Zucchini Overload?

USDA summer squash

USDA summer squash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Dr Mom,

Dating back to 7000 B. C., zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is native to Central and South America. Sometimes called by the nickname “Italian Squash,” zucchini was brought to North America by its southern neighbours. Early European explorers introduced zucchini to Italy and other countries in Europe. Italians initially grew zucchini for their sweet, edible blossoms, later the hearty fruits were experimented with producing the delectable dishes that resulted in zucchini being dubbed Italian squash. Up until the 20th Century, most Americans considered zucchini a treat reserved for eating on special occasions and were store-bought instead of grown in gardens.

Part of the summer squash family, zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, iron, folate, copper, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorous. Many of the nutrients have been shown to be helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Summer squash’s magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with the potassium in summer squash, magnesium is also helpful for reducing high blood pressure. All summer squash are perfect diet foods – low in calories, sodium, fat-free, and provide a source of fiber. All parts of the zucchini are edible.

How To Grow

Zucchini is probably the best known of the summer squashes. It is a type of narrow squash that resembles a cucumber in size and shape. It has smooth, thin skin that is either yellow or green in colour and can be striped or speckled. Its tender flesh is creamy white in colour and features numerous seeds. Its edible flowers are often used in French and Italian cooking.

Zucchini can be planted by direct seeding or by transplanting young plants that have been started indoors. Seed directly into the ground as soon as the soil reaches temperatures of 60°F/16°C. for vines. Fill the holes with compost and mound slightly. Plant seeds 1in/2.5cm deep.

Zucchini is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family that includes cucumbers, melons, gourds, and squash, all particularly sensitive to frost. Select a sheltered spot, and prepare holes about 12in/30cm in diameter and 12in/30cm deep. Measuring from the centre, space the holes 36in/90cm apart for bush types, 6ft/1.8m apart for vines. To conserve space, squash can be trained over a sturdy trellis, in which case 2ft/60cm between plants is enough.

Zucchini grows best when exposed to 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Regular watering is essential for summer squash. Feed the plants with a high-potassium organic liquid feed to produce a higher yield. Thick mulch added after planting will preserve moisture and keep the fruits from touching the ground where they will become soiled and be exposed to insects and diseases.

Harvesting

The flavor of zucchini is best when it is less than six inches long. They should be firm, but not hard. Zucchini are prolific producers and regular harvesting will promote continued yield throughout the growing season. Harvest by cutting the stems from the plants gently with a paring knife. As they are composed mainly of water, summer squashes dehydrate rapidly. Harvest just before cooking and keep in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag until cooking. Don’t forget that squash blossoms are delicious to eat.

Small summer squashes are used skin and all. Larger squash need their skin and seeds removed: slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Wash summer squash under cool running water and then cut off both ends. You can then proceed to cut it into the desired size and shape for the particular recipe.

In the kitchen, zucchini can be steamed, sautéed, boiled, baked, fried, grilled, and stuffed. Some ideas include: serve raw as an appetiser with a vegetable dip or salad dressing, grate and sauté with thinly sliced garlic, add to breads, muffins, cakes, stews, casseroles, soups, sprinkle grated zucchini or other summer squash on salads or sandwiches. It can be preserved by canning, freezing, and drying.

In the garden, some gardeners let the squashes ramble through the corn patch, where their sandpapery leaves deter raccoons. Good companion plants for zucchini are: corn, marjoram, and nasturtium. Don’t grow zucchini and Irish potatoes together as they are incompatible.

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Steps to a Better Lawn

Lawn&Garden

Lawn&Garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Dr. Mom,

If you’re lucky enough to have a lawn with a good topsoil base, much of the hard work of keeping a lawn beautiful is already done for you. But many of us do not have this luxury, and besides, even with a good topsoil base, you still have to work hard to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.

1. The best time to mow a lawn is when it is cool and dry. Wait for the morning dew to dry off, and before the afternoon heat takes hold. Alternatively, late afternoon or early evening following a watering in the morning is also a good time.

2. A hedge is a much better boundary divider than a fence. It will provide better privacy and keep pets and children in – or out. It will attract birds to its shelter, and provide a great backdrop for plants and flowers.

3. Bring the beauty of your garden to you; plant hyacinths near walkways and doors. Their magnificent perfume will swamp the spring air and make your garden really come alive.

