Grow Your Own Organic Garden

tomatoes2If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own garden, now is the perfect time to start! More and more people are seeking out organic fruits, vegetables, and other foods. They are trying to avoid high amounts of pesticides, chemicals, and toxins. People want to know what’s in their food, where it’s coming from, how it was grown and produced. What better to know all the answers than by having you own garden? Being able to walk outside every day to harvest the most nutritious and freshest fruits and vegetables you can possibly get your hands on.

Fall is a great time to start growing cool weather vegetables right into the ground. That means onions, leeks, lettuces, collards, spinach, kale, carrots, peas, beets, radishes, and turnips. They are easy to grow, save you money, and trips to the grocery store. Growing organic can seem a little overwhelming and sometimes can be a lot of work, but the benefits and rewards are well worth it.

You don’t need a huge plot of land or a farm to grow your own food. A small area in your yard with plenty of sunlight at least 8-10 hours is perfect for any home garden. Don’t have a yard; grow your favorite vegetables in containers on your front porch. Growing a pot of tomatoes, potatoes in burlap sack, and an array of fresh herbs will make a huge difference in your food, health, environment, and even your wallet.

Items You’ll Need to Start Your Garden

  • Pencil and paper to diagram and plot your garden
  • Raised beds or Containers (make sure to drill holes in the bottom)
  • Compost and Organic Garden Soil
  • Seeds or Organic Seedlings
  • A hose or watering can for water
  • Natural Fertilizers
  • Garden tools, spade, hand rake, hoe, gloves

If you don’t have a lot of room, some vegetables grow well with each other and some refuse to grow side by side. Save room and frustration by learning to “companion gardening.”  Here are a few that love to grow together and to keep in mind when plotting your personal garden.

Compatible Companion Plants

  • Tomatoes grow well with basil, asparagus, celery, carrots, and parsley.
  • Eggplants like beans, potatoes, and spinach.
  • Carrots love pole beans, lettuce, onions, radishes, peas, and tomatoes.
  • Cucumbers grow well with beans, celery, lettuce, peas, and radish.
  • Onions love broccoli, strawberries, cabbage, and tomatoes.
  • Melons like corn.

To avoid added toxins, chemicals, and fertilizers, learn to use some basic items straight from your home to add to your soil, repel pests, or boost a deficiency in your plants. Things that you throw in the trash on a daily basis can work wonders for your garden without contaminating your food source or harming your pets or family. And you can get the whole family involved with helping conserve used products and even get their hands dirty. (Kids are perfect for this!)

Natural Fertilizers

  • Banana Peels- They are a mild fertilizer, so they won’t burn plants. They are a great source of Potassium and can be used for tomatoes. Use two peels per plant and place them one inch under the soil, about 6 inches from the stalk of the plant.
  • Coffee Grounds- Also a mild fertilizer, high in nitrogen. They also help produce large yields.
  • Epsom Salts- They are a fast acting source of magnesium and sulfur. Also a great fertilizer. Add a teaspoon into the ground before you plant your seedling.
  • Seaweed- Used as a supplement, it helps keep plants green, stimulates root growth, and acts as a chelating agent.
  • Beer- Kills snails and slugs. Fill an old pie container or plastic with beer and three drops of vinegar. Place near affected plants overnight, you’re guaranteed to find these slimy suckers in the container first thing in the morning.
  • Egg Shells- Great source of calcium. They help produce large yields. Make sure to boil the shells to prevent Salmonella, then grind or crush them into a powder and sprinkle into the soil.

So whether you have lots of room for beautiful raised beds or just a sunny porch perfect for tomatoes and green beans. There’s nothing better than watching all your hard work pay off and know that what you’re growing is good for you and your family. There’s nothing better than walking out to your garden and plucking off a vine ripened tomato, still warm from the day’s sun. Slicing it open as its sweet juices pour out and then tossing it with some fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper for summer’s perfect dish! I’m drooling just thinking about it! Hope this spring inspires you to get out and start your own! Happy Gardening!!!

 

 

 

 

Garden Fresh Zucchini Salad with Feta

zucchiniAugust tends to be the month where we get inundated with summer veggies, an influx of tomatoes, eggplant, squash and of course zucchini! I love zucchini! I love it more when it’s still raw! It has the perfect crunch, perfect for salads and slaws. So if you have a ton of zucc in the garden, grab my garden fresh zucchini salad with feta and enjoy the fruits of your labor this week with a healthy salad!

