27 Aug

Living in the Present + Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Summer is still alive and well in my neck of the woods, but with Labor Day weekend fast approaching (and Halloween decorations popping up in stores!), it’s all too easy to start turning our eyes toward the approaching seasons: fall and, of course, winter.

Personally, I love fall, so I’m not about to skip over it entirely.   I adore the crisp chill in the air at night, the changing leaves, and the urge to bake and cook warming stews and soups.  But fall also has a bittersweet element to it, and it summons the instinctive urge to prepare – because here in the Midwest, we all know it’s our last hurrah before we settle in for a loooong, 6-month hibernation.

Preparing is undoubtedly a good thing, I’ll give it that.  But what about worrying?   Stressing over the long, treacherous commutes that are to come?  The bitter cold, the cabin fever? How much we hate the snow? Yes, these topics have already started creeping into conversations.  I’ve heard them.  I even participated in one of them (eep).

And yet… it’s still August!

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All too often, our thoughts get stuck in one of the two extremes – the past or the future – and we spend far too much time worrying, regretting, and second-guessing.  It’s paralyzing, really, and ultimately we end up sacrificing something very important: the experience.  We allow life to pass us by.  We are so distracted by our thoughts that we don’t even see what’s happening right in front of us.  Before we know it, it’s over.  

And we missed it.

I recently made it a personal goal of mine to be more present – not easy for a notorious worrier! – because I have recognized how it impacts so many other facets of my life.

When I live in the past, I ruminate over my regrets: the mistakes I’ve made, the awkward moments, the things I’d do differently.  It’s like a little play going on in my head.  And for what?  Being present means accepting the past simply for what it is and moving on.  It is frozen in time; it can never be changed.  We’ve learned what we can from it, and now it’s time to let it go.

When I live in the future, I stress and obsess over every possibility.  I question how ready I am, how much knowledge I have, and whether or not an endeavor is going to be successful.   Being present means learning to quiet my inner ‘what if’ voice, because when that happens, anxiety and self-doubt are also quieted.  The result is that we learn to trust ourselves more, and believe that we are capable enough to handle what comes our way.

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So with all that in mind, here’s my intention for the days and weeks ahead: Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.   Enjoy what’s left of the summer, and enjoy it to the fullest.

With… ice cream.  :)

Healthy ice cream, that is!  Homemade ice cream is so easy to make, and YOU have control over what goes in it.  Regular, store-bought ice cream is loaded with refined sugar and hormones – why not go for a dairy-free, less-sweet alternative?

My go-to base ice cream recipe is SO easy:  2 cans of chilled coconut milk, 1/2 cup sweetener (I use coconut sugar or raw honey), the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean pod, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract.  I blend everything together, then pop it in my ice cream maker.

But really, vanilla is just the beginning – the possibilities are endless!  Here’s a taste of what I’m talkin’ about:

 

Dairy Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Natural Noshing

 

Pina Colada Dairy Free Ice Cream by Sugar Free Mom

 

 

Dairy Free German Chocolate Ice Cream from Coconut Mama

 

See what I mean?  Whether or not you have an ice cream maker, you can whip up delicious, non-dairy, ice-creamy concoctions at home with relative ease.  Look for recipes that use natural sweeteners such as raw honey and dates, and strive for just a hint of sweetness so all the other flavors can shine through.  Most importantly, have fun with it!

 

Formerly from the suburbs, Stacie is now living and loving life on a farm. When she’s not sponging up information on health and wellness, she's all about gardening, making stuff from scratch, rounding up chickens and coming up with excuses to be outside.

14 Aug

Thai Zucchini Ribbon Salad – Because… Zucchini.

Thai Zucchini Ribbon Salad

I have three zucchini plants in my garden plot, and thus far only one has been producing.  User error for certain, as I have a recovering black thumb.  But even that one plant has meant a steady influx of zucchini to be eaten, and I’ve been eating it every which way.  Breads and muffins, grilled, in place of pasta, crispy zucchini fries…  It might be getting out of hand.  But as my uses and ideas started to become more and more complicated, I decided a simple salad would actually be nice.  Something that would go well as a side with a grilled burger perhaps?  AND maybe use some of the beautiful local produce that’s been coming from my CSA box.