4. Add your garden to non-garden items, such a lampposts and mail boxes. Surround these items with flowers planted to take advantage of the earliest to the latest flowerings. You could have white snowdrops, purple and gold crocus, blue hyacinths, and various colored tulips. You could also surround the posts with rocks to provide added interest.

5. Simple, but effective weed control can be achieved on your lawn by mowing often during spring. This will prevent dandelions spreading by eliminating the yellow blossoms and preventing seed formation. Mow high during late spring and early summer. This will allow grass blades to shade the ground, and will help prevent crabgrass from sprouting.

Your lawn and garden should be a source of pride and beauty. You don’t need to spend lots of money on expensive fertilizers and herbicides, or fancy lawn furniture and ornaments. A little commonsense and thought can go a long way to making your lawn and garden a much better place.

Money-Saving Gardening Tips

IMGP0854 - vege garden

IMGP0854 – vege garden (Photo credit: RaeAllen)

It’s easy to spend a fortune every year creating a beautiful yard. These five tips can help save you money in both this, and future gardening seasons.

1. Plan your vegetable garden according to what your neighbors are planting so you can share your vegetables when they’re ready for eating. Often I’ve had too many of one kind of vegetable I couldn’t give away because my friend’s were ripe at the same time.

2. Select perennials rather than annuals for your flowerbeds. As they multiply each year, cut them back and exchange with your friends so you both have lovely gardens and save money at the same time.

3. Compost your kitchen scraps, as well as your coffee grounds.  The end result is much better than any potting soil you can ever get buy from a nursery or hardware store. The price is right, and this is definitely recycling!

4. Instead of using mulch, try pebbles or small rocks in your garden as ground cover.  This will save you lots of cash since you won’t need to buy mulch in the spring and fall of every year.

5. Spend more money now by purchasing better quality gardening tools and you will save in the long run.  They will last for years, saving you dollars because you don’t need to replace them every planting season.  Same goes for gardening gloves- make sure you buy the best you can afford so they last all season.

Happy Gardening!

Rx for Home Life

English: An artist's depiction of the rat race...

English: An artist’s depiction of the rat race in reference to the work and life balance. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_race Made with following images: http://www.openclipart.org/detail/75385 http://www.openclipart.org/detail/74137 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Doctor Mom,

Most people understand how difficult it can be to balance their work and home lives once they get married and have children. Somehow it seems that work life or home life is always encroaching on the other and causing problems at work, at home, and many times both. However the following five tips are great options to help with balancing work and home.

Make a Schedule

The best thing to do when trying to balance work and home is to make a schedule. Know how much time you have and schedule your work time and your home time. Then, you will know when you need to schedule work and home events. This will make your life significantly easier and you will know which activities fit into which time frame. Just make sure you stick to your schedule.

Share Responsibilities

Many times work and home responsibilities can become overwhelming because one spouse is handling more of the responsibilities than the other. So, learn to share responsibilities at home and each spouse can be responsible for their work. Also, older children should have some home responsibilities as well to help parents balance work and home.

Leave Work at Work

Balancing home and work can be difficult because it is so easy to take work home. If you really want to balance work and home then you will always leave work at work and keep home a sacred place for family and home activities.

Dedicate Weekends to Home Activities

A great way to keep home and work separate is to always focus on home activities during weekends, or at least on days off from work if you happen to work on weekends. When certain days are home days and other days are work days then it makes balancing work and home considerably easier.

Plan

The best way to balance work and home is to always make a plan. There are tons of tips that will help you, but there is nothing like making a plan and then following the plan to really balance work and home. It might be difficult, but if you have it planned out and follow the plan you will be surprised how easy you can find a balance.

Knitting Hearts

English: A Marriage or Husband and Wife tree.

English: A Marriage or Husband and Wife tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Dear Dr. Mom,

 

After years of marriage, or even after a stressful period, you may start to feel like your husband is a stranger. Or is it that you feel he’s getting stranger? Either way, here are 5 simple ways to stay connected to your husband.
1. Cook a meal together.
Whether it’s breakfast or dinner it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re spending time together. How about getting up early Sunday morning and making a big old-fashioned Sunday breakfast for you and the kids? Or sending the kids to a sitter and preparing a nice romantic dinner together? You’ll save money fixing the meal at home rather than dining out. Plus, you won’t have to get “all dolled up” (unless you want to). Most importantly, you’ll be using teamwork, which is the number one priority for any marriage.

