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NuWave Air Fryer Review: A Healthy Alternative for Frying Foods

French fries that were made in a nuwave air fryer

If you haven’t read a NuWave Air Fryer review, now is the time. Imagine being able to eat a full basket of fries or a bucket of chicken wings without worrying about the fat content. Air fryers allow you to fry various foods with less oil and therefore less fat.

While many air fryers are worth comparing, the NuWave Air Fryer deserves its own review. So if you want an easy way to make a healthy version of your favorite snack, keep reading our NuWave Air Fryer review.

Our NuWave Air Fryer Review

NuWave makes multiple air fryers, and for this NuWave Air Fryer review, we wanted to focus on a couple of different options. In general, an air fryer can be an excellent tool for making healthier versions of your favorite fried foods.

However, not everyone needs or wants the same air fryer. We found two NuWave Air Fryers to mention so that we could cover more about NuWave’s products. Hopefully, you might find the perfect air fryer for you.

Versatile Brio Air Fryer

NuWave Versatile Brio Air Fryer with One-Touch Digital Controls
  • Air Frying - The Healthier Way: Makes scrumptious fried foods that taste the way they should, without the oily mess
  • Even Heat Distribution: Hot air combined with high-speed air circulation cooks your favorite foods evenly and quickly
  • Temperature Control: 100F to 390F temperature range in five-degree increments

The NuWave Versatile Brio Air Fryer evenly heats your food with hot air and high-speed air circulation. You can set the temperature in 5-degree increments between 100 and 390 degrees Fahrenheit.

This air fryer has a digital LED screen where you can control the temperature and timer. There’s also a safety feature so that the air fryer won’t work unless the basket is in the correct position.

The Versatile Brio has a capacity of up to three quarts. You can easily remove the cooking basket. Also, it’s dishwasher safe. The basket has a durable nonstick coating to protect it and the foods you put in it.

This air fryer measures 14.75 by 14.25 by 14.25 inches. You can preheat the air fryer like you would an oven.

Brio 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer

NUWAVE BRIO 6-Quart Digital Air Fryer Including Non-Stick Baking Pan...
  • Enjoy fried food again without all the unhealthy fat and oil
  • Bake, roast, grill, broil, toast and air fry a wide variety of foods using little to no oil
  • 6-quart capacity allows you and your family to have wholesome meals without having to compromise your countertop space

The second air fryer in our NuWave Air Fryer review is the Brio 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer. It has an LED touchpad control panel where you can preheat the air fryer.

You can set the temperature from 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can set a timer for up to 100 hours. The Digital Air Fryer has an automatic reheat feature so you can reheat leftovers without having to worry about setting the temperature or timer.

This air fryer comes with a basket, basket divider, and cooking rack — all of which are dishwasher safe. The kit also includes a nonstick baking pan, stainless steel cooking rack, and cookbook.

You can choose from six presets for fries, frozen fries, nuggets, steak, poultry, and fish. The fryer has a capacity of 6 quarts, and it measures 11 by 11 by 12.25 inches. This particular air fryer comes in black, blue, and red.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Of course, no NuWave Air Fryer review is complete without listing the pros and cons. First, there are a few great things about NuWave Air Fryers.

Both of the air fryers we looked at have digital temperature and timer controls. You can set the air fryer to cook as hot and for as long as you need.

Another great thing about the air fryers is that both have removable frying racks. You can throw them in the dishwasher, so cleaning is a breeze.

The Versatile Brio model has a convenient safety feature, and the Digital Air Fryer has an automatic reheat setting.

Next, there are a few negatives.

First, the air fryers don’t have the broadest temperature range. If you want to heat foods above 400 degrees, you might have to use the oven.

Another pitfall is the cookbook that comes with the Digital Air Fryer. While it’s helpful, the cooking times aren’t necessarily accurate.

