Eating Greens Does the Body Good!

We all know we should eat more leafy greens.   I was told that for years and I brushed it off for later in life.   I mean, who wants to really eat a sad side salad with iceberg lettuce and carrot shavings?  No-one does.  No-One.  But the truth is that leafy greens are truly amazing for a healthy balanced diet.

IMG_2218First off, they are high in nutrient and mineral content while being very low in calories and fat.  This means you can pile them high on a plate and you’ll get full before you start packing on the extra lbs.   All leafy greens are charged with loads of vitamins like A, C, and E, and minerals like Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Potassium.  Vitamin C alone has a major impact on the bodies ability to burn fat.  Low levels of vitamin C appear to hamper the bodies ability to shed fat.  Think of it this way…its not the salads that help you loose weight, its the high nutrient content that is allowing the body to function as designed!

IMG_0285Another thing we need in our diet is fiber, and greens contain fiber in spades.   Fiber is not digested by the body but it helps the body in many ways.   It helps with satiation.  You will feel fuller, longer, when you’re consuming enough fiber in your meals.  Beyond being fuller, it will help slow the absorption of sugars which helps regulate your blood sugar levels.  No more crashing when you’re eating enough fiber!

When you’re consuming a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber from your food sources you’ll notice a few things.  You will have increased cognitive function, increased energy, increased weight loss, and an overall more youthful appearance!  Who doesn’t want that?

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All greens bring something to the table, but the darker the greens, the more mineral and nutrient content.  So don’t shy away from Kale, Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Collards and other greens like that.  And of course Microgreens!   Microgreens are more nutrient and mineral dense than even the fully grown leafy greens so make sure they are a part of your meal planning as well.  Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, and Kohlrabi Microgreens are the darkest of our micros, so they are always a good choice to really boost your nutritional intake!  Plus they all taste great.

At first you’ll wonder how you can eat all of these greens.  But, after a while you’ll find yourself looking for even more greens.   We have been actively adding greens to our meals for 3 years now and there hasn’t been a meal without some sort of greens on the plate.   Bringing color and beauty to the plate, when you eat greens regularly, you’ll really miss them when they aren’t on the plate.

 

Our Recycled Kitchen Garden

Spring kicks off this week and we are excited to get our outdoor garden space in order!  The beds are thawing out and all of the snow is melted.   As soon as these temps heat up, we will be in business!  We wanted to take a moment and shine a spotlight on all of the free and recycled or repurposed materials used to create our extensive kitchen garden!

When you’re establishing a garden for your family, there are lots of great free materials out there!  With our growing homestead, our budget is light so we have to be very thrifty while expanding.  Every penny counts, and who really has extra money to throw into a garden these days?

Here are all of the free and repurposed materials that we were able to acquire and incorporate into our outdoor garden space:

  • Raised Beds – We were able to come across some old barn wood that was gifted to us by a neighbor.  We created almost 250 linear feet of 3 feet wide raised beds.   The lumber was 1″ x 12″, so it was a little flimsy for the longer beds but all in all the lumber worked great and the cost was right….free!IMG_0134
  • Curved Raised Beds – After the barn wood was gone, we had a family friend that replaced their deck, and gifted us their old Trex Decking!  We installed a curved bed around our walkway and will be adding another bed around the exterior of the dome that will be planted with pollinator attracting flowers!img_0551.jpg
  • Wood Chip Mulch – All in all we had 6 dump truck loads of wood chips delivered.  After the raised beds were in, we filled in-between with the wood mulch.  The mulch ranged from 1′ deep to almost 2′ deep which has done a wonderful job of smothering the weeds and grass that we installed the garden over!  All of your arborists in town would love to deliver their wood chips to your yard for free instead of paying any kind of dump fee.  Call around and you’ll find them for free…delivered too.IMG_2445
  • Raised Bed Soil – We are lucky when it comes to our bed filling.  We are able to compost our microgreen soil and then use that material to fill our rasised beds.  The material is awesome potting soil that needs just a little compost added to make a great mix for our outdoor garden space!IMG_2326
  • Then there are the materials, pots and equipment.  Shovels, rakes, hoes, and other gardening tools are easy to find at garage sales or by scouring craiglist.  We were gifted some large planter pots from our family.  There are always pots being given away.  Be patient and ready to pounce when free items come available.img_0691.jpg

