Friday, June 28, 2013

Gardening - Correcting Drainage Issues

I have been planting in this small garden bed behind the house for a few years with great results, this year however, we have had an abundance of rain here on the East Coast. It was causing the bed to flood just below the overhang of our home. The leaves of my pepper plants were yellowing rapidly and falling off on account of all the access moisture, a far cry from the dry heat they enjoy. With Canada Day weekend approaching and 4 - 5 more days of heavy rainfall, I knew I had to act quickly if I wanted any peppers this year.

The only digging tool I had that wasn't so large that it would destroy the roots of neighboring plants was a tablespoon. I realize how this sounds. I also realize how I must have looked to observers, digging up my garden bed with a spoon. The trench I dug is approximate 1 foot deep and 5 inches wide and is exactly where all the water was collecting. I then transported smaller rocks that I had collected from the large garden plot out back and placed them in the trench.

I am proud to announce that it has been raining all day and there is no water pooling in that bed at all. The entire job only took me about 30 minutes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quinoa Potato Pancakes

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Last night at almost 2:30 in the morning, while surfing the internet in bed, I discovered a recipe for Quinoa Potato Pancakes from Honest Cooking. The husband is a meat and potatoes kinda guy and he had been craving potatoes, naturally this was a terrific compromise for us. I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand that the were required to make them in the same fashion as Honest Cooking. I utilized the Potato and Quinoa union as inspiration to get creative. I impulsively made them like a Caesar Salad, I never really thought much about the ingredients as I placed them in the bowl. It seemed very much on a whim. My ingredients were:

1 cup Quinoa,
2 cups Mashed Potatoes
1/2 Small Onion
1 Large Green Onion
1/2 Tsp Garlic
4 Tbsp Caesar Dressing 
3 Meatless Bacon Bits or Real Bacon
1/2 Tsp Oregano
Salt/Pepper to taste
Cooking Oil/Margarine/Butter 

I used store bought Caesar dressing because it was all I had on hand but I found this recipe really interesting Vegan Caesar Dressing that I would love to try. Now, I'm not vegan. I do love variety in my diet and foods that leave me feeling lighter and more energetic. Because of that, I often eat a lot of vegan or meatless dishes and eat a variety of different protein sources. Awww... Now I wish I had of made a side salad!

The Alternative Protein Bar (ALT) from @Larabar

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Larabar just recently launched a new bar made with Pea Protein, each bar contains 10 grams of protein. They are Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher, Dairy Free and all of the ingredients are Non-GMO. The Alternative Protein Bar (ALT) is currently only available to customers in the United States, I can't wait until this product makes it's way to Canada.

The four new bars arrived in the little drawstring bag shown above. Out of the four varieties of Larabar I received, peanuts are the primary nut source; with the exception of the Lemon Pound Cake ALT Bar which  contains almonds. All of the ingredients are simple and of good quality, for example, the Pumpkin Pie ALT Bar is made with:

Dates, Pea Protein, Peanuts, Brown Rice Syrup, Brown Rice Flour, Dried Pumpkin, Sunflower Oil, Spice

The Cinnamon Apple Crisp ALT Bar from Larabar contains 210 calories, 230 mg of Potassium and this bar is low in Sodium at only 20 mg per serving. The Cinnamon Apple Crisp ALT Bar contains 1/4 cup of Fruit, Total Carbohydrates per serving is 30g and total Dietary Fiber is 3g.

I love how Larabar appropriately names all of their flavors, they are so true to my expectations of how each of these things should taste. The Lemon Pound Cake ALT Bar tastes like Lemon Pound Cake, the Peanut Butter Cookie ALT Bar tastes like a Peanut Butter Cookie; and so on. Another thing I love about Larabar is their commitment to sustainability. Each wrapper is made with 31% plant-based material. Larabar has partnered with Terracycle. What exactly does this mean? If you send your wrappers back to the company, they will be recycled or upcycled into various products. 

The bars are made with dates as the dominate ingredient, if you aren't a date lover you may not like the product but I encourage you to give them a try because the consistency and flavor is really quite something. I would recommend the Pumpkin Pie ALT Bar or Peanut Butter Cookie ALT Bar, it has a very nutty consistency with all of the peanuts and the peanut butter flavor masks the taste of the dates quite a bit. I personally enjoy dates and have fond memories of eating date cookies in my grandmother's kitchen as a child.

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Disclaimer: I received samples of this product for the purpose of my review. The opinions written here are my own and are based upon my personal product, your experience may vary.