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Category Archives: healthy comfort food

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden In Limited Space

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With Summer approaching and fresh vegetables coming into season, we begin to plan yummy veggie dishes to share with our family and friends. Farmer’s markets begin to open, and many people will venture there to pick up their produce. However, there is another option available: growing your own vegetables. There are many ways to grow your own veggies, even if you do not have a large yard for a garden. Here are several great places you can start a garden with limited space:

Walls 

outdoor-pallet-furniture-28Hanging organizers or up-cycling pallets can create vertical garden planters that can be hung on exterior walls or fences. These hanging gardens can help keep your outdoor area clear, and can also brighten up your outdoor space with a lush look.

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Patios or Steps

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If you have a small outdoor space such as a patio, terrace, porch, or steps, you can use the space by planting your vegetables in pots. Almost any vegetable can be planted in a pot. Some even do particularly well in pots, such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and herbs. There are even varieties of berries that thrive in pots.

Indoors

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Vegetable gardens don’t need to be planted outside. Many vegetables will grow happily in a sunny window. Use long plant boxes that fit in the window to create a small veggie garden. When doing an indoor garden, stay away from vegetables like squash, since they spread as they grow and they can take over the planter. Vegetables that work best in small planters are vertically growing veggies, such as tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and herbs.

Community Garden

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Many people want to grow their own vegetables, but don’t have the space to do so. To accommodate the growing demand for fresh produce, community gardens have been created. These gardens are typically on public plots of land, and you can rent a plot in the garden to plant and care for yourself. To find a community garden near you, visit the American Community Garden Association.

Enjoy all of the yummy produce, whether it’s home-grown or from a local farmer’s market!

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Warm Up with an Organic Soup

Bean and Barley Soup

Take the chill off this winter with a nice warm bowl of soup for dinner! Here is a great recipe for a healthy and organic soup that will please the whole family.

Bean and Barely Soup

Yield: 4 (serving size: 1¼ cups soup and 1½ teaspoons cheese)

Ingredients

1 cup organic pinto beans

1 tablespoon organic olive oil

2 cups finely chopped organic red onion

1 cup finely chopped fresh organic flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped organic celery

1/2 cup finely chopped organic carrot

1/2 cup chopped fresh organic basil

9 cups water

2 cups organic vegetable broth

2 organic bay leaves

1/3 cup uncooked organic pearl barley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce

2 tablespoons grated fresh organic Parmesan cheese

Directions

Sort and wash beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2” above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, parsley, celery, carrot, and basil; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans, 9 cups water, vegetable broth, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.

Place 3/4 cup beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed bean mixture to pan. Stir in barley, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until barley is done. Ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle with cheese.  

Enjoy! 

10 Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress

Everyone gets stressed out during the holidays. It could be from shopping, family gatherings, or planning too many events in a short time. Whatever the cause, you need a healthy way to relieve it. Here are 10 activities that will naturally relieve your stress.

 

  • Take a Relaxing Bath

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Take time to enjoy a relaxing bath after wrapping presents. Maybe even light some candles and add some essential oils. Make it a special occasion!

 

  •  Drink Organic Herbal Tea

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Just the act of preparing and sipping tea will give you some personal time for relaxation. Research also shows that it can lower blood pressure.

 

  • Listen to Music

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Music has a special link to our emotions, so it can have an extremely relaxing effect on our bodies and minds. It also distracts us from our stress and helps prevent the mind from wandering.

 

  • Write In a Journal

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Whether it’s a journal or a daily planner, organize your life and your thoughts. Write down your plans for the day so that you don’t feel pressed for time. This will help you feel a sense of control and give you peace of mind during this busy season.

 

  • Get Regular Exercise

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Make an effort to do some kind of physical activity and get your heart rate up for at least half an hour a day. This will help you vent frustration and relieve tension. Try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation as well.

 

  • Eat Healthfully

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Eating foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids will naturally stress naturally. Examples are fish, nuts, avocado, strawberries, and leafy greens. These foods are great for your body for many reasons, and stress relief is a great added bonus! It also doesn’t hurt to eat healthfully to make up for all those holiday sweets.

