It’s Wednesday and all over the internet you will find photos with no words of explanation. Why? Because pictures say a thousand words and today is Wordless Wednesday.
I’ve been writing a lot about our small, itty bitty organic garden. I can’t stop writing and sharing photos because I’m in shock that we actually got our act together this year and planted. I’m also amazed that the garden is thriving (it looks like a jungle out there). Here’s what we picked this week. Impressed? I am.
It’s Wednesday and all over the internet you will find photos with no words of explanation. Why? Because pictures say a thousand words. This week I’m going to have a few words of explanation, but I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
Our small garden spot hasn’t been looking very garden-like over the past few years. The weeds took over and I wasn’t sure how or where to begin.
With a little prompting and slight pressure from my husband we decided to spend an afternoon in late May revamping our seemingly hopeless garden into something beautiful. A very sweet friend gave us a few organic seedlings to get things started.
We laid down paper to try to combat the weeds.
We are a few weeks in and look what’s happened.
Can you guess what we’re growing? What’s growing in your garden?
When a restaurant really knocks my socks off I want to share the news. On Mother’s Day we celebrated with another family and decided to try out a vegetarian restaurant, Life Alive in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The restaurant’s tag line is “Urban Oasis & Organic Cafe”-I was already sold before tasting a bite. The exterior and interior of the space is hip and happening. The line to enter was out the door when we arrived, but it moved quickly. There were plenty of options-including vegan- and everything is fresh and organic. The organic vegetables looked like they were straight from a local garden.
The adults were able to chose quickly, but the kids took a while longer. They didn’t see the usual hamburger, hotdog and fries on this menu. The kids rose to the occasion-I loved their adventurous spirit and willingness to try new foods. The kicker was the lengthy smoothie selection. The kids were now sold. Many of the smoothies were dairy free, using almond milk and rice milk.
Check out this delicious sandwich:
The three bean chilli was delicious. My Explorer salad, with red lentil hummus, sesame stix and greens, was unbelievable. In addition to the cafe’s endless selection of vegetarian fare, the restaurant offers simple snacks such as The Crunchy Hippie, which is locally made granola and dried fruit.
If you’re in the Boston area this is one stop not to be missed.
Other locations for Life Alive: Lowell and Salem Massachusetts.
Do you have a vegetarian or organic restaurant near you?
On April 22, 2012 more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012. Earth Day is a day earmarked for action; a chance to show how important the environment is to you. The message of Earth Day can expand far beyond this one day-it can be a theme carried over into our everyday actions and efforts.
In celebration of Earth Day Cascadian Farm sent me an Earth Day Celebration Kit. It arrived in an awesome picnic basket and included Cascadian Farm products, VIP coupons for free products and recipe ideas, along with an extra kit for a giveaway to one lucky reader of Groovy Green Livin!
It’s baseball season for two of my sons, which translates to being out on a baseball field most nights of the week. Trying to squeeze in a decent meal is somewhat tricky, but with a little planning we are able to stick with our healthy eating habits. In keeping with the tradition of celebrating Earth Day every day, we decided to pick a random night and prepare an organic feast together.
My kids love to cook, so it was relatively easy to get them involved in the process. I’ve learned over the years that when they help out they are more likely to eat the final product. We picked out a few recipes from the recipe booklet that was sent along in the kit. Each recipe used some of the great products from Cascadian Farm.
Buying organic is always the better option. Organic food is free of pesticides and other toxins commonly found in conventional products. It’s not always possible and can be cost prohibitive, but we try to buy organic as much as possible. It’s also important to remember that organic doesn’t always mean healthy. It’s important to read the ingredients in every product, organic or conventional.
We started off with roasted vegetable pizza
Added Spa Smoothies for dessert
If you want to join in the fun and create your own organic feast in celebration of Earth day hop on over to the Cascadian Farm Facebook page. You’ll find great recipes, including the pizza and smoothie recipes used in our feast.
Now’s your chance to try out Cascadian Farm products! One lucky Groovy Green Livin reader will receive their very own picnic basket from Cascadian Farm filled with all sorts of goodies (Value $60!).
The giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Christopher S. and thank you to all who entered!
For another opportunity to win this kit, Tiffany at Nature Moms is also giving one away. Check that out HERE.
Gardening is top priority this year. Over the years I have been very diligent about planting a garden each spring with my three boys. Working together to create a vegetable garden has always been an incredibly rewarding process. One of my missions as a parent is to help my children understand that there’s a connection between the food they eat and the earth that grows their food. A garden is a perfect place for that lesson.
Not much can compare to watching children tirelessly dig and craft a garden. However, after 6 years of this gardening ritual we gave it up. Our garden space was growing smaller and smaller each year as the trees grew in and the sunlight decreased. I was also finding it difficult to find the time to make our garden work.
Last year was our first year without a garden and we all really missed it. So this year the plan is to bring our garden is back and make it the best one yet.
Gardening in the Spring
If you are interested in planting a garden here are a few tips to get you started:
Scout out the perfect spot. I’m going to need a new spot this year. Sunlight is one of the most important elements in growing a vegetable garden. Most vegetables need an average of 6 hours of sunlight. Your local climate will dictate which plants will grow well in your garden.
Test your soil. Different types of vegetables require different types of soil. You can buy an inexpensive kit to test the PH of your soil. Once you have tested the soil you can determine what’s needed to enrich your soil. Having quality soil in place will help your garden grow.
