Monday, April 20, 2015

Just CATching some sun waiting for my first hummingbird! #cats

Some photos are simply too cute not to share! Our sweet cat Snoops looking so serious about sunbathing in the windowsill!

Seriously, cats do best kept indoors if at all possible. They live long happy lives without harming wildlife. No killing birds. No eating poisoned mice or toxic sprayed plants. No parasites in their guts. A win-win for you and your furry friends.

Related Links
Spring 2015 Ruby-throated Hummingbird Reports
Photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Make your own biodegradable Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting #GardenCuizine #GoGreen @SNAP_Ed

Do It Yourself Video
for making Newspaper Pots 
for Seed Starting
Last week I was sorry to miss a guest speaker at the Family Success Center of Vinelands Eat Clean and Green Event. Susan McKenna from NJ SNAP-Ed Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cumberland County taught families how to make their own newspaper pots to start seeds in. I've been gardening for years, but never tried to make my own FREE biodegradable pot until today. 

Gardening objects of any kind always catch my attention. As I walked to my office within Family Success, there leaning against the Program Coordinators door, was a tray of leftover newspaper pots from their class. She kindly gave me a few to take home to try and figure out how they were made. Before I took them apart I Googled the topic and came across this video.

After watching the video I could tell that this was just what I was looking for: directions on how to make newspaper pots for seeds. The best part about these newspaper pots is that they do not require using any tape or staples to hold them together. You definitely do not want staples in your garden dirt!

When I watched the video a second time, I paused it at the beginning when he tells the dimensions. The square pots are about 2 3/4-inches wide and 3-inches deep, exactly the size of my samples.

Now came the time to try making one myself. I got a few pieces of our local Burlington County Times newspaper and cut it in half following the video. The nice part is that you can pause it along the way as needed while following along with his directions.  ...Then sure enough, as mom would say when it was finished, "Ta-da!" My first newspaper pot was finito.

The pots can now be filled with dirt and seeds. And, when Mother's Day comes, the danger of frost will be gone and the whole pot with the seedlings can be planted directly into the garden or wherever the plants are desired to go.

Gardening Kids
Kids and families are guaranteed to enjoy this fun garden project.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Growing Onions #GardenCuizine

Growing Onions
We're growing onions for the first time this season! Rather than growing onions from seed, we ordered a bunch of Ailsa Craig onion sets (seedlings). Mom planted a batch for us today while Harry took a short video of us, which hopefully we'll post for you in the future. 

Onion Nutrition
As I tweeted earlier today, onions add flavor and healthy nutrients to foods; including dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Quercetin (anti-inflammatory, flavonoid) and plant sterols.

Types of Onions
As you start shopping for onions you will come across many varieties and descriptive terms such as: "long-day, intermediate, short-day (10-12 hours of daylight)" onions. Here in NJ where day length can reach 14 hours, we're able to grow long-day onions, such as Ailsa Craig - a large yellow onion. 
Where can you buy Onions for Growing?
Our Ailsa Craig open pollinated, English heirloom onion sets were ordered from Territorial Seed because someone I know grows that variety and orders their onions from them. There are many other reliable garden suppliers online too that sell onions. Shop around and have fun. Ours were back ordered, but arrived just in time for planting in early spring as promised. 

I opened the box as soon as it arrived yesterday so the dormant onions could breath. Even though the suppliers planting guide said to keep the seedlings dry, I moistened a paper towel and wrapped it around the roots overnight. 
Onion Sets
Today, I removed the paper towel and cut the rubber-band that held the group of onion sets together. Then sorted them - putting aside the smallest sprouts and grouping the larger sprouts in groups of 6. The smallest were planted in cell packs that I am keeping outside so they can grow a little more before transplanting them to the garden. 
All the larger sprouts got planted in a raised bed 4 to 6 inches apart and about 1-inch deep. The raised bed is located in full sun and provides compost-rich, loose soil and good drainage. We opted not to use a pre-emergent herbicide as the supplier recommended because we grow all our produce organically.

Stay tuned for more updates on growing onions.
Thanks Mom!

Related Links
Phytochemical and Health Properties of Onions
Benefits of Quercetin (in onions, apple skins, tea and red wine)
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2015 Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 10, 2015

RIP Dr. Annemarie Colbin @naturalgourmet #GardenCuizine

Dr. Annemarie Colbin passed away today...

