5 Health Reasons To Garden

Summer is around the corner and I’m looking forward to having fresh and chemical free vegetables.  I’ve been gardening for several years and wanted to share the benefits of having a kitchen garden:


1. High In Antioxidants – Herbs help reduce heart attacks and are high in antioxidants according to Fitness Magazine.  Oregano, basil, rosemary and parsley are a few of the herbs that you will find in my kitchen garden.  I love using oregano and basil in my sauces, parsley on potatoes and rosemary on chicken and in stuffing dishes.  


2. Exercise – Having a kitchen garden provides an opportunity to get moderate exercise.  


3.  Boosts Vitamin D – Sunshine is the best way to boost Vitamin D intake.  Ten to 15 minutes a day should be sufficient.  (Be sure to wear sunscreen while gardening). 


4.  Reduces Stress – Gardening reduces the Cortisol level, which is produced when you’re feeling stressed.   


5.  Better Nutrition – Home grown vegetables, herbs and fruits provide better nutrition and are more flavorful and chemical free.     


Home grown vegetables and herbs have become an important staple in my home.  I look forward to picking fresh lettuce, tomatoes and herbs for my dishes and preserving them for use during the winter.  The flavor versus what is purchased in a grocery store is beyond comparison.  That alone is a great reason to have a kitchen garden.  I enjoy walking into my garden retrieving peppers and tomatoes straight from the vine when I’m cooking.  The fresh herbs provide a wonderful enhancement to sauces, stuffing and salads.  


Start planting and reap these health benefits as well as a new found flavor and perspective on fruits and vegetables.  Start with a few herbs and tomatoes which can be planted in containers, and than start planning for next year’s garden.  


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Gardening With Children


Using Eggshells In The Garden


My 2014 Vegetable Garden                                                        














You Owe Money No Lunch For You

                                                          
                                     
When I read the story about the children at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City who had their lunch taken from them and thrown in the trash in front of a cafeteria full of children, my heart broke.  This has to be one of the most cruel and inhumane actions that I’ve heard about in a school.  How do you treat a child in this manner?  It is simply beyond me.


Some brilliant administrator, Child Nutrition Manager, in Salt Lake City decided that the children at Uintah Elementary School should have their lunch thrown in the trash because their parents owed money on their lunch bill.  According to the school, the parents who owed money had been asked to reconcile the bill; however, not everyone paid up.  Did I mention that Uintah Elementary is in an affluent neighbor.  Just proves, that times are hard and there’s a lot of people struggling to make ends meet.  The school district in that area raised the price of lunch from $.65 to $2.00.  Quite pricey, especially if you have more than 1 child in school.  Their explanation, the meals are healthier and the cost of making them has risen. 

Rather than work out some plan with the parents, they allowed the children of those who owed money to obtain a tray and after the child sat down to eat they confiscated the tray and throw the food in the trash.  Yes, it is really hard to believe that they thought the trash can needed the food more.  They than gave the children a box of milk and an orange while telling the child, they didn’t have enough money for their lunch. 

I am so furious, no child should ever go hungry.  Especially, when the food is in front of them.  I’ve been to Utah, it is cold out there this time of year.  A box of milk and an orange versus a hot meal.  I wonder what’s in these people’s heart.  If I had been given that kind of directive, I would have resigned rather than carry it out.  Child Nutrition Manager, I don’t think so.  Can you imagine the embarrassment and humiliation that this children endured.  They could possibly be scarred for life.  Who discusses financial matters with elementary school children anyway. 

In my opinion, all of the administrators should have been fired and barred from interacting with young children ever again.  They have apologized and admitted the situation should have been handled differently, but the damage to the child has already been done.  Everyone in this country should be outraged.  If this were your child, how would you have reacted?

                                                                   

Vegetable Garden Closed



I’ll be spending the day closing out the garden.  Frost it hit Friday night, so it’s done for the season.  This is my second year gardening, and I’m really enjoying it.  There’s nothing better than picking fresh vegetables in your back yard and preserving them for future use.  This year I planted a variety of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers, green beans and Sugar Baby watermelons.  

