Sunday, May 6, 2012
by Jennifer
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I Haven’t Stopped Posting! Check Out My Other Blog

It may seem like I have not been posting recently, but actually I have been posting on my other blog, Jen’s Natural Kitchen.  I love to cook and to eat so I started sharing my recipes as well as some of my other activities on my cooking blog.  I will still be posting on this blog about my garden and my other green oriented activities, but I invite you to check out my cooking blog for recipes and crafts.

Homemade Granola Bars

Sunday, March 18, 2012
by Jennifer
1 Comment

Homemade Granola Bars

I like to make homemade snacks because they taste great and they do not include the chemicals, artificial colors or preservatives that are commonly found in store bought foods and which are all things I actively avoid in my family’s diet. By making snacks at home I am also able to fully customize the flavor to my taste and, very importantly, to my kids’ taste. In most cases, making your own snacks is way more cost effective than buying store bought snacks so you can really stretch your food budget by putting in a relatively small amount of time and effort.

One of the snacks that I have had great success with is homemade granola bars because the recipe is very simple and endlessly variable. Continue Reading →

Cabbage

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
by Jennifer
2 Comments

Cabbage Harvest Happiness

I am experiencing cabbage harvest happiness right now because I just picked my first cabbage and it is a beauty!  I almost can’t believe that I grew it myself in my square foot garden.  I posed my dog next to the cabbage in the picture to show size perspective, I think it is hilarious that a vegetable can be bigger than my dog.

Granny Smith Apples

Wednesday, February 8, 2012
by Jennifer
2 Comments

Mindful Eating: A Different Approach to Food

I posted this at my cooking site, www.jensnaturalkitchen.com today and I feel like it is equally appropriate here so I am posting it here as well.

I just read a really interesting article in the New York Times about the concept of mindful eating.  It is a very simple concept, the idea behind mindful eating (or mindful anything) is simply to slow down and completely focus on the food in front of you.  How does it look? Enjoy the contrasts of colors and shapes.  How does it smell? Try to pick out individual spice smells, then smell it as a whole.  How does it taste? Eat each bite slowly and fully absorb the flavors and textures.  Pause between bites to experience the complete process of each bite from when it enters your mouth to when you fully swallow the food.  Think of eating this way as a meditation and a way of more deeply tuning in to the nutrients that you are putting into your body.  Take a moment to be aware of how the food you are eating will nourish and energize your body so that you can do all of the other things in your life.

One of the benefits of eating this way is that is slows you down.  As most of us know, it takes at least 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that it is full.  Most of us eat too quickly for the message to arrive so we end up eating everything on our plates or even second servings before we realize that we have over eaten.   This leads to problems with digestion and to weight problems as well.  The practice of mindful eating will slow your meal down quite a bit and will allow you time to realize when you are full but not stuffed.

It may be impractical to think that you could or would want to eat everything this way, but sometimes it is good to slow down and connect your mind to what is on your plate.  I encourage you to read the article that I linked to in the first sentence and to try out mindfulness for yourself.

Vacuum Sealer

Thursday, January 12, 2012
by Jennifer
10 Comments

My New Vacuum Sealer is Great! – Review

My new vacuum sealer is great!

Because I cook three meals from scratch every day for a family of four, I rely on having really good kitchen equipment to make my life easier.  I love finding great new kitchen gear at the store and unlike many wives I would be thrilled to receive a blender for my birthday, but, it better be a Vitamix or a Blend-Tec.

Although I love kitchen gear and equipment I don’t acquire it lightly, I am always conscious of my budget and the space limitations in my storage closet.  I don’t buy an item unless I have thoroughly researched it and have satisfied myself that it can be of tangible help to me in the kitchen.  I don’t want an automatic potato peeler that takes up a whole shelf, when a good quality handheld peeler fits in a corner of the utensil drawer and can do the same job plus peel anything else I choose. Continue Reading →

Place Setting

Monday, January 9, 2012
by Jennifer
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Menu for Week of Jan 9

I am finally posting a new menu after my long break! It isn’t that we haven’t been eating, its just that I get wrapped up in the holidays like everyone else and I don’t have time for everything I want to do, which translates to lots of socializing and not lots of blog posts. I had a great time during my time off and I am so grateful that my work schedule coincides with the kids’ school schedule so that I can really slow down and enjoy my time with them on these breaks.

