Kitchen Seed Sprouter Giveaway

The competition is now over – you can view the winners here

This is the first of our giveaways with many more to come. We are giving away 2 seed sprouters which you can read about in more detail in the post below.

Seed-Sprouter-GiveawayTo enter you simply need to:

1. Leave a comment at the end of this post to let us know you want to enter. You only need to leave the comment once. If you want to increase your chances of winning please refer to the Extra Entries information further below.

Winners will be randomly selected (using a random number generator) and notified by email. The giveaway ends midnight, Friday 24 Feb 2012.

The contest is open to all – anywhere in the world.

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If you would like to increase your chance of winning you can receive extra entries by doing one or more of the following:

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I have been a fan of eating bean sprouts for many years but the ones I brought in packets at the supermarket never seemed to taste as good as they should and they went slimy after a short time.

Over time I had tried growing sprouts at home using various methods, glass jars, kitchen paper towel etc but none were really what you would call a success. The returns were low and I am not too sure the quality was what it should have been.

So when I saw the 4 stack seed sprouter at my local garden center I thought “Hmmm, I’m going to give this a go”.

The seed sprouter I brought has 5 trays, 4 with water outlets for sprouting and one to catch the water so that it doesn’t spill all over the counter top. You can see a similar one here on Amazon. After unpacking it I gave it a quick wash with warm soapy water and rinsed it thoroughly before adding the seeds.

sprouts in a sprouterMy favorites have always been alfalfa sprouts (botanical name: Medicago sativa) and snow peas (botanical name: Pisum sativum) but as I have four trays I brought a few more types of seeds to try. So I also brought a mixed salad which contains a mix of adzuke beans (botanical name: Vigna radiate), mung beans (botanical name: Vigna angularis), lentils (botanical name: Lens culinaris) and fenugreek (botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum) and a sandwich mix which contains Alfalfa, radish ( botanical name: Raphanus sativus) and broccoli (botanical name:Brassica oleracera).

Now it was simply a matter of adding approximately 1 tablespoon of seeds to each tray, placing them on top of each other with the water collection tray on the bottom.

Then I poured in enough water in the top tray to cover the water outlet. It took a few moments for the water to start running through but before long a steady stream of water was trickling into the next tray, when the second tray filled the water started running down into the next until it all collected in the bottom tray. Fascinating to watch – well for a little while anyway.

The booklet that comes with the sprouter tells you to do this 2-3 times a day. Regular watering keeps the sprouts fresh and sweet.

It takes about 3 – 10 days for the sprouts to be ready depending on the variety. I found that within about 4 days the sprouts were ready to be picked.

I had to remove the covers over the water spout in a couple of the trays as the seeds grew, because the roots got wound around the cover and although it didn’t stop the water flowing down it did make the covers harder to remove when it came time to clean them.

It was lovely to see the sprouts all sitting on the kitchen counter and it’s so easy to take a few to add to salads or simply to eat on their own.

I just love having freshly sprouted seeds on hand and have had great success with my sprouter which is similar in design to the Victorio Kitchen seed sprouter.

Simply cant wait to try a few more different seed types.

4 Level Sprouter

Bean Sprouter

Healthy Velvet Ginger Lemonade Recipe

Healthy Velvet Ginger Lemonade RecipeI’m always on the lookout for healthy cool summer drinks that don’t include sugar as their major ingredient. I have been off sodas and similar drinks for years now. I just find them overly sweet and full of unnecessary chemicals and would rather just have a glass of water. We even went halves in a water filter recently that alkalizes and ionizes the water. It sits up at Wanda’s place and I just fill up a 10 liter water bottle every now and then and take it home with me as I need it. It’s a much better option.

Even so, it’s nice to have a sweet drink every now and then and I found one recently on the Healthy Blender Recipes site which fits the bill perfectly. It’s made with agave nectar which is something neither of us has tried before. From what I have read, agave nectar has a low glycemic index which means you won’t get those high blood sugar spikes that you get with regular sugar.

We made up the recipe yesterday and it turned out quite well. It was easy to make and resulted in a concentrate which we can add our filtered water to get the desired taste.

Here’s the recipe:

Healthy Velvet Ginger Lemonade Recipe

InGinger Lemonade Recipe Ingredientsgredients

  • 1 whole organic lemon (leave whole and cut into small pieces, remove seeds)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp of freshly grated ginger
  • fresh mint leaves
  • 6 – 8 cups of filtered water, sparkling mineral water, or soda water

Method

  1. Place the agave nectar with the freshly squeezed lemon juice in small saucepan until dissolved.
  2. Once dissolved place the syrup in a blender and add the whole organic lemon that you have scrubbed and washed well (leave the skin on, or remove if you prefer) along with the grated ginger. Blend well.
  3. You can strain it at this point if you like but we didn’t bother.
  4. Store in a glass bottle and use as required by adding water to your desired taste.

