A first step towards healthy eating and weight loss is to make sure you’re getting enough balance in your diet. The average American should be replacing some of the refined carbohydrates that they consume with fruits and vegetables in order to better manage their weight. Refined carbs are considered “empty calories” because they hold minimal nutritional value. These carbs are usually found in white rice, white breads, and white pastas among other things.
Carbohydrates can make us gain weight because we often eat refined carbs in greater quantities. However, the healthy carbs, those found in fruits, veggies, and whole grain foods, are extremely important for your diet so knowing the difference between refined and whole carbs is essential.
One of the biggest reasons that people hesitate to eat more fruits and veggies is because of the cost. It can be expensive to buy fresh, and organic produce and time-consuming to have to go to the store and buy them every week since they don’t last much longer than that.
The best alternative to this problem is to grow your own produce. This blog post will go over How to Grow Vegetables Indoors, the best types of veggies, and how much to grow for you and your family (and maybe some extra for the local food shelf!).
When thinking about how to grow vegetables indoors, you’ll need quite a few supplies and a bit of knowledge.
First, you’ll need to consider how much light your plants will need. Most types of herbs, fruits, and vegetables require similar amounts of sunlight, but if you find yourself with a couple of plants with different lighting needs, there are easy ways to combat this problem.
There are many different kinds of lamps you could use for indoor vegetable growing. The ones we suggest are the Fluorescent Lights (good for herbs and other low light plants) and High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, which are the brightest bulbs available. The latter bulbs will allow you to output the same amount of light as 50 40-watt fluorescent bulbs.
The light the plants received will also depend on how close you put the light to the produce. Monitoring your plants closely will help you determine if they’re getting too much or too little light or if they’re too cold or too hot.
If you’re gardening in the winter, humidity might be a problem for you as well since the air tends to be drier. You’ll need to increase the humidity if your plants begin to look withered, if they lose their leaves, or the tips of the leaves are turning a brown color.
In order to increase the humidity, you may need to get a humidifier or begin to mist the plants every day. If you buy seed packets for your veggies, there should be information on how much light, humidity, and what temperature they need to be at.
The soil you decide to plant your produce in is extremely important. This goes the same for fertilizer. Don’t dig up a pile of dirt from outside to use for your plants because that dirt could contain impurities harmful to your veggies.
Nearly any store-bought soil will work well since they are packaged with helpful nutrients. Try to grab a looser mix with more aeration as this will allow your plants to breathe and get more oxygen.
If you decide to fertilize your plants (which we highly recommend), you can purchase fertilizer at any local gardening shop. Or you could make your own out of a compost made from food scrapes. We talked about composting your food in this post.
Remember to water your produce every day but be careful not to over water. Your plants should not be sitting in a pot of water but the soil should always be slightly moist. Pruning your plants helps them grow healthier and larger as well.
Pinch off excess foliage so that your fruits and veggies are getting more airflow. You can pinch about 1/3 of the flowering buds and it will actually increase the yield of your plant. If you see a fruit forming that isn’t up to par with the rest, don’t fret about snipping it off, this will assure that your produce is prime.
After you’ve harvested your bountiful produce, make sure you know how to store it so that it keeps fresh. If you’ve found that you’ve produced more than you and your family can consume, you can can or pickle it, or even better, you can donate it your local food shelf! As we’ve mentioned countless times, check with your local donation center and make sure they have the means to keep this product until someone can pick it up.
If you’re able to successfully grow vegetables indoors, you’ll be saving money, losing weight, and feeling mentally renewed (from having green nature around you all four seasons of the year)! Good luck with your endeavors and comment below if you have any other tips or tricks, or if you’d like to share you experience. Thanks for reading!
Here at Babas Cupboard we’ve had multiple people email us with questions in relation to our blog posts, our mission, or about healthy eating in general. And since we’ve gotten so many! We decided to post a couple of those questions every so often so we can share our knowledge with all of our readers. An email we got last week that we really enjoyed was this one:
Anyways, I have a question that I’ve been wondering for a while. I’ve heard this craze about kale lately and people that are calling it a “super food”. I’ve seen it at the grocery store and have considered even growing my own. I’m interested to hear if this is something that I can donate to a food shelf, it seems like it would be great for people who need ‘super food’.
I’ve also wondered for a while: Does eating kale help you lose weight? I want to incorporate it more into my diet but not if it’s just some fad going around! Thanks!”Michelle, 29 from Ohio
Thanks for your kind message, Michelle! Kale (or borecole) is definitely a fantastic way to improve your daily nutrient intake. Kale is one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables on earth. Just one cup of it contains over 100% of your recommended daily consumption of Vitamins A, K, and C. and this only includes 33 calories.
