Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nutrition, Nutritionist and Well Balanced

I have never had the opportunity to talk with a nutritionist or to hear their opinions on food, until this morning.  Joining in on a conference call I heard one nutritionists opinion of good nutrition on the go, sadly my thoughts were extremely different from theirs.  I listened as simple meal planning was discussed things such as know what's in your pantry before you go to the store, getting ideas for meals from grocery store flyers and even getting meal ideas from looking at the meals on prepackaged food.  What I did not hear was the nutritional value of todays veggies and fruits versus those of fifty years ago, nor was anything mentioned about organic, locally grown, growing your own or gmo's, or what makes a balanced meal.  Yes, I know that we all supposedly know what makes a balanced meal, but sometimes reminders are helpful. 

I agree with knowing what is in your pantry before you go shopping, I have an inventory spreadsheet for the pantry, refrigerator and each of the deep freezes.  As an item gets used, it gets marked off.  By doing this I learn quite a few things, first what I am needing to buy, second what my family likes to eat the most of and third, if not the most important, what items I need to grow more of and preserve.  For example, canned tomatoes, last year we grew or supplemented our supply from the farmer's market enough to can 12 cases of tomatoes in quarts and 6 cases of pints.  Two cases of quarts and pints went to my parents and the rest were for Farmer Joe and myself.  I am now down to a half a case of quarts and no pints.  By keeping up with this on my inventory sheet it tells me that for the next year I need to do more tomatoes.  I am thinking a total of 18 cases of quarts and 10 cases of pints this year may get us through. 

Now I disagree with getting meal ideas from grocery store flyers and I vehemently disagree with getting ideas from prepackaged foods.  If you can look at a flyer get an idea for a meal and use ingredients that are organic or non gmo or as close as you can get then go for it.  When I shop now I read all labels.  This is not something that I used to do, but things have changed.  I look now for any item that can be gmo, amounts of sugar and what preservatives if any are used.  The fewer sugars and preservatives I find great.  Any item that could be gmo and it goes back on the shelf.  But getting ideas from prepackaged food, no way!!  First if I look at that package and think yum, then I am more inclined to buy it and it probably cost more than what I am willing to pay.  And who knows what has gone into that package.  From the processing to the preserving, I don't want any part of it.  Yes, it may be delicious.  Yes, it has vegetables which are good for you.  But look at the ingredients, read the fine print, read the nutritional label.  And then as for me, put it back on the shelf. 

If I want foods that are healthy and full of nutrition I am either going to run out to the garden and pick it, purchase it at my local farmer's market, or raise and slaughter it.  Then I can process and preserve on my own, store it at my house and shop in my freezer.  There are so many benefits to this, that to me it is astounding.  First that nutrition value thing again, fresh picked is definitely the best, but I feel that the processing I would do is a lot less than a commercial company so I retain more of that value.  Second, a sense of accomplishment and well being.  Looking out over the garden's or at a nice meaty hog I have feeling of fulfillment in knowing that something I have nurtured has grown, matured and become productive.  Third, the time and money I save on grocery shopping.  That was an hour or two a week I was spending in a store that can now be spent at home, with Farmer Joe, visiting friends or just doing anything.  Now I spend on average one hour about every three weeks in a grocery store.  And between the gas money to get there and back and the money I save on overpriced foods, our family budget is taking a turn for the better.  We have a fun fund and by saving money each week on not shopping we are able to stick some back for something either Farmer Joe or I want, love the little indulgences.  Fourth, having on hand what I need when I need it.  Feel like pork chops tonight?  Ok, let me lay out a pack to thaw while we are at work.  No more...uh pork chops, let me see do we have any....no....well I can pick some up on the way home.  Wrong.  Wasted gas, wasted time.  Not anymore!!  Fifth, community.  In years when we have an over abundance of something and I just can't bear to can one more jar, we share it with family and neighbors.  People appreciate that gesture, plus it gives you time to visit, get to know each other, renew a sense of community.  When you know your neighbors, you have a natural tendency to look after them and they look after you.  If I don't see our elderly neighbor for two days, we call or go by to make sure everything is ok.  On the other hand if they see a strange car at our place when we aren't home they make sure to mention it to us.  And let me tell you, in my four house community, nothing goes unnoticed.

There are a great many more benefits I could ramble on about, but enough of my opinion for one day. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Soul Cravings

Everyone craves something at sometime.  Most common are food cravings, you know when you get that sweet tooth and just have to have that extra piece of cake.  Well, I get soul cravings.  Things that I just really feel the need to do or a place that I just feel I need to be.  The warmer the weather gets, the more I feel the need to be outdoors, whether it is in the garden, walking in the woods or just sitting by a creek.  These things relax me and rejuvenate my sense of well being.  This week I am craving knitting.  I just have the overwhelming urge to finish a project and start a new one.  By doing this it feeds my sense of accomplishment.  When there are things in life that are beyond my control, finishing a project lets me sit back and know that even though it may be something small in the overall scheme of things I can complete it.  My other soul cravings seem to take the form of reading or cooking.  Reading a good book, especially one with a happy ending, restores my sense that sometimes things really will work out.  With all the depressing news reports today, every now and then you just need a happily ever after.  Cooking a large or extra special meal gives me the sense that I am taking care of my family.  We sit down together and enjoy each other, and getting a full tummy is just a side benefit.  In addition it lets us slow down from a hectic day and just take a moment to breathe.  I am a firm believer that if you listen, your body will tell you what you need whether it be physically or spiritually.  Just take a second and listen to it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Baby Superhero Blanket

A friend of mine and her husband are expecting their first baby in a few weeks and I wanted to make them a baby blanket.  I had visions in my head of what it should look like, but my reality never lives up to those visions.  The theme for their nursery is comic book superheroes.  After ditching my first two attempts, I came upon a pattern I thought would work.  I had chosen the colors of cobalt blue, red and yellow all in cotton.  This is what I came up with.

Sorry the first picture is so dark, and the second one is blurry, but I am hoping you can get the jist of the pattern.  The hat turned out ok, but I did love the blanket. 

I used the Optimistic Stripe Throw pattern from Redheart for the body of the blanket.   I did not like the border though for a baby boy so I opted for the border on the Sweet Potato Baby Blanket