May 29, 2009

Natural vs Organic Meats, the Difference

When it is affordable, we like to eat as naturally as possible and make an effort to do so...not perfectly, but we do quite well. We hear the terms "organic" and "natural" all the time, and it's "natural" to assume that both mean the same thing, but they don't.

I visited a Natural Beef website today, and found their explanation of the difference between the two to be very helpful information. Here is just a short quote, you will find much more detail if you visit the site:

Unfortunately, in the minds of many grocery store managers, consumers and federal agencies like the USDA, the words natural and organic meat often seem synonymous and interchangeable. For example, as long as the crops or meat have been minimally processed and produced free of growth hormones, antibiotics, food additives and artificial fertilizers, that product often falls into the natural or organic meat category. This definition says nothing about the conditions in which livestock are raised though.

If you are someone who is careful about the foods you eat, it is definitely a challenge to discern the truth behind the claims on the can be very deceptive for the busy mother who is looking quickly and putting things into the cart with a child carrying on and wanting to get out of the store, or the busy executive who shops on the run. I like the idea of shopping for Natural Beef and other natural or organic foods online when possible, because you can do so when things are quiet and you have time to read the details.

In years since this blog was first published, the term "grass fed beef" has become popular to distinguish natural beef. 

Updated 3/21/16

May 22, 2009

How to Chose a Ripe Delicious Watermelon

Today I cut into my first watermelon of the season. If you were to speak to the produce department in the food store where I shop, you'd know that I'm extremely fussy about my produce, especially my watermelon! The moment of cutting into the first one is filled with a bit of excitement and anticipation...I know, it's just a watermelon, but not to me, I LOVE watermelon!

Getting just the right watermelon can be a challenge. Here are a few things I do to make sure my watermelon is just right...on rare occasions, even after following all of my own rules, once in a while I get one that isn't all that good, but for the most part, these guidelines will help:

  • Pick a firm watermelon, should not give at all if you press your fingers on it.
  • Be suspicious of a watermelon with a dull surface
  • Be suspicious of a watermelon that seems light in weight for its size, it might be "spongy" and not juicy inside.
  • Knock on the watermelon, it should sound "hollow". Best to do this after you remove it from the pile of melons. In fact, it may even have a slight "jiggle" when you knock it, if there is such a word for something other than jello :-) telling you that it contains a lot of liquid.
  • The surface of the watermelon that sits on the ground will be slightly yellow.
  • Look over the surface for any small holes and bruises, they will quickly become rotten spots if you don't cut the watermelon right away.
Well, after typing that, I think I'm ready to go and get another piece of my first watermelon of the season, it's perfect!

Updated 3/21/16

May 16, 2009

Recipe: How to Cook Quinoa

Last month when we were in Lancaster, PA., we stopped in at a favorite health food store, "Millers", and I picked up a bag of Quinoa. I have read about this grain, and posted a bit about it at my website because it's protein-packed nutrient dense qualities interested me, but this was my first time purchasing some to prepare myself.

I decided to start simple, and it came out so good and delicious. Here's what I did:

  • Boil 1 3/4 cups of water with approx. a teaspoon of salt added...I use sea salt, it's better for you.
  • Only after the water reaches a rolling boil, add 1 cup of Quinoa
  • Turn the heat down so that grains just "roll" with the boil, but not so much that it bubbles over.
  • Cover the pan leaving just a crack for steam to vent from the pan
  • In 10-15 minutes, most of the water should be absorbed.
  • When there is just a very small amount of water left to be absorbed, fluff the Quinoa until the rest of the water is absorbed or evaporated.
  • Serve right away seasoning to taste, or refrigerate right away to stop the cooking process and save for later use.
To enjoy it as naturally as possible my first time, I just added a bit of butter, and it is very flavorful and delightful. I have some left that I would like to toss with a bit of chopped onion, tomato, maybe a little olive oil and a touch of vinegar, and whatever herbal seasoning suits my fancy at the time...maybe some dill. Here is a link to another more extensive page about Quinoa, a very versatile grain, that can be eaten as is, or added to salads and other dishes.

