Never Miss a Monday – Healthy Snacks

I am always looking for ways to free up brain space, because really, there’s only so much stuff that can fit in there. Keeping a list of healthy snack ideas posted in your office and at home, with an added calendar reminder, is a perfect way to not only keep your wellness priorities front and center but it will also liven up your snack routine.

Start by just listing all of the current healthy, easy snacks you enjoy. Then think of any snack ideas that you always wanted to try or do a little internet search to see what new ideas look interesting to you. I caution…try not to just download/print out one of those “75 Healthy Snack Ideas”. It can be overwhelming and may frustrate you enough to make you skip using the list all together. A quick skim of one of these lists though may give you some new ideas, or remind you of something that you forgot about and can now add.

Not only should you print out this list and post at eye-level somewhere in your office and home, but you get bonus points if you add a reminder in your calendar either daily or every other day telling you to review the list. Habits are ways for our brain to go on auto-pilot a bit, so to really create lasting change we need to force ourselves to be more mindful of our choices until we’ve aligned our habits with our wellness goals. Once you’ve found yourself reaching for the healthy snacks more and more, you’ll rely less on the list and can eliminate the reminder.

I included my current standard list below, and although I only refer to this when I really feeling in a rut, I can tell you that I just recently added “Pickles” as a nice snack idea. I just happened to grab one late in the afternoon when I wanted a little something to munch and couldn’t believe I had never thought to have them before as a snack…full of flavor, nice crunch…I highly recommend!

Terry’s Snack List

• Piece of fruit – apple, pear, peach etc, optional – w/ handful of nuts
• 1/2 banana with 1 tbsp Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
• Any handful of fresh veggie – Celery, carrot sticks, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber with salt;
• 1/2 100% whole wheat english muffin or toast with 1 raspberry preserves (prefer Bonne Maman)
• Reheated leftover veggies
• Small black bean quesadilla (small 100% whole wheat tortilla, black beans on one half, sprinkle of mexican/cheddar cheese, fold in half and heat in microwave 1min+)
• Fage plain greek yogurt with 1-2 tsp raspberry preserves mixed in, sprinkle of granola (using my homemade granola now!)
• Popcorn homemade, small bag of Indiana Kettle Corn
• Smoothie – chocolate banana PB; blueberry ginger yogurt
• Small bowl of high fiber cereal , muesili, or oatmeal
• Van’s multigrain waffle topped with warmed up blueberries (fresh or frozen)
• Trader Joe’s Teriyaki Turkey Jerky
• Hard-boiled egg
• Pickle spears, optional wrapping pickle in slice of turkey or ham

Be Well!
Terry

March 30, 2015

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Feast or Famine?

By Pamela Denholm

Saving open spaces, preserving our agricultural heritage, connecting our families to their food source and the seasons – these are all wonderful, value-based reasons to support local farms.  Creating economically viable and self-sustaining communities and keeping dollars within our communities are reasons that touch our wallets, but did you know that there is an even more pressing reason to grow our local food community?  And it starts with ‘food’ and ends with ‘security’.  Food security.

We have seen news snippets covering the drought that has been afflicting California for the last few years, and it’s just not looking up, California is facing its fourth punishing year of water shortages. Going into their rainy season in December, things looked promising with big, heavy clouds, gray skies, promises of snow and soaking rain – instead, January brought record high temperatures and and record low rainfall.

california-drought-01

Reservoir levels, photo’s taken in October 2014

california drought 3

The state receives 90% of its annual rainfall between December and April, most of it in December and January, but a bigger cause for concern is the diminished Sierra Nevada snow pack.  At March 3rd, the statewide measurement of the snow pack was at 5 inches, just 19% of its to-date average and barely above the record low of 1991.  What they needed was a snow pack into the 30 inch range, and unless things pick up they are heading for the worst snow pack totals in history.

california drought 7

A satellite view showing the Sierra Nevada snow pack for 2014 vs 2015

Why is this important?  This snow pack provides 30% of the states’ water supply as it melts into summer.  So not only are reservoirs low, rainfall at a record low, there is now another significant chunk missing from their water source.  Landscapes are parched, orange trees are dying, and farmers are leaving acres of farmland to lie fallow because they can’t afford to watch planted fields dehydrate before their eyes.

