Category Archives: Vegetables

Seeds Update

There is some good news and not so good news.

Bad news first,  the indoor herb seedlings didn’t make it.  I suspect I didn’t get the peat pots wet enough to start and the sides needed to be covered better with the plastic.  I’ll direct sow them again outside.  I think they will be fine.  I’ll just need to wait a little longer to harvest them.

Now for the good news!  The tomato plants are doing great.  So great in fact, I needed to find homes for them.  Several people have said they will be happy to adopt the little leafy guys once they are hardened off and can live outside.  They should be ready in about two weeks.

So, tell me how is your garden growing?

Many  blessings,

Cynthia

The Day After Soup

Let me apologize for the somewhat dramatic and still somehow vague title of this post. I just couldn’t think of anything else…

I went out to eat last night. The Italian food I had was quite delicious and I didn’t overindulge -I didn’t even have bread or wine- but I am having the same problem I always do the day after I eat out, salt and oil overload! Even vegetarians can’t escape the liberal generous mammoth use of salt at restaurants. I am just not used to it and feel a bit off today.

My first attempt to rebalance was to make a large smoothie:

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An all fruit smoothie has a lot of natural sugar in it but I am not sweating that because it is packed with natural fiber, vitamins, micronutrients and a high water content … which I need right now.

My next order of business was to start up a nourishing vegetable soup:

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Making a veggie soup once a week is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. You don’t even need a recipe. Chop up a few cups of colorful vegetables, throw them in a pot and cover them with broth or water, add spices, add heat and wait. I like to throw mine in my little crockpot. Heat on high and it’s ready in time for lunch, on low for dinner. Add pre-cooked beans and you have a complete meal. (I would suggest waiting until the last 20 minutes before adding any leafy greens to avoid over cooking.)

So, there are two of my picks to stay healthy during the holidays.  How do you stay in balance this time of year?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Nature’s Bounty: Fresh from the Farmer’s Market

“All my hurts my garden spade can heal.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A dream of mine is to grow a lot of my own food and flowers.  Alas, a garden is a demanding avocation.  So, I must set aside that dream for now as my schedule does not permit.  In the meanwhile, thankfully, there is the farmer’s market.

I go to the farmer’s market usually every other week.  To me, it is an almost magical place.  The veggies and fruit seem more ravishing than jewels.  It makes me happy to gaze upon them, nestled in their display cases, practically bursting with delicious ripeness.  I was so excited by the first Long Island tomatoes, you would have thought it was my birthday.

One of the greatest pleasures is eating, fresh, ripe fruit and veggies in season!  I buy almost all organic produce when I shop at the supermarket but not even that tastes quite as delicious as food that was picked within a day of when I purchased it.  That first bite of tomato was like eating sunshine, the rain and the rich earth all in the form of a juicy, delectable, plump, meaty red tomato!  There is something very satisfying and right about eating tomatoes or corn, grown in the same environment you live in.

The farm I buy from is about 90 miles from my home or just shy of a two hour drive.  (The farmer’s market is about five miles away.  I really appreciate the farmers doing the lion’s share of the driving!)  While there is no universal agreement on what makes food local for a consumer.  100 miles has become the standard for many.  So, let’s go with that, shall we?

I think eating food that is grown locally is important for several reasons.  Taste is number one, as you probably already surmised by the way I went on and on in the previous paragraphs.  A close second is that you are buying the food from the people who grew it.  So, they can tell you in detail what their practices are and you can decide if they meet your standards.  Also, you are supporting people in your community by purchasing from them.  The last one I am going to mention is freshness.  Much of the produce you buy in the supermarket is not picked at maximum ripeness.  It is picked early to keep it from rotting in transit.  So, you are not getting the maximum flavor and nutrition, you would have enjoyed had it been allowed to ripen on the vine.

Do you go to your local farmer’s market?  What is your favorite part about going there? Please leave me a reply and let me know in the comments section.

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Natural Way to Start the Day: Summertime Smoothie

Summer is the season of the green smoothie! You can get all your ingredients fresh from the Farmer’s Market. The best foods for our bodies are the ones that are available in season. Getting fruit and veggies from the Farmer’s market ensures that they were grown locally and that they were picked when ripe.

I start every morning with a green smoothie. (When I didn’t get to make it yesterday. I really REALLY missed it!)  Here is what I have been putting in my blender lately:

Summertime Green Smoothie Recipe

Two big handfuls of Kale

The juice of a quarter slice of lemon

One peach, stone removed but skin intact

One cup of almond milk

One banana

Two tablespoons of Chia Seeds (These are rich in protein and fiber!)

I usually just throw it all in the blender and whirl it up. If I remember I will soak the chia seeds in the almond milk first. (Soaking seeds speeds up the time in which you digest them.) Most of the time, I just toss them in the blender with everything else. They still get the job done!

Another variation on this recipe that I like is to replace the peach with a few slices of melon. I try not to go overboard on the fruit. Although it is healthy, spiking your sugar first thing in the morning might have you crashing soon after you get to work.

Do you drink green smoothies in the morning? What do you put in yours? Please let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings to All,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Beneficial: Behold The Mighty Dandelion!

