Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dumping Grounds for the Earth


Today, in honor of Earth Day, I want to tell you about a quick, easy, and free fertilizer for your garden. It's rich in nitrogen and nearly everyone has access to it. What am I talking about? Coffee.

I'm not suggesting you dump your precious ground coffee on your plants. What I'm suggesting is that after you brew, sprinkle a the brewed grounds on top of the soil. This creates a slow-release nitrogen for when you water your plants. It's easy, basically free, and reduces waste or need to purchase fertilizers, and it's all-natural... as long as your coffee is all natural.

It's important to me to buy organic coffee, since coffee beans are not only treated with pesticides, but fungicide is also applied. The benefits are still there if you don't have organic grounds, just steer clear of using grounds from flavored coffee. I'd hate for you to serve your family parsley that tastes like chocolate hazelnut.

Not a coffee drinker? Still want to reap the benefits of this fertilizer? Call your neighborhood Starbucks to find out if they offer the Grounds for Your Garden program. Starbucks has long been known to practice social responsibility, and according to their website "[They] introduced Grounds for Your Garden in 1995, which offers customers complimentary five-pound (2.27-kilogram) bags of used coffee grounds to enrich garden soil."

Enjoy your Earth Day everyone! I'm off to the Fresh Market to buy produce, since they just posted that they will have some good organic sales for Earth Day on their Facebook!

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

D is for Deficient

It was very distressing to hear this report about Vitamin D on NPR a few weeks ago. It stuck with me.

It's hard to imagine that something so basic is missing from 3/4ths of American's lifestyles or diets....then again, I do live in sunny Florida!

Vitamin D is a hormone that is created by exposing your skin to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a softening of the bones called rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults. One way to get vitamin D is to have 15-20 minutes of unblocked sun twice a week. There are many other natural and inexpensive ways to get your vitamin D.

Vitamin D's benefits vary, depending on where you get your information. I've read that this vitamin is integral to the immune system, and can decrease risks for a wide-array of maladies- Alzheimers, auto-immune disorders, birth defects, bone fractures, cancer, cesarean sections, depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, periodontal disease, peripheral artery disease, tuberculosis... I'm sure this isn't the half of it!

My favorite source of vitamin D is breakfast.

I start with natural bacon. You want to look for brands that tout free-roaming, humanely raised pork, such as Niman Ranch, Wellshire Farms, Maverick Ranch or Applegate Farms. I can find it at Whole Foods or Fresh Market and rarely at Publix. Pork fat is loaded with vitamin D, and bacon fat is loaded with FLAVOR!

I like to bake my bacon in the oven- 375, 10 minutes then pour off the grease and flip, 5-10 more minutes. I use every bit of grease for cooking after this. It's great for a variety of recipes, especially for cooking morning eggs.

Egg yolks are another good, natural source of vitamin D. If you didn't catch my entry about pastured eggs, take a peek to learn more about that. Pastured eggs contain 4-6 times the amount of vitamin D that store-bought eggs have!

Who knew that bacon and eggs could be so nutritious? Other sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as catfish, salmon, eel, and sardines. Liver is rich in vitamin D.

Mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D, only after UV light exposure. I have not seen or heard of this before... but for my vegetarian friends, there may be hope. Of course, you can always defer to the artificially fortified cereals and dairy products that contain vitamin D... but I prefer the more natural route.

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