Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chamomile…The What

Chamomile is an herb that comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family….a family of plants which also includes sunflowers, Echinacea and marigolds.

 

 

*******************

Types of Chamomile

There are actually nine different types of chamomile, including…

But of these different types, only two types of chamomile are commonly used— German chamomile and Roman chamomile.

 

*******************

German Chamomile

German chamomile is an annual plant typically found in Eastern Europe where the herb grow as widely as bluebonnets grow here in Texas.

German chamomile grows to be about three feet high and are harvested by machines two or three times over the growing season.

The German chamomile flowers have a strong, herbal and sometimes pungent scent and a sweeter taste than Roman chamomile when used in making herbal tea.

 

 

 

*******************

Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile, however, is s perennial plant typically found in Egypt where the flowers are gathered either by hand or with a tool called a chamomile rake. Roman chamomile flowers stay in bloom for several months and are picked every seven to ten days. Roman chamomile flowers have a sweeter, almost fruity scent…and more of a bitter taste when used in teas.

************

What’s Next?

Chamomile has been used in ancient medicine as far back as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome….

And still has medical benefits today….as evident in the fact that chamomile is included  in prescribede drugs in 26 countries.

So let’s take a look at why we should all start drinking chamomile tea…and then other uses for chamomile…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Marvelous Muesli

So now that we know what muesli is…how do we make our own…and what do we do with it once we have it made?!
Making your own muesli is super easy and takes only about five minutes to go…a perfect combination of nuts, seeds, and oats that is perfectly healthy and perfectly filling.

 

 

*********

The Math

Making your own muesli is also more of a mathematical formula…than a method that must be mastered….a matter or proportions and personal preference…
Typically you will want to use about…
  • 4 cups grains
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Start with a ratio of four parts grain + one part nuts/seeds + one part dried fruit.

Keep in mind that the more fruit you add, the sweeter it will be. The more nuts you throw in, the more expensive your grocery bill. Remember, also, that the grains will become soft when combined with milk or yogurt. Muesli with extra nuts will be overly crunchy; muesli with lots of fruit will be very chewy.

 

 

 

 

***************

The Grains

***************
Nuts/Seeds…1 cup

 

Nuts and seeds—such as…
  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • hazelnuts
  • macadamias
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • walnuts

will give your muesli a delicious crunch,,,not to mention te fact that nuts and seeds will make your muesli even healthier because they contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Choose any nut, seed, combination that you like…or omit them altogether if you’re allergic to them or simply don’t like them.

 

Before mixing your ingredients together, also take the time to toast your nuts in the same way that you do your grain. This will not only give the nuts a little extra crunch, but also make them more flavorful.

Don’t add oil or any other liquid to the pan when toasting your grains and nuts. Toasting the nuts release their oils, so anything added will make your muesli taste a little greasy.

**********

The Fruit…1C

 

The third ingredientw that you will want to add to your muesli—now that you have stirred together your grains and nuts/seeds, is/are fruit(2)…Dried fruit will add both sweetness and chewiness to your muesli.

This can be any fruit that you like…as long as it’s dried and not fresh. Adding fresh fruit will make your muesli too soft and cause it turn bad much more quickly.

There are no set-in-stone rules as far as what fruits to add…simply choose whatever fruits that you and your family like.

A few ideas as far as what fruits you could add…as long as they are dried or dehydrated…are…

  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates.
  • figs
  • mango
  • papaya
  • raisins
  • strawberries

Here are a few things to remember…as far as adding fruit to your muesli…

  • Add only enough d  to make your granola taaste seweter…but nout so much that your granola is too sweedt.
  • Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Chop up your dried fruit into bite-sized pieces before adding to your muesli.
  • Do not add any additional sugar to your muesli. You shouldn’t need it…and as we already know…it’s not good for you.
  • Experiment until you find the “perfect” recipe.Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Make sure that any dried fruit that you use does not contain dded sugar.
  • Save fresh fruit for when you actually get ready to eat your muesli.

 

 

************

 The Spices

If you would like your muesli to have even more of a taste that your family will enjoy, feel free to add spices.  Spice (that are often used to make your muesli more flavorful include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger,

Store a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, or a vnanilla bean with your muesli to infuse different flavors.

 

 

******************

Stirring Your Muesli

Now that you have put all of your “stuff” into a container, put the lid on the container and shake until everything is combined.

 

 

******************

Storing Your Muesli

Store the muesli in an airtight glass jar or plastic container. Your muesli will stay good for  up to two months as long as it stays dry.

********************
Serving Your Muesli

 

The easiest way to enjoy your muesli is to add milk or stir it into some yogurt.  Waiting for about ten minutes to half an hour before eating it will soften up the grains a little.

