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1/29/2013

These three delicious recipes will have your Super Bowl guests begging for more. But they’re also filled with antioxidants, vitamins, healthy fats and more. So you can party hearty and feel good the next day—unless of course your team loses.

3 Healthy Super Bowl Recipes

corn chowder soup

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

With poblano peppers and smoked cheese, this corn chowder will warm up guests by the bowlful while offering a dose of fiber, protein and vitamins. Ready for the slow cooker, it's also easy to start the night before or early in the morning and will be perfectly piping hot come game time. Get the recipe.

From 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. Buy the book

Beet Burgers

If you are a vegetarian (or if you're not!) and looking for an alternative to beef burgers, consider these yummy, simple and easy-to-make-ahead-of-time beet burgers. Made with cheddar cheese, eggs and brown rice, these burgers are hearty but healthy. Get the recipe

 

From Farmstead Chef by John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist. Buy the book!

Buttermilk Pecan-Crusted Chicken

This supereasy recipe requires only five ingredients. Marinating the chicken in buttermilk helps tenderize it and crusting it with toasted pecans and panko gives it a light, nutty flavor. For a Superbowl party, I might cut the chicken into strips and serve it on bamboo skewers. Get the recipe.

From 5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson. Buy the book!



3/27/2013

Kaitlin Jones, president of Living Whole Foods and mom of three young kids, sent me this recipe the other day and I had to share it! Vegan and chock-full of vitamins, this tasty meal is perfect for a weeknight family dinner. Try it and let us know what you think! 

cashew alfredo recipe
Cashew Alfredo Pasta

Ingredients:

• 1 cup raw dry cashews
• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1 1/2 tablespoons onion, divided
• 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
• 4 cloves minced garlic, divided
• 1 tablespoon miso
• 5 mushrooms, sliced
• 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• Your favorite noodles

Preparation:

1. In a blender or food processor, blend cashews until they are finely ground.

2. To the cashews in the blender, add water, 1 tablespoon onion, bell pepper, nutritional yeast and 3 cloves of garlic and blend until smooth, creating the sauce.

3. Pour cashew sauce into a sauté pan over medium heat.

4. In a separate pan, sauté the remaining 1/2 tablespoon onion, 1 minced clove of garlic, miso and sliced mushrooms in coconut oil for about 5 minutes.

5. Mix sauté into sauce, season with salt and pepper, and serve over your favorite noodles! Serves five. 



3/13/2014

The hydroponics system really exploded over the past week. It’s quite amazing how fast everything grows—speed and efficiency are indeed among the biggest benefits of hydroponics growing, and it’s shocking to see these plants just explode every week! I continue to add nutrients to the water every week, and every Monday I’m amazed at the growth the plants make over the weekend.

hydro week 2-2
Here's the garden on week 2. Note how much it's grown since the pics of week 1! (You might also notice that my husband's office wall was painted in the interim... we didn't move the system!) The water looks murky because of the nutrients you add.

Doing this experiment made me interested in learning more about the differences between hydroponic gardening and conventional gardening, so I started looking into it. From what I’ve researched, here are some key differences I’ve found.

This infographic shares some pros and cons of hydroponics.

Among the pros: Hydroponics uses as little as 1/10th the water as conventional farming; the average yield of hydroponic tomato gardening is 18 times more per acre than conventional; and hydroponics require zero chemical fertilizers and encounter zero pest problems. Hydroponic growing is also not dependent on the seasons—I can assure you that, although our office grows a community garden each year—I’m the only one who was eating fresh greens in February.

Among the cons: Hydroponics systems cost more to set up than a conventional garden; they are reliant on nutrients added to the system weekly; they often require specialty fertilizers; and they require more attention and care than conventional gardens. I have heard that, instead of the nutrients you have to buy, one can use worm castings for the nutrients, which could save money in the maintenance costs of a hydroponics system.

In this SF Gate article on the pros and cons of hydroponics, similar issues are discussed: Hydroponics is incredibly efficient, using only what the plants absolutely need to grow and thrive. Hydroponics minimizes water waste and completely eliminates the need for pesticides or herbicides—potentially very good for commercial operations.

I also found this article discussing the pros and cons—written by a master gardener—interesting. She added the point that hydroponics systems are reliant on electricity, so that’s a con.

Often it seems people are looking at hydroponics and—fairly or not—criticizing the growing method as inferior to regular gardening in the ground. However, I see hydroponics as more useful for people who don’t have the option: Urban dwellers who want to grow their own food but have no access to land (or, for herbs and greens that are best harvested and eaten daily, want something at home instead of or in addition to a remote community garden plot), or those who live where the growing season is very short. It might also be good for those without arable soil or highly polluted soil.

hydro week 2

I’ve heard some questions about the nutrient levels in hydroponics, and found people online claiming both that hydroponics are more and less nutritious. There is also some controversy surrounding organics and hydroponics. I’ll discuss all of that in the next blog on hydroponic growing!



4/10/2014

I’ve been experimenting with a hydroponic growing system donated to our office by Worm’s Way. I’ve enjoyed the experience, and I thought I’d get some additional information from Worm’s Way Director of Consumer Operations Richard Florey. He shared some of his advice on growing hydroponically, ways to save money and more.