WATER RATES

Jim Jasper walks through his dying Almond grove

I know, I know – California is on the other side of the country from us, three time zones away, what’s that got to do with us?  Plenty, is the short answer.  The rest of the nation is extremely dependent on fruits and vegetables from California, which grows

  • 90 percent of our tomatoes
  • 99 percent of our artichokes
  • 44 percent of asparagus
  • two-thirds of carrots
  • half of bell peppers
  • 89 percent of cauliflower
  • 94 percent of broccoli
  • 95 percent of celery
  • 90 percent of the leaf lettuce
  • 83 percent of Romaine lettuce
  • 83 percent of fresh spinach
  • 86 percent of lemons
  • 90 percent of avocados
  • 84 percent of peaches
  • 88 percent of fresh strawberries
  • 97 percent of fresh plums
Cali-Drought 5

500’000 acres are likely going to be kept out of production this year, negatively impacting the state’s agricultural industry to the tune of $3.5bn

This year an estimated 500’000 acres of farmland be taken out of production, and the agricultural related losses are said to run into the $3.5bn range while businesses supporting agriculture close and unemployment rises – and we haven’t even begun to talk about wild fires.  This short video produced by the New York Times provides a brief overview of the problem, in particular the images of drained reservoirs is alarming:

New York Times on the drought in California

Soaring food prices in our grocery stores are inevitable.  Warm and fuzzy reasons aside, investing in our local food economy will help build a sustainable food network that will lesson the impact of what happens elsewhere in the country, on us.  How’s THAT for a reason to buy local?

Resources: New York Times

Pamela is passionate about sustainable agriculture and supporting local farms.  She started South Shore Organics four years ago and has steadily grown the service to provide a reliable marketing source for local farmers and the crops they grow.  

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ― Dr. Seuss

Biodiversity – Restoring Ecosystems for a Livable Climate

biodBy Pam Denholm

Two weeks ago in our newsletter, we wrote about a conference we attended on Climate change, and we shared some of the key takeaways: we still have time, we need to regenerate, not just sustain, and everybody can help. We said we would share some practical projects in forthcoming newsletters, many of you will already have employed these practices in your home. We encourage you to share the newsletter with a friend or neighbor, or perhaps implement one of these initiatives within your community: school, church, community garden etc.

This week, we tackle garden diversity as a project. “Biological diversity, an abundance of plants and creatures great and small, provides ecological insurance. A stable, more resilient environment allows more life to flourish. Increased biodiversity, in turn, results in yet greater ecosystem stability and a more hopeful future for all life, including humans.” Excerpt from Bio4Climate.org. The truth of the matter is, everything works together, the more diverse our environment is, the stronger and more resilient it is genetically speaking. Think of the Great Famine of Ireland of 1740, wherein farmers lost most of their potato crop to blight, causing the population of an entire country to shrink by half as people either starved, or left their birthplace in search of food. One crop, planted over thousands of acres, ravaged by one disease. That was nearly 300 years ago, and we are much smarter now! Or, are we? Now think of how many acres are under corn crop in the U.S. – and take it one step further, since 90% of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, think of how many millions of acres we have under just one genetic strain of corn.

I always like to bring it home for you too, and last week we spoke about grass in your gardens, and why, whilst some open grass space is invaluable for our families, it is important to reduce our lawn foot print as much as possible. With as many acres in residential gardens and parks as there is farmland under production in the U.S., we should be doing our bit to preserve genetic and biological diversity in our gardens as far as possible, and creating safe havens where life, insects who are our pollinators and soil rehabilitators, perennial plants with deep tap root systems, mushrooms, and our children and families, can thrive.

That means, not using any pesticides her herbicides, or at the very least, limiting use as far as possible and using sustainable, environmentally friendly products whenever possible. It also means nurturing our soil, composting our waste, and celebrating the value of weeds. We need a perception shift of what is beautiful. One of the most diverse and productive gardening systems out there is permaculture. The definition of permaculture is ‘a system of perennial planting emphasizing the use of renewable natural resources and the enrichment of local ecosystems’. You can take this philosophy to any level, whether it’s a container garden you have, or two acres, or fifty. Here are some basic principles that you can easily implement this summer:

  • Create a composting system
  • Implement a low-waste watering system (rain barrels, grey water from the house, or drip irrigation)
  • Familiarize yourself with the sunlight, rain, and wind patterns of your garden, and use those to to plant efficiently – get into the observing frame of mind
  • Create food ‘mini-forests’ that yield seasonal fruits, nuts, berries, and other foods, and pick native perennials whenever possible. Plant as many different kinds of plants as possible.
  • Companion plant: plant garlic near your fruit trees, marigolds near your tomatoes, and anything that has similar resource needs – clump them together putting the most high maintenance plants closest to the house
  • It’s all in the design. Google ‘permaculture design’ and then be prepared to get lost down the rabbit hole for HOURS.
  • Don’t leave soil bare, cover it with a mulch – and try to avoid chemically treated and dyed mulches. There are many, very attractive mulches available that are also ecologically safe

 

Welcome to Wildcard Wednesday!