I am not including breakfast and lunches in this menu, just dinners. I went to the store without a planned menu and just bought what was on sale and/or looked extra fresh and delicious. I ended up with 2 pounds of beautiful small red potatoes, 1 lb of fresh and local Key West Pink Shrimp, 1 lb of organic Quinoa (& 1 lb of organic Farro because it was buy 1 get 1 free with the Quinoa), 1 package of organic smoked chorizo, 18 cage free organic eggs, 5 enormous turkey legs (on sale for 99 cents per lb) and 2 turkey wings (same 99 cent sale). I also bought staple items like milk, cheese, fruit, lunchbox snacks and flour. I didn’t buy any veggies besides the potatoes or greens because my garden is generously supplying us with a homegrown bounty at the moment.

Sometimes I shop this way because I am stumped for dinner ideas and I need the visual stimuli at the grocery store to inspire me. Sometimes I shop this way for the challenge of trying to make meals on the fly with what I know I have in the pantry at home, what is growing in the garden and what I see at the store, while staying within my self imposed budget of $125 per week for all three meals. This week it was a little of both.

Dinner
MondayTortilla Espanola
Garden Salad
Fresh Sourdough Bread
TuesdayTurkey Noodle Soup
Cornbread
WednesdayBlack Beans & Rice
Tostones
Avocado Salad
ThursdayCrispy Red Lentil Balls
Quinoa/Veggie salad
Homemade tomato soup
FridayGarlic Shrimp
Parsley Potatoes
Garlic Bread
Green Salad
SaturdayHomemade pizza night
SundayTea & Toast
SFG Harvest Basket

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
by Jennifer
4 Comments

Winter Gardening in the Sub Tropics

Winter gardening in the sub tropics is a delight!  Yesterday I harvested approx. 3 1/2 pounds of veggies from my garden and then immediately turned part of it into a delicious stir fry.  Everything tasted so fresh and good that my green bean hating children were asking for seconds “and make sure to get some of those green sticks too. Those things are good, what are they?”

As yummy as the meal was, harvesting the veggies was even better!  The carrots gave off a sweet perfume as they were pulled from the earth that was surprising and enchanting.  My kids loved the hide and seek of searching for ripe green beans on the leafy bush, while I happily discovered beautiful balls of ruby red radishes pushing their shoulders up through the soil.

Tonight there is a freeze warning for my area so I am heading out to put sheets over all of my precious plants.  Thankfully for us, temperatures are supposed to climb steadily after tonight so this is just one of maybe two times in a season that I have to create a tent city for the veggies!

Christmas tree with presents and fireplace with stockings --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Sunday, December 11, 2011
by Jennifer
2 Comments

Menu for the week of Dec 12

Here is my menu for the week of Dec 12.  I have been pretty busy with all of the holiday events for my kids’ school, holiday parties, work related holiday events and trying to keep up with all of the other stuff I do so my posts for the past few weeks have pretty much been only menus.  I will get back to more content and articles when the holiday pace slows down again, but for now I am concentrating on enjoying all of the special events and traditions of the holidays.  Even my weekly menus reflect the busyness of the season, most of the recipes are simple and relatively quick to make.

I am guessing that most people are in the same situation, all caught up in the bustle of the holiday season and I hope that you remember to actually enjoy your holiday events and traditions instead of getting lost in the pressure of pulling off a perfect Christmas.  Perfection is cruel taskmaster and anyway the truly fun, funny and memorable occasions are usually the ones where something unexpected, weird or wacky happens! Continue Reading →

Food prep w/cheese

Monday, December 5, 2011
by Jennifer
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Menu for the Week of Dec 5

Here is my menu for the Week of Dec 5.  I couldn’t get to my computer last night to post because one of my kids needed it to finish up a school project.

Like everyone, I am finding myself a little pressed for time right now because of all of the fun holiday events that are going on around me so I probably won’t get a chance to link up any of this week’s recipes until Wednesday at the soonest.   The busyness of the season is reflected in my menu, most of the meals are super simple and don’t require extensive prep or cleanup.  I scale back on the complexity of my menus when my life gets busy, otherwise I would find myself stressed and anxious from trying to prepare elaborate meals while meeting all of my other obligations and fun events. Continue Reading →