It’s considered part of the same family as broccoli and cabbage so you know it’s great for you! However, there have been no studies done that prove eating Kale might help you lose weight. Although, this doesn’t mean you should completely avoid the vegetable! This curly leaf can be added to many recipes to improve your diet.
There are many aspects of kale that suggest it might assist with weight loss. One aspect is that it’s such a fibrous plant, kale helps you feel more full after eating it. Eating less is one of the first steps to losing weight.
Eating raw kale can have its disadvantages, too. The tough, fibrous stems and stalks of this food are tough for our bodies to digest but there are several ways that we can combat this.
One of the most popular ways to consume this super food is to add it to your smoothie! Adding a handful of kale to a fruit smoothie will hardly change the taste but add a crazy amount of nutrients.
If you’re currently on a juice cleanse, adding kale to your juices will help you avoid feeling hungry all day. One of the reasons people advise against juice cleanses even though they are ultimately good for you, is because you aren’t getting your daily intake of vitamins and key nutrients. Kale will remedy this with just half a cup added to your current juicing routine.
In terms of whether or not it will do well at a food shelf, we’ve mentioned before to check with your local shelf if they take fresh produce. However, your best bet would be to grab some organic kale chips at your local grocery store. These are still an excellent way to provide those who benefit from food shelves with a more nutritious meal.
Thank you for your question, Michelle! We hope it’s helped you decide whether or not to pick up some kale and start cooking!
One of the best ways to save money and time is to increase the shelf life of your food. You’ll save money because your food will last longer and you’ll save time because you won’t have to go to the store as much. Knowing this, you’ll be able to extend the life of some of your healthier, less preservative-packed foods and use these products rather than the sodium rich boxed meals that have already been sitting on your shelf for ages. You’ll be able to donate those to the food shelf.
There are many reasons people might want to make their food last longer. Looking around on the internet, it seems most people either want to:
Now we’re not sure about survival or emergency meal prepping but we think many of these tips could apply to that as well. Drying and canning will make your food last an extremely long time so that would be your best bet if any of you out there have stumbled upon us looking for some ideas. This article will be more about preserving your fresh herbs and produce and meat. The steps we will provide for you will cover which foods to refrigerate and which ones to keep on the pantry shelf, some tips on canning and storing, some ideas for keeping your leftovers longer and lastly, how to tell if your food has spoiled and what you can do.
One of our biggest concerns while grocery shopping is whether our not we will eat the fresh food we want before it spoils. These concerns are valid and it’s a big reason why many people prefer buying frozen meat and canned vegetables. While these are perfectly fine alternatives, it’s always a healthier solution to buy fresh products whether it’s from your chain grocery store or the local farmers market. The first step to understand how to make this fresh produce last, is to know the difference of refrigerator produce and pantry produce. Many people assume that just because it’s fresh, means it must be kept in the crisper in order to retain it’s freshness. Well this is not the case.
Here’s a handy list of which items you can put in your refrigerator and which to keep in a cold, dry pantry.
This excellent visual from SquawkFox provides a great visual on where to keep your refrigerated goods.
1. Set the temperature to 40 degrees or below
2. Check humidity settings on produce crispers and deli drawers to ensure correct levels according to produce
3. Store leftovers for up to 4 days in clear glass containers so that you can see them and remind yourself to eat them
4. Don’t mix fruits, veggies, and meat in crisper. It spoils food and leads to cross contamination
5. Don’t place milk or quick-to-expire perishables in fridge doors because the temperatures there fluctuate greatly
6. Store raw meat and seafood on the bottom shelf so that any drippings don’t contaminate other food
7. Make sure there is enough room in your fridge so that the cold air can get around
8. Don’t slice food until you’re ready to eat it, if you need to do so, freeze it
9. Take stock of your fridge before each grocery trip to ensure you’re using everything
10. Clean your refrigerator often. Spills and messes can lead to mold and mildew and contamination
In addition to learning where to place your foods and produce in your kitchen, there are also different ways to store them to increase the shelf life of food. Depending on how long you’d like your food to last, there are several methods that will increase the freshness of produce by a couple of days and there are methods that will keep your food for months like canning and dehydrating.
The important thing to remember about produce is which give off ethylene gas, a natural substance that impacts any other fruits and vegetables you might have near. Real Simple has an excellent list of foods and how to correctly store them. Here are a couple of other tips:
Other ways of making food last is canning and dehydrating. Canning or pickling will allow you to preserve many types of foods and recipes for months to years. Canning is done by creating a vacuum seal with heat that prevents air from getting to the food and aging or spoiling it. Pickling is soaking foods in brine or vinegar through fermentation. Using either of these techniques will vastly improve the lifetime of your foods. Food dehydrating is a way of using heat to quickly dry out different types of foods, mainly fruits and vegetables. A food dehydrator is used for this task and you can make anything from fruit leathers to beef jerky, to homemade dog treats.
