoli with an electric mixer or immersion blender to puree. Serve with parsley.

Tip –

You can also add 1T dried basil, 1 bay leaf (removed before blending), and 1 small, chopped onion, for extra flavor. (I did this)

You can also make the soup thicker by using more veggies – for example, substituting 1 lb 10 oz of veggies for the water. ( I’m thinking I’ll add spinach leaves to this next time.)

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