Today, winter turns into spring but it’s snowing… So, it seems like a good time for you and me to discuss dandelions. That’s right, dandelions. Before you decide to kill them again this year, I implore you, let them live. Let them live!

I don’t know who convinced the American public- at-large that we all need lawns that look like pristine, lush, green carpets – probably some brilliant but evil marketing genius at a chemical company – but that person should have been sho- ahem, given a stern talking-to!

Anyway, however it happened, it’s a damn shame because the dandelion, and other so-called weeds with wonderful health-benefitting properties, went from friend to foe in the space of a generation, when all they ever wanted to do was heal us and the rest of the planet. That’s right! Those lovely, little yellow flowers are really nature’s medicine. Dandelions are meant to nourish us and many other species.

The bees, for example, rely on dandelions for food in the spring before many other flowers are blooming and again in the autumn, after less hearty blossoms have long been spent. Much has been made recently about the declining bee populations and the dire consequences that stem from their loss. You can help the little buggers out by leaving the dandelions alone! I mentioned in an earlier post that you may have noticed your dog or cat eating dandelions. They do this because instinctively they know that dandelions will clean them out and improve their health. Dandelions are a mild diuretic and they are high in vitamins and minerals. *

Guess what? Dandelions will help get you healthy and clean you out too! I can hear you now. “Oh Cynthia! You’re being weird again! There is no way I am picking dandelions from my yard and eating them!” Well, you don’t have to eat them straight from the yard. Bring them in the house and wash them first for Goodness’ Sake!

Early spring dandelion leaves are quite tender and delicious in a raw salad. I have also put them in smoothies. A lovely herbal tea can be made from fresh or dried dandelion leaves. Wildman Steve Brill has several interesting cooked dandelion root recipes on his website. You can even make the flowers into wine! (I gotta try that… one of these days!)

Have I convinced you not to poison or rip out and discard this misunderstood herb yet? Are you impressed by all the health-improving benefits offered by the mighty dandelion? If you still feel weird about picking these beautifully abundant plants, you can always go to Fairway and pay several dollars for a bunch instead of allowing them to grow in your own backyard!

What’s your take on dandelions? Friend or foe? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

*A somewhat decent but by no means complete list of dandelion’s beneficial properties:

  1. Food for animals and insects
  2. Diuretic
  3. Eases indigestion

Good source of:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Biotin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous
  • Inositol
  • B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D

Love and Blessings to All,

 

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

Naturally Veggie: Tater Tot Casserole. Yum!

Looking for a Meatless Monday Meal?  How ’bout Veggie Tater Tot Casserole?

My recipe

  1. One Onion
  2. Head of Cauliflower
  3. Fresh Spinach
  4. Package of Firm tofu
  5. Cup of Veggie Broth
  6. Package of Veggie Cheese
  7. Can of Cream of Mushroom (To be honest… might not have been vegan but it was organic.)
  8. Tater Tots Yeah!

Just saute some onions, then add chopped tofu when they start to soften.  I added a little veggie broth when the oil had been absorbed.

Lay it out in a casserole dish. Then layer with fresh or frozen veggies (I used cauliflower and spinach) , add 3/4 cup veggie broth, a can of mushroom soup,  Then veg cheese and top with frozen tater tots. Cover with foil,

I baked for an hour at 350 then put it up to 425 for ten minutes just to crisp up the tots a little.

So good!  I had seconds.  I think you might too.  Enjoy!

Love and Blessings to All,

 

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

Brussel Sprouts: A Former Hater finds…Like

I have always despised brussel sprouts.  As a vegetarian, I generally like all vegetables but not brussel sprouts.  I thought they were mean, nasty, little, bitter cabbages and I avoided them like the plague until today.

I’ve been doing research on nutrition that will support me having the best possible outcome from the dental reconstruction I will begin shortly. (I’ll get more into this in a future post.)  So, you can imagine my inner conflict when I discovered that brussel sprouts, those angry little wet balls of green slimy leaves, are loaded with vitamin K, essential to strong bones, and calcium… among many other health benefits.  Dammit!  Now, I was going to have to give those little suckers another try.

So, today with an open heart and mind, I opened a bag of fresh (well, you know, Trader Joe’s fresh) of brussel sprouts.  I dutifully cut off what remained of their little tails and split them in half.  (I learned it was good to split them in half because sometimes little creatures can be found amongst the leaves…ewwwl!)  Then I put them in a bowl full of water with three tablespoons of vinegar for ten minutes to clean them.  I rinsed them off and was ready to roast.

I figured, since I tend to like roasted veggies that, roasting might increase the odds I actually would find them edible.  I added a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Then I put the little green guys in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

When I checked on them, I was pleased to find them just starting to turn brown and tender but not slimy.  I cautiously put one in my mouth and began chewing.  While, I would say they definitely were mildly astringent but not at all bitter.  They were quite pleasant.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was actually enjoying brussel sprouts!

So, to any of you veggie avoiders out there (you know who you are!) you may want to give your detested dish another try.  I think prep is key when it comes to certain vegetables.  So, if you don’t like it the way your grandma made it; find a new recipe; mix it up; invent your own!  It might improve your health and make your world a little more interesting.

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

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justdragonfly