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Do I have to buy organic?

27 Oct

Did you know that fresh spinach  can carry over 60 different pesticides! YIKES!!! I love fresh fruits and veggies but I’m not always ready to pay the premium for organic produce. Thankfully Joy MacCarthy, holistic nutritionist and my go-to food expert,  makes shopping organic EASY.

Her Dirty Dozen list identifies those veggies which are most sprayed with harmful chemicals.  Studies show that if you avoid the non-organic version of the Dirty Dozen, your pesticide exposure will be reduced up to  80%!!!   Hmm… I think going organic on at least these 12 items is a no-brainer.

Just as important as what to avoid is knowing what produce is not worth the Organic premium.  Once again, Joy MacCarthy to the rescue with the Clean 15! (See list below)

DIRTY DOZEN

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

CLEAN 15

  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions

 

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Detoxify and Beautify with Swiss Chard

17 Oct

To avoid Fall container boredom, I dare to add bold edibles in my displays.  This season, I gravitated towards the vibrant colour and texture of Swiss Chard.  The glossy, ruffled foliage can grow up to 2′ , with the stalks and veining delivering lipstick red contrasted with fresh green.

Swiss chard, like spinach, is the store-house of many phyto-nutrients that have promotional-health  and disease-prevention properties. As a mega source of Vitamin A & K and good source of omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin C, Swiss Chard is not only a ‘looker’ but also a great fall ingredient to keep fresh-on-hand.

My favorite way to prepare Swiss Chard is to saute in olive oil with white onions, garlic, mushrooms and season with freshly-cracked pepper and sea salt. Simple, hearty, nutritious and delicious!.

SOURCE: Simplyrecipes.com

My friend Joy, a registered holistic nutritionist  and health coach of Joyous Health, recently shared a delicious soup recipe that is simple  and perfect for making in batches for future chilly Fall days. Try it out!

SOURCE: Joyoushealth.ca

Freshly planted fall container with #kal

27 Sep

Freshly planted fall container with #kale #cabbage #gourds. Looks beautiful enough to eat! A #VerkadeDesign original! http://ow.ly/i/i5bj

Grow cool season veggies that pack a punch!

16 Sep

Arugula growing easily on my 29th floor balcony. YUM!

Are you a novice gardener? Don’t fret! Cool season vegetables are easy to grow. In fact, this is the perfect time to start growing your anti-oxidant, nutrient rich greens in your backyard or even on your balcony.  The following Fall favourites are moderately frost- tolerant so if you seed them now you will have fresh greens to put on the table at Thanksgiving!

  • Chives
  • Arugula and other salad greens. Click here to watch a video on how to seed your own lettuce.
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Swiss Chard
Read the step-by-step guide to sowing your own salad greens in my guest post on Joyoushealth.ca

Joy, from Joyous Health,  is an amazing Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach.  She offers tons of easy to understand health and nutrition information, delicious yet simple recipes, and fresh perspectives to provide food for the soul.  Learn more about Joy and check out her blog.  She is cute to boot! (I guess eating healthy does work after all!!!)

The 1-2-3 on sowing your own delicious & nutritious salad greens

8 Aug

Interested in having fresh salad greens at your doorstep?  Follow my first time experiment in growing Arugula and other mixed greens 29 stories in the sky!  This first video demonstrates how to properly sow the seeds in containers.

If you start in the next 2 weeks, you will be enjoying lettuce throughout September and Early October.

Herbs… a feast for the eyes and tummy.

24 May

I realize some of you might be daunted by the prospect of creating a garden oasis this summer. So perhaps start a small  herb garden so you get 2X the benefit from your effort; aesthetic improvement that you can also savour!

Here are some simple tips on getting your herb garden started.

1. Location, location, location: Most herbs prefer full sun (5 hours or more per day) so try to find a sunny and sheltered area on your balcony, deck or backyard.  Consider this… many herbs offer great aesthetic value, consider planting them amongst your existing annuals and perennials for their visual appeal.  They need not be relegated to one blocked off corner of  your garden.

2. Inventive ‘Pots’: Although I normally avoid using ‘found objects’ in my gardens, I find that herb gardens are the perfect place to experiment with more playful containers. I found this rustic 5 compartment tray at the Evergreen Garden Market at the Brickworks for $30. Can you guess what it is? It is an industrial bread loaf tray from the Weston factory in Leslieville! It’s perfect for herbs as it has 5  distinct compartments  to house your favourites.

Found objects can make interesting plant containers.

3.  Select your Herbs:  When selecting herbs, consider some of  your favourite meals and the dry spices you normally use in your cooking.  By planting herbs you already use, it will ensure you get the most use out of your herb garden.  Here are some of my favourites:

For the  BBQ:  thyme & rosemary ( I opt for a separate potted shrub as I use this one almost daily!)

Cocktail Hour: spearmint for mojitos! Be careful though… keep this one in a container on its own as it grows like crazy which will give you lots of excuses to host mojito parties!

Italian dishes: oregano, basil and parsley

Asian dishes: thai basil and cilantro

4. Plant and enjoy!

"Urban Herbs"

Spice up your salad greens

27 Apr

The punch of peppery Arugula!

Mmmm… nothing tastes better than fresh salad and it is the perfect time to be growing it.  Salad greens prefer cool moist weather of spring and late fall and are super easy to grow.  Pick up a packet of seeds at your local grocer or home supply store like Canadian Tire and get started in a semi-shaded area of your garden or sow in a container.  Within 3-4 weeks you will be able to spice up your store-bought lettuce with some fresh greens from your garden.

My favorite one to grow is Arugula as its dramatic peppery flavour improves any bland salad.  For more details, read this article from Toronto Star’s Sonia Day.  Spice up your salad greens – Yourhome.ca.