Updates on gardening

25 06 2013

After having lost one cucumber and one okra plant, temperatures finally settled and Summer started… sort of. We still have a lot of fluctuations, some cold days, some really hot days, but no more freezing. We just had a couple of very rainy weeks and the result was tomatoes on steroids! The plants are so big that I had to cut one down because it got larger than the cage and I was afraid the branches were too heavy for them to have enough support.

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Huge tomatoes, caged zucchini, and lots of goodness to come!

I also decided to cage the zucchini plant. I know it is not a very orthodox move (do you cage zucchini?) but I needed to get it out of my peppers, cucumbers and eggplants. It is now growing upwards inside the cage, I just have to give it gentle nudges to keep the leaves inside every few days. An interesting side effect of being inexperienced about anything is that sometimes you come up with solutions that are not the norm, will they work? only time will tell. For example, I realized that the second cucumber plant I planted was not a bush like my first choice, but a vine… surprise! So I got a bamboo rod and I am getting it to climb up along it. My husband told me you normally have them in a trellis, but maybe this will work, what do you think?

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A friend of mine passed me some chives, which are happily rooting in Ignacio’s plot, and I started some lettuce inside. That proved to be more challenging than what I thought. My first batch got burnt by the sun one particularly hot day, so my next batch I move around for it to get good morning sun but not to get too hot afternoon sun… Ignacio is delighted watering them. The second challenge is that the cats find them yummy. Yesterday I started a second batch outside, because I want to see how they do outside compared with inside and because everybody is of the idea that having a succession of seeds started every two weeks is best.

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I put the chives in water until the rains passed and I could go out in the garden and plant them. They performed really well.

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Lettuces in a pot, the leaves are super pretty too!

The tomatoes are full of fruits, all of them green. The peppers are too fruiting… today Ignacio sneaked away and took my first pepper way before its time. I was rather sad… I really was looking forward to eating that yellow pepper :/ we ate it anyway, but it was not fleshed out, not good tasting… meh. Next one will be.

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That little pepper? It is no more.

I am so excited about all the plants doing so well I even got another okra to give it a try again now that the frost is not a danger anymore. My husband gave me a bunch of gardening books for my birthday and I am really looking forward the next growing season so I can actually plan a garden to get started early and have a good harvest season early on.

What do you like to plant best? Ideas?





Review and Giveaway: Raw Crunch energy bars

27 02 2012

If you are a little bit like me you are concerned about what you eat, what materials are put in your food, if there are insecticides galore, chemicals that will hurt you and your family… Also, if you are a bit like me you are either on the go or on the go, which makes you feel tired and low energy… or maybe you are the kind that I would like to be, that exercises and stays fit. That is why I contacted Kathy and Ross, creators of Raw Crunch, to review their energy bars and organize a giveaway. The bars arrived when my dad was still here so we all had a good time reviewing the box that included all the four flavors: Chocolate, Blueberries, Cranberries and Goji Berries.

These bars are hand made! raw and organic, packed with high quality seeds that carry a load of fiber and good for you oils. The flavor is just delicious and I enjoyed greatly the raw honey, which tasted incredibly good and lingered around my mouth for a while. We all liked them, though probably I was the biggest fan (not too surprising, given that I was also the only woman). My dad commented that they are a little on the hard side for senior citizen’s that don’t have the best teeth, and we all think that the packaging, though gorgeous, is hard to open especially if you are jogging or hiking when you need a snack.

Raw Crunch Chocolate bar. The texture is just to die for!

I find that the seed combination was great to give a nicely balanced flavor, and though the base is the same for the four varieties, I enjoyed the most the blueberries and the chocolate ones. These two were sweeter and complemented the seeds better. The chocolate… the chocolate was just fantastic, very high quality, dark but not bitter… just perfect!

You can buy these snacks at the store, and if you apply the code BLOG1 you will obtain a 10% discount! Thank you so much Kathy! Also, you can learn more about them in Raw Crunch’s blog or Facebook page

…Or you can win a delicious sample box entering our giveaway in our Facebook page.





Peeled Snacks: Review and Giveaway

6 02 2012

Variety pack: apple, banana, mango, apricot, pineapple, and cherry. You can win these by entering the giveaway!

