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Microgreens Pack Macro Nutrition, Flavor

January 19, 2020

It wasn’t long ago that microgreens were found only on the menus of trendy, upscale restaurants. Now, microgreens, the seedlings of vegetables and herbs that are smaller than baby greens and bigger than sprouts, have found their way into most grocery store produce sections and casual restaurants as a staple in wraps, salads and soups. Several publications including Medical News Today reports that there is evidence to suggest that microgreens have a high antioxidant content, which can help prevent diseases. They’re also rich in vitamins.

And then there’s the taste: microgreens are a staple in chef’s kitchens due to their bold flavor profiles, ranging from sharp and peppery (arugula) to sweet and earthy (kale. Swiss chard). Common microgreens include amaranth, arugula, broccoli, kale, parsley, radish, sunflower and Swiss chard. Their dainty, deep green or purplish appearance adds an artistic flair to entrées.

Microgreens can be grown indoors, even in the tiniest homes and apartments and don’t take up much more space than houseplants. Microgreens are ready to be harvested in about one to two weeks within planting the seeds. This quick turnaround allows for a continuous supply of healthy, nutritious produce, even in the dead of winter.

It’s easy to grow your own microgreens. There are reasonably priced kits available online, but you can make your own D.I.Y. microgreen kit with household items. To begin growing your own bounty of microgreens, gather:

Seeds: chose the microgreens you’d like to grow and purchase the seeds

Containers: gather a couple of long, shallow containers, like gardening flats, repurposed plastic food trays, or aluminum pie or lasagna pans.

Soil: Use looser, lightweight soil, such as potting soil.

Spray bottle (for watering)

Scout a location in your home for your trays. A south window is ideal. I happen to get a lot of afternoon sun through the west windows in my dining room, so I cleared a spot on my dining room table for the microgreen trays. You can also use a grow light.

Place about an inch of potting soil in each tray and smooth it out, without packing it down too much.

Evenly scatter your seeds over the surface of the soil. Because microgreens are harvested so young, you can place seeds closer together than if you were planting outdoors in a garden.

Lightly cover seeds with a thin layer of soil. Spray the surface with a mist of water, using just enough water to moisten the surface. Don’t waterlog the seeds by directly pouring water in them.

Place the trays with the seeds in the sunny window space. You can also use a grow light.

Mist the trays with water a couple of times a day to keep the soil from drying out.

The microgreens will be ready to harvest in about two weeks. Harvest by snipping the microgreens at the base near the soil’s surface. To start another crop, remove the roots and replant seeds in the existing soil, or dump the whole tray of dirt into your outdoor yard garden or compost pile/bin. Fill the tray with more soil and repeat above steps to replant.

Playing with earthy scented dirt and watching your microgreens sprout is a fun way to satisfy the gardening bug on these snowy winter days. The boost of flavor and nutrition from microgreens isn’t bad, either!

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Random Acts of Kindness

December 27, 2019

One of the most inspiring things for me about the holiday season is seeing people be a little kinder and more generous toward each other. Throughout December, I’ve seen more smiles, received countless “hellos” from strangers, and observed people openly sharing food, money and other goods with neighbors or those less fortunate. Then that generosity sometimes fades as we become absorbed by the daily grind

As we head into 2020, I’ve made it my personal mantra to “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” The quote, an uplifting twist on the more disturbing phrase, “commit random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty” is widely attributed to Anne Herbert, a California woman who wrote her version on a restaurant placemat. Decades later, that quote is even more relevant in this age of divisive politics, bullying, road rage, and unchecked social media rants. News headlines can be flat-out depressing, and while I’ll still pay attention to local, national, and world events, no matter how despondent they might be, I’m determined to practice resiliency through kindness. Here are a few ways to spread senseless acts of beauty:

Brighten someone’s day with a compliment. When walking past a neighbor’s house as they work diligently on a garden or yard project, let him or her know how lovely it looks.

