All posts by Melissa

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“Real Food for Rookies” Online Class – 25% off (limited time)!

By | Books & Resources, Kitchen & Real Food How-to's | No Comments

 

Are you someone who desires to eat more Real Food but doesn’t know where to start?

Do you learn best by being shown how to do something, not just reading about it?

Do you have health problems (either small or BIG) and wonder if a change in your diet might help?

Then THIS CLASS is for you! (and it’s 25% off right now!(

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My friend Kelly over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop is having an AMAZING sale for a short time on her “Real Food for Rookies” online class. BE SURE TO use coupon code 25OFFDEAL to get 25% off of her class!

Learn from the comfort of your own home with video tutorials, info, recipes and more.

What You’ll Get:

  • 12 weeks of online classes with videos, downloadable audios, and written materials.
  • LIFETIME access! Read/listen/watch at your leisure: on your break at work, while the kids are sleeping, in your pajamas, whatever! If you have a busy week, no big deal, just pick it back up on your own schedule.
  • Exclusive expert interviews with Sally Fallon Morell (President of the Weston Price Foundation), Dr. Kaayla Daniel (author of The Whole Soy Story), Jane Hersey (Director of the Feingold Association), Tom Naughton (“Fathead” filmmaker), and now one more: Jimmy Moore from the Livin LaVida Low-Carb blog!
  • BONUS: Free copy of the Kitchen Kop Real Food Ingredient Guide.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Save time and money while serving Real Food
  • Read labels and avoid dangerous ingredients
  • Make nourishing “fast food” meals to avoid last-minute trips to the drive-thru
  • Find healthier alternatives for soda pop, refined sugars, heart-killer oils, sugar-bomb breakfast cereals, factory farmed meat and more
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods that are necessary for good health
  • Take control of your health and change your family’s future!

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(and be sure to use coupon code 25OFFDEAL at check-out to get 25% off!)

 

Kelly has been “into” Real Food for quite some time. She trustworthy, has done her homework and desires to share her long-earned Real Food knowledge with us! This class in invaluable and is backed up with advice from Real Food experts.

Kelly had a rough couple of months (see her blog for updates) and I’d love to be able to bless her by sending some new “Real Food Rookies” her way!!!

Will you be one of them? I know you won’t be disappointed!

I’d tell you more about the class, but she’s got some great intro videos and testimonials over on her class site – go check them out!

 

 

 

 

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My Garden is Going Crazy!

By | Gardening & Sustainable Living | No Comments

Oh my word. My garden is going crazy.

This is the first year planting at our new place, although it has been my parent’s garden for the last 27 years. My dad has a local farmer put manure on it each fall (and sometimes again in the spring). That combination, along with just plain GOOD SOIL, is the perfect formula for a garden that appears to be on steroids.

I have not fertilized, composted or done anything else to it other than weeding and watering.

My tomato plant section looks like a jungle. This is what was picked the last couple days – and it’s not even 1/4 of them. There are so many that aren’t even ripe yet:

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I’m going to make about 40 pints of salsa for this next year. If you need a really great salsa recipe with some simple canning instructions, check out my Canned Salsa Recipe.

I will still probably have millions of tomatoes left after that, too, so I’ll be making the Tomato Sauce and Pizza Sauce from this great book:

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My week will pretty much consist of preserving various tomato things.

On another vegetable note, my 4 year old picked this GIANT of a carrot last night, too:

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 That carrot was HUGE. My kids had so much fun shoveling out the carrots and seeing what shape they were. Some were long and some had several “legs”.

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And yes, there are still beans growing. I’m just going to ignore them…

How about your garden? Anything going crazy???

 

 

 

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Seed Saving – should you do it?

By | Gardening & Sustainable Living | No Comments

My sister texted me this picture yesterday and wrote “you should write a blog post on seed-saving”.

The problem is, I don’t know much about this topic. I wish I did.

Someday when I have nothing else to do, I will do all of the things I wish I could do now. (Moms, you know what I’m talking about!)

