The Mighty Microgreen

I first heard of microgreens from my sister when she was battling cancer a few years ago. Microgreens are up to 40x more nutritiously dense than the mature versions of the plants. So if you want to add a powerful nutrient dense punch to your food, go with the small but mighty mircogreen!

My sis and brother-in-law taught me all I know about microgreens and since I’ve had several friends to inquire about how to grow them, I thought I’d attempt to jot it all down here to get you started. It can be a little pricey in the beginning but once you have your trays and seeds, it is super economical.

Here’s what we do!

First get your organic soil. Organic can be a little tricky to find but keep looking. I got this at Home Depot this year I think.

Then get your trays out. When I started, I only had the ones with the holes. You will need that so the roots won’t get water logged. When I began, I just kept the trays on my kitchen table over a waterproof tablecloth. I’d wipe up the excess water daily. Now I have a set without holes that I stack and it keeps things a lot tidier. Be careful though. If you get your trays from different companies, even though they may be the same dimensions, they may not stack perfectly. Mine get crooked a little but we make it work.

Put about an 1-2 inches of soil in and press it down gently.

Now you are ready to sprinkle the seeds in. I use about 1 1/2 TBSP of organic seeds and I just sprinkle them freehand.

I’ve seen other micro growers use a shaker jar. You just want to make sure you sprinkle them evenly. After that, press the seeds down gently.

Next you need to water the seeds gently. My sis and brother-in-law gave me this sprayer and all I’ve ever had in it is filtered Berkey water!

Now you are ready to cover them. I use some old cardboard and some brown paper bags. You’ll need to water them 2 times a day and keep them covered for about 3 days. My kale seeds require a longer germination but the radish, cabbage, and broccoli all do great with only 3 dark days. ON the 4th day you can take the covers off. Keep watering 2 times a day for about 3-4 more days and keep them in a sunny place. Our kitchen doesn’t get a lot of sun so we added some old AeroGarden lights. You can see a little of the lights below. They are blue.

Here’s what they look like after about 3 days in darkness. See that kale on the lower left. They always lag behind for me. But the radish at the top right grow so well and they are my very favorite!

Here they are with the radish ready for harvest. I let the broccoli go for about 2 more days and the cabbage another 3 days. I still haven’t harvested this kale batch!

When it is time to harvest, just gently gather a few greens in your hand and use kitchen scissors to snip off. I store them in these containers and use paper towels to line the container with. They will last in the fridge for about a week or so.

I love microgreens in my daily salad and you can really add them to just about any dish you can imagine. I love them on avocado toast and hummus tortillas!

My biggest piece of advice is to be generous with the water. The very fist time I tried to grow them, when they started to germinate, my hubby said there was mold on our seeds and told me I was putting too much water. It turned out it was not mold. It just looks that way when the seed first start to germinate. You’ll see little hairy stuff all over your seeds. Don’t be stingy with the water. When I water mine I always pray over them for a successful harvest and I often sing this song. 🙂 Just like juicing, microgreens helped me through my own cancer trek and each time I eat them, I feel like a health rock star!

Be sure to click the highlighted words to follow the links! Happy growing!

Love, Jesus, juice, and health always!

Melissa

In the Blink of an Eye

Last Sunday on one of my 2 daily walks with our dog, Lily, my world could have changed in the blink of an eye.

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We were almost home from our 1 mile walk and I spied 2 dogs trotting towards us.  I hadn’t seen them before in the neighborhood and since they were running loose, I immediately was on guard.  One of them was a Pit bull mix and the other one was some sort of Shepherd.  The Shepherd stayed farther away but the Pit bull started coming right up to us.  I yelled very loud with all I could muster for the dog to GO AWAY!  He paused and at first I thought he was going to go.  But then he came forward.  I was praying so hard that he’d just do the stiff thing and then leave but in the blink of an eye, he was attacking Lily.  I didn’t hesitate and started kicking him and hitting him with Lily’s leash.  Her leash and collar had slipped off in the struggle.  Thankfully, just as fast as he attacked, he left and trotted on off through the woods with the Shepherd.

