Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Salad in a jar

I just learned about using a sealing machine mason jar attachment to keep salad fresh longer in a jar. The picture above is the lettuce so far at day 8, without the slightest bit of browning. Isn't that cool? No more washing lettuce, cutting lettuce, and washing the salad spinner every other day! I learned about it from this site.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

update on health & diet

The alkaline diet is great, but I did feel restricted, especially when it came to meat. I heard about diets based on blood type, so I had to read more. I took out "Eat Right 4 Your Type" from the library. I am a type O... meat eater! After reading this book, I started regularly eating meat (grass fed, pasture raised meats, not factory raised meats) and eggs again. I felt even better, and not deprived anymore. I don't know if I agree with everything in the book, but I do know I personally could never be a vegetarian. I believe some people thrive on a vegetarian diet, and others do not.

Reading "Sugar Nation" made me realize I needed to watch my carbs a little closer. I haven't been obsessive about it, but I am more aware of them now (i'm trying to have eggs as often as I have oatmeal, instead of oatmeal every morning, etc).

I have also eliminated wheat from my diet, except for occasional Ezekiel bread. I have felt better since, and have not had reflux or severe bloating in over a month. Since adding meat back in my diet, and eliminated most wheat, I have lost more weight. I am now 12 pounds down. I have it on hold at the library, so I haven't read it yet, but I am waiting to read "Wheat belly". From what I have read in the reviews, wheat has been genetically modified into something that is very bad for you, even whole wheat. I believe it, and feel more energetic & am losing weight faster now that i'm off wheat. I do believe it's addictive, because the less I have of it, the less I want it.

The rundown: I have no reflux anymore, my bloating is minimal or gone, my skin is clearer, I have lost 12 pounds, I have energy, and I feel happier.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dew on strawberry leaf

I just liked how the dew drops lined this strawberry leaf so perfectly.

I see strawberry leaves and raspberry leaves used as ingredients in tea, so I may try drying some of my own this year!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kale Chips

I had been seeing them here & there online for about a year now. I just kept thinking "those can't possibly taste good", so I haven't made them. Since i've been getting a little more adventurous with my veggies lately, I decided to try them (used the recipe on this blog). Amazingly all of us liked them, including my 6 year old, but especially me! I'll definitely be making more when my kale is full grown.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Garden updates!

Everything's growing great so far! The peas have grabbed onto the fence pieces, and are creeping up.

The kale and spinach look great.

The strawberry patch is doing just fine on it's own.

The beans were ready to go into the garden, so I threw the compost into the garden. I have 2 composters, so I can switch off every other year.

I planted the beans in the garden, but it's still early in the year, so to create some extra warmth, I placed 2 old french doors (thanks, lady on Freecycle!) on top of the raised garden to create a sort of green house effect. I plan to get more to cover the whole garden, but for now, I will just throw a tarp over the top to create a little tent, if it looks like we'll have frost again. The cinderblocks also help to keep in the heat from the day.

That's it for now!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The alkaline diet

I just thought i'd share my experience with the alkaline diet. What is it? Basically, humans are meant to be more alkaline and less acidic than they are. The acid your body produces, from eating the wrong foods, is detrimental to your body, your energy, your weight, and your happiness. There are charts & books out there, but essentially all fruits & veggies are alkaline, foods in their natural state or more alkaline than anything processed. Meats, dairy, processed food, coffee, anything carbonated, and anything made from flour is acidic. When I first saw the list I probably visibly paled... no meat? No dairy? No wheat? No coffee? What will I eat???
= ?

The good news is that you are striving for 80%/20%, and the 20% is acidic, so you can still have all your favorites, just in moderation.

