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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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The Grains

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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.

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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.

 

 

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 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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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

Making the Perfect Pancakes

 

 

 

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The Ingredients

  • n2C flour
  • ¼C sugar
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1½C milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼C melted butter
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Dry Ingredients

Mix together these dry ingredients.

You can do this with either a whisk or a Mason jar.

You want to go ahead and mix your dry ingredients enough to get rid of any lumps at this stage in order to avoid big lumps….and because later you will need to avoid over-mixing the batter once you add the wet to the dry,

 

 

The Baking Powder…Be sure to check the expiration date on the baking powder canister. If your baking powder is old or expired, your pancakes will not right…and will end up flat, instead of light and fluffy.

If you would like even fluffier pancakes, feel free to double the amount of baking powder.

You might also want to try using only 2tsp of baking powder and then adding 1/2tsp baking soda.

 

The Flour…Spoon your flour into a measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out of the flour canister with a measuring cup, like most of us do…including me.

Scooping the flour causes your measuring cup to be filled with too much flour, often resulting in tough pancakes.

Don’t restrict yourself to only using all-purpose flour…be adventuresome by swapping out half of the flour with another type of flour—such as whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, corn, oat, or gluten-free.

 

 

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Mason Jar Method

You can also use a Mason jar to shake your ingredients together.

To do this, layer your wet ingredients first—milk, egg, and oil…and then your dry ingredients—flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a wide-mouth quart-sized jar. Seal the jar tightly . Shake the jar vigorously for at least two minutes…until the ingredients are combined. Once the ingredients are combined, you can either cook pancakes immediately or stick the jar in the fridge for later.

To make your pancakes, simply pour the batter straight from the jar onto your griddle or pan…and cook them…(more on that later)…

 

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Liquid Ingredients

Combine your liquid ingredients.

 

The Butter…Using unsalted butter allows youu to control the taste of your pancakes better..

 

The Buttermilk...Butttermilk is what makes your pancakes tenderest. If you do not want to use milk or buttermilk, use water, coffee, or juice as your liquid base instead…reducing the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe by.one-fourth of the amount.

 

 

 

The Eggs…Bringing your eggs to room temp before mixing into your batter will give you the best results.

To make your pancakes even fluffier, take the time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. …beat your egg whites  with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form…and finally fold the beaten egg whites into your batter gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.

 

 

 


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Mixing Ingredients Together

You should have already whisked your dry ingredients together before you added in the wet ingredients…so you should be able to combine your wet ingredients and dry ingredients together very easily.

Now gently fold your dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.

Stir until the flour is moist, but there are still a few small clumps of flour.

.Do not over-mix the batter. It’s okay to leave some lumps in the batter.

If you overmix the batter, you will end up with tough and dense pancakes, not fluffy.

At this point, you should add any ingredients that you would like to add to your batter…such as…

  • Banana…one mashed ripe banana
  • Blueberries…1C
  • Cream cheese…3oz finely chopped cream cheese
  • Lemon…1tsp grated lemon peel
  • Orange…1tsp grated orange peel
  • Pecans…1/2C…toast and chop finely
  • Strawberries…1C
  • Walnuts…1/2C…toast and chop finely

 

 

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Resting Your Batter

Now that all of your ingredients have become friends, it’s time to rest your batter. What does it mean to “rest” your batter?

To rest your batter means to simply leave it alone for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. The longer you rest your batter, the better your pancakes will turn out…

Why should you “rest” your batter?

Resting your batter will…

  • dissolve any small lumps
  • give the baking powder enough time to activate
  • give the flour a chance to absorb liquid in the batter

 

 

 

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The Pan

As far as what kind of pan to use when making pancakes, the best option is an electric griddle…

An electric non-stick griddle makes flipping your pancakes much easier.

But if you’d rather cook your pancakes on top of the stove or don’t have an electric griddle, use a large, about 12,” non-stick skillet with sloping slides….preferably cast iron.

Cast iron will give you even heat distribution allow you to brown your pancakes without having to use tons of butter.

 

 

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Heating the Pan

 

Heat your pan or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles..