Lily was okay.  She only had one puncture would on her hip.  And I didn’t have a scratch.  It could have been a different situation though.  Lily could have been killed and in all reality, that Pit bull could have killed me too.  My heart was racing!  I was scared out of my mind.  A neighbor that had heard me screaming came out and I’m sure she would have come to help if the attack hadn’t ended so quickly.  She did holler over to me and let me know that those same 2 dogs had killed her outside cat.   We are going to try and alert the Animal Control if we ever see them again in our neighborhood.

Later in the afternoon, on my daily Amazon order, I included some mace that I really should have had with me in the first place.   I also tightened Lily’s collar.

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It has been 23 days now since my office sent us all home to work remotely.  At first, I was so out of it.  I had home projects all around me that were in some stage of incompleteness.  My daughter, her boyfriend, and our granddaughter had just moved out of our home into their own apartment just the weekend before.  We had given them our old washer and dryer and when Ron hooked up our new ones, something went awry.  I noticed a wet spot in the carpet in our bedroom and I had no clue it was the washer.  The washer is in the kitchen for Pete’s sake!  I totally blamed poor Lily.  I thought she had had an accident.

It took us one full day to figure out that the hose on the washer was the culprit.  After Ron got the leak stopped, he ended up pulling up the carpet and the padding.  We had decided to replace the carpet and since we are laying the new flooring down ourselves, he said he’d just rip this spot up now.

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We were also in the middle of painting the laundry closet and putting up new shelves, so EVERYTHING was in an upheaval.  Luckily now, the new shelves are up and at least the laundry area is neat and tidy.

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My sis and niece and their husbands were going to help us with the new flooring and even though they said they’d still come up and help us, I’ve decided to heed the Shelter at Home advisory and just tackle the flooring later when this virus gets past us.   I know this is the right thing to do even though this flooring situation is so frustrating!

I’ve been trying to stay off social media as much as I can.  I try to limit myself to 2 quick sessions each day just to keep up with friends and family.  The one thing that I’ve really been noticing is all the memes that people are posting about the struggles they are having with food now that they are working from home.

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I’m not sure how I’m doing it but I’m really rockin’ the healthy eating!  The only thing I can think of is that I have absolutely zero cheat foods in my house thanks to Lydia and Cam moving out prior to the pandemic. When they lived with us, it was all I could do to not partake of all the pizza Friday’s they’d have.  The cinnamon rolls they’d bake all the time were also my downfall.  Heck if they were out of stuff, I’ve been known to eat all of Harley’s goldfish crackers or mini pretzels.  I’d always replace them the next day but it was so difficult for me to say no.

Ron has really been trying to lose weight and he just can’t make the scale move much at all!   So when they moved, we really did a huge pantry purge.  We decided to go on the Chef AJ ultimate weight loss program.

Chef AJ

I actually started the weekend before the pandemic so it has been a whole 4 weeks for me.  I’ve lost 6.1 pounds and feel fantastic.

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Ron stayed on the program for almost 2 weeks and he did lose a little but he said he didn’t feel good only eating plants and he has gone back to being an omnivore.  In fact, he went to Costco and stocked back up on meats and nuts and all his favorite Paleo foods.  He did promise he wouldn’t go back to the Bulletproof coffee though.  Ron had an AFib (atrial fibrillation) episode last month and even though AFIB is not the normal heart disease with clogged arteries and such, it is still very serious.  He promised me he’d cut down on the fats.  He also came home with 2 canisters of mixed nuts.  That little blip you see in my weight loss is me cheating and eating nuts last weekend.  I know that some fats like nuts and avocados are so very healthy but I can’t seem to partake of any without overdoing it.  They are such trigger foods for me.  Well nuts and a take out meal from my favorite vegan local restaurant.  I’m happy I was helping to keep the small restaurants in business by ordering take out but I swear, you can totally eat vegan food and gain!

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That carrot cake was divine though and it was my only sweet in a whole month.

Here’s some shots of my normal daily meals.  I’ve really been cooking up a storm and eating oh so healthy!