 Lemons

Mix in a blender

can-o-worms

 

 

Now I know this is going to sound a bit odd but one of my favorite pastimes is attending to my worm farm. I know! most people have a dog or a cat, but me, well I prefer worms. Well, let’s be honest they are not really my pets just a nice way to deal with my household scraps.

I have a ‘Can O Worms ‘ worm farm which has two trays in which to add kitchen scraps. It takes a while for the worms to turn the scraps into usable soil but in the meantime they produce copious amounts of worm wee which I use on my garden.

Setting up the worm farm was easy, it was simply a matter of snapping on the four legs and attaching the spout. The instructions are simple to follow.

I started with the one tray as suggested in the manual. This meant filling a bucket with about 7 liters of water and placing the worm farm bedding block in it. The block starts to break up in the water and is ready to add to the worm farm after about 15 minutes. I placed the cardboard packaging into the base of the working tray and then spread the broken up worm bedding over it. Your worms will generally eat both the bedding and the cardboard. Now it was time to add the worms. I started with 1000 composting worms and covered them with a worm blanket. Once they were all in place I put on the lid and left them to settle in.

Don’t feed the worms for a couple of days. In fact you don’t need to feed them until you notice that the broken down bedding block is nearly gone. The worms will eat this before starting to eat any food that you introduce into the worm farm.

It is handy to have the two trays because once the bottom tray is full and the scraps have been converted into compost it’s simply a matter of putting the second tray on top and adding the kitchen scraps to it. After a day or so the worms will begin to move to the upper tray and I can then use the soil in the bottom tray on the garden.

So what sort of things will my worms eat

As a guide they will eat anything that was once living.

  • left over vegetable scraps
  • tea leaves/bags and coffee grounds
  • vacuum cleaner dust or hair clippings (that also means pet hair)
  • torn up newspapers, egg and milk cartons, cardboard (do soak cardboard in water before adding)

Every now and then I crush up some egg shells (they help with the ph balance) and add them to the tray. But I find that the food that disappears first is tomato. My worms just love it and although worms aren’t supposed to be choosy eaters, mine just love tomato scraps.

Once a week when I am feeding the worms I sprinkle a teaspoon of worm farm and compost conditioner under the worm blanket.

Sprinkle a handful of soil on top of the food scraps when you feed your worms. I keep a bag of organic potting mix on hand for this purpose.

If you really want to fatten up your worms you can make up this recipe and it will make your worms fatter, stronger and they will eat more and convert the food to compost much quicker

Worm Fattening Recipe

  • 50% chicken layer pellets
  • 10% wheat or corn flour
  • 10% powdered whole milk or skim milk
  • 20% bran or wheat meal
  • 10% agricultural lime or dolomite

Method:

Mix everything together and sprinkle lightly over the food scraps once a week.

There are some things that shouldn’t go into the worm farm. These include:

  • citrus
  • onion skins
  • meat
  • dairy foods

These items take a long time to break down and meat brings flies around.

Is there anything else that I shouldn’t feed my worms?

Well be careful of adding manure from horses, cattle or dogs as they may have be dosed with vermicides to kill parasites and these vermicides can kill your worms and wipe out your worm farm overnight.

Also remember that worm farms are designed to break down soft organic food scraps so slow composting organic wastes such as garden refuse should not be added. You will be better off composting these in a compost bin or tumbler designed to break down garden waste.

So how much should you feed your worms.

Well it does depend on how many worms you have. They eat up to half their body weight every day so you will find that they fatten up quite quickly and the population of your worm farm will double every few months. So if you start with 1lb of worms they will consume up to half a pound of food waste each day.

Do keep in mind that baby worms don’t eat much and they take around 3 months to mature. Just keep an eye on them and you will soon learn to judge how much they need. If you over feed the worms the excess food will become anaerobic and begin to smell.

Oh dear, what should I do if this happens?

Simply stop feeding the worms for a few days and sprinkle some of the worm farm and composting conditioner over the food and mix it in with a garden fork.

It is recommended that once a week you flush the worm farm, I am a bit tardy in doing this and often leave it for a couple of weeks, I do live in a cool climate. It is important to do this flush weekly in the hotter months. This means you need to pour around 5 liters of water into the top working tray, under the worm blanket, and this will flow down through the lower tray into the collector tray. Make sure the tap is open so that the water flushes out. If your worm farm is outside simply leave the tap open or you can place a bucket under the tap to catch the water. Worms love a moist environment.

Last week I did have a bit of a disaster. I was cleaning out the collector tray on the bottom. I had run out of bottles to gather the worm wee in and so I thought I would just empty the contents over the garden and water it in.

Well on the way to the garden I dropped the tray – simply because I didn’t have a proper hold on it, and the contents spilled all over the patio. So there I am scrambling around trying to pick up the few worms that were too stupid to stay in the upper trays, much to the neighbors delight. In the end I relented and hosed the remainder plus the worm wee and castings into the garden edge. Such a waste, but I will be more careful next time and it is the first time it has happened.