Leftovers are good for a maximum of four days before they risk growing bacteria and start tasting bad. The other option is to freeze it for up to four months. But how should you store them so that they still taste as fresh as possible? There are a couple of things you can do to guarantee your delicious food doesn’t go to waste.
The food that goes bad in your fridge and leftovers from a meal that you might decide to throw away make up about 25% of your garbage. Taking this 25% and using it to compost can be very beneficial for your waste bills and your yard or garden. Adding compost to your garden reintroduces much needed minerals and nutrients into the ground and acts as a fertilizer. Vegetable waste, fruit seeds, peels, and cores, eggshells, nut shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, even paper towels (just leave out towels you have used with household cleaners or bleaches).
All of these tips will help you create a healthier, and long-lasting pantry and fridge. Hopefully now you can start cooking up some fresh food and donate your prepackaged meals to the food shelves! Comment below for additional tips or questions!
At Babas Cupboard, our mission is to make donors aware that food shelves accept more than just cans of beans or boxes of rice that has been sitting in your pantry. We really love that you guys are donating, but we want to make you aware that our recipients need to eat healthy too. To increase this awareness, today we’re going to talk about Pantry Staples for Healthy Eating.
When many of us think of pantry food, the first things that come to mind is carbs and canned soups and preserved veggies. In reality, there is much more that food shelves need to be donated for recipients to lead a healthier lifestyle. We’re going to look at 10 pantry staples for healthier eating that can be donated and that are in short supply. We hope our list is helpful not only to get an idea of what you can donate, but it might make you a bit more health conscious as well.
Canned meat is in high demand and while it may not come to mind that canned tuna might be healthy for you, it’s actually very nutritious and easy to mix into a variety of salads or sandwiches for a little extra nutrients and flavor. Canned tuna is packed with protein and contains less than 1 gram of fat. Tuna also contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids which support brain health and development. Niacin can also be found in this fish. Niacin promotes a healthy digestive system, and keeps in your skin and nerves in tip top shape. Canned tuna has a combination of nutrients that is hard to find anywhere else. Taking vitamins isn’t always an option for those who frequent the food shelf so getting a healthy dose of canned tuna is especially important.
While on the topic of protein, according to Care2.com, peanut butter has many health benefits. In addition to having quite a long shelf life, it also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, it’s a huge source of vitamins and nutrients, and it helps protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. Peanut Butter is a valuable pantry staple for healthy eating because it’s extremely versatile and delicious. If you plan on donating peanut butter to a food shelf, try to buy a jar with the lowest amount of added ingredients and especially look out for sugars and hydrogenated oils or trans fats.
This is something that should be in everyone’s cabinet for when you’re running late to work in the mornings or you just need a healthy midnight snack. It is very common for people to overall have a sweeping assumption that all granola bars and cereal bars are healthy. What’s healthier than a bunch of nuts and oats, right? Well the danger comes in what the producer uses to stick those oats and nuts together. If you look closely at the ingredients, many will include hydrogenated oils like we suggested to avoid above. Don’t trust a box that tells you it’s healthy, read the ingredients list to really get the lowdown on what’s in that bar. Another ingredient to look out for is dried cane syrup, or evaporated cane juice. It’s a type of sweetener that’s just as bad sugar. KIND brand granola bars are considered one of the healthiest type because they believe that no product should have ingredients you can’t pronounce. It seems like a good trade off but simply replacing a big word with a couple of smaller words isn’t going to change the fact that there are still sugars in the product. Also keep in mind that most food shelves prefer bars without peanuts so that those with peanut allergies can still eat them.
Almonds have the longest shelf life of any other nut and are loaded with fiber and calcium. More so than most other nuts. The great thing about almonds is that they can be used for anything from cooking, baking, or just a snack! They’re a great source of nutrition so those who utilize the food shelf will find almonds fill many of their needs. This nut is excellent for managing weight because just a handful will help you feel more full. The best type of almonds to give are raw and unsalted, as those are healthiest, but roasted almost also have a high amount nutrients, some are just lost in the roasting process.
Some extremely important things to bring to a food shelf that you don’t think about are condiments and spices. These add flavor and excitement to cooking meals. Many people don’t cook their own food at home because they don’t feel their cooking tastes as good as a restaurant’s. It’s because most of them either can’t afford to buy spices to add taste to their meals or they don’t think to buy them when they’re at the store. Having them in your own home will also encourage you to cook more at home as well. Having a good grasp on which spices go with which kind of food and what kind of taste will help you make more delicious foods on your own and get you out of that nasty habit of going out for dinner. Gourmet Garden has a great Herb Pairing Guide which will help you get a good idea of which spice are most common and for which kind of food. If you know you have a large ethnic population that uses your local food shelf, consider what type of herbs that population might be using in their everyday cooking.
