Breakfast today consisted of one of the best ways I know of to add extra fruit and veggie to your diet in a delicious and convenient way…Green Smoothies! Many other writers have covered the topic much better than I could but I do plan to cover them in a bit more depth later on. The Green Smoothie Girl was one of the sources I read when first getting into them and Green Smoothies Diet is her book. It is a great resource for learning about and getting started with them. I’m a bit unconventional with my green smoothies; they are commonly recommended by vegans but I often incorporate dairy into mine. I think it makes it creamier and tastier
as well as increasing my protein intake for the day. My green smoothies vary just depending on what I have around; it is all about experimentation. The ingredient list for this particular smoothie is as follows:
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen banana chunks
1 cup frozen spinach
juice from 5 carrots
juice from 1 apple
juice from 1 lime
splash of vanilla and stevia drops (I used the Valencia Orange but it comes in many flavors)
2 heaping spoonfuls of Greek yogurt
milk and some water to desired consistency
This made about 3 cups; 2 for me and one for my 3 year old.
See his lovely green smoothie mustache? This is one of the few ways of getting a finicky eater to eat leafy greens. The trick is starting out with mostly fruit and just a few spinach leaves and then gradually adding a bit more. For lunch today I ended up at the grocery store. I bought my kids some fried pizza sticks from the deli and even let them each pick out a donut to eat afterwards. (You’ll see I’m not very consistent either when it comes to trying to get my kids to eat healthier) I was tempted to get a fried taquito myself but remembered this challenge and bought a salad instead. I didn’t have my camera with me so, unfortunately no photo of lunch. It was just a pretty generic American salad–iceberg lettuce, tomato wedge, cheese slice, shredded carrots and radicchio, 1/2 of a hard-boiled egg, and some ranch dressing. I did eat one bite of a pizza stick and 3 bites of donut and just had water to drink.
Dinner was pretty yummy, if I do say so myself. Friday night at our house is Pizza Night and Family Movie Night. I’ve gotten pretty good at making pizza though one day I will get a pizza stone and see if the crust turns out even better. I designated one quarter of a pizza (2 slices) for me and made sure I put 1/2 cup of veggies on it so I could count the pizza as a full serving. Tonight it was a combination of olives, mushrooms, diced onions, and green peppers. I was surprised that it was only a little more than I would normally have put on. I also made a great big Greek salad with 2 cups of green leaf lettuce, 1/2 cup diced tomato, 1/2 cup of diced cucumber, 1/4 cup black olives, 1/4 cup red onion, feta cheese and a yummy new orange vinaigrette recipe I just made. I was really hungry when I started dinner but then I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to eat all of the salad. That roughage really does fill the stomach up quickly without too many calories. I also drank a glass of milk to finish it off. Later in the evening I had half of a chocolate bar and some candy corns.
While the main focus of this challenge is to increase my vegetable intake it is also about healthy eating in general. I want to record everything I eat, not just the healthy stuff, both to keep myself accountable as well as present a realistic picture to my readers (if I ever get any, that is, since this is just getting started). I read these other health blogs and the recommendations of nutritionists, etc. and I always wonder if they really eat the way they are telling me to. I can’t imagine that they NEVER eat any sugar or NEVER have even a small drink of soda or candy etc. but I only get a glimpse into how they eat and not a daily accounting. I hope to record everything I eat here so everyone will know I don’t eat perfectly, I do have treats now and then, and sometimes eat fried and processed foods and such. I really hope this ends up being helpful for someone, somewhere, in some way. Good night!
Tally for the day: 11 servings of fruits and vegetables!
Today is going to be a quick food log entry without much commentary:
I’m trying out how the pictures look in a gallery. The first picture shows my 3 year old downing his carrot orange juice. It is very sweet and a great way to get little ones to get the nutrients from carrots that are sometimes difficult for young ones to chew. Then breakfast, lucnh, and dinner photos. I ate breakfast quite late today so I tried to get in a lot of veggies since I knew I wouldn’t really have a separate lunch.
2 steam-fried eggs
2 cups of chopped chard (cooked down) w/half a slice of bacon mixed with
1/2 cup of green beans (leftover from last night)
1 sliced roma tomato
1 cup of carrot, orange, apple juice (fresh squeezed)
1 glass of milk
just a snack really
one with peanut butter and one with cream cheese and Spicy Kimchee from Rejuvenative Foods (I seriously love this stuff. I can get it at my local health food store)
other snacks: yes, I had one final caramel apple and a some candy corns, a few chips and salsa, and another 1/2 glass of orange carrot juice.