I understand that seed-saving can be an invaluable resource – such as in instances where a certain crop disease destroys all current plants. Or if a plant pest wipes out something (I’m talking wide-scale here, not just your own garden).

I don’t think most of us realize how much we depend on seeds (and the plants they grow into). Think back on what you’ve eaten so far today. How many of those things depend on some sort of seed growing into a plant/grain to produce food? What if there was a global catastrophe that wiped out the ENTIRE species of that plant?

I know those scenarios are a little far-fetched, but anything could happen, right?

In that instance, what would you do for food for your family?

I’m not a conspiracy-theorist, but I do have the desire to be more and more self-sufficient, mostly where it concerns our food.

Since I know very little about seed-saving, I went on Amazon and looked for books on the topic. I found a few – I haven’t read ANY of these but they look promising (especially the middle one):

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I have so many questions about seed-saving, like:

1) Is it hard?

2) What are the benefits?

3) How do you store the seeds until next year? (cool, dry, warm, etc?)

4) Can you continue to do it year after year with the same plants?

 

seeds-of-change-logo Seed Savers Exchange is another great resource if you are at least interested in using seeds that have been “saved” from previous crops and generations. Heirloom seeds are one of the many cool things they offer. Check them out!

 

 

 

Do you seed-save?

 

 

 

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Why Cold Extracted Honey Is Best

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

My great-grandfather was a beekeeper. I am not a fan of bees, at least in the insect-buzzing-around-me-ready-to-sting-at-any-moment sense. My dad is allergic to them so I’ve always had this healthy fear extreme paranoia of getting stung.

For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been braving angry, buzzing bees — and the occasional angry bear — to get a taste of nature’s own sweet gold: Honey. In fact, the ancient Romans and Aztecs valued it so much that they used to pay their taxes with honey, instead of gold! So smart.

Honey is not only sought after for it’s sweet flavor and nutritional value, but recent scientific studies show that honey contains potent antimicrobials and antioxidants, provides a rich wealth of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and flavonoids — all of which speed healing and promoting overall health. It’s no wonder honey is known as a superfood!

All that, and it tastes great on toast, yogurt, ice cream, stirred into tea, and in just about everything else, too.

I’ve been shopping at Green Polka Dot Box for a while, but I’m really excited to try a product that they carry: Living Honey’s 100% Cold-Extracted Honey.

What is Cold-Extracted Honey?

So what’s the deal with cold extraction?  Isn’t one type of honey pretty much like every other type of honey? The answer is  NO WAY! To understand why cold extracted honey is better — taste-wise, nutrition-wise, and health-benefits-wise — let’s explore how honey is created.

The Bees Do it Better

When it comes to making honey, bees in a hive are grouped into different categories of worker, each with its own set of honey-related tasks. So-called foragers fly about from flower to flower, drinking nectar and storing it in their crop, also known as a honey stomach. When the foragers get back to the hive, they pass the nectar along to a processor bee, who hangs out at the front of the hive. They are so smart!

The processor bee then carries the nectar up to the top of the hive where the honeycomb sits in all of its glory. After depositing the nectar in a honeycomb cell — along with a dose of invertase, a natural enzyme — the nectar is left to ripen. During ripening process, the invertase breaks down the nectar’s original sugar content — sucrose — into glucose and fructose. The bees in the hive help the ripening process along by drying out the honey; the ingenious little creatures create drying airflow by flapping their wings.

Over time, the nectar loses almost all of its water content. No water means no chance of bacteria or other microbes like fungi growing in the honey. When it’s completely ripe, the bees create a little wax cap, sealing off the cell of the honeycomb.

Another interesting honey fact: The flowers that bees collect nectar from determines the fragrance, taste and color of the honey, from the lightest, almost white-yellow to the darkest, deepest amber. For instance, orange blossom, alfalfa, sage and clover honey tends to be light in color and taste, while honey from wildflowers, pine trees and buckwheat tends to be darker and richer. As a general rule, the deeper and darker the honey, the more antioxidants, antimicrobials and other good stuff it contains.