Choosing an Air Fryer

Thanks to the air fryer craze, it’s easier than ever to make fried foods from home. You don’t have to worry about all of the excess fat and calories that come with traditional frying methods.

But the popularity of air frying has brought with it many options. It can be hard to decide on the best air fryer for you. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the decision process more manageable.

What is an air fryer?

An air fryer is a countertop kitchen appliance that allows you to fry various foods at home. As the name implies, it uses air to fry the foods. That means you don’t have to use oil or butter, so the foods tend to be healthier.

Air fryers come in different sizes with different capacities so that you can choose the best size for you.

What do air fryers do?

Air fryers use hot air to fry the foods of your choice. They’re also convenient because you don’t have to worry about flipping the food to the other side. Each air fryer will work slightly differently, but they all follow that same basic process.

A Healthy Version of Fried

For our NuWave Air Fryer review, we wanted to take a look at some of the competition. Both of the NuWave air fryers that we looked are great options. However, they’re only a small part of the market.

Depending on your reasoning for using an air fryer, you want to make sure you choose the best one. Whether you need a large air fryer or one that heats your food quickly, there’s probably an air fryer for you.

The crispiest of snacks

Do you want your fried foods to be crispy? What about delicious?

While everyone has their own flavor and texture preferences, we looked at a few things to make our final NuWave Air Fryer review.

First, we looked at the budget, size, and overall features. Next, we looked at customer feedback and results. The perfect air fryer should work well. Finally, we compared the NuWave Air Fryers with similar products to see if NuWave makes the best air fryer out there.

COSORI Air Fryer

COSORI Air Fryer (100 Free Recipes Book) 1500W Electric Hot Oven...
  • Easy to Use: Designed in California, the air fryer’s simple icons and touch panel make air frying simple, while the...
  • 85% Less Fat: Enjoy crispy food that has all the flavor of deep frying without all the fat. With 85% less fat than...
  • Perfectly Portable: No matter where you need to cook, take the air fryer with you. Lightweight and portable, the air...

The COSORI Air Fryer has a unique design that takes up little space on your counter. It has an ergonomic display that doesn’t require you to bend down to read it.

This air fryer claims that your foods will have 85 percent less fat than if you used traditional frying methods. However, the taste will be the same.

The air fryer has a capacity of 3.7 quarts, but the square basket has more usable space than similarly sized air fryers. You can remove the nonstick coated basket and throw it in the dishwasher. And if you need a new basket, you can repurchase it separately from the air fryer.

The air fryer is BPA-free. It has a digital one-touch screen menu where you can choose from 11 presets. The presets include steak, poultry, French fries, vegetables, and desserts. This air fryer comes with a cookbook that contains over 100 recipes.

The presets on the air fryer make it easy to use. However, it’s unclear if you can set the temperature exactly. The detachable basket is easy to clean, but at almost 13 pounds, it’s heavy.

Dash Deluxe Air Fryer

Dash DFAF455GBAQ01 Deluxe Electric Air Fryer + Oven Cooker with...
  • HEALTHIER FRIED FOOD: Enjoy guilt free food with the Dash Deluxe Air Fryer; Aircrisp technology (instead of oil) reduces...
  • 6 QUART CAPACITY: The PERFECT appliance for picky eaters, large families, entertaining, or those with busy schedules....
  • QUICK + EASY: Short on time? Simply load the large 6 qt capacity fryer basket, set the temp and timer, your food comes...

If you want a bigger air fryer for an affordable budget, the Dash Deluxe Air Fryer might be a better choice for you. It has a six-quart capacity, which is great for small groups and parties.

The air fryer doesn’t require oil to fry your foods, but the foods still come out crispy. You can set the temperature and timer and let the air fryer do the rest. It also takes less time than to preheat than your oven, which can save you time and money on your energy bill.

This air fryer has an auto-shutoff feature that keeps your food from overcooking. The handle and housing don’t get too hot, so it’s safe for you to touch even after using the air fryer.