Sometimes we just want a snack, something sweet and small… but at the same time we want to keep it healthy and natural. Fruit is many times my snack of choice, and I absolutely love dry fruit! It was great to get to review dry fruit by Peeled Snacks. This dry fruit is organic so if you need a sweet fix, you need not to worry about the effects on you.

I was sent a variety pack containing six different bags, each with a different fruit. The packaging is lovely, attractive and vibrant, very attractive for a visual person like me! and it has a window through which you can see the fruit you are about to eat. I really like how each bag is one serving, so you do not have to be guessing how much you ate, you don’t need to count pieces of fruit and you just can focus on enjoying the fruit you are eating. They were very sweet, especially the tropical varieties, as mango and pineapple, which was perfect for a late afternoon snack when my sweet attack comes around!

Dried apples by Peeled Snacks.

Follow Peeled Snacks in Facebook to learn about news, specials of the month and tips.

Buy it! Where? You can buy them in Starbucks in Canada and United States, among other retailers. You don’t live in either country? No worries, they have an online store too!

Or win an Organic Fruit Picks Variety Pack by entering the giveaway by filling the rafflecopter in Sensibly Green’s Facebook!

Mangoes and pineapples were my favourite!





Review: Mate Factor

30 01 2012

Yerba Mate, this is one of the things I really miss from home. In Argentina mate has a prominent place, it is a companion during long sleepless study nights, a ritual of friendship and good will and it is just plain awesome. Yerba mate is a bush whose leaves are used to prepare a beverage similar to tea, but with a very unique flavor. It contains a chemical similar to caffeine, called mateine, and though it has been argued that mateine does not exist and that mate contains caffeine, other studies show that the caffeine content is low and that there are different xantines in mate. Those from the south of South America, especially Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and south of Brazil, are very well acquainted with all the wonderful health benefits and energy loads that you can get from mate!

Selecting the right cup for each occasion is of importance for mate lovers!

Joshua, from Mate Factor sent me some samples to try and give my opinion. I got the original Fresh Mate, Dark roast and Chai. I took advantage of Christmas day since my friend Eduardo (also from Argentina) and my dad were here, because mate is meant to be shared. Edu was in charge of preparing the mate.

Eduardo opening the pack. Oh, the anticipation!

Upon opening the vacuum packed leaves we noticed that the leaves were very finely ground, and there were no sticks and very little powder (that is good, for mate connoisseurs), the very finely ground leaves can be a mild annoyance if you are planning to take the mate the traditional way, in a gourd and with a straw, because the leaves can go through the holes of the mate straw, however, it is irrelevant if you are planning to prepare it in any of the other many ways suggested by Mate Factor (I really liked that the package suggests how to prepare it in so many different ways!).

Unique vacuum sealed packaging.

Please, appreciate the grinding of these leaves! No sticks and low powder!

You can also see that once the water is added the mate still looks low in powder and has no sticks

This mate is not processed the traditional way, it is different than other brands because it is not aged and non smoke cured, preserving the antioxidants and keeping a flavor that I find more herbal. The aroma is sweet and mild, and the flavor is accessible, sweet and very mild. It would be the perfect mate for those that are interested in this beverage but are not quite fond of the traditional bitter flavor. The after taste is sweet and pleasant, and the leaves last many rounds of water not loosing their flavor (this is for those using a mate gourd).

Out of courtesy, the person preparing the mate takes the first one. This ensures that the "worse" mate is not given to any friend.

Dad appreciating the mate falvor.

We all agreed that it would be an ideal introductory mate for an American public, given that traditional mate is really an acquired taste and most American people frown their noses after trying it the way we like it back home. It might be like wine, you’ll start with a sweet, mildly fragrant leaf and end up with a strong and bitter one ๐Ÿ™‚ Another crowd that will find this mate agreeable is the white tea people, especially with the flavored varieties. The Mate Chai reminded me strongly of white tea, the spices were very nicely balanced and flavorful! Finally, the Dark roast had a bolder flavor and more body than the fresh loose leaves, it is suggested for people that want the coffee boost but not the crash. Whatever the reason, mate is a great treat, give it a try and let me know that you loved it!

Also in tea bags, the preparation is just like for tea, except you must not boil the water.