And speaking of all that good stuff, that’s where cold extraction comes into play.

bee Why is Cold Extracted Honey Superior?

Here’s a little known fact: 99.9% of the honey you buy at the supermarket is ruined. That’s right: Ruined.

Why? Because commercially processed honey is heated, pasteurized and filtered within an inch of its life, leaving virtually nothing behind but a sticky syrup that’s really almost no better than corn syrup. All of those amino acids, all of those B and C vitamins, all of those anti-oxidant flavenoids, carotinoids, enzymes and ascorbic acids, and all of those nutrients that the little bees worked so long and carefully to product? Gone, thanks to the heating process.

So, you’re probably asking, if honey is naturally antimicrobial, why heat it at all? The answer is simple: Money.

It all comes down to packaging costs. Cold honey is thick and rich, filled with all of the natural goodness the bees put in, so it moves very slowly — which means that bottling process moves slowly, too.

By heating the honey up to at least 130 degrees, it moves faster and can be pumped into bottles by machines, enabling processing plants to make more product quickly, thus aiding their bottom line. And buyer beware: Even products that say “Raw” on the label still usually heated up to 115 degrees, and when honey hits a temperature of 107 or above the digestive nutrients become “stressed,” which degrades the substance, causing particles to separate – and changing the taste, too.

In contrast, the cold-extraction process used by Living Honey leaves all of the natural goodness, nutrients and phytochemicals in the honey, along with all of the health-promoting properties they deliver.

Plus, Living Honey only uses acid-proof containers to store honey, as it can leach moisture, chemicals and flavors from its surroundings, contaminating the purity and adulterating the flavor. Living Honey knows that their customers tend to have discerning palates, so they make sure their honey always taste just as good as it should and contain nothing more than the nutrients nature intended. There’s just no comparison to the “honey-flavored” stuff you find at the supermarket.

It’s easy to get all of the health benefits and deliciousness of honey in this simple, addicting recipe. Simply drizzle honey over your favorite cereals or granola. Stir until small balls form, then pour in bit of milk for a fast, simple breakfast. You can also pour a bit of honey over biscuits while they’re still hot from the oven, then allow them to them sit overnight. The baked goods absorb the honey, taking in all of that sweet goodness without leaving a sticky feeling.

*** DID YOU KNOW that you can even make your own honey sports drink that delivers the electrolytes, vitamins and minerals you need to replenish your body, without all of the high fructose corn syrup and synthetic colors and flavors you’ll find in most commercial sports drinks? Simply add ¾ cup of honey to 8 cups of water, add a dash of salt and a squeeze of lime, and mix well.

How about you? Do you use honey? Do you have a favorite brand?

Me? I’m shopping for it RIGHT NOW at Green PolkaDot Box. Check them out!

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Healthy and Affordable Food Delivered to Your Door- (FREE TRIAL next 3 days ONLY!)

By | Special Deals & Giveaways | No Comments

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If you’re in the U.S. and want clean, non-GMO, affordable and organic food delivered to your door – you are going to get REALLY excited about this. (Keep reading – there is an exclusive, limited time offer only for my readers!)

I love local food from local growers, and I love supporting local farmers and locally owned businesses. But not everyone has access to fresh and healthy food from within their community. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Green Polka Dot Box (GPDB). If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ve seen me mention them before.

GPDB is an online retailer that delivers a wide variety of natural and organic foods that are 100% non-GMO. GPDB makes it easy to filter your order by specific dietary needs (such as vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, etc), so you can order exactly what you want, from the convenience of your home.

Because of their exclusive buying power, I find that GPDB’s prices are always lower than what I’ll find in a retail store and even lower than Amazon. They also offer complimentary shipping for orders of $75 and above for club members. Unfortunately, they don’t yet ship internationally, so at this point this is a U.S.-only resource.

GPDB is a buying club, so there is a $50 annual membership fee.

BUT…….right now, for 3 days only, they’re giving my readers a FREE “test drive” membership! (follow directions below).