I purchased my worm farm at Bunnings but they are readily available online from Amazon.com.

The following pictures show what a working worm farm looks like. I have had this going for just on a year now and I am very happy with the results.

 

Worm-blanket

Worm farm with worm blanket

worm-farm-tray-1

Worm farm - tray 1

worm-farm

Worm Farm

The 10 Commandments of Relaxation

 

 

The damnedest thing just happened to me: there I was, minding my own business on the mountain side, when this burning bush just set light. I know, right? Also, I found these two stone tablets with ten directives on how life should be lead. But don’t let these commandments cause you any undue stress: it’s time to relax!

1.      You are just as important as everyone else, and you deserve a relaxing, healthy lifestyle, putting no other before yourself.

Finding the time to relax and purge the stress from your life isn’t about being selfish, but you will never truly find success in these things unless you accept yourself fully, and learn to factor in your needs when it comes to making difficult decisions. You deserve time to yourself, less stress and a better quality of life too!

2.      Thou shalt carve out for thyself a routine, a list of things to be completed each day. (This list shall be most efficiently rendered on paper, rather than etched upon stone tablets).

Prioritise what you have to achieve at least once a week and tick things off as you go. Recognise what has the potential to become a source of stress in the future and tackle it sooner rather than later. Remember to allocate time for yoga classes, a long soak or your comfort breaks too!

3.      Thou shalt be (a little) vain.

Relaxation through a proper pampering is nothing to be ashamed of. If looking great makes you feel great, then indulge: putting on a facial scrub, painting your nails or spending some time on your hair can be relaxing activities in themselves. Of course, getting someone else to do it all for you if someone has got you a Health spa gift voucher would be nicer…

4.      Remember that whilst the Sabbath day is holy, it’s also the day before Monday and the other six days on which you shall labour.

The length of a weekend is almost all in the mind. If you destroy sleep in the week, the weekend doesn’t get started until sometime in the late Saturday afternoon. And if the week ahead intimidates you, you’ll start thing about it sometime before Sunday dinner. Banish this negative feeling with a Sunday night bath filled with your favourite bubbles.

5.      Honour your father and your mother, your family and friends by both respecting their right to relax, and by spending more time with them.

On the first hand, the worst possible thing you can do is shift your worst troubles and responsibilities onto someone else. Equally, time spent with family and friends is an effective way of managing stress: remember that we’re social creatures, and loneliness frequently leads to unhappiness. Even hugging a close friend once a week can do wonders for your outlook.

6.      Thou shalt not take up a knife and do bloody murder upon a large chocolate cake, or find comfort in the arms of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

Excess of any kind is frequently terrible for relaxation. You know to avoid caffeine (in not just coffee but teas and soft drinks too) and you should also avoid the sugary treats if you want to avoid bouncing off the walls (and coming down after it all isn’t much fun either). Eating healthily isn’t just about extending how long you shuffle around in your twilight years: all those vitamin sources are there to ensure that your long life is a happy, balanced one.

7.      Thou shalt commit thyself to proper sleeping times and stop staying up for the conclusions of bad action movies.

Eight hours is optimum, and you’ll undermine it by going to sleep and waking up at different times each day, so don’t do that. You know how bad action movies end, and the only reason you want to watch to the end is because you know you won’t ever be stupid enough to sit through the beginning again.

8.      Thou shalt steal time.

Ok, perhaps ‘stealing’ is a little too negative (I’m labouring this commandment theme, ok?), and obviously you shouldn’t ‘steal’ time in the evenings… but will anyone miss that couple of minutes you take to go and get everyone a cup of tea? Or to go and speak to a colleague rather the sending them another email? In stressful situations, it’s better in the long term to remove yourself for a short break, rather than carrying on and letting yourself potentially make mistakes. And if you can do it in a way that ultimately benefits everyone else or the task at hand, nobody is going to mind.

9.      Thou shalt have a good laugh (just not at thy neighbour’s expense).

Whoever invented laughter probably won a noble prize, considering that it’s apparently a better medicine than penicillin. Seek out other people and activities that get you laughing, and try to see the funny side of any situation, and you’ll get the endorphins  you need.

10.  Thou shalt not sit on thy lazy ass.

Relaxation may sound like a lot of sitting back and watching the clouds roll by, but you still have to be proactive in making these things happen. It’s also completely the case that procrastination will catch up with you sooner or later: if you don’t achieve anything, you’ll be unhappy, and you’ll just be storing up your stress for a time when you’re even less well equipped to deal with it. And being active in a more literal sense (perhaps going for a regular walk or even a session at the gym) will keep you healthy and happy.

Steph Wood is a copywriter and blogger for Sanctuary Spa, a UK-based day spa with a wide range of Pamper gifts for women.


 

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