You can choose from aqua, black, red, and white for the color so that you can match your kitchen.

This air fryer reduces added fats by up to 80 percent, which is great if you’re trying to eat healthier. The auto-shutoff feature is also amazing because you don’t have to watch over the air fryer.

However, there are some quality control issues. The nonstick coating doesn’t last long, and the food can taste or smell like plastic.

Yedi Total Package XL Air Fryer

Yedi Total Package Air Fryer XL, 5.8 Quart, Deluxe Accessory Kit,...
  • BEST VALUE & RANKED BEST OVERALL: The Yedi Houseware 5.8 Quart XL Air Fryer is ranked the best overall Air Fryer by...
  • INCLUDES DELUXE ACCESSORY COOKING KIT: A Divider for the cooking basket, 50 perforated parchment steaming papers, an 8...
  • INCLUDES RECIPES: Included is a Recipe Book that has 100 Air Fryer recipes. In addition, the Yedi Houseware Appliances...

The Yedi Total Package XL Air Fryer has a capacity of 5.8 quarts. It includes all of the accessories you need, and it can feed the whole family.

The accessories include a divider, parchment steaming papers, a cake carrel, a pizza pan, a multipurpose rack, a cupcake silicone pan, and a rubber mat. This air fryer also comes with a cookbook full of recipes and a cooking time table.

The Yedi air fryer requires up to one tablespoon of oil, but it still uses 85 percent less fat than traditional frying. You can choose from built-in settings for fries, chops, steak, chicken, and more.

The included accessories make it super easy for you to start air frying. However, this air fryer isn’t nonstick. But you can use the included parchment paper to keep your food from sticking.

Unfortunately, the XL name doesn’t really stand up because plenty of air fryers are a full 6 quarts compared to this one’s 5.8 quarts.

A NuWave to Fry

In our NuWave Air Fryer review, we wanted to find out just how well the NuWave air fryers work. In theory, an air fryer is a perfect alternative to full-fat deep frying. However, it doesn’t always work in practice.

We covered two air fryers in this NuWave Air Fryer review, and they both do the job quite well. Both air fryers have digital screens where you can control the temperature and timer.

They each have different capacities. So if you need a smaller air fryer, the Versatile Brio is a great option. On the other hand, the Digital Air Fryer is great for families or parties.

But, there is some competition. We looked at a few other air fryers, and they all had many of the same features as the NuWave products.

However, we feel that NuWave is far ahead of the competition. You can choose from multiple models to suit your needs, and they’re pretty affordable. Of course, they have their problems. But they’re worth a shot if you want to try air frying.

Do you have a NuWave air fryer or another brand you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

How Does a Dehydrator Work? See How It Dries Your Favorite Snacks

oranges in a food dehydrator

Sometimes, you’re just in the mood for a snack. If you have a food dehydrator, you can have all sorts of tasty dried snacks around all the time. That leads us to the question: How does a dehydrator work?

How Does a Dehydrator Work?

If you’re wondering what a food dehydrator is, one of these contraptions is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a kitchen appliance that you use to dry out food.

But you probably already knew that. What you’re wondering now is, how does a dehydrator work?

Before modern times, our distant ancestors would actually dehydrate food themselves. They would simply place the food out in the sun to dry out.

Although they eventually created more complex apparatuses that involved solar dehydration, these dehydrators weren’t nearly as efficient as the ones that are available to you today, such as the Excalibur 3926TB or the Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster.

Devices of the olden days had to rely on the natural movements of air and the sun, while dehydrators today have components that ensure even circulation of warm air to dry out food.

So how does a dehydrator work? You’re about to find out now!

Components

Although there are several unique models of dehydrators, they all have a few common features. Generally, they operate using some sort of heating element, air vents, fan, and trays that hold your food.

The dehydrating process

Of course, you’re still wondering, how does a dehydrator work? All the components of the dehydrator work together to remove the moisture from your food.

