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It Starts With a Hole

Holding out several packets of squash and tomato seeds to the nursery cashier, I asked.

“Is it too late to plant these?”

She then turned to the bagger and snickered.  “Ummmm, you can always try.  See what happens.”  She said in a “good luck girly” tone.

Okay, so it was no mystery that she was talking to an amateur, but would it have been too much to ask for her to have a little faith?

Armed with a bag of seeds, I then consulted with my neighbor about starting my own garden (Organic and non-GMO, of course!) in which she simply laughed, “By the time you start, gardening season will be over.”

I figured she would be the perfect source considering the fact that she’d managed to grow a jungle at her other house in the mountains.  Pineapples and lemon trees in the mountains of North Carolina?  In the middle of winter?  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  And although she’s a little tight lipped about the secret fairy dust she sprinkles over her garden,I’m beginning to believe one of the main ingredients is Miracle Growth.

I thought that perhaps with a little luck and lots of praying I could develop a green thumb or at least a fraction of it.  Were my ambitions so low that at that point in time my only wish was to have something green sprout out of the ground?  At least an inch or two or something plant-like.

So what if it was June-ish when I finally built a house for my soon-to-be garden and July-ish when I planted my first zucchini seed?  I needed that month to build the best veggie house I could on a budget and to muster up enough courage to actually build the damn thing.  If you haven’t guessed it by now, I was little worried about my adventure into gardening.  (Just a little.)  But I pushed through my concerns despite the snickers and giggles and here’s how it all went down.

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(By the way, I have to admit that if I were a vegetable, I’d want to live here too.)

Why am I imprisoning my beautiful garden you might ask?  

deer

There’s your answer.  Deer are a gardener’s worst enemy along with their buddies, the squirrels.  In Eastern and Central Carolina we don’t play around.  You either build a fence or forget about having food for yourself.  You’ll just be feeding the wildlife instead.

Okay, so I’m not a professional (Just yet), but I know a little somethin’ somethin’ about getting dirty.  I spent plenty of summers planting seeds along my grandfather in his garden when I was a little girl.  As a child, I may not have understood the true awesomeness of burying a seed into the ground or how that simple act had the potential to affect the rest of the world and someday possibly end world hunger, but I knew something great was about to happen.  And that greatness started with a hole.

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It took cutting through the arteries of the earth and going toe-to-toe with live snakes (Did I mention that I hate snakes?  Like run-in-the-house-with-the-rake-still-in-your-hand kind of hate?) to create this late summer miracle, but in the end it was worth the effort and next year I’ll be a little ahead of the game.

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BON APPÉTIT

Seeds Planted:

Zucchini, Patty Pan Squash (a.k.a. Spaceship Squash (the only way I could describe them as a child), crookneck squash, grape tomatoes, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, herbs: basil, chives, parsley, bay leaves, lemon balm, thyme).

Produce Harvested:

Grape tomatoes and all herbs

Healthy Journey!

(Deer: Photo courtesy) http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/whitetaileddeer.htm

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Day 1: Elimination Diet

Around Exit 12.  That’s usually right around time when I look over at my boyfriend on our way home from work.  Like clockwork, Laziness rears its ugly head.

“I don’t feel like cooking dinner tonight.  What do you want for dinner?  Chick-fil-a, Zaxby’s, Tokyo Express?”

“I don’t know, whatever you want.  You choose.”  Says Laziness’s companion.

And now on Day 1 of dipping my toes into the deep end of a very strict Elimination Diet (6 weeks of torture), when I saw Exit 12 in the horizon, I could feel the words forming on my lips.  “Chick-fil…?”  But I kept them to myself, resisting the urge.

No joke, old habits die hard, but so does a mystery sinus infection from HELL.  Having gone to Urgent Care, the Emergency Room, to an allergist, ENT, two family practitioners, two dentists, and being stuffed inside of a tube and having my brain baked for twenty plus minutes only to be told, “It could be a mild sinus infection, but other than that, we can’t find anything wrong with you,” I’ve had enough.

I know that’s a mouth full, but that’s been my life since August 15, 2014.  I remember the day well and hope I never have to repeat such a thing again.  Sinus pressure, dry sinus, wet sinus, brain fog, depression, dizziness, balance issues, fatigue, gas, toothaches, nasal inflammation, breathing issues, chest congestion, popcorn popping in my ears (seriously, that’s exactly what it sounds like on a daily basis), and more, OH MY!!!

‘If the doctors can’t do anything about it, then I’m going to take matters into my own hands.’  That’s what I decided last week.  Figuring the only thing left to do now is hook me up to a bunch of machines and have me run on a treadmill or see a nutritionist, I chose to wait on getting a cardio work-up.  It’s not really an option anyway given the amount of moolah I’d have to dish out.  Even with insurance.  I could see a nutritionist, but my insurance may not cover it either and quite honestly, I’m tired of being poked and prodded.  Another possible solution?  Reboot and try an Elimination Diet!

Now there’s an idea.  Something I’ve somewhat experimented with in the past and had great results.

On paper I’m a very healthy young lady, but physically, I feel like crap.  My diet is crap.  Crap, crap, crap, crap!!!!  That’s what I’ve been putting into my body and expecting to feel like a million bucks. And that’s supposed to make sense?

So I’m doing an elimination diet.  What do I have to lose?  Maybe a few pounds, but weight loss is not my goal, People!

As much as I would love to spend the next 30 minutes or so going over the details of this diet, it’s getting kind of late here and beauty sleep is very much needed.  However, I will list some of the things I’ve eaten today and I’m proud to say that I survived Day 1 without chewing someone’s arm off out of starvation.  High-five for that!!!!