These are a fantastic treat because it’s a low calorie snack. A cup of seeds is only 55 calories and making sure you get an organic, non-flavored type is important so that you can add your own, healthy spices. However, kernels can be limiting as they’re not usually used in cooking and as only a snack but you can eat them as just the kernels or you can pop them in your favorite flavored oil.
We already went over granola bars but some old fashioned oats are even better. Oats are extremely versatile and can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Oats make sure you get your daily intake of fiber which helps lower cholesterol. Keep in mind to look at the nutrition labels, however. Some of these flavored instant oatmeal packets are loaded with sugars and discount the nutritional value that oats provides on its own. All Recipes has a huge list of recipes you can use to create a meal with oats. Grab one of these recipes for an example of other things to bring to a food shelf.
While it’s true that food shelves receive a lot of pasta and noodles, it’s rare that they get healthy options like whole wheat, veggie pasta, or gluten-free. Whole wheat pasta is much better for you than regular, it’s a great pantry staple for healthy eating because it hasn’t gone through the nutrient-stripping refining process that white pasta has. This process removes some of the most nutritious parts of the wheat. One downfall is that whole wheat pasta does have a shorter shelf life than white, but we guarantee this pasta won’t last long on shelf because it’s delicious and healthy.
Although some food shelves don’t accept fresh produce, it’s welcomed at large, high volume donation centers. Check with your local food shelf. It’s very uncommon for people to donate fresh ingredients and food and when it is donated and it’s usually picked up right away when it is.
For this one, we suggest checking with your local food shelf because although it is popular for food shelves to have a holiday themed donation drop-off, some don’t have the resources to keep these foods from perishing. However, if your shelf does accept these items, they’re an excellent addition and we highly recommend donating them because recipients enjoy celebrating holidays just like you. Some examples include pantry non-perishables like stuffing, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. Some food shelves even accept turkeys or hams during this time!
We hope our post has not only encouraged you to widen your horizons on your own pantry but also to reconsider what foods you bring to your local food shelf. If you have any questions about food that can be donated, comment below or contact us.
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Baba’s Cupboard is an online-based non-profit devoted to informing the public about food shelves and donation centers in the United States. We aim to
not only increase overall donations, but also to broaden the average person’s views of stereotypical food shelf donations. Donations can be more than just canned food, Even though those who utilize the offerings provided by these food shelves are grateful for anything they can get, we should still keep in mind certain dietary restrictions caused by someone’s health, religion, or beliefs.
Our mission is simple. We want to expand the public knowledge on food shelf donations. We need to have more dietary-specific donations being made. We aim to keep healthy, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian, etc. restrictions at the top of mind.
We hope to spread our message and get others involved in broadening the public’s knowledge. Unlike many programs that have large events in which they draw in a majority of their overall donations, most local food shelves simply accept constant donations without promoting a time in which it’s especially important to donate. We are on a quest to change this. Our vision to do so includes several goals that we wish to accomplish:
Our message speaks to those who are good-natured and well-meaning, but feel they don’t have the time or knowledge to donate to the food shelf. By having a large event in which they can see themselves as part of a tangible, measurable goal, they will be motivated to give to the cause.
Our mission is driven by seven individuals, two of which are volunteers. We consist of tech personnel, blog writers, grant writers, social media experts, and community liasons. If you’re interested in helping us get the word out, please share our message on social media. Or contact us.
Although Baba’s Cupboard does not yet have much of a history, we have a lot of heart and hope to pass on a legacy that made a difference in the lives of many Americans in need. As a non-profit founded in 2016, we have the future in mind and we will utilize current technologies, trends, and medias to get our message out there.
Please contact Baba’s Cupboard if you’re interested in getting involved through volunteering, sharing, or any way! Also if you have questions about our non-profit or about the work we do, we are happy to answer anything you might send our way. We will return your message within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
Donating to our cause makes sure that we can keep our non-profit up and running. Our administrative costs include staff salaries, upkeep costs like rent and website hosting and implementation of our marketing campaigns to raise awareness of our organization and goals.
We gladly accept many forms of donating that people can offer. Even if you don’t have the resources to donate money, we are always in need of volunteers.
We have a host of volunteer opportunities and you can even work from home while you’re doing it! Currently we are in need of:
If you are interested in any of our volunteer opportunities, please contact us.
Our donation plans include a one-time payment, or a monthly gift plan. Any amount helps our cause. After donating, we will send you an email with an image certifying that you donated to our program. You could share this on social media or email to your friends and family to get them involved.