VZ 190: The Creative Vegetable Gardener’s “Smart Start Garden Planner”

Vegetarian zen podcast episode 190 - the creative vegetable gardener's smart start garden planner http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  Spring will be here before we know it, so it’s time to start planning this year’s gardens. With that in mind, on this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we welcome back Megan Cain, otherwise known as the Creative Vegetable Gardener. Megan first visited with us on episode 113, way back in August of […]

11 Tips for a Fruitful Trip to the Farmers Market

How to Get the Most Healthy Bang for Your Buck

11 Tips for a fruitful trip to the farmers market http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Farmers Markets are the bomb.  Yep, I just said that.  Because it’s true.  Of course I buy produce from the grocery store when I need something during the week, but we will jump on any chance we have to stock up at our local farmers markets.   Freshness, variety, atmosphere…farmers markets have it all.  Reaping […]

VZ 098: Vegan Home Furnishings – Tips to Veganize Your Home

Vegetarian Zen Podcast episode 098 - Vegan Home Furnishings - Tips to Veganize Your Home http://www.vegetarianzen.com

In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast we’ll be talking about ways to veganize your home. We’ll make you aware of quite a few common home items that you would never think are made from animals, and we’ll tell you things to look for when furnishing a vegan household. Thanks for tuning in to […]

VZ 097: How to Shop Smart at a Farmers Market

Vegetarian Zen Podcast episode 097 - How to Shop Smart at a Farmers Market http://www.vegetarianzen.com

In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast we’ll be discussing how to shop smart at farmers markets.  These venues are a great place to shop for fresh, local veggies and fruits, plus scratch-made breads and pastries, jams and jellies, honey, soap, and lots more. Shopping at a fresh market is very different (and in […]

10 Ways to Enjoy Pecans on National Pecan Day (or ANY Day!)

Happy National Pecan Day!   Was there life before pecans?  Many Southerners might argue against it!  Although Native populations had been eating and trading pecans for centuries, Europeans did not learn about them until Spanish explorer Cabeza da Vaca described them in the early 16th century.  There was no Spanish word for this tasty discovery, so […]

Quick Tip Tuesday: How to Harvest Fresh Herbs

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A bounty of goodness awaits…

You’ve spent lots of quality garden time planting and nurturing your fresh herbs.  Now you have baskets, pots, boxes, and plots of deliciousness all ready and waiting to go into sauces and dressings, teas and juices.  Somewhere, potatoes are just begging for your fresh rosemary and thyme.

…But how to get them from garden to kitchen?

It’s easy as vegetable pot pie if you follow these simple guidelines!

  • Harvest your herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the sun has a chance to dry up flavorful essential oils
  • During the growing season (Spring – Fall; how long will depend on climate), harvest frequently to encourage continued new growth
  • For strongest flavor, harvest stems when you see flowers starting to form on them
  • For most herbs, take your clippings from stems that have at least four inches of growth up from the soil level (parsley, cilantro, chives, and lavender, however, should be harvested at soil-level)
  • Harvest no more than one-third of the length of the stem

And finally, a couple of kitchen prep tips:

  • Wash all cut herbs well before using to remove any grit from the garden (and any little buggies!)
  • To remove leaves from herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano, run the stem between your thumb and index finger from top to bottom (against the way the leaves grow)
  • Use scissors to snip the leaves from more delicate herbs like parsley, cilantro, and sage
  • Use newer, more tender leaves (the ones at the tops of stems) in uncooked dishes such as dressings, beverages, and some sauces
  • More mature leaves (the ones closer to the root) are more suited to cooked dishes, as they can better withstand the heat

Quick Tip Tuesday: Soothe Your Stomach with Peppermint Tea

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Peppermint Power

The soothing and healing properties of mint have been known since antiquity.  A hybrid of watermint and spearmint, peppermint contains a high concentration of menthol, which is used to treat a variety of ailments.

Peppermint contains natural chemicals that relax the smooth muscles in the digestive tract, so drinking peppermint tea can help to relieve discomfort from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, abdominal pain and gas, and upset stomach.

Peppermint also has analgesic (pain relief), antibacterial, and sedative properties.  Both peppermint and spearmint are good sources of calcium, potassium, Vitamins A and C, and folate.

Fresh Peppermint Tea

Making fresh, soothing peppermint tea is simple.

  1. Place two to four 4-inch sprigs of fresh mint in an infuser basket and place the basket in a mug (or simply place the mint directly in a mug).  I typically use more mint because I prefer a stronger flavor.

Peppermint tea  http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  1. Pour boiling water over the sprigs.  Steep for five to ten minutes (depending on how strong you prefer your tea).
  2. Remove the infuser basket (or strain your tea to remove the mint).
  3. Sweeten with a little honey, sugar, or stevia, if desired.
  4. Serve as is (hot) or over ice.

Homemade Applesauce Is Sweet, Simple, Pure Goodness

homemade applesauce http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Sure, it’s easy to pick up a jar of applesauce at the store.  Or those little single-serve containers.  Mott’s, Musselman’s, your local store brand…there are plenty of choices.  There are lots of varieties as well…chunky, sweetened, unsweetened, berry-flavored, cinnamon, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, unless you are very careful and very selective, you will […]

5 Easy Ways to Tame Food Cravings

5 Easy Ways to Tame Food Cravings http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Food cravings really suck.  Especially when you’re trying to lose weight, control diabetes or other chronic illnesses, or keep those New Year’s resolutions.  So what do you do when you find yourself backed into a corner by thoughts of jumbo chocolate chip cookies or bags of FunYuns?  Try these tips:   1. Distract Yourself Move — […]