I love sliced tomatoes with a little mayo.  I freeze the green beans to use with green beans and corn for holiday meals and family gatherings.  This year I froze a variety of peppers and tried my hand at pickling them.  I have to say the pickled peppers are the bomb.  I sent a few jars home with my daughter and in-laws and they received great reviews.  They are so good the cleaning lady at my office chased me down as I was leaving with two empty jars asking me to refill them, lol. 
I eat them on nachos, in chili and anything else that I can find to put them on.   I made fresh salsa and canned it.  It’s a lot of work, but so worth it.  I love being able to pull out a jar of garden fresh salsa during the winter and it tasting like I just worked down to the garden and picked the ingredients.  I’ll be munching while reading my kindle when the cold weather sets in.  What I’ve enjoyed most is having my grandson involved in watering and harvesting the veggies. 

Here’s a picture of one of my prized tomatoes weighing in at 1.136 ounces.  It was huge and delicious.  I managed to harvest at least 6 colanders of green beans putting away 5 – 6 quarts in the freezer.  Probably the same amount for peppers.  In addition to the frozen peppers, I’ve canned (pictured below) 30 – 40 pints/quarts of pickled peppers, most given away.  
 
I’m working on 12 pints of salsa this week-end.  I’ll be putting them in baskets along with salsa chips and homemade cookies and brownies for Christmas gifts.   Do you have a garden?  How productive was it?  If not, are you interested in planting one and exchanging gardening techniques and seeds next season?  Please leave me  a comment and let me know your thoughts.  You can find my gardening blog here

Squash Casserole

Need to use up that squash and zucchini from the garden or that pile that you found on your porch from the neighbors?  You’ll love this recipe.  It’s quick, easy and delicious.  My garden didn’t produce an abundance of squash or zucchini this year.  I started an abundance of plants inside to get ahead of the season, but I got hit with vine borers and squash, but I was able to salvage a few for this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 – 10 ounces of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of mayo
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • bread crumbs.

Cube squash and zucchini
and saute for 10 – 15 minutes along with the chopped onion.  Mix the mayo and
eggs.  Add the cheese to the mixture; blend well.  Drain the squash and zucchini
and add to a greased baking dish.  Mix in the mayo, egg and cheese mixture.  Top
with bread crumbs and drizzle the butter over the bread crumbs.  Bake for 30
minutes at 350 degrees
.

Follow my garden adventures at A Diva’s Garden, http://adivasgarden.blogspot.com

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Easy Recipes – Zucchini Bread

Looking for clever, easy recipes.  Whip up a batch of zucchini bread.  My grandson loves it with a glass of milk.  You can freeze it or wrap it tightly and put in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.  I make mine with walnuts, but if you’re not comfortable giving chopped walnuts to your little one leave them out.  I love indulging on the bread myself with a nice hot cup of coffee. 
Planting my own zucchini has been rewarding.  I blanched and froze several quarts this summer, and I love being able to whip up a fresh batch during the winter.  It tastes a good today as it did this summer. 
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.  In a large bowl, beat eggs.  Gradually beat in sugar, than oil.  Add flour mixture, alternating with zucchini into egg mixture.  Stir in walnuts and vanilla.  Pour into two greased lightly floured loaf pans.  Bake on lowest rack at 350 for 55 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes. 

Vegetable Gardens

It’s almost time to get the vegetable garden ready.  That’s my grandson wearing his Lighting McQueen rain boots.  He’s watering the garden last year, and was quite a little helper.  He was actually fascinated to see the blooms develop and turn into luscious veggies.   This was my first vegetable garden and I’ll be doing it again.  It was so relaxing tending to the garden, and it was nice to have fresh vegetables in the house instead of the cardboard sold in grocery stores.  I hope that I will never have to purchase another vegetable from a store again, that is unless it’s from a farmer’s market.   

I canned tomatoes and froze peppers for soup, chili and salsa.  The veggies were as fresh when I used them this winter as they were when I plucked them from the garden.  My peppers were huge as you can see.  I’ll be planting those babies again.  Those are Amish Paste tomatoes shown and are great for sauce and salsa.   I planted a few Hybrid and a few Heirlooms last year.  I’m going with Heirlooms this year.  I’ve decided on a variety for color and taste to include:  Boxcar Willie, German Johnson, Kellogg Breakfast, Cherokee Purple and Aunt Ruby’s Spicy Green.  It’s just about time to get the seedlings started indoors so they can be germinated, harden off, and planted in the garden by June.  I’m in zone 6, so I usually garden from June to October.  I may plant collard greens this fall, we’ll see. 