 

  • Aromatherapy

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When under stress, your body heightens its sense of smell, which is a survival instinct to identify threats in your environment. Aromatherapy addresses stress issues through the use of essential plant oils, giving your brain pleasant and healing aromas.

 

  • Arts and Crafts

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Find time to do some kind of creative activity, such as painting, ceramics, woodworking, or paper maché. Having an activity to focus on, with no pressure or time restraints, is a great way to relax your mind and body. You may also find that you’ve created a great present for someone!

 

  • Get a Massage

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Getting a massage is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It can enhance circulation, improve range of motion in your joints, and help relax tight muscles that hold your stress. If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how wonderful and light you feel afterwards.

 

  • Sleep

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Sleep is, above all else, the most important activity for reducing stress. Each person is different, so it is important for you to figure out how much sleep you need to feel alert and rested. You can improve your sleep schedule by getting into a routine or pattern that lets your mind and body know that it’s bedtime!

 

So don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. Try out some of these activities and have a relaxed and happy holiday season!

Is Food Healthy Just Because It’s Labeled Organic?

When most people see a food item that is labeled organic, they automatically assume that it is healthy for you. The truth is, food is labeled organic based on how it is grown, raised, or prepared, not based on the nutritional value. Unhealthy foods can be made with organic ingredients and be labeled as such, but will still be lacking in wholesome, nutritious ingredients. Check out this fun video that explains the difference between organic and healthy and will let you know what to look for next time you are shopping for a healthy meal:

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a great time to recognize all of the wonderful things dads have done for their children this year. There are many ways to show appreciation, like planning a special event, finding that perfect gift, or doing something nice to help him out. Here are some ideas that are fun for Dad and friendly for the environment.

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Prepare an organic breakfast-in-bed

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Buy him a nice organic-cotton tie, shirt, or bathrobe

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Take him on a trip to a farmer’s market or a local restaurant

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Take him to a concert, festival, or sporting event

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Set up a hammock for him in the backyard so he can relax

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Take him bird watching and take pictures of birds you see

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Go on a hike or bicycle ride and spend some quality time together

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Get a pair of fishing poles and take him out to the river

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Find a nice recipe for dinner that the two of you can make together

Whatever you decide to do, the best part of Father’s Day will be spending some quality time together!

Insomnia: Causes and Effects

Everyone has had a sleepless night here and there, whether it is because of an exciting event the next day or one too many cups of coffee. For one-third of Americans, insomnia is a nightly problem that affects their daily lives.

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There are a variety of causes that can be attributed to this problem. For some it can be caused by stress at home or work, a change in location, depression, anxiety, or certain medical conditions. For others it may be about sleep habits and environment. Some people eat poorly and too late in the day, others do not have a steady sleep schedule, and most have an unsupportive and uncomfortable mattress.

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There are many long-term effects that can result from insomnia. It can slow reaction times, result in poor performance at work, or cause weight gain or loss, irritability, anxiety, or depression, and it may put you at a higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

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A proper environment and schedule are key to getting great sleep, night after night. Setting up a sleeping and eating schedule can dramatically help with insomnia. Eat healthy foods earlier in the evening and make sure to give yourself a dedicated 8 hours of sleep per night. Also it is important to have a comfortable and supportive mattress. This will help to keep you from waking in the night from aches and pains. For more serious or continual insomnia cases, please seek help from a doctor.

Plan A Picnic

 

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Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to pack a picnic and head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. First you have to decide what dishes to bring. Typical picnic foods can include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, which are not the healthiest choices (though they may be delicious). If you’re looking for better options, here are 10 healthy finger-food ideas for your next picnic outing!

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1. Edamame

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2. Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)

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3. Grilled Vegetables (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.)

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4. Pita Chips with Hummus

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5. Homemade Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)

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6. Turkey Sandwiches with low-fat ingredients (whole-grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and low-fat cheese)

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7. Shrimp and Lemon Skewers

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8. Yogurt

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9. Fruit Salad

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10. Angel Food Cake (low in calories) with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped cream

Now that your basket is packed with delicious foods, it’s time to head out and enjoy the beauty of nature!

 

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