Dinner (at a church function):
2 waffles with syrup and whipped cream
1/2 cup of berries
1/2 cup of mixed fruit
To sum up, today was a bit fruit heavy, mostly because the dinner at the church function I attended had no vegetables. (Doesn’t that tell you something about the typical American diet? We can’t eat what isn’t offered or available.) But I did still manage to get in 5 servings of veggies (2 of chard, 1 of green beans, 1 tomato, glass of carrot juice. I’m combining my second 1/2 glass of juice along with the kimchee and the salsa to get my 5th serving) And 4 of fruit (the fruit portion of the juices, the 1 1/2 caramel apples, and the 2 servings from dinner).
We’ve reached the end of day one. So, how did I do? Here is my food log for the day. My 2 year-old brought some grapes to share with me in bed as I was getting up but I only ate a half a dozen or so along with half a dozen candy corns as well. (It is only 2 days after Halloween after all) Here is my breakfast:
A couple of steam-fried eggs (yes, from our own chickens), a half of a grapefruit, and a bit over a 1/2 cup of sauteed chard with some diced bacon and a glass of milk. The chard started out as 2 cups of loosely packed leaves but it really cooks down. For lunch I had a cup of arugula with a diced tomato, a small wedge of diced green pepper with cottage cheese and lemon pepper on it along with a glass of fresh juice made from 1 orange and 3 carrots. My dad moved recently and left me a Jack Lalanne’s Power Juicer
so I thought I would give it a try. It worked much better than the cheapo juicer I had that I got from good will a few years ago. In the afternoon I snacked on some tortilla chips and salsa mixed with sour cream along with some more Halloween candy. I spoiled my dinner majorly by eating an apple…dipped in caramel and chocolate. I had a bunch of melted caramel leftover from the Halloween party we had and I really couldn’t waste it, could I? For dinner I had spaghetti made with Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti. I’m watching my gluten intake for the time being and the brown rice pasta seems to be the best substitute I’ve found. I’m not on a gluten-free diet right now, though I’ve considered it, but I do watch my grain consumption, particularly processed grain and the brown rice pasta has the added advantage of being whole grain. I topped the pasta with spaghetti sauce with ground pork mixed in (from the pigs we raised last year), a cup of green beans with a bit of butter and Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potato with a touch of butter, brown sugar, and pepper.
So how does that add up?
1/2 grapefruit= 1 serving
Juice of one orange= 1 serving
1 apple= 1 serving
plus a few grapes
2 cups of chard= 2 servings (even though it cooked down to only about 2/3 cup)
1 cup of arugula= 1 serving
1 diced tomato + some green pepper= 1 serving
1 cup green beans= 2 servings
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato= 1 serving
plus the juice from 3 carrots and the spaghetti sauce for a grand total of 10 full servings of fruits and veggies today! Hooray, I did it!
Surprisingly, I’m actually really full right now though that is likely in part due to all of the Halloween junk I ate today. Which is an important point to remember; if you are eating a lot of junk there simply isn’t room left to consume as much produce as is required for health. I’m still a bit confused as to what is considered an ideal serving size but this isn’t really about being exact; it is more about just consuming a lot of vegetables. I’ll be back tomorrow!
I’ve been thinking lately that I really need to start paying attention to my diet again. I was pretty careful about my carbohydrate intake and blood sugar during my pregnancy but since Jonas was born in May I’ve really been eating poorly; too much sugar, too much white flour, too little vegetables, etc. I’ve been trying to think of a goal that I can set that will motivate me and give me something to write about daily and I think I’ve finally come up with one that I can stick with and that will work in tandem with my gardening posts and that is simply to track my vegetable consumption on a daily basis and blog about how I’m doing. I’ll post any new recipes I try, tips for incorporating more veggies, getting kids to eat vegetables, etc. I’ll include any great fruit recipes too but I don’t have a problem consuming enough fruit; in fact, certain fruits in quantity send my blood sugar readings too high as well and I probably need to limit them somewhat in my diet though they are undoubtedly better than all of the sugar I’ve been eating lately.
According to this Harvard article,
Someone needing approximately 2000 calories per day needs roughly 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day or 4 1/2 cups with a serving being a half a cup. The article clarifies that a serving of raw leafy greens would be one cup, to make up for all the air and ‘fluff’ and that a serving of dried fruit such as raisins would only be 1/4 of a cup. So, using this as my guideline, beginning tomorrow, look for a daily log of at least 9 servings of produce a day, the majority being lower carb fruits and vegetables.
This being the day after Halloween and the biggest sugar glut of the year, I thought it would be an appropriate time to begin such a challenge. I did eat several apples today, though they were dipped in chocolate and covered with caramel!