(and yes, I was just channeling the “Let’s get Ready to Rumble” guy…)

I’m just going to come right out and say it…we are total food geeks here at Nourish to Flourish (N2F for short!). We can go on and on about the beautiful parsnips that came in this week, or how we are anxiously awaiting the first amazing taste of those local strawberries we’ll see soon. But we know that we are not alone, many of you in our N2F community have that same zeal for all things fresh, local and delish, and so we want to hear from you on how you are making the most of your N2F bag.

Wildcard Wednesday (see, you’re hearing the “rumble guy” now too aren’t you…) is a way for our entire N2F community to share a recipe on Facebook utilizing our wildcard for the week. It can be a tried and true recipe or something completely new, anything goes. We’ll kick it off each Wednesday with one of our staff members posting how they utilized the item and then feel free to join in the fun by either trying the same recipe and posting your results, or adding something new.

One of the most common reasons we hear when someone ends their subscription (gasp!) is that they are unable to utilize all that beautiful produce in their bag each week. Those of you who are experienced seasonal cooks; we need your posts so that some of our newer community members can learn how to enjoy the full bounty of their bag each week. And those of you that decided to join our community not yet having the confidence you’d be able to cook all of it but are determined to eat a healthier diet while supporting our environment, this is the place to try something new and get the encouragement you need…we are all in this together!

I’m the perfect person to start this off as I admit I am an average cook. Of course, I am married to a man who is often referred to as “Emeril, Jr.” so it’s tough competition around here. Our wildcard for the week are the rolled oats from Maine Grains (www.MaineGrains.com). As a Wellness Coach I love these for their great nutritional profile – lots of soluble fiber so their energy hits your bloodstream at a slow and steady pace; protein to keep you satiated; good source of the major minerals magnesium and phosphorous. But what’s not to love about this company…their mission is to provide a high quality, locally sourced grain, while at the same time ensuring a positive impact on both the environment and local economy. Check them out, I know you’ll see that it is a product and story like this that makes N2F so special…good food, good health and good deeds!

I’ve posted our first Wildcard Wednesday to Facebook…Maple Banana Nut Granola, let me know if you try it yourself or share a favorite homemade granola recipe of your own!

Be Well,
Terry

MapleBananaNutGranola

Never Miss a Monday

NMMWe’ll be bringing you simple, doable health and wellness tips every Monday, so I had to pick one of my favorite motivational sayings, “Never miss a Monday” as the title of our weekly posting, and of course, as our first tip!

I truly love this not only for it’s inspiration, but there is some real science behind it. A good example is a 2014 study in the journal “Obesity Facts” that found people who lost or maintained their weight over a long period of time would show slight weight gain on a Sunday or Monday, but were then able to recalibrate during the week. The key is that they indulged just a little so as to keep a flexible and enjoyable eating pattern but started out the new week being more diligent to reverse any possible gains.

Let’s Do it! Pick one wellness goal you have and ensure that no matter what, you complete that goal every Monday. Couldn’t fit in your run over the weekend because you were cheering on your kiddos at a soccer tournament… no problem, Sunday night put those running shoes on top of your bureau, nightstand, kitchen table, anywhere you’ll see them first thing. Once you’ve checked off one session you’ll be much more motivated to get out there again. Personally, I put a reminder in all caps in my calendar with this exact saying so that it pops up Sunday afternoon…it really helps me get away from the Sunday night blah’s and instead refocuses me on something positive I will be doing for myself…try it and let me know how it goes!

