Category Archives: garden

Garden Success

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My garden this fall has been doing great! The summers in Eastern NC are so hot that I havent had the best of luck with summer gardens. This year I decided to plant a fall crop as well since its stays warm here pretty late into the year. I am so glad I did. Today I picked 5 green peppers, 5 eggplant, 3 huge bunches mustard greens, and a batch of green beans. I also have 4 heads of broccoli that should be ready to pick before long. Oh and the okra plant is doing well too but I can’t seem to get my hands on any. The second I pick them, they are stolen and devoured raw by this little one…

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I also have some tiny pumpkins starting to grow. They won’t be ready by Halloween for sure but I have been eating so much pumpkin lately, I can’t wait to pick them straight from my backyard. I may start turning orange from all the pumpkin I have been consuming. At least it’s a vegetable, right?

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Breakfast: 1 cup plain greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup pumpkin. 2 pumpkin scones. decaf coffee.

Lunch: Egg and cheese with hot sauce on a homemade tortilla. Big salad with roasted beets, goat cheese, and chick peas. Pumpkin brownie. A couple fresh out of the oven graham crackers (in the shape of gravestones for a Halloween party).

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Dinner: BBQ shrimp and zucchini, fresh off the griddle homemade English muffin with jam.

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Plus another English muffin…they are one of the best things I’ve made in a while.  Good thing my recipe made 24! I should be set for maybe a week. Unless Alyssa gets her little hands on them, then they may only be around for 2 days.  She was in love.

Dessert: another healthy pumpkin brownie (recipe to come on friday!)

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Simple Tomato Salad from my CSA Haul

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I got another CSA box tonight! It is seriously like Christmas morning, I get so dang excited! And my box did not dissapoint. All of this local organic produce for $20, seriously amazing!

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As far as vegetables go I got:

a huge bag of okra

2 tomatoes

a bundle of carrots

2 eggplants

1 red onion

1 carton yellow tomatoes

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And for fruits:

4 peaches

1 canteloupe

1 seedless watermelon

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Check this one massive peach out, I had to essentially palm it. And look how tiny it makes my lens cap look.

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And then I got an extra little surprise…half a dozen eggs!

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It was 6 but I ate 3 within 10 minutes of getting my box. Along with some tomatoes and the watermelon.

My plan for all of this. Lets see…the fruit will all be eaten as snacks and with breakfasts. The large tomatoes will be made into grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, yellow tomatoes will be made into tomato salad, carrots will be dipped in hummus, okra will be lightly breaded in cornmeal and baked, and the eggplant I am still undecided.

Simple Tomato Salad:

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 tsp olive oil

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs freshly chopped oregano (or basil)

1/8 tsp garlic salt

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Chop tomatoes into halves or forths and salt with garlic salt. Let sit while you chop the oregano. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and oregano. Stir into tomatoes and sit in refrigerator to marinade. Let sit for at least 15 minutes or as long as overnight before serving.

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I am so happy to be putting all of this fresh local food into my babies’ bellies!

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Black Bean Hummus

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When produce is nice and fresh in the summertime, I like to eat it raw as much as possible. Its nice in the scorching weather to have cold foods to eat but I have been getting really tired of eating salads. We have turned to hummus. We have been eating cucumbers by the dozen (literally) as well as fresh green peppers out of my garden. Hummus is a nice portable food and we bring a batch to the pool every time we go. We were out of chick peas one day so we adapted and went with black beans instead. I think we all actually preferred it over regular hummus, which is saying a lot if you have ever seen Alyssa devour hummus and literally lick the bowl clean.

Black Bean Hummus

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (save liquid)

1/4 avocado flesh

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp minced garlic

1/8 tsp salt (or more to taste)

1/8 tsp cumin (optional)

Drain and rinse a can of organic black beans. Add beans and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth. If you need to get it going, add back in a little of the liquid you saved from the beans.

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It may not look too pretty, or maybe I am not the best food photographer. Probably a combination of both.

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But it was delicious. We ate the entire thing in one sitting. I’d say we got our fiber in for the day!

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It was baby, kid, and mom approved with a great combination of healthy fats, carbs, and protein.