Thats pretty much the basics for a small garden.  And all for free.  All repurposed and recycled materials.  The food that is grown is top notch too.  Now lets see what we spent money on.

  • Geodesic Dome Greenhouse – We spent way too much money on our dome.   Its a great space for our personal gardening but it was expensive.  We saved lots of money over purchasing a kit greenhouse, but it was still an expensive build for our family.   We now use it for our personal produce more than a commercial space, which works for us, but we could really use more commercial greenhouse space.  If we started our farm before building this, we would have gone with hoop houses to increase the space, but we have an amazing small space for our family!cropped-img_0130-2.jpg
  • Fence Posts and Deer Screening – 10 Wood Posts, 10 Metal T Posts and 6′ Deer Screening was purchased in order to fence in our garden space.  Under $100 and the deer no longer have access.  We were able to find the screening on the facebook marketplace for a deep discount too!  Now we have roughly 1/10th of an acre fenced in.img_2229.jpg
  • Finished Compost – We have a compost area, but just not enough space to provide enough quality compost that we add to our raised beds prior to planting.  This gives our garden all the organic materials that it will need to produce all summer long!img_0126.jpg

With a few changes, mainly the greenhouse structure, we could have a huge garden space for under a couple thousand dollars including a greenhouse space.  If you want just a simple outdoor garden space, it can be almost free!  Its fun to re-use materials and grow your own food.  Don’t let your budget control your food growing aspirations.  Even a container garden on your patio can grow some amazing produce!

Check Facebook and Craiglist along with your local classifieds ads for fun materials that could be repurposed into a garden.   Check with friends and neighbors for anything they want to get rid of.  Call your arborists in town and schedule your first delivery of wood chips.  Get a shovel and a wheel barrel and start on the sweat equity.

 

 

Microgreen Guacamole!

IMG_0942We have been talking a lot about the versatility of micro-greens in the kitchen.   Really the only thing you need to avoid is heat exposure, so they are really useful in the kitchen.  They go way beyond sandwich and salad toppers.  One of our favorite uses is to wow people with our homemade dips and sauces.  The fan favorite to date is by far the guacamole with our cilantro micro-greens!

Micro-greens are perfect to blend into any sauce, and in this case they smash well into some homemade guacamole.  The huge flavor in these small micro-greens really work well with guac because they are delicate enough to mix into the creamy avocados, but the flavor comes through with every bite!

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Here is what you will need to make this amazing dish:
– 2 Ripe Avocados
– 1 Lime – squeezed fresh
– 1/4 cup Diced Red Onion
– Garlic Powder – just a dash
– Onion Powder – Just a dash
– Salt – Just a dash
– Cilantro Micros – add to taste

Start with the avocados.  Find the most ripe ones and dice them into a bowl.  Then we add some diced red onion.  For the spices we add a dash of onion and garlic powder and salt to your taste.  Then squeeze 1 lime into the bowl and place the cilantro greens (with seed husk) on top and mix all of the ingredients together with a  fork.  We use lots of cilantro micros, but feel free to add as little or as much as you like.  It doesn’t take too long before the guac is creamy and ready to go to the fridge.  This would also be the time to add any other toppers you may enjoy like diced tomatoes or salsa.

Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the fridge to cool.  After chilling, this guac is going to be ready for your toast, chips, tacos, or even to eat by the spoonful.  This simple guacamole is a game changer.  Be a party hero and bring some superfood guacamole to your next get together!IMG_0431

 

 

Microgreens and Smoothies…A Perfect Pair!