The heating element heats the food up, which allows it to release its moisture into the chamber of the dehydrator. The heat causes the water to evaporate from the food. Then, the fan will push all this excess moisture to the vents, which will release the moisture outside of the device.

Most foods go through the dehydration process at temperatures that lie somewhere between 95 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit. You should dehydrate meats at higher temperatures then fruits and vegetables because the lower temperature ranges might make your meats more susceptible to bacterial growth.

Even though it may be tempting because you think you’ll get quicker results, be careful not to dehydrate your foods at too high of a temperature. It’ll likely lead to food that’s dry on the outside and still moist on the inside.

In some dehydrators, air will circulate vertically; in others, it circulates horizontally. If it circulates vertically, the fan will be on the bottom or the top. If it moves horizontally, the contraption will have a rear mounted fan.

There are often multiple tiers of trays so that you can dehydrate different types of food at the same time. The separation via the presence of multiple trays ensures that none of the flavors of different foods that you’re putting in there are going to be mixed, which is extremely convenient.

You might not have been expecting this as the answer to the question, how does a dehydrator work? The truth is, though, that dehydrators are fairly simple and straightforward in their functioning. And they are very useful as well.

Reasons to Use a Food Dehydrator

There are many reasons why you would use a food dehydrator. These go beyond seeing a live demonstration that can answer the question, how does a dehydrator work?

Preservation

The most obvious reason you’d want to dehydrate your food is that it’ll last longer that way. Without all the moisture that they have in their natural states, they’ll be impervious to spoilage and infection via different types of bacteria.

It’s pretty amazing how long some of these foods will last if you store them properly.

Powdered milk or milk substitutes will very likely last for up to 20 years. If you dehydrate fruits, vegetables, pasta, corn, wheat, rice, or other greens, you can expect them to last up to 30 years. Of course, you have to make sure that you pack the food in airtight, moisture-proof containers.

Convenience

If you’ve ever tried to get dried snacks in a store, you’ve probably seen that they can be pretty expensive. If you use a food dehydrator instead, you can get those same snacks at a fraction of the expense.

Considering that dehydrating these foods can make them last for decades, don’t you think it’s worth it to have the option at all times?

Nutrition

Many people think that cooking or dehydrating food will take out all the nutritional value. However, this is not the case at all.

If you dehydrate vegetables, the end result will still be high in fiber. Dehydration will take almost no vitamin C away from the food, and it’ll also allow the preservation of all vitamin A or beta carotene.

You can also expect the retention of minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and selenium.

How to Work with Your Food Dehydrator

Of course, you can’t just shove food into your dehydrator and expect it to work magic. You need to be able to work well with the contraption.

It’s fairly simple, but there are a few things that you should keep in mind when you’re working with a food dehydrator.

1. Don’t skimp on the prep work

Considering that a big part of why you are dehydrating this food is that you want to avoid spoilage, you should make sure to get rid of all bacteria before the dehydration process.

Before you put them into the device, make sure that you thoroughly wash all of the foods you’re planning to dehydrate with an antibacterial food cleaner.

Also, make sure you’re wearing gloves while you’re handling them, so you don’t get skin oils on the food.

If you have low acid vegetables, steam them for about 10 minutes, and then pat them dry before you put them in the dehydrator. Apples and bananas should be spritzed with lemon juice, in order to avoid excessive browning.

You should also preheat your dehydrator, the same way that you would pre-heat your oven before you bake something. You just need to turn it on and let it warm up to the required temperature before you put the food in.

If you want the best possible results, you should put items that require the same temperature for dehydration in at the same time. Also, try to slice all of your items so that the pieces are of equal sizes and thicknesses. This way, you can be sure that everything is dehydrated equally.

2. Don’t just crank it up all the way

Some people might be tempted to turn up the temperature settings all the way because they think the food will dry quicker. However, this isn’t really how it works. All it’s going to do is seal the outside and leave moisture on the interior, which means the food is going to spoil before you have a chance to eat it.