You could also soak your muesli in milk overnight….at a 1:1 ratio. To make overnight oats, combine 2/3C muesli wotj 23C milk in a small lidded container. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy cold in the morning.

A third option is to heating your muesli in the microwave before serving.

 

Soaking or cooking your muesli will break down the oats, making them easier to chew and digest…and making the muesli more nutritious becsuse the nutrients—such as the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants. vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals found in muesli—are more easily absorbed by your body.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yogurt…The Which

These days there are SO many yogurts to choose from…

 

So how do you know that will give you the most health benefits?

Here are a few things to look for…

********

Milk

Nowadays yogurt not only can be made with the typical cow’s milk, but can also be made from one of the following…

  • almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • hemp milk
  • oat milk
  • rice milk
  • soy milk

These yogurts are great for people who are either vegan or lactose-intolerant. For more about different types of milk, check my previous post Visions of Veganism—Milk.

 

Each type of yogurt will have its own texture and taste…so keep trying different options until you find the one type of yogurt that you love the most.

***********

Sweetener

When choosing a yogurt, another choice that you must make is whether to buy the “light” kind of “the other stuff.”

While “the other stuff” typically contains sugar…the light kind contains the other “other stuff”—more specfically artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet.

I personally can’t stand the aftertaste from these sweeteners, so I always buy the “other stuff” that doesn’t contain “the other stuff.”

*******************************

Active Cultures and Probiotics

Choose a yogurt labelled that it contains active cultures. Also check the list of ingredients to see if any specific active cultures are listed.

One of the words closely associated these days with yogurt is jprobiotics.

But what exactly are probiotics?

And why should we give a flying flip if our yogurt contains probiotics or not?

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system….but also can be found in yogurt because yogurt typically contains live cultures.

Probiotics supposedly can do great things like…

 

***********

The Which

Here are a few examples of some lower fat choices:

 

Dannon…

  • Activia…165 calories…3 grams fat…23% RDA calcium
  • Activia Light…105 calories…0 grams fat…22.5% RDA calcium
  • Creamy Fruit Blends…170 calories….1.5 grams fat…20% RDA calcium
  • Light & Fit…75 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D

 

Stonyfield Farms

  • 130 calories…1.5 grams fat…25% RDA calcium

 

 

Weight Watchers

  • 100 calories….5 grams fat…30% RDA calcium…30% RDA vitamin D

 

Yoplait

  • Fiber One Non-Fat…120 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…11.5% RDA vitamin D
  • Yo Plus…165 calories…2.2 grams fat…23% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D Light…100 calories…0 grams fat…20% RDA calcium…20% RDA vitamin D
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Raspberries…The Which

 

Raspberries are another food that is high in antioxidants.
********************
Buying Raspberries

Buy certified organically grown raspberries because these have less likelihood to have been exposure to contaminants—such as pesticides and heavy metals. Look for the USDA organic logo on the container to make sure that they are “cerified organic.”.

Buy raspberries in their peak period—which is mid-summer through early fall…if any other season, opt for frozen raspberries instead.

Look for berries that are firm, plump, and deep in color….and avoid berries that are soft, mushy, or moldy.

Make sure that the raspberries are not packed too tightly whenever you are buying raspberries that are in a prepackaged container. The container should have no signs of stains or moisture because this  indicates that they might already be spoiled.

You will get the most nutritional value—including antioxidants and flavanoids—by choosing raspberries that are fully ripe.

 

 

*******************

Storing Raspberries

Keep your berries, either in their original container or a glass or plastic container that has a sealable lid in the fridge…because they can mold quite easily at room temperature.

But before sticking them in the fridge first remove any molded or spoiled berriesso that they won’t quickly ruin the other berries.

 

 

***************

Freezing Raspberries

Fresh raspberries freeze very well. Wash them gently, using the low pressure of the sink sprayer. If you use more force when washing the raspberries, they won’ so that they won’t maintain their delicate shape.

After you finish washing them, pat them dry with a paper towel. Now “flash freeze” them. This means to arrange the raspberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and stick the cooking sheet in the freezer until the berries are frozen,

After the berries are frozen, put them either in a Ziploc bag or a sealable plastic freezer container and stick them in the freezer.

The frozen raspberries will stay good for up to one year.