A few years back our family made a big push to incorporate more fruit into our diet. Our kids always like snacking on fruit, and due to our food allergies, we don’t have typical snack food in the house. The go to for them is almost always a banana or an apple…or two. We found that my wife and I weren’t eating enough fruit though. We always enjoyed smoothies, so we made the goal of eating one big smoothie each day.

IMG_0409After a while we discovered that microgreens mix perfectly in a smoothie. Their delicate texture and powerful taste blend well with all sorts of smoothie recipes. Their big nutritional value also boosts the vitamin and mineral content too!

Our go to smoothie base is 2 bananas, 1/2 lemon fresh squeezed, and roughly 12 oz filtered water. From there we typically add a cup or two of frozen fruit. Wild blueberries are always in the freezer so that’s what we use most often. If we want to mix things up we may add mango, strawberries or raspberries too. We also like to add an avocado if it’s more like a meal. Then come the greens. A little or a lot.  Its up to you, but we typically use  a heaping handful!

The mild varieties like Kale, Broccoli, Kohlrabi and Red Cabbage all mix well with fruit smoothies, much like spinach or full leaf kale. The Sunflower Shoots have a higher fat content which pairs well with the avocado for a creamier smoothie. The pea shoots really push the flavor with big pea taste. We shy away from the spicier varieties because the taste is so big, but if you want a smoothie with a kick, try arugula, mustard or wasabi!

IMG_1474Microgreens are fun to play with in the kitchen and know that no matter how you add them to your diet, you’re doing your body good! We all could use extra vitamins and minerals, and microgreens are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! That’s why their really a perfect pair with fruit smoothie.

Oh, and if you have kids like ours, they love ice cream. Instead of using fresh peeled bananas, use frozen ones and instead of water just just a splash of coconut milk. Throw in the avocado, microgreens and berries and you’ll have a really nutritious ice cream snack. Go ahead and have an extra bowl! It’s good for you!

Proud to be Colorado Proud!

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If you live in Colorado, you have seen the Colorado Proud stickers around the grocery  store.  There are lots of great products that proudly display this sticker on their packaging.  When you see this sticker, you can be assured that it was produced within the State of Colorado.  We are excited to announce that our micro-greens  are now certified Colorado Proud and will be showing off this colorful logo soon!

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“Better for you, better for Colorado” is their motto.   Colorado Proud is a program within
the Department of Agriculture that was developed in 1999. The goal is to make it easier for the consumer to locate Colorado Food and Agriculture products, as well as raise awareness of the benefits of shopping local.

Shopping Local is trending right now, and for good reason.  Shopping local supports local small businesses.  And in this case, it supports local farms.   When you spend your dollar locally, it creates a stronger local economy and fosters a closer community.   Since there is less transporting and shipping local goods, the carbon footprint of locally produced food and goods are much more sustainable for the environment.  Colorado Proud also wants to keep Colorado Unique, stating that when you shop local you get better and more persoanlized customer service.   And in todays day and age, with all of the food recalls from massive farms and production facitlities, its better than ever to “Know Your Farmer” and shop locally.   When you support a large farm, your support is unlikely to be noticed by that large business.  But when you support a small local farm, you’re helping pay their mortgage or send their kids to college.   Think of that impact on the local economy.

img_0193In order to qualify to be Colorado Proud Certified, the product must be grown, raised or processed within Colorado.  All fresh produce must be grown in Colorado and livestock must be raised in Colorado.  All value added items must be made in a commercial kitchen in Colorado and procucers are encouraged to use Colorado grown products as well.  This means that our new cottage foods items will not be adorning these lovely stickers…but you bet we will be having them all over our micro-greens!