Heat a little bit of vegetable oil…(for other types of oils to cook with, check this previous post out)…

Avoid using regular butter because the butter will be more likely to burn and make your pancakes turn out funky tasting.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

 

 

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Cooking

Use a 1/4C measuring cup…or pour the batter from the Mason jar depending on which method you used earlier…to shape the batter into medium-sized circles….about 3-1/2″ wide. 

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes…until little bubbles appear and the edges start to get firm.

Be sure to avoid squishing the pancakes with your spatula.

Flip. Once you flip the pancake over, don’t press down on it with your spatula. Let the pancake cook naturally so you do not end up with flat, boring pancakes.

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes on the other side…until both sides are lightly golden.

Keep pancakes warm while you’finish cooking the rest by covering the pancakes with aluminum foil and then sticking them in an oven that has been preheated to about 200.°

If you find that your pancakes are browning too quickly, turn down the heat down and let the pan cool down for a minute or so before starting the next batch.

If you find that your pancakes are sticking to the pan, add more butter or oil.

Wipe out the pan between batches…especially if you are using butter instead of oil.

Finish cooking any remaining batter.

 

 

 

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Storing

Obviously most of us know what to do with the pancakes once you finish cooking them, but did you know that you can also make them ahead of time…instead of resorting to buying already frozen pancakes from the grocery store…

I was kinda shocked to find pancakes stored by the frozen biscuits and frozen breakfast burritos and frozen waffles…wonder how many preservatives are in all of these products, right?

 

To refrigerate…put the pancakes in an airtight container…will stay fresh for up to 5 days

To freeze…flash freeze them and store in large ziplocs…will stay fresh up to 2 months

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…

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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.

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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.”

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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…

 

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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

Yogurt…The What

One delicious way to reap the antioxidant benefits of raspberries is to add them to yogurt.

But first let’s take a look at what yogurt actually is, what the benefits of yogurt are, and other ways that you can incorporate raspberries into your healthier lifestyle without sacrificing the taste of foods that you probably crave as you make this transition—such as chocolate and ice cream.

 

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Say “Yes” to Yogurt

For years, I’ve been saying “yes” to yogurt…I pretty much eat yogurt every single day.

In fact people have been saying “yes” to yogurt for many, many years…in fact, for centuries….since about the yrar 500BC.

Yogurt is made by first heating milk to about 185 °F and then allowing the heated milk to cool to about 113 °F.

Next certain bacteria, called “yogurt cultures” are added to the milk. This ferments the natural sugar found in milk, called lactose…fermentation causes the milk to curdle and create lactic acid….giving yogurt both its flavor and texture.

 

 

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Yogurts of Yore

During the late 1800s...after yogurt was studied and shown to be supposedly responsible for the extremely long lifespans of peasants in Bulgaria, it started to become more popular throughout Europe…(but don’t ask me how they actually enjoyed it becasuse at this time, nobody added flavoring or sweeteners to the yogurt…have you ever tried unflavored and unsweetened yogurt…great for making smoothies perhaps…but definitely not to be eaten straight out of the carton).

In 1919, Isaac Carasso opened the first yogurt manufacturing plant in Barcelona, Spain….calling his business Danone (“little Daniel”) after his son. This brand later expanded to the US under the name Dannon…(as if you couldn’t have figured that out, right?!)

Yogurt was introduced to the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century. The person who was fundamental for starting a yogurt trend was John Harvey Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium…(yeah, the same Kellogg as the cereals that only stock how many shelves at your local grocery store)…

Kellogg treated patients at his sanitarium not only by giving them yogurt to eat, but also using yogurt in enemas…(think I’ll pass on that one)…

It was not until 1933 that people began first flavoring yogurt…by adding fruit jam to their yogurt…(and we should all thank God that somebody had the sense to do this, right?!)

In 1966 Colombo Yogurt started sweetening their yogurt and selling their yogurt with added fruit preserves…first creating what we know as  “fruit on the bottom” style yogurt.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Raspberries…The Which

 

Raspberries are another food that is high in antioxidants.
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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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…

 

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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

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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

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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

 

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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
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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

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