 

 

 

**********************************

Using Raspberries

Consume them within a couple of days after buying them because raspberries are highly perishable,

Here are a few suggestions…

 

 

For breakfast, try raspberries…

  • Added to cereal, oatmeal, or porridge
  • Blended as a smoothie
  • On top of pancakes or waffles
  • With yogurt and granola

A few more ideas are to use raspberries for…

  • Herbal teas
  • Jams and jellies
  • Salads
  • Sauces for chicken or fish

And last but not least, use raspberries for desserts such as Raspberry Crumble.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Raspberries…The What

Now let’s move on to raspberries, a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family of plants— which also inclues apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, loquats, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, and almonds.

Raspberries are the third most popular berry here in the United States…right after strawberries and blueberries.

There are over 200 species of raspberries, but these typically belong to one of three basic groups…

  • Red raspberries
  • Black raspberries
  • Purple raspberries

 

 

Raspberries are “aggregate fruits”…which meas that they are actually composed of many small individual fruits….drupelets, and each one has its own seed….and “brambles” which means that they are prickly or thorny.

The countries that produce the most raspberries are Russia, Mexico (14.8%), Serbia (13.5%), the United States (13.0%), and Poland (12.8%).

Okay, enough is enough…right?!

So let’s now talk about the WHY we should include rasperries in our diet.

 

 

 

*****

Per Half Cup Fresh Raspberries

  • Calories…53
  • Dietary fiber…6.5 grams
  • Fat…0.65 g
  • Protein1.2 g
  • Sugar…4.2 grams
  • Calcium…(25mg…3% RDA)
  • Manganese… (62.7mg…32% RDA)
  • Magnesium…(22 mg…6% RDA)
  • Vitamin B1…(.-032 mg…3% RDA)
  • Vitamin B2…Riboflavin….(.038mg…3% RDA)
  • Vitsamin B3…Niacin…(.598mg…4% RDA)
  • Vitamin B5…Pantothenic acid…(.067 mg…% RDA)
  • Vitamin B9…Folate…21 μg…5% RDA)
  • Vitamin C…(26.2mg…32% RDA)
  • Vitamin E…(6%…0.87 mg)

Raspberries also contain biotin and omega-3 fatty acids…and have been proven to help prevent and treat diabetes, obesity, and arthritis….(don’t worry…this gets more exciting the next several posts)…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

If All Else Fails

grocery delivery

So what to do if your attempts at container gardening are an epic fail…or while you wait to see if the plants that you do plant actually turn out successful…or if you simply don’t want to go to the trouble of planting your own….or if you don’t have the space to even attempt to grow your own fruits and vegetables….or if you can’t make it to your farmer’s market’s Saturday-morning-only hours…or if you are looking for more variety than what you yourself would even attempt to grow.

Thankfully there are large-scale online organic grocery delivery services and subscription boxes that you can join that will deliver an assortment of organic fruits and veggies to your door to fill in these gaps by sending organic, all-natural produce and products right to your door.

What a convenience, right?!

The only problem perhaps with joining one of these subscriptions if that unfortunately you won’t be able to choose which fruits and vegetables you end up getting…(it’s their choice, not yours…so you can’t be picky)…

But here is a list of a few to consider…

 

****************

Boxed Greens

boxed greensGoal…to provide fresh fruits and vegetables from farms local to Phoenix, AZ

Options include…

  • The Essential Family…basic produce for four people
  • The Family Gourmand…same as The Essential Family, but comes with a few more unusual fruits or vegetables
  • The Juicemaker
  • The Breakfast Box…seasonal fruits and fresh granola

Reach…offers weekly delivery to Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, and other areas in Arizona…as well overnight delivery both to other areas in Arizone and  nationwide

***********************

Door to Door Organics

door to door organics
Goal…to stock their boxes with pesticide-free produce primarily from local sources…even though they resort to getting produce from warmer climates and international organic farms during the winter months

Reach…several locations across the country, including Colorado, Kansas City, Chicago, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware

*********************

Green Polka Dot Box

green polka dot

What…an online grocery store and buying collective that offers lower prices on brands such as Newman’s Own, Annie’s, Sprout, Tom’s of Maine, and more

Goal…to bring not only organic fruits and vegetables…but also other organic and natural products—including snacks, condiments, baking supplies, and more

How…either a $50-annual Club Membership or a $125-annual Rewards Membership

 

*****************************************
SPUD-–Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery
spud logo
Reach…the northern West Coast: Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County, Vancouver, Van Island, and Calgary

 

How…you design your own Harvest Box by choosing…

  • how frequently you want to get groceries delivered
  • how much you want to spend
  • whether you want to buy local goods only…local goods over a variety of items…or variety over source
**************
urban organic logo
Reach…New York Tri-State area…imncluding New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut
Options…offers four box sizes, ranging from The Little Box to the Extra-Value Box
Contents…changes every week…but includes produce such as carrots, greens, broccoli, apples, tomatoes, grapefruit, and tangerines
Juicing Box…also offers a Juicing Box designed for DIY juice and smoothies…which comes with carrots, beets, parsely, celery, ginger, apples, pears, dark greens, and cucumbers

Groceries…also sells canned goods, baby food, sustainably-raised meat and household supplies such as organic cat food and cleaning spray

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Container Gardening…The Which

 

 

*****

Basil

 
Pistou basil

Basil is known for its tiny aromatic leaves and is great for outlining the perimeters of large planters.

