The summer growing season may be nearing its end, but your garden is probably just hitting its peak production! You can only personally eat so many tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and zucchini. Your neighbors and co-workers will only allow you to share so many. And really, it seems a total waste to let them go. So don’t!
Belly up to your kitchen counter, pull out a few handy appliances, and make finished food items you can eat through the winter and your neighbors and co-workers are far more glad to take off of your hands now!
HOMEMADE SWEET AND SPICY ENGLISH CUCUMBER PICKLES
Does your neighbor want 10 cucumbers? No! Does your neighbor want an adorable jar full of homemade pickles? Heck yes! Use any garden variety cuc to make these shockingly easy pickles. You’ll never want store-bought again. And in our experience, a generous batch will last you all the way to spring!
TWO INGREDIENT MELON BALL SOUP
When the watermelon and cantaloupe runneth over, runneth it through the blender! Combine your favorite melons, add your choice of fresh herbs, and top with a goat or feta cheese to make the simplest chilled soup ever! We love ours at brunch. (more…)
Flowers are so gorgeous. They smell so beautiful, they brighten up any room, and they are incredibly symbolic. But did you also know you can eat flowers? I know, it is a crazy concept to imagine eating a flower, but I promise there are some good ones out there! Follow along to decide which flowers you can eat tonight!
Yes, arugula is a technically a flower. Though it is usually thought of as a type of lettuce—and is typically used as a slightly bitter alternative to other salad greens—arugula is actually a floral. If you grow your own, these flowers will appear as the plant matures. In fact, once flowers appear your arugula may be too bitter to eat, but the flowers are still edible. The plant is high in fiber and antioxidants, so chow down. (more…)
By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
“Do you like cilantro?” was the subject line of an email I recently sent out to a few people coming to my home for dinner. A cilantro-hating ex-boyfriend taught me that when you dislike the herb, it’s with a passion. (To find out why, check out the “I hate cilantro” Facebook page with more than 13,000 likes, and the blog of the same name.)
If you fall into that camp, then you can stop reading now (or, continue, just to see what you’re missing). No matter how you feel about its taste, there’s no denying that nutritionally, it’s a bona fide super food. Here’s why:
- It’s very rich in carotenoids. This group of antioxidant phytonutrients is important for the skin and eyes, as well as overall health. When tested along with other common herbs (basil, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary), cilantro was the richest in beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
- It may fight cancer. In test tube research at University of Malaya, ground up stems, leaves, and roots help kill breast cancer cells, a benefit that can be chalked up to cilantro’s plentiful carotenoids and other antioxidants. (more…)
Have you ever considered getting into the whole herb gardening thing? I certainly have, but as always, I need a strong resource to wrap my mind around what is the easiest and most beneficial thing to grow at home. I didn’t find this quickie guide, so I did the research and created one for us all. It turns out herb gardening is easy and a super healthy and cost-effective way to add heapings of extra flavor to your food. Here are the best greens to grow in an indoor or outdoor herb garden. All you need to get started are a few pots, a little bit of soil and some seeds!
Basil is super easy to grow at home. All you need is some seeds and the sunlight. Basil is so versatile—use it in soups and salads or make pesto with it. It works great in Italian dishes (obviously) and it can add a fun flavor blast to stirfrys too! Basil is also awesome for clearing your skin and mellowing your stress. Who knew?
Try it in a summery peach caprese salad! (more…)
There are a number of reason’s that Yoplait Light Key Lime Pie flavored yogurt might not be considered healthy. There’s the strange light green coloring (pretty sure it’s not natural) and the 10 grams of sugar. But, it’s clearly a healthier choice than some other snacks I’ve been known to indulge in, like donuts!
This past week while at the grocery store I saw there was a special on these yogurts. Ten for $5 or something like that—a deal that’s hard to pass up. Add in the fact that things were downright warm in Portland and this seemed like a fitting treat. So I grabbed a few and went on my way. I’ve been enjoying the yogurts all week and, aside from the fact that they’re not exactly natural, they’re a fairly healthy treat: No corn syrup, 20% of the daily recommended value of calcium, and just 90 calories.