Nutritional Stats (for the entire batch!):

Calories: 386

Fat: 16.7 g

Sodium: 328 mg (14%)

Carbs: 46 g

Fiber: 19 g (!)

Sugar: 0.8 g

Protein: 16.2 g

A Very Zucchini Weekend

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When my mom came to visit a week ago she brought me a ton of squash, both yellow and zucchini. The zucchini in her garden are massive, most of them are at least a foot long. I had about 8 of them to use up so needless to say, we ate  zucchini all weekend. I got pretty creative too so I honestly never got tired of it. I came up with 2 recipes that were keepers.

First we had zucchini pancakes. The first time I tired making these I tried using shredded zucchini and whole oats. They turned out mushy  (remember, we are egg free right now so that makes pancakes hard to make). But the second time I made them I used pureed zucchini and oat flour. So much better! I am going to make them again in the next couple days so I can measure out what I do and record the recipe.

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Eating an entire zucchini before 9 am is a good start to the day! Especially when its topped with homemade blueberry jelly and a side of turkey breakfast sausage.

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We made a chicken in the crockpot and added cut up zucchini one night. Then had the leftovers Sunday for lunch.

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And the real winner happened on Sunday night. I figured since squash has such a mild flavor I could just slip it into some enchiladas as the filling. I figured it couldn’t be too bad and it would use up some more squash. It was amazing!! It could have been partly the homemade enchilada sauce as well. The meat mixture was a little bit of leftover chicken with 2 whole yellow squash, shredded. Since both were shredded, it really seemed like it was all chicken in there. And there was a ton of zucchini. 2 squash in a tiny batch of enchilladas, only 5 (it was just the kids and I for dinner).

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The enchilada sauce was amazing as well. I took some tomatoes my mom also brought me and cooked them down with some fresh oregano and parsley. I put it in jars to use for homemade marinara later in the week. Well I decided I’d try some enchilada sauce with some of it. I put some of it in the blender with some cumin, chilli powder, garlic salt and oh my gosh, it was amazing!

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Cassidy ate 1.5 huge enchiladas, it was crazy! And she kept giving me the sign language for more. She started with half of one. Devoured it and signed for more. I gave her another half. Repeat. Gave her another half and she asked for more again. I cut her off at that point! I didn’t want her getting sick.

I will be putting these on next week’s meal plan again so I can type up the recipe. Cassidy will probably be staring at the oven, drooling, waiting to dig into them!

We ended our weekend with a dipped vanilla cone at dairy queen and some time at the park with friends. And my once calm little Cassidy is becoming a wild woman like her sister. She crawls up the steps at the park, crawls to a slide, then throws her body down it face first on her belly. She loved it and did it over and over again. No fear what so ever. I am in for some trouble!

Another Good Weekend Turned Bad

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Let’s start off with the good… We kicked off our weekend on Friday blueberry picking. We have a pesticide free farm right down the street. We picked almost 4 pints of blueberries. The farm owner also sells zucchini, cucumbers, honey, eggs, and more depending on the season and his crop production. I talked to the owner about some zucchini growing tips and when it came time to pay he gave me a HUGE deal. 4 pints of blueberries, 5 cucumbers, and 2 squash for a whopping 5 bucks! And all pesticide free. One pint of organic blueberries are often more than $5 alone! We spent the rest of the day at the pool and the girls had an amazing time. Cassidy is fearless in the water just like her big sister!

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Saturday we went to Lowes for the kid’s build and grow workshop. Alyssa “bammed” as she says, which means hammered. She built a little wooden car and got a free pair of goggles and an apron. It was really cute! The rest of the day was pretty low key. We made some hummus and ate 3 of our cucumbers and 2 peppers out of our own garden.

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We also baked more homemade graham crackers and some cookie dough hummus for dipping.

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Sunday we went to church and I left Cassidy in the church nursery for the first time! I only left her for half the service because I didn’t want to let her get to the point where she was crying and fed up. She did great though. We had lunch at church and helped set up for the upcoming vacation bible school Alyssa will be attending all week. It’s the first time I have ever dropped her off somewhere and left. She has yet to go to preschool either. I am quite nervous, especially with her nut allergy. They assured me there was not nuts in anything they are serving and I was almost going to let her eat the same snack as the other kids. But I got a reality check and my paranoid parenting kicked back in on Sunday night and I decided I would pack her own snacks for the week. And for Thursday I am actually making snack for the entire VBS, 250 rice krispie treats! And what was my reality check?