There are over eighty varieties of basil available, but since I will be growing these in containers, I want to limit myself to the “miniature” types designed for small-scale gardens, such as the Pistou. the tiniest form of sweet basil.

I am looking forward to using fresh basil in pesto and salad dressings all summer long…(look for recipes)…

******

Eggplant

 

Ping Tung Long eggplant from High Mowing Organic SeedsEggplants,, especially Oriental eggplants, are another good choice for pots and planters.

Among the different varieties of eggplant, the heirloom variety known as Gwenael Engelskirchen are the best eggplants are the best eggplants for container gardening, because this plant produces the most eggplants in the least amount of space.

If you are planning on growing these eggplants, you must first  start the  seed inside by either using some sory of grow light, such as one of these from Burpee or setting a seeding tray on top of the fridge…and then transplant to pots and planters when the weather gets warmer.

 

 

 

***************

Peppers

Black Hungarian pepperB

 

Hot peppers, such as Black Hungarian peppers or the Patio Fire peppers are a colorful addition for your container  garden.

This long-lasting plant, with its purple flowers and emerald-green foliage, is a fun addition to your garden because it is fun to watch the peppers start out green…and then turn to black…and finally turn out red.

You must also start these seeds indoors before transplanting them to pots and planters when warm weather arrives.

************

Tomatoes

 

Cherry Cascade tomato

 

Cherry tomatoes, such as Cherry Cascade, can be grown in hanging baskets or containers without being so long or heavy that they reach low to the ground,

This fast-growing type of tomato grows from the size of a marble up to a golf ball.

****************

Mesclun Mixes

The word mesclun means miscellaneous greens, attributed to wild weeds once foraged by peasants in Europe to supplement their limited diets. Many of the mixtures found today are made up of quick-growing arugula and mustards, and are not ideal for containers. However, you can create your own container-friendly mesclun. Consider Italian endives and escaroles, which can be harvested leaf by leaf. Or, try purslane, which has unusual, succulent leaves that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Seed companies offer mixes that are suited to the season, so you can start with a spring mix. After harvest, replant with a blend that can withstand summer heat, followed by a third planting of fall greens, such as cold-tolerant kale and collards.

Mesclun

 

Mesclun mixes, such as Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled Cress and Purple Rapa Pop Mix, are yet another good choice.

Mesclum mix is a blend of assorted small young salad greens that may include any of the following…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making a List…Checking It Twice

 

The D. Landreth Seed Company catalog

I hate shopping….and I hate spending alot of money not sure that it will be worth it or not.

And at this point in my gardening dreams, I want to be able to get as many creative ideas and as much inspiration as possible without spending a single penny that I don’t have to.

 

 

 

Plants can be expensive at your local nursery or greenhouse…

 

So I’m glad to learn that ordering seeds can make it cheaper to start your garden off with than plants I would be spending at least $10 per plant for if I were to buy them already sprouted.

 

Hopefully to get me inspired to seriously pursue this gardening thing that I’ve said that I would start now for how many decades of married life, I have just ordered seed catalogs from the following seed companies or bookmarked their websites for future reference…

 

 

 

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds…rareseeds.com.

 

Burpee & Co…burpee.com

 

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds…kitchengardenseeds.com.

 

 

Johnny’s Selected Seeds…johnnyseeds.com

 

Kitazawa Seed Company…kitazawaseed.com

 

Park’s Seeds…parkseed.com

 

Seeds from Italy,..growitalian.com.

 

Tomato Grower’s Supply Co…tomatogrowers.com

 

Vermont Bean Seed Co…vermontbean.com

 

Wood Prairie Farm Maine Potato Catalog,..woodprairie.com.

 

 

 

If nothing else, I can simply spend quality couch time poring over these pages and websites…dreaming and debating over which vegetable and flower seeds to order

And if all else fails, I can resort to cutting out the pictures in the catalogs and laminating them and sticking the pictures in my garden with stakes…pretending that my garden was actually a success…and hoping for better luck next year.

Just like generations and generations of gardeners and garden wannabes have been doing for hundreds of years.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Finding the Perfect Pot to Pea In

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Farmer Brown Went to Town