This is a wonderful program that really helps spotlight our local producers, and they have the stats to back that up.  When the program was launched in ’99, only 59% of respondents recognized the CO Proud logo.  In a recent poll, that awareness rose to 72%!  Additionally, they note that 90% of consumers polled would purchase products from Colorado if the option was available!

I encourage you to check out the Colorado Proud website HERE.  You can search for Colorado Proud Certified companies like ours, find local farmers markets, check out the colorado produce calendar, and browse some popular recipes.  There are also links to find more about Colorado Agriculture, Colorado Forest Products, and local Agritourism opportunities.  You can even search for a local winery!  A great source for all things Colorado Proud!

New Compostable Packaging!

We are upping our packaging game! IMG_0269

Unfortunately, plastics are a necessity in the convenience based world we live in today.   Our packaging has always been recyclable, as well as made from recycled materials, but we found a way to lessen our impact even further.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a photo on instagram of a farm using some plant based packaging and I started on our hunt for something better for us to use.  What I found was amazing.  Not only were there plant based options but we found ones at World Centric that were 100% plant based.  They are also 100% compostable.  And even better then that…World Centric uses third party certification to verify all of their products!

First off, World Centric is a B-Corporation, which puts them in good company like Patagonia Outdoor Apparel.  According to http://www.bcorporation.net, there are only 2,655 companies, representing 150 industries across 60 countries. Working with the USDA Biopreferred Program, they certify that their products are produced with renewable plant materials.  The Biodegradable Product Institute is a non-profit that certifies that the product will meet the USDA requirements to actually compost.  In addition to their certifications, they also are a member of 1% For the Plant which means 1% of their annual sales are donated directly to an approved environmental or sustainable non-profit organization.  They are also a Green America Certified Business which certifies that their  business is used as a platform for positive social change.  And if that isn’t enough…they also donate a large portion of their pre-tax profit to many global grass roots program.

All of this information is listed on their webpage, which I fully encourage you to check out.   They have lots of information of how to be an informed consumer and why these kinds of products are necessary.  If you’re ordering products for your business, please look for yourself.   Their list of products are endless, the prices are competitive and everything ships fast and safe!

Check them out at worldcentric.com, but more specifically, check this link out that relates directly to becoming a more informed consumer. (World Centric – Tools for Conscious Living).

When you find good companies like this one, its worth sharing about them.   We are fully impressed thus far with our experience and are thankful that there are thoughtful companies like World Centric to support our small business.

 

How To Eat Microgreens

There are a few repeat questions that I get at every farmers market, and they tend to focus on “how do you eat these?” or “are these just for salads?”.  The answer is always “Yes, they are great for adding to a salad, but they are really amazing added to any dish!”

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Microgreens are delicate and they need to be treated with a little care, but they are not hard to cook with or add into any dish.  Because they are delicate, its important to not introduce to heat.  They should be added after the meal is cooked and starting to cool.  We like to serve dinner plated and have good selection of microgreens to choose from at the center of the table, just like dressing or salt and pepper.  In cooler meals, like cold pasta salad or sushi rolls, the greens can be added right into the mix.  Same thing with salads.  Feel free to mix them in with your salad greens or sprinkle on top.

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We like to think of them as a nutritional supplement and use them to meet our daily requirements of many vitamins and minerals.  For instance, broccoli microgreens are likely the most nutritious greens that we grow.  Just 2 oz of these greens have the nutritional density of 2.5 lbs of broccoli flourettes.   When you’re using microgreens at every meal, you’re really just adding a little more nutrition every time you eat.   That adds up!  Just one small package is like consuming an extra 2 or 3 lbs of broccoli by the end of the week.

Plus, after a while, the plate just seems lacking without a splash of green or purple.  Once you get hooked, they are hard to quit.  But who doesn’t need a new healthy habit for the new year?

 

My road to healing part 3: how to feel better

-Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

How to feel better?

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Start small. Do what you can. Have compassion for yourself.

