Growing Tomato Tips


     My heirloom Hartman’s yellow Gooseberry tomatoes are sweet, mild and very tasty.  This is my first year planting them, and I’m pleased by the results so far.  When I purchased this seedling, it was about a foot tall.  I dug a whole twice the size of the pot it came in, and covered the whole root system with compost soil mixed with the dirt I dug up. I then sprayed it with diluted liduid kelp to give the plant a little boost of nutrients to get it going.  Within one month of adequate even watering and good sunlight, the plant tripled its size.  You can eat these raw or sautĂ©ed.  Anyway, you’ll just love the taste.  The color will also brighten up any dish and will wow any crowd.  Not to mention, they’re also very easy to grow. 

Growing Tomato Tips

  1. Spacing between plants:  2-3 feet apart for room to grow. 
  2. Cutting the tomatoes from the vine with a scissors protects the plant and the fruit. Don’t tug or pull. 
  3. Fertilize with Azomite and liquid Kelp both add calcium and trace minerals.  
  4. Store tomatoes if green on the countertop, stem side up to ripen. 
  5. If you refrigerate – limit for 3-5 days, this will also effect the flavor and texture of the tomato.
  6. Stake, trellis or cage tomato plants to support and keep them from the ground. 

     Growing tomatoes in the summer is simple, plus if you don’t have a garden, growing in containers work just as fine too. You can grow beets, lettuces, carrots, cucumbers and so much more in pots on your balcony or patio. If you have the space and the sunlight, go for it.  Check this beauty out below! 

Have fun with growing fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grow your own foods. Organically of course😉

Resources: Grow Organic – Online resource for everything organically grown. 

 Tomatoe Pruning and Tomatoe Diseases 

Growing Beets in Containers – The Basics

Best Tomato Varieties For Containers

Heirloom Tomatoes


So what does heirloom mean for heirloom tomatoes?

For heirloom tomatoes the word heirloom refers to the tomato seeds that have been harvested from certain varieties and passed down for generations because of their favorable and desirable characteristics and qualities.  

You can find heirloom tomatoes at most farmers markets. A lot of farms that offer a CSA membership might add heirloom tomatoes to their weekly shares as well. Since they are becoming more popular, they are more readily available in several grocery stores as well.

Heirloom tomatoes are great to enjoy just as you would any other type of tomato. Be sure to try out some recipes specifically using heirloom tomatoes as well.  This variety is called Grandma Ugly. I guess based on the many lines and ripples they have. They’re just as delicious and sweet to eat in any style dish you desire. My favorite way to eat tomatoes is cut up in big chunks with fresh minced garlic drizzled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. 

Resource: The Back Road Life

Growing Organic Carrots 

Organic Carrots
Look what I see? My carrots are popping up. I’m so excited!!  My best advice for growing carrots is just grow them. I have them planted in four different locations in my garden. In order to grow amazing carrots the soil has to be loose, free of rocks and heavy debris, organic fertilizer, and can drain water well. 


I’m also tying to grow carrots in planters. These I started two weeks ago, and they’ve already sprouted.  I purchased organic potting soil and combined it with organic compost. I’m obsessed with carrots as you can see. They’re delicious number one and two, they’re one of my main bases for juicing. You can’t have enough carrots around. 

The best “How to video” for growing carrots and any other type of vegetable plants can be found on GrowOrganic website. They offer the best organic advise, organic fertilizer products, and so much more.  

I can’t wait to juice and sautĂ© these bad boys. 

A Healthy Sweet Snack

Here’s another awesome snack for people who are always looking for the next best on-the-go food.  Sugar snap peas are easy to tote around, very sweet, and healthy. They are a cross between the garden and snow pea, which have plump pods with a crisp snappy texture.  The pods of snap peas are edible. Peas are one of the few members of the legume family that are commonly sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. The other members of the legume family, including lentils, chickpeas, and beans of all colors are most often sold in dried form. They are all loaded with amazing nutrients, iron and protein. A favorite amongst vegans and vegetarians. 