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Quinoa Banana Oat muffins

Lots of Hugh Jass Salads topped with balsamic vinegars

caramelized onion gravy over rice

beet burgers

lots of potatoes air fried in Ron’s awesome new oven

mashed banana butter on Ezekiel muffins

I pray that that you are finding ways to cook and eat healthy while we weather out this Covid-19 storm.    Jesus and our health is all we really have.  Everything has changed so much and it really does feel that this all happened in the blink of an eye.

Much love and peace!

Melissa

 

Living Kitchen Love

Yesterday I went on an 8 mile run with my good friend Connie and then after that I did an hour long Camp Gladiator endurance workout.  I did take a short nap and then my daughter Andie and I took all 3 dogs to the vet at Petco.  Since we have 3 dogs, this low cost vaccination clinic really makes a lot of sense for us.  Some years we have had to wait in a long line but this year, we got there 30 minutes early and walked right up to the check-in assistants.  We filled out our paperwork and were ready to see the vet in minutes flat.  The whole process took only 1 hour and now Fred, Lucky, and Lily are all good to go for another year.

Fred Lucky and Lily

During the run earlier that morning, Connie told me about a new restaurant that has just opened up in downtown Raleigh.  When she started talking about it I realized it must be the same restaurant that I saw on Facebook.  The No Meat Athlete group in Raleigh was having a social run and dinner at someplace new.   Then Ron came home from Kung Fu and said Sifu Mo had told him about this new place that was 100% plant based and organic.

After such a busy day when I finally settled down it was almost 6:00pm and I was very tired.  I had a smoothie after the workout and before the vet I had a veggie burger and now I was getting quite hungry.  I started to think about what I could come up with for dinner and then it hit me.  Let’s go out!  Ron was sitting right beside me and I looked to him and asked him if he wanted to try the new place that Sifu had told him about.  I told him Connie’s recommendations and within seconds he said, “Let’s Go!”

Living Kitchen is on the corner of Fayetteville Street and Lenoir.  I loved it from the moment we stepped inside.

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The space is very modern and open.   We were greeted quickly and were seated in minutes.

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Connie had recommended the ginger-ale so I had to get it.  Ron was happy with a great IPA.

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That brewery is in Charlotte and what we were finding out was that this is the 2nd Living Kitchen Restaurant with the original one having been in business in Charlotte since 2010.

I loved the ginger-ale.  You could taste the fresh ginger but it wasn’t so strong that it knocked you down.

Our appetizer was the sushi.  Oh man!  Yummo!

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It was just sweet potatoes and veggies but the nori it was wrapped in gave it the fish taste.  The dipping sauce was amazing.

Next came our entrée’s.  I got the Living Burrito and Ron got the Pad Thai

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Ron is online right now researching spiralizers.  He loved it so much he just has to try and recreate it.

That is beet salad for my side and you know I adore beets.  Wowzer!  So yummy.  My sauce for the burrito was their signature hot sauce.  To.die.for.

I saved half of my burrito and half of the beet salad and brought that home so I could try a dessert.

Here’s my selection!  The Lemon-Berry Cheesecake!  I don’t know how they do it but the cashews, coconut, and berries somehow come together and you’d swear you are eating real cheesecake.  Out of this world delicious.

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Living Kitchen serves cold pressed juices and before we left, Ron got these 2 beauties for today and tomorrow.

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I was so excited to find another plant based dining option in Raleigh.  You know I love Remedy Diner and Fiction Kitchen but Living Kitchen is way healthier.

If you’ve been interested in plant based eating, give LK a try.  You will love it!

 

Mason Jar Salads

I’m so totally late to the game on Mason Jar Salads. You know I love Mason jars and I have lots of them. However, I hadn’t heard of this phenomenon until the other week when 2 of my Tuesday – Thursday running group members were talking about them. One search on Pinterest later and I found loads of different recipes.

Mason Jar Salads

What do you think?  Nailed it?  I sure hope so.  🙂

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Even though every site I looked at said you didn’t need to worry about sealing them, Ron wouldn’t hear of it.  He ordered this “sucker” and attached it to his hand dandy Food Saver.

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I made 6 salads tonight.  2 each for Ron, me, and Lydia.  They are all the same except Lydia’s has an iceberg lettuce blend with no dressing and mine and Ron’s has a 50/50 blend and Better Than Bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.

