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  • Parsley & Kale Salad with Garlicky Vinaigrette

    May 22, 2014
    Kale and parsley pair great in a simple salad. Plus, these two leafy greens are easy to cultivate for harvest 365 days of the year. This simple salad takes advantage of a number of other fresh-from-the-garden goodies like beets, orange, carrot, sunflower seeds, and more.

    Kale, Citrus & Sunflower Seed Salad

    Kale, Parsley, Citrus, Sunflower Seeds & Other
    Fresh-from-the-garden ingredients make this salad delicious & nutritious!

    In May of 2014, we paired it with our Sesame-Ginger-Orange Chicken for a simple, but filling meal as demonstrated during our Gardening Against Diabetes seminar, cooking demo & luncheon at Bon Secours Hospital. The ingredients were harvested from their healing garden and supplemented from nearby non-profit, organic, inner-city farm Tricycle Gardens. The food for the luncheon was prepared in the Bon Secours Community Outreach and education ClassaRoll food truck — teaching others how to grow, cook, and eat these healing foods brings our missions full circle!

    Parsley-Kale Salad with Garlicky VinaigrettePrint Print
    (serves 4-6)

    Salad ingredients:
    2 large bunches of kale (about 20-30 leaves)
    1 large bunch of curly or flat leaf parsley
    2 large carrots
    2 beets (chioggya or red are idea; beets are optional)
    1 orange
    1/2 cup hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds (raw or lightly toasted)

    Make Garlicky Vinaigrette recipe.

    Wash all of the veggies well.

    Tear kale from mid-rib of the leaf. Tear or chop torn kale to help soften and make into bite-sized pieces. (If kale is particularly tough, rub leaves with salt. Set in colander for several minutes while you get the rest of the salad made. Then, rub salted kale again. Rinse. Squeeze moisture from rinsed leaves. This will help it soften.) Discard the mid-ribs into the compost. Place chopped kale into a large salad bowl. Finely chop washed parsley. Add to kale.

    Using a carrot peeler or spiralizer, shave carrots into thin slices. Add to kale and parsley.

    Using a sharp knife, peel raw beets and then cut into very thin slices. Add to the salad bowl.

    Peel orange. Cut fruit into small bite-size pieces. Add to salad bowl.

    Add sunflower seeds to salad bowl.

    Toss with about half the dressing to start. Softer, young kale will need much less dressing than older, tougher leaves. Add more to your preference. If you have leftover dressing, save it in the fridge for your next salad.

    Allow salad to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes or in a sealed, refrigerated container for a couple of hours or overnight before serving. (It can be eaten right away, but the flavors are much better given time to meld.)

    Garlicky Vinaigrette
    recipe here.

    Get more Gardening Against Diabetes recipes, gardening, and reading information here.

  • Garlicky Vinaigrette Recipe

    Rather than buy bottled salad dressings, we prefer to whip up this simple vinaigrette recipe from our pantry and garden. This simple combination uses garlic from the garden, and it is a staple in our kitchen.

    Garlic braids

    Garlic fresh from the garden stores well in a cool, dark pantry ensuring you’ll have this delicious ingredient at hand throughout the year

    It goes well on just about any simple green salad, but we find it pairs particularly well with our Parsley & Kale Salad that was served at our Gardening Against Diabetes seminar and luncheon at Bon Secours Hospital — fresh from their ClassaRoll community outreach food truck, which brings the joy of cooking right to your neighborhood!

    Garlicky Vinaigrette Print Print


    2 garlic cloves
    1/4 t sea salt
    1 t freshly ground pepper
    1/4 cup cider vinegar
    1/2 cup fruity olive oil

    Crush garlic cloves in mortar with sea salt (or press). Place salt and garlic into a mason jar. Add pepper and vinegar. Set aside until the salad is made. Allowing the garlic to sit in the vinegar will help take the sharp edge off its flavor. Then, using a slow stream of oil, whisk oil into vinegar mixture. Screw on mason jar lid and shake well.

    (Leftover vinaigrette will keep this way in the fridge for several days. Be careful to check lids and bands for any corrosion before you use dressings kept this way. If the lids or bands go bad, dispose of everything.)