ZucchiniRibbonSo I broke out my spiralizer.  I’ve used that bad boy to make all kinds of veggie noodles, and I’m not ashamed to admit, even a couple of batches of curly sweet potato fries.  But I hadn’t played with the ribbon blade very much.  It seemed perfect for use in a raw salad, so it got to have a go finally.  One nice thing about that particular blade attachment  is that if you don’t happen to have a spiralizer, it’s easy enough to get the same effect by using a thin setting on a mandolin, or even demolishing the squash with a vegetable peeler layer by layer.

The dressing is similar in flavor to a thai peanut curry, with the use of red curry paste (love this stuff) and some chunky peanut butter. (Use Sunbutter if you need to avoid nuts!)  It’s a little sweet and a little smokey and spicy.  Perfectly refreshing for a summery day.  Quick and easy, refreshing and crisp, this is a great salad to add to your summer rotation.

Thai Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Thai Zucchini Ribbon Salad
Serves 8

For the salad:

  • 1 medium zucchini, ribboned with a spiralizer, or finely sliced/peeled
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced radish
  • 1 cup of peeled and thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup of grated carrot

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 tbsp chunky peanut butter (or sunbutter with added sunflower seeds for crunch)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Instructions:

  1. Add all salad ingredients into a bowl and toss to mix.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until well combined.
  3. Add the dressing to the salad and toss again to coat.
  4. This salad is best enjoyed fresh when the vegetables are their most crisp.  Enjoy!

Lynell is a urban girl on a journey of healthy food, feeling great, patio gardening and living well. You will find her practicing yoga, painting, thrifting, cooking and baking gluten free goodies.

30 Jul

July Giveaway!

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It’s the last hurrah for July, and we’re in the midst of the ‘dog days of summer’ – although it certainly hasn’t felt like it in our neck of the woods!  Aside from a couple days here and there, we’ve yet to experience the hot, muggy summer temps.  Still, it’s perfect weather for getting outside and soaking up some rays.

Here at Defiantly Healthy, we’ve been working hard this summer to make some big changes, and as we ramp things up, we’ll also be scaling back on the blog posts a bit and incorporating them into a new newsletter!  We plan on including all kinds of cool stuff in the newsletters – tips, recipes, quotes, and more to give our readers a fun read twice a month.

To celebrate, we’re closing out the month of July with a giveaway!  Both Lynell and I covet our spiralizers, so we thought it was more than fitting to give one away to our fans.  In case you aren’t sure what a spiralizer is, it’s a nifty kitchen gadget that turns veggies into noodles or ribbons.  So if you’re trying to cut back on the refined carbs and heavy pastas, veggie noodles are a GREAT alternative!  Not to mention, an awesome way to incorporate more veggies into you and your family’s diet.  :)

If you haven’t already entered in our giveaway, now’s your chance!  We’ll be selecting the winner tomorrow night!  Click here to enter.

Are you curious about some great recipes that you can make with a spiralizer?  An EXCELLENT resource is Inspiralized.  It’s literally chock full of spiralizer-geared recipes, and holy cow do they look GOOD!  Take these two for instance…  wow.

Deconstructed Manicotti “Skillet” with Zucchini Noodles

Squash Blossom and Kohlrabi Pasta with Grilled Steak

 

Sooo…  are you ready to get started with a spiralizer of your own?  All you need to do is sign up for our giveaway!  Only TWO DAYS LEFT!

 

Formerly from the suburbs, Stacie is now living and loving life on a farm. When she’s not sponging up information on health and wellness, she's all about gardening, making stuff from scratch, rounding up chickens and coming up with excuses to be outside.