Be Well!
Terry

March 23, 2015

How Plants will Save the World

plantsBy Pam Denholm

Two weeks ago in our newsletter, we wrote about a conference we attended on Climate change, and we shared some of the key takeaways: we still have time, we need to regenerate, not just sustain, and everybody can help. We said we would share some practical projects in forthcoming newsletters, many of you will already have employed these practices in your home. We encourage you to share the newsletter with a friend or neighbor, or perhaps implement one of these initiatives within your community: school, church, community garden etc.

The area around a plants’ root is a densely populated zone, where roots compete with invading roots sytems of neighboring plants, and other soil-borne organisms, including bacteria and fungi. Root-to-root and root-to-microbe communications are continuous in this biologically active zone. All green plants jumpstart the process by absorbing carbon in the gaseous form of carbon dioxide out of the air, and water out of the ground to make sugars or carbohydrates. Some of the sugars will be used for all sorts of things for its own growth and development, and will be transformed into fats, antioxidants and phyto-chemicals. BUT a lot of the sugars (and amino acis, proteins, organic acids, phenolics etc) will be exuded by the roots into the surrounding soil as a way of ‘hiring help’ from bacteria, fungi, and countless other organisms in the soil community. Plants, are essentially farmers too.

It is through the above processes that as much as half of the carbon the plant draws from the atmosphere, will ultimately be exuded underground and enter the bodies of microbial organisms.   When these organisms die, a further process turns them into complex humic compounds that resist oxidation and endure centuries underground. Essentially, plants in healthy, humic soil pull carbon from the atmosphere and store it underground for centuries. This process of drawing in carbon dioxide as a gas, and pumping that carbon underground as liquid carbon compounds has tied up carbon in the past, and can do so in the future. To enable this process to deal with as much carbon dioxide however, we need to all do our bit, and here’s how you can help:

  • Firstly, nurture the soil in your garden, feed it compost and manure and AVOID chemical fertilizers (particularly nitrogen and phosphorous), because they have a toxic impact on decomposer organisms – we covered composting in the previous two newsletters
  • Use perennial plants and grasses whenever possible. Plants that live longer lives provide better shelter and generally have deeper root systems, which is vital in drawing carbon deeper into the soil.
  • Only use annuals in 10% of your garden for accents, or only use them for emergency cover crops to cover up bare soil (mulches can also be used for this purpose)
  • Use no till methods in your gardens
  • Work towards a biodiverse garden (to be covered in a future newsletter)
  • Add carbonaceous materials to soils, such as biochar (biochar will also be covered in a future newsletter)
  • Choose to support organic and sustainable farming methods whenever possible.

OUR LAWNS CAN BE A PRIMARY TARGET

We all know we should reduce lawn spaces in our gardens. There are more acres under residential garden, than there is under farmland in the U.S. – think for a moment on the ramifications of that statement. We hold our farmers to a high standard, but each of us can have just as big an impact. We do have to concede that lawns are useful spaces for families to enjoy being outside, so, we have attached an infographic of root systems for your information. The most common lawn grass planted today is Kentucky Blue Grass, featured far left. See how short the roots are? It is not a very efficient carbon trapper, and nor is it particularly drought resistant. It is popularly promoted by grass companies who know you will be coming back for seed year after year. Compare it to the Buffalo Grass on the far right, which is easily mowed, very drought resistant, and excellent at carbon trapping. This simple change, can have a big impact!

 

Compost: How to Make Good-Old Fashioned Dirt

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.17.13 AMBy Pam Denholm

Last week in our newsletter, we wrote about a conference we attended on Climate change, and we shared some of the key takeaways: we still have time, we need a call to action, we need to regenerate, not just sustain, and everybody can help. We said we would give some practical projects in forthcoming newsletters, so that we can provide to tools to anyone who so desires, to participate. Many of you will already have employed these practices in your home, we encourage you to share the newsletter with a friend or neighbor, or perhaps implement one of these initiatives within your community: school, church, community garden etc.

