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  • Celebrating Hand-in-Hand Garden Help + Giveaways

    February 16, 2014

    Today we are joining with a dozen other gardening bloggers to celebrate the launch of our friend Dee Nash’s new book The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, which offers the kind of garden help and empowerment that Garden Mentors® is all about. Plus, each of us has been provided with cool items to giveaway to readers as a part of this celebration, so be sure to enter here and visit each of the links listed below to learn more and get a chance at all of the cool garden goodies donated for this giveaway.

    (Updated 2/24/2014: The giveaway has now closed. Via random.org, Linda Belcher is our winner & will be contacted directly by author Dee to coordinate next steps!)

    Dee Nash at the 2014 NWFGS

    Dee Nash talking 20-30 Something Garden Guide at the 2014 NW Flower & Garden Show

    But for now, back to Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings blogging fame and her new book…

    We had the opportunity to sit in on Dee’s 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show talk in which she offered up gardening advice such as you will find in her book. Here’s the thing: Dee’s much like us. She believes everyone can garden and as she says in both her books and seminars: “…no one is born with a brown thumb, or a green one for that matter.”

    “All gardeners have setbacks. Good gardeners kill plants. Don’t be discouraged. Failure means we are stretching our gardening muscles.” Dee Nash

    In her new book, Dee sets out to provide step-by-step tips and guidelines to help “anyone who wants to grow stuff” find success. Beginning with simple, small container gardens, Dee guides gardeners through step-by-step plans for planting and progressing as a gardener. Dee gets what we do — not getting overwhelmed, accepting failure, and growing with the help of someone at your side is likely to bring new gardeners (heck, and old ones) their greatest sense of accomplishment and success.

    “Gardening is a skill learned by trial and error…If you want to learn to garden, grab a coach and go for it!” Dee Nash

    I wouldn’t say that Dee’s book is going to provide everything every gardener needs to achieve perfection. In fact, no gardening book, garden, or gardener is ever perfect. In discussing gardening television, Dee herself says about these shows, “what doesn’t come across (on gardening tv) is the reality that gardening is more about the process than the results.” Every gardener is always starting somewhere, killing things that transform into killer compost, and reaching out for more help and more knowledge as we grow and seasons pass. Check out her book, and you’ll get the picture!

    Now…about all those giveaways… (more…)

  • No Grain, No Sugar Lemon Blueberry Muffin Recipe

    February 09, 2014

    When we first set out on our Food Gardening Against Diabetes journey, I cooked up some seriously awful blueberry muffin recipes. One of the most memorable failures was a coconut flour blueberry muffin. Although I was skeptical, as a novice to alternative flours, I trusted the recipe reviews exclaiming this was a “perfected recipe.” I have to wonder in what world wasting a half dozen eggs, a morning’s blueberry harvest, and over a cup of coconut flour on floamy, half-cooked, compost pail pucks of yuck equals perfection.

    Blueberries ripening

    Blueberries ripening on the shrub in June.
    Learn to grow your own via the Blueberry article links listed on our A-Z Food Growing Guides.

    Fortunately, as I continued to work with various grain-free flours, I began to get a better feel for what works (and what really doesn’t). I continue to experiment — still failing at times, but more often than not creating really tasty options like our new favorite blueberry muffin recipe that follows.

    High Protein Blueberry Muffins

    High Protein Blueberry Muffins sound tasty? These are really good & very low carb!

    No Grain Blueberry Muffins
    (makes about 8-12 depending on the size of your tins)

    2 cups almond flour
    3T golden flax seed meal
    1t baking soda
    1/4 t sea salt
    2 T raw honey (or a scant pinch of dried Stevia)
    4T melted pasture butter (or coconut oil)
    3 large pastured eggs, whisked
    Zest of one lemon
    1 t lemon juice, strained
    1 cup freshly picked or freezer-preserved blueberries


    Preheat oven to 350F.

    Line muffin tin with muffin cups.

    Mix together dry ingredients including lemon zest. In another bowl, blend honey and butter. Add to dry mixture & stir to blend.  Stir in whisked eggs and lemon juice. Gently stir in frozen or fresh blueberries just to blend.

    Fill muffin tins (our 8 muffin tin takes about 1/3 cup batter per tin.)

    Bake at 350 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. (With almond flour, the toothpick test doesn’t always indicate a finished muffin or loaf. And, its hard to over-cook these.)

  • Greenhouse Gardening Resources

    February 08, 2014

    Looking for greenhouse gardening resources?

    Following up on our Northwest Flower & Garden Show DIY Stage seminar Shut the Greenhouse Door! Learn to Cultivate Successfully with a Greenhouse & Other Season Extenders, we’ve compiled a number of resources to help you start and keep growing strong 24:7:365.