24 Jul

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins with Buckwheat Groats – Gluten Free and Loaded with Fiber and Protein

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins with Buckwheat Groats - Gluten Free and Loaded with Fiber and Protein | Defiantly Healthy

Do you ever cook with buckwheat?  Being a fruit seed rather than a cereal grain, it’s a great alternative for those seeking grain or gluten free recipes.   One cup of buckwheat packs a whopping 46% of your daily value of protein and 68% of your daily fiber, as well as being high in minerals.  I’ve only tried a couple of recipes baking with buckwheat flour, (ground groats) but I’ve found those baked goods to be mostly incredibly dense and heavy.  I wouldn’t mind experimenting with the flour some more, but this recipe uses the whole buckwheat groat.

An uncooked buckwheat groat looks similar to a steel cut oat and cooks similarly, though  a little faster.  It has a nutty flavor, and has a slightly lighter texture this way.  Straight cooked buckwheat makes for a great porridge also.

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins with Buckwheat Groats - Gluten Free and Loaded with Fiber and Protein | Defiantly Healthy

These muffins were born out of a desire to make something seasonal, especially now that my garden is starting to crank out zucchini left and right.  I wanted something healthy, but not a super dense and flavorless protein muffin.  The addition of berries and citrus zest to these little guys keeps them fresher, and great for breakfast with a little smear of pastured butter.

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins with Buckwheat Groats - Gluten Free and Loaded with Fiber and Protein | Defiantly Healthy

Nutty, mildly sweet, with little flavorful bursts from the blueberries.  Is it wrong to admit that I brought these to work for my lunch?  Two muffins, a hard-boiled egg, and a small green salad.  Perfect for a sunny, cool, summer day.

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins with Buckwheat Groats - Gluten Free and Loaded with Fiber and Protein | Defiantly Healthy

Zucchini Blueberry Muffins with Buckwheat Groats
Prep time: 10 minutes   Bake time: 35-40 minutes  Total:  45-50 minutes

  • 2 cups cooked buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • one egg*
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp flax seed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine all ingredients besides blueberries and mix well.  Gently fold blueberries in to mixed batter.
  3. Well grease a muffin pan, or use parchment cup liners.
  4. Fill cups with muffin batter, the batter can be mounded, they don’t rise very much.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until they are solid and lightly browned on top.
  6. Allow to come to room temp on a cooling rack before storing in the refrigerator.

**The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it can be adjusted for the season.  In the fall, maybe substitute chopped apple or pear for the blueberries, sweet potato for the zucchini, use orange instead of lemon, and use pumpkin pie spices.  Enjoy!

* To make this vegan, substitute the egg and the tablespoon of flax for two flax eggs.

Lynell is a urban girl on a journey of healthy food, feeling great, patio gardening and living well. You will find her practicing yoga, painting, thrifting, cooking and baking gluten free goodies.

17 Jul

The Dangers of Deli Meat

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When we think of a healthy, on-the-go lunch, a sandwich often comes to mind.  It’s quick, it’s convenient, and it usually contains most of the major food groups.  But as is the case with so many other ‘health’ foods, it pays to be diligent and ask questions.  Because unless you’re eating a veggie sandwich, you’re most likely piling on one questionable ingredient: deli meat.

It’s a bit strange to think of deli meat as being a processed food, but in fact, many different types of deli meat are exactly that.  Cold cuts such as pastrami, bologna, and ham are often loaded with preservatives like sodium nitrite and nitrate, a known carcinogen.  There’s conflicting information out there, but regular consumption of these preservatives has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Processed meats are also very high in sodium, which is typical of processed foods.   Now, we don’t necessarily have an issue with salt, provided that it’s coming from natural sources, and Lynell touches upon that in this post.  But sodium in processed foods?  It’s bad news, folks.

So what to do?  Bid farewell to sandwiches?  No, it doesn’t have to come to that!  While you could certainly opt for delicious vegetarian sandwiches like the ones Oh My Veggies has compiled here, there are other options out there.

When you’re perusing the deli aisle, look for labels such as ‘no nitrites or nitrates added’ – while the meat may still contain some nitrates, the levels should be lower.  Also look for meats preserved with celery juice powder, a natural preservative.  Brands such as Applegate Farms offer organic deli meat with low amounts of preservatives.

