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Happy 7th Birthday FSTS & Happy 7-Year Veganniversary to Me!

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Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I started this blog 7 years ago I had no idea that my life would be so different today. I didn’t know I would be vegan, it wasn’t even an idea in the beginning of February 2010. I would never have thought I was going to leave the corporate world to go back to school for nutrition or enjoy teaching nutrtion so much. I didn’t think I would have lost my mother and one of my beloved cats too soon or that I would have had more dogs than cats in the house. I also didn’t know that my husband had a child and how that secret would affect me, our relationship and my faith in people to do the right thing.

I like to think of the last 7 years as a time of growth, not just in the garden but also in me. I see that life will always have challenges, the latest with a sick kitty, and no matter what it throws at you, you have to rise above it. Like I said in January, I don’t really know where I will end up this year, but I do know that it will include my garden. According to High Mowing Seeds, the time to start onion seeds is now, or about 12 weeks before transplant – so that will be my next project. The garden plan will be to plant lots of greens, garlic (got that started in November) peppers, eggplants, herbs and maybe a few other things. Nothing too ambitious, last year squash borers killed ALL of my squashes so this year I will take a break from them. I’m also done with tomatoes, I like them but I am not in love with them and I want this to be a garden I love that will hopefully love me back.

Long Long Overdue Garden Update

Hello my lovelies,

I know, I have left you for way too long. I promise that I have kept myself sufficiently lazy and busy. Lazy because after a long day at the FoodBank I enjoy my evenings puttering in the garden and sitting outside and busy because I have a garden to tend after all!

By this time of year I usually have a few posts on what I have going on outside and as they, whoever they are, say – better late than never baby!

The Herbs:
I have the usual echinacea, marjoram, caraway and lemon balm growing in my herb patch. This year I added a few perennial plants from the Rutgers Master Gardener sale (Shameless Plug) which includes two varieties of lavender, gold sage, and greek oregano. I also bought some bronze fennel and rosemary. From seed I planted a few more perennials: thyme, garlic chives and yarrow, though right now it only seems I have yarrow growing. The chives and thyme were older seeds but should still have germinated.

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Wild Bergamot under a squash

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Bronze Fennel on left and Rosemary on right

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Echinacea on rights with Caraway and Marjoram on left and Lemon Balm in front

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Golden Sage

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Lavenders on top and Greek Oregano on the bottom

The Squashes:
My lovely squashes how I enjoy them. I have a few acorn squashes, a kabocha or two, a calabasa and some blue hubbard squashes. Alas, my butternuts have become butternots – as in not doing very well. Luckily I have some rogue squashes that have done spectacularly so far, now if I could only know what goodies they will give me.

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Unknown Variety Squash

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Acorn Squash with an Unknown Variety behind it

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Calabasa with Cut Flowers and Sunflowers

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Blue Hubbard Squash with and Unknown Variety in foreground

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Kabocha Squash with Collard seed pods behind it

The Tomatoes:
This year I planted three varieties of tomatoes: black prince, cherry tomatoes and cosmonaut volkov tomatoes. I have to admit I didn’t think they would do as well as they have done so far. Their legginess when I planted them made me think the heirloom plants at the produce store looked good when my seedlings died. I only lost one!

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Tomato

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Tomato

The Peppers:
I have to admit that my peppers have become a bit of a disappointment. The seedlings had done really well but the plants, not so much. I have some yellow peppers, and jalapenos. I have one that I think looks pretty good the others – meh

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Pepper

The Greens:
My pride and joy. I have my usual prolific collards and this year I planted a kale mix that has produced pretty well. My lettuce mix not so much, I think I saw two plants…

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Collards

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Kale mix with Sunflowers and Unknown Variety Squash and Red Cabbage

Everything Else:
The asparagus did well, even the one I thought had died came back. I also planted a purple variety so in a couple of years I hope to enjoy it. I planted beets, way too close together, I have a feeling I’ll have more beet greens than beets which works too!

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Asparagus with Onion Flower in foreground

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Beets with Brussels Sprouts

This year I also added two cut flower beds to the garden, looks like a lot of cosmos and zinnias which I love.