2. Take on a project and get dirty!
Tackle a big and messy job on your list – cleaning out the garage, pulling up shrubs in the yard, organizing the attic. Make an afternoon of it and do it together! You’ll both feel a great sense of accomplishment that the job is finally done and it’ll feel great to know that you got it done by operating as a unit. Now that you’ve worked up a sweat, why not draw a bath for two?

3. Spend a lazy afternoon going through old photos and reminiscing.
Talk about the activities you used to do when you first started dating and make a plan to start doing them again. You might not be able to do them all, but make the effort to do as many of them as you can, whether it is taking long walks, going to concerts, or making out at the movies.

4. Play hooky!
Plan a day where you can each stay home from work and spend the whole day home – alone – together – doing absolutely nothing! Lay in bed all day, cuddle, and watch movies. Make sure to turn the ringer off on the phone.

5. Make an effort on a daily basis to stay connected to your husband.
Listen, ask questions – be his partner in all aspects of your life. Something as simple as making it a point to say, “How was your day, Honey?” every day when he gets home and listening to his response can make all the difference.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not in your marriage by yourself. Share your concerns with your husband if you’re not feeling quite as close as you once did. Let him know how you feel, how it makes you feel and that you want to work on it.

Chances are your husband will be clueless, but once he realizes you’re genuinely concerned, he’ll jump right in and make more of an effort. Good luck!

 

 

Special Gifts For Mom.

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

Happy..Happy.. Mother’s Day :-).. (Photo credit: Thai Jasmine (Smile..smile…Smile..))

When was the last time we bought something creative, unique and totally special for our mothers to show them that we love and remember them? When was the last time we got them a special gift to tell them that their sacrifice for us is appreciated?

Motherhood is an extremely special experience and it’s an experience that no man will ever be able to experience. Regardless of how we were raised and how our mothers nagged us when we were younger, the sacrifice cannot compare to any other types of sacrifices we’ve made in our lives – rivaled only by OUR sacrifice for our children. Only when we become mothers ourselves will we be able to understand the true magnitude of motherhood.

A special gift says a lot
Forget about the conventional, off-the-shelves books, picture frames, calendars, organizers, flowers, vases and what-have-you. Your mom won’t say they’re not special and will take the gift with a smile and a big thank you (and a hug) but they’re not really the kind of special gift that they, your mothers, will thank you, remember and cherish for a long time to come.

The pure convenience of the purchase speaks for itself. It’s nothing special.

So, what’s a special and unique gift?
A truly special gift is something that your mother will look back 5 or maybe 10 years down the road and smile to herself, her heart with burst and her face will beam with pride. The sacrifice, the love and the commitment was worth it, she’d think to herself. As she watches you ‘mother’ around your own children, she will think it was all worth it because she did the right thing.

A special gift should be something that reminds her of you, of motherhood.

Some ideas of a special gift you can get for your mom:

  • A motherhood-related product – this could be something related to motherhood, with a simple but meaningful quote to remind her of her motherhood years.
  • Something you’ve designed or created
  • A custom-made special gift designed especially for her
  • Something you and your own children have come up with over the weekend or something you’ve worked on for a long time, like a scrapbook or a decorative doll
  • A poem you’ve written
  • A special home-made CD (maybe a special CD) of a vacation with you and your family in it

To find the right special gift for your mother, start with your mother’s personality.

  • What does she like?
  • What kind of memories does she have of raising her children?
  • What are her hobbies and interests?

And once you’ve put your finger on what interests her, finding the right kind of special gift for you should be easy enough.

Dr. Mom? Be Patient too!

Mother holds Child

Mother holds Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Dr. Mom,

It’s a novel concept, isn’t it; somebody taking care of you? Well, that somebody ultimately has to be you, and we all know how it is, you’re way too busy taking care of everybody else to give yourself any time. But, here’s why you have to take care of yourself, and here are some ideas as to how to do accomplish this monumental feat.

You’re the Mom – and if you’re out of commission, everybody suffers.