Alternatively, check out this great recipe list from The Kitchn and try making your own deli meat at home!  Ham, roast beef, even prosciutto.  I love to make homemade corned beef for St. Patty’s Day, not only for the amazing flavor but also because I know I’m eating something that’s free of preservatives.

Give it a whirl, and you may find that you can’t go back to those (all too) perfectly shaped logs of meat at the deli counter.  :)

 

Formerly from the suburbs, Stacie is now living and loving life on a farm. When she’s not sponging up information on health and wellness, she's all about gardening, making stuff from scratch, rounding up chickens and coming up with excuses to be outside.

10 Jul

Summer Bounty & What To Do With It

Bounty

Whether you are facing a glut of zucchini from your own garden, or being tempted by that bushel of glowing heirloom tomatoes at your local farmers market, the summers bounty in all it’s glory is soon going to be knocking at our doors.  But what to do with all of those beautiful piles of produce once they land on your kitchen counter so that nothing is going to waste?

I love this Farmer’s Market Navigator from Well + Good.  It’s full of lots of suggestions and recipes for using up common produce that is plentiful this time of year, such as blueberries, summer squash and tomatoes and also includes a guide to what’s in season right now.

If you are looking for a general preserving guide for canning or freezing, Pick Your Own is  a great resource.  It’s not the most beautiful website, but just pretend it’s not all Comic Sans all over the place.  (Tough to get past for a graphic artist.)  There’s a wealth of resources and articles there addressing every topic related to canning or freezing you could possibly imagine.

How about going one step further and fermenting your goodies?  If you’re not familiar with fermenting, it can sound a little strange, but it’s a historic way of preserving foods that makes them more nutritious and digestible, (yay probitics!), as well as more delicious!  Have you ever had one of my favorites, Korean Kimchi?  Or Sauerkraut?  Those are traditionally fermented.  And it’s not hard to do at all, even easier than canning.  My favorite so far has been fermenting jalapeno slices.  So good on nachos.

Nourishing Traditions has a great intro into lacto-fermenting, then when you feel a little bit more comfortable with it, Girl Meets Nourishment has a round of up 56 different fermenting recipes to try!

What are you anticipating in your garden this year?  Any plans for utilizing your bounty?

Lynell is a urban girl on a journey of healthy food, feeling great, patio gardening and living well. You will find her practicing yoga, painting, thrifting, cooking and baking gluten free goodies.

30 Jun

Multivitamins: Natural vs. Synthetic

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Some people consider multivitamins to be unnecessary and misleading.  There’s the temptation to eat unhealthy food and ‘negate’ it with a multivitamin – which unfortunately doesn’t work out so well.  Besides, shouldn’t we be getting our daily nutrition from food sources, and not from a pill?

I agree with these arguments 100%, but I still believe that multivitamins can be beneficial as long as they are used as a supplement to a healthy, whole food diet.  The unfortunate result of soil depletion is that much of the produce available to us isn’t as vitamin and mineral rich as it was, say, 50 years ago.  This is where organic farming reigns supreme, but also where supplementation can help to fill the gap.

So, are all multivitamins created equal?  Nope!  There are many options out there, and the cost can vary wildly.  A good rule of thumb, however, is to look for multivitamins that contain natural ingredients instead of synthetic.  The reason?  Your body often doesn’t know how to assimilate synthetic vitamins as effectively.

For an excellent resource on natural vs. synthetic vitamins, check out this Food Matters article.  It highlights some tips on what to look for, and how to identify sneaky synthetic ingredients.

My personal favorite brand is Garden of Life, but there are many other brands available that can provide a natural, easily absorbed nutrition boost.

What are some of the all-natural multivitamin brands that you have tried?

 

Formerly from the suburbs, Stacie is now living and loving life on a farm. When she’s not sponging up information on health and wellness, she's all about gardening, making stuff from scratch, rounding up chickens and coming up with excuses to be outside.

26 Jun

Would You Consider a Meatless Meal?