EcoLips

20 01 2012

One of the things I am always concerned about is what I get on my baby’s skin and mouth… and everything ends up in his mouth, so I have to be careful with what I use myself. I do not want to use cosmetics that could harm him in any way, so I was quite excited when EcoLips founder Jen sent me a few samples to try.

Why would I want to use organic lip balm? Well, if you take a look at your regular balm you might find that there are a lot of chemicals on them that can lead to allergies and immunotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and also be related to ecological and occupational hazards… yes, this coming from the top cosmetic brands too (oh, and some of them have the word “Naturals” in the name!). So given that I take health quite seriously and I think a developing baby should be protected from as many risks as possible, I have decided that I do not want to kiss his little mouth with a balm that is full of chemicals that I would not want on me in the first place!

Eco Lips makes lip balms that are just want I want! Jen sent me the balms just in time for the dry Pittsburgh winter, for what I am very grateful!

Ecolips are made with ebe wax. For those that rather go vegan they have an option too!

The company:

In the early 90’s Andrea started making lip balms using all natural ingredients, she would then give these balms away as gifts to friends and family. She gave a sample to Steve who, like in a romantic movie, fell in love with the product, then fell in love with Andrea, and encouraged and coached her to build up a company! The company was successful and their sales representative Jim completed the team by helping develop a unique lip balm that would be organic, and sellable.

Eco Lips is successfully growing and still handcrafted! They are also concerned about the environment and besides using organic ingredients they donate 1% of their sales to organizations that take care of it. Besides that they have the “cause balm” which donates $1 of each sale to the cause of choice. I love companies that give back to the community!

My impressions:

Jen sent me a bunch of balms to try, which was incredibly generous from her: Eco Lips Gold, which is an all around balm; Medical, especially formulated for lip sores; two Eco Tints, which are colored; and Orange and Spice, to revitalize and neutralize free radicals. I don’t think I can explain the incredible variety they have, it is truly overwhelming when you look at their catalog and have to choose from it! This means that you will surely find one balm that perfectly matches your needs!

Because my husband is always suffering from dry, breaking lips, especially when he goes run at 6:30 AM in the freezing temperatures of Pittsburgh’s winter, I handed him the Gold and Medical balms. He is really happy with them, so far his lips have stayed hydrated and soft, and he has been using the Gold balm every day. When I gave him the Medical one, he looked at me as if I was giving him poison, but when he started to read the ingredients he said “Oh, it’s all natural!” and was pleased to get to try it. It smells like spearmint really nicely too!

I kept one of the Ecotintand gave the other one to my friend Hope, much younger and modest than I. We both liked these because they have a mild color to them, and this color is given by Iron oxides, which are

All organic and FDA approved!

harmless for you (unlike Lead, for example) and even the darkest colors are attractive and subdued, enough for them to be noticeable but fit a modest type of girl too.

Finally, the Orange and Spice has a delicious smell and taste! You can seriously taste the orange oils! I made the mistake of using it before going to bed and I was tasting and smelling oranges for many hours! ๐Ÿ™‚ I still love it during the day, though.

All these are super creamy and rich. Both my husband and I agree that they are creamier than regular balm and that they are really good to keep your lips hydrated.

The giveaway:

Enter the Rafflecopter on Facebook for your chance to wine one (1) Eco Lips Gold Balm with an Ecoclip (100% recycled materials!).

Visit Eco Lips on Facebook today for promotions and great information!

Follow Sensibly Green on Facebook to be updated about our reviews, giveaways and new posts and to get exclusive content!





Review: Nature’s Hand Granola

13 01 2012

French Vanilla and Almonds.

Granola. This is one of the words that I hear all the time as defining of healthy-eating people (and hippies) and with reason. Granola is one of those really good for you foods: it has grains galore, some natural sweeteners and it is just so good! But not all granola is created equal! Some of them have been turned into unhealthy HFCS and trans fats packed foods!

Nature’s Hand has released recently a new granola in six varieties, and I was really happy to get to try two of them! They sent me French Vanilla Almond and Maple Pecan. Nom!

