Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Easiest No-Can, No Fuss Storage Vegetable!

Photo Source

 I have been canning, freezing and drying for at least 20 years and if I can find a way to cut corners, I will.  One of the ways I do this is by growing a vegetable that not only tastes great and is super nutritious but is also self-storing...that makes this veggie is a keeper!

And grow it I did, lots of them!  At the end of November, I still have a large supply and they are keeping quite nicely so far, thank you very much.

What is this vegetable wonder?  Winter squash of course!  Yes, I know you are able to can and freeze them, but why should I when most of them will be perfectly fine on their own?  And right now with the holidays upon us, there is an abundance of winter squash available for sale and it's the perfect vegetable to keep for the months to come!

Spaghetti Squash and Delicata Squash

If you're not eating squash now or only at Thanksgiving, now is the time to reconsider.  Winter squash is a great source of the anti-oxidants, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene.  It also is loaded with Vitamin C (one-third of our daily allowance) and a very good amount of the antioxidant mineral manganese as well.

Photo Source
"While winter squash should not be treated as a high-fat food, it does contain fats, including the anti-inflammatory omega-3s. One cup of baked winter squash will provide you with approximately 340 milligrams of omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)."

Butternut Bush Variety

Nutrients in
Winter Squash
1.00 cup baked (205.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value

 vitamin A - 214.1%
 vitamin C - 32.8%  fiber - 22.9%
manganese - 19% vitamin B6 - 16.5% potassium - 14.1%
 vitamin K - 11.2% folate - 10.2%
tryptophan - 9.3% copper - 8.5% vitamin B - 28.2%
omega-3 fats - 7.9% magnesium - 6.6%

Spaghetti Squash - Small Wonder Variety

Winter squash is pretty great for you and worth keeping through the winter.  How long does it last in storage?  Here are a few tips when buying squash for storage:

1. Make sure the fruit is bruise (no soft spots) and blemish-free.  
2. The winter squash with the hardest skins will generally last the longest.

Here are the varieties and their storage times:

Pumpkins at 50% to 70% humidity and 50 to 55 degrees - 2-3 months
Acorn at 50% to 75% humidity and  50 to 55 degrees - 5-8 weeks
Butternut at 50% to 70% humidity and 50 to 55 degrees - 2-3 months
Hubbards at 50% to 75% humidity and 50 degrees - 5-6 months
Spaghetti Squash at 50% to 70% humidity and 50 to 55 degrees - 2-3 months

However, I have kept all these squash with the exception of pumpkins WAY past these dates...especially spaghetti squash which I was able to keep all the way through spring with no loss of eating quality.

AND...I keep them in my 65+ degree utility room and not outside.  I do lose some but if I rotate them once in while and keep them fairly separate, they seem to do well.  I just watch for fruits that are beginning to get bad spots, refrigerate and use them up right away.   

Photo Source

I also choose small varieties (like the small Blue Hubbard pictured above) so I can cook one up fast and have about 4-6 servings depending on the variety.  If I were to buy the monster sized ones, I hate to process them because it takes so long, but the small ones I can peel or cook quickly and eat them every week.  

I am loving our winter squash and have been cutting them up, sauteing them and including them in soups, stews, chilis and even our spaghetti sauce.  We love them and here's hoping you'll be able to store some of your own this winter...Blessings!!

What's your favorite winter squash? 


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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How Did They Grow? Reviewing Five New Garden Varieties in 2013

Every year I like to pick out new garden varieties to try out for the following season.  It keeps gardening interesting and allows me to experience different vegetables and compare them to what I am already growing.  For 2012, I chose 5 different plants that I picked based on productivity, uniqueness and compactness.  You can read my original post here where I picked them - "One Way to Beat Garden Boredom."

So here were my picks with the garden packet photo on the left and my produce on the right...

 I chose this zucchini because it was a compact plant and because it was described as having a pleasant nutty flavor.  What was the result?  I would give this squash an A+ for productivity, compactness, disease resistance and delicious flavor!
It tasted great no matter what size it grew to and we gobbled this zucchini up all summer.  I had one plant that withstood all the fungus our wet and cool summer provided and it was faithful to give us lots of zucchini!

My small amount of beans are located in the right photo, bottom middle.

This yellow wax bean caught my eye because of its unique markings and that fact that it was an heirloom made it a fun try in the garden.  What was the result for 2013?  I would give this bean a B - as it was a good tasting bean but it germinated very poorly even after two plantings.  Of course, some of this could be the season or it could have been the seed lot, but it was very spotty in germination and I had a lot of blank spaces in the garden.  The plants that did grow were semi productive.  This was a fun plant to try but I don't think it'll make it to the garden in 2014.

This little pepper plant looked adorable in the seed catalog and its little fruits were too hard to resist!  How did it grow in my garden?  Well I planted some in the garden and some in containers.  I would say they both grew equally well.  How did they fare?  I would give them a B.  They weren't as productive as the catalog photo but they did put on a decent amount for fresh eating.  I didn't get enough to can even though I grew at least 8 plants.  The taste was okay, not too sweet, the skins a little tough but not bad.  I will grow these again because I like having snack peppers to eat while working outside.  I would classify these as a novelty plant and not a heavy producer.

