Thursday Feature: Volunteer Gardening

Hi again! It’s Adrienne. You may remember me from my healthy snacking post back in May.

Not only do I like to attempt to take good care of myself but I also enjoy helping others. I strive to regularly volunteer and this past weekend I had the opportunity to do so over at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

In the back of the park hidden from the regular visitors, they have almost an acre of gardens that produce vegetables for FeedMore’s Community Kitchen. This year they hope to produce 10,000 pounds of crop. Last year they only missed the mark by about 80 pounds!

The garden depends heavily on volunteers to help with all tasks from tilling the land to harvesting at the end of the season. I enjoy gardening at my own house so I thought it’d be fun to help out.

We spent the morning moving through various tasks.

The first thing we did was check squash plants for squash bug eggs. It’s a tedious but necessary task that helps prevent the bugs from killing the plants. To get rid of the eggs, we snapped off any leaves that held the tiny, copper-colored eggs. Pretty easy to do and rewarding.

We planted tomatoes next. Many plants are grown from seed on site but others are often donated like the ones we dealt with. We planted about 30 plants in a very short amount of time. It’s amazing how much you can achieve with a good amount of volunteers!

After planting another 20 or so tomato plants, our last task was to do some weeding in the wheelchair accessible beds. Yet another task that seemed to go quickly. Did I mention that I love weeding? Not normal. :)

I really enjoyed the morning – talking to the other volunteers and learning a little from the head gardener all while helping the community. I hope to visit again soon. It’ll be fun to see the results of our work!

If you’re interested in joining me one Saturday, please visit Hands On Greater Richmond to sign up. I usually click on the ‘Project Calendar’ at the right-hand side of the page to find opportunities. On the calendar you’ll see that you can volunteer at Lewis Ginter every Saturday and Monday for the next couple months.

You don’t need any experience to come help! Just wear some clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty, closed toe shoes and bring gardening gloves if you have them. Water and sunscreen are good to have too!

Feel free to email me at hippieitch [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any questions or comments!

Adrienne @ HippieItch


Chelsea Eats Treats- Elvis Ice Cream

Today’s guest blogger, Chelsea, is a girl after our own heart tastes! This Arlington blogger is not only adorable, but also has great ideas for healthy living! We’re so happy she’s sharing a favorite recipe of hers with you all today!

Hi there! My name is Chelsea and I blog over at Chelsea Eats Treats. I am a new resident to Arlington and I blog about my journey of trying to balance a healthy lifestyle with a love for desserts. Every day I post about my workout (which usually includes a run with my black lab and an Insanity DVD) as well as a recipe for something I made that day. Most of my recipes are lightened up comfort foods, such as Thai turkey burgers with peanut sauce, light creamy chicken and rice soup, and peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies. I believe eating healthy should be a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix to look good in a bikini, so I post recipes I could eat for years without feeling like I’m missing out on my favorite foods.

For example, today I want to share a healthy ice cream recipe with you. I believe you should never have to give up the foods you love in order to be healthy; you may just have to eat them in moderation or find a similar, healthier, alternative.

Take soft-serve ice cream, for example. Everyone loves the creamy, sweet flavor of ice cream, but there’s no way you could live a healthy lifestyle by having it every night for dessert. However, if you could make a healthier ice cream that came together in seconds and barely cost you anything, you’d want to try it, wouldn’t you??

That’s where my Three-ingredient Elvis Ice Cream comes in. It’s simple to make and tastes so good you won’t believe there’s no added cream or sugar. It won’t replace your ice cream cravings forever, but it should be able to satisfy your after-dinner sweet tooth! Here’s how you make it…

Three-Ingredient Elvis Ice Cream

First, freeze your bananas next time they start to turn a little brown and you don’t think you’ll get around to eating them. It’s probably best to peel them, cut them up into about 4 pieces, and freeze them in a Ziploc bag, but if you’re too lazy like I am and only remember to freeze them as you are running out the door, you can put them in the freezer with the skin on. Don’t worry if they turn extra brown in the freezer; that’s normal.

Then, when you are ready to make your ice cream, peel the frozen banana (this where having it already peeled will help; sometimes you need to let it thaw first to wrestle the peel off) and place it into a food processor with some honey and peanut butter.

I like to use organic, natural honey and either all natural or reduced fat peanut butter, but use whatever kind you want.

When everything is in the food processor, give it a whirl until all the ingredients are blended smoothy and the mixture resembles ice cream.


