Thursday, May 20, 2010

My beautiful little urban garden....

This is just a post of pictures of my garden that I love!  It's tiny, it's perfect.  Next year will be even better!  I'll have my seeds well ahead of time and start them inside early and plant, plant, plant until I run out of room to plant things!  Hopefully I'll learn a thing or two this year about gardening that I can build on for next year.

My little raised bed using free bricks, the chain link fence as a trellis for the peas was free as well!

Below are peas growing in the same bucket as a sunflower.  The sunflower provides support as a trellis for the growing vines of the peas!

STRAWBERRIES!!!  However, this is an early picture taken a couple days ago.  Since then, my son has bitten the ends of two of them off and I'm guessing birds got another two?

My cucumbers!  This is supposed to be for a small garden, but it's apparently very happy and wants to take over the world...

3 buckets of strawberries!  They were given to us, so I'm hoping they produce a little more on them this year.

Eggplant!  Very exciting!  

 Red bell peppers

Go peas, go!

I think these are radishes...


I'm not quite sure what this is.  It's not happy though.  I'm thinking it may be red cabbage?


Again, I'm not sure what this is.  Cauliflower perhaps?

No problem growing mint!

 My dill looks sick!

Parsley isn't that happy either...

Poor, poor basil.  I know nothing about how to grow this stuff.

Sooo excited about my gutter system that is growing my lettuce!

Yellow squash

This is a corner of the yard with banana trees.  I've planted peas there to grow up the banana tree stalks.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fat and calories welcome here....

ONLY IF they are REAL fat and calories.

We are trying to change our eating to all real foods as you know and although we slip on more than one occasion, we are doing fairly well.  One great thing that has come from our change of eating lifestyle is the weight loss.  OH YEAH!

I've lost 13 pounds since changing the way I eat.  And believe you me, I still eat!  Again, I am in no way a perfect eater (says the woman who just made cake pops last night with a box mix and canned frosting) but the bulk of our eating is now real food.  Many are amazed to learn that I've lost 13 pounds by simply changing my eating, but it's so very true.  And the best part - I now eat bacon...and real butter....and full fat dairy.  I love every bit of it!

The best book I've read so far is Nina Planck's book "Real Food."  It tells in plain language (except when it comes to the meat section - kind of lost me there) the benefits of eating real food, including fats.  I recommend it as an easy read to introducing you to real food again.  She has also come out with a new book about real baby food that I can't wait to read.  Although my son is no longer a baby *sniff*, I still am very interested in food in our society today.

So, we have switched to full fat dairy.  Raw milk is SO good.  We still have to get our raw milk from South Carolina though.  It's our turn to drive the 2 hours each way to get it tomorrow for our small group.  We drive once every 5 months, so it's not bad.  We have come to learn to enjoy milk as a food and not a beverage.  We use only full fat cheese and yogurt, although the yogurt is a bit tough to find and you have to be careful not to grab the "light" yogurts because they have even more fake stuff because there is no sugar added (not that I'm saying sugar is good).  I did find that Stonybrook has an organic cream-top yogurt.  So freaking good.  Of course, I should be making my own yogurt from my fresh, raw milk, but that's another learning project for another day.  Oh, and butter.  How could I forget wonderful butter?  Again, no margarine for us.  We want the real thing.  That does not mean that we eat a stick of butter a day, but if I want to butter my toast, I do it.  Again, I should be making my own from my raw milk, but I need 4 more hours per day please!

We eat real meat.

Meat is one of those things that we believe you should spend money on.  You  have GOT to buy pastured meat, period.  Obviously look for meat that has not been given growth hormones as well.  I've recently discovered that we have a farm near where I grew up that the beef is $3.50/pound and you don't even have to buy the whole cow!  Many places that sell this type of beef sell a whole cow, a half or a quarter.  Usually the smaller quantity you buy, the more per pound you pay.  But not this place!  It's $3.50/pound even if you buy a quarter of a cow!

Chickens also must be pastured and let alone to feed on their natural diet.  I grew up in chicken country with long, stinky chicken houses at every turn.  I knew it was how the farmers made money but it never sank in until recently that those chickens were the ones that were processed and sold in our local grocery stores for us to eat.  I wish I had pictures to post of these absolutely horrible living conditions for the chickens.  They see no sun, no grass, no bugs.  They are pumped full of feed and I'm sure full of hormones.  After a shorter than should be maturity cycle, they are then shipped to the processing plant to be made ready to put on grocery shelves.  After my realization that those same chickens that I knew we smashed into those chicken houses wing to wing with no room to move were the same chicken packages we bought to bring home and eat, it was definitely enough for me to rearrange my budget and add more to the grocery column.

