Thursday, April 24, 2014

What's In My Garden Now? Not much!

What a slow spring!  My lettuce mix and spinach are about 1 inch tall and my sugar snap peas are about 4 inches tall.  Red potatoes are coming up nicely, at about 6 inches, perhaps because most of their activity is subterranean where the temps are more steady.  The beet seeds are just beginning to sprout.

When our real spring does arrive, however, I am ready with yellow squash, zucchini, banana pepper, cucumber, and cantaloupe seedlings in the greenhouse.  Today, I bought tomato plants and am keeping them in the greenhouse as morning temps have still been in the 40s.  I also plan to start Brussels sprouts and beefsteak tomato plants from seed.

I went out on a limb and put the green and red pepper starts in the ground today.  I plant them and then put a black 1 to 3 gallon pot with the bottom cut out around the plant, to radiate the warmth back to the plant for now and to hold water when I have to hand water in late summer.

Some asparagus tips are emerging and that will be a great garden fresh side very soon.  Making half our plate fruits and veggies starts NOW with garden planning and planting!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Make NO Choice the Healthy Choice?

There is a popular phrase in nutrition education circles:  Make The Healthy Choice The Easy Choice.  But sometimes having too many choices can be the cause of dietary indecision, dietary indiscretion or dietary information overload.  In terms of diet, this can lead to a "bad" choice.  In these cases, no choice might be the healthy choice.

Dietary Indecision:  When overwhelmed by choices, we sometimes choose to just say "forget it" and eat later, grabbing something on the run or skipping a meal entirely, setting us up for unhealthy choices.
Dietary Indiscretion:  With many choices for a meal, we sometimes pick and nibble and never quite get that balanced, healthy meal.

Dietary Information Overload:  When we know there are many choices, we think through the pros and cons of each (sweet, salty, filling, fattening, quick, connoisseur) and never make a decision, spending our precious meal time analyzing rather than eating.

The breakfast meal highlights the problem of too many choices.  When hurried, it may be better to have a plan or a limited list of go-to options to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Think about it the night before when your head is clear.  Make a menu, "If it's Tuesday, it must be oatmeal."  Some people eat the same thing for breakfast every day.  Not too exciting, but they never miss a breakfast - the most important meal of the day.  This plan can help you with portion control, calorie limits, and meal satisfaction.

This plan will help your children too as we know the many links between a healthy breakfast and academic performance, attention in school, attendance at school, and childhood obesity, to name just a few benefits of choosing the most important meal of the day.
If your breakfast is broken, try having no (or just a few) choices as the healthy choice!  Make it easy and set yourself up for success.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Eat. Clean. Repeat.

As the primary meal planner, preparer, and provider, do you ever feel like the cycle of meal preparation, eating, cleaning up, and doing dishes is ENDLESS?  Add to that cutting coupons, making lists, shopping, unloading, and putting away and it can seem like quite a chore to provide meals for your family.  And if you "grow your own" at all, you can add planning, digging, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, freezing, canning and more to that.

It's no wonder eating out is on the rise.

Let's look at just one of those meal related tasks - couponing.  A recent study of online coupons discovered that just 4% were for fruits and veggies.  Prepared meals were covered by 14% of available coupons and, no surprise, 25% of coupons were for snacks, candies and desserts.  The authors posed that grocers can, in fact, influence dietary patterns.
Just like the advice to not buy unhealthy foods - as in, if you don't buy them, you won't eat them - and healthy meals come from healthy shopping carts - don't cut coupons for unhealthy foods.

Similarly, let mainstream dietary advice be the influence on your dietary patterns - make half your plate fruits and veggies.  Make half your grains whole grains.  In this case, in a much more positive, pro-active way, you have to buy it to eat it.  If you fill up your plate (or your shopping cart) with the good stuff, you might find you don't have room for the unhealthy stuff.

Source:  Preventing Chronic Disease, 2013