Happy New Year! Sort of…

Hi Everyone!

According to WordPress, I last posted 5 months ago, WTF, wow! How did that happen? Well, I decided to focus on my full-time job and my RCE Master Gardener Certification, and now that I am finished focusing the health & wellness blogosphere calls to me!

Quick Garden Update: The garden did OK this year, I expanded it and played around with some new things. But since I spent most of my Saturdays there this summer my garden looked like the shoemaker’s children – they have no shoes!


Why Happy New Year? I have a birthday in November and I look at this as the beginning of a new year. While I still have my goals for January – which include my health coaching / personal training business and more writing, I like to take a look at what I have and see what tweaks need to be made in life.

Birthdays remind you that yes, though now a year older and hopefully wiser, you have the next year to look forward to. Take this time to evaluate your relationships, how you treat yourself and others and what really makes you tick. Finding happiness has more to do with looking inward than outward, it begins within you.

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.


Wild Bergamot under a squash


Bronze Fennel on left and Rosemary on right


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


Golden Sage


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.


Unknown Variety Squash


Acorn Squash with an Unknown Variety behind it


Calabasa with Cut Flowers and Sunflowers


Blue Hubbard Squash with and Unknown Variety in foreground


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!





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



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…




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!


Asparagus with Onion Flower in foreground


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.


Cut Flowers

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


Expanded Garden


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


Rutgers Strawberry

And how can we forget Lola with the catnip.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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!


It’s Garden Lust Time!!

Hello Friends,

Today I am feeling giddy thinking about the seeds I purchased on Sunday. I also picked up seed starter soil, cell flats and some vermiculite. I decided I wanted to buy seeds this year to diversify my garden. I still have plenty of seeds that I have saved that I will use this spring, however I could not resist the seed catalog!


Image Courtesy of Amenic181 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A list of the newbies:
Blue Hubbard Winter Squash
Andover OG Parsnips
DeLuxe Lettuce Mix OG
Watercress Cresses
Roodnerf Brussels Sprouts
Kale Mix
Cosmonaut Volkov OG Tomatoes
Black Prince OG Tomatoes
Gardeners Sweetheart OG Cherry Tomatoes
Elecampane OG Elecampane
Winter Savory Winter Savory
White Yarrow Achillea
Love-Lies-Bleeding Amaranth
Butterfly Weed
Autumn Beauty Mix OG Sunflowers
Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflowers
State Fair Mix Zinnias
Beneficials Flower Mix
Cutflower Mix

And of course I have the usual standbys:
Kabocha Squash
Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash
Swiss Chard
Collard Greens

Looks like I will need to fill my calendar with seed starting dates. I also plan to start expanding the beds into the back of yard as I would like to have more of a botanical garden in the yard than just a lot of grass. That’s where a lot of those herbs and flowers will go.

What seeds are you lusting after this season?

To Minimize or Not to Minimize

That is the question. Jared’s been trying to do this for a while and I am officially on the bandwagon. I have come to the realization that I/we have way too much stuff, I am drowning in stuff. Sometimes I wonder if I have hoarding tendencies, I shouldn’t wonder though, I know that I am at least a word hoarder (books, journals and magazines). I know I also have a hard time getting rid of certain things, especially if they came from a departed loved one.


Image Courtesy of Sumetho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I do dream of a clutter-free life and living. I long to walk from one end of our 100 square foot or so office to the other without cringing, tripping, or climbing over anything.

So this week I have decided that I will begin to minimize my life and space. The first project I tackled was clearing out old magazines and journals. Next to my bed I had three stacks of journals and magazines about a foot high each, and I thought I was actually going to read all of that! I say had because with a whoop of joy I put them ALL into the recycling. There isn’t an article, exercise routine or composting tip that I wouldn’t be able to find digitally. I also took some workout clutter and deposited that into the basement where I have been working out lately. Now the bedroom looks and feels great, the chaos that I felt from that pile is gone, it’s a perfect space for rest and tranquility.

I then tackled the living room, specifically a corner table that was beginning to look a little, no, a lot knickknacky… I HATE knickknacks. When we were kids we would throw out my mother’s knickknacks and pretend they broke while cleaning when she would ask about them. Away went old National Geographics, colored bottles and stuff that I hadn’t looked at or needed in years. Instead I took our family photographs and put them on the table, it was nice to see old photos I forgot we had. I didn’t get to finish the mantel, no worries, that will get done in a jiff.

Next room to tackle: The Office!

The bedroom and the living room were the warm-ups for the office. That room has a lot of things I have a hard time getting rid of, including books and old schoolwork. Since I also use it as a home-office, I have client work in there as well. While the obvious trash will be gotten rid of, I need to figure out what to do with the things I legitimately cannot throw out, I think a couple of rough totes in the basement will have to do for now.

The office won’t be the end of it, I’ll still need to go through the bathroom, dining room, kitchen, basement and garage. The kitchen and dining room will be a challenge since we do entertain a couple of times of year.

I’m hoping that this exercise will have a two-fold benefit: 1) making our living space look better with minimal clutter 2) releasing the clutter will help get creative juices flowing, minimize stress and make our home a true sanctuary.

Who knows, maybe we’ll end up in a tiny house some day…


Image from Slight Blog by Trainer Tiny House

So if you’ve taken steps to live as minimal as possible let us know… And if you know of a good consignment shop in Central NJ let me know, I may have to make a few trips over the next few months.