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Cut Flowers

Of course we can’t forget the forage greens like dandelion, lambs quarter and purslane.

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Purslane

I also expanded the garden with a new row of beds and two perennial flower beds that produce flowers for beneficial insects on each side. I put the fencing around to help keep the dogs out.

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Expanded Garden

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Perennial Flower bed around the border of the yard which 

Every year we fill in the border of the yard with new plants and veggies, this year I added a few rutgers strawberries

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Rutgers Strawberry

And how can we forget Lola with the catnip.

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Lola with her favorite Catnip patch behind her

#RepealTheSeal | Petition & Open Letter to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietitics

I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy’s recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging. I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media.

If you feel strongly about this matter I urge you to repost the open letter and sign the petition.

OPEN LETTER TO THE ACADEMY OF NUTRITION AND DIETETICS

March 16, 2015

To Mary Beth Whelan, President Sonja Connor, leadership at the Academy and the Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation:

As long-time members and proud supporters of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), we are dismayed, shocked, and saddened by the blog post in last week’s New York Times. The piece (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/a-cheese-product-wins-kids-nutrition-seal/?_r=0 – ) reports on the KER Foundation’s Nutrition seal— a seal that the Academy states was not an endorsement of the product, but is an indicator of the brands that support Kids Eat Right.

As dedicated Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists and food and nutrition experts, we are protesting the Academy’s position to allow the Kids Eat Right logo on Kraft Singles, as well as the possibility to allow any future implied endorsement of any product by AND for the following reasons:

Flawed Understanding of the Marketplace

We wholly reject the rationale that the Academy used in their formal press release to defend the nature of the relationship between Kraft and the Academy. A logo on a product label is an endorsement, an alignment, and recognition of a paid relationship. Simply stating otherwise in a press release, no matter how emphatically, doesn’t change this fact. Rather, AND’s actions illustrate how profoundly out of touch AND is with business principles, which has put our professional integrity and credibility at risk. It is also a decision that is out of touch with members’ values.

Failure to Provide Transparency to AND Members and Consumers

We work hard to provide full transparency in all of our own business relationships, and we expect the same from the Academy. Failure to be transparent about ANDs actions violates the Academy’s own Ethics Policy, which calls for the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and for members to not engage in false or misleading practices of communications.

Actions Requested of the Academy: #RepealtheSeal

We ask that the Academy make available to its members, the media and the public the following:

  • We ask for full transparency regarding the process of approval to allow the KER logo on the Kraft product— including the names of those involved, the meeting minutes of the discussion, and Board’s vote on this issue.
  • We ask for full disclosure of the terms of the financial agreement between KER Foundation and Kraft. We also request full transparency regarding the status of future agreements under consideration for use of our Logo.
  • We ask the Academy to provide their plan for the discontinuation of this specific relationship with Kraft and removal of the KER logo off Kraft Singles product packaging.

Academy members deserve strong leaders who will protect the integrity of the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist credential. This latest action is an embarrassing misstep that must be corrected swiftly in order to prevent further damage to the RD/RDN brand and to the Academy.

Sincerely,

Rachel Begun MS, RDN
Kate Geagan MS, RDN
Regan Jones, RD
Evelyn Fuertes, DTR

How You Can Help: 3 Steps

PETITION – Sign the petition at change.org (https://www.change.org/p/the-academy-of-nutrition-and-dietetics-kids-eat-right-foundation-repealtheseal?just_created=true), which outlines the steps we are asking that The Academy and KER take to rectify this situation.

POST – Post the attached Open Letter to the Academy and KER leadership on your blog and/or social media platform(s) to reach your peers and audience. Please use the #RepealTheSeal hashtag. While we kindly ask that you keep the Open Letter intact, if you have any additional thoughts or commentary that would be of interest to your readers, please feel free to include that in your own post.

PROMOTE – Please share this Open Letter and/or links to the petition on your social media platforms or your blog, and please feel free to invite others to repost on their blogs and social media networks. If you do share this on your blog, please include the following suggested language to help your audience understand how they can help support the campaign:

I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy’s recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging. I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media.

We thank you for your support!