 

 

  • 2-3 zucchini sliced long and chopped
  • 1 shallot-chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • handful of pine nuts-toasted
  1. Slice and chop zucchini and shallots, add to a bowl.
  2. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Top with crumbled feta cheese
  4. In a warm saute pan, add pine nuts and toast for about 1 minute or until toasted
  5. Add pine to top and enjoy!
  • Make Your Own Non-toxic Bug Spray, Sunscreen, & After-Sun Spray Using Essential Oils

    bug sprayHearing a lot about essential oils lately? Wondering which oils would work best for you and your family? How do they heal? How do you use them? There are so many questions out there and the benefits of essential oils can be confusing and often overwhelming. Here’s a little insight into the world of essential oils.

    Essential oils are 50-70 times more therapeutically potent than the actual herbs or the plants they are derived from. To put that into perspective 1 drop of peppermint oil equals 28 cups of peppermint tea! Each oil has specific healing properties, everything from rosemary for brain function to wild orange to help boost your mood. There are even oil blends with anxiety, ADHD, even sugar cravings and oils to boost your metabolism.

    Oils have the ability to penetrate cell walls to help deliver nutrition and oxygen to help eliminate toxins. They help strengthen the immune system while also bringing balance to the body. Oils can be diffused into the air or applied topically to the skin. Some can also be ingested and used while cooking.

    The benefits of essential oils are endless. Most are antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. They can be used as disinfectants and detoxifiers. They can relieve pain, sleeplessness, even improve stamina and circulation. Continue reading

    Pilates an Exercise for Everyone

    DSC_8746What is Pilates? How does it benefit? Who can do it? Pilates is the one exercise that everyone can incorporate into their daily lives and regimes. It is a lifestyle that can change the way you feel and look. It can prevent injuries, rehabilitate, and even give you a brand new body.

    Invented by Joseph Pilates in 1912, the method was designed for WWI, injured and bed-ridden soldiers. He rigged springs to hospital beds, allowing his patients to exercise against resistance, to help them get their bodies moving again, develop core strength, and to rehabilitate their muscles. Originally designed for men and then later targeted to elite athletes and ballet dancers, Pilates is truly for everyone. It’s perfect for pregnant women, new mothers, golfers, college and professional athletes, and even celebrities are taking advantage of the life changing results and health benefits of Pilates. Pilates is for anyone from children and adults to teenagers and the elderly.

    Time to get out and try it! What’s in it for you??? Better core strength, long-lean muscles, balance, coordination, more energy, injury prevention, better posture, low-impact exercises, it helps with weight-loss, reduces low-back pain, and even addresses serious health concerns. Pilates is great for arthritis, joint pain, rehabilitation after surgery, even major chronic illnesses. If you have serious health concerns, make sure you check with your doctor first, then find a certified instructor, and always make sure to tell them about any health concerns or questions you may have. It’s the key to keeping you safe, reaching your goals, and getting the best results.

    Pilates is perfect if you’re short on time, too busy to go to the gym, or always traveling. You can see results with just 15 minutes a day! Pilates can relieve chronic pain, boost your mood, stretch tired and strained muscles, build core strength, tone muscles, and gain flexibility. The benefits are endless and you can be a beginner to advanced depending on your fitness level!

    There are two different types of Pilates, mat and reformer. Mat can be done anywhere, on the beach, in the gym, in your home, even in a hotel room. Mat Pilates focuses on using your own body weight, using resistance training, and tends to be a little harder. Pilates with the Reformers uses equipment which incorporates the use of springs for resistance and assistance training. It has a carriage that glides back and forth as you do the exercise. The Pilates equipment allows the body to keep pressure off the joints and the individual to get into more deeper and challenging poses.

    Joseph Pilates said “In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a complete new body.” Now if that doesn’t give you enough incentive to get out there I don’t know what will!