Back in the 80's, my mother and I operated a well-known health food store and 60-seat restaurant in South Jersey - Garden of Eden Natural Foods and Country Kitchen, Inc. We were pioneers for organic and natural, whole foods even before the arrival of Fresh Fields on the East Coast, which was eventually acquired by Whole Foods Market. 

To this day we have life long friends made from customers and employees of the business. One thing that I will forever remember is the car loads of organic produce that I picked up in person (with my dog Aspen) from Albert's Organics (at the time Albert and his wife were working there) in Kennett Square, PA. 

Back in those days, Annemarie Colbin was very well known to me, my staff and customers. We sold all her books and were familiar with her recipes and teachings. Her culinary school Facebook page announced tonight that she just passed away. I don't have any other information other than that. 

Annemarie founded the Natural Gourmet Culinary school in NY in 1977, which has grown over the years and is well known by members of the Academy of Nutrition and by vegetarians and people looking to learn more about healthy cooking with whole foods.

This video from a few years ago highlights some of Dr. Colbin's recommendations for a healthy diet and lifestyle. What she says makes sense.

Related Links
Books by Annemarie Colbin

In Loving Memory of Annemarie Colbin

Today in Our Spring Garden #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Today in Our NJ Garden
Inside under warm grow lights caladiums are coming back to life next to growing seedlings of Italian basil, border basil, flowers, all sorts of heirloom tomatoes, Harry's requested San Marzano tomatoes (organic seeds from Italy for pasta sauce) and several hummingbirds' favorite annual salvias and my new favorite - Coronado hyssop.

It still feels pretty chilly out in our South Jersey garden today. We have a mix of both life and death in the yard. I'm always sad to see scattered mourning dove feathers in the yard, often near bird feeders - signs of hungry hawks. 

Chattering songbirds, noise of buzzing insects among hidden blooms on boxwood shrubs:
Buxus microphylla ‘Green Mountain’ and emerging buds on hydrangeas, trees and even growth poking through dead looking grapevines bring a smile to my face and are among the many happy, joyous reasons to celebrate spring. 

Perennial horseradish never disappoints and is sprouting in it's usual spot in the garden. Around the yard we have spring blooms of weeds, pink hellebore, Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys', tulips and fragrant hyacinth's.

Strolling through the garden soothes the soul

Hopefully tomorrow we'll get out in the garden to clean up and get some lettuce and arugula seeds planted. And, say a prayer or two for my high school girlfriend whom I recently learned committed suicide, and for our friends who have just lost a love one or pet, and for friends who are having health struggles at this very moment.

Exciting news for our cat loving friends

Our newest feral cat Jazzpurr was given run of the house today, but being super cautious as he is, he decided to stay put in the sunroom to supervise the growing seedlings.

Happy and Healthy Gardening!
Blog post and Photo Collage Copyright (C)2015 Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Snack Attack or just Dehydrated? Enjoy Cucumber Water for Hydration #NNM #GardenCuizine

Snack Attack or just Dehydrated? 
Cucumber Water 
for Hydration

On several occasions, I've had people tell me how they drink cucumber water rather than soda or juice as a way to cut out unwanted calories. And, I've noticed that sometimes people misinterpret thirst for hunger and may grab a snack when their body was really in need of a drink of water instead.

We all know water is the best beverage you can drink and that water is essential for life. Enhancing water with a squeeze of fresh citrus or sliced cucumbers is naturally good for your body. I decided to make cucumber water for a recent Inspira Health Network cooking class and at a social event at church. The refreshing taste was a hit at both events. 

Cucumber water makes everyday water special for you, your family and your guests. Here is all you do to make cucumber water:

Water - enough to fill a favorite pitcher
1 Cucumber

Stevia natural sweetener drops (plain)- optional
Fresh Mint - optional

Putting it all together

  • Fill a clean glass or clear plastic pitcher with cold water.
  • Wash and prepare cucumber slices. You can peel the entire cucumber or just a portion (stripes) down the length of the cucumber.
  • Cut into 1/4 inch round slices. Cookie cutters can be used to cut out shapes in the center.
  • Add the sliced cucumbers to the water and refrigerate until serving to allow flavor to infuse.
Relax and enjoy a glass!