Use compost. Create a compost pile or use what you already have. Compost piles provide excellent nutrients for your garden soil. They also are a great spot for dumping your banana peels, grass clippings and apple cores.
Buy organic seeds. Try to avoid buying conventional seeds since chances are those seeds came from a genetically modified crop. There’s also a good chance that conventional seeds were sprayed with pesticides while growing on the parent plant. If it’s too chilly out to plant consider starting your seeds indoors.
Have fun! Turn gardening into a family affair. Your garden doesn’t need to be perfect- enjoy what it has to offer.
Looking for a few more ideas to make gardening a fun event with your baby? Healthy Child Healthy World has a few extra tips.
Are you going to plant a garden this year? What tips do you have?
Broccoli is one of those veggies that’s either hit or miss with most kids (some adults too). Just mentioning broccoli can make the cutest child crinkle up their nose and say “ewww”. My kids are in the “we like broccoli” camp. No crinkled noses. Steamed is their prep of choice, which gets a wee bit boring after a while (but I’ll take it).
Broccoli is a super food, with a laundry list of super powers. Here are a few of the many:
Cancer fighting: Broccoli is rich in compounds called isothiocyanates, or ITCs. These compounds destroy the cancerous genes, but leave the healthy proteins alone so they can continue to stop tumors from growing.
Immune boosting: One cup of broccoli fuels the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene and multiple trace minerals.
Diet aid: Broccoli is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating
How to get them to eat it
If you have one (or two or three) of those kids that squirm at the mere mention of broccoli here are four creative ways to add it to your menu in a kid-friendly way.
This is my favorite way to make broccoli. Cut the stalk and florets into bite sized pieces. Place them in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pan; add a little olive oil, salt and mix. Roast in the oven on 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the broccoli is slightly brown (careful not to burn).
A few times each month we make our own pizza. My kids love to roll out the dough, add some sauce, sprinkle the cheese and watch their creation turn into dinner. Most kids love to be active participants in the cooking process. If I’m feeling very ambitious I’ll make the dough from scratch, making sure it’s filled with whole, organic grains. I’ve also been known to use Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods pre-made dough to help with an easy, quick meal. I place bowls of various pizza toppings on the table for the kids to pick and choose from. I’m always amazed that the bowl of broccoli is one of the first items to go. My guess-their pizza looks pretty with all the different colors. Whatever the reason-broccoli pizza is a big hit.
I almost heard a collective “ewww” when you reached this suggestion. The broccoli taco works in our house. I use the same concept as the pizza above. Bowls of cheese, beans, rice, salsa, broccoli and turkey taco meat are put out on the table. The kids create their own taco in the shell. This is by far my kid’s favorite meal.
Add broccoli to something they already like
Adding broccoli to something your child already likes is an easy way to introduce a new food. If your child likes mac n cheese add some broccoli to it. Make sure you cook the broccoli before adding and I would only use the florets for this. Another easy place to add broccoli is in pasta sauce.
Remember to always use organic broccoli when you can!
Last week I had the pleasure of having lunch with Sally Sampson, the author of 20 cookbooks and the founder of ChopChop Magazine. ChopChop is a fun cooking magazine that encourages families to cook together and share healthy meals together. The magazine is filled with fun and healthy recipes, games and food facts that promote healthy eating. ChopChop recently spent some time doing a photo shoot at the White House for their fall issue!
An intimate group of bloggers, organized by MommyNiri, were gathered together in one of the many kitchens at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (CSCA) for a Lunch Bootcamp. Chef Dot Jacobson from the CSACA prepared a few delicious recipes taken from the fall edition of the magazine, while we discussed how to support healthy eating habits in our families.
Put a group of bloggers together with a chef and the editor of “a fun cooking magazine for families” and there’s no doubt you’ll walk away with some great tips for healthy eating.
Here are a few tips for cooking/preparing meals with kids:
Let your kids be active participants in the cooking process. Yes, their age will dictate how much or how little they can participate. Adult supervision is recommended when they are using knives or the stove.
Make food interesting and fun. My favorite tip was to take roasted cauliflower and put it in a movie popcorn container. It looks like popcorn-but its cauliflower!
Take their favorite food and add something new. They will be more likely to try it.
Make meals they can assemble themselves such as tacos and burritos.
Let them make their own lunches. My kids have been doing this for a few years. I supervise and help with cutting and packing. It’s part of their daily routine and I rarely get a complaint.
Not only was a delicious lunch served, but I was able to spend a little time with a few friends. Here I am with Jennifer from Savor the Thyme. My driving partner was Annmarie from Trendy Mommies.
Here is my favorite recipe, courtesy of ChopChop (Fall 2011):
Eggplant: Roasted Ratatouille
Hands-on Time: 45 minutes Makes: 4 servings
1 yellow or red onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small or ½ large eggplant, diced
2 zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
2 cups canned or fresh tomatoes, diced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 lemon, cut in four quarters
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Put onion, garlic, eggplant, zucchini bell pepper and tomatoes in large mixing bowl and mix with thyme, oil and salt.
Spread vegetables into single layer on large baking sheet with sides.
Bake until everything is softened-about 45 minutes.
Serve hot and squeeze lemon over it just before serving.
I make variations of this recipe all the time using organic vegetables that show up in our CSA box. It’s great served over pasta or rice. Enjoy!
Do you cook with your kids? What’s your favorite veggie dish?
I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.