February 11, 2009

Growing in our

Kitchen Garden:


Fun and easy to grow, sprouts provide good nutritional value at a more-than-reasonable cost. Perfect for greening mid-winter salads and sandwiches.

Why grow sprouts? They are incredibly rich in nutrients, cheap, quick, and easy to grow (no sun, no soil needed) right in your kitchen (great project for the kids), sprouts are low in calories, and they are very versatile. In salads and sandwiches of course but also in breads, stir fry and many other Asian recipes. Broccoli sprouts offer dynamite nutrition while radish sprouts add real zing, and onion, cabbage and pea sprouts are terrific in stir fry. Caveat: Just as with any food, don't go overboard on sprouts. It is possible to eat too much of these good things leading to possible nutritional deficiencies, but honestly, I think you'd have to be totally nuts to consume the amounts that could case this effect.

What kind of sprouts to grow?? I think you'll be surprised at what's available for spouting seeds, far beyond the alfalfa, mung, radish and broccoli that may come right to mind. You can certainly find a good selection of sprouting seeds at your local health food store, but I buy most of my seeds including those for sprouting from Pinetree Garden Seeds in New Gloucester Maine. I would caution you not to use just any old garden seed to sprout to be sure you avoid treated seed. Pinetree offers 16 individual seeds and mixes for sprouting. Their salad, sandwich, stir fry and munching mixes are excellent. I would caution you not to use just any old garden seed for sprouting to avoid the possiblility of using treated seed.

How to grow sprouts. Couldn't be easier! When I first started I used quart canning jars with cheesecloth over the top held on by an elastic band. You can buy three different mesh-size plastic lids to use with canning jars for various size sprouting seeds, and you can also use stackable tray sprouters which I use for growing large amounts of mung beans.

To grow sprouts, start small! A TBSP of alfalfa seed may yield a cup to a cup and a half of sprouts! Rinse seeds in a strainer or colander - some seed such as that alfalfa is tiny - picking out any that look off-color, etc. Put the rinsed seeds is a nice clean jar (I use 1-quart wide-mouth jars), cover the seeds with a few inches of warmish water and let set on countertop overnight. Little bits of chaff and such will float to the top, easy to remove.

Next, drain the seeds thoroughly then rinse them with cool water, swishing well. Drain again, set jar on its side and jiggle somewhat to spread out the seeds, put in a dark cupboard, and there they grow! Rinse and drain daily and start enjoying your greens in just a few days for some varieties, 4-5 days for some of the larger ones.

I like to keep several kinds growing on a rotating basis... YUM!

We've been blessed this winter to have a number of deer who visit us daily to partake of the apples we're delighted to share with them.

I just love seeing them!

February 4, 2009



Wiitm and Wiitm Fitness are registered trademarks of Nintendo of America. I've tried to be careful about putting the tm symbol in but it doesn't work in some places such as the title and labels.

Did you get a new Wiitm for Christmas, it's all installed, and you're comfortable using it? Great fun, isn't it! The bowling and boxing are big in our household, but this past week, I've taken the fun to a whole new level with Wiitm Fitness. The folks who came up with this program are absolutely geniuses!

I can try to describe this fitness program, but you really, really have to try it just once to totally understand how awesome it is. First off, let me confess that I've tried going to gyms and it's just not me. I don't like driving, especially in our Maine winters, then I really just don't like being there, although I certainly fell in love with their elipitical machines. We do have a treadmill at home and of course plenty of hand weights.

So obviously the first appeal of Wiitm is using it right in front of the tv, never leaving home and wearing whatever I feel like. The system consists of your Wiitm basic box, hand control, a balance board, a CD, and from there on, with the explicit directions and pictures, it could not possibly be simpler WITHOUT ever seeming simplisitic.

There's a body test you can do or skip. I wanted it as a baseline, or maybe I was just feeling masochistic. It told me my weight (a little over), BMI (only a couple of points too high) , Wiitm Fitness age (this one hurt), and then assessed my balance, something I knew would need work. Yup, I do.

This feels like a very individualized program, and I especially like it keeping track of the time I spend in the Fitness Plaza and the stamp I put on the calendar after each day's visit. I've LOVED seeing my weight and BMI nudge downward, no matter how slightly each few days.

Now when I started, I had visions of the same old-same old exercise routines, but what a stunner when I found out how much just plain fun this program is! There are four areas to work in - yoga, strength, aerobic, and balance training. I headed straight to the balance area.

First, I got to try being a soccer goalie trying to head off balls kicked at me. HA! Then a ski slalom making the gates (or NOT!) just by leaning my body on the balance board. Then on to the ski jump (a favorite), next a devilish "game" where you use body motions to try to get balls through holes on a tilt table.

The tightrope walk was a real challenge as you have to "jump" over a machine coming toward you in the middle of the crossing. Each of these "games" is separate so you can do the ones you want, each is only a few tries and then you can move on or retry the one you're doing a few more times. You get scores and see yourself improve on the spot.

In the aerobics area, I love the hula hoop, something I've never been good at in real life but which I can do pretty well here, even with people tossing more hoops at me as I twirl on that balance board. There's a 3-minute, well-paced run, which turns out to be one of my strengths.

Because I already work with weights every other day, I haven't been to the strength training area yet, but I visited the yoga center and I was impressed. I've gone to yoga classes on and off for years and this "instructor" (I chose a female trainer) with her very clear modeling of the poses...well, this is as well done as any class I've ever had.

No! NO, honestly, I am not a paid Wiitm promoter! The myriad uses for this program with a wide variety of users should be obvious. While it's being used in some rehab settings already, most anyone could benefit from it, certainly the elderly who could often benefit from the balance and other targeted activities, without leaving home, and in whatever little pieces can be managed.

Although I'm only at the beginner level for just about every activity, I see - and feel - progress. I reallly feel as though I've given you the most cursory overview of this fitness program, but I hope it'll inspire you to consider whether it might fit your fitness needs in a way you'd actually consistently use. I'll let you know how it goes, but so far, it's been all fun and games!