5 Tips to Get Back to Nature

5 Tips to Get Back to Nature

April 23, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 

Since Earth Day is still fresh in most of our minds, here’s another post singing Mother Nature’s praises!

Did you know that exposure to plants and trees can benefit your health in tangible ways? It’s true! Yet, we live in a time when “nature deficit disorder” (a phrase coined by journalist and author Richard Louv) is widespread. Characterized by increasingly sedentary and indoor lifestyles, this condition is not recognized by the mental health community—but the side effects are becoming evident in today’s society.

This relationship has shifted from the days when children’s free time was less structured, to today’s prevalence of organized sports and video games. And although children suffer most from nature deficit, adults who are not comfortable with nature and science also contribute to the disorder. Fortunately, it’s easier than you think to get back to nature.

Here are 5 tips for benefitting from a bit of horticultural therapy:

1. Spend more time outdoors.

Plan parties at local parks, take vacations that involve hiking or camping, and spend time walking around your neighborhood, listening to birds chirping and noticing the changing environment as the seasons turn.

2. Limit screen time for yourself and your children.

As a society, on average we spend 8 hours per day plugged in. What would happen if you cut that down to 2 hours? You could extend your life! A 2011 study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology conducted by a group of international researchers, showed that anyone who devotes more than four hours daily on screen-based entertainment such as TV, video games or surfing the web, ups their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113 percent and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 50 percent compared to those who spend fewer than two hours daily in screen play.

3. Volunteer.

Find a local environmental or land stewardship organization and see if you can donate your time in their outdoor campaigns. You’d be surprised how many projects for which they need helping hands!

4. Plant a garden.

Whether it’s a few pots on your balcony or a full-blown 20×20 garden, growing your own food and getting your hands dirty connects you with the earth. If you don’t have much outdoor space of your own you can use for this purpose, look into securing a community garden plot or sharing space with a willing neighbor.

5. Shop at the farm.

A weekly trip to a local farm can expose your family to the sights, smells, and wonders of living off the land and provide context for where your food comes from. By making that connection, you foster a sense of respect for the natural world that can’t be undone. If there’s no farm nearby, opt for the farmer’s market!

The late environmentalist Rachael Carson may have summed it up best when she said, “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.” Once reconnected with nature, that solace is yours to keep.

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Every Day Is Earth Day

April 22, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Every Day Is Earth Day

On April 22nd each year, we celebrate Earth Day. There’s a flurry of attention paid to the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and organic and “natural” brands experience an inevitable surge in interest.

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Mini Meditations

April 13, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Mini Meditations

I move through life with grace and ease, and time expands to meet my needs.

A wise acquaintance once relayed that mantra—and it holds special significance in today’s fast-paced world. It may feel like you spend your days running from Point A to Point B without a spare minute to breathe! But a U Penn study shows that carving out a mere 12 minutes a day to do just that—intentionally breathe—can go a long way toward improving your mood. In addition, meditating can help you get better quality sleep, show more kindness towards others, and reduce inflammation!

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Photo Friday: Sowing Seeds

April 12, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Photo Friday: Sowing Seeds

It’s finally been warm enough here to sow seeds for the first cold-hearty crops, so I went to town this week doing just that. Here’s what I managed to plant:

  • Beets (the golden yellow variety!)
  • Swiss chard
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Carrots

There’s definitely more to come!

You’ll see I have a lot of High Mowing Seeds in my repertoire. I was able to find these seeds for 1/2 price at the end of last season at Whole Foods—so I scooped up several packs for a mere $1.50 each! These seeds are organic, non-GMO, and they carry a lot of heirloom varieties, so I like them a lot.

Here are a bunch of other seed companies I really like:

I’m a little biased with the first three (High Mowing, Johnny’s, and Fedco) because they are all based in New England and so am I!

If you are in another region of the country and you know of an amazing organic, non-GMO, or family-owned seed supplier, please share it in the comments below!

Note that if you end up getting discount seeds from the previous season, you may not have as strong of a germination rate when you plant. All this means is that you should put more seeds into the soil so that you have a greater chance of them sprouting. Be sure always check the expiration dates on the back of your seed packs. You’ll definitely want to stay away from seeds with an expiration date more than a couple of years out, even if they are super cheap, because they most likely won’t grow!

What are you planting this season? Drop a note in the comments below!

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Planting the Seed: How to Grow Swiss Chard

April 11, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Planting the Seed: How to Grow Swiss Chard

This week, I planted my first seeds of the season and Rainbow Swiss Chard was in the mix!

Aside from having beautiful vibrant colored stems, Swiss Chard is an excellent source of bone-building vitamin K, manganese, and magnesium; antioxidant vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E; heart-healthy potassium; and energy-producing iron.

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Happy New Moon!

April 10, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Happy New Moon!

What are your deepest desires? As we enter this new moon cycle in Aries, you have the universe’s energy all around you to help manifest them—but it all starts by consciously setting your intentions.

Tonight, my energy healer Jana led us through a beautiful meditation, and I’ve purposely sowed my seeds of intention.

Will you do the same?