Smile! We all can’t be happy all of the time, but when you are, share that good aura with a smile. Maybe a person will return the gesture, or maybe not, but chances are you’ll make someone’s day a little brighter.

Thank people working in often-unappreciated jobs. Thank the retail clerks you encounter or the janitors at your workplace. Show gratitude for anyone who performs a service that makes our lives a little easier.

Reward service industry employees with a generous tip. Restaurant servers, bartenders, airport skycaps, bellhops and others in the hospitality industry receive the majority of their income from tips. When possible, make a server’s day by giving more than a standard tip.

Go beyond the “leave a penny.” Most gas stations and convenience stores have the “take a penny, leave a penny” cup. Maybe add some spare dimes or quarters—that could add up to help a motorist a little short on gas who is trying to get to work, or a person who needs just a few cents extra for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. Plugging spare change into a vending machine can also pay it forward to the next person with a free item.

Pick up trash. Despite all of the “Keep America Beautiful” campaigns and public awareness efforts, there will always be litter. Trash also blows off of trucks and out of overflowing garbage cans. While taking walks, jogging or bicycling, carry a bag to pick up and properly dispose of trash on the streets or in our parks. Even picking up stray debris in front of your home can make a difference.

Don’t take things personally. This inadvertently plays into random kindness, as every one of us will encounter a person at some point who challenges our attempts to be kind. Our reactions to people and situations can affect whether we commit random kindness, or if we use words or actions that turn to violence. People we see while going along our daily business might do ignorant things like cut us off in traffic, stop abruptly in a crowded pedestrian area to check their phones, open a car door into our paths while we’re bicycling down the street, let an unleashed pet run into ours or our pet’s space, refuse to hold a door open for us when we’re behind them . . . the list could go on and on.

Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to confront strangers who commit these acts and call them every four-letter name in the book, or flip them the one-finger salute, but that causes situations to escalate quickly and unnecessarily. Take a deep breath and try to remember that the person likely didn’t wake up in the morning with the sole intention of bringing misery to your day. It could be that that person is having a bad day and isn’t thinking clearly, it might be because that person isn’t in the moment nor has awareness that he or she is committing an offense—or that the person truly is self-absorbed and uncaring. But chances are that we’ll never encounter that person again, and that fleeting brush with his or her ignorance eventually becomes just a blip on the day’s radar. Put it behind you and, to quote another famous phrase, keep calm and carry on.

Wishing everyone joy and kindness in 2020!

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

 

Discover Our City of Neighborhoods

November 28, 2019

Events like the Christkindlmarket, Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, Santa Cycle Rampage, Mitten Fest, and other community festivals that get people outdoors, even during Wisconsin’s cold winters, remind us that Milwaukee is a City of Neighborhoods with immigrant identities woven into the fabric of our culture. Do you know the stories of our neighborhoods? How did Pigsville get its name? Where was Milwaukee’s “Little Italy”? What does “Harambee” mean?

We collaborated with historian John Gurda and Historic Milwaukee, Inc. to create an interactive companion to the popular book Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods. Check it out through the Milwaukee Community Map.

Once you have accessed the Milwaukee Community Map in Google Earth Pro on Desktop, find the “City of Neighborhoods” layer under the section called Basemaps. Fill in its circle to turn it on, then click on each neighborhood shape to see a preview paragraph on its story and each colorful poster created by Jan Kotowitz. You can toggle on/off “Our Water Stories” layers on top of this basemap to see which neighborhoods feature different water-related projects.

Michael Timm
Michael Timm is a writer, editor, and game designer who worked seven years as a hyperlocal journalist and holds a master’s degree from the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Passionate about connecting and engaging general audiences with stories hidden in plain sight, he manages Reflo’s Milwaukee Water Stories program where he piloted a place-based app, co-created a digital role-playing game inspired by Milwaukee’s water history, and curates the Milwaukee Community Map.
Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions
As a Milwaukee nonprofit organization, Reflo’s mission is to become a leader in sustainable water use, green infrastructure, and water management in urban environments.
Milwaukee Community Map
The Milwaukee Community Map is a free and amazing tool that uses the power of Google Earth to visualize stories never before experienced in one place. The data informing these stories is shared by community, public, and private entities and curated around the theme of “Water & Community.” The nonprofit Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions curates the map. Funding was provided by Brico Fund and in part by Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant #NA18NOS4190091.

