Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, especially fresh baked organic chocolate chip cookies with apricots, walnuts, and oats. Perfect for parties, gifts, and afternoon snacks, these healthy treats give kids brain power and energy. Oats have the highest percentage of protein and fiber of any grain. Organic walnuts in addition to protein and fiber, are rich in omega-3, heart healthy fats. Apricots are filled with Vitamin A, fiber, and heart healthy lycopene. Studies at the University of California have shown that eating a 100 calories of dark chocolate a day results in lower levels of body fat, lower blood pressure, and a healthy heart. Dark chocolate is a super food with polyphenols that make it a treat for kids’ health and spirit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soak ¼ cup dried apricots in a cup. In a large bowl using a fork, cream 8 tbsp soft organic vegan butter and ½ cup organic cane sugar; add 2 tbsp of organic maple syrup and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix in ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour, ¾ cup organic old fashioned rolled oats, 1 tsp arrowroot starch, ½ tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp cinnamon and blend well. Stir in ¼ cup walnut pieces, ¼ cup chopped dried apricot, and ⅔ cup semi sweet chocolate chips. Spoon the dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes and cool 15 minutes.
Nature’s master composters, red wriggler worms excrete a highly nitrous fertilizer called castings, the highest quality compost in percentage of nutrients and micro-organisms. Red Wriggler Worm castings enrich the soil by providing the best nutrients for water retention, air flow, and minerals to enrich the garden soil and grow extra healthy organic fruits and veggies. Worm castings are packed with bacteria, enzymes, and minerals that are essential for plant growth and are immediately available to the plant. The humus in the castings extracts toxins and harmful bacteria and fungi from the soil to fight off plant diseases, as well as stimulating plant growth and the development of microorganisms in the soil. Worm castings allow plants to grow while acting as a barrier in the soil to heavy metals and extreme pH levels. This fertilizer increases the ability of the soil to retain water, reduces the acid forming carbon, and increases nitrogen levels without burning the plants. Use it freely to germinate seeds, as a soil conditioner, and as a fertilizer in the garden, for house plants, container plants, raised bed gardens, and for all types of plants and trees.
Gardeners can raise earthworms by building worm boxes or buying an earthworm bin at the local garden center. The bin should have air holes in the lid and holes in the bottom through which water can drain into a tray underneath. Place a bedding of coconut coir in the bin and add organic vegetable kitchen scraps, coffee grinds, egg shells, shredded cardboard and dried leaves. Spray the bedding with water to make it moist. Place the bin in a shady protected spot, like against the house foundation or in the garage. Bury kitchen scraps in the top layer every few days, keeping the bin moist. Do not feed the worms citrus, tomatoes, meat, or herbs. Worm bins smell like rich soil. About six months after starting a new worm bin, gardeners can harvest the compost and place fresh bedding for the earthworms. Check every three months to harvest more castings. Worm castings reinforce the base biology in the soil. Kids can add castings when planting new crops and as a top dressing every 1 – 3 months for “the champagne of soil amendments”.
Kids like any vegetable better with pasta, especially when the Brussel sprouts are lightly steamed with orange zest and garlic. Brussel sprouts have fantastic health benefits as they are rich in sulfur containing nutrients that aid in detoxification with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals, plus offering heart and digestive support. Because of the sulfur content, they should not be overcooked. They are closely related to cabbages and look like miniature cabbages on a stem. As their name suggests, they are native to Belgium, and spread throughout Europe during World War I. Now most Brussel sprouts are grown in California. This yummy dish is quick and easy to make.
Wash and cut 14 ounces of organic Brussel sprouts in half, remove the ends, and let sit in a bowl for 5 minutes to bring out the healing qualities of this cruciferous vegetable. Preheat the oven to 350°and put on water to boil for the pasta. Stir in 1 minced organic garlic clove, ¼ tsp orange zest, ¼ tsp sea salt, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, ⅛ tsp cumin, and a drizzle of organic extra virgin olive oil in the bowl with the Brussel sprouts. Steam the Brussel sprouts for 6 – 8 minutes until they are tender on the inside. Slice 2 cups organic mushrooms, ½ cup chopped organic onion and spread them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Drizzle with organic extra virgin olive oil, ¼ tsp orange zest, ¼ tsp sea salt, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, and ⅛ tsp cumin and roast 12 -15 minutes until they begin to brown. Cook ½ cup of organic whole wheat fusilli pasta. Strain the pasta, add the roasted and steamed veggies, 2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, and ⅓ cup organic tomato sauce and mix.