Here’s a few of my crookneck squash.  They were so yummy.  I froze a few squash and zucchini for baby food for Zarriah and zucchini bread for me, lol.   Did I mention I put away 50 ears of corn and about 6 quarts of fresh peaches for baby food.  Yes, I was quite busy in the kitchen last year. 

I’m going to expand my garden by approximately 5 feet this year.  I’m leaving out the eggplant, and putting in pickling cucumbers for homemade pickles and small, but sweet watermelon.   Below is my dream garden.  I love the arbor and bench in the back.  I would sit and admire the fruits veggies of my labor.  You would be surprised at how many vegetables you can grow in a small amount of space.  My garden was less than 10x 20, and I was able to produce an abundance of fresh veggies and flowers.  I will be expanding it to 10 x 25 this year.  If I ever get this baby built, I would expand to 10 x  40 feet.  This year I’m putting up a 250 feet privacy fence, so this garden fencing will have to wait.  In the meantime, I’ll dream about it.  A girl can dream can’t she?  We’re also building a tree house for my grandson, stay tuned. 

Be sure to follow or subscribe to Mother 2 Mother so you don’t miss my Gardening With My Grandson posts.  You can also connect with me by clicking one of the social media buttons on the right.  Do you garden with your children?  What are you planting this year?  I think it’s important for children to understand the land and how to grow your own food.  With this economy, we need to teach our children how to survive and save when and where we can.  My grandson loves flowers, and has a small area where he is responsible for watering them and pulling weeds.  He takes his job seriously.  We lead by example, would you agree?  Leave a comment and let us know what’s happening in your backyard. 

Grow Your Own Veggies

I decided to plant a vegetable garden this year.  I have fond memories of my grandparent’s garden when I was growing up, and I remembered the taste of a tomato straight from the garden.  There’s nothing like it.  I want Xavier to experience his summer’s in Mama’s garden and enjoying the taste of fresh veggies and fruit.  He loves apples, pineapples, and strawberries.  I’ll be planting an apple tree next year and a strawberry patch in the fall so we can have fresh strawberries next spring and summer. 

This year I planted tons of tomatoes for canning and salsa, green beans, peppers, eggplant, squash and zucchini.  He’s not fond of veggies yet, but I’m adding a little to my sauces so I can sneak some in.  I’m also looking for recipes that I think he may like without there being a hint of veggies.  So far Zucchini Bread without the walnuts, don’t trust him eating those yet, is at the top of the list.  He loves spaghetti, so I’m finely chopping and I do mean finely chopping peppers and onions to add, lol.  He saw a carrot in some sauce once, and it ended his entire meal. 

Planting your own garden is also a great way to save on the grocery bill, and there’s no pesticides used.   It’s also a great family activity.  Xavier is picking hot banana peppers for Mama’s hot pepper ring mix.   He loves a hot banana pepper, cauliflower and jalapeno mix that I purchase from the store.  I’m going to can a few quarts for his enjoyment. 



After picking the peppers, Xavier watered the garden for Mama.  He now understands the importance of sunshine and water to a garden.  I didn’t leave out weeding either, lol.  We’re going to put a little patch for him next year to include strawberries, raspberries and colorful carrots.  Check out his gardening boots.  He loved them so much, he took them home with him to wear when he waters his mother’s flowers.  Aren’t they adorable, I’ll be doing review on the boots in another post.

Because I acquired poor eating habits growing up, I want to teach my grandson the importance of eating fresh veggies and fruit.  What better way than to walk into your back yard and pluck them off the vine.  I must saw that Michelle Obama’s Get Moving program and White House garden inspired me to plant mine.  What an excellent idea to get children involved in an outside activity, and one that is so important to their health.  We need to get them off the computer and sofa and back outside to get some physical activity and fresh air.  I’m grateful that Xavier would rather be outside than in the house.  He runs an entire acre catching fire flies, making mud pies and cakes, swinging from trees.    Do you have a garden?  What outside activities are your children involved in?  Leave us a comment, we may want to try it.