Meatless

I’ve recently learned a new word.  Flexitarian.  According to the web know-it-all with a grain of salt, Wikipedia: ‘A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products.  In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year’s most useful word and defined it as “a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat”.’

That fairly accurately describes the way I eat on most days anymore.  I grew up on a pretty standard Midwest diet, so for the majority of meals, meat was the star item on the plate.  Over the years, I’ve come to desire meat less and less, and rarely want a meal where a slab of meat is the focus of the meal.  I mostly enjoy meat on occasions when it is used as an ingredient in a dish instead.  Why is that?  Partially because of changing tastes, and also just listening to what my body wants and functions well on.

I also abhor much of the factory farming practice that is behind the majority of meat in the US.  Conventional meat is given hormones and antibiotics, fed unnatural diets, and kept pretty inhumanely.  Stacie speaks a little on the health downsides of conventionally produced meat here.  When I do buy meat to fix at home, I buy grass fed or pastured with no antibiotics or hormones.  I know that choosing whether or not to eat meat is a very personal decision that people feel very passionately about on both sides of the argument, but where I stand in the middle is, that if I AM going to make the choice to eat meat, it’s going to be in the most responsible way I can.

Finding protein in non-animal sources is surprisingly easy, and possibly in more sources than you may have realized.  Nuts, seeds and beans are fairly well known for their protein content, but whole grains such as millet, quinoa, amaranth, fermented soy products like miso and tempeh, and also many vegetables contain protein as well.

If you have ever been on the fence about experimenting with some vegetarian meals, or cutting back on meat consumption, but are maybe a little worried about what that will mean for your dinners, I’m here to help.  I’ve collected some of my favorite vegetarian recipes to share with you that are tasty and satisfying, so don’t be afraid to try the occasional meatless meal and see how it works for you!

Sprouted Lentil tacos with Arugula and Feta, from Tasty Yummies.  Sprouting does take some forward planning, but it’s quite simple.  I have a batch of lentils sprouting in my kitchen right now, it’s so easy and nutritious.

Lentil Kale Soup, or Dal aur Sabzi, by the Spice Spoon.  Dal is warming and comforting, and quick and easy to make.  Serve it with naan (Indian flat bread) or a crusty bread, it’s also good over a bed of rice.

1 Pan Vegan Enchilada Bake with Cauliflower Nacho Sauce, from Edible Perspective.  Because who doesn’t love a dinner that can be eaten with tortilla chips?

Taco Stuffed Zucchini from Oh My Veggies.  You would probably be hard pressed to notice that there was no meat in this one.

Black Bean Flautas with Avocado Dipping Sauce, another one from Oh My Veggies.  So good.  So insanely good.

Broccoli and Lentil Power Plate from Happy. Healthy. Life.  Sometimes these types of meals are called Buddha Bowls also.  Great for a hot summertime day lunch.

Melanzane alla parmigiana di nuovo by A Tasty Love Story.  Even if you can’t pronounce it, it’s delicious.  It’s a fresh, summery take on eggplant Parmesan.  This is good served with a side of whole grain pasta if you want a more filled out meal.

I’d love to know… what are your favorite meatless recipes?

Lynell is a urban girl on a journey of healthy food, feeling great, patio gardening and living well. You will find her practicing yoga, painting, thrifting, cooking and baking gluten free goodies.

23 Jun

Catching Rays: The Importance of Vitamin D

vitamind

Ah, summer.  A season that’s all about beaches, outdoor festivals, fireflies, and endless, radiant sunshine.  Although we tend to gravitate outdoors this time of year, we’ve also been conditioned to shy away from the sun because of the harmful effects of UV radiation – so many of us are quick to slather on the sunblock and hide away in the shade.  The less sun exposure we have, the better – right?

While it’s certainly a good thing to avoid sunburns and baking in the sun all day, it’s also important to recognize that a moderate amount of sun exposure is actually a GOOD thing.  In fact, it’s a crucial thing, because without it, we’ll end up depriving our bodies of something that’s extremely important: Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is interesting in that it’s the only vitamin your body can produce.  When you’re exposed to ultraviolet B (or UVB) rays, a reaction occurs in your skin to create Vitamin D.  From there, the D travels around, participating in all kinds of essential body functions such as:

  • Calcium absorption (aka strong bones and teeth)
  • Aiding the immune system
  • Maintaining cognitive function
  • Protecting against radiation

Low levels of Vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of MS, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attacks, and cancer.

It’s kind of a big deal.

We can obtain small amounts of Vitamin D from foods such as eggs and fish.  Supplements are another viable option provided that they are D3 and not D2.  It’s interesting to note that supplements are an unsulfated form of Vitamin D, which is not the same kind of Vitamin D that we get from sunshine – and may not have the same benefits.  More information here.

So how much sun exposure should you have?  It all depends on where you live, your skin pigment, and the time of year – but a good rule of thumb is roughly 15-30 minutes of sunshine each day.  This fabulous infographic from Carrington College sheds more light (pun intended) on the topic, and of course it’s going to vary from one person to another, so use your best judgement.  :)

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the sun, especially in the afternoon hours, applying sunscreen is a very good idea.  But please, do your body a favor and avoid sunscreens like Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic, and Banana Boat.  They contain toxic chemicals, and believe it or not, those chemicals end up in your bloodstream MINUTES after you rub them on your skin.

For safer, nontoxic sunscreen options, check out these resources:

So let’s get out there and soak up our daily dose of Vitamin D!

 

Formerly from the suburbs, Stacie is now living and loving life on a farm. When she’s not sponging up information on health and wellness, she's all about gardening, making stuff from scratch, rounding up chickens and coming up with excuses to be outside.

19 Jun

Patio Garden – Part 3 – Growing Along

 

Patio Garden Progress

 

With Summer about to begin, the patio garden is in full swing!  Picking the right plants, as I wrote about in Part 1, makes all the difference.  Who knew?  It doesn’t look like a lot in the photo, but I’ve got turnips, snow peas, sprouting broccoli, two mint plants, a basil, and a ton of greens and kale.  I actually am thinking that next year I might expand a little a grow a few more shade loving greens and veggies.

The biggest issue is watching the water levels.  I’m learning that I need to be careful to not overwater, so watching water levels is crucial.  Especially when it’s very hot out, the soil in pots can get hot and dry very quickly.

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In my first Patio Garden post, I mentioned getting some of these particular railing planters.  I got two of them and they are FANTASTIC.  They are plenty deep, and essentially have two deep wells on either side of the railing cavity.  I’ve used them to plant all of my greens and some kale.  They have a bit of a water reservoir at the bottom, and are remarkably secure.  The weight of the soil alone holds them quite solidly, so I would give these a strong recommend, for a railing like mine, they are a life saver.

I can’t wait to be able to go out onto my patio and grab some greens for dinner.  My herbs are pretty much ready to start cutting back, but everything else needs a little more time.

Now you might be wondering about my community garden plot that I mentioned in Part 2.  It’s growing, and so are the weeds!  Being my first experience with a real in-ground garden, it’s pretty overwhelming.  The plot is very large, and I’ve been doing a bit of traveling this spring, both for vacation and for work, so it’s been a little difficult to keep up on.  Besides time being an issue, there are the fun ‘what-not-to-do’ lessons I am learning as I go.  Like, it’s a great idea to mark what you plant so that you can tell what is what, especially, what is and is not a weed!

The picture below is from when I first planted the plot about 6 weeks ago.  Most of my tomatoes are doing very well, a handful of my potatoes and onions have come up, and my peppers look pretty good.  The rest might be a little hit or miss, but it’s a fantastic learning experience, and there is something very satisfying about working with my hands in the dirt.  Although three straight hours of weeding might be a little intense.  :)

All in all, I should end up with a decent amount of produce, even if it’s not what I initially hoped, and I know I will be far better equipped to plant and work a garden space in the future.

How is your garden growing?

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Lynell is a urban girl on a journey of healthy food, feeling great, patio gardening and living well. You will find her practicing yoga, painting, thrifting, cooking and baking gluten free goodies.