*American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics and Process for the Consideration of Ethics Issues. J Acad Nutr Diet2009;109(8):1461-1467.

Can’t You Just Taste Spring!

Spring is almost here, the clocks have sprung forward, the days on the East Coast are getting warmer, the snow is melting and the sun is shining. This is the time we start to shed our winter layers.

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Image Courtesy James Barker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I like to think of spring as a time of renewal and hope. New projects and an excuse to be outside more often. Though some projects will keep me indoors, like continuing to declutter the house, the new garden has me very excited – more light and better weather means I can work outside longer.

Garden greens are one of my favorite aspects of spring, here’s a link to one of my favorite recipes – Polenta with Spring Vegetables. Enjoy!

What are your spring plans?

Happy Veganniversary to Me! And Happy Birthday FSTS Blog!

This week, maybe today(!) is my 5-year veganniversary. This is also the 5-year birthday week for this blog, Wow how time flies…

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This is usually the post of the year that I recap the last year and that one was quite eventful. Here are the highlights: I graduated with my Associates Degree, I passed my DTR exam, I started a full-time job at a non-profit, I started the Rutgers Master Gardener Certification and tonight I am hosting my first ever vegan potluck.

Overall it’s been a great year, there have been challenges but what would life be without its ups and downs.

As the next year begins for me and this blog I have decided to focus on Hunger, Nutrition and Agriculture – my three passions. My work at the foodbank has reignited my passion for helping people and I am grateful to be able to do something that I find meaningful. I also plan to have a kickass garden this year with lots of flowers and vegetables, so stay tuned for those updates. Finally, my love health, wellness and nutrition I think shapes everything else.

I look forward to the next year and hope to see you all there with me!

 

Garden Update

I figured it was about time I gave you guys a garden update.

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This spring I didn’t have a chance to get my seeds started early so I pretty much planted as late as I ever have. As I was telling my friend Nelson, who does an awesome job running the Metuchen Farmer’s Market, my gardening philosophy is to take whatever I have and throw it in the ground…

So here’s what has come up

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Kabocha Squash

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Kale and Mystery Squash

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Tomatoes

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Tomatoes

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Borage

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Calendula

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Asparagus

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“Permaculture”

I also have these wild flower looking weeds that have really come in, thanks to my lack of weeding and making it more of a “permaculture” type plot. If anyone knows what these are please let me know!

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Mystery Flowers

What do you have growing in your garden??

LIEBSTER AWARD:

I want to thank my friend Charanya from Yes I’m Vegan 🙂 for nominating me. Below are the rules and questions to answer:

Rules for this award:

  • Thank and link back the person who presented the award to you.
  • Have the award on your post.
  • Answer the questions that has been asked.
  • Award the same to other upcoming blogs.

Charanya’s Questions

  1. What’s your favorite cuisine? Too many! Middle Eastern Maybe
  2. What would be the last meal you will love to eat? Something Indian or Falafel
  3. What is your favorite vege? Changes every day!
  4.  Do you watch Game of Thrones? Yes, though I am behind but have read through book 5
  5.  If you are vegan, why? If not, do you think you could be one for few days? at first it was fr health reasons but as I did more research my reasons became more ethical and environmental
  6.  Is there anything your life wont be the same without? Nope not really
  7.  What’s your favorite movie? Too many to name! I love bad movies!!
  8.  Is there any color you loved as a kid? Green, now my fave is red
  9.  Is there anything you would change in your life if life had a rewind button?
  10.  Do you own an iphone or an android? iPhone
  11. 3 words that could describe you: Passion, Loyal, Independent

My nominees are:

1. Vegan Flavorista
2. Earthpages.org
3. A Lazy Girl Goes Green
4. Veganomics
5. The Novice Gardener
6. Vegan Muffin Woman
7. Epicurean Vegan

My questions are:

1. What is your favorite book?
2. What gets you up in the morning?
3. What color best describes you?
4. What do you do for fun?
5. If you could make one thing in the world right, what would that be?

My garden wishlist

So I am getting ready to start some seeds indoors and have been thinking of what I want to grow this year. I have some kobucha squash seeds that I saved that I will be planting in the next few days. I harvested them a little while ago so they will hopefully be viable.