    Small Sunshine Greenhouse

    A Small Greenhouse adds Interest, Beauty & Function to Any Garden — Large or Small.

    Included below: A greenhouse gardening definitions, purchasing links, more-info article links & Pinterest inspiration board links.


    A few basic season extension tools explained:

    Cloche/French Bell: Glass, plastic or other dome-shaped material placed over single plants to protect from cold, downpours & pests. Try GlassGardensNW for artistic cloches.

    Floating Row Cover/ Horticultural Fleece: lightweight semi-opaque material that raises heat slightly & can protect plants from downpours & some pests. Available here from our store.

    Shade fabric: dark fabric that may be used to reduce sunlight & heat in overly hot greenhouses. Available here from our store.

    Seeding Trays: Seed starting trays usually have removable plastic tops that help hold heat & moisture during germination. Available here from our store.

    Wall o’Water: water-filled plastic; protects young plants from cold. Available here from our store.

    Cold Frame: Wooden (usually) box with a transparent lid that allows in light; lid can open for ventilation. Available here from our store, or read on for our link to guides to build your own.

    Garden Hoop House with Fleece

    In Warmer Weather, Using Fleece On a Hoop House Frame Protects Crops from Pests

    Hoop or Tunnel House: Tunnel shaped (often temporary) structure; adds protection & heat. Frame can take many forms; usually covered in plastic; ends open for ventilation. Available here from our store, or read on for articles below on constructing your own.

    Greenhouse: Usually a permanent structure with shelving & various ventilation systems. May be built from many materials & shapes vary. Available here from our store. (more…)

  • Spicy No Grain Taco Triangle Crisp Recipe

    February 06, 2014

    If you attended my Gardening Against Diabetes talk at the 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show, you already know a little bit about this garden-to-table no-grain snack recipe. If not, here’s what got me going on this tasty treat…

    No grain taco crisp with guacamole

    No grain taco crisps are tasty on their own, but paired with guacamole & salsa, they’re beyond compare!

    First, I wanted to use up leftover pulp from making almond milk using Elana Amsterdam’s simple recipe. Waste drives me nuts! Second, we are fiends for Mexican food in all forms. And, third, the idea of having fresh crackers or chips had us salivating. On our new diet, a good chip — actually, any chip –  is hard to come by. “Gluten-free” is marketed everywhere, but grain, filler, and legume-free isn’t. Most packaged snacks contain some ingredient we’re working to eliminate — from plastic packaging to sugar to you name it. Elana Amsterdam’s basic Almond Pulp Cracker recipe sounded interesting and was inspiring, but I wanted to spice things up a bit more, taking the recycled pulp cracker idea to new levels.

    See if you don’t agree that these are tasty, filling, easy-t0-make & are made with only the good stuff!

    Spicy No Grain Taco Triangle Crisps


    2 cups almond pulp (see almond milk link above for creating pulp)
    4 T golden flax seed meal
    1t sea salt, fine
    1/2-1 t cayenne (to taste…some dried cayenne is hotter than others, so add as much spice as you like)
    2-3 t chili powder (to taste…ditto what I said about cayenne)
    1.5 t granulated garlic (if you grow your own garlic, try dehydrating some to grind up for this recipe!)
    1 T garden-fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2t dried oregano)
    2.5 T olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (Optional)

    Stir together all of the ingredients except coarse sea salt. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.

    Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to size of your dehydrator tray. Place one piece of cut parchment on large cutting board. Pack together your dough mixture and place on top of parchment. Cover with second piece of parchment. Roll to about a thickness between 1/8″-1/4″. If dough squeezes out the sides, just scrape and add to other areas and re-roll.

    No Grain Taco Crisp Dough Rolled

    You don’t need to worry about over-working this dough like you would a wheat flour pie crust!

    Once your dough is rolled out, remove the top layer of parchment and set aside. Using a large, sharp knife, cut your rolled dough into desired shapes. If you want triangles, cut into squares and then cut each square into triangles.

    Optional: Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt on each crisp.

    No Grain Taco Crisp Dough Cut & Salted

    Spicy taco crisps cut in triangles, sprinkled with salt & ready to dehydrate

    Slip the sheet of parchment with rolled and cut dough onto a dehydrator tray. Insert sheet into dehydrator.

    If your dehydrator has a “raw food” setting like mine, use that and let them dehydrate for around 24 hours. (You can start sneaking them in about 4-6 hours, but they won’t store well until you fully dry them.)

    If your dehydrator doesn’t have a raw setting, they’ll still dry nicely, but you’ll need to check them periodically. I’ve dried mine at 135F, and I still left them in to dry for almost 24 hours.