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I started in the bottom of the jar with 2 TBSP of the dressing, about 9 cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red and orange bell peppers, chickpeas, matchstick carrots, lettuce, and then some sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

So excited to give them a try tomorrow and Friday for lunch.

Happy Eating Friends!

Energy Balls

The other weekend my sister shared this recipe with me and I loved it so much I had to share it with you.  I made them for our 4th of July party and everyone loved them too.

I’m calling them Energy Balls but they are very similar to this recipe that I found online. 

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All you do is take 1/2 cup flax, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, and 1 cup oats and mix them up in a bowl.  Then take the wet ingredients and add them.  1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey, and a splash of vanilla.

I made 2 batches today and I used the vegan carob chips so some of them would be totally vegan.  Ron is getting very picky about anything dairy and I wanted to make sure he would eat them.

That’s coconut in the container on the left and I rolled some of the balls in that.  I love coconut and this was an awesome addition.

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Above are the ones with the carob chips.  I used creamy raw almond butter instead of peanut butter.  They were really easy to ball up due to the creamy nature of the raw almond butter from a brand new jar.

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These are the ones with the Nestle chips.  I used some regular almond butter from the fridge on these and they were a little harder to ball up.  If you keep your nut butter in the fridge, I’d recommend that you nuke it a little to help it get to a more creamy consistency.

Lydia tasted one before she left for work and she said she liked the ones from the party better and I used peanut butter in those.  I like these just fine.  It took me quite a while to get used to almond butter but now I prefer it over peanut butter.

I can’t wait to enjoy these all week for that needed afternoon energy.

I think the calories are probably around 100 per ball.

In other news, I got some cute new purple hand weights.  I’m loving the 30 Day Shred!

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Go make some energy balls and have a wonderful week!

 

Our 6 Week Eat to Live Challenge Recap

On December 30th Ron and I embarked on a totally vegan diet. We used Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book and website as a guide.

Here are the basics of the diet in a nutshell:

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source

I’ve dabbled in veganism before and made it about 2 weeks one time so I was no stranger to this at all. Also, I was completely vegetarian for 10 months back in late 2010 and into 2011 so I had plenty of confidence going into this challenge. (Note: Vegans have no animal products whatsoever. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, etc. Vegetarians have no flesh. They can have the dairy and the eggs.)

Weeks 1-3 were very good. We started off following the diet to a T and the weight slipped off very easily. We enjoyed trying all kinds on new recipes.

One of our favorites was the Creamy Cauliflower Soup.

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I loved how creamy the cashews made it. I’ve read that cashews are great for lifting your mood and since I’ve had a lifelong battle with mild depression, I always look at this little nut as magic!

One of my least favorite recipes was this eggplant lasagna.

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Ron put some ginger in it and didn’t dice it very fine. I got a big piece of ginger that put a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning. Not sure if I can ever love eggplant again.

Everything was going along very well but after a while, those huge salads 2 times a day started getting hard to do. They would fill me up so much that was all I was eating. That’s a good thing I know but as much as I love a delicious salad, sometimes you just want something hot. When I’d eat the salad at dinner, I couldn’t eat another bite. What I ended up doing was eating the cooked veggie creation first and then I wouldn’t have room for the salad. I promise you. 1 pound of raw veggies is a lot. And…it takes a long time to eat.

That’s the reason the salad at lunchtime started slipping away. I often eat at my desk at work and it just got too difficult and time consuming for me to eat the salad. At lunch, a hummus sandwich and a piece of fruit are about all I am interested in.

That’s were another trouble entered in. You are not supposed to eat between meals so if I did have a light lunch and skipped the filling salad, I would be famished by dinnertime.

Weeks 3-6 I stayed mostly all vegan but I veered far away from the 1 pound of raw and 1 pound of cooked veggies 2 times daily. Also during week 3-6 Ron and I started eating what I call vegan junk food. Get some fake chicken and smother it in an awesome buffalo sauce and you can have one heck of a delicious and satisfying dinner. Do this and I guarantee you won’t have room for the healthy raw veggies.