The appropriate temperature depends on the type of food you’re trying to dehydrate, as well as the exact model of dehydrator you have.

Each dehydrator is going to come with general guidelines when it comes to time and temperature for different foods. This can help you figure out how to estimate the times and temperatures for your batches of food.

3. The 95 percent rule

You should try to make sure your food is at least 95 percent dehydrated. If the food feels sticky, spongy, or soft, you should just put them back in the dehydrator and let them dry out some more. Items are done when they are crunchy, hard, or even breakable.

You might need to dehydrate the foods for longer than guidelines would suggest if you have high indoor humidity, stronger than average breezes, or potent air conditioning. Try to keep your dehydrator away from windows and air vents. Instead, set it up in a place that is warm and dry while it’s doing its work.

Dying to Start Drying out Some Food Now?

Now, you’ve learned quite a bit of interesting information about food dehydrators. This information goes beyond a simple answer to the question, how does a dehydrator work? You also know why it’s so useful and what you can get out of it.

If you’re interested in dehydrating food so you can have delicious snacks around the kitchen that you can keep around for a long time, you should definitely look into getting this appliance for yourself.

It doesn’t require a lot of work from you, because it does the work on its own. Also, if you enjoy dried snacks, this is one purchase that is worth every penny.

As you have seen, there is a fairly simple answer to the question, how does a dehydrator work? You likely didn’t have much trouble understanding the principles on which its operation is based. You might be more excited, however, at the prospect of actually using a dehydrator to make delicious snacks!

What do you think of everything you’ve just learned about how a dehydrator works? Share your opinion in the comments section!

Glass Cookware Perfect for Organic Meal Prep: Hacks and Recipes

A casserole in glass cookware

When it’s time to upgrade your hand-me-down collection of pots and pans, you might want to consider glass cookware. While it may not seem like an obvious choice, glass cookware has many advantages over metal cookware. Glass cookware can be easier to clean either by hand or in the dishwasher. It is also more versatile than metal pans because the same dish can go from the freezer to the stove to the table.

Cookware sets usually include the most commonly used pieces. For glass cookware, this can mean a casserole dish, a rectangular pan, a square pan, and maybe some custard dishes or a pie plate. Less common pieces, like large dutch ovens or deep dish pie plates, are usually available a la carte.

How to Choose Glass Cookware

One of the advantages to glass cookware is that it is freezer safe and dishwasher safe. However, don’t assume that all glass cookware can go in the freezer or dishwasher. Check the information that comes with your cookware to make sure that it can go into the freezer and then right into the oven. Some manufacturers don’t recommend putting their glass cookware in the dishwasher.

Even though a cookware set may say it is oven safe, make sure you know how high you can set your cooking temperature. Some cookware sets can stand temperatures as high as 425 degrees Fahrenheit. However, other glass cookware sets can only go into ovens that are no hotter than 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some glass cookware sets include a separate lid for each cookware piece. Some sets do not include any lids. Cookware sets that include multiple pans of the same size may only include lids for half of the pieces.

Libbey Baker's Basics 5-Piece Glass Casserole Baking Dish Set with 1...
  • Revolutionary glass construction makes these versatile bake dishes safe for oven, microwave, refrigerator, and freezer;...
  • Quickly find the perfect bake dish—easy-to-read dimensions are embossed on the handles of 5 of our most popular shapes
  • Includes 1, 9-inch by 13-inch glass bake dish; 1, 8-inch by 8-inch glass bake dish; 1, 9.5-inch glass deep pie plate; 1,...

This starter set from Libby has five basic glass cookware pieces that you will use again and again. You get the five pans but only one lid.

Anchor Hocking Oven Basics Glass Baking Dishes, Mixed, 15-piece
  • INCLUDES: This glass bakeware set contains (1) 2-quart baker, (1) 1. 5-quart casserole dish with (1) glass cover, (1) 1....
  • DURABLE: This tempered glass bakeware set is microwave, pre-heated oven, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher safe;...
  • SAFE: Anchor Hocking baking glass is healthier than metal and plastic. It will not warp, stain, retain smells, or leach...