    Here’s to health bodies and strong cores!

    www.beachpilatesandwellness.com

    Throw Your Own Farm Dinner

    photo (72)Summer is in full swing! That means the garden is at its peak, the farmers markets are bursting with a rainbow of colors and fresh produce, the sun is setting later leaving a blanket of stars and warm nights filled with the flickering fireflies. What better way to celebrate the summer than to grab your closest friends and throw your own farm dinner! You don’t have to have an extravagant six course meal with wine pairings! You can have a good ole Eastern Shore shin dig right in your back yard using local produce from your local farms and wineries.

    Things You’ll Need:

    • A fun guest list, a time, and a place.
    • Large table and enough chairs for people to sit
    • Table cloth, plates, silverware, cups and wine glasses
    • A menu and recipes for dinner
    • Food, wine or spirits
    • Lanterns, candles, flowers, music

    Plan your menu ahead so you know what you’ll want to have for each course and also be prepared. Focus on what’s in season during the time you hold your farm dinner. Summer has the best selection for fresh produce, tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, and berries are at their peak. If you have your own garden, choose one recipe that you could use your own harvest or visit your weekly farmers market or closest produce stand to purchase your fruits and vegetables. Find a local brewery or winery in your area to use for spirits. Make your own porch iced tea that has been brewed in the sun all day. We’re in prime fish and seafood season during our summer months. Buy from local crabbers, seafood distributors, or fisherman, (If you’re lucky enough to know someone in the trade, invite them to your dinner maybe they’ll bring something to help with the main dish!)

    Chose 3 or 4 dishes, when you’re planning your menu so you don’t spend so much time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. Summer is perfect for cold dishes so pick one or two you can prepare ahead of time. Appetizers and desserts are perfect for preparing earlier before your guests arrive. Need some ideas? How about Caprese Salad, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella smothered in olive oils, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and fresh basil. What about raw Strawberry Cobbler or grilled peaches with homemade whipped cream for dessert? Make your own salad dressing, marinades, or sauces for your main course. Chose fish, chicken, or crab for your main course, they take less time to cook and tend to have easier recipes.

    Set your table. Have fun with it! The more mismatched your plates, silverware, and glassware the more rustic and fun it will be. Find a great place in your yard, driveway, porch, or even inside to hold the dinner. Decorate your table with a tablecloth, flowers, or candles. Place flat ware, silverware, glassware and desired places for each guest. Make sure you have a chair for each person coming also. Need a little light and ambience? Use lanterns or tiki torches. You can even put place cards out or let people sit wherever they’re comfortable.

    Have your guests arrive 30 minutes before dinner. Let them mingle and enjoy a cocktail while you put the finishing touches on the first course. Have everyone sit down when you’re ready, give a toast, share some great stories and lots of laughter, eat slowly, enjoy your company, and indulge in all the incredible sights, smells, and tastes of summer!

     Back Porch Lavender-Peach Sun Tea

    •  5-6 green tea bags
    •  3-4 fresh peaches
    •  2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender
    •  2 tablespoons honey
    •  1 lemon- sliced
    •  2 tablespoons chocolate mint (more sprigs for garnish)
    •  Ice

    Bring water to a boil. In a pitcher add tea bags, pour boiling water into pitcher and let steep for 15-20 minutes. In a separate container using a tea strainer, add lavender and mint, then steep for 8-10 minutes. Compost used lavender and mint leaves. Add lavender and mint infusion to pitcher with tea bags. Add lemon slices and honey. Stir well. Let tea sit in the sun for an hour or more too cool and absorb all the flavors. In a mason jar, add ice and pour tea. Garnish with mint sprigs.

     

     

     

     

    Summer Slaw

    slawSummer is perfect for all those summer veggies! Sometimes there’s so many from the garden it’s hard to actually be able to use them all before they start to go bad. So, those are usually the days I’m searching through the fridge and scouring the counter for things I need to start using, which always opens the door to new recipes and trying different things. Loving all the summer produce, it’s the perfect time to eat lighter, go raw, and put healthy spins on our favorite recipes. This slaw recipe is perfect for the beach, bbqs, or just for your everyday lunch.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 head red cabbage
    • 3 carrots-shredded
    • 1/2 small red onion
    • 2 small zucchini
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • fresh cilantro- roughly chopped
    • 1/2 lemon juiced
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • pinch of sea salt
    • fresh ground pepper

    Directions:

    1. Chop cabbage, zucchini, red onion, a bell pepper. Shred carrots. Add everything to a large bowl. In a glass jar add vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake well. Pour on top and mix well. Top with fresh cilantro. Plate, serve and enjoy.