Hydroponic System
Photo by Fotolia/photokanok_1984

1. What are some of the key reasons someone might consider hydroponic gardening?

In my mind, the main reasons someone would want to move in the direction of hydroponic gardening is: increase yield, garden year round, the ability to regulate your environment (i.e. air, temperature, nutrients, ph), as well as full control over what is going into your plants from seed to harvest. 

2. Hydroponic setups are kind of expensive. How soon can that expense be recouped?

There are many types of hydroponic setups: ebb-and-flow, drip, aeroponic, nutrient film technique (NFT), wick, etc. Depending on what system you’re going to go with, the intricacy and ability to DIY fluctuates. So with that in mind, the price and investment is scalable with how you’re going to grow, the size of your setup, and how much DIY you want to do.  You could easily purchase a very nice 2’x2’ pre-fabricated hydroponic system for less than $250 that you could keep running all year round to grow different vegetables and herbs. A lot of growing media is reusable too, so even with a nutrient investment you’re looking at a relatively low buy-in.

Think about how much you spend at the grocery store; if you were even able to grow a small amount of your veggies and herbs, you make your money back relatively quickly. Instead of thinking about the cost of getting into hydroponics, which really can be reasonable, think about the cost of the produce at your grocer! Again, you’re in full control of everything in these setups.

3. What are three key things to consider before starting a hydroponic garden?

Ask: What are my goals?

Ask: What is my budget?

Be ready to learn (through continued research, failures, as well as input from local experts)

4. What are the minimal items one needs to start a hydro system?

Hydroponics can range from the simplest thing in the world, to the most intricate—such a breadth of possibility! That’s what is so great about it, and so very interesting. At its core, hydroponics is just growing without soil. Simple.

In starting a “real” hydroponic growing system at a basic, minimal, but functional, level you’ll want to have: some growing media, pots, a pump and an airstone, a raft/tray, and a reservoir…just add water! From there you need to work out how your system will flow, what nutrients you want to feed your plants, and (the fun part) what you want to grow!



6/15/2011

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailThe wabi-sabi garden doesn’t demand an English garden’s formal precision and prissy styling. Plants are chosen because they belong in that garden, in that climate, and they’re allowed to strut their stuff if they’re considerate of the plants around them. They dance naturally with and around the stones and pebbles used to create winding paths and delineations, the rusty iron gate beckoning entrance, the trellis teasing vines up its length. Both plants and guests are encouraged to meander and explore, as long as they’re considerate. A garden’s paths may lead to nowhere, and it might be more beautiful in January than it is in June. (A stroll through the dead winter garden, with its sculptural bare branches, brittle seedpods, and stark, naked plants, is a fine way to cultivate wabi.)

These are a few of my favorite wabi-sabi gardens, places to meditate on nature’s infinite and perfect imperfection.

 bingham garden 

Vermont’s Two Scottie Farm was once a dilapidated, abandoned property in complete disrepair. Diana Bingham rehabbed the 45-acre property, following her dream: “healthy forests, managed fields, a flock of sheep, loving canines and a community of likeminded people.” Photo by Michael Shopenn 

cenac bottle fence 

Madeleine Cenac’s Louisiana garden makes use of tricks—such as this bottle wall—that have been passed down through generations. Photo by Philip Gould 

cox garden  

In Arizona, this garden makes use of native plants and recycled concrete walls to create private spaces for enjoying the wildlife. Photo by Michael Shopenn 

loud garden  

In this Montana rooftop garden, Mary Laud and James Boyes did their best not to disturb any of their neighbors—including the area’s local birds, deer and black bears. They tucked their garden into its surroundings thanks to local stone and a living roof that blends into the mountainous terrain near Glacier National Park. Photo by Michael Shopenn 

hecht vine and dine garden  

In what she calls the Garden of Vine and Dine, California landscape designer Alma Hecht emphasized enjoyment of food and wine by incorporating allium-flower motifs in statuary and a pergola. Photo by Barbara Bourne 

whitehead elniski solar panels and chives  

In Chicago, Frances Whitehead and Jim Elniski grow chives and other fruits and vegetables on their roof alongside the solar panels. Photo by Barry Rustin 

jill  

Jill Nokes’s Austin garden is an enchanting tribute to the south Texas folk garden tradition.  Photo by Paul Bardagjy 



6/15/2011
Tags:

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailThe  wabi-sabi garden doesn’t demand an English garden’s formal precision and prissy styling. Plants are chosen because they belong in that garden, in that climate, and they’re allowed to strut their stuff if they’re considerate of the plants around them. They dance naturally with and around the stones and pebbles used to create winding paths and delineations, the rusty iron gate beckoning entrance, the trellis teasing vines up its length. Both plants and guests are encouraged to meander and explore, as long as they’re considerate. A garden’s paths may lead to nowhere, and it might be more beautiful in January than it is in June. (A stroll through the dead winter garden, with its sculptural bare branches, brittle seedpods, and stark, naked plants, is a fine way to cultivate wabi.)