Then pour the mixture into a bowl, and you’re ready to serve! See, wasn’t that super easy? Of course at this point you can add any extra toppings you want (chocolate chips, sprinkles, nuts, or even chocolate sauce) but it tastes great as it is! The peanut butter banana combination is obviously a delicious one, and the honey just gives it a little extra sweetness.

It’s crazy how when bananas are frozen their consistency changes to a creamy, ice-cream-like texture. It’s so good!

Three-ingredient Elvis Ice Cream
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats
Prep time: 1 min
Cook time: 1 min
Total time: 2 mins
Serves: 1
This creamy ice cream is made from good-for-you ingredients like bananas and honey! No one will know there’s no extra cream or sugar!
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp. all natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. all natural honey
Instructions
  1. Peel frozen banana and add with peanut butter and honey to food processor
  2. Pulse until all ingredients are combined and mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream
  3. Serve and top with chocolate chips, sprinkles, or nuts

So, that’s it! I hope you liked this recipe and will stop by Chelsea Eats Treats to see what other creations I’m coming up with. Thanks so much for your time today!

Don’t Look Back- (Unless they’re serving tacos…)

If you’ve lived in Richmond for a bit, you’ve probably heard of Nate’s Taco Truck. I’ve never actually been to this taco truck, but that didn’t stop be from being excited about checking out “Don’t Look Back”… the taco place born from Nate himself.

I’m not sure why I get so excited about these things but I do. Don’t judge. You would get excited too.

I talked a couple of friends into going with me last Friday, and even though we didn’t make it there until after 10 (when the menu becomes more limited) they were still serving tacos, so I was in luck. The menu appears to be pretty limited anyway, so it’s not like we were missing out on a lot of other options.

There were plenty of choices for these $3 tacos. Since the special was a seitan taco, I figured I had to try that one, and I also went with a TVP taco. TVP = textured vegetable protein. (I know, it sounds gross. That’s probably why someone invented the acronym. But if you’ve never had TVP let me tell you, it’s actually pretty good. It can give you a texture sort of like ground beef, but it’s made from vegetables. I know, all you meat eaters are rolling your eyes right now. Don’t worry, they have plenty of meat options as well. )

The tacos come “Traditional” or “Gringo” (Traditional is just cilantro, onion, and lime, where as Gringo has cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa.) I got traditional, of course.

The guys had to deal with me walking around the restaurant trying to find good lighting. Don’t worry boys, I found it. Sorry for being annoying.

I actually didn’t like the seitan taco that much, but it’s not really any fault of the restaurant. It had a really “meaty” taste, which I assume most people would enjoy. But to me, it felt like I was eating some kind of mock-chicken stuff. You know what I mean? However, the TVP taco was excellent. Seriously, so good. It goes without saying that I enjoyed having an option that wasn’t just beans and cheese, but this one was extra delicious. They really nailed it with the spices and texture. Vegetarians- go try this. Meat eaters- stop judging the acronym.

I have a feeling I’ll be stopping by Don’t Look Back again, and next time I want to try the Costa-Rican style black bean tacos…

What’s your favorite kind of taco?

Liz @ I Heart Vegetables

 

P.S. Did you miss the latest event announcement? Be sure to email/tweet/comment/something to let us know you’re coming! It’s going to be a fantastic group of bloggers!

Don’t Look Back- (Unless they’re serving tacos…)

If you’ve lived in Richmond for a bit, you’ve probably heard of Nate’s Taco Truck. I’ve never actually been to this taco truck, but that didn’t stop be from being excited about checking out “Don’t Look Back”… the taco place born from Nate himself.

I’m not sure why I get so excited about these things but I do. Don’t judge. You would get excited too.

I talked a couple of friends into going with me last Friday, and even though we didn’t make it there until after 10 (when the menu becomes more limited) they were still serving tacos, so I was in luck. The menu appears to be pretty limited anyway, so it’s not like we were missing out on a lot of other options.

There were plenty of choices for these $3 tacos. Since the special was a seitan taco, I figured I had to try that one, and I also went with a TVP taco. TVP = textured vegetable protein. (I know, it sounds gross. That’s probably why someone invented the acronym. But if you’ve never had TVP let me tell you, it’s actually pretty good. It can give you a texture sort of like ground beef, but it’s made from vegetables. I know, all you meat eaters are rolling your eyes right now. Don’t worry, they have plenty of meat options as well. )

The tacos come “Traditional” or “Gringo” (Traditional is just cilantro, onion, and lime, where as Gringo has cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa.) I got traditional, of course.