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I have some dill and garlic chives going on in the light shelf too. I also planted rosemary but I don’t think it’s germinating. There’s something there but they could be weeds from the garden  I use garden soil and reuse potting soil so anything can be coming up.

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Dill

Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives

I have tomatoes and peppers going strong, a little too strong and am afraid that they may outgrow their pots before mid-May. I was hoping to have them produce fruit inside but they are taking forever to grow (I know I am contradicting myself here, stay with me).

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Peppers

Peppers

So that’s what I have, what about what I want? I want the squashes, I also want cucumbers. I have had NO LUCK with cucumbers, not sure why they produce fruit and it’s small and shrivels up in no time. I want beans, lots and lots of beans. Jared and I talked about it and we both agreed to try to plant beans this summer, I want to plant all of the legumes we eat: peas, black, kidney, navy, chickpeas, adzuki and pinto. I am not sure if any of these are pole or bush or whatever so it will be fun to experiment. Now I just need a spot to start them inside

What’s on your garden wishlist? Please feel free to share what you are planning on doing this year and any tips you have for beans!

How is your heart?

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day. I personally think it’s overrated. But always a great excuse to write about heart health.

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Want to keep your tinker in shape? Then follow these few easy steps:

Eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber that will help to manage weight. They are also full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals so that’s an extra perk.

Keep your weight down. The harder the heart has to work the larger it gets, not a good thing. Think of a bicep that’s worked a lot it gets larger, it’s a muscle just like the heart.

Exercise. Move that body! Daily exercise may not keep all of the weight off, it will help keep your heart healthy, not to mention your mind, joints and immune system

Eat the right fats. Good fats are not the enemy,  but there are plenty of bad fats out there. Avoid trans fats as those have been shown to increase heart disease risk. Naturally occurring fats in avocados, nuts & seeds are the best ones out there. Much better than refined oils.

Here’s to another heart healthy year. As always, eat whole foods – that means they look as close to as what nature meant them as possible. If 90% of your diet consists of whole foods then you are doing well on your health journey!

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The Seed – MY Vegan Experience

This weekend was the first The Seed: A Vegan Experience conference. I happen to come across it on a friend’s Facebook page – thanks Nicole!
What a wonderful weekend it was, the line-up was pretty amazing.



Vegan heavy hitters all around plus tons of wonderful (tho not very healthy) food vendors. Yes I felt like a little kid each day leaving with a tummy ache from sampling chocolates, juices, raw tacos, queso etc..

On Saturday I was able to pick up a few goodies including Honeebee free apple honey. Wow it’s great and sticky just like the real thing. I even managed to drip some on my program! I also bought a really cool t-shirt – that says Avant Gardener 

The good news is that they’re also available on online and on Etsy!

Lunch was 3 mini cupcakes from The Vakery, a spicy kale potato salad and a bahn mi from the Regal Vegan – yummy!

As for the lectures I was able to see the last few minutes of Victoria Moran’s lecture – she’s such a positive role model.

First up for me was a talk on Top 10 Tips for going Vegan with the ladies from Our Hen House Jasmin Singer and Marianne Sullivan. They gave some great tips on transitioning and making it easier to stick with your compassionate choice.

Colleen Patrick Goudreau was up next, her Food For Thought podcasts were instrumental in my choice to go vegan. She helped make my transition as seamless as possible. She’s a wonderful speaker and her passion for compassion was shining through. It was one of the many highlights of my weekend.  

Now to the food demos

I watched a whole food cooking demo from the Whole Foods Wellness Club. I’ve heard of Juan Pablo Chavez before but had never been to one of his demos. The Sweet Potato Moroccan Stew he made was simple, wholesome and smelled delicious! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to sample it – boo!

Next on the roster was Hannah Kaminsky of My Sweet Vegan. She presented an ice cream making demo. She was a little nervous so it went a little quicker than expected. Again no sampling (have I said BOO?!) but in the 20 or so minutes it took for her to tell us about making ice cream the base was thick and ice cream-like – all she used was her base, 2 zip lock bags, ice and salt. I’m inspired to try this at home! Who knows we may have homemade vegan ice cream at our annual BBQ this summer!

