Clean Eating Reboot- Help a Hippie Out

There are two things I learned about clean eating the last time I tried it: it works, and it’s expensive.

It’s also time consuming, but I knew that going in. Not so much a learned thing.

How do you people do this and make ends meet? I need some suggestions from folks on a budget who are making this a lifestyle.

It’s the ‘because it works’ part that I’m going back in. I’m tired of being overweight and unhealthy and I’m tired of my teenage girls feeling the same way. Time for a reboot. Beginning again isn’t going to be easy. I remember how hard it was to give up all the things that made this south Louisiana girl’s heart and tummy happy. My challenge will be finding ways to make those things clean. This could be tough.

Baking is the other tough one. Not so much that I love to bake. I actually don’t like it at all. What I like are baked goods that someone else made. And raw cookie dough. Baking seems to be where the major expense comes in as far as clean eating goes (other than meats). I mean, I can grill some veggies pretty cheap, but if I want a clean baked thing, there’s all sorts of odd and expensive flours and sugars that you need. Let’s face it, coconut sugar and almond flour aren’t cheap like white sugar and white flour are. I know why that’s true, but it doesn’t make the fact or the cookies any easier to swallow.

We are the family that processed foods were made for and clean eating laughs in the face of. We are broke and busy. Why is it that I can buy frozen pizzas for a little over a dollar each, but to cook a healthy clean meal for 4 people it may as well be a restaurant sit down dinner someone else does the work and dishes for? Why is that the way of the American grocery industry? Sure, I could grow my own food, and I do to some extent, but it’s going to be a long time before this container garden is adding anything to our meals.

Don’t misunderstand this to be a rant against clean healthy eating. It’s not that at all. My reboot, and the numbers on my scale, have just brought glaringly to mind the problems with clean eating that shouldn’t exist, because they are really problems with the American processed food industry and the other parts of feeding the American people that make healthy food out of the budget of the majority of Americans. That’s so wrong. It makes me wonder what countries in Europe are doing that we aren’t, and how we follow their example. They don’t have the land and resources we do, and yet, they eat much better than us. Processed food is rare. I remember coming back from trips abroad and wanting to keep eating the way I did in Europe. But somewhere along the way, I slipped back into the rhythm of convenience with processed food. I felt worse, but less broke.

Meal prep is a big thing with clean eating, too, and I get that it’s a good way to save some time over the course of the week, but what do people whose weekends are as busy as their weeks? I don’t have an entire day to cook and, frankly, I don’t want to eat the same thing day after day. Too easy to say, “I’m sick of burrito bowls. I’m just going to pick up something on the way home.”

So, another suggestion I need is quick and easy weeknight meals that don’t require spending a weekend doing meal prepping when there are ballgames and rehearsals that must be done. And variety. That would be good. There are tons of variations on cilantro lime chicken. I got that one down.

Cheap and quick clean meal suggestions. On your mark, get set, GO! Help a hippie out, please!

Much love!

~Nola

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Container Garden Transplanting Seedlings and Aloe Vera How To

Starting seeds in small containers is wonderful, but there comes a time when they need a little breathing room. When the time comes, head for your local discount store. I found some great Fourth of July partyware on clearance. By now, you should know that pots aren’t really my thing. They get pricy and there’s really no excuse for it. Plastic containers and plastic pots are made pretty much the same way, but for some reason pots cost ten times more.


Like my earlier post, Container Garden DIY, I begin with drilling holes since partyware doesn’t come with them pre-drilled. Now, be careful here. Going too fast or pressing too hard with the drill can crack the bowl.


Even as many times as I’ve done this, I still screw it up.  Easy pressure and let the bit work for you.


Lovely.

Now, we begin the fun part. Dirt!!  Actually, potting soil and pool noodle donuts.   Potting soil is important to container gardening success. Garden soil is too dense and heavy for container plants to root well and drain properly.

My aloe plant was bought for me because I tend to burn myself when I cook. I blame it on being 5 feet tall and too close to the stove and pots. My family says I’m a kitchen clutz.  The plant was in a kitchen window, but just wasn’t thriving so I moved it outside.  It began to do better, but was clearly root bound.


Time to help the little guy out. After prepping his new digs, I loosened up his roots.


While it seems cruel and like you are hurting the plant, it will thank you for it. Don’t worry if some roots break. Plants are awesome at overcoming that.  Nestle those newly freed roots into some potting soil and water it well to let the roots settle in to their new place.


The other seedlings are far from root bound, but need space so they can grow into the big beautiful plants they are meant to be. After deciding who was going to live where (spinach in the large ones, eggplants in the blue, jalapeños in the small red), it was time to get transplanting.


I’m sure you’re thinking Misic City Hippie must have some fabulous potting bench made out of reclaimed things (#goals), but the reality looks more like this:


Yep, that’s how I roll. Plopped down on my deck in the dirt and bird seed shells. Glamour gardening.