GardenCuizine Nutrition Data: One cucumber adds trace amounts of water soluble vitamins: Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium
Related Links
Water: Meeting Your Daily Fluid Needs
Fit Facts, Healthy Hydration 
Rethink Your Drink
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

@cheezit @GoldfishSmiles @Quaker Quick Whole Grain Family Snack Mix @kidseatright #NNM

Dietitian Approved
Quick, Whole Grain 
Family Snack Mix
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Snacks and Sweets are a major contributor to added sugars and saturated fat intake. What's the solution? Plan ahead and make healthy snacks for your family to help prevent eating unhealthy snacks. 

This affordable, healthy family snack is under 200 calories and is a good source of dietary fiber. The best part is convenience - it can be made in just a matter of minutes. Make a large batch and teach your family how to portion out a handful.  

Portion Control Tip: keep a small Dixie cup in the storage bowl to use as a 2 ounce serving scoop.


2 cups whole grain cereal (Quaker Oat Squares, Cheerios, etc)
1 cup low salt nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews or mixed nuts)
1 cup raisins
1 cup whole grain Cheez-It® crackers OR whole grain Goldfish® crackers

Putting it all together
Easy - Put all ingredients in a bowl. Gently mix to combine. Store in an airtight container.


Nutrition Data: one handful (30g) made using Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal, whole almonds and whole grain Cheeze-It crackers: 151 calories, 11g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0 zero trans fat, 25mg Sodium, 3g (12% DV) dietary Fiber, 5g Protein, 11g total Carbohydrates, (6% DV) calcium, (8% DV) iron

Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Homemade Low-fat Ranch Dip or Dressing #GardenCuizine #NNM

Low-fat Ranch
Preservative free ~ No artificial flavors
    Ranch dressing continues to be a favorite of just about everyone I talk to. As a dietitian, my challenge is to steer individuals towards a healthier diet and lifestyle. Commercial Ranch dressings are loaded with over 20 ingredients including MSG. Here's how to quickly prepare a much healthier Ranch dressing with less than half the calories and fat as commercial Ranch. Even your picky eaters will enjoy the garden fresh and delicious flavor.

Yields: 10-12 ounces (about 24 tablespoons)
Suggested Serving Size: 1 to 2 tablespoons


1 cup lite mayo
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) apple cider vinegar added to 1/2 cup low fat milk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic - finely minced
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon fresh dill - chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder

    Putting it all together

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jelly jar. I like using a jelly jar (less clean up!).
  • Whisk or shake well to combine.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Shake again before serving.
    National Nutrition Month Snack Tips: Keep washed and cut veggies such as carrots, celery and sweet peppers stored in baggies on a visible shelf in your refrigerator. Have homemade Ranch in a container nearby as a healthy snack dip.  
Also, note that dill weed freezes well. A fresh bunch of dill can be rinsed (shake off excess water) and stored in a freezer baggie and used as needed in recipes.

Enjoy as a dip for raw veggies or as a salad dressing. Note: for a thinner consistency - simply add more milk as desired.

GardenCuizine Nutrition Data Low-fat Ranch Dressing: 1 Tablespoon (15g): 34 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 saturated fat, 101 mg sodium, 1g total carbohydrate 
Photo and blog post recipe Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

@PhilaFlowerShow Great job to all for another fabulous #flowershow #gardenchat

2015 Philadelphia Flower Show
Congratulations to The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) for presenting another great Philadelphia Flower Show. The show attracts over 200,000 visitors each year. We mingled among the masses and really enjoyed this year's "Lights, Camera, Bloom" show.

Thanks to the snow, we spent the morning digging out, which cut our day short. I was sorry to miss the Garden-to-Table speaker and whole foods advocate, Sloane Six, of Quarry Hill Farm. The Flower Show offers too much to see and do in one visit; a 2-day-pass would be ideal. Is there even such a ticket?

The Flower Show grand Entrance Garden featured an Art Deco theater facade with a marquee covered in flowers and lights. Spotlights of color accented tall juniper and palm trees. 

Waves of red blooming roses and red salvias provided a red carpet of color near fountains with balls of multi-colored roses. Mass plantings included over 1,000 calla lilies and ferns. 

We enjoyed taking photos and videos along a Hollywood themed, star-studded rose garden located near the entrance. The only thing missing was fragrance.
Roses included: Henry Fonda, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Streisand. 
Stunning, grand ceiling chandeliers dripped with dried flowers, moss and colorful amaranth accented by long jewel strands.

Behind the entrance marquee visitors could view a huge 36-by-16-foot screen featuring classic movies.