Here is a bit of my thinking:
I’ve never been one to follow fad diets or any kind of super prescriptive or restrictive diet. I think learning to eat a varied diet of whole foods, mostly unrefined and minimally processed makes the most sense. I try to make sense of the science but science these days is so mixed up with special interests and corporate funding etc. that it is difficult to find the truth. Low carb or high carb? Low fat or high fat? Vegan? Raw food? Vegetarian? Paleo? When I read the articles from the proponents of all of these various ways of eating I can find aspects that I agree with in all of them but there are also ideas that are contradictory. I’m still unsure as to how much animal products I should consume and how much fat and which kinds. But all of these varied perspective agree that eating more vegetables is a good thing. Every Diet I Have Ever Heard Of Recommends Eating More Vegetables! So, with that in mind, here we go with the Veggie Challenge.
The Veggie Challenge:
1. Eat 9 or more servings per day of fruits and vegetables
A serving is 1 cup of raw leafy greens, 1/4 cup of dried fruit, and 1/2 cup of everything else.
2. Record my progress daily on this blog including tips and recipes.
3. Continue for one year!
By that point I will have developed that habit and will continue to eat and write and grow many vegetables but I’m sure I’ll have an idea for a new goal and a new way to stretch myself.
Don’t be mislead by the title of this article because, to be frank, I have no idea how to grow artichokes. This really is the blind leading the blind but I’ve read quite a bit about growing artichokes and I most certainly love to eat them and because of that I am determined to make them grow one way or another. It is right around the time to sow the seeds indoors for my climate (borderline zone 4/5, very short season, high altitude–6300 ft) so I’ve been reading up in preparation.
Artichoke as Annual or Perennial?
The globe artichoke is a perennial if you are in USDA zone 7 or higher but for the rest of us, it can be grown as an annual, or so I’ve heard. But since it normally only bears artichoke buds beginning the second year, you have to trick it into thinking it is 2 years old in the first season. It seems to me that this would be a worthwhile practice, even for those who can grow it as a perennial. I am impatient, and think it would be worth the extra work to get some artichokes the first season instead of having to wait a whole year.
Starting Artichoke Seeds
When to start Artichoke Seeds:
According to Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog, (a great resource not only for purchasing seeds but also for the in depth growing instructions) you should sow the seeds about 8 weeks before the last spring frost date. Where I am in the mountains, there can be a frost as late as July. So, I pretend I live in the valley and use the standard Utah planting date of after Mother’s Day but protect everything with plastic or cold frames until I’m confident it isn’t going to freeze on me. This year, Mother’s Day is May 8th which is rather early. I’m going to just randomly pick May 15 as my frost cut off date for planting which means I should plant the artichoke seeds for Utah’s climate around March 20th. However, Eliot Coleman, in his book The Four-Season Harvest says that in Maine in zone 5 he plants the seeds around February 15. My extension service recommends starting seeds as early as January. Probably any of those dates, or anywhere in between will work fine with slightly different results. The early date that Coleman mentions is probably better if growing the artichokes as an annual since they need more cold weather to trick them into bearing the first year. He also moves his seedlings to a cold frame and not directly outside so you’d have to go with the later date if you weren’t planning on protecting them somehow.
How to Plant Artichoke Seeds
The catalog also says to sow them “1/4 inch apart and 1/4 inch deep in lightly moistened soilless mix in a flat or pot. As soon as seedlings can be handled, transplant to 2-4 inch pots.” While one day I want to make my own seed starting mix to be self-sufficient (in Eliot Coleman’s book he has some recipes for home mixes too. It is one of my all-time favorite gardening resources), for now, I usually start all of my seeds in Jiffy peat pellets like these. They work great and seeds germinate quickly in them and you can buy a few or a lot.
Growing Artichokes as Annuals
Here is Eliot Coleman’s method for growing artichokes as an annual which I intend to follow as closely as possible this year. He says to sow the seeds 6 weeks before you plan to move them outside, which for him is February 15. I’m already a week behind but since I’m pretty sure my climate is colder than his that is just fine. I have a packet of globe artichoke seeds that I purchased last year, variety name “Emerald” and I plan on getting some of the “Imperial Star” variety that is supposed to be the best for annual production sometime during the next week. I will plant them in the aforementioned Jiffy pots and put them in a sunny window (I’ll probably have to use some grow lights too) for 6-8 weeks.
Then, he says to move then to a cold frame as long as the temperature inside won’t drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. For him, that is around April 1st; for me it will be more like April 15th. You should leave the cold frame open as much as possible because you want the artichoke exposed to as much cold as possible (without stressing it, of course). Then the artichoke thinks the 6 warm weeks inside was its first summer and the 6 cold weeks were its first winter. If all goes well, as the temperature warms up outside it will think that is its second summer and begin to bear.