The guys had to deal with me walking around the restaurant trying to find good lighting. Don’t worry boys, I found it. Sorry for being annoying.

I actually didn’t like the seitan taco that much, but it’s not really any fault of the restaurant. It had a really “meaty” taste, which I assume most people would enjoy. But to me, it felt like I was eating some kind of mock-chicken stuff. You know what I mean? However, the TVP taco was excellent. Seriously, so good. It goes without saying that I enjoyed having an option that wasn’t just beans and cheese, but this one was extra delicious. They really nailed it with the spices and texture. Vegetarians- go try this. Meat eaters- stop judging the acronym.

I have a feeling I’ll be stopping by Don’t Look Back again, and next time I want to try the Costa-Rican style black bean tacos…

What’s your favorite kind of taco?

Liz @ I Heart Vegetables

 

P.S. Did you miss the latest event announcement? Be sure to email/tweet/comment/something to let us know you’re coming! It’s going to be a fantastic group of bloggers!

Guest Blogger: Onion Cloute

Today’s guest post comes from Stephanie of Onion Cloute, a local Richmond blog. If you’re wondering what that is… “An onion cloute is a “studded” or “nailed” onion traditionally used to flavor the classical French sauce Bechamel.” For great recipes and culinary adventures, be sure to check out her blog!

Market Salad

Mr. Ganz went to the doctor this week and was told sternly to lay off the cholesterol. Apparently his numbers are “shockingly high,” a phrase I don’t think doctors should just go around dropping on their patients. Clearly we’re gonna have to make some changes to our diet to get his levels more reasonable.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge. I like to think of dietary restrictions as a type of game, working around them in order to “win.” I’m fortunate enough to be able to eat anything, though perhaps I shouldn’t – Among some friends, I’m known for the odds-defying things I can eat. I once ate a crab rangoon that I found in the backseat of my boyfriend’s car. These were zanier times, but you get the point.

So when someone brings a dietary restriction to me, I like to explore it and figure out how to best it. Never so much has this been the case as right now, as I share most of my meals with Mr. Ganz, and in true “My girlfriend’s a vegetarian, which pretty much makes me a vegetarian” fashion, big changes to his diet will affect me directly.

To the internet! I spent a couple hours browsing recipes, web md, and anything else that seemed relevant (ok, so I was on pinterest for a half hour) to give myself a crash course in cholesterol. I had a bit of memory stored actually (who knew?) from culinary school – I remembered that the bad cholesterol comes from animal protein, that eggs and shellfish were major cholesterol culprits, and that there were certain foods – like oatmeal and salmon – that could actually help lower cholesterol.

From there, I began to develop some recipes, the first of which was this Crispy Skin Salmon with Lentils and Spinach – a rich, buttery-without-butter dish that, served with a salad, left Mr. Ganz and I satisfied and confident that we had indeed won a battle against high cholesterol.

Salmon with Spinach and Lentils

Crispy Skin Salmon with Spinach and Lentil
(serves 2)

Ingredients

For the Lentils
Olive Oil
½ cup Green Lentils, rinsed and sorted
3 medium Shiitake caps, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 sprig fresh Thyme
2 cups Water

For the Salmon
Olive Oil
2 (6 oz) King Salmon fillets, skin on, scaled
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Spinach
Olive Oil
A few Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 clove Garlic, smashed and chopped
1 big-ass handful Spinach
Half a Lemon
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

In a medium sauce pan, heat a few glugs of olive oil and the minced garlic over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and stir to combine. Cook mushrooms and garlic for about 2 minutes, and add lentils, thyme, water, salt and pepper. Simmer on medium/medium-high heat for about 20 minutes with the lid slightly askew.

Preheat oven to 350. Pat salmon fillets dry, and season with salt and pepper. In a saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add salmon, skin side down, and cook for about 3 minutes. Flip fish and move to the oven to cook for approximately 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a bit of olive oil in a saute pan with cherry tomatoes and garlic. Listen for them to begin to sizzle. Add spinach, and toss to combine with oil, garlic, and tomatoes. Add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and allow spinach to wilt off of the heat.

Remove salmon from pan, and drain a bit on a paper towel if necessary. Plate over lentils and spinach. Enjoy with a crisp salad (Ours was mixed greens, purple carrots, and baby turnips with a little balsamic vinegar.) and a glass of wine. Boom, cholesterol defeated.

Keep checking back for more cholesterol-fighting recipes – It’s sure to become a regular feature!

Stephanie @ Onion Cloute