How & why did I start the alkaline diet? I was having constant sinus pressure and headaches almost daily. Nothing was working (yes, I used a neti pot daily), so I went to an ENT. He told me I had GERD (reflux), and that it was most likely traveling up my throat at night & irritating my sinuses. The thought never occurred to me that the terrible, almost nightly, heartburn could be related to the sinus issues! He gave me a list of no-no foods, and said to eat nothing from the list. It was a long, sad list of every food I love. I started to do some Googling. I found that, along with the other list of things that are bad about it, chlorine in tap water (it's in most bottled waters too!) can aggravate or even cause GERD. I started to drink only boiled tap water (chlorine is a gas, so it off gasses when boiled) and spring water. That made the reflux much less severe, and the sinus headaches started to disappear. Though not as often, I was still having some heartburn, so I kept Googling. That is when I discovered the alkaline diet, and I have been heartburn free. I have been following the alkaline diet pretty close (I am probably not at the 80%/20% yet, but getting there!) for about 3 weeks now. My heartburn is gone, and my sinus pressure & headaches are gone. My energy level is much higher, I feel happier, my joints/muscles feel less achy, I have lost 5 pounds (without limiting foods, just picking more alkaline ones), and as a weird little bonus, my body odor has gone down considerably. Another odd thing, that is definitely good, is that my running headaches have gone away. About a year ago, I started getting a headache every time I would run. It would start about an hour after my run, and would last the entire day. When I spent my whole Thanksgiving with a headache, after running a turkey trot race, I gave up on running. Now that I am feeling so energetic, and healthy, I just had to try again a couple of weeks ago, and no headache! I thought it might have been a fluke, and ran a few more times since, and no headache.

So, what am I eating? I would have said yuck a few weeks ago, but I discovered that I really like greens (kale, spinach, etc.) sauteed in olive oil, with almond slivers, and a pinch of sea salt. Lots of lettuce salads (with my homemade olive oil based italian dressing), of course, fruits for snacks, smoothies, soups that are rich in veggies & low in meat, oatmeal with chopped apples & maple syrup (better than McD's when you do it at home!), avocados, almond butter sandwiches on sprouted wheat bread (sprouted wheat is better than regular, and peanut butter=acid forming, almond butter=alkaline forming), water with lemon in it (surprisingly citrus fruits are alkaline forming), olive oil popcorn, and then a little bit of whatever-the-heck-I-want to balance it all out ;). I am down to one cup of instant coffee (less caffeine than brewed) a morning, and drink herbal tea after that. I will be replacing the instant coffee with black tea (even less caffeine) next week. I may not go caffeine free all together, but tea, any tea, is less acidic than even decaf coffee. I started out forcing myself to eat oatmeal every morning (I like oatmeal... I was just not hungry in the morning), and my body adjusted. I now look forward to breakfast, and as a result have really cut down on my night time snacking, which I never thought I would. I don't feel deprived of food, and my appetite has gone down, though it is challenging for me to come up with dinners that my whole family will enjoy and it be mostly alkaline forming. My son is easy going about trying new things, and likes healthy foods, but my fast food addicted meat eater husband has really surprised me by really liking quinoa, and an all veggie soup I made. I'll get better at this as I go along, and it will be easier, i'm sure. If you have any good high alkaline recipes or meal ideas that you love, please let me know! I can use all the help I can get.

Well, that's my story! I base my alkaline/acid experience on reading 3 books on the subject, as well as many websites. I am not an expert on anything, so I advise you to do your own research before beginning any diet, though from what I read, everyone can benefit from a high alkaline diet.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ist planting of the year!

I planted today! Usually it is too early to plant anything this time of year, but it's been such a mild winter that i'm afraid to wait, and miss out on spring crops. I made a little pea tent on the patio... a modified version of the pea tepee I did 3 years ago:

That one I planted directly in the ground. I thought my son (then 3) would like to play in it, but he really had no interest in it, other than to eat the peas :). This one is in pots on the patio.

Maybe the dog with enjoy playing with this one ;).

I also planted some spinach & kale for the patio.

It's too early to plant the stuff in my raised garden, but I felt like I needed to do something in there, so I tilled it (just overturned & fluffed the first few inches of dirt with a pitchfork).

I checked on my strawberry patch, which seems to being doing just fine without any help from me, so I let it be.

Since I am done with the spring seeds for this year, I put them in a baggie in the deep freezer to use next year. I read somewhere that freezing them helps them last longer.