    Want more ideas for making salad dressings at home? Try these:

    Creamy Garlic-Sorrel Dressing

    Everyday Mason Jar Herbal House Dressing

  • Featured & Printable Recipes

    May 12, 2014

    Just launched!  It’s now easier to find & print our recipes via our new featured recipe navigation & printable recipes links on the Garden Mentors® Garden Help blog.

    Sample of Our New Easy to Print Recipe Format

    Sample of Our New Easy to Print Recipe Format

    For years we have included recipes using up goodies from your garden harvests, but until now we haven’t included a great way to feature them, and they’ve been a bit clunky to print. Thanks to our WordPress developer, that’s all changed!

    On the left-hand navigation of our blog, you’ll find featured recipe links called out just below our featured garden help articles.

    Where to find our featured recipes

    Find our featured recipes on every blog page just below our featured garden help articles

    And, once you open those recipe links, you’ll see each recipe includes a “print” link. Click that, and you’ll get a short recipe page perfect to print in black & white (or to load up on your digital device while you’re cooking.)

    Where to find our easy-to-print recipe links

    Find the Print icon & text just to the right of the title of a recipe.

    Want to dive right into the recipes? (Remember: If you’re under 21 or otherwise under age for drinking alcohol, you do not have permission to visit the cocktail recipes!)

    Check out the new format in these popular posts & be sure to check back often for all the new recipes we’ll be adding in the years to come!

    Asparagus & Garlic Scape Bites Recipe

    Blueberry-Lemon Grainfree, Sugar-free Muffins

    Blueberry Verbena Cocktail Cooler

    Broccoli Leaf Smoothie

    Cucumber & Fresh Herb Soup

    Cranberry Pecan Orange Grainfree Scones

    Creamy Garlic & Sorrel Dressing

    Dairy-free Basil Pesto

    Everyday Mason Jar House Vinaigrette Recipe

    Garlicky Vinaigrette Recipe

    Lemon Verbena Drop Cocktail

    Lemon Verbena Simple Syrup

    Parsley & Kale Salad with Garlicky Vinaigrette Recipe

    Zucchini Summer Squash Grain-free Latke

    Spicy Grainfree Taco Triangle Crisps

  • Gardening, Food, Party & Free Stuff in RVA

    May 05, 2014

    Our founder Robin will be making a couple of free garden and food appearances in Richmond, VA (RVA) during the month of May. Each event has something very special to offer — including free gardening tools and a free lunch!

    Down on the Farm Party FlyerOn Thursday, May 15th she’ll be at the Tricycle Gardens free Down on the Farm party from 4pm-7pm. Our partner Fiskars® has donated a number of tools, which she’ll teach you to use right, for the right job. And, she’ll be giving away several of the donated items to a few lucky attendees. Even if tools and freebies don’t entice you, the party should. Tricycle Gardens’ honeybee keeper will be sharing his apiarists’ knowledge, food trucks will be on hand — challenged to make the most of abundant kale, and there will be music, games, and much more farm fun. Oh, and remember, it’s free!

    A week later, on Thursday May 22nd at 12pm, meet up with Robin at Bon Secours Regional Medical Center for a free lunch & seminar. Before you take a seat to chow down and listen to Robin’s popular Gardening Against Diabetes seminar (during which she discusses the many crops she now focuses on growing, cooking and eating with better blood sugar in mind) you’ll get to see Robin demo how to make a couple of her seasonal “better blood sugar” garden-fresh recipes — harvested in part from the Bon Secours healing garden, which was developed with Tricycle Gardens.

    And about that free lunch…yep, you’ll get to enjoy a menu Robin developed for the Bon Secours nutritionists to prepare in their brand-spankin’ new community outreach food truck Class-a-roll. In the days, months, and years ahead the plan is to take this baby on the road to teach people how to cook. They won’t have to come to the hospital to take a class; the community outreach team will be coming to them instead. How cool is that?

    And, after the talk, the curator of the Healing Garden will be on hand to share the garden with you. (This event is free, but seating is limited and filling up fast, so sign up now.)