The company:

Nature’s Hand was born from the passion of two people in Minnesota for the flavor of the old world. Being Bavarian immigrants they started to blend and bake their own granola mixes and, as many times happens, friends and family started to show a real interest for their recipe. This is when they started to think of commercialize it and they became locally successful. Years later they decided to retire and transfer the company to new owners that would respect the original recipe and market it to a wider public.

Nature’s Hand aims to make health conscious products and donates more than 10K pounds of granola to local shelters each year! They seriously have my interest!

The review:

I really like the packaging of Nature’s Hand. It is resealable and elegant, with a transparent window that lets you peak inside and see what you are about to eat. Natureโ€™s Hand uses only premium

Wonderful texture, the way they are baked makes the oats cluster just right!

all-natural ingredients, which are full of fiber, protein and antioxidants.ย  The brand is low in sugar and contains no artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, cholesterol, trans fats or sodium.

These are pleasantly crunchy and tasty. The taste is nicely balanced, I really like how mildly sweet they are and the different flavor that they have to the other brands because of the soy oil and little sesame seeds (a very nice underlying flavor!) They are high in calories, since 1/4 cup gives you 140 calories, but as a healthy food in the middle of a hike in the forest, this is exactly what you need.

I have tried these alone and they are great, with milk for breakfast and I love the flavor they give to the milk, and they are also great with yogurt. Need ideas? Nature’s Hand has a recipes page to inspire you! French Vanilla is sweet and goes great with yogurt and bananas, Maple pecan has a drier smokier flavor, just delicious!

Good morning! Start your day with a nutritive breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚





Superfood snacks: review and giveaway

6 01 2012

I am so spoiled… Blogging about one of the things I feel passionate about is wonderful for many reasons: I enjoy doing this, I get to communicate my ideas, I get to know like-minded people, and I get to receive great products to review! Sometimes I am lucky enough that I get to review them and have a giveaway to share the goodness with other people, how awesome is that!?

Sunrise in Hanamaulu beach, near to Lihu'e, where Superfood Snacks is based.

One of the products I got to review over the holidays was Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy energy nuggets by Superfood Snacks.

The Company:

Superfood Snacks is a company from Kawai’i, Hawai’i, which is like paradise on Earth, in case you didn’t know. Superfood snacks are no regular snacks, they are made with high quality raw super foods that are fairly traded, meant to give you energy! Kawai’i is a great place for adventure tourism, and this influences the spirit of the company, these nuggets are meant to load you with energy so you can keep going and enjoying the great outdoors (I wish I would have known of them when I went on my honeymoon!).

They are passionate about the environment too, and it could not be otherwise coming from the Garden Island, they are pioneers in using raw chocolate and also in generating a 100% recycled, colorful printed package that is biodegradable and compostable in about 180 days!ย  But wait, there’s more! Their printing methods are also super environmentally friendly!ย  And did I mention that 1% of their sales is destined to environmental projects? I am so impressed with them for trying so hard to do the right thing!

Can you see the colors of the sunrise in the biodegradable packaging?

My impressions:

I got a pack of Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy. These packs bring six morsels, at 110 cal per two morsels. They are made of raw cocoa (dried in the sun, the original way!) and have agave nectar, mangoes and other tropical fruits, Brazil and other nuts, sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla powder among other awesome ingredients full of antioxidants.

These are chewy and soft, pleasantly moist and not too sweet, which is refreshing. The slightly acidic flavor reminded me of the berries and mangoes contained in the nuggets, and the small but distinctive pieces of fruit and nuts gave the morsels a nice crunch. I really liked the nice and balanced aftertaste.

My dad and my husband really liked them too! Which is great, since sometimes men and women differ in their taste for all organic, raw food ๐Ÿ™‚ also, they are in opposite sides of the work out spectrum, my husband being a fit guy who loves to run and lift weights and my dad being happier sitting in the sofa with a good novel and a coffee. My dad only wishes that the morsels were smaller, but I didn’t mind the size,ย  just bit through them instead of popping them in my mouth being whole.

Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy. Yumm!!

The giveaway:

Superfood Snacks and I want to share the goodness! And they will send two (2) bags of Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy to a lucky winner! So, if you are a raw food lover, a vegan, or just someone who would love to try these unique snacks, head over to Facebook and enter the Rafflecopter!

Waimea Canyon. Kawai'i has everything you can dream of for the adventurous type.

... and also chickens.