As a former New Yorker, I used to live on pizza. (Or, “slices”, as we said in Brooklyn.) I had a handful of go-to spots, places with thin crust that’s been tossed to perfection, savory sauce, and just enough cheese. But when I moved I largely gave up my pizza habit. It’s not as easy to come by restaurants selling slices to go, and the consistency is just different. Or so I thought.
A few days ago I stopped into one of the few local pizza chains that do offer individual slices. Most were piled with artisanal toppings—things like roasted squash and apples—but on that particular day I spied what looked like a classic slice. Fresh mozzarella, a little red sauce peeking thorough, and not much else. I ordered one, sprinkled on a few fresh pepper flakes, and was immediately transported. It tasted like home.
Still, my waistline has been happy to not have to deal with regular stops for slices. Just how many calories had that pitstop cost? Around 272, by my math (and Self.com). (more…)
Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.
― Rudyard Kipling
The act of planting a garden – working the soil, tending to the plants and reaping the bounty is a time-honored tradition that has slowly morphed from necessity to hobby. Over the last 100 years, America’s industrialization and urban expansion have eliminated the need for gardens in most households. Unfortunately, some apartment dwellers are packed so close together that growing basil in a pot on the windowsill is the closest they’ll get to a harvest.
Today we’re highlighting two programs that teach gardening skills in the United States. Though the “participants” are very different, they all receive benefits that go far beyond the eventual food a garden yields.
Last week, the National Public Radio (npr) website ran a story about several minimum security prisons that have developed their own vegetable gardens thanks in part to the Insight Garden Program. Inmates who qualify for the program are allowed to work outside where they tend to a small area of raised beds that grow everything from tomatoes to lettuce. Beth Waitkus, Director of the Insight Garden Program said she created this endeavour after the tragedies of 9/11 to, “restore her faith in humanity.”
I will never buy pickles from the grocery store ever again.
I’ve seen the light.
I’ve tasted victory.
Why didn’t I figure this out sooner?
When I remember the summer of 2013, it will be the Summer of the Pickle!
My grandfather planted a beautiful garden in his backyard this spring. We’ve been reaping the benefits of his hard work all season and I couldn’t be more thankful. My house doesn’t allow for a garden, so when he emailed and asked, “what would you like me to plant?”, I sent him a list that probably took him by surprise.
At the top of that list were English cucumbers. A thinner skin, sweeter taste, and fewer seeds, English cucumbers are a much better eating experience than the ‘ole standard cucumber. While not an issue when grown in the backyard, when bought at the store, English cucumbers typically come without the layer of wax found on regular cucumbers. And they’re prettier. For what that’s worth!
Grandpa’s harvest has been good, which means we’ve had English cucumbers out the wazoo. A girl can only eat so many before she starts daydreaming about getting rid of cucumbers. So I asked my three-year-old sous chef, and pickle aficionado, if she’d like to spend a Saturday making pickles. She was delighted at the invitation and we set to slicing a heaping pile of cucs. (more…)
The great thing about having your own backyard garden is access to fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, and herbs any time you want. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to supply your groceries. The downside is having way too much of a good thing. One “harvest” in my garden last weekend yielded six cantaloupes; there are only three people in my household. That’s a lot of melon!
It’s a shame to let all of that excess produce go to waste. And as the summer draws to a close and all of those plants reach their peak of production, you’re going to have a lot of fruits and vegetables on your hands.
My primary policy is to share the wealth! I keep what we can reasonably eat and then start sharing the rest with friends and neighbors. No one has ever passed! My secondary policy – get in the kitchen! When pinched for creativity or inspiration at meal time, use what you have available as your muse. We’ll give you a little help to get started.
Tabbouleh-Inspired Freekeh Salad – Any extra cucumbers and tomatoes will go to good use in this simple vegan salad. You can also use some of the basil and chives you’re growing.