  • Grainfree, Sugarfree Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones

    This tasty grainfree scone recipe is a new Sunday brunch favorite in our home where keeping blood sugar fluctuation is an on-going goal. Unfortunately, we’re far from being able to grow all of the ingredients for it. But, next time we’re visiting family in California, we’ll be plucking their homegrown oranges and whipping up a batch of these yummies to share. And, in the coming years, we’re looking forward to almond harvests from our newly planted tree. Perhaps, before we reach old age, that tree will offer up a harvest plentiful enough to produce the couple cups of almond meal required for this delicious treat. If not, our tree planting efforts may mean food for future generations.

    Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones

    Tangy Orange pairs deliciously with the sparkling tartness of cranberry and the rich,
    flavorful crunch of pecan in these grainfree baked treats.

    At the request of many of our social media followers, here’s the recipe for our latest tasty treat.

    Grain-free Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones Print Print
    (makes about 10-12 scones)

    2.5 cups almond meal
    1/2 t sea salt
    6 T butter or coconut oil, melted
    2 eggs, whisked
    2 t honey (optional…the orange juice really will sweeten these sufficiently for most)
    Zest of 2 orange
    Juice of 2 oranges; about 3/4 cup (Valencia or other juice oranges are ideal)
    3/4 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
    1/2 cup chopped raw pecans


    Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

    Blend almond meal, salt & zest in large bowl.

    Whisk eggs into melted oil. Stir in juice.

    Mix dry and wet ingredients. (Your mixture should be thick but sticky wet.)

    Fold in cranberries and pecans.

    Drop globs of about 1/4 cup each onto lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly to help them cook in the center.

    Bake at 325F 20-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Take care not to burn bottoms. If they begin to darken on the bottom but are not quite baked in the center, turn down oven temperature to 300F and finish cooking on the lower temperature. Remove from baking sheet right after cooking to reduce any burning of the bottoms.

    Eat warm or store a day or two in a sealed container. They’re best fresh from the oven, but they’re tasty the next day too!

  • Drought Tolerant Edible Garden

    April 22, 2014

    A majority of our gardening clients ask for drought tolerant edible gardens. Usually, they tack on a request for low maintenance as well. Achieving all three goals: low water needs, edible, and easy care doesn’t quite fall into lock-step with a traditional, seasonal vegetable garden filled with (say) tomatoes, spinach, and carrots.


    Dandelions are colorful, edible & low maintenance plants, but are they ideal for your garden aesthetic?

    While you could reach this trinity with a neglected yard lush with edible “weeds” like purslane and dandelion, your neighbors might not see the value as much as you do. Certainly, an herb garden might begin to fit this bill, but you would still need to provide supplemental water to get the garden growing, plus a few flavorful, woody herbal shrubs aren’t likely to truly fill your family’s belly. So, what’s the key to creating a beautiful garden that you can eat but don’t need to heavily water in a drought or fuss with every day?

    Enter noted plant expert Arthur Lee Jacobson, author of several books including Trees of Seattle and Wild Plants of Seattle. Also, he is the author of over a hundred articles on weeds and the former curator of the Weed Garden at Seattle Tilth. In his own garden, he cultivates all sorts of fun plants — from natives to weeds to the rare and unusual. And, he’s tasted many of them and happily shares what he’s eaten. In one of his recent newsletters, he mentioned that many Sedums are edible; he knows because he has eaten them.

    Sedum Suaveole & Sedum album

    Sedum suaveole looks like a Sempervivum, but look at the flowers! (Shown with Sedum album).
    Image courtesy of Arthur Lee Jacobsen

    If you read this blog or have worked with Garden Mentors® on a garden design or consulting project, you know there are any number of hardy, beautiful, drought tolerant, perennial Sedums. These plants come in a range of colors and sizes, and their blooms are magnets for honeybees and other pollinators. And, the seed heads that remain into winter are food for foraging songbirds.

    Turns out, according to Arthur Lee in our recent email exchange, many are also food for our plates. He does warn that while, “Hundreds of Sedum species exist, I have tasted only dozens. Most are unpleasantly astringent, or even acrid.” But there are several he does favor including one of our favorites for the garden: Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and a Great Plant Picks favorite Sedum ‘Sieboldii’. (more…)

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