Thursday, March 27, 2014

All About Growing and Enjoying Your Fruits and Vegetables

Spring is here at last! It has been a tough winter for some of us, but spring ushers in sunshine and warmth. One of the great benefits of this time of year is the increased variety of fruits and vegetables in season. Not only can you find more produce in grocery stores, but it is also a great time to start planting your own.

There are many benefits to growing your own fruits and vegetables, such as:

     Fresher Produce. It can take several weeks for produce to arrive from the farm to the grocery store, and then to your table. Every day that passes after that fruit or vegetable is picked, it loses some of its freshness and nutrients. Picking fruits and vegetables from your own garden ensures you are enjoying them when they are most fresh and flavorful.

     You know exactly what you are eating. It is hard to know exactly where our grocery store produce comes from and how it was produced. Concerns about pesticide-use or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are eliminated when you are growing the produce yourself.

     Kids will be more inclined to eat fruits and vegetables. Kids gain a sense of accomplishment and excitement when they participate in growing the food they eat. They will be more interested in eating a food, if they were involved in its creation.

     It can help to decrease stress. Gardening can be a relaxing hobby that helps you de-stress after a long day. Being outdoors and focusing on the simple task of gardening is a great break from work deadlines, family responsibilities, etc.

     “Get More Satisfaction!” When you put time and energy into something, then see the results, you feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The same applies for planting and growing your own fruit and vegetable garden.

Now that you are excited about having your own garden, where do you begin? It can be broken down into 3 important steps: Plan, Prepare, and Plant.

1. Plan: You need to consider what will grow well in your location and what space is available. For example, if you live in an apartment and the only outdoor space you have is a balcony, then planting squash or peas may not work since they need room to spread. Tomatoes and green peppers, on the other hand, do not require much space and would grow just fine on a balcony or patio. It is also important to consider where you plant certain fruits or vegetables, as some require more shade or more sunshine than others.

2. Prepare: Whether you will be planting seeds in a pot or in the ground, it is essential to prepare the soil. You do this by loosening the soil (with a rake or a shovel) and dampening it. You then apply organic material (such as manure) and mix it in with the soil.

3. Plant: Now you are ready to plant your seeds! Typically you plant the seeds just beneath the surface of the soil.  Although, some seeds may have specific instructions for how deep and far apart they should be placed. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

As Easy As Mac and Cheese!

Orriant Mommy Blogger, Emily, gives tips to keep moms and kids happy and well fed.

Today's post is about nutrition for moms and kids. I mentioned in my last post about needing to have healthier protein snacks available. I don't know about you, but on busy days I am lucky sometimes to have a “meal”, and can just grab what is within reach. Quite often they aren't the best of choices. I would not say I am grabbing cookies and a slice of white bread, but more that the snacks are not balanced (ex. a protein and a fiber). So I have included a recipe at the end of the post that I really like as a “go to” snack. Let protein be your friend in controlling hunger, cravings, and that afternoon crash. An average size female should take in 50-70 grams per day.

We had a family over for dinner last night. I made a roast, asparagus, arugula salad, grapes, and some parmesan roasted red potatoes. Delish! My kids were scarfing the asparagus and asking for more salad. I will admit I “splurged” and fed them hot dogs, a “treat” when other children come over. The other mother was surprised that not only were my kids staying at the table long enough to eat, but they were eating what was prepared. She said “George only likes kid foods like cereal and bread.” That got me thinking... why are certain foods called “kid foods”? Who decided that hot dogs, jello, peanut butter and jelly, artificially colored yogurts and cereals were what kids should eat? If we were to give whole wheat bread, cucumbers, and brussel sprouts only to kids, would they be known as “kid food”?

I don't want to jump on a soap box here, my intention is to focus on teaching our kids to eat healthy foods they can enjoy. However, “kid food” is whatever you choose. Media tries to tell us differently, but I challenge you to make a choice today to cut out a typical “kid food” from your house, or make that “kid food” more healthy (as I did below with my mac and cheese recipe). I see a difference in my kids on days they eat regularly and healthy versus days they consume more sugar or processed foods. If we can get them started on good habits at home, they can make wise choices outside the home.

Here's an interesting article about how the sugars, processed foods, dairy, and artificial sugars can affect the attitudes and actions of children - especially those with ADHD:

And foods that can improve behavior here:

Various health groups are petitioning to get the artificial colors out of things like macaroni and cereals. They are a BROWN grain, why do they need Red 40 in there? How have you gotten your children involved in healthy eating?

Below is my recipe for mac and cheese. My kids won't touch the boxed stuff....

All Natural Mac and Cheese
1 box whole grain pasta
½ cup low fat cottage cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
¼ tsp. pepper (optional)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder (optional)

Cook noodles according to directions. Drain noodles and return to pan. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until melted, serve and enjoy!

Oatmeal Protein Balls
1 cup almond, sunflower, or peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
1 cup oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or dried berries (I love blueberries and cranberries)

Mix all the ingredients together, form into (1" to 1 1/2") balls and refrigerate for 2 hours before enjoying. Yields about 22 balls. Can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.

(Craisins: 133 cal. 9.9 carbs 5 g protein, Choc chips: 122 cal., 10 carbs 5.2 g protein)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ron's Marathon Journal - Feeling Closer to Race Ready

Wheeler Machinery employee and Orriant participant, Ron Fehr, gives you a peek into his training and progress as the Boston Marathon gets closer.

February has been a great month of training and I’m beginning to feel close to marathon shape.  In March, I’ll be running the Canyonland’s Half Marathon, which will be a great training run to see where my fitness level is for Boston.  I am excited and am loving the great Spring running days the past week or so.  I’ve been running twice a day, on my lunch break and when I get home from work.  It is the best way for me to log more miles.  From here on out, I will be spending more time working on increasing my speed by interval training, mile repeats, hill sprints, and tempo runs.  I hope everyone is living healthy and happy!