Every once in awhile it’s fun to get a great surprise. This weekend I answered the call on our local NextDoor app to help pick blackberries at a local non-profit farm and got a sweet one! Tucked behind the local middle school here on the west side of Nashville is the coolest garden project I’ve seen in a long time.
The Bellevue Edible Learning Lab garden is an oasis of a garden that shows off the beautiful volunteer work, company sponsored structures and an explosion of color. As you walk up to a wisteria- covered, rough-wood gazebo you are greeted with piles of produce that are for sale to the public on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Baskets of garden gloves are ready for willing hands and Miss Deborah is happy to direct you to a task. Saturday’s conscription was to pick beautiful blackberries that lined the western edge of the 1 acre garden guarded by a flock of purple martins.
The garden provides opportunity for all to invest in something bigger than themselves. Whether you’re young or old, there are jobs to be done and lessons to be learned. The BELL Garden provides an opportunity to everyone in the community to come together and even encourages the students at the middle school to take part. My mom would have loved this! She was a pioneer in her day of teaching the value of the garden in her fourth grade classroom in Upstate New York. I remember her writing grant proposals for garden beds outside her classroom and using some of that money to purchase red wigglers to demonstrate composting with her students. Ellen was a garden trailblazer and she would have drooled over this opportunity.
If you’re local, stop by the market on Tuesdays from 4-6pm and Saturdays from 9am-noon or check out the BELL Garden website for information on volunteering! If you’re not in the Nashville area, check out your local agricultural extension for information on projects near you. You might be surprised by what’s around your corner!
July has warmed right up and the girls are feeling the Tennessee heat. I’m finding they spend more and more time on their roosts with their wings spread out a bit trying to catch any breeze they can or walking around with their beaks open as if panting. In the dead of summer when the heat index is in the 100’s we do everything we can to keep our chickens cool including reducing the fat in their diet and supplying lots of greens. The best thing we have found to keep our girlies chill is provide plenty of fresh, cool water morning and afternoon.
Chickens are curious creatures and we have found that adding items of interest encourages them to drink more. If we can add extra supporting nutrients, all the better. Our favorite mix is a bowl of cold water with cut up frozen berries and chopped herbs. We keep cranberries or blueberries on hand for this purpose because they are pretty inexpensive and just the right size when cut in half. We have an abundance of oregano, lemon balm and mint by the back door so that’s what my chickies get most often but we’ll add dill, lavender, rosemary and flowers as well. Lisa at Fresh Eggs Daily has a terrific article on using herbs with chickens and she has an amazing guide on how to use them for all kinds of purposes. My girls flock to the bowl as soon as it’s set out and have been less stressed by the heat this year. Less stress means happier chicken and more consistent egg production. A win for all!
It’s summer and my son is back to soccer training at 7:00 in the morning in 90 degree heat and burns more calories than I can begin to imagine. This recipe came out of my desire to fuel his body well and feed his incessant hunger but I cannot think of turning on the oven. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
While my son is the main consumer of these treats, the rest of my family are fans as well. They are like a chocolate chip cookie that you can feel good about. They are gluten-free and can be dairy free If you use a veggie-based protein powder – it works beautifully. The collagen gives extra support for the gut and joints and We keep sugar levels lower by using THM or Lily’s chocolate chips but any chocolate chips will work. Today I used Nestle Mini Morsels – they worked great.
According to Healthline.com, these treats are a powerhouse of nutrition and support healthy skin, bones, muscle recovery, elasticity and have properties that help reduce inflammation. All in a tasty little snack!
The other advantage to this recipe is that you can clear out all those bits and pieces of healthy stuff stashed in your pantry. There are so many nutrients tucked into these nuts and seeds. I use a mix of rolled oats and other dry ingredients which can include any of the following:
After vitamins, nutrients, amino acids and healthy fats we add those tasty little chocolate chips that make it all go down so easy. Finally, I bind it with a mixture of nut butter and either honey or maple syrup and use damp hands to form the mix into golf ball sized bites. As I show you in the pictures, your hands will be a mess! I like to rinse my hands as the mixture starts to stick to add a bit of moisture to the bites and keep a bit cleaner. These are best if refrigerated for a bit as it makes them easier to handle while the cool air helps bring the flavors together.
2 cookie balls
Easy but a little messy
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup hemp hearts (shelled seeds)
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup chia seed
1/4 cup integral collagen
1/2 cup protein powder (I use flavored or unflavored depending on what I have on hand)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup (or sub for honey)
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add peanut butter and maple syrup and stir thoroughly to combine
Wash hands thoroughly and then while your hands are still damp pack a small amount of mixture in a tight golf ball sized ball and set in a large bowl or plate
Continue to form the rest of the cookie balls, wetting your hands as necessary
Cover with plastic wrap or keep in a sealed container in the fridge
A bowl of these in the refrigerator keeps the “what’s there to eat” question at bay for a little while, but I will admit, there are times this recipe needs to be multiplied to last more than a day.
What are your go-to summer snack for your family?
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value *
* % Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calories diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.