    Point Reyes Bleu Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms

    www.farmfoodieandfitness.comI can hardly wait each summer for the squash and zucchini to start growing just so I can pick the blossoms off to grill, roast, or saute them. Add creamy goat cheese or one of the best bleu cheeses I’ve ever eaten! This recipe for Point Reyes Bleu Cheese stuffed  Squash Blossoms will knock your socks off! Change up your cheeses or add a topping sauce if you wish!

     

     

    Ingredients:

    • 3-5 Squash Blossoms
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons Point Reyes Bleu Cheese
    • pinch of sea salt

    Rinse squash blossoms in cool water. Open the blossoms slightly and stuff with bleu cheese. In a saute pan add olive oil and saute on medium heat until the cheese melts. Add pinch of salt, plate, and serve!www.farmfoodieandfitness.com

    Grilled Peaches and Balsamic Glaze with Homemade Cinnamon Whipped Cream

    www.farmfoodieandfitness.comThis recipe is a must have for the summer, especially now as peaches are coming into their full season! Simple, fast, and one for the books you can impress your friends with this one! ;)

    Peaches:

    • 4-5 fresh peaches
    • 2 cups balsamic vinegar

    Half and pit peaches. Place on grill on medium to high heat. Flip once as they start to caramelize. For balsamic vinegar, boil on stove, then immediately lower to a simmer for 25 minutes until it becomes thick and syrupy. Place grilled peaches on a plate. Pour glaze over peaches. Top with whipped cream

    Cinnamon Whipped Cream

    • ½ cup almond milk
    • 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons nutmeg

    In a metal bowl, whip almond milk, Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg with electric beater or by hand. (By hand will take a lot longer) Beat on medium until it thickens.

    Garden Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing

    www.farmfoodieandfitness.comHere come the tomatoes finally! After the winter the Mid-Atlantic had we’ve had to wait a little longer for our gardens to catch up. But these perfect sweet things are popping up by the dozens and eagerly ripening. I seriously eat tomatoes like candy. I can just slice a couple of Beefsteaks, add a pinch of salt and pepper and that will be my lunch! Here is a little twist on some dressing that’s healthy, garden fresh, stocked with herbs, and perfect if you’re looking for a little different taste here and there. Use “Green Goddess” for dipping your veggies, marinade chicken or pork, or just top salads with this yummy goodness!

    Salad

    • 1 bunch fresh basil
    • 2 red Beefsteak tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup Yellow Pear tomatoes
    • 1 cup Red Cherry tomatoes
    • 2 black or purple Krim tomatoes
    • 2 orange Golden Girl tomatoes

    Grab every color of tomatoes you can. I just gave a few examples of names of the ones I grow in my garden. The more colors, shapes, and sizes the more beautiful this dish turns out! Slice, quarter, and even leave the little tomatoes whole, it makes no difference. Place them on a plate and smother with green goddess dressing.

     Green Goddess Dressing

    • 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt
    • ½ cup fresh chives
    • ½ cup fresh basil
    • ½ cup fresh parsley
    • ¼ cup lemon juice
    • 1 clove fresh garlic
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • Pinch of fresh ground pepper
    • Pinch of Cayenne pepper

    Place garlic in blender and blend well. Add one cup yogurt, basil, chives, parsley, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne and blend. Add last cup of yogurt and blend again until smooth. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator up to a week.

     

     

     

    Mixed Berry BBQ Sauce

    www.farmfoodieandfitness.com

    This BBQ sauce is perfect for everything from grilled chicken to wings and pork to burgers. Switch up your fruit as the seasons change and change it up all year long! Try figs, peaches, or even apples! Just playing in the kitchen with different flavors and ideas can make the best dishes! Hope you love this one!

     

     

     

    BBQ Sauce:

    • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
    • 3/4 cup fresh blackberries
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • ¼ cup tomato paste
    • 1 cup room temperature water
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 garlic cloves-minced
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 dried bay leaf

    Pulse blueberries and blackberries, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, and salt in a food processor until pureed. Make sure to scrap down the sides. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat, add garlic for 30 seconds then add berry puree. Whisk in cup of water and add bay leave. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt, discard bay leaf. Spoon into a jar and refrigerate.