Here we go:

Breakfast: Cream of Rice w/ Almond Milk, Coconut Oil, Cinnamon, and a Pear

Snack:  Homemade Applesauce

Lunch: Mushroom Arborio Rice w/ Cauliflower Dressing and Asparagus (Lots of it)

Dinner: Turkey Burger (No bread), 1/4 Avocado, More Rice, and Steamed Broccoli

*Nibbled on more applesauce and a date while cooking.  Drank a lot of water also.

Healthy Journey!

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Tested: DIY Protein Powder II

powder

Oatmeal….yummmmmm!

Hemp Seeds…delicious!

Quinoa…complete protein perfection!

Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)…nutty awesomeness! (when cooked)

ingredients

All of these ingredients grounded into a fine powder, blended with a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, banana, and honey……a test kitchen disaster.  Folks, the taste was a little rough, but great if you’re into drinking bean flavored milk.  I originally added two tablespoons of the DIY Pro-powder to my normal morning smoothie, but found the garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to be extremely overpowering.

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When adding only one tablespoon, the taste was less extreme and sweeter.  The drink itself was somewhat bearable, but far from enjoyable.  Well, at least I could taste a little bit of the sweetness from the milk and the banana, but the bean flavor was still pretty pronounced.  Soaking the beans overnight and adding a few to the milk and banana mixture may be the solution, but has yet to be tested.

The upside of this kitchen nightmare is that all of the ingredients were things that I had on hand.  In general, aside from the hemp seeds, the ingredients are inexpensive.

There’s potential with this protein combination if I skip the chickpeas, but I think I’m going to play around with a few more ideas as well.

Folks, it ain’t over!

‘NOT SO YUMMMY’ – DIY Protein Powder

1/3 cup oats (not instant)

3 tbsp raw hemp seeds

3 tbsp quinoa

3 tbsp garbanzo beans, uncooked

* Blend ingredients in a food processor or heavy-duty blender until fine powder if formed.

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Healthy Journey!

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Anything Goes in a Bowl Power Lunch

Power Lunch Annie

 

Alright, I’m not going to bore you with an extensive list of ingredients and tedious steps on how to make a healthy lunch.  If you’re like me, you don’t have the patience to read through chapters and chapters of steps.  ‘Work smarter, not harder’ is what I believe in and Folks, this recipe is the result of that philosophy.   The following ingredients are just guidelines simply because they were leftovers.  You can alter this recipe as much as you want, just remember to keep it simple and healthy.

 

Power Lunch

 

If you don’t have leftover quinoa, black beans, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and kale, NO PROBLEM.  Use whatever whole grains and fresh veggies you have in the fridge.  I often find myself wondering what in the heck to do with veggies that are close to going bad or I’m just not in the mood to eat alone.  The solution?  Throw everything together  in a bowl.

Power Lunch Bowl

 

 

Chop your veggies into small pieces or keep them chunky if you prefer.

Afterwards, put ingredients in microwavable bowl and heat for 2-3 minutes until mixture is warmed through.  Not a fan of warm salads?  Feel free to skip the heat.

Finally, add a serving or less of your favorite dressing. (Read food labels and pay attention to serving size.  Some dressings are well over 120 calories per serving.)

DIG IN!

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Substitute Ideas:

Whole Grains: Quinoa, Wheatberry, Barley, Brown Rice, Farro, 100% Whole Grain Pasta (Make sure packages are labeled 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat)

Veggies/Fruit: Carrots, Onions, Spinach, cucumbers, cubed sweet potatoes, apples, pears, blueberries, melons

Protein:  Chicken, Beef, Salmon, Chickpeas, lentils, tofu

Dressing: Whatever rocks your world (Just make sure it’s low in calorie or use less if it’s not.  Better yet, shake things up a bit and make your own healthy concoction.)

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Mango Ginger-Berry Smoothie

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(Makes 2 servings)

1 cup fresh mango

1 cup frozen berries (your choice)

1/2 banana

1/2 cup coconut water

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 cup spinach

1-2 tsp honey

Ice (optional)

*Toss all ingredients in blender.  Blend until smooth.  Detox and Enjoy!

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Lemon-Almond Encrusted Salmon

This is my favorite manly meal.  I never considered eating almonds, lemon, and salmon together.  I cooked this fish the other day and fell in love with it.  No more boring fish meals allowed!!!

Lemon-Almond Encrusted Salmon

(This week’s Brown Bag Secret Ingredient: Almonds)

almond fish

(Makes 2 Servings)

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 tsp dried parsley

1 Tbsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp lemon pepper

Salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp paprika

1 large egg

2 wild salmon fillets (6-8 oz. each)

2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Toss almonds into blender or food processor.  Blend until almond become powder with a mix of pea size chunks or smaller.  This creates a fabulous texture.
  2. Add almond mixture to bowl along with parsley, lemon zest, lemon pepper, salt, and paprika until combined. You may choose to skip the salt given most lemon-pepper spices also have salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat large egg.
  4. Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towel then dip top in egg until coated well.
  5. Next, coat top of salmon fillets with seasoned almond mixture.  You can lightly press the mixture into fillets to help it stick.
  6. Heat olive oil in large pan (medium-high heat).
  7. Lay fish in pan, presentation side down first.
  8. Cook 5-7 minutes, flipping fish half way through cooking time.
  9. Almonds will toast while cooking giving fish an awesome texture!

Add fish to a bed of green salads for a healthy dinner with tons of protein.

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