Healthier (and Easy!) Thanksgiving Side Dishes

November 22, 2019

Whether the main attraction on your Thanksgiving table is turkey or Tofurky, the wow factor really comes from creative side dishes. Yet some of the classics like green bean casserole or macaroni and cheese can have significantly amounts of fat, calories, and sodium. Sure, it’s fun to splurge for a special occasion, but if you or your dinner guests still want to eat healthier on Turkey Day, here are a couple of side dishes that are sure to please.

Green Bean Sauté (adapted from Colorado Collage)

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 T. butter (or Earth Balance for a vegan version)

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

½ tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 T. finely chopped parsley

1 T. balsamic vinegar

Cook green beans in rapidly boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, immerse in ice water, drain again, and set aside. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add reserved beans, salt, and pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with parsley and vinegar and toss to combine.

Lemon Couscous with Fresh Spinach (adapted from Colorado Collage)

2¼ cups vegetable broth

¼ cup unsalted butter (or Earth Balance, for a vegan version)

1 10-ounce box uncooked couscous

3 T. fresh lemon juice

3 large green onions, thinly sliced

1 small bunch fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and thinly sliced

3 T. chopped fresh chives

In a medium saucepan, combine vegetable broth and butter. Heat to boiling. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork and stir in lemon juice, onions, spinach and chives. Serve hot or cold.

Creamless Potato Gratin with Herbs (adapted from Food & Wine)

1½ T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the cake pan

1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)

1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme

½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 pounds medium Yukon gold or red potatoes, very thinly sliced

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° and oil an 8-inch round cake pan, preferably of dark metal. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and oil the paper.

In a medium saucepan, heat the 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the thyme, rosemary, and parsley and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat until reduced to ¾ cup, about 10 minutes.

Arrange an overlapping layer of potato slices in the cake pan. Season with salt and pepper and spoon a small amount of the reduced broth on top. Repeat the layering process with the remaining potatoes and reduced broth, seasoning each layer lightly. Pour any remaining broth on top. Cover the pan with a sheet of oiled parchment paper and then a sheet of foil.

Bake the gratin in the center of the oven until the potatoes are very tender, about 1 hour. Remove the foil and paper and bake until the top is dry, about 10 minutes.

Turn the broiler on. Remove the gratin from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Invert the gratin onto a heatproof plate. Carefully remove the parchment round. Broil the gratin 6 inches from the heat until the surface is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Discover Jones Island History

October 28, 2019

Today Jones Island is home to an industrial port and sewage treatment plant, but it was once home to a vibrant fishing village where an immigrant community of Kaszubes filled the swampy land for fishing shanties, homes, saloons, and even a school. Learn more about the dramatic historic transformations along our freshwater coast by checking out the video below:

Explore more by accessing the Jones Island “Deeper Dive” by opening the Milwaukee Community Map in Google Earth Pro on Desktop. Fill in the circle button by “Jones Island” and then click the points of interest to explore different historic features in the interactive map.

Michael Timm
Michael Timm is a writer, editor, and game designer who worked seven years as a hyperlocal journalist and holds a master’s degree from the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Passionate about connecting and engaging general audiences with stories hidden in plain sight, he manages Reflo’s Milwaukee Water Stories program where he piloted a place-based app, co-created a digital role-playing game inspired by Milwaukee’s water history, and curates the Milwaukee Community Map.
Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions
As a Milwaukee nonprofit organization, Reflo’s mission is to become a leader in sustainable water use, green infrastructure, and water management in urban environments.
Milwaukee Community Map
The Milwaukee Community Map is a free and amazing tool that uses the power of Google Earth to visualize stories never before experienced in one place. The data informing these stories is shared by community, public, and private entities and curated around the theme of “Water & Community.” The nonprofit Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions curates the map. Funding was provided by Brico Fund and in part by Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant #NA18NOS4190091.