5 Tips for Staying Energized

April 10, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
5 Tips for Staying Energized

I know what it feels like to be FLAT. OUT. POOPED. As in, fall asleep at your desk at 2 p.m. pooped. As in, can’t drag myself out of bed in the morning pooped. As in, canceling plans because it feels like too much effort to get there—you mean I have to shower?—pooped.

For years I had been operating in high-alert fight-or-flight mode 24/7 that had become chronic. And this, dear readers, is a feeling I would not wish on my worst enemy.

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How to Make Nut Milk

April 8, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 

In our home, we don’t do well with dairy, so our usual default is unsweetened almond milk from a box. But this morning {gasp!} there was no milk for our Dandy Blend (which is an amazing, healthy alternative to coffee). Since we had a bunch of nuts in the cupboard—walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts—I set about to find the easiest recipe I could to make my own!

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Is Nettle the Perfect Health Food?

April 7, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Is Nettle the Perfect Health Food?

A quick spin through the Googlesphere turned up the following quote about nettles by the late advertising legend, David Ogilvy (which I thought was kind of a cool coincidence because the premiere of Mad Men season 6 kicks off tonight, and I was planning on bringing a nettle dish to my neighbors’ for a viewing party…but I digress!):

Leaders grasp nettles.

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Go Orange! & Spring Greens Salad

April 6, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Go Orange! & Spring Greens Salad

My alma mater, Syracuse, has made it to the NCAA Final Four, and in honor of that, I thought I’d share a recipe that features—you guessed it—oranges.

First, a few reasons why this ubiquitous citrus fruit shines nutritionally:

  • One orange contains 116% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin C
  • Oranges are high in folate, Vitamin B, potassium, Vitamin A, and calcium
  • The peel and white pith of the orange contains potent phytonutrients shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol—as well as boasting antioxidant properties!
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Photo Friday: Petal Power

April 5, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Photo Friday: Petal Power

Earlier this week, these vibrant tulips virtually jumped out of their ubiquitous black plastic bucket at the front of Whole Foods and into my arms. I only went in for a few items…kale, a roasted chicken, kombucha, and a cuke. But something about the rich orange flowers spoke to me. They promised to be more than the typical, cliché Easter-tulip parade of pastels. They hinted at something more exciting and unexpected. So they came home with me.

I should note that I rarely buy flowers for myself. Especially on a Tuesday. Especially for no reason. When there are flowers in our home, it’s because I grew them and created a small bouquet at the garden. But I must have needed the lift these brought this week. It’s been a busy one and the sight of these dramatic blooms have brightened our space, energized my spirit, and made me pay attention the the late afternoon play of light in the living room.

Do you believe in the healing power of flowers? If so, what are your favorite spirit-brightening buds?

Meet My Gardening Family

April 4, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Meet My Gardening Family

One of my community gardens kicked off its season last night. After a long winter break, it was heartwarming to reconnect with my Nightingale “family.” Meet….

LARRY, my neighbor in the garden, who places his “order” for seedlings from his trucker friends who drive up from the deep South. He gave me gruff when I asked for him to order extra this year for me. I damn near caused a husk cherry infestation in our plots and I tried to apologize, but he just laughed it off. Larry loves music of all kind, but especially gospel. We’ve had long conversations across plots about this. I believe one day we’ll go to a concert together.

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Ron Finley: Gardening Is My Graffiti

April 3, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 

In this powerful Ted Talk, “Gangsta Gardener” Ron Finley shares his passionate effort to take back food to take back health in his neighborhood in South Central L.A.

79075a60a91774da766968f3e77146d6Here a few of my favorite takeaways from his talk:

  • “The problem is the solution. Food is the problem. Food is the solution.”
  • “Kids who plant kale eat kale.” (It inspired this blog post!)
  • “Let the soil be your canvas.”
  • “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”
  • “Go plant some shit!”

What do you think about Ron Finley’s mission? Let me know in the comments below!

Instead of GMO, GYO!

April 2, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Instead of GMO, GYO!

If you care about your health and the food you eat, you’ve probably been following the heated debate around GMOs. Much of the controversy revolves around the labeling of GMOs, but studies now show that GMO Frankenfoods also contribute to the rise in gut-related diseases: leaky gut, IBD, and more.

Here’s why this matters: Your gut health is YOUR ULTIMATE KEY to maintaining good health.

More than 75 percent of your immune system lives in your digestive system. A healthy gut with balanced bacteria fights off toxins, allergens, and microbes, while absorbing the crucial nutrients you need to stay well.

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Kids Who Grow Kale Eat Kale

April 1, 2013 |  by | Follow her on Twitter here | 
Kids Who Grow Kale Eat Kale

What would happen if all kids were taught how to grow vegetables just as they are taught how to ride a bike, read a book, or tie their shoes? What if they learned how to nurture a seedling and then transplant it out into the rich soil to watch it grow and help it take root? What if they tended it, watered it, cared for it as they might a favorite doll or cherished pet? What if they harvested the vegetables with their own little hands, proudly showing off the results of their effort? Do you think they’d then be pretty excited about EATING their veggies?

The answer is YES.

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