After the food demos I went to see Kathy Stevens from the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Her passion and love for the animals was very contagious. Her telling of Rambo’s last days was bittersweet. What a crusader, the world needs more people like this.

After Kathy, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw came on to talk about being semi raw (aka high raw with nourishing cooked foods). I’m a fan of hers and like her approach of a balance of raw and cooked foods. I’ve strayed from my raw ways but can definitely agree that I feel better when I am on a high raw diet, not as heavy or bogged down. I think raw foodists get a bit hung up on the percentage raw they are and they forget to do what feels right for them. I know I need some cooked grains and beans to feel satisfied and while I’ve never felt pressure to be 100% (see those percentages again) raw, I do know a few people that aspire to it and have a hard time with it then beat themselves up – turning it into a viscous cycle.

After Gena it was the event’s Keynote Speaker: Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I’ve seen Dr Fuhrman speak before at Integrative Nutrition Conferences and he never disappoints. He gave us a full 90 minutes of non-stop info. Having read Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free
I was familiar with some of what he was talking about, Though I have to admit my biggest takeaway for his talk was using oils for cooking. He pushes for healthy fats by the means of eating them (think olives, nuts, seeds and avocados). I’m going to start recommending that to my clients too. You hear that – no cooking with oil! Add your healthy fats with food!

Sunday was a bit shorter for me but just as good and maybe even better. I got there in the nick of time to see all of Dr Michael Greger’s presentation. I have to admit I have a nerd crush on him. He uses scientific literature to back up what he lectures. I love that about him. He is also a great presenter, very entertaining. So much so that I purchased 4 of his DVD lectures for my own practice. The best part, all of the proceeds go to charity. I highly recommend Dr. Greger’s nutritionfacts.org site for anyone that is curious about the health effects of a plant-based diet. He gives solid information with cited sources. No magic here.

Dr Greger was followed by the very beautiful Kathy Freston. She looks great in photos but looks even better in person. The epitome of a healthy radiant vegan. She sat for a Q&A with Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House. What a great interviewer Jasmin is – I’m looking forward to tuning in to Our Hen House podcasts. Kathy spoke about leaning into veganism and weight loss. She used a couple of my favorite sayings: Progress not perfection and perfect is the enemy of good. It’s nice to see people that are so down to earth with such a powerful message. Kudos to Jasmin on her successful weightloss.

The last speaker I stuck around for was Brendan Brazier. I have his books Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life
and Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health and have always liked his style. He looks for the nutrition powerhouses for peak performance. What this translates to for those of us that aren’t athletes is a whole foods vegan diet that maximizes nutrients while minimizing energy expenditure. Eating a diet as efficiently as possible will help you feel better, have more energy and get more nutrients while eating less calories. This is a no-brainer but not something that people do. That’s probably one of the reasons we have so many overweight people. They are eating but still hungry because their bodies are craving nutrients.

Overall a great weekend of learning, eating and meeting new people. I am already looking forward to the next one!


Back to health and wellness

OH MY GOODNESS, has it really been that long since I last posted?


Anyway… back to health and wellness

So every night for the last week or so I’ve been making the most amazing salads. I’ve been using the greens and herbs in the garden. Last night Jared asked me if all of the greens were ours and with the exception of 3 kale leaves they were! Tonight they will be all ours!

So what are the greens that are in my yummy salad, glad you asked:

Chard
Spinach
Collards
Oregano (or Marjoram not sure which one it is!)
Sage – I love this and it’s sooo healthy! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21452174 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15373716
Lemon Balm
Chives
Scallions

What do I add to it, glad you asked:

Beans (Adzuki, Black, Navy, Chickpeas, Cannellini, Kidney – anything you want!)
Hemp Seeds
Chia Seeds
Cucumber
Tomato
All Purpose or Italian Seasoning
Himalayan Pink Salt or Herbamare
Fresh ground Black Pepper

What’s the dressing, glad you asked:

Tahini
Flaxseed oil
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Lemon if we have any which we don’t right now
Water to thin if you like.

Enjoy!






And yeah those sprouts I grew myself too, glad you asked.