I prefer to eat my sugar snap peas raw because of the sweetness. To me, when they’re cooked, it loses that delicious sweet aspect. Plus when they’re raw, the skin is very crunchy. If you didn’t see me eating them but heard me, you would think I was eating cheese doodles. That’s how loud they are.  Not only are they fun to eat, sugar snap peas are great for tossing them in my salads. They add a wonderful dimension to stir fried too. For amazing healthy information about the green peas and legumes family, visit whfoods site for up-to-date scientific studies, recommended dietary guidelines, and easy recipes. 

Try some today, and let me know if you like’em. 

Healthy Eating!!! 
 

My Okra Plant Flower Blooms

  
How pretty is that, a full okra bloom. This is my second year growing okras and my first time seeing the blooms. Gorgeous, isn’t it! Okra is in the same family as hibiscus and the flowers are actually edible. The blooms can be added to raw salads, or battered and deep fried.  I’m not interested in either options. The blooms are pretty and I would rather enjoy them visually.  

As a child, I hated okras. It use to gross me out whenever I saw people eating it and my parents never forced me to eat them amongst other things.  I’m guessing because it was always slimy and appalling for us. It’s funny as you grow up your palette changes.   My outlook today is totally different. I eat it like its nothing. Plus, everything else that is organically plant-based healthy.

I planted two okra plants this year, and I average about one to two okras a week.  It isn’t much but it’s enough for me because I have so many other vegetables I mix them in with.  The key is to harvest the pods right away. This will provide you with tender, delicious pods. Plus, it will promote more pod growth on your plant. I usually harvest once the pods are about 3-4 inches and they are super tender. I don’t like when the pods are over 4 inches because they tend to be too tough and hard. The younger the better. 

Add okra to your garden because it’s a great addition and a very nutritional part of the menu. 

Let’s Do Lunch

 

Plant-Based Sandwich – OrganicREADY
 
I just created this meatless sandwich from a few items I brought in to work. When most people think of sandwiches, they think of three core components: meat, cheese and bread. Well, here’s a wonderful alternative for a quick whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) sandwich.  I used a thin whole wheat pita bread which has 60 calories per serving, avocado, tomatoes and red bell peppers. 

Next time, I could switch it up and have hummus, lettuce, or even use a slice of cabbage, onions or cucumbers. The options are endless with plant-based sandwiches.  I’ve always been a fan of bringing a meal from home, and sandwiches are just about the perfect lunch food because they’re portable and have an endless variety of options.  According to a national survey, Americans are buying lunch instead of bringing it from home nearly three times per week. 
Enjoy😋

Fresh is best! 

  
There’s nothing better than reaping fresh vegetables from your garden, especially broccoli. Broccoli is one of those vegetables that needs to be eaten right away because it losses the nutrients after it’s been picked. Whether you enjoy your broccoli raw or cooked, harvesting from your garden or buying from the farmers market is your best option. Don’t rely on the store-bought versions.  They’re soft and almost limp. Here I am displaying my harvest above, and I ate some raw and cooked that very same day. There’s a huge difference in the taste.  This crucifer was crisp, subtly sweet and utterly tender. 

Broccoli is a good source of the carotenoids lutein, vitamins C, A, K, folate, and fiber, and a very good source of manganese, tryptophan, potassium, b-vitamins, magnesium, omega 3’s, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin E.  All of which are important for cancer prevention and other degenerative diseases. 

Last year, I planted broccoli for the first time but I was not successful.  My timing was way off.  I sowed the seeds too late and by the time the plants matured, snow came. This year, I purchased six seedlings from my farmers market and transplanted them mid-spring. I harvested one already last week, so this is my second harvest thus far.    

Here’s a before picture. That’s my uncles hand there. The plant is humongous. The bigger you space them from one another, the bigger the broccoli heads basically. It’s amazing and very rewarding growing your own vegetables. The benefits are endless.  I’ve already started on my fall crops, and I’m including cauliflowers this year. 

Wish me luck!