Wild game.  Mainly venison.  Yes, deer.  We eat deer.  And we like it.  After my husband shot his first deer this past fall, he was amazed at how lean the animal was.  We then realized that although we live in a polluted world, that deer is probably the most natural meat we've consumed in a long time.  The deer had not been caged without access to fresh air, grass, water.  It had not been fed supplemental "fattening" food.  It was as it should be.  And if you are a meat eater, which I'm sure most of you are, you should start paying very, very close attention to the type of meat you are buying and consuming.  I'm not saying become a hunter and go shoot your own.  But perhaps make friends with a hunter!  Pack your freezer full of ground venison that is easily interchangeable for beef in all the recipes I've ever tried.

The one issue we are having is sugar.  I love sugar.  I know how bad white sugar is for you.  I'm really trying to cut it out.  I've even tried alternative sweeteners and so far nothing is working for me.   However, I am getting better.  I used to go by McDonald's for the giant sweet tea for $1 several times a week.  Now, I cannot drink the stuff.  It's like syrup to me.  I haven't had one in months.  And at Starbucks, I used to get a grande vanilla latte and add 2 splendaewww, fake stuff that we do not touch anymore).  Now if I get a grande vanilla latte, I ask for only 2 pumps of the syrup instead of 4.  I think I'm to the point I can now ask for only one!  This is a challenge area for us and we are constantly working at it.

So after my success at losing the weight by simply eating real food, I'm even more of a believer of READING THE LABELS!  I've become quite good at it and although we aren't perfect and still buy crappy stuff (hello...boxed cake mix and canned frosting) we have definitely changed our eating lifestyle and love it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Slacker has a new menu plan....

Yes, I am a slacker.  But I don't want to be!  I've been so busy in real life that I cannot seem to find time to even say hi!  It's a good busy though, so I'm not really complaining!

I'm not even sure if I've mentioned this earlier and I'm too lazy (and busy) right now to go look!  My husband and I are watching a friend's baby girl during the week while she is at work.  We've been watching her for just over a month now and so far, so good!  It's also given my husband and I a glimpse of what it would be like if we had two children.  We're so torn on whether or not our son will be an only child or not!

So between watching the baby during the day, spending time with our son and cooking dinner in the early evening, working on my two part-time jobs during the evening, I've not found the time to blog recently!  However, we did manage to come up with our next menu plan.  Seriously, will it ever get easier?  This is definitely a challenge that we want to overcome because it makes life SO much easier to have a menu for us!  I love being able to look at our menu each day and knowing what's for lunch and dinner and I love the fact that all of the groceries are in the house to make those meals!

Here is our menu plan for this week (yes, sorry I'm a day late in posting for Monday!)

  L - Grilled tuna salad sandwich
  D - BLAT wrap (again, one of our absolute favorites).  Just crispy bacon, lettuce, avocado and diced tomatoes wrapped up in a wheat or whole-grain tortilla!

  L - Avocado Bean Wrap - new recipe for us.  We omitted the chiles.  It was really good!  Our son wasn't too wild about the cabbage as I knew he wouldn't be.  He has a tough time chewing it up raw. So he just got the other fillings!
  D - Salmon Patties with Creamy Dill Sauce, jasmine rice and Baby Bok Choy  The Salmon patties were great the last time I made them.  Usually the recipes I've tried are too dry, but this wasn't.  The dill sauce is sooo yummy!  Bok choy - never ever made it or even ate it, so big experiment for us!  I will probably omit the cashews because I don't want to spend the extra money!

  L - Leftover salmon patties (maybe on a sandwich or in a wrap) and probably some roasted carrots and broccoli
  D - Chicken en papillote - from The Sonoma Diet cookbook.  SO good!

  L - Quesadillas - whatever we have goes in it.  Typically leftover chicken, black beans, artichokes, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.  We'll probably use leftovers from dinner on Wednesday
  D - Turkey burgers, probably roasted veggies again since I'm sure we'll still have broccoli, onions and carrots and we'll also have some baked sweet potato rounds.

  L - Pasta Salad - haven't decided which yet.  I want to try a new recipe.
  D - Roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and probably a side of cabbage

  L - leftover pasta salad - will be good since we're traveling to SC to pick up our raw milk for the month (again, isn't that ridiculous that the farms in SC can't sell in GA?  Crazy laws)
  D -  Carry out from our favorite Japanese place!

  L - leftover roast and veggies
  D - Mexican casserole - we do not put the tortilla chips on the bottom.  We did the first time and did not like the weird thick crust it made.

I'm still working on what I can do ahead of time.  For example, today's lunch of the Avocado bean wrap - I could have already had the carrot, cabbage and cheese shredded.  I could have already made the creamy dill sauce for tonight's meal, etc.  So I'm working a little at a time on it.  I think I'm going to have to devote an hour on Sunday evening to looking at the menu for the week and figuring out what I can do to prepare ahead.