My favorite gardens included a PHS Gold Medal Landscape winner by Inchscape called The Persian Garden,
inspired by the Disney film “Prince of Persia.” A mogul pavilion sat on the edge of a moat surrounded by tropical plants. Some of the tropical plants staged in this garden design by Michael Petrie's Handmade Gardens will be featured in my next "chocolate" garden article that I'm writing for Dave's Garden.
Cymbidium Mighty Tracey 'Moonwalk'
Another favorite exhibitor was South Jersey's Waldor Orchids - winner of a PHS Silver Medal. Their amazing orchids and exotic garden display was inspired by Disney's magical movie Peter Pan. I especially admired their green and chocolate-colored orchids.
Cymbidium Amesbury 'Green Sunlight'
University of Delaware received a PHS Silver Medal in Education for their Forest-to-Pharmacy display, Medicinal and Edible Plants of the Amazon Rainforest, which highlighted vital resources of The Amazon rainforest - reminding us that the Amazon rainforest is the “lungs of the world.” Almost half of the world’s medicines are derived from rainforest plants.
We especially enjoyed a presentation by Beekeeper Jim Bobb of Worcester Honey Farms. He discussed interesting facts about honey bees, calling bees "the most fascinating insects on earth." We learned about bee behaviors, their contribution to PA agriculture and about bee anatomy. Did you know that bees have 5 eyes?
With so much to see, we missed a lot, but nobody could miss Robertson’s Flowers and Events presentation of A Fairy Tale Ending – Cinderella’s Wedding. Their display featured a huge, white, French-style dining table setting with columns of hydrangeas and blooms directing attention to Cinderella's glass slipper. 
Special thanks to PHS, their sponsors, presenters and all the fabulous floral and landscape designers and gardeners that put together such a wonderful show.
Photos and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.
We missed the stars of our families: Mom and Helen. Best for speedy recoveries ladies!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Today in our Garden #GardenCuizine #NNM @PhilaFlowerShow

Today in Our Garden
Snow Melt today
Nothing like Boston's tally of snowfall (second snowiest since 1891 with 104.1 inches so far), but South Jersey's largest snowfall of this season was Thursday. We had 7 inches. Harry cleared out our driveway yesterday. Some snow melted today.
Wintering birds have been all over the seeds we've been putting out. The second heated water bowl has been a popular feature for wildlife. 

Philadelphia Flower Show
It's still not too late to attend the Philadelphia Flower Show for a taste of Spring. Did you go? Watch for my Philadelphia Flower Show post; plus, another Dave's Garden Chocolate Garden article featuring decadent plants from the show. 
Our Garden
The vegetable and herb garden is still completely covered under snow at this point... the focus now is indoors and getting ready to start growing veggie seeds under grow lights.

Seed Starting during National Nutrition Month® (NNM)
March marks NNM and the time to start growing seedlings like tomatoes and other garden annuals. We start ours on St. Patty's Day so they don't get too leggy and overgrown. Vegetables with longer germination times can get started even earlier, such as peppers. I hope to plant both sweet and hot pepper seeds under grow lights indoors next week.

Happy National Nutrition Month - have fun Garden Planning!
Related Links
NNM Bloggers
Starting Seeds Indoors
Photos and blog post Copyright ©Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chia Pudding Parfait #HealthySnacks #NNM
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that During National Nutrition Month® Make Sensible Snacks Part of Your Healthy Eating Plan. And, that's just what we plan to promote too, both where I work - at Inspira Health Network in Vineland, NJ - and here on my GardenCuizine blog.

Our second cooking class, "Make Your Own Healthy Snacks" is scheduled during National Nutrition Month (NNM). I'll be blogging and tweeting healthy snack recipes during #NNM.  

Make now the time to take a bite into a healthier lifestyle.
The taste is so good, guaranteed you will want more! 

For starters, Chia Pudding Parfait makes a sensible snack. You can find my Chia pudding recipe posted here on GardenCuizine. Simply layer chia pudding in a clear glass, cup or bowl with your favorite healthy granola and fresh fruit to create a parfait.

Now that's Sensible Snacking! 

For more about Chia check out my Dave's Garden Articles:
Chia Seed Nutrition
Chia is a nutritious seed from a salvia plant that you can grow in your home garden. 
Blog post Copyright (C)2015 Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

More like CHIA yogurt than pudding #GardenCuizine #HealthySnack

CHIA Yogurt-Pudding
Very Vanilla
Many recipes on the internet call for similar ingredients for making Chia Pudding so I decided to try a recipe I found on the Food Network with a few changes. The final result - a creamy and delicious Chia yogurt-pudding. I think the taste and texture was sweet and gelled enough to call it pudding.