Save Energy This Winter

October 23, 2019

After what seemed like an all-too-brief summer, winter is on its way again. It’s easy to use a lot of energy during Wisconsin’s blustery days, but by developing some simple energy saving habits, we can reduce our impact on the planet and stay warm, without emptying our wallets.

Take advantage of nature’s heater: When the sun is shining, keep shades, blinds and drapes open during the day to capture the sun’s warming heat. Close window treatments on gloomy or overcast days.

Plan your baking: Turning the oven on for baking one loaf of bread, or for one pan of lasagna still heats up the entire oven. Make the most of that heat by baking more than one thing at a time. Baking a couple of meals or items at once will save energy and provide dinner for a few days, eliminating the need to cook after a long, busy workday. Once your baking tasks are completed, open the oven door and let that excess heat warm up the home. If you have just one small item to warm up, like a couple slices of leftover pizza, use a toaster oven, electric skillet or the stovetop.

Little leaks, big losses: Heat escapes quickly through gaps, leaks and worn weather-stripping around doors and windows. If drafts are detected, replace foam weather stripping and seal windows with rope caulking, which can be peeled off in spring when it’s time to reopen the windows. Block air from creeping under the door with draft stoppers, which sell for about $10. Or make your own by filling a repurposed long sock with sand, rice or kitty litter, and tie or sew the opening end closed.

Adjust the thermostat: While sleeping or away from home, simply turning the thermostat back a few degrees from its normal setting can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating.

Maintenance: Keep furnaces clean and unblocked, and check air filters monthly. Dirty filters can cut down on the unit’s efficiency.

Dress for the season: Resist the urge to crank up the heat during a polar vortex and put on an extra sweater, slippers or thick socks.

Switch the ceiling fan’s blade rotation: Most of us don’t pay attention to which direction the ceiling fan is spinning, but the blades’ rotation can actually save money on your winter heating bill. Hot air rises, so reversing the fan’s blades to a clockwise rotation will help push that warmth back down into the room.

For additional tips on enjoying a warm, cozy and energy efficient winter, visit www.energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. 

 

Discover Historic Water Recreation

September 26, 2019
     With the onset of autumn, there’s still time to enjoy our beaches along Lake Michigan. Did you know that Bradford Beach, Lincoln Memorial Drive, Veterans Park, and the Summerfest Grounds were all constructed on what used to be lakebed? They were all filled in with land.
     In the late 1800s and early 1900s, before Milwaukeeans went down to our lakefront beaches in droves, they congregated in and along the Milwaukee River upstream of the former North Avenue Dam. Check out the video overview above to see where there used to be swimming schools along the river’s banks.
     To explore more, access the Milwaukee Community Map in Google Earth Pro on Desktop. Toggle on the “Historic Water Recreation” Deeper Dive, then click on the features of interest to learn more. There are also nifty place-based links to video segments of A City Built on Water, the film by John Gurda and Claudia Looze:
https://vimeo.com/345366041
Michael Timm
Michael Timm is a writer, editor, and game designer who worked seven years as a hyperlocal journalist and holds a master’s degree from the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Passionate about connecting and engaging general audiences with stories hidden in plain sight, he manages Reflo’s Milwaukee Water Stories program where he piloted a place-based app, co-created a digital role-playing game inspired by Milwaukee’s water history, and curates the Milwaukee Community Map.
Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions
As a Milwaukee nonprofit organization, Reflo’s mission is to become a leader in sustainable water use, green infrastructure, and water management in urban environments.
Milwaukee Community Map
The Milwaukee Community Map is a free and amazing tool that uses the power of Google Earth to visualize stories never before experienced in one place. The data informing these stories is shared by community, public, and private entities and curated around the theme of “Water & Community.” The nonprofit Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions curates the map. Funding was provided by Brico Fund and in part by Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant #NA18NOS4190091.