Now you can place ONE ORDER with them to see how their whole system works, with no membership charge at all!!!

This is an exclusive offer and I had to convince them to allow it, but they finally said YES! (I’m so convincing). :-)

If you like the ease of shopping with them,  you can then become a member and order as often as you’d like.

 

Here’s how to take advantage of this 3-day offer:

1) Click here to go to the GPDB site.

2) Check out their site, filter to look for the things you want, and add what you want to your shopping cart.

3) Click on a Checkout button.

4) In the Discount Codes field, enter: FREETRIAL

5) Then you’ll see the price for your test drive membership drop to zero.

6) Go ahead and check out and voila – your order will be shipped to you promptly.

I REALLY think you are going to love them. In some areas of the U.S. they will even ship produce and refrigerated products. Their prices are the best I’ve seen and the convenience is unbeatable. I save money simply NOT having to go to the store (that’s where all of the impulse-buying gets me in trouble).

Don’t wait – get shopping now as you only have 3 days to take advantage!! Ends at midnight Saturday, June 7th!

What are you waiting for?! I hope you all take advantage of this great FREE TRIAL – come back and let me know what you ordered!

 

Green Polka Dot Box is a natural and organic buyers collective that makes healthy and GMO-free foods available with a low price guarantee, delivered straight to your door, anywhere in the United States. Find out all about it and sign up here. 

 

 

Disclaimer: I have an affiliate relationship with GPDB and therefore earn a small commission for people I refer. Thanks in advance – it’s things like this that enable me to keep my blog running!

Heirloom tomatoes

What’s So Special About Heirloom Tomatoes?

By | Gardening & Sustainable Living, Health & Wellness | No Comments

Have you planted any Heirloom Tomatoes in your garden this year? A few years ago when I worked for Earthkeeper Farm, I was introduced to their BEAUTY and their FLAVOR! If you have never tried them, you are missing out…

If your experience with tomatoes is limited to the pale, mealy and mostly tasteless varieties found on the shelves of the grocery store, it’s time to experience organic heirloom tomatoes. Also known as heritage tomatoes, these diverse fruits come in a range of colors, sizes, shapes and flavors that make “regular” tomatoes (literally) pale in comparison.

What are Organic Heirloom Tomatoes?

Let’s start with what they are not. Unlike most modern commercially sold varieties, heirloom tomatoes are NOT hybridized in a lab, genetically modified or sterile. Instead, heirloom tomatoes:

  • Come from seeds that have been passed down through generations
  • Grow from strains that have been grown for at least 50 years
  • Are openly, naturally pollinated
  • Are stable
  • Are able to reproduce themselves
  • Have a known history that includes either their region of origin, knowledge of who has grown the tomatoes in the past, or qualities that make them stand out

Most strains come from seeds that accompanied immigrants to North America during the great waves of European immigration during the early decades of the 20th century, though some come from Central or South America. Either way, most seeds have been passed down through families — and between home gardeners — for generations; some date back to 300 years.

Heirloom plants are able to retain their specific characteristics through time as they are self-pollinating; after just a few generations growing in a limited locale, they become genetically similar. Even when tomatoes naturally outcross with other plants, the seeds produce similar plants to the parents, limiting natural hybridization. Heirlooms are the result of early cultivars that grew in the same area for generations and didn’t outcross often.

As a result, the heirloom tomato seeds of today come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors and are incredibly stable when planted in the home garden. To illustrate the incredible diversity of heirlooms, a few varieties include:

  • Brandywine, a large, fluted, pink-red tomato that’s been dated to 1885
  • Abraham Lincoln, a mid-sized, red variety that dates to 1920
  • Ruby Gold, a sweet-tasting pink, orange and yellow tomato from 1921
  • Chocolate Stripes, a large, dark, red-brown tomato with green stripes and a sweet flavor
  • Cherokee Lime, a tangy-sweet tomato with a bright green exterior and a rosy interior
  • Climbing Triple L, a meaty, large tomato with a mild flavor; plants grow up to 18 feet high
  • Northern Lights, a small tomato from Mexico with yellow-orange skin and flesh that’s prized by chefs
  • Pusza Kolosz, a huge, 2-pound red-orange tomato from Romania with sweet, almost seedless flesh

The sheer variety of heirloom tomatoes, along with their amazing flavor, makes it easy to understand their growing popularity. But these diverse plants also provide a number of benefits, to human health, to the environment — and to your palette.

