A Summer/Quarantine Activity: Planting A Vegetable Garden with Kids

By Sarah Hunt, AZFB Communications Intern

Are your kids constantly telling you “I’m bored”? Summer gives us plenty of free time, sometimes a little too much. And with many parents working from home, there’s even more time to kill.

But extra time doesn’t have to be filled with just watching movies or taking naps. Planting a vegetable garden with your kids is an easy, fun, and engaging activity that will keep your kids busy and active all summer long.

Gardening requires taking care of something (your plants, in this case), which kids love to do. Watering, pruning, and more are all a part of your garden’s daily care. When you delegate these tasks to your children, they enjoy the feeling of importance it gives them when they have a job to do that’s all their own. But don’t forget to supervise them! You want to ensure the plants stay healthy and keep growing until the vegetables are ready to be picked.

Some of the easiest plants to grow include microgreens, carrots, radishes, alfalfa/other sprouts, lettuce, beans, zucchini, peas, pumpkins, and edible flowers. Read this great article about why these are some of the best vegetables to grow with your kids.

One of the things to consider when starting a garden with your kids is purchasing a garden box. This is a great investment. It keeps all your plants in one place and provides a separate space for the nutrient-rich soil you will plant your vegetables in.

There are plenty of options for buying a garden box. You can buy them on Amazon (see one example here), or if you want another project to keep you busy, you can make a run to Home Depot or your local lumberyard and build your own!

You will need seeds and gardening tools, which are also available on Amazon (some examples of seeds and gardening tools) or at your local Walmart. You will also need plant markers, which you can make. It’s another enjoyable activity to do with your kids. See these examples for a fun, decorative and creative way to identify your plants.

When its time to harvest your veggies, look up recipes you can make with them by using Fill Your Plate’s recipe database!

Top Five Tips From This Article for Gardening With Your Kids:

  • Make it fun!
  • Get them their own tools.
  • Pick easy vegetables to grow.
  • Invest in or build a garden box.
  • Personalize your garden.

Related Blog Posts:

What Kids Can Learn from Gardening

5 Tips to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

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Posted in Fill Your Plate, Focus on Agriculture, Food, Gardening, Green Matters, Grocery, Health Tips, Healthy Eating, In Season, Just For Fun, Kids, Planting, Produce, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roasted Fennel and Carrots

By Blue Sky Organic Farms

Looking for a delicious new combination of roasted veggies to add to your dinner table? Try roasted fennel and carrots!

Carrots have multiple health benefits. They are full of fiber, antioxidants, and potassium. They can also help people lose weight, have healthier eyes, and lower cholesterol.

Fennel is another good source of fiber, as well as carbohydrates and potassium. It can improve bone health, immunity, blood pressure, and heart health, to name a few.

Make sure to get the freshest vegetables for your roasted fennel and carrots from one of our many Arizona farms using Fill Your Plate’s Find a Farm Product database, which includes Blue Sky Organic Farms, who supplied this recipe!

 

Ingredients:

1 bunch baby fennel

1 bunch purple spring onions

1 bunch spring carrots

1 T. white balsamic vinegar****

1 T. olive oil

1 tsp. chopped garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400* 2. Remove tops from fennel. Cut fennel bulbs in half top to bottom and them cut each piece in half. 3. Remove tops and bottoms from onions and quarter the onions. 4. Peel carrots and cut into sticks. 5. Add veggies to a bowl and add remaining ingredients and toss to coat. 6. Place veggies on a parchment lined sheet pan. 7. Roast veggies for 30 – 40 minutes or until fork tender. 8. Serve immediately. ****you can substitute white wine vinegar for the white balsamic vinegar.
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Succotash

By Blue Sky Organic Farms

Okra and field onions are in season right now, making it the perfect time to make succotash, a delicious side dish.

Onions contain 89% water, making them an excellent supplement for hydration. They are low in sugar and fat, have small amounts of protein, are full of flavor, and have 9.3 grams of carbs.

Okra contains nutritional essentials such as vitamins A, C and K1, as well as folate, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber. It can be helpful to keep blood sugar under control, aid pregnancies, and maintain a healthy heart.

Make sure to get the freshest vegetables for your succotash from one of our many Arizona farms using Fill Your Plate’s Find a Farm Product database, which includes Blue Sky Organic Farms, who supplied this recipe!

Succotash

(Serves 6 – 8)

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 c corn ~ fresh or frozen
  • 2 c of lima beans ~ frozen
  • ½ medium onion ~ diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper ~ cored and diced
  • 1 jalapeno ~ seeded and diced small
  • 8 oz okra ~ trim ends and slice into 1/4″ pieces
  • 6 oz cherry tomatoes ~ quartered
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Dice bacon and cook over medium heat until crisp.  Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plated.  Discard all but 3 TBSP of bacon grease.
  2. If using frozen corn and lima beans defrost.
  3. In the skillet with the bacon grease add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and okra.  Cook for 5 – 6 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add corn, lima beans, garlic, apple cider vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 8 minutes.
  5. Add in tomatoes and bacon and cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Serve immediately.

***Recipe Notes:

  • If you cannot find lima beans, you can substitute with edamame.
  • You can substitute red or white wine vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.
  • For vegan version sauté in olive oil
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Posted in Ag Facts, Cooking, Diet Tips, Farm Facts, Farmer's Markets, Fill Your Plate, Food, Food Facts, Fun Food Facts, Green Matters, Health Tips, Healthy Eating, In Season, In the Kitchen, Produce, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 DIY Projects to Turn Your House Into a Home: Farmhouse-Style

By Sarah Hunt, AZFB Communications Intern

Quarantine has had us all stuck at home with more free time than we know what to do with. Are you tired of binge-watching tv shows and movies and ready to get out and do something?

