Is it Spring yet??

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This winter has been absolutely beautiful.  We have had more consecutive snow (and ice) days than I can ever remember having.  That being said, winter is my least favorite season.  I stay cold constantly, my body just can’t seem to produce enough heat, my mind goes crazy staying indoors so much, and then the depression usually kicks in.  This year has been no different other than I have pulled out all the stops to try to combat my blues.  I invested in a light box which I sit by every morning as I wake up and work on the computer.  I’ve made it a point to try to exercise at home more often to try to keep those pesky brain chemicals in line.  I’ve even done cleanses, started antidepressants again, and attempted to eliminate all unnatural chemicals that I have control over from my home and body.

I’m not sure which of these has been effective or if it’s only effective as a combination of them all, but regardless, it seems to be working.  I’m not quite my normal self but I am certainly better than I was a month ago. Now if only spring would get here…  I terribly miss the sunshine and being outdoors.  More than anything though, I think I miss my garden and access to fresh fruit and veggies whenever I please.

Last year was the first year I had a home with a yard that I was able to garden in.  We started all of our seeds indoors until they were strong enough and the weather was cooperative enough to move them outside.

Seedlings

At first we started the seeds in the plastic containers you can buy at any hardware or outdoors store.  After several weeks they were large enough to move into a small pot on their own.

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And then finally, outside.

Raised Bed Garden

Graham worked so hard on setting up the outdoor plots for us.  He built the beds and shoveled about 50 bags of organic dirt and compost (into each!) bed.  Our front yard received amazing sunlight and we were lucky enough to get plenty of rain just when we needed it last summer.  By late summer we had huge amounts of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onion, sweet potatoes, squash, strawberries, and broccoli.

Front Yard Garden

We planted some marigolds in with the garden to keep bugs away and only had to spray with Neem Oil once to prevent green worms from devouring our broccoli leaves.  I don’t think I have ever been more proud of something.  It is truly a great feeling to start something from scratch and watch it grow into real food on your dinner plate.  I guess I am just having a little gardening nostalgia this morning.  Is that normal?!

What are you all planning to grow this year and when do you typically begin?  Do you use a raised bed or not?  Even if you don’t have time to do a large garden, I highly recommend trying something small.  Even just a tomato plant or two may make you discover a new love for nature and food. And if you see her, please, please tell spring to hurry up!

StrawNana Muffins

It has been a long couple of days!  We have had snow days on top of snow days lately and the cabin fever has started to set in.  After trying to appease an irritable six year old for most of the morning, I decided to lay her down for a nap and make myself a treat.  I have a terrible sweet tooth and sometimes it can be a little bit unsatisfying when all you want is a big bowl of ice-cream, but the health conscious side of you wins out and you opt for the apples and peanut butter instead. Not today.

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These have to be the best vegan muffins I have ever had.  Not only that, but you don’t have to feel guilty when you eat them.  Food is made to be enjoyed, and let me tell you, my taste buds enjoyed three of these guys.  They were the perfect pick me up for a cold, dreary day.  Here is the recipe for anyone else suffering from this never ending winter weather.

StrawNana Muffins

makes 12 muffins

(adapted from a similar recipe found in Forks Over Knives) 

2/3 cup almond milk

1 1/4 tbsp ground flax

2 cups wholewheat pastry flour

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup organic apple butter (I used R.W. Knudson)

1/4 cup melted Earth Balance

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large banana (mashed)

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1 small handful dried cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the milk, flax, and vinegar until frothy and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Flour, baking powder, baking soda, and  salt.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture.
  5. Add the apple butter, earth balance, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  6. Stir until well moistened.
  7. Add the mashed banana to a measuring cup, then add sliced fresh strawberries on top of banana until you reach 1 full cup.
  8. Fold the berry/bananas into the wet mixture.
  9. Sprinkle in cranberries (or any other dried fruit of your choosing-blueberries would be good!)
  10. Stir and pour mixture into the greased or nonstick muffin pan, filling each about 3/4 of the way full.
  11. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, cool, and dig in!

(I apologize for the not quite up to par photograph.  I just got a new “fancy” camera and am still learning the ropes. Let’s hope my food photography can be as good as the food one day!)Image