The recipe combined equal parts milk with yogurt, which seemed to work okay - the chia seeds swell up and thicken the milk. The Food Network recipe called for maple syrup and salt. I didn't like the idea of adding salt to a wholesome food that already had sodium in it (sodium in the milk) so I didn't add any more salt. And, I used just a little sugar rather than maple syrup to keep the recipe more affordable.

The chia pudding was devoured this morning after breakfast. We all decided it would make a great healthy snack. Experiment and have fun creating your own recipe variations.

Here is my basic recipe. Enjoy!

Yields: 1 quart (7 servings)
2 cups Very Vanilla Silk soy milk

2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar (or other sweetener of choice)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh cut fruit (we used a few fresh strawberries as a topping. Another option is to layer the pudding with fresh cut fruit for a Chia Pudding Parfait. Kiwi and strawberries combine well and taste great with a sprinkle of cinnamon)

Low-fat granola - makes a great topping! (We like Kashi GoLean Crunch - a multigrain cluster cereal)

Creative Flavor Ideas
Magical Mocha: to V.Vanilla chia yogurt add ground coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder
Super Strawberry: puree fresh strawberries in a small amount of V. Vanilla chia yogurt before combining with the remaining yogurt (this way all the chia does not get pureed)

Putting it all together

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, yogurt and sweetener. Add the chia seeds and mix together well. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving. 
  • Chia pudding can be layered in glasses with fresh fruit to create colorful and nutritious snacks or dessert parfaits.
Excellent Source: dietary Calcium
Good Source: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, dietary Fiber, Protein
GardenCuizine Chia Pudding Nutrition Data: see food label shown

Related Links
Grow your own CHIA part 1 - Check out CHIA - A Super Salvia 
Grow your own CHIA part 2 - Check out CHIA - An Indigenous Food
Grow your own CHIA part 3 - Check out CHIA - Super Seed Nutrition
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. Revised 3/29/15.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today in Our Garden #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Today in Our Winter Garden
South Jersey
USDA Zone 7a (formerly zone 6b)

Lots of activity with wildlife in our gardens today. Heated water bowls really help provide the critters with a water source during the winter. As I walked through the garden today, I noticed that we still have a few plants showing life, especially the bronze fennel, red Russian kale, parsley and seasoning celery. I also noticed foot prints in the snow (bottom right photo in the collage)... any idea what animal they could be from?

Inside, our assorted coleus cuttings under lights are growing like weeds. In March they will be pushed aside to make room for trays of veggie and flower seeds. The price is right when growing from seeds; it's fun too. The seedlings will be transplanted to the gardens (and shared with friends) when the soil warms in spring.

Take advantage of the time indoors now to plan your spring garden. We hope to try growing onions for the first time. A professor of mine from Rutgers has had success with growing Ailsa Craig, so we're probably going to start with that variety. I'm still browsing through garden catalogs now for ideas.

Besides our usual plantings, these are on my "New to Try" 2015 grow wish list:

Jiaogulan vine - Immortality herb - has all kinds of health claims associated with it so of course I'm curious about it. Zones: 8-10. Available at

Tango Hummingbird Mint - Tango, the Garden Cat - need I say more! And, anyone who knows me knows I'm a fan of growing agastache and salvias. This one is bicolor firery orange with a hint of blue. Drought tolerant. Blooms midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10. Also available at

Ailsa Craig onions - Long day variety English heirloom. Large yellow globe onions. Plants available at Territorial Seed Co. (ignore the photo on their online catalog, it's of leeks and not Ailsa Craig onions!)

Coral Fountain (Russelia equisetiformis) - Heirloom circa 1833. Mexican hummingbird plant with cascading coral red tubular blooms. Slow grower, can reach 4 to 5 feet tall. Zones 9-10. Available from Select Seeds.
Syriaca Zaatar - I wanted to try this wild relative of Mediterranean Oregano that supposedly has hints of thyme and sweet marjoram. Zones 8-10. But, it's out of stock at the moment from Seeds of Change - hopefully they get more.

What are you thinking of growing this year? 

Happy and Healthy Gardening!
Photo collage and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.