Identify one part of your food habit that you know you should change AND then change it.  For me: it was dairy. Giving up dairy helped me to realize that I was sick and that I could feel better.  Look up the requirements for how long you need to completely avoid that food to know if it is contributing.  Dairy is a complete avoidance for 2-4 weeks. If you mess up, you have to start over. AND you need to know where that food hides. The milk protein casein hides in many things.  Did you know there is such a thing as vegan wine? Or that some non dairy coffee creamers have dairy? Or they use dairy in sausage cassing?

For dairy, there are three main proteins: lactose (which everyone knows), casein, whey. Funny enough, lactose never made me feel sick. So don’t use that as your baseline.

People say to me: “BUT CHEESE? I love cheese!”.  My response? I didn’t love my back pain. I didn’t love my: fatigue, depression, stiffness, hip pain, knee pain, leg pain, asthma, ringing in my ears…… ALL things I didn’t know I could change. My life is so much better without those food choices. And if we continue to advocate for change in the food we eat, we will see more people get better. We will see more restaurants serving food that support healthy minds and bodies.

Ask your loved ones to support you. Staying away from dairy was easier at first because Matt kept it out of the house.

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Living without dairy is easy: there are plant milks, coconut oil, you can make cashews into different kinds of cheese/cream/spread, bananas make the perfect ice cream. All of these choices are cheeper too! Plus I don’t feel terrible anymore.

 

Living without wheat, corn, soy. Read labels. Make your own food. Buy some gluten free bread from Little Red Hen.  On a daily basis I make a choice to feel better. I would rather not eat for the day than have food that will make me sick. Because my body has what it needs to function, I don’t feel terribly hungry any more. I don’t have hangery moments, or hunger crashes, or times where I HAVE TO EAT!!!!!

Add in living, nutrient dense food. You have a lot to make up for. Bananas, blueberry smoothies, lemons, apples, cauliflower, broccoli, peas. Of course: Microgreens!!! Grow your own lettuce, veggies, lemons, herbs.  It’s easy to grow your food. Why take care of a small 4×4 grass space in your yard that serves no purpose? Make it a garden instead.

Support your local farmer.

Support your local restaurant that uses food from the local farmer and not just food from the food truck….. unless it’s The Valley Roots Food Hub.

Don’t let people get to you. We only have this one life. I want to live this life without: fatigue, pain, depression, ringing in my ears, ridges in my nails, sickness. I want to live this life with: energy and laughter.  And for the last few years, I have been doing just that.

Thank you to my wonderful husband Matt for his drive to bring nutrient dense food to his family, to his community, and to inspire other farmers/gardeners to do the same. It’s time to make a change.

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My road to healing part 2: why would food matter?

– Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

Why would food matter?

I always ask my patients: would you put 85 octane in your high performance vehicle?

This is why microgreens are vital toour food system and to our health. They help us to clean out the sludge and waste created by us putting 85 into our bodies. THEN they help us to maintain our health in a world where pollution is in our air, water, ground.

SO – how did I know I was sick? All the symptoms I described in part one, are pretty common. I was still functioning well as a child and a teenager. I did ok in school. I was First Team All Conference for basketball and held the record for average number of steals per game. I rarely missed a 3-pointer. I helped my soccer team make it to state 3 times…… but it was the back pain. The back pain became too much.

In college, there would be days that I couldn’t get out of bed. The pain was so intense that Matt would have to help me up. Then I was literally hit by truck, and the pain improved. A few years later, the back pain returned. For 3-4 years I searched for why. I was put on Vit D, had MRIs, X-rays, more blood tests…… nothing. “You are fine. You need to stand up straight, that will help”. Convinced I had lyme disease or rheumatoid arthritis or Fibromyalgia, I found a physician in Denver that saved my life. She had a specialty in arthritic conditions: her diagnosis? Potentially fibromyalgia. And then she started talking about medication. And I said, “I’d rather deal with the back pain, joint pain, fatigue, depression, brain fog, stomach pain…”

“Well, if you are willing to not take medication, maybe you would be willing to change your diet”.

ummmmmm? What? – “Of course I would.”