Health Benefits of Organic Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially when compared to commercially grown tomatoes, which are bred for size, color and hardiness, rather than flavor or nutritional content. Studies indicate that these low-calorie fruits deliver phytochemicals that offer cardio- and chemo-protective effects. In addition, choosing organic, non-GMO heirloom tomatoes means that you’re not exposing yourself to harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other potential toxins.

Vitamins and Minerals

Heirloom tomatoes contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals. A single, medium-sized heirloom provides 40% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, an anti-oxidant that boosts the immune system, aids in adrenal gland function and helps lower stress levels. Heirlooms contain B vitamins, including folate, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine, which are necessary for red blood cell production and help the body convert fuel into energy. Tomatoes also contain vitamin A, an antioxidant, and vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting and promote bone density, protecting against osteoporosis.

Heirlooms also contain essential minerals, such as potassium, which helps reduce blood pressure and promotes heart health. One 100-gram heirloom tomato contains about 237 mg of potassium. Other minerals in tomatoes include manganese, calcium and iron.

Antioxidants

Whenever your body converts food into fuel, is exposed to UV rays, or comes in contact with pollutants in the environment, it produces free radicals, or groups of atoms that are missing an electron. Free radicals attempt to “steal” an electron from healthy cells, causing cell damage and exacerbating the effects of aging. Antioxidants reduce this damage by neutralizing free radicals; heirloom tomatoes contain potent antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene.

Lycopene is a type of pigment known as a cartenoid; this potent pigment gives red, orange and yellow heirlooms their brilliant color. Studies indicate that lycopene’s antioxidant effects provides protection against a number of cancers, including stomach, skin, prostate, pancreatic, oral cavity, lung, endometrial, colorectal, cervical, breast and bladder cancers. Another cartenoid found in heirlooms, zea-xanthin, has been found to protect against macular diseases and protect against UV rays.

Environmental Benefits of Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirlooms provide a number of environmental benefits, as well. Because there are so many strains — more than 10,000, according to some estimates — these plants promote biodiversity. Heirlooms are open pollinated, or naturally pollinated by bees, birds and butterflies, rather than hybridized in a lab. Commercial hybridization results in sterile plants that require large inputs of water and chemicals to remain healthy. In contrast, heirlooms require watering only about once a week or when dry.

In addition, commercially produced supermarket tomatoes are picked when green, so they stay firm while they’re being trucked across the country — creating CO2 emissions — then gassed with CO2 to make their skins turn red so they look “ripe” on the grocery store shelf.

Flavor Benefits of Heirloom Tomatoes

In contrast, heirlooms are picked at the peak of ripeness in order to highlight their amazing flavor profiles. In fact, these fruits are prized specifically for their range of rich flavors, from sweet to tangy, mild to bold, smoky to salty. No matter which flavor you prefer, you’ll find an heirloom seed that provides it.

Love a sweet flavor? Try Amana Orange, a 2-pound, fluted variety with orange skin. Need a mild taste that’s perfect for salads or slicing? Try Brandywine, a variety from the 1800s. Dreaming of an intense, slightly salty flavor? Then Black Krim, with its purple-brown fruits, may be right for you. Need a sweet, fruity taste to add flair to your salad? Tiny Flamme, with its little orange tomatoes, delivers.

Once you’ve experienced the depth and range of flavors that heirlooms can provide, you’ll find it difficult — if not impossible — to go back to the tasteless alternatives offered at the grocery store.

 If you’ve planted or eaten Heirloom Tomatoes in the past, which are your favorites???