Sweet Potatoes in December

We are getting better each year.

We are getting better each year.

Sweet potatoes are what we are really digging right now. No really! Sweet potatoes are the roots of the plant; so we really do have to be digging in order to get to them.  

I planted the slips in March. A slip is a part of the plant where two leaves are connected. If you cut that part from the main plant and then stick it in water; roots will grow where the two leaves meet. Once the roots appear, you can plant it in the ground. Be sure to give it lots of room. I once had a 4 foot by 8 foot bed filled with leaves and vines. When they died back in the winter, I dug up over 100 lbs of sweet potatoes.

The leaves are edible and highly nutritious. They can be used in salads, stir-fries or frozen for your smoothies. Just be sure not to over fertilize this plant. Nitrogen will cause it to put too much energy into creating leaves and you will be left with nothing to dig up.

My favorite way to eat a sweet potato is roasted with butter. But for the holidays, we make the popular casserole. Here is a Paleo friendly version of a sweet potato casserole.



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Part of my new job

Part of my new job at a busy Naturopath practice is working with patients who are trying to loose weight. After all, it is difficult to achieve optimal health while carrying extra weight around. I myself have 7-10 pounds that I have picked up somewhere along the line. Most of it came to attach itself to me while I was in nursing school.

Of all of the programs that our office uses to help patients loose weight in a healthy manner; Paleo is my favorite. It is closer to how I like to eat anyway. I, like many of  our patients that come to the office struggle with getting started. This is a starter kit that my doctor has  researched and found both clean and effective. So I thought that I would be a good example to my patients and start my journey with this, and report my experience with my patients-and with you. I am finding that my patients do better when they have the accountability of “checking in” with someone. I started this morning. I will get back to you tomorrow. you can click on the picture and it will take you to your Amazon site to tell you all about it.  

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Cauliflower in my garden and a recipe

Cauliflower is actually very pretty in the garden.

Cauliflower is actually very pretty in the garden.

Cauliflower has gotten a bad wrap. It is just not one of the favorite vegetables of all time. I must admit that it is not my favorite. But..

It is a cruciferous vegetable-which makes it very healthy-it is crunchy (I do like crunchy), and it grows extremely well here in the Arizona desert during the Fall/Winter season.

I plant cauliflower seeds in little cups and grow them on my back porch. Then I plant the seedling into my garden bed around September 1st. Now here it is almost December 1st, and I am harvesting my first head of cauliflower. Because I plant the seedlings in my garden beds every month until January; I will have fresh cauliflower for my family clear up to April.

Of course we eat cauliflower raw, steamed and fermented as a pickle; but a couple of my favorite ways to eat it-is as a rice substitute, or as an ingredient in a Paleo version of a tortilla.

For the rice substitute– cut the stem out of a head of cauliflower, then chop the head into florets. Using a food processor- grind up the florets ( a few at a time) set them aside in a large bowl until all the cauliflower is done. Heat up about 3 Tblsp of coconut or avocado oil in a skillet. Once it is hot, add the cauliflower and stir until soft about 4 minutes. You can add some lemon juice or just salt and pepper. Sometimes I decorate it with snipped green onions.

For the Paleo tortilla- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. You can use  your cooled cauliflower rice, or steam the cauliflower right after processing it. Either way, you need 2 packed cups of it. Add 2 whole eggs and some salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture in 5 or 6 tortillas on the parchment paper. Pop the tray into the oven for about 10 minutes. Then take the tray out of the oven and carefully peel the tortillas off of the paper and turn them over to cook the other side. Put the tray back into the oven for 8-10  minutes. You can cool them on a  wire rack if you want, but we eat them right out of the oven.

If I do not eat them right out of the oven; I like to reheat them by browning them on a hot dry skillet.

Now tell me that you don’t like cauliflower.     

Posted in paleo recipes, Recipes | 2 Comments

Broccoli for all of my babies

The first broccoli crown in my October bed.

The first broccoli crown in my October bed.

November is the time that I start harvesting broccoli in my garden. Because I grow broccoli from seeds; I can plant the seedlings in my garden beds for September, October, November, December and January. This will insure that I have leaves to pick from October through May and fresh crowns from November through May.

Wait a minute, did she say leaves? Yes, I heard you ask – I did say leaves. I watch my animals. When they get into my garden they go right for the leaves. Now, so do I. I trim the lower leaves off of the plant starting in October. I freeze them, or mix them up with coconut aminos to make “Broccoli chips”. Why not? They are full of vitamins and minerals too. I put the frozen leaves into smoothies or stir fries. I crunch them up and put them into soups and sauces. I even dehydrate them as part of my “magical green powder”. Everything green goes in that stuff.

I took the top off of my October bed so that you could see how I trim my broccoli leaves.

I took the top off of my October bed so that you could see how I trim my broccoli leaves.

The reason that I started trimming off the lower leaves in the first place is as follows. Broccoli grows during the season that we have less sun. I plant intensively, so the large leaves of the broccoli shade the carrots and cabbages that are underneath.

During the warmer months- this is an amazing trick to keep the soil cool and moist- the large leaves act as an umbrella. But during the winter; this can cause overgrowth of fungi, and the little plants underneath would appreciate some air and sunshine.

To be perfectly honest, I get too many broccoli leaves from my garden-so I share them with my chickens, ducks, pig. The sheep and goats that are not currently in milk love them too. But feeding cruciferous to ruminants will spoil the taste of the milk.

I know- you are still stuck on the broccoli chips. So here is the recipe for you.

You can make these from any of the cruciferous veggie leaves. Think Broccoli, Cauliflower, cabbage and brussel’s sprouts leaves.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line some sheet trays with parchment paper.

1 Tblsp of coconut oil and 2 Tblsp of coconut aminos. Brush it on both sides of your leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Let cool and eat them all up.

Hooray for Broccoli chips!




See you next week when we see what else is growing in Donna’s Desert Garden.     

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My first B-12 Injection

Part of my duties at my new job is to administer a vitamin B-12 injection to our patients who want them.

Before this, I had only heard of Vitamin B-12 injections for  elderly or anemic patients. But now I see people from their early 20s on up who get the injection every week.

As I prepare to give the injection, I like to ask the patient about their experience with this therapy. I tell them that this is new to me and I am very interested in hearing about it. They are very happy to tell me.

Most of the people tell me that they have more energy throughout the day. They are finding that they can come home from work, and accomplish much more at night before going to bed. Some of them say that their focus is better, and they are even starting to loose some weight.

This peaked my interest and I started doing some research.

I then decided to try an injection for myself. T’was a Thursday. I really did not notice a difference at first. Looking back, I remember that on Friday night I slept like a baby. As a matter of fact, for the next 3 nights-my head hit the pillow and the next thing I remember was the alarm going off. I felt rested and energetic  when I woke up the next morning.

I did not attribute any of it to the injection until I came home from work on Monday and Steve said to me “Honey, how much coffee did you have today?” I answered “Just one cup this morning.” He said “Well you must be doing something different, you have so much energy tonight that you are becoming annoying!”

Well (said in a huffy tone of voice)! It must be the B-12 injection’s fault. Oh wait, that is a good thing.

As a matter of fact there have been a lot of good things happen lately.  As my mom likes to say “Ain’t life grande?”

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Carrot Talk


Carrots in my garden

Close your eyes and imagine that you are harvesting fresh-sweet-organic carrots from your garden bed, or a container filled with soil. It is a beautiful thing; to tug at the base of the plant and watch a carrot magically come out of the soil. This something that grew from a seed, in the soil that you have taken care of.

We all know that carrots are full vitamins and minerals. Lots of them; Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Dietary Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin B6, Manganese, Molybdenum (Moly what?), Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Phosphorous, Magnesium and Folate.

But did you know that because root veggies like carrots grow in the dirt; there are lots of  gut healthy bacteria clinging to them. There goes life being amazing again!

In November, I have carrots ready to pull up in both my August and September beds. Here in the desert we can harvest carrots from now until May. But my favorites are the ones that have matured during the coldest part of December and January. They just seem to be sweeter.

I also like to leave a few of my favorite varieties alone. They will eventually flower which attracts bees and butterflies. That way I will have dried flower heads full of seeds to save for another planting. You need to have patience for this though. It can take 18 months to 2 years from the time you plant a seed until you harvest new seeds. But it only takes a few carrots to provide you with lots of seeds.

Though carrots can be canned and frozen, my favorite way to eat them is fresh. Since they will stay in the crisper drawer for literally months; they are what we like to call easy keepers. My goats and pigs love them, and they are part of the main diet for the meal worms (Donna, that’s disgusting!) that I raise for the chickens.

Here is a beautiful recipe that you can use to decorate your holiday table with.

Roasted Carrot shreds or noodles (if you have a spiralizer).

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Shred your carrots with a carrot peeler (or use your spiralizer to make carrot noodles). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread avocado (or coconut oil) on the parchment paper. Toss your carrots in the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes. Stay close by, and check early to make sure that the carrots do not scorch.

Top with a green goddess type dressing or pesto. I did not have avocados this time, so I used goat cheese (chevre) to thicken this dressing.

For a pretty presentation on your table,  avocado slices would look very nice.


Posted in Abundance, Carrots, Gardening, goat cheese, Monthly pantry report, monthly planting, Recipes | Leave a comment

Donna’s November Garden and a recipe.

I row sprouts in my kitchen all year long.

I grow sprouts in my kitchen all year long.

What’s in Donna’s garden

November gardening is unique to the desert areas. Most vegetable gardeners have put their garden beds to bed and are coming inside to enjoy a warm cup of apple cider and dream of spring gardening.

Here in the desert we are harvesting every day and planting every weekend of the year. Follow along in the blog and I will show you how you too can be harvesting something fresh to put on your family’s table every day of the year.

If you have been planting year round, you could be harvesting beets, bok choi, carrots, eggplant, green beans, kale, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, squash (both summer and winter), sweet potatoes and swiss chard. Don’t forget herbs like basil and cilantro.

Here is what you could be planting right now. Asparagus, beets, bok choi, broccoli, brussel’s sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, kale, lettuces, onions, shallots, peas, radish, spinach and turnips. If you like herbs; this is the time to plant all those cute little transplants that you see at the nursery.

If you do not have a garden, here is another idea for you. I grow sprouts of all kinds on my counter top year round. These are mung bean sprouts. Just 1 Tblsp of seeds will make this many sprouts in just a matter of a few days.  

My favorite way to use them is to put them in my morning smoothie. I use orange juice from my last year’s harvest, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of pomegranate seeds from this year, and two scoops of protein equivalent to about 20 grams of protein.

After blending it up in my Vitamix, I put the sprouts in and turn it up to high, until the sprouts are liquefied.


Posted in monthly harvesting, monthly planting, Recipes, Sprouts | 2 Comments