Avocados “Bad Rap”

Avocados are ever so popular amongst vegans and vegetarians.  For some, it’s their main source of fat. However, once upon a time avocado use to have a “bad rap” as a vegetable that is too high in fat. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, research shows that avocado has about 85% of its calories derives from fat, the fat contained in avocado is unusual and provides research-based health benefits. 

The threefold unusual nature of avocado fat: 

First are the phytosterols that account for a major portion of avocado fats. These phytosterols include beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol and they are key supporters of our inflammatory system that help keep inflammation under control. 

Second are avocado’s polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs). PFAs are widely present in ocean plants but fairly unique among land plants—making the avocado tree (and its fruit) unusual in this regard.  The avocado’s phytosterols, its PFAs also provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Third is the unusually high amount of a fatty acid called oleic acid in avocado. Oleic acid, or omega-9 helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids.  

So don’t be fooled by avocado’s bad rap as a high-fat food. It’s definitely high in fat, but “Good Fat”.  Which would you prefer, a big fat chunk of steak or an avocado?  I will go with the plant-based option. The other may lead you to a stroke or heart disease.  Avocados are unique because their health benefit outweighs any animal fat. 

 

Resource: Avocados 

Recipe: Brown Rice Pilaf

IMG_4149-0

This organic brown rice pilaf is simple and healthy.  It’s filled with healthy organic vegetables and fresh herbs for great flavoring. 

Serves 6

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 Cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 medium cabbage
  • 2 Carrots peeled and shredded 
  • 1 Can organic chick pea – drained
  • 1 Medium onion – diced
  • 2 Green onions (scallion) 
  • 1 Red bell pepper – diced
  • Ÿ cup of fresh chopped parsley 
  • 3 Garlic cloves – finely diced
  • 1 Table spoon of coconut oil  
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cook the rice, following the direction on the back of the packet, until tender. Set aside once cooked.
  2. Chop cabbage in small pieces. In the meantime sauté onions and the garlic in the coconut oil for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, bell peppers, chickpeas then sauté for another 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the brown rice along with the parsley, green onions, salt and pepper – mix well. 

Optional additions: To jazz this up a bit you coul also add dried fruits like cranberries or diced apricots, and chopped raw nuts.  Sometimes I’ll drizzle about 2 tablespoons of organic sesame oil at the end to add more moisture if needed. 

Enjoy! 

EAT A VEGAN MEAL

20140107-152416.jpg

Each year, the average American consumes 175 pounds of meat and poultry, almost double the global average. Eating less red meat may do you a favor: It can lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. “Learn to love big heaps of vegetables,” says Mark Bittman New York Times food columnist and author of VB6.

To achieve that feeling, Bittman says to try meatless proteins, such as lentils, edamame, garbanzo beans and tofu. He also recommends roasting six sweet potatoes. “The more you cook and have stuff around, the less you’ll depend on junk.”

He’s right! Once you prepare your meals ahead of time, the less likely you will make bad food choices. I think salads are super easy. Every weekend I spend over $70 dollars on organic vegetables and fruits. Apples alone I spend about $10 dollars. Between me and my three children, we go through apples quickly. Salads are great for lunch and dinner. They’re easy to make and can be very filling. Just pile on the fruits and vegetables and don’t forget your plant-based protein. You can’t go wrong!

Here’s one of my favorite recipes with garbanzo beans:

20140107-161934.jpg

Ingredients:
1 bunch of kale
1 Tbsp of olive oil
3 chopped garlics
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped cranberries
2 cups garbanzo beans
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions:
Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions, garlic and red peppers. Cook until onions are slightly translucent. Add kale, garbanzo beans and cranberries then, sauté for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and peppers. Toss in almonds.

Yield 4 servings

The idea here is to eat more plants, especially leaves. Plants are a great source of vital nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, and minerals. And eat as many different kinds of plants as possible. They all have different antioxidants and so help the body eliminate different kinds of toxins.

Sources:
January 2014 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Kale food facts: High Vitamin K and Anti-Cancer properties
Plant-Based Research