If you can’t manage to take care of yourself, for yourself, then take care of yourself for everybody else! A well-rested, happy Dr. Mom is much more likely to have happy, thriving children. If you’re tired, or you haven’t had an adult conversation in weeks, it will start to show. You’ll be grumpy to say the least; at worst you could be downright dangerous when doing something like driving a car. A frazzled Mom is no good to anyone.

How you treat yourself is how you’re teaching your children to treat you.

If you never let your children see that you have needs, or that you take the time to meet those needs, you’re teaching them that you are, indeed, a doormat, and should be treated as such.

Ok, so now you know you need to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, but how do you make it happen?

Start with your calendar
Make some appointments you can keep with yourself. (Starbucks? Painting Classes? Lunch with a friend?) Put some appointments in it that will let you have some time to yourself. You choose the activities that will soothe your soul, but whatever they are, make time for them. A few hours a week devoted to something you love other than your family, will help keep you refreshed and feeling like your old self.

Ask for help
You know by now that men are different, right? Well, one of the ways they are different is that they don’t mind telling their partner what they need. And they expect the same from us. If you need your husband to plan to watch the baby for three hours every Saturday so that you can have some time to meditate, vegetate, shop, whatever, you need to tell him. He’s not going to come up with that idea on his own, but if you tell him what you need, he’s likely to oblige.

Make friends with other women in the same boat
There is no substitute for a girlfriend who understands. If you’re a stay at home mom, find some others to hang out with. It may mean some company for you and a play date for your child at the same time. If you’re a working Mom trying to juggle everything, hook up with some other working Mothers to talk things through. It works wonders to know you’re not alone. Plus, you might get some valuable ideas for handling some of the issues you face.

As Dr. Mom, you’re really the heart of your family. Your well being translates into everyone’s well being. Take the time to enjoy the whole person that you are, not just the Mom.

Let the Juices “Move” You

English: Cucumber, celery & apple juice

English: Cucumber, celery & apple juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Organic fresh made juices have cleansing and laxative action, which will help you eliminate constipation. Taken regularly they will help you have daily bowel movements.

Organic juices contain loads of mineral, bioflavonoids, vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Citric fruits have citric acid and the more tart they are the more acid they have.

Fresh juice is a fast way to get all types of nutrients into the blood quickly. As juice nutrients get into your blood, they suck out toxics and build up tissues. In your colon they destroy bad bacteria, feed wall tissue, pull out toxins, and have laxative action.

Even though juices provide helpful action throughout the body, it is best to limit their use and drink them in larger quantities only when trying to accomplish certain health benefits.

If you use natural foods with laxative effects, their laxative effect diminishes after long-term use.

If you have diabetes or adrenal fatigue, limit your use of fruits and juices when you first wake up in the morning. However, exercise in the morning will help you tolerate drinking some juices in the morning

When juicing fruits and vegetables, the more fiber that is left with the juice the better results you will get with your constipation.

It is always best to use fresh juices, but as a last resort using frozen juices will be better than not drinking anything.

Apples and Apple Juice

Apples are good for eliminating constipation because they are high in pectin, a soluble fiber, have many minerals, and contain sorbitol – a natural sugar, which stimulates peristaltic action. Pectin helps to detoxify the intestines and promote regular bowel movements.

The fiber in apples adds weight and bulk to your fecal matter and helps draw water from your colon into the fecal matter keeping the stool from becoming hard and thus preventing constipation.

Apples are one of best fruits to eat because they are high in minerals, which provide alkaline electrolytes to your body. What electrolytes do is neutralize acids that are created during illness, anxiety, anger, exercising, breathing pollution, and improper eating. Body acid is a major reason we get deadly diseases as we age

Make eating apples or drinking fresh apple juice a daily habit. They are also effective in liver and gallbladder problems. .

Here’s what to do.

Use crisp and hard apples such as granny smith, Fuji, or gala apples for juicing.

Drink three glass of apple juice during the day – morning, noon, and evening. In combination with drinking fresh apple juice, eat 3-4 apples each day to get fiber. The combination of eating and drinking apple juice will activate your colon to start moving stagnant matter.

One-day apple and apple juice fast

You can also do a one-day or two-day apple and apple juice fast by, eating 3-4 apples during the day. Drink apples juice every two hours. Don’t eat anything until the next morning. Then, start changing your eating habits as listed in some of my other articles.

Pocketful of Smiles

Everyone smiles in the same language. ~Author ...