My Tumbling Toms got hit by late blight.
4. Tumbling Tom Yellow Tomatoes:
I grew these because I love how they are made to tumble and what fun to grow them in containers too.  The yellow variety was a nice change from the usual red tomatoes.  How did these little gems do?  These tomatoes get a C as a grade.  Unfortunately, they were difficult to germinate as well and the plants that did make it succumbed to blight and leaf spot. They managed to give me quite a few tomatoes, not as many as in the seed catalog photo, but enough to enjoy them.  Our wet cool summer wasn't a help for these tomatoes, but I am willing to try them next year hoping our summer temps next year will produce better results.  I really want to grow these as I loved growing vegetables in a vertical space.  Stay tuned to see how they work!

5. Small Wonder Hybrid Squash:
Last but not least was this smaller variety of spaghetti squash.  I grew it for its relatively compact vines but especially its smaller fruits.  It was listed to be very productive.  The result?  This one gets an A+!!  I have so many of these squash ranging in size from a softball to a small pumpkin.  They taste great and they did very well in the garden.  They held up well despite the fungal disease going on because of the wet weather and I have more than enough for winter.  I loved these and am going to include them again for 2013!  It was a rough year for many garden crops because of the weather and whatever made it through is definitely a keeper!

And that was the results of my 2013 Garden Trials.  Overall, I was very happy with my newest additions and most of them will be making a comeback in 2014.  It's great to keep a record of your garden plant varieties so you can make the best choices when it comes to planting time.  It's hard to believe, but you don't always remember what plants grew the best in your garden.

What was your favorite garden plant for 2013?


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Natural Headache Remedy

Headaches. We all get them and some of us more than others.  I fall into the second category as being a chronic headache sufferer.  Tension headaches and the worst of all...migraines.  

I have been searching for years for a natural remedy or relief from headaches in general. Looking at everything including my diet, exercise, sleep, caffeine usage, herbal remedies including feverfew and homeopathic remedies, etc...I have been pursuing a way to naturally relieve them and prevent their onset.  

To be honest; I had just about given up trying until I recently attended a women's conference and the speaker chose to talk about health one evening.  She quickly mentioned about how she would take "a couple of Omega 3's" at the onset of a headache and it would take care of them immediately.  I jotted down what she said and forgot about it later.

However, the very next day I was feeling the onset of a headache that was destined to become a migraine.  I remembered what the speaker had said and quickly took two fish oil pills (Omega 3's) and didn't think much about it until later when I realized that I ended up not getting a headache OR a migraine.

Wow...this is pretty amazing stuff!  I was a bit surprised because I was used to trying everything to avoid one and nothing seemed to work.  So, all week I took two fish oils in the morning and two at night before bed because those were the times that I would tend to get them.  I would feel a bit muscle "achy" but I never got a for two weeks.  When I did get a mild one, I would take two fish oils or Omega's and they would keep the headache at bay.  

The Omega 3's seem to have eliminated my constant headaches to the point I am able to work out with weights again. However, I have had two days of migraines since then but I woke up with them in the morning and wasn't able to take anything to prevent them.  I did use fish oil with other remedies including pain reliever and valerian to help relieve the pain.  The fish oil seemed to help but I did need the extra boost of pain relievers to get through the headache.

So they seemed to be the most effective when taken before a headache comes on and it's important to be able to "read your body" on when you think this is happening.

How does fish oil or Omega 3 supplements work?  

This is a great question and to be honest, the medical community is not completely sure how it works exactly but they do know that this type of oil does have benefits that may contribute to migraine relief.

You can use fish oil to help and or other supplements that include, evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, chia seed oil, borage seed oil, extra virgin olive oil.  Food that are rich in Omega's include, walnuts, winter squash, kidney and black beans, and wild rice. 

"According to the American Heart Association the ingredients of fish oil help reduce inflammation, reduces blood clotting, lowers blood pressure and steadies the heart rhythm. These actions, particularly the reduction of inflammation or swelling, may be helpful in reducing the head pain and other migraine symptoms of migraine attacks because it may reduce migraine head inflammation." 1

"Some research suggests that since Fish Oil prevents constriction of blood vessel, it can prevent the actions in the brain that lead to migraine attacks." 2

"A 2002 study of 27 adolescents who took fish oil found that they had fewer migraines, shorter headaches and less severe migraine headaches." 3

"Omega-3 fatty acids do decrease inflammation and relax blood vessels. These may also reduce the tendency of platelets -- blood cell fragments that play an important role in clotting -- to clump together or aggregate. Some studies link platelet clumping to the migraine process, and many standard migraine drugs serve to decrease the tendency of platelets to aggregate." 4

So far, they are taking care of most of my migraines.  I am also learning how to regulate my hormones so I can eliminate the migraines associated with them as well.  

You can use fish oil to help and or other supplements that include, evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, chia seed oil, borage seed oil, extra virgin olive oil.  Food that are rich in Omega's include, walnuts, winter squash, kidney and black beans, and wild rice.

What to do when you feel like a headache is coming on?  Take a couple of fish oils or Omega 3's and see if you notice a difference.  Our 17 year old son took a couple when he had a mild headache and it went away for him.  If it works then you've just found a great simple, low cost remedy!  If it doesn't, keep trying as it may not work with hormonal headaches the same way it does for tension ones.  

All in's certainly worth trying.  I am so thankful!

Have you found a natural cure that works for you to eliminate headaches?

Be blessed (and headache-free!)

*Here's a link to another great post from an M.D. about eliminating migraines.  He has some more suggestions on symptoms and treatments that are valuable to know.  You can read it here.


2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

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