“Dairy, wheat, corn, soy are the biggest food allergens that mimic musculoskeletal pain. Which one do you think it is?”

Dairy. It was dairy. Look up dairy allergies. My symptoms as a kid and teenager are well documented as a dairy allergy.

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Matt and I LOVED to stop for pizza and beers after skiing

I COMPLETELY gave up dairy.  Two weeks later AND no cheating, I had no pain. My fatigue, stiffness, tired legs, ringing in my ears, brittle nails, depression, etc all improved by 70% over the course of the next few years. I added this morning drink called RAW Organic Meal from Garden of Life to help get more nutrient dense food in my body.

A few years ago, I switched to a plant-based diet without wheat, corn, or soy. I added more fruit. I added microgreens. My food choices now are: what purpose does this food serve me? Is this food nutrient dense? And guess what? Nothing. I feel great. When I accidentally have something that has wheat or dairy my back starts to hurt, my ears ring,   my shoulder hurts. I’m tired. I feel stiff the next day. I’m not over reacting to the dairy. THIS WAS HOW I FELT 24-7.

Microgreens have helped me make up for all the nutritional deficiencies that were created by a diet high in dairy, wheat, corn, soy, all the other processed food, the standard American diet.

My road to healing part 3: how to feel better.

My road to healing part 1: Normalizing sickness

-Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

Normalizing sickness.

I was sick and I didn’t know it. Most of the life I remember, up until the last few years, was spent being sick. How can one be sick and not know it? Because sickness hides in what we normalize. Sickness hides in plain site and we become so used to it that we don’t realize we are sick.

How did I learn I was sick? One conversation with a physician started my life change over 6 years ago.  My road to healing and learning to listen to my body has been slow.  I made the changes I could, learned a little more, and then made more changes.  Microgreens have made a large impact in my life, and I am so thankful for my husband Matt for learning to grow these powerful plants.

What were some of the signs that I was sick? Looking back on my life, the signs are obvious, although my pictures look normal. But like I said: we have normalized being sick and we have allowed it to creep up on us.

As a kid: ear infections, urinary tract infections, growing pains, constipation, bed wetting, bloated tummy.

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Me at age 3

As a teenager: growing pains, knee pain, constipation, asthma, fatigue, depression, falling asleep at school (especially after lunch), lack of motivation for school, difficulty with endurance for sports, hard time with focused attention for reading, Raynaud’s, random pain in my feet and arms.

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Me at 18 years old in 2001

As a young adult: fatigue, feeling like I was hit by a truck when I would wake up, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, sleepy after lunch, stiff in the morning, tired after dinner, tired legs with walking up stairs/hiking/skiing, low Vit D levels, ridges in my finger nails, brittle nails, I had a tooth chip while eating soft food, Raynaud’s, depression, heartburn, ringing in my ears, random shooting pain in my feet, arm, wrist, neck, knees, legs.

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Matt & I skiing in 2010, just before I changed my life.

Now: nothing. I feel tired when my two kids (a 4 yr old and an almost 2 yr old) wake me multiple times per night and I only get 4-5 hours of sleep. BUT I would argue this would be a good excuse to feel tired. I eat some breakfast, drink some lemon water, have a cup of coffee, and then I’m no longer tired.

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My daughter and I in 2017

As I grew, my list of complaints got longer. My fatigue and body stiffness worsened. I was completely functional though! Society had normalized my feelings: “Oh, I’m stiff in the morning too!” or “It’s normal to be tired after eating, it means your food is digesting” or “Growing pains are such a bummer – I remember having those!”.  I ate fairly well for our society standard. I ate veggies and fruit, I had my dairy, I had my grains, and I had meat. Why would food matter?

My road to healing part 2: why would food matter?