Look no further! Do it yourself (DIY) projects are a great way to spend your time productively, get some physical activity in, use your creativity, and make something you can use and enjoy every day.

Pinterest has a plethora of great ideas for do-it-yourself projects, with a variety of topics. You can do your own Pinterest search to find customized results for what you are looking to make, or you can check out the ideas we found that every home owner is sure to use and love.

  1. Chalkboard Calendar

If you find it hard to come up with plans for what to do each day, a calendar is just the thing to help you fill your schedule and keep you organized. A chalkboard calendar is even better because you don’t have to buy a new paper one every year; just erase last months events and add your current activities.

  1. Farmhouse Bench with Bin Organizer

Do the piles of shoes around the house seem to never end? Clear them away easily with this bench with bin organizers. It gives you a place to sit to take off or put on your shoes, and when your ready to put on your house slippers, just stow your shoes under the bench for neat and tidy storage.

  1. Hardware Cloth Picture Frame

This is an easy way to add a farmhouse feel to your home without added expense. Simply take a wooden picture frame (you might already have an old one lying around the house), remove the glass, staple hardware cloth to the back, then fasten pictures to the front with miniature clothespins for a beautiful, farm-inspired décor piece.

  1. Hanging Wire Baskets On Reclaimed Wood

These baskets are perfect for growing herbs or indoor plants in. Alternatively, they are a great place to store your fresh fruits and veggies. You don’t have to worry about baskets cluttering up your counter space with these bins. They are mounted to reclaimed wood and hung up on your wall, easy to reach and out of the way.

  1. Blanket Ladder

This is another favorite of mine. Baskets can add clutter to your space when you’re trying to minimize the amount of stuff around the house. A blanket ladder is the perfect solution. They’re easy to make and hold all the cozy blankets your family needs for movie nights.

  1. Wooden Couch Tray

Do you ever sit down on the couch with your meal and drink, only to realize there’s nowhere to put your drink where it won’t tip over? This wooden tray can hold remotes, drinks, headphones, magazines, décor items, and more. A handy piece like this is an essential tool to have around.

  1. Cornhole Boards
  2. Ladder Golf Game

These two yard games are a great way to get your family outdoors and away from technology. They provide a fun activity with a little friendly competition to do while waiting for the meat on the barbeque to be done.

  1. Front Door Wreaths

Is your front door feeling a little bland? Try out one of these ideas for a DIY wreath. They add freshness and color with plants, ribbons, and letters. These are a great way to express your personality and add a family name or friendly greeting.

  1. Letters for Home Decor

These are another great way to turn your house into a cozy home. Personalized letters can be used to spell out first names to decorate children’s rooms, or last names to monogram a living room wall. Single words are also a great way to decorate and enhance a space. Some of the most popular ideas I’ve seen are the word “EAT” for the kitchen, “GATHER” for the living room, or “READ” next to a bookshelf.

Looking for more ideas for activities?

Check out Arizona Farm Bureau employee Julie Murphree’s book on Amazon called “Fresh Air: 50 Ways to Experience the Best Things About Country Life Wherever You Live!”

Also, take a look at Fill Your Plate to find out where to get farm-fresh produce, where the closest farmers markets are, and where you can tour a farm near you!

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Cooking for One: A Guide to Making Meals for the Independent Person

By Sarah Hunt, AZFB Communication Intern

Do you ever find it difficult to cook delicious, homemade meals when you’re only cooking for yourself? Whether you’re young, middle-aged, or elderly; a college student, work full-time or part-time, are single, divorced, widowed or just like being independent, this is the article for you.

I discovered a great Instagram a while back, called @collegenutritionist. Run by Rachel Paul, PhD, RD, the account goes over how to successfully eat and meal prep for one while making healthy and  filling food choices.

Paul has a format she follows for every meal, called #thatformula. It includes 2+ cups of veggies, 4-5 ounces of protein, and 100-200 calories of fats. Not only does this keep you full, but has proven successful in helping many users lose weight.

In addition, Paul encourages eating just a little bit of sugar each day and emphasizes the importance of keeping it in your regular diet. If completely taken out, it can cause cravings that will make it harder to stick to your diet, resulting in binge-eating on treats, gaining weight, and feeling hopeless about weight loss and dieting in general.

Her Instagram account features great ideas for simple, easy recipes that are tasty and satisfying. See some examples below.

Trader Joe’s Alfredo Gnocchi

By Rachel Paul

Makes 2-4 servings

 

Ingredients:

½ bag of cauliflower gnocchi

½ bag of sundried tomatoes

8 oz diced cooked chicken

1 ½ cups of alfredo sauce

4 cups of spinach

ground black pepper

(can purchase ingredients from Trader Joes or any grocery store)

 

Instructions:

Add oil to skillet and turn to low heat. Add ingredients in order listed. Grind black pepper on top to taste. Let simmer on low heat and serve. Once cooled, place leftovers in Tupperware for meal prep.

 

Check out this recipe on Fill Your Plate’s recipe database, and use Fill Your Plate’s Find a Farm Product search engine to find some of these ingredients and buy directly from local farmers!

(Picture credit: Rachel Paul)

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