May 4, 2009

Hubby Going to the Heart Doctor This Week

This coming July, it will be 2 years since my husband suffered a heart attack, and had to have stents "installed" in two of his arteries. I shared the story in a few posts as it was happening back then, here are links to part 1, part 2, part 3 and the final post.

In the past couple of months, we have noticed that, even though he is walking every day and doing his best with diet, and keeping his diabetes under control the best he can, he has been experiencing a little shortness of breath. So needless to say we're a bit concerned, and hoping all will go well. I do feel badly for him, it is such a big job and responsibility to take care of yourself when you are a diabetic.

A few tips that we hear over and over, but can never hear enough related to caring for the heart:

  • Do some low-level exercise if you are not in shape enough to do more, moderate aerobic exercise is best for the heart.
  • Walk laps at a mall, some of them have indoor exercise walking areas now. My daughter uses a treadmill.
  • Do chair online and you'll find plenty!
  • Swim, outdoors or indoors.
  • Do some muscle toning exercise with elastic exercise bands.
  • Try to exercise for 30 minutes as many days a week as you can.
  • Build up gradually if you haven't exercised in a while.
  • Warm up and cool down properly when you exercise
Updated 3/21/16

May 3, 2009

Protecting Vegetables and Herbs from Animals

Just the other day I was looking out the window, admiring my tulips, when suddenly I realized that last year within 24 hours of their blooming, squirrels came and ate the tops right off several of the plants. So disappointing! So I went to the shed, and found my bottle of HavaHart repellent, and set the bottle to a fine spray, and quickly walked up and down the garden, spraying a light mist of the repellent on the plants. Whenever I use this natural formula, which is an animal repellent and a deer repellents I can be sure that it will work, it never has failed me yet.

We do have deer in the area, but we don't have as much trouble with them as we do with squirrels and woodchucks, and both of these are repelled by this spray. However, there was a year when we had a drought, and did have deer come down from the woods on the way to our lake, through the area I grow my vegetables, and then to my Daylilies where they proceeded to eat each tender flower of the plants. I was so very disappointed because the flowers are so beautiful.

Seek out natural products that are safe for your garden and property to protect your vegetable gardens, flower gardens and lawns, from deer, rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, and other creatures, plus the tools to help you spray the repellents over your property easily.

May 2, 2009

Two Favorite Salad Recipes

Marinated boneless barbecued chicken breasts are a favorite when I host a barbecue, as well as two of my favorite salads to make. The first has already been posted to this blog, my Corn, Cabbage and Cheese salad. It's delicious.

There's also a very good chance that I'll be making a special pasta salad that started out as a recipe from a diabetic site, but I have made it so many times without looking at the recipe that it's taken on a life of it's own. Here's what I include:

  • 1 10 - 12 oz. package of frozen, or fresh, broccoli crowns (if frozen, don't get the pieces, get the fancy crowns so that you don't get a lot of stalk cuttings) - cooked - tip - I cook this right in with the pasta, adding it during the last 5 or so minutes of cooking time for the pasta, and drain together in colander. All is going to be mixed in the end anyway :-)
  • 1 12 oz. box of tri-colored pasta noodles - any shape you prefer - cooked and cooled running cold water through while in colander
  • 1 can of Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of cut Asparagus, drained
  • 1 large or 2 small/med Tomatoes, cut up in bite size pieces
  • 2-3 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1 ripe Avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into pieces
  • 1/2 15-16 oz. can sliced black olives or 1 small can drained
  • 1 8 oz. container of crumbled Feta Cheese - non-fat if avoiding fat
  • Salt, Pepper and Fat free Italian Dressing to taste
Simply prepare each item as described and toss together, seasoning to taste. In fact, this sounds so good, I think I'm going to make it for dinner tonight!

Updated 3/19/16