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Beat your Budget with a Garden
Spring is here! Well, if you’re here with us in the Midwest, it doesn’t feel like it though. Regardless, April is Garden Month and we’re going to celebrate rain or shine… or snow, or sleet, or hail! Planting a garden is one of the best things you can do for your health, and your budget. I can’t tell you how often I hear the complaint “I can’t afford to eat healthy”. Although I think there are many options for making eating healthy affordable, growing your own vegetable garden is one of the best solutions to eating healthy on a budget.
Did you know that you can go to Amazon and order a pack of tomato seeds for around $2? Depending on where you get your seeds, the quality and how many you get, the price will vary. But, either way, $2 for an entire growing season of tomatoes is pretty affordable. Plus, if you grow them without the use of any pesticides, your tomatoes will be completely organic. You would pay a premium for that at the store!
Other vegetables that are great for growing in your garden at home include lettuce, onions, radishes, peppers and green beans. With some of these, such as lettuce or onions, they will only produce the consumable vegetable once. But, if you plant them early enough in the season, you can often replant after your first batch and have time to grow a second batch before the end of the growing season.
It’s easy to see why April is Garden Month. This is the best time to get your vegetable garden planted in order to see great results throughout the summer! Just remember, vegetable gardens need water. Be sure to cultivate your garden to keep it weed free and fully hydrated throughout the hot summer months.
By the way, if you’re wondering where we come up with all of our nutrition themes for the blog, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food, Nutrition & Health department creates this calendar each month. It’s a great free resource that you can use to create themes for the material you use with your clients. You can find the calendar at http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/april
We’ve also created a printable desktop calendar for May using the UNL calendar. Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s free. Go check it out today! http://www.ncescatalog.com/May-2013-Foodie-Calendar_p_1230.html
Top 5 Summer Foods to Enjoy Before their Gone
As we all know, summer is here! We’ve all been feeling the relentless heat that the summer of 2012 has thrown our way! If nothing else, you can look through our past few blog posts and hear us rant and rave about the heat this summer! So today, we’re turning it around… we’re taking lemons and making lemonade! Today, we want to share with you our top summer foods to enjoy before their gone! Before we know it, winter will be here and all the amazing fresh fruits & veggies that we enjoy all summer will be nothing but a memory, or a hard, flavorless grocery store imitation! So, enjoy these top picks while you still can!
- Peaches – Has anybody ever told you, “You’re a Peach!”? If so, you should be flattered! Peaches are sweet, flavorful and unique to their core. Enjoy one today because they are at the peak of their season right now!
- Tomatoes – Umm… BLT! Need we say more! Although great by themselves, adding a freshly picked tomato to your favorite sandwich or salad is sure to make your mouth happy!
- Blueberries – Talk about the perfect snack! Once you pop… the fun won’t stop! And, with these little guys, the fun doesn’t have to stop! You can pop as many as you want without counting fat or calories.
- Cherries – And we’re not talking maraschino here folks! When was the last time you bit in to a fresh, unprocessed, Bing cherry? They are in season now and give those jarred guys a run for their money on sweetness!
- Cucumbers – Although probably not a vegetable that you always think to turn to, cucumbers are a great addition to many recipes. Sliced or diced, a fresh cucumber can be added to any summer salad for a splash of unique flavor!
Well, that’s it! Our list of top summer foods! What’s on your list? We’re always up for trying new ideas, foods and recipes! Share your favorite summer foods with us right here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! If it’s reasonable, we promise we’ll try it! We hope you enjoy these fresh, flavorful and fun foods! Come back and let us know what you think!
5 Unique Fruits and Veggies to Intrigue You
With the USDA’s new MyPlate, there has been a surge of attention given to the importance of a balanced diet. As demonstrated on the plate, a balanced diet consists of a large amount of fruits and vegetables. The problem is, we get it in our heads that we don’t like certain foods. We remember brussel sprouts from our childhood, and can’t get past that memory of forcing them down so that Mom and Dad would let us have dessert. The truth is that there are a lot more options than just brussel sprouts and beets. We’ve decided to put together a list of the Top 5 Fruits and Vegetables you’ve probably never tried, and the health benefits of each one.
- Paw Paw (fruit) This fruit is easily digestible and aids in the digestion of other foods. It is rich in vitamin A and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and soluble vegetable fiber. It is enjoyed best when eaten fresh and ripe.
- Persimmons (fruit) This delicate oriental fruit is native to china. It spread to Japan very long ago and later was introduced to California during the middle of the nineteenth century. They are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that are vital for good health.
- Dragon Fruit (fruit) This exotic fruit contains large amounts of Vitamin C. Not only that, the vitamin C in dragon fruit is more easily digested than a vitamin c supplement. It is also said, but not proven, that Dragon Fruit aids in controlling blood sugar levels in those with Type 2 Diabetes (Note: This is not a sufficient medical plan for controlling diabetes)
- Purple Dragon Carrot (vegetable) This unique carrot has a sweet flavor, making it great for salads and for juicing. Carrots help reduce cholesterol, fight infections and stabilize blood sugar. High in nutritional value, but low in calories, carrots play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Sweet Baby Broccoli (vegetable) Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids with iron absorption in the body, and fiber, which enhances the gastrointestinal tract. They can help prevent the development of cataracts, and also ease the symptoms of the common cold. The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancy. The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.