Human made toxins have polluted our planet and the life on it. Choose Certified Organic even if it is more expensive because organic is sustainable. Organic produce has more nutritional value, is more delicious, and creates a better environment for everyone.
Buying organic is choosing the organic cycle, where the compost feeds the soil, the soil feeds the plants, and the plants feed the people. Planting native plants attract beneficial bugs to control pests and create a balanced ecosystem. Food is medicine. Grow an organic veggie garden where you live. Eating fresh, local, seasonal, organic fruits and veggies saves time and money at the doctors office and on prescriptions.
Unfortunately, conventional agriculture plays a large role in air, soil, and water pollution as synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides pollute our rivers and drinking water, and then the food is shipped to processing plants and enhanced with too much fat, sugar, salt, plus additives, fillers, and dyes. Transportation of food averages 1500 miles from farm to table and adds to the greenhouse gases.
When we grow our own organic fruit and veggie garden and replace processed food with super food from the garden, we turn the tide on the alarming rise in diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Unhealthy toxic chemicals have poisoned the consumers, the workers, the water, soil, and air. When we use our consumer power and buy organic, we can change the world.
Local organic open-pollinated seeds are the best option for kids to plant in their raised bed organic veggie garden. Local varieties are the best adapted to the climate, easiest to grow, and produce great harvests. All Good Things Organic Seeds in Ojai, California offer hundreds of vegetable, flower, and herb seeds, including rare and improved heirloom varieties that are certified organic. Co-founder, Quin Shakra, states that their mission is to propagate plant biodiversity by planting many different crops and species of the same crop in their home farm to improve the seeds for growing quality, productive organic crops within an ecological agriculture setting. This process also saves and protects our food seeds from disappearing as our food diversity diminishes. Seed quality is paramount to gardening success; so they work to improve existing open-pollinated and heirloom vegetable varieties for better performance in organic gardens and farms.
Using basic simple tools to harvest their seeds, Quin Shakra and his crew watch the flowers on their vegetable crops transform from buds to blooms to dry seed heads. Some seeds are found inside the fruit, like tomatoes and pumpkins, while other seeds are held in pods, like peas and beans, which can be left on the plant until they begin to brown. Seeds inside of fruit and pods can be dried for a week on seed trays. Seeds are then stored in a cool, dry place with consistent temperature to ensure the longevity of the seeds. Sowing organic crops from seed allows the widest range of varieties possible, including some crops that only grow from seed. Many seeds can be started in seedling trays in a protected area, but some, like root crops, need to be directly seeded into the garden. Using the seed planting instructions on the All Good Organic Seeds packets, such as planting depth and days to germination, organic gardeners can enjoy growing their own veggies and watching the seedlings develop into productive plants. Because the seeds are open-pollinated, gardeners can save their seeds at the the end of harvest to plant again in the spring.
Spices in India have been ground in a mortar and pestle, as well as the cooked lentils in this recipe, for thousands of years. The spices in this traditional lentil dahl are rich with nutrition. Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties with brain, heart, and joint healthy nutrients. Cumin aids digestion and the immune system with antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coriander seeds (cilantro) lowers blood sugar and blood pressure. Ginger contains antioxidants to relieve motion sickness, nausea, and muscle pain. This soup is perfect to warm kids on a cold winter’s day. Rinse thoroughly in a strainer ½ cup organic red lentils and place in a pot with 2 ½ cups of water, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 ½ tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, ½ inch piece of finely chopped fresh organic ginger, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp cayenne. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Add 1¼ cup chopped organic cauliflower and 1 chopped organic red potato and simmer another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, reserve ½ cup of veggies in a small bowl. Pour the lentil soup and 1 tbsp vegan butter into a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into bowls and top with the reserved veggies and fresh cilantro. Serve with organic brown basmati rice and organic whole wheat tortillas.