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We had an allergy issue Sunday night. Although it wasn’t with Alyssa. I fried 2 organic eggs to top on a salad as part of dinner. I took the yolk out of one egg and fed it to Cassidy. After her second bite she started rubbing all over her face and I noticed she looked like this.

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She had hives all around her mouth. I remember this all too well from Alyssa’s reaction to cashews. I washed her down, took the egg out of her mouth, and called ask a nurse. She told me babies can’t have egg whites before one, something I already knew. And I am that overly paranoid mom that follows ALL the rules. If she was 11 1/2 months, I still wouldn’t have given her the whites until her actual 1st birthday. I told the nurse I knew that and I only gave her the yolk.

Then get this…she says “well do you think the white could have accidentally touched the yolk?”. Umm are you serious? Of course the yolk touched the white, haven’t you ever seen an egg?! The yolk is surrounded by the white! I obviously meant to remove all the egg white, but maybe there was a tiny bit left on there? But at 10 1/2 months, she is pretty close to 1 and I know plenty of moms who give their kids scrambled eggs well before 1, so it shouldn’t have been a huge deal if a microscopic piece of egg white was left on. But apparently it was. She has eaten egg yolks plenty of times the last month or two with no problem and has eaten things like pancakes and breads made with egg (which is considered ok before 1).

We are headed to her pediatrician tomorrow morning and then to a pediatric allergist soon after.

Not even a fresh loaf of chocolate zucchini bread could make this better. Although it was quite tasty.

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So now I guess we will have a nut free and egg free house. And since I am breastfeeding I think I am going to have to avoid egg containing foods as well. I just don’t understand… I feed them so healthy, they rarely eat processed foods, and I follow all the recommendations on introducing allergenic foods…why are so many kids developing food allergies these days?

Fresh Basil Pesto Pasta

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I posted about my garden last week and how my basil was going to seed. That meant I needed to use up a lot of basil and fresh pesto sauce seemed like the perfect delicious solution. I LOVE pasta and Italian food but tomato based sauces bother my acid reflux. I try to use other sauces when I can and make homemade alfredo and pesto since the store bought versions of both sauces are pretty unhealthy. This is a lighter pesto that uses less olive oil. I know olive oil is a “good” oil for you but its still an oil so theres not need for me to down an entire cup of it in one meal. I used the pesto to make a simple chicken sausage and green bean pasta dish. We served it cold, I guess more like a pasta salad, and took it to eat at the pool for dinner. It was also quite delicious hot (of course I taste tested!).

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Green Beans

serves 2 (double if need be)

2 chicken sausages, cut into bite sized pieces

1.5 cups chopped fresh green beans, roughly 1 inch pieces

6 oz whole wheat pasta, ziti or farfalle

1/4 cup homemade pesto (recipe to follow)

Boil water for pasta and cook pasta according to directions. During last 5 minutes of the pasta cooking add chopped chicken sausage and chopped green beans to the pasta water. Drain water. If serving as a cold dish, run some cold water over it. Place in serving bowl, add pesto, and stir through. Refrigerate for a couple hours until chilled. Or serve right away hot.

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Top with more parmesan cheese! I can never have too much parmesan on my pasta. And those green beans are from my garden too, SO good and fresh!

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Light Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil, lightly packed

3 Tb Olive Oil

3 Tb parmesan cheese

3 Tb milk, water, cream, or olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp lemon juice

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Put all ingredients in a food processor, like a magic bullet, and blend until smooth. Done!

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I listed to use milk, cream, water, or more olive oil for that 3 Tb based on preference. If you are going to use the pesto in a pasta salad and have it sitting out for an extended period of time, I would add water (if wanting to keep it lighter) or more olive oil. If you aren’t having it sit out, I prefer a little milk (if wanting to keep it lighter) or cream. You just need those 3 TB of liquid to attain the right consistency.

if you make the pasta recipe and double it for a family of 4, then you will use most of the sauce. If you make the recipe as is, for 2 people, freeze the rest of the sauce for later.

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Like I said, we ate this dinner at the pool and it was just the girls and I eating that night. Alyssa hoarded most of it. I figured I would get a little over 1 serving and Alyssa and Cassidy would split the remainder. Well Cassidy and Alyssa gobbled it up, leaving me with less than I planned! Ahh, the life of a mom.

But its worth it for faces as sweet as this…

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Backyard Garden

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When Alyssa first starting eating baby foods 3 years ago, there weren’t many organic options in my small town. Weird right since there are farms all around us? We didn’t have an organic market and the grocery stores didn’t have an organic section. So I set out to grow my own vegetables in order to make her own food. I have continued my garden every year since even though there are more organic options around now. Some years its productive, others not so much. It is completely organic. No fertilizers in the soil either, only chicken poop. I have it in a place that gets full sun for the majority of the day. I tried planting in 2 different places my first year, and the other place was too shady so nothing grew.

Here is a full view. Its not too up close since I couldn’t crop out that sweet baby and dog out of the corner.

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I know, my child is naked. She just ate dinner and I forgot to put a bib on her so her shirt had to come off immediately. Well that’s a lie, I didn’t forget to put a bib on her. I never use bibs because she just rips them right off.

I have my herbs, basil, oregano, and parsley in the planter. It just keeps them all together and I am planning on moving them up on my deck so I don’t have to walk all the way down to the garden to collect them. I need to pick the basil because its going to seed. Fresh pesto will be on my plate this weekend!

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Then I have a couple green pepper plants and some yellow squash and zucchini.

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Mixed lettuce up front, although it looks like only the purple lettuce grew and just a couple of the green leaves. What kind of lettuce is that purple? It tastes good so I guess that’s all that matters. Then behind that is some butternut squash, spaghetti squash, 1 watermelon plant, eggplant and some okra I think. I forgot to make a “key” when I planted my garden and now I forget what that one row is. I’m going to say okra, time will tell I guess. And on the right are my peas and green beans in a row.

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And to the far right, well apparently none of those seeds sprouted. I think my spinach, watermelons, canteloupe, and kale were planted there. I hope to plant some more kale and spinach but cant find the seeds around here anymore. I will keep looking because spinach and kale are some of my favorite I never get tired of.

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And how is my garden doing so far? Well pretty good I think. I have gotten a good number of green beans.

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There are 3 zucchini forming.

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A couple baby green peppers. And this picture shows just how badly I need to weed my garden. I HATE weeding but i know it needs to be done so it doesnt choke out my plants.

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And then there’s my tomato plant. Every year my tomato plants do amazing. Problem is, I don’t eat many tomatoes because they give me horrible acid reflux. This year I figured I’d just plant one plant so I don’t have a tomato excess. And of course that one plant shriveled up and died!

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And then there are other plants that have flowers budding. Like my eggplant and some of my other squash plants.

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The lettuce looks ready to pick now! Can’t wait!

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And here is my one watermelon vine that grew. It is randomly in with all my squash plants. I must have dropped a seed over there during the planting process. Funny because none of my watermelon seeds that I actually meant to plant sprouted!

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Check out this big zucchini plant. I get these weird looking bugs on my squash leaves and they lay these tiny copper eggs on the underside of the leaves. Since its all organic I don’t use spray but instead pick off the bugs and eggs. If I don’t, the plant will literally shrivel up and die within a couple days.

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Hopefully these two bellies will be filled with all these veggies before long!

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And without further adieu, my first pick of the season, wahoo!! I got enough green beans for a dinners worth! And of course as soon as I picked them I realized we had a pizza night out with some friends so we didn’t even get to eat them. I was actually disappointed I had to eat pizza when I had these bad boys at home waiting for me. Although not too disappointed not to eat 4 slices. Tomorrow these will be in our bellies for sure!

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Anyone know some organic friendly tips to keep the bugs away? I’ve heard some pretty random tips for rodents that are far out there but apparently work, so I am hoping there are some for bugs too. Please share!