These are a few of my favorite wabi-sabi gardens, places to meditate on nature’s infinite and perfect imperfection.

 bingham garden 

Vermont’s Two Scottie Farm was once a dilapidated, abandoned property in complete disrepair. Diana Bingham rehabbed the 45-acre property, following her dream: “healthy forests, managed fields, a flock of sheep, loving canines and a community of likeminded people.” Photo by Michael Shopenn 

cenac bottle fence 

Madeleine Cenac’s Louisiana garden makes use of tricks—such as this bottle wall—that have been passed down through generations. Photo by Philip Gould 

cox garden  

In Arizona, this garden makes use of native plants and recycled concrete walls to create private yet open spaces for enjoying the wildlife. Photo by Michael Shopenn 

laud garden  

In this Montana rooftop garden, Mary Laud and James Boyes did their best not to disturb any of their neighbors—including the area’s local birds, deer and black bears. They tucked their garden into its surroundings thanks to local stone and a living roof that blends into the mountainous terrain near Glacier National Park. Photo by Michael Shopenn 

hecht vine and dine garden  

In what she calls the Garden of Vine and Dine, California landscape designer Alma Hecht emphasizes enjoyment of food and wine by incorporating allium-flower motifs in statuary and a pergola. Photo by Barbara Bourne 

whitehead elniski solar panels and chives  

In Chicago, Frances Whitehead and Jim Elniski grow chives and other fruits and vegetables on their roof alongside the solar panels. Photo by Barry Rustin 

jill  

 Jill Nokes’s Austin garden is an enchanting tribute to the south Texas folk garden tradition.  Photo by Paul Bardagjy 



3/21/2011

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailLast month Brian Dunbar, director of the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University, invited me to listen in as his graduate students in construction management presented case studies on green homes. I enjoyed learning more about Dan and Karen Cripe’s home in Round Rock, Texas, which student Jeff Wilkes describes as “green, but normal.” Dan and Karen made some relatively large upfront investments in solar panels and energy-efficient upgrades when they built the home, and now they’re seeing the rewards. Their January utility bill was $3.64.

The 1,852-square-foot home, designed by Debra Blessman of Select Home Design and built by Wayne Jeansonne of Solluna Builders, was built for about $300,000, excluding the lot and the solar PV. It achieved a 5-Star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building rating system.

The owners wanted a home that looked like all the other homes in the neighborhood but with sustainable features. Because they plan to spend the rest of their lives in the home, they were happy to pay now for the infrastructure that would help them minimize energy costs in the future. Their goal is to produce all of their own energy; the home is entirely electric because gas could not be generated on site.

Dan and Karen wanted to build in an established neighborhood, but because many homeowners’ associations prohibit solar panels and metal roofs—both key features of the home—they had their work cut out for them in looking for a lot. The lot they found had southern exposure and a few mature trees, which the city of Round Rock was going to require that they take down before building (city codes mandate removing any tree within 36 inches of the foundation). Dan and Karen obtained special permission to save the trees, and the lot’s southern exposure provides optimal direction for solar PV.

The low-maintenance home will be easy to take care of as Dan and Karen age, with lots of open space for ease of movement throughout. Concrete floors are easier to move on than carpet, especially in a wheelchair, and light switches are low for easier reach. Throughout the design process, the couple added and deleted features based on their budget. Ceiling heights, for example, were lowered from 9 feet  to 8 feet to save money throughout

High-efficiency water fixtures, including dual-flush toilets, are used throughout the home. A 500 gallon rainwater collection system collects rain that falls on the roof’s back slope. Rain that falls on the roof’s front slope is directed through gutters to a rain garden, which helps slow the flow and prevent erosion. The runoff is then diverted to naturally irrigate the native, drought-tolerant landscaping in the front yard. The owners say that keeping deer from eating the plants is a bigger challenge than getting them to grow with little water.

Energy conservation and renewable energy generation were high priority. A geothermal exchange system utilizes two 1-inch diameter pipes drilled 270 feet into the ground to regulate the water’s temperature. This heat exchange drives air conditioning in summer and heat in winter and supplements the hot water heater.

Open cell bio-based foam insulation is used throughout the house, providing R13 value in the walls and R20 to the roof. Solar tubes throughout the home provide natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. A 5 kW solar PV system, purchased with the help of local rebates, cost Dan and Karen less than $10,000—making it an investment they couldn’t pass up.

“Dan plans to retire early, so he focused on what it costs to own and operate this home — for him, it’s about the bottom line,” Karen explains. “As for me, I’m an old tree-hugger—I’m more concerned about wise use of the earth’s resources and doing the right thing for the environment. We came at this from different angles, but in the end, we wanted the same result.”

 rock star exterior 

 Dan and Karen Cripe were committed to making their home energy independent. A solar PV system on the heat-reflecting Galvalum metal roof provides nearly all of their power. Locally quarried Texas limestone was used on the exterior finish. 

 rock star kitchen 

Recycled quartz countertops and low-VOC finishes were used in the kitchen. 

 rock star living room 

Operable windows and ceiling vans allow for natural light and ventilation. The home’s open floorplan is accessible to wheelchairs. 



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