Out of the 126 meals (6 weeks x 7 days x 3 meals per day) 4 times I had a non-vegan component. First came a piece of my mother’s famous cornbread. All she had in it that was non-vegan was the buttermilk and then I did add some butter to the top. It was out of this world delicious. I didn’t feel bad at all about this.

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Second came some cheese on a wrap at Chick-fil-A. I got a chicken wrap and asked for the chicken on the side but I forgot about the cheese. (I gave the chicken to my daughter.) When I had the wrap in my hands, I saw the cheese but I ate it anyway. Didn’t feel too bad about this either. We were traveling and I did the best I could.

Third came a veggie hoagie from Jimmy Johns. I knew it had the cheese on it when I ordered it but I got it anyway. Man was that good! This was when I started feeling guilty. I didn’t need to eat the cheese. It was lunchtime at work and my boss had treated me to Jimmy Johns. Like I said, I knew it had the cheese and I ordered it anyway.

After 2 slip ups with cheese, I was driving home from work one night and I really cheated big time! I have to drive far distances 1 time per week and this occurred on a 3 hour trip home. I veered into Hardees. I have no idea why but I ordered a cheeseburger. And.a.milkshake!

So as you can guess, weeks 3-6 the weight loss really stalled. I don’t attribute it at all to those 2 times having cheese or even my big cheat meal at Hardees. What I attribute it to was the huge decrease in raw veggies. It could have been the handful of nuts I was having daily too. Also was probably the extra bread that kept slowly slipping back into my meals.

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Ron ended up losing 10.8 pounds and I lost 9.6.

At the end of the 6 weeks, Ron went as fast as he could and bought some grass fed beef and other meats. He announced he was Paleo! What I am learning is that Paleo and Vegans are really very similar. Both advocate the importance of whole foods and to stay far away from anything processed. The biggest difference to me is the meat for Paleos and the beans and legume’s for vegans.

At the end of the 6 weeks I ate a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints. I ate some of Ron’s delicious beef stews. Just a little but man were they delicious. My car veered into Cookout on one occasion. Pretty much, I ate anything and everything I wanted. Not very much meat at all but still it was not healthy.

After one week of debauchery, I had all I could take. I was feeling physically terrible. Back came the vegan lifestyle for me. This time I downloaded some recipes from the Happy Herbivore (HH) and in only 3 days, I had dropped the 2 pounds I had gained during my cheat week and also another 2.6 pounds! I am feeling great again!

What I am learning from the Happy Herbivore is that I really can’t have all the avocados and the nuts if I want to lose weight. Yes, they are very healthy fats but I just can’t have them if I want the scale to drop. Also a huge difference was in the first smoothie recipe I made from HH. I always put 1/3 cup of raw oats in my breakfast smoothies. HH called for 2 tablespoons of raw oats in my smoothie. Also, hummus and me are great pals. I can eat a ton of hummus if you let me.

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HH called for ½ of bell pepper with only 2 tablespoons of hummus. Measure out 2 tablespoons of raw oats or hummus. I dare you. It is such a small amount! However, it really is enough. If you dip sparingly, you can have hummus on each bite you take of the pepper and your smoothie will be just as delicious and satisfying.

What are our long term plans? I have no idea. Ron is already complaining about feeling sluggish and about the huge increase in the amount of money he is spending on the meats. He says he wants to try Happy Herbivore when we get back from vacation.

What I do think that I am leaning toward are the famous words of Michael Pollen:

      eat food

Vacation begins for us tomorrow. We’re celebrating our 26th year of wedded bliss. I fully expect to have some cheese. I fully expect to have some desserts. I even know already that I’m having a famous chicken dish from the historic Chalet Suzanne Inn that we are staying in. My goal is to try to eat smaller meals for breakfast and lunch so I can splurge a little at dinner.

My plans for when we get back home and back to reality are to stay mostly vegan. The big thing for me that I’ve got to get away from is the wheat. My sister and nieces have been preaching to me the horrors of gluten and I’ve got to admit they may be on to something. Here’s a book that my sister recommended I read.

Grain Brain

Ron is even on board with the no wheat. When we go to Mexican restaurants he orders his veggie burritos without the flour tortilla and gets corn tortillas on the side.

Happy Eating. Happy Running. Happy Living to us all!