Unlike this Anchor Hocking 15 Piece set, which includes a casserole dish, a baking dish, a pie plate, some custard dishes, and even a measuring cup. You get a lot of individual cooking pieces, but only some of the pieces have lids.

Pyrex Simply Store Meal Prep Glass Food Storage Containers (24-Piece...
  • An assortment of glass containers to keep you organized in fridge or freezer.
  • Includes (3) 1-Cup Round Containers with Lids, (3) 2-Cup Round Containers with Lids, (3) 3-Cup Rectangular containers...
  • Durable high-quality tempered glass is dishwasher, freezer, microwave and preheated oven safe

Finally, the Pyrex 24 piece glass cookware set includes multiple size pans and lids for almost every single piece. It is a bit expensive, and it may be more glass cookware than you need. But it does include a wider range of cookware and lids.

Why Choose Glass Cookware

There are many reasons to consider using glass cookware over other types of cookware. One commonly cited reason is that glass is a non-reactive material. This means that when the cookware heats up, it will not release any chemicals into the air or into your food.

Glass cookware is made out of tempered glass. Tempered glass is heat resistant and you can heat it to high temperatures without worrying that it will break. It is also impact resistant. This doesn’t mean that your glass cookware won’t break if you drop it. But it does mean that if you do drop the piece, it will crumble into small pieces instead of breaking into sharp glass shards.

Glass cookware is also very convenient. You can freeze, refrigerate, microwave and bake your recipe all in the same dish. No need to dirty extra dishes. In fact, many glass cookware pieces can go directly from the freezer to the oven to the table.

When to Use Glass Cookware

Any time you are cooking something that has reactive foods, you should choose glass cookware. Reactive foods are generally acidic — such as tomatoes or lemons. When you cook reactive foods in a metal pan, the acid in the foods can react with the cookware. This can cause your food to take on a greyish tint and can also make the food taste funny.

When You Should Use Something Else

While there are some clear reasons for choosing glass cookware, it’s not always the best choice. Even though glass cookware is heat resistant, you cannot use it in the broiler and are better off with a different type of pan.

Glass cookware cooks food differently than metal or cast iron pans. Glass is a poor conductor of heat, but the pan stays hotter longer once heated. The glass absorbs heat instead of reflecting it like a metal pan. While you can use glass cookware for all kinds of recipes, because of the heat conduction, your food will cook faster and stay hotter longer.

For this reason, glass cookware is generally not recommended for “dry” recipes like pies or bread. It is possible to use glass for these recipes, but prepare to turn the heat on your oven down during cooking. Keep an eye on the outside edges of what your cooking to make sure it doesn’t dry out or burn.

How to Clean Your Glass Cookware

Glass cookware has the advantage of being dishwasher safe. However, sometimes the dishwasher just won’t cut it. When that happens, usually a plastic scrubber, some soap, and some elbow grease will get the gunk out. Don’t use a metal scrubber. This can cause tiny abrasions in the glass surface increasing the possibility that the cookware will break prematurely.

The best hack for cleaning glass cookware is to clean it up as soon as you can. Make sure to do a good job cleaning the corners and the handles. This is where grease tends to build up and the more it builds up, the harder it is to clean.

If the dishwasher has failed and you’re all out of elbow grease, you can try some of these additional cleaning hacks.

Baking soda and water

Baking Soda and Water

Take some baking soda (a few teaspoons) and pour it directly on the dirt. Scrub with water. Repeat a few times if necessary. If the grease remains, spritz with some ammonia and rub again until the grease is gone. Alternatively, you could try spritzing the grease with lemon juice. Rinse with additional water.

Denture cleaner

Fill the pan with water and drop in a denture tab. Wait until