Everyone smiles in the same language. ~Author Unknown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Dr. Mom,

Do you want to put a smile on someone’s face?  Maybe make their day a little bit brighter?  It doesn’t have to take much time or money on your part.  In fact, many things can be done as a part of your normal routine and cost little or nothing.  You won’t know how many people are encouraged by your kindness because smiles are contagious. Try out one or more of these 7 ways today to put smiles on their faces.

  1. Write an encouraging note to others that have encouraged you or that need encouragement. Handwritten notes that are given to encourage, not just for thanking someone for a gift, are rare. That makes handwritten notes even more special. Start a new practice of sitting down and writing an encouraging note on a regular basis. You just might start an epidemic!
  2. Take a friend out to lunch or invite her to your home for a meal.  You will get to know each other even better than you do right now. If you feel like being more adventurous, throw a party for several of your friends and put smiles on a multitude of faces.
  3. Give someone an inspirational book to read. You will feel good doing it, reading the book will change the person, and they will think of you every time they read it.
  4. Ask a friend or relative if you can take care of their kid(s) for a day or evening. If you have been a parent, you know the value of being able to have a few hours of “adult time” without worrying about the children. Don’t wait to be asked to baby-sit when it is required. Offer to do it at a time when the parent can do something fun and relaxing.
  5. Deliver a meal to someone you know that is sick or having a rough time. We have all been sick and know the last thing you want to do is be out of bed. There are also times when life is tough and it is hard to do all of the daily chores. You can be a tremendous help by providing a meal that can be enjoyed.
  6. Volunteer time to supporting your local church or charity.  Every minute you dedicate to a church or charity will cause many smiles.  You will put a smile on the face of each leader just for helping without being asked.  You will also be putting smiles on the faces of those that are being helped through the organization.
  7. Thank everyone that supports you throughout the day.  The list of those that you come in contact with is endless.  Remember family and friends, secretaries, co-workers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, pastors, store employees, janitors, gas station attendants, those that deliver your mail and newspaper, and servers at restaurants.

I know this is a list of 7 ways to put a smile on someone’s face, but there is one more way that can’t be ignored. If you smile at someone you meet his is the easiest way to get others to smile! The kickback for you is that you feel like a million dollars, handing out these smiles.

Smoothie Moves

English: Almonds starting to grow, Gran Canaria

English: Almonds starting to grow, Gran Canaria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chronic constipation can be hard to change or eliminate, since the colon may have become weak.  In most cases it will have to be retrained on how to have a bowel movement.

For those of you that have mild constipation, here is a morning smoothie that will help activate your colon.  This smoothie is packed with nutrients that your body will use to regenerate your colon and body.

Make enough to drink right away and to put into in a thermos to drink around 10 am.

When making this drink just start putting things in the blender without measuring. You can do the same and make adjustments as you go.

around a teaspoon or less of the following:

  •   brown sesame
    seeds (high in lecithin, vitamin C, E, and Calcium. They improve
    liver function and help in constipation)
  •   sunflower seeds (high protein, Calcium, and iron. They are one of the best natural foods
    which feeds the entire bod)
  •   flax seeds (high in fiber and provide bulk for your stools)
  •   almonds – use around 6-7 or more. (high in Calcium,
    Phosphorus and have some B-vitamins. Only a few because they are high in
    calories)
  • half cup almond milk and half cup apple juice

Whiz this small amount at the bottom of your blender for about 3 minutes. The nuts will make a smooth white cream when they are blended enough. Add a bit more juice or milk if needed to keep the creamy consistency. then add:

  •   one peeled banana
  •   4-5 strawberries or other type of berries, or fruits
  •   one tablespoon of lecithin granules
  •   one – two teaspoons of flax seed oil

If you need a little sweetness, you can add a small amount of honey. It should be plenty sweet without any honey. If you like add the powder of a few acidophilus capsules. This will improve the friendly bacteria in your gut, especially if you have been taking an antibiotic recently. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, friend or foe, so this friendly bacteria should be replaced soonest to increase the successful working mechanisms of the gut. If you really need to be “moved” try the old-fashioned but oh, so effective ingredient – prunes – one or two in the smoothie will most likely do the trick.

This is a powerful smoothie to give you morning power and to activate your colon to get moving.

More Smoothies: