Sunday, April 22, 2012

My wonderful readers and friends!

I am still here, I just needed a huge break from blogging my dear friends :) I felt a little burnt out on ideas, recipes, etc... I was starting to feel like I wasn't having as much fun blogging as I had in the past, less inspired and motivated. After a nice break I am feeling so much better and I'm actually going to be putting my efforts towards this blog and another! Here is my other blog, which is dedicated to my fitness goals. At the moment I'm trying out Jillian Michael's 90 day Body revolution. I'm on day 6, so feel free to follow me as I work my butt off to try to get into better shape :) Even though I lost 44-50lbs eating clean, whole foods I still have a bit of weight I want to lose to get into a healthy, happy range. I really like structured workouts, where I know I have to set aside 30mins-1 hour to workout a day :)

We went to Saltspring Island recently where we met some wonderful organic farmers, and veggie lovers at the farmer's market. The market had only been open for it's 2nd Saturday and it was packed! For such a small island they really give local markets a run for their money! The talent, the products, the food and entertainers are amazing!!!

See for yourself, thought I'd share a few photos :)

Awesome entertainer! He did a lot of balancing with spinning bowls, at one point I think he had 8 of them going and he was hanging on to each of them. He balanced one on a tip of an umbrella! Very cool entertainer :)

Here are some sprouted peanuts that I bought from a lovely young couple. They also sold mushrooms, sprouts and rice paper sprout wraps. Their products were amazing and decently priced. The peanuts were such a different texture to regular store bought nuts that we are all used too. Moist, soft, yet crunchy with a much milder flavour. We shared this with friends :)

MMMM my lunch and goodies to take home. I had that really yummy rice paper sprout wrap with a fresh squeezed orange dip vinegrette :) My spicy sprouts are also shown in this pic! I gobbled those up when I got home mostly on salads :)

*sighs* Isn't the harbor gorgeous...loved eating lunch there. Live music playing in the background, the sun's warmth on my skin and the ocean...beautiful day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oh my Lavender!

We are going lavender crazy on our little farm as you can see....

I'm holding about 18 bundles in my arms and even though it looks like it was easy to carry, I assure you it wasn't. What do you do with so much lavender? Every year this happens to us..what to do with it? Last year we dried it all and took off the buds for chocolate baking and sachets. The year before I made tons of lavender wands but it was very time consuming. I've always wanted to try making the bath bombs or essential oils, but haven't ventured out their yet.

This year I've decided to create something that actually saves us a bit of money, lavender dryer sheets! To make them you can use any cloth you wish, I'm going to use old t-shirt sleeves and pant legs. Fill them up with some lavender, sew shut and throw it in the dryer with the rest of your clothes. They are good for about 10 drys and I have a lot of old t-shirts and lavender...this should last us for the entire year! Supposedly your clothes turn out great, not over powered by the lavender at all. Going to do this in the next few days, so I will post the project once we are done!

What would make try making with an abundunce of lavender?

Enjoy the weekend!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vegetable Bean & Lentil Soup

This turned out wonderfully delicious even on a hot day! We sat outside in our patio chairs, enjoyed watching the sunset and devoured some amazing soup. Sometimes when I have one or two ingredients I run an Internet search to find something healthy and child-friendly to make. My main ingredients today were beans and lentils. I also wanted it to be low-calorie, flavourful, healthy and stocked full of veggies. I saw a lot of recipes for black bean soup...gave them all a once over and decided to just create my own soup in my crock pot. Best thing about recipes like this are that they are versatile. I used what I had in my cupboard and fridge and you can use what you have, so don't be discouraged if you see something on the ingredients list that you don't have.

Vegetable Bean & Lentil Soup

2 medium onions
2 celery stalks
4 overripe tomatoes
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables(corn, peas, carrots, green beans)
1 cup of kale
1 can of black beans
1 cup of dry navy beans
1/2 cup of dry lentils
4 cups veggie stock
4 cups of cold water
1 package onion soup mix (optional: you can choose to do 8 cups of veggie stock instead, I was just using what I had on hand)

~Spice mix~
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper


Makes 15 servings!

Turn your crock pot on low. Dice all the veggies and put them in your crock pot. Add the canned black beans. Then add your vegetable stock, water and onion soup mix. Finally incorporate the spices into the mix.

If you are using dried navy beans and lentils like I did you have to soak them in water for 3 hours and typically boil them for another 1.5. I did this as the rest of my soup was cooking in the crock pot, then added them during the last hour of cook time. You could also just get canned beans, but remember canned means a lot of salt, dried beans have hardly any.

Let your soup cook for 5-6 hours in the crock pot. Then use a blender to puree 10 cups of your soup. If you are using an upright blender do only 1-2 cups at a time because hot soup means steam can force your lid to pop off. Leave the other 5 cups of soup chunky. Pour the blended soup back in with the left over chunky soup and mix them together. It turns out amazing!

I love how low calorie this soup is...I plugged the ingredients into a recipe creator and I came out with:
15 servings at 1 cup each
84 calories per serving
16 carbs
0 fat
5 protein
4 fiber
400 sodium (This could be reduced if you used no canned beans and strictly veggie stock)

The review from the family was positive! The hubby had 3 cups worth and loved every bit. Although at this moment he is lying here beside me stuffed and complaining he ate to much! Scratch that now he is sleeping, so remember only a cup or so will do you. I had 1 serving and felt totally satisfied.

My 4 year old is a bit unsure about beans, luckily we had a few parenting tricks. We told our little one that his favorite superhero loved this soup because it gave him the energy to go exploring and run fast. Our little guy hesitated, but then gave it a couple bites..said yuck and then ate more! Got to love that he really wanted to not like it because of the beans, but then ate it because it tasted so good.
My thoughts on this recipe are to enjoy it while you are camping or hiking like us! When the weather starts to cool off in the evening and you can sit outdoors and keep warm. It will keep you full for quite some time and that always helps while outdoors.
Enjoy your long weekend! The weather has finally picked up here, so we've been busy enjoying it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ginger is my new best friend!

Okay, so I know a lot of people blog about smoothies and everyone has a recipe or two that they love. Personally I'm addicted to smoothies all year round and I love experimenting with flavors. I have my favorites, but this recipe is the best smoothie I've ever made. It should win a smoothie award, if there is such a thing. What made this smoothie different from others is that it included ginger root, which I was a bit nervous adding. I love ginger in recipes, but in a smoothie?! I realize now that as long as you have a balance of sweet and creamy, you can't go wrong with adding ginger. Don't hesitate, just try, you will be pleasantly surprised! Without further wait, I present...

Mango-Melon Ginger Smoothie

1 cup frozen cantaloupe

1/2 cup frozen mango

1/2 cup of soy milk

1 medium banana

1/2 tsp of grated ginger

Throw it all in a blender and blend it up! This serves 1 person :)
You end up with a sweet, tangy, creamy smoothie. The sweetness from the cantaloupe and mango really balance the creaminess of the banana and soy milk. Then you get hit with a nice kick of ginger that is not overwhelming at all. If it was overwhelming my 4 year old wouldn't have gone near this smoothie. Check it out...We smile a lot when we drink smoothies!

I had to make another batch because he wanted his very own smoothie in his special smiley face cup. He gobbled up his and half of mine!

Then he insisted he take a picture of me this morning with my Mango-Melon Ginger smoothie!

Yum what a great start to our day!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Farmer's Market Clearance Section

I'm an avid shopper in the clearance section of the Farmer's Markets. I can usually find throw away tomatoes, onions, cantaloupe, bananas, peppers, apples..geez you name it they clearance it. I try to check on it a few times a week, some days I end up leaving with nothing and other days I have huge bags full. Yesterday I found some gems, two 10-lb bags of tomatoes 1.99/each, 2 cauliflowers .99/each, 2 cantaloupes 1.49 for the pair, 10-lb bag of green beans/1.49...yum! Nothing was damaged just needing to sold before being over ripe.

Today I sliced some chunks of cantaloupe some for the fridge and some for the freezer.We pulled these out of the freezer and snacked on them after being outside in the heat. These were great because they were only slightly frozen from only being in the freezer for an hour.

Speaking of freezers I seriously need to consider buying a deep freeze. With all the vegetables and fruits we are growing in our garden, picking at the local farms and buying at the farmer's market we won't be able to keep up with it all. Need to freeze!

As for the tomatoes..well I decided it was probably best we made a tomato sauce with spaghetti squash noodles. My son's favorite dish! I decided that this time around I would try to make sauce the proper way, which meant removing the skin, seed and core. I typically would just remove the core and throw it all into a pot to cook, but then you get skins and seeds in your sauce. I don't really mind, but I wanted to give the "correct" way a try. I discovered very quickly the easiest way to remove the peel...
Score the bottom of the tomato with a paring knife

After you remove core, let them soak in hot water in the sink.

After 10 minutes soaking you can start peeling the skin, opening the tomato and removing the seeds.

Then put in a blender or food processor

You end up with a smooth, delicious puree!

With this puree you could create dishes other than tomato sauce. Think cold or hot soups, salsas, thick tomato juice, dips, the list is endless..tomatoes are used in so many recipes! As for using it as a sauce I may have to add some store bought tomato paste because we like our sauce a bit thicker. I have the sauce cooking on low in my slow cooker to see if it will thicken. It tastes amazing though with fresh oregano, basil, sauteed onions and garlic! Oh yum, dinner is going to be good!

Lastly, there is a great contest give away happening over at Color Wheel Meals for an Ascenta Health product! Check it out!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Gardening Days Part 2: Raised Vegetable Bed

FYI: This post is going to be a picture parade!

Our amazing zucchini plants!

We have way more vegetable plants growing, sprouting and seeded than yard plants. First up is our raised and covered bed, which was made with some scrap wood and vapor barrier my dad gave us last year. You can see the post here. We've made a few adjustments to the original design, such as attaching small pieces of wood to hold the plastic frame down. After using this cold frame and growing veggies in it for 2 seasons, we would probably design it totally different. For a starting point, it was a great learning experience.
Here is a picture that we took in the fall. To be honest I was happy to reuse material, but I thought the outer boards were a bit ugly. So an idea started forming...

Here is the after pic! We invited over family and everyone took part in painting the outside boards. Everyone had fun free handing it and painting whatever they wanted.

What you will need to paint your raised garden bed:
-White outdoor primer (paint the outside boards carefully and let dry)
-A variety of acrylic paints, paint brushes, a blanket to put on the ground, a fun group of people and a great imagination!

This is a wonderful project for children with adult supervision of course. It encourages interest in growing fresh foods! My lil one constantly looks out the window or runs outside just to look at his artwork. I didn't realize how much of an impact this would have on him, he just loves that he painted something outside. The added bonus it looks beautiful compared to the boring old wooden boards they once were!

My son's beautiful choice in colors!

My lil one took this pic of me this morning when I wasn't looking! My hair is getting so long you can't even see my face in this photo! I think I was pulling some baby slugs out of the garden (our major pest this year). I'm just grateful they are not those big, ugly slugs! I won't touch those things.

Here are the vegetables in the raised bed...
Green Bush Beans that are constantly fighting to survive against those slugs

Cucumber plants that I had to purchase as starts. I planted Spacemaster seeds, but they never came up.

A lettuce mix that included parsley, basil, swiss chard and 4 different types of greens! This was my first time trying out seed tape, which is basically seeds placed in bio-degradable tissue that you plant out in the soil. Saves you time, plus the small seeds that can be hard to work with are spaced evenly within the seed tape. I had mixed results with seed tape so far. The first growth only grew half the row, but the second growth seems to be sprouting well.

Baby strawberries on the way!

The strawberry plants...with a yummy red berry ready to be eaten!

First strawberry of the season, picked by my lil one. We shared it, and it had amazing flavor!

Since taking these photos a few days ago, I've planted some radishes (only a 20 day crop!) and 2 more lettuce mixes. Hopefully in a couple weeks we will see some sprouting!

So ends the tour of our raised garden bed, up next is my container gardening! I have about 20+ large containers full of veggies!