It gets the job done, though. I do have a small issue. My container vegetable garden addiction is taking up some of my space for my yoga on the deck obsession. Making it work.   The doves and squirrels had to come by and check out my handiwork when I was finished. Joe the cardinal had his dinner while I was replanting peppers. He’s too chill. Love him.

Hope this little how-to will help someone.  Share your container garden successes or questions in the comments!

Please like, share, comment, and follow!

Much love and light!

~Nola

Container Garden Squash Blossoms Falling Off?

You have worked hard and nurtured your little squash plants. Mother Nature herself could not have done a better job. One morning, you check on your precious plants and find some big beautiful squash blossoms!  Horray!  You start planning your menu for when your prized squash will be ready for harvest.


The next day, you go outside to discover the flowers have shriveled and gone all sticky. Egads!  Some squash blossoms fell off the plant!  What the heck?  This spells disaster for your carefully planned menu and you begin to wonder where you failed your little plants.

Never fear. This is completely normal for all squash plants, container garden or in the ground.  Those big showy blossoms are indeed short lived and don’t have long for pollinators to find them. But there’s more to the story.

You see, Mother Nature is clever. She puts both male and female flowers on the same plant. Only the female flowers will become squash. These little gems tend to emerge a bit later than the males and are usually closer to the center of the plant.  Why?  Because as the squash develops, there are more leaves in the canopy to shield it from sunburn and other dangers. Male flowers tend to be greater in number and often more on the outside of the plant. This makes the plant irresistible to pollinators.  When our little friends buzz from male to female, they pollinate and a squash is born.

Male flowers have some quirks. One, they are disposable. Meaning once they have bloomed and attracted bees, they aren’t needed and fall off to make room for others. So the squash blossoms falling off of your plant are completely normal.  They are just males that are no longer needed. Others have likely bloomed in their place with fresh pollen. Two, they are delicious. Yes, you can eat them. Pull a few off and fry them or stuff them.

But, wait, how do you know the difference between male and female squash blossoms?  You don’t want to harvest one that has potential to be a veggie (fruit really. A berry to be specific.).


Let’s talk anatomy. On the left is a male squash flower.  It has a long stalk and is thin and straight all the way to the flower base.  On the right is a female squash flower.  It is closer to the center of the plant, doesn’t have the long stalk, but more importantly, it has a bulge at the base of the flower.  Once pollinated, this bulge is what becomes the squash.   Like males, the females will only bloom for a day and then close up, but they will hang on as the baby squash develops while the males drop off.

So, your squash blossoms dropping off the plant is sad, but normal. Don’t worry, a healthy plant will produce lots of blossoms to enjoy through the season.

Squash varieties, including zucchini, are easy to grow and usually prolific producers of fruit. The large showy blooms are an added bonus.

So, rest easy and know that Mother Nature has this well in hand.

Are there other container garden questions you have had as you start out with your garden? Post them in the comments!

Please like, share, comment, and follow!

Much love and light!

~Nola

Container Garden DIY Idea

Last year’s garden didn’t work out too well.  The soil is dense and rocky, and the bunnies, deer, and bugs had a field day with it.  So, this year, I decided to try some container gardening since my deck is pretty high off the ground.  As far as I know, deer don’t go up and down stairs, and bunnies are too skittish to get that close to where people may be.  It seems to be working as far as that goes, but I had another issue.  How do you grow a small space container garden on a budget?

The dollar store and some ingenuity, that’s how.  Well, those and Pinterest.  I mean, who can function without Pinterest?  Not me.

I already had a container garden tomato plant, but wanted to do more container vegetable gardening.  With my new clean eating plan, veggies are a must and nothing beats the ones you grow yourself.  Squash and zucchini are some of my favorites.  I have also developed a new love for fresh salads, especially with all the wonderful summer fruits and vegetables.  I don’t have a lot of space on my deck thanks to a tremendous grill/smoker combo that we only use one side of.  Time to get creative.

I went to the dollar store and bought some large bowls and a couple of pool noodles.  My hubby loaned me his drill and I made some drainage holes in the bottom of the bowls.  Pool noodles got cut into donut slices to use for light-weight drainage.

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Then, I filled the bowls with a mixture of potting soil and grounds for my garden from Starbucks (FREE!).  For the little zucchinis, I needed some support for the plants.  I had some tomato cages from last-year’s garden, but they were way too tall.  So, out came some zip-ties and I bent them to a good height.  More holes in the sides, more zip-ties and we were in business.  Pop in the seedlings and there you have it.  Squatty little zucchini bowls.

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I did the same thing without the cages for my lettuce bowl container garden.  They are in the festive green bowls that happen to look a bit like lettuce.  I also planted some radishes in an extra bowl.

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And there you go!  A little container gardening idea DIY for an easy container garden without spending a lot of money.  I’m a bit obsessed with this whole concept now and have added container garden herbs, flowers, and even more veggies like spinach, eggplant, peppers, and onions.

If you have some creative ideas for container gardens, share in the comments!

Please like, share, comment, and follow.

Much love and light!

~Nola