Walkingspree Bloggers

Using Your Garden to Eat Smart: Choosing Your Veggies

When trying to decide which vegetables to plant, you’ll want to consider more than just which ones you like or don’t like.

It’s not something we normally think about (unless we’re experienced gardeners) but it’s important to know that there are two kinds of vegetables when it comes to planting a garden.

Vegetables are labeled warm-season or cool-season, depending on the weather necessary for optimal growth.

Many parts of the country are still in what is termed the cool-season. Knowledgable gardeners planting during this time choose cool-season vegetables that grow consistently at the right temperatures. Sunset recommends averaging between 10° to 15°F/6° to 8°C below those normally required by warm-season veggies. These vegetables can be planted in early spring for an early summer harvest and again in late summer so they’ll harvest in the fall and even in the winter for milder climates.

Photo Credit: Northeast Nursery

Warm-season vegetables, which include peppers and tomatoes, need both warm soil and higher temperatures to grow well and keep producing. They can be killed by frost and should always be planted after the last frost in spring.

Photo Credit: Northeast Nursery

Here’s a detailed article by Sunset on choosing the right vegetables, how to plant and harvest them.

Gardening on a Budget: Choosing Vegetables with Value

Trying to save money on food by gardening? It’s true that growing your own vegetables can decrease your grocery bills. Some green thumbs lower their food costs by hundreds of dollars a year. If saving money is your goal, choose your veggies carefully and you’ll be eating healthy and lowering your grocery expenses.

Some vegetables – due to cost and time consumed growing – aren’t worth the money or the effort if you’re just trying to save some cash.  If you are going for more bang for your buck, expert gardeners recommend skipping artichokes and cauliflower.   They are trickier to grow and often more susceptible to pests.

Likewise, onions and potatoes won’t save you any serious money either – mostly because the difference in seeding isn’t much different than what you’d spend at the store.

If you are looking for a good use of your budget, choose salad greens (estimated savings of $300 for close to five months worth of salads!) and plant heirloom cherry tomatoes. These tomatoes are said to save even more money than larger tomatoes because they have a longer growing season and more abundant crops.

For more detailed information on how to save money growing vegetables check this article at Bottom Line Personal.

Up Next Week in Eat Smart: Easy, Healthy Recipes Using Fresh Vegetables.

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Use Your Garden to Eat Smart: Get Started Gardening

If you enjoy healthy dishes using fresh vegetables and herbs, then you probably have tried gardening or you’ve thought about it at least once or twice. Spring is fast approaching and if you live in warmer climates, spring may start as early as late February or March. Now is the time to take action and consider starting a garden. Fresh vegetables, tomatoes and herbs are great to have on hand for quickly thrown together healthy meals.

This week, we’ll start a three part series with a few tips on setting up your garden, choosing what to plant and ending with a few recipes that include fresh veggies and herbs.

Never planted a garden? Worried that you don’t have a green thumb and that you’ll kill everything before it ever gets a chance to see the light of day? No worries! We aren’t going to tell you that if you follow any specific instructions, you’ll be an instant success. That’s not reality. What we WILL tell you is that you are not alone and to remember you’re “experimenting” until you get it right. If you think about it, life itself is one big experiment. We are always making mistakes, learning and starting over. Period. Gardening isn’t any different. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, we’re going to keep our notes here very basic and encourage you to research (DIY) do-it-yourself ideas for gardening online.

Setting Up Your Garden – Basics

First, (after deciding where you want to place your garden, how big your garden should be and marking it off) the experts say you’ll want to kill the existing grass or weeds in that area.  There are various ways to do that. Some of them involve using chemical weed killer. We like the more natural approach. It’s easier, safer, healthier and less expensive.  All you’ll require is a stack of newspapers or some flattened cardboard boxes.

A note about using boxes: Remove staples or plastic taping. Your boxes should be flattened into one long layer. Choose heavy cardboard that is not heavily colored.

When using newspaper, you’ll need about eight to ten layers.

Newspapers in the present day use a soy-based ink. This is good because it means that the ink will not be harmful to or impede plant growth. Avoid using the “glossy” inserts from the newspaper or magazine pages.

Once you’ve acquired enough newspapers or cardboard, spread the layers over the whole area of the garden bed. Don’t forget to overlap any edges so there aren’t any gaps or spaces where grass or weeds can grow through. This works to get rid of weeds and unwanted grass because the layers of newspaper or cardboard basically suffocate and prevent them from growing.

Walkingspree like this method because it is simple, involves recycling, uses easily acquired supplies and – bonus – it’s organic. As time passes, the paper (or cardboard) moistens, disintegrates and even feeds earthworms in your soil.

Now you can fill the garden with topsoil. Next week, we’ll include a few tips on choosing what to plant based on climate and location.

If you need tips on choosing topsoil or how to create your own compost, try these links:

How to Make a Trashcan Composter

Composting 101 – How to Make Your Own Compost

7 Tips for Choosing the Right Soil

How to Choose a Good Topsoil

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Can Text Messages Improve Your Health?

Depending on whom you are talking to, text messaging can be blessing or a curse.  More and more cities are passing laws against cell phone usage and texting while driving. Relationship experts will tell you it’s impersonal and discourages real communication. Educators will say it is a threat to civilization, professionalism and society in general, because texting condones poor spelling, grammatical errors and slang.

What if text messaging or “Intelli-Messaging,” such as Walkingspree provides for its clients, was proven to encourage healthy habits like exercise and (indirectly) alleviate symptoms of disease, depression and stroke?