    If you’re without a dehydrator, set your oven on its lowest setting (probably 135F-150 170F). Slip your rolled and cut dough on parchment onto a baking sheet and insert it into the oven to dry for around 24 hours. (Yeah — that’s a long time to commit your oven to work for one tray of crisps.)

    Dried & Stored No Grain Taco Crisps

    If you don’t eat them right away, store your taco crisps in vacuum sealed containers to keep them crisp!

    Your crisps should be completely dry and snappy when finished. Like I said before, they do get mostly dry within a few hours, so if you’re serving them right up, go for it. But, to store them, you want them really dry. To be sure they keep well, I use my vacuum sealer containers. I can fill them and use the sealer to pull all the air out of the container, which helps them stay fresh for quite a while. (I have kept them in a closed container that doesn’t have a vacuum seal, and they do keep fine for a few days.)

    Now…go plant an almond tree to grow your own ingredients. I just ordered an almond tree and can’t wait to see how it performs and yields in the years ahead!

    Check in on Sunday for our new favorite no-grain blueberry muffin recipe!

    - Robin

  • Food Gardening Against Diabetes Resources

    February 05, 2014

    Following are links to several articles, studies, free apps, recipes, preserving info, cooking sites, and plant lists that we have gathered to share in our our journey toward an entirely new lifestyle focused on food & Gardening Against Diabetes.

    Gardening Fresh Food to Battle Diabetes

    Sunlight, Exercise & Many Homegrown, Home Cooked Plant Foods can be Helpful in Keeping Blood Sugar Healthy

    We launched our efforts at the 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show seminar,and we will continue to augment this list — as well as the entire Garden Mentors Garden Help blog — as we continue down our path. (If you missed our talk & would like to schedule us for your event, please get in touch for scheduling information.

    We must remind you…
    Medical Disclaimer: The information in this seminar, on our sites, in any supplementary information, & social media outlets is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through these materials are for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on our site, through our seminars or via any related media, outlets or materials.


    A Few of our Favorite Garden to Fork Foods:
    Visit our A-Z Food Growing Guides for tips and tricks to cultivate many of these plants (& many others). And, learn about store your harvest in our A-Z Preserving the Harvest Guides.

    Leafy greens: Lettuce, Spinach, Chard, Kale, Amaranthus, Miner’s Lettuce, Mustards
    Crunchy greens: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Celery, Asparagus
    Sweet, fast foods: Carrots, Apples, Pears, Strawberry, Blueberry, Huckleberry, Raspberry

    Mexican Sour Gherkin Snacks

    Mexican Sour Gherkins make for a fun, seasonal snack to forage in the garden.

    Savory snacks: Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Eggs, Olives
    Pasta & Potato replacements: Spaghetti squash, Zucchini, Sunchoke, Celeriac
    Herbs for tea, flavor & sweets: Hibiscus, Holy Basil, Stevia, Parsley, Cilantro, Mint


    Plant & Diabetes Studies:
    Do more research of your own on a few plants and nutrients that may be beneficial in fighting Diabetes naturally.

    Berberis lycium & Diabetes Study: US National Library of Medicine via NIH publication of  “Comparison of the antidiabetic activity of Berberis lyceum root extract and berberine in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.”

    Dandelion & Diabetes: University of Maryland information on medical uses of Dandelion, including data on Diabetes and Dandelion. (more…)

  • Food Gardening Against Diabetes NWFGS Sneak Peeks

    February 03, 2014

    The 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show opens this Wednesday, and we’ll be there opening day with our seminar Food Gardening Against Diabetes during which we will share how we’ve changed what we grow, cook and eat in the face of a Diabetes diagnosis. Although we’ve eliminated a number of foods from our diet and plants from our garden, the ones we are adding and enjoying make for a beautiful garden, a healthy husband, and delicious meals.

    High Protein Blueberry Muffins

    High Protein Lower Carb Blueberry Muffins sound tasty? These are really good & very low carb!

    These eye-candy shots are just a few sneak peeks of the many the tasty foods that fill our plates, created from homegrown edibles that fill our garden. Neither the photos nor the foods themselves are likely to get your blood sugar boiling.

    Chips & Dips

    Like snack foods?  Yep! We’ve got you covered with tasty recipes for chips & dips!

    And, yep, we’ll be discussing these during our seminar and sharing details on how to grow them at home and create them in your own kitchen — easily!

    Latke & Salad

    Low carb latkes – perfect for breakfast, lunch or a quick supper!

    Join us in the Hood Room on Wednesday, February 5th starting at 4:15pm (plenty of time to catch the Seahawks victory parade beforehand) to learn more.

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