Are you ready to go out and try all these great new fruits and vegetables? Each of them has a unique flavor, as well as all the health benefits mentioned. So, give ‘em all a try. And, be sure to let us know what you think on our Facebook page.
A Celebratory Meal!
May is a usually a busy month for everyone. But, it is especially busy when it comes to celebrating food! From asparagus to hamburgers and BBQ to strawberries, May is the time to use all of these foods because they are in season, fresh and just fun to make. To get everyone celebrating, we’ve put together a whole meal worth of recipes incorporating all of the foods celebrated during the month of May.
Appetizer: (Salsa Month)
Get some multi-grain tortilla chips and pair them with this delicious ‘Salsa Fresca’.
- 6 Tomatoes (diced)
- 1/3 Onion (diced)
- Cilantro (chopped)
- 3 Garlic bulbs
- 1 Lime (juiced)
- Salt (to taste)
It’s so simple! Mix all your ingredients in a bowl and Joila, you have a fresh bowl of salsa.
Main Dish: (BBQ, Beef and Hamburger Month)
This grilled summer favorite will be simple and also satisfy your BBQ craving!
- 2 lbs. Lean Hamburger
- 1/3 Onion (finely chopped)
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
Mix all of your ingredients together. Patty the burgers and grill. Top these delicious burgers with fresh lettuce, tomato, pickles and condiments. You’re sure to please the whole family!
Side Dish: (Asparagus Month)
- 1 lb. Fresh Asparagus
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
After you flavor the asparagus with the oil, salt and pepper, grill it. Be sure to turn it so that all sides cook evenly.
Salad: (Salad and Egg Month)
This simple cobb salad is a throwback to the salads you had growing up. Mix it up and enjoy.
- 1 lb Bacon (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
- 8 oz. Romaine Lettuce (about 12 cups packed)
- 4 cups Roast Chicken (skinned, boned, diced)
- 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
- 1 cup Blue Cheese (crumbled)
- 2 Ripe Avocados (halved, peeled, pitted, diced)
- 4 Hard-Boiled Eggs (peeled and chopped)
- 2 cups Green Onions (chopped)
Make a base with your romaine lettuce. Then, lay all the other toppings across the top for a great presentation. This salad is great with a light ranch or honey mustard. But, can also be enjoyed with any dressing of your choice.
Dessert: (Strawberry Month)
Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day than a bowl of fresh strawberries… unless of course you add Angel Food Cake and Whipped Topping to the mix.
- 1 Angel Food Cake (Prepared or Homemade)
- 3 cups Fresh Strawberries (cleaned and sliced)
- 2 cups Fat Free Whipped Topping
In a deep bowl, layer your ingredients. 1st, angel food cake. Then, whipped topping. Place strawberries on top of the whipped topping. Then repeat this layering process as many times as your bowl will allow.
We hope that your entire family will enjoy sharing this early summer meal, celebrating the many flavors of May!
Take a Minute: Plant an Herb Garden
In honor of National Herb Week, we would like to take a minute this morning to encourage you to plant an herb garden of your very own. Do you currently cook with many fresh herbs? If so, you already know how the various flavors can really infuse any meal with intense flavor. If you don’t, you may not quite understand that yet. But, today’s the day, stop by the grocery store on your way home and pick up some fresh herbs to spice up your dinner. Whether you’re having spaghetti, baked chicken or grilling out, throwing some fresh herbs in the mix will really wake up your taste buds. After you taste the difference, you’ll be excited to plant your own herb garden to enjoy these irresistible flavors all the time!
Now that you’re ready to have your own garden, where do you start?
Where to plant your herbs?
- Be sure to plant close to your kitchen. One key to success is making sure that you can access your fresh herbs as easily as you can access your pantry.
- Plant your herbs where they will get full sun. Herbs grown in full sun will be stronger and more flavorful than those grown in the shade.
What to grow your herbs in?
- A decorative pot is always a good choice, especially if you are limited for space on a full garden. Planting in a pot allows portability so that you can adjust the level of sun your herbs are receiving.
- Soil that is healthy and easy to mix around will help your herbs grow better. Herbs will not grow in just any soil. They need to be cared for similar to any flower that you would plant.
What herbs should you grow?
- Be sure to grow some Oregano. This is a very common seasoning. You can use it in almost anything! So, plant plenty of this one so that you don’t run out.
- Basil is another great herb to have on hand. Although basil provides a great flavor to the dishes you add it to, it takes a lot to get the flavor to be noticeable. Make sure you plant a few of these so that you don’t deplete your supply for every dish you mix it in to.
- Mint is a fun flavor that a lot of us don’t use often. So, planting this may encourage you to incorporate it in to your meals, or dessert.
Now that you know the basics, you can get started planting your very own herb garden. Remember, it doesn’t have to be big or overwhelming. Just start small and let it grow every year. Also, be sure to experiment with different herbs. You never know what flavors you may discover that you’ve never tasted before.