While I was in there, I took out some bean & melon seeds left over from last year. I won't be planting the melon seeds this year, because they didn't produce much last year, and took up a lot of room. The beans were great though. We got a lot of beans all summer, and none of us got sick of them. I even put them in my pasta salads, and they were great.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pocket Fisherman!

My husband has teased me endless about it, but I have always wanted a Ron Popeil Pocket Fisherman. Today, at the Kane County flea market, I found mine! It had never been used (I hesitate to call it "new", since it was made in 1972), and came with the original box, instructions, and bag. I can't wait to go fishing this summer!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Garden planning!

Can you believe gardening season is almost here? I just got some kale seeds to start this week, and i'll be starting sugar snap peas as well.

I'm going to do things very different this year. Last year I had, in this order:

melons - beans - blank space - tomatoes - peppers

The melons didn't do so well, and took up a lot of space, so i'll be getting them at the Green Market instead. The beans were great, and a good buffer between the peppers & tomatoes, because they are shorter. I was expecting the tomatoes to take over the blank space, but instead they grew over the peppers, and robbed them of the sun. I got 2 peppers from them all summer. It was all a great learning experience.

This year, I will grow:

bell peppers - beans - tomatoes, in the raised garden, and sugar snap peas in pots. Maybe i'll do another pea tent, but this time on the patio.

I think I might not buy any tomato plants, but instead i'll use my "volunteer plants". Last year I had a bunch of tomato plants spring up where I didn't plant them. I was very excited about them, and asked around. Apparently theses are called "volunteer plants". We should have plenty of these next year! I let all the half eaten tomatoes fall to the bottom of the garden, so there should be lots of seeds in there!

Last year we mixed in our compost with soil from the garden center. This year, we only need to add compost, so the plants should flourish.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

cooking, cooking, cooking

It's been a while since i've posted anything! Lately i've been cooking up a storm. I do not enjoy cooking, but this is in preparation of spring & summer, when my son & I are constantly busy & on the go. I like to cook in large batches and freeze multiple meals, so when we are busy I can just thaw them out and heat them up. We are all getting bored with my usuals, and though Jack is not a picky kid, dinners are the most challenging meal, so I have been trying some new stuff. I am making a lot of stuff with ground beef, because we recently bought some grass fed beef in bulk. Here are some recipes that i've tried (and tweaked... I can't leave a recipe alone!) this week (pictures are all from the recipes' sites)...

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili from This was a hit with my family (the last chili I tried wasn't :( , so it's not just a chili thing), and I will be making this again for sure. Tweaks: I skipped the black pepper (none of us are fans of black pepper), and I used real garlic, instead of garlic salt. I don't know if the brand of salsa makes the difference, but I used Trader Joe's.

This Mac & Cheese I found on Pinterest sounded cool, because the pasta is cooked in the milk, which forms the base for the sauce. I tried this as a lunch for me & Jack, but it wasn't a hit. It might have been because I used extra sharp cheddar, instead of a mild cheddar. I will try this again with regular cheddar.

Sloppy Joes, again from This was a huge hit. Everyone had seconds, including Jack! He proclaimed it "as good as the ones from the Green Market", and those are made by a chef using fresh & local ingredients! My tweaks on this recipe: I skipped the brown sugar (totally unnecessary in my opinion), used twice the amount of green peppers & onions that it called for, skipped the black pepper, and used real garlic instead of powdered. I think next time i'll use whole grain dinner rolls, instead of hamburger buns, so they are mini.

I also tried these cookies I found on Pinterest. The title alone made me want to try them, "Hippie Cookies {that don't suck}", lol. My tweaks: I used sweetened coconut (I couldn't find any unsweetened at the store), and I used craisins instead of dried cherries (much cheaper!). My opinion? If you would have told me they were muffin tops, I would have said they were delicious, but as cookies, they are a bit bready and not as full flavored as a regular cookie. Jack said they were ok, but he kept asking me for more of them, so he must have really liked them. What would I do differently? I would use twice as many craisins & chop them up, so they were in every bite. The bites with craisin in them were very yummy, but the bites without were bland. Would I make these again? Yep!

I'll try to post more recipes as I make them.