Why compost? Well, we are losing topsoil at 2-4 tons per acre on cropland in the US – Mother Nature takes hundreds of years to create topsoil, but we can do it more quickly through composting. Our solution to this problem is thusly two-fold: we need to convert farming or organic methods that manage soil quality in our food system (vote with your dollars), and we need to do our bit at home. If each home in the U.S. had a compost bin, we would generate millions of tons of fertile dirt every year. So here’s how:

  1. Choose a Location and a Container – a good location is one that is not far from your house. Keep your pile in a shady area to prevent it from drying out. If you live in a city, think about investing in a closed bin to keep out unwanted critters and pests. You can use a trash barrel, a feed bin, or a three sided bin that gives you easy access. A three-sided bin is easy to make, all you need is three pallets, and some screws.
  2. Use a Recipe – Stick to a ratio of three parts brown to one part green, and add them in layers – whenever you add green material, cover it up with a good amount of brown (see key for reference). Your pile will reduce in volume by one third in approximately one week.
  3. Know What Not to Compost – no raw or cooked proteins (meats, cheeses, and fish). No bones, grains or bread, oils, pet poop (grazer poop is fine: bunnies, horses, goats etc but nothing from pets who have high protein diets like cats and dogs), no cat litter, diseased plants, chemically treated grass or plants. Weed are controversial – some people say don’t add them because seeds might survive and contaminate any area you spread your compost on, but it is safe to compost weeds that have not gone to seed.
  4. Add Oxygen and Moisture – Microorganisms in your compost pile need fresh air to live and function. You should ‘turn’ your compost pile one to three times per week (less in winter, thank goodness) by either rolling the drum, or inserting a pitchfork or metal bar into the bin and mixing it up a bit. The pile should always feel like a damp sponge. If it’s too dry, add some water or take off the bins cover in a rainstorm. If it’s too wet, add brown materials or take the bin’s cover off in nice weather to allow it to dry out.
  5. Finishing – It will take about a year for the process to finish. After five to seven months, you should start to see compost (new soil) forming.       This is a good time to turn your pile completely to give all materials a chance to be in the core of your pile where the heat is most concentrated. Around this time, you should stop adding materials and let your compost break down completely. This is a good time to start a new pile. You can sift your original pile when it looks like dirt.
  6. Apply Compost – Your compost should be full of plant growing nutrients. Compost can be mixed with existing soil to improve soil quality as a soil amendment, placed around the base of individual plants as a mulch, or added to a seed-starting mix. One handful of compost per vegetable plant is a good rule to go buy when starting your garden in the spring time.

 

How to get kids and vegetables at the same table

By Bethany Whitemeyer

Every parent I meet, be it socially or through my workplace at Bright Horizons Preschool,  would agree that eating well is a goal for their family. No parent sets out to have a child that eats only macaroni and cheese, or chicken nuggets. Learning to eat a balanced and varied diet doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen!

One of the best ways to encourage young children to try new foods is to let them be a part of the process of preparing them. When children know where their food comes from and have a chance to talk about it and learn about it we find that they are much more willing to try it. So instead of just preparing fruits and vegetables and serving them to your family on a plate, be sure to involve everyone in getting them ready.

N2F KidsApples - empire

In our South Shore Organics delivery last week we had BEAUTIFUL purple carrots. I was so excited to share them with the Preschool and Kindergarten Prep children. I took a few other items from the bag, like an orange carrot, a few small tomatoes, two apples, a potato, and an avocado. I named each item for the children, then they helped me wash the vegetables. This part was fun on its own! Our sinks in Preschool are nice and low, but with a step stool and the right tools your children can help with this at home too. After the vegetables were clean we spent some time making predictions. We guessed if the produce would be the same color on the inside as it was on the outside. Then we guessed which of our items would have seeds. Everyone had a chance to participate in the conversation, even if there initial contribution was “I don’t want to touch that.”

After we explored the outside of the produce I cut the items in half and we looked at the color and determined if there were seeds. Then I cut a few very thin slices of the carrot and potato for each child. We held them up to the light to see the pattern more closely. After they looked at the slices everyone took a bite of their purple carrot. Everyone tried it, and most of them liked it. Then we ate the apple and the orange carrot too. The key to our success that was we took our time and everyone had a choice. If they didn’t like the carrot slices they could have the apple slices instead. Or they could have both! Be sure to give your child lots of choices. The children also thought it was fun to try things together. It was almost as if they drew courage from each other. Try to share meals with your family and friends regularly. Your whole family might learn something, and you might teach something to your friends.

N2F Kids 3carrots bunched

Bethany Whitemyer is the Center Director at the Bright Horizons in Pembroke. She holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Political Science from UMASS Amherst and a Masters’ Degree in Education from Lesley University. Bethany has worked with young children and their families since 1992. She lives in Rockland with her husband David, sons Evan and Lucas, and cats Cleo and Sunny. Some of Bethany’s favorite activities are knitting, reading, baking, and gardening.