Artichoke Growing Conditions
Every source I’ve read thus far indicates that artichoke grow best with plenty of organic matter worked into the soil and plenty of moisture. Mulching to conserve moisture is probably a good idea and one source indicated that black plastic mulch was a good option for artichoke because it absorbed more heat.
When growing artichokes as annuals they can be spaced much closer together since they won’t get as large as those grown as perennials. Eliot Coleman recommends 24 inches apart down a 30 inch wide bed. We’re building 4 foot wide raised beds this year so I may plant 2 rows in it. According to the Johnny’s seed catalog, if growing as a perennial they should be planted closer to 3 feet apart.
According to Coleman, under the best conditions each plant will yield 8-9 artichoke buds. According to a publication by my local extension service, each branch will yield 3-5 buds and each plant can have several branches, so that agrees with his estimation. In my locale with wind, and low night temperatures everything grows more slowly so I’ll be happy with half of that yield.
This is a very informative fact sheet put out by the USU extension service–”Artichoke in the Garden“. It fills in the gaps with information that Coleman fails to mention in his book and that is geared specifically to Utah’s climate.
I’ll be back with update and pictures as the season progresses. Hopefully, by the end of this summer I will be able to say that I have successfully grown artichokes, and I wish you the best of luck as well. Happy Gardening!
I’ve had this website for awhile and I even had a few lame posts on it (which I just deleted) but in my mind I have such a grand vision of what I want it to be that it has kept me from actually taking the time to put my ideas down and develop it for fear that it wouldn’t turn out as I had planned. But it is a new year (yea, a month into it already, I know. So sue me) and a time for new beginnings so I thought I would give it a go again.
I’ve read quite a bit about successful blogging and the “experts” all seem to think that a blog should have a theme and be somewhat focused in order to be successful. You know, along the lines of a Julie and Julia, cooking blog or a photo a day blog, or a blog on dog breeding, etc. But this creates a bit of a problem for me. I’ve never had a single passion for one discipline. I love learning about so many different things and reading books from many genres and often discussing how these different disciplines affect each other. I really hate limiting myself. That being said, my life is informed and influenced by certain ideas and philosophies in such a way that I believe there is a bit of a unifying theme to the topics I envision discussing and dissecting here.
The title of this website, A Little Red Cabin, comes from what we call our little A-frame cabin in the Utah mountains that we moved into 2 years ago. It is on 2.5 acres of sagebrush at an altitude of 6300 ft. When we purchased it it had no electricity, no well, and really the building was nothing more than a shell. I intended to document our progress as we completed it but was so busy with the actual doing that I never got around to documenting much of anything. But our dream of moving here is to try and create our own little sustainable and self-sufficient homestead to raise our family and to live happily, healthfully, and simply. SO that is what this blog will be about, how to be happy and healthy and do it as simply as possible without overly complicating everything.
To that end, I envision a lot of posts about the day to day running of the homestead; our organic gardening successes and failures and tips, our animals and how to raise and care for them, our construction projects and plans, green building tips, non-toxic cleaning and housekeeping as well as feeding a family with whole and unrefined foods. I’m always researching and trying to discover the ideal way to eat so I’m sure I will have lots of recipes and questions and insights into the ideal human diet. I think we are at a crossroads with medical care in this country and as part of being healthy I’m sure I will have a lot to say, both good and bad, about conventional and alternative medicine. I try to keep up with what is going on politically especially as it effects small farmers and the environment so I’m sure I will occasionally touch on some political issues. While I like to pride myself in thinking that I have a unique perspective to add to the world I also recognize the many who have gone before and led the way. I will regularly post book, blog and business reviews recognizing those who are making a difference in the world of sustainable agriculture and business practices and recognizing those people who simply inspire through their goodness or greatness.
I think spirituality is largely neglected in this country, much to its detriment. I come from a Mormon/Latter-day Saint background and this informs much of why and how I do things but I also believe in recognizing truth and goodness wherever it comes from and in many forms. I spent several months in India and learned a lot about many of the Eastern traditions and frankly find studying the history of world religions as well as modern spirituality fascinating. I recently read an article about neurotheology and am fascinated by what scientists are discovering about the human brain and how spirituality effects it. I think our spiritual beliefs and practices can play a large part in our happiness and in how we interact with our communities and I see this as a valid topic of discussion that is often neglected in polite company. I don’t mind getting controversial but I hope we can all remain respectful.
So I guess, really this blog is going to be about whatever the heck I want it to be about. But I do hope that I can provide some information and insights that will be of help to others in some small way. So, here we go. Let’s get this party (blog) started!