A study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association found that using text messaging with a group of patients at risk for heart disease led to significant increases in physical activity levels.  JAHA calls it a “texting intervention.”

48 smartphone users (aged 18 to 69) who were also at risk for heart disease, enrolled in a five-week study. They were divided into three groups:

1)    a blinded group that could not interface with their physical activity data (see their results and stats via mobile app or online) or receive any text messages

2) an unblinded group that could interface with physical activity data (see their results and stats via mobile app or online) but did not receive texts

3)     an unblinded group that could interface with physical activity data (see their results and stats via mobile app or online) and also received texts.

Participants in all three groups were given wearable fitness trackers and set a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day.

Using an automated messaging system like the one that Walkingspree provides its clients, personalized texts were sent to the participants in the unblinded text-receiving group.  These participants received encouraging messages or praise focused on their level of physical activity. Data about their physical activity was obtained using the real-time tracking feature from their fitness trackers. These participants received encouraging text messages three times a day.

The findings concluded that automated tracking-texting intervention increased physical activity.  Participants in the unblinded text-receiving group walked an average of 2,334 more steps per day than the other participants.

The groups that did not receive text messages maintained and spent the minimum suggested time engaging in physical activity. However, the group that received texts increased its total activity time by 21 minutes per day. They showed a 23 percent increase in total activity but they also had a 160 percent increase in aerobic time!  (These participants increased aerobic activity by 13 minutes per day).

Results

When the five-week study was over, nearly twice as many participants in the text-receiving group accomplished the 10,000 steps per day goal compared with the other groups. The study lends support to the concept of wearable tracking devices facilitating behavior and even lifestyle changes.  The researchers concluded that being able to see and interact with physical activity data alone did not yield improvement without the text message intervention. This is why walking and wellness programs like Walkingspree’s are so effective. Devotees of walking have long advocated the health benefits. Walking is consistently proven to combat obesity, alleviate and help prevent Type 2 diabetes, combat depression, lower blood pressure and help prevent stroke.

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Making New Year’s Goals Stick

Now that the onslaught of memes with New Year’s resolutions has thinned out on our Facebook and Instagram profiles, it’s time to take a breath and focus. You may be thinking that New Year’s Day has passed so why talk about resolutions now? The reasoning for that is very similar to someone deciding to take a day to think about, pray or meditate about a big decision. You normally wouldn’t rush into life changing decisions without some reflection and thought. A New Year’s goal or resolution should be life changing whether it’s a commitment to lose weight, get healthy, become more involved in your spiritual life, start a business or spend more quality time with your family. If you think about it, when you accomplish your goals, your life will change, presumably, for the better. So, now that the fuss and festivities are over, we encourage you to give your goals a reassessment and evaluate their importance and realistic value.

Keep your list limited to the most important goals. Be practical about what you put on it. If your resolutions list is longer than your arm, it’s likely you’ll feel overwhelmed. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

The American Psychological Association published a short and sweet article; Making your News Year’s Goals Stick. It says “in addition to the post-holiday slump, not being able to keep your resolutions by February, March or even late January may increase your anxiety. When your holiday decorations are packed up and stored away, the frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of failed resolutions can make the later winter months feel hopeless.”

Avoiding frustration could be as simple as prioritizing and creating a “short list.”

This is our Eat Smart blog at Walkingspree. So, naturally, we want to encourage you to focus on making 2016 your best personal nutrition year. Eat smarter, healthier and intentionally. Intentionally choose healthier recipes, entrees when eating out and choose to healthier snacks for yourself and your children.

It’s not too late to resolve to adjust eating, exercise and sleep patterns. Check out these healthy nutrition hacks from U.S. News and World Report for some ideas on how to customize your nutrition with precision and a practical mindset.

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Eat Smart with Jan Tilley

We are so pleased to announce our newest guest blogger Jan Tilley, MS RD LD. Jan will be contributing her vast food and nutrition knowledge to our new Eat Smart with Jan Tilley. We send these messages to help you and your family make healthy food choices over the weekend and beyond. With Jan’s help, we will now include easy-to-follow and delicious recipes that anyone can implement. Jan’s advice extends beyond the kitchen to helpful blogs on topics like resisting your sweet tooth to taking charge of your taste buds to getting more vitamins and nutrients into your diet.

“Combining Jan Tilley’s nutrition knowledge with our wellness solution was an obvious choice,” stated Sam Rosario, Vice President of Sales at Walkingspree. “We share the same mission of providing a lasting solution to create good health; it’s as simple as that. Jan Tilley’s reputation and experience is unparalleled and partnering with her takes our healthy eating advice to the next level.”

Jan Tilley is a highly respected clinician, nutrition expert, corporate health and wellness expert and motivational speaker. She is a national leader in nutrition consulting, dietary wellness and medical nutrition therapy. Jan holds a MS in Nutrition and has over 20 years of experience in the food and nutrition industry. She enjoys speaking to a broad audience of clients on finding motivation to make small changes that bring BIG results in creating good health.

Jan’s latest cookbook Healthy Meals for Hurried Families offers recipes that are quick, simple and satisfying. In addition, she authored Getting Your Second Wind inspiring a path to wellness through physical activity and healthy eating. Getting Your Second Wind has encouraged thousands of individuals and given them a fresh start toward creating a positive attitude and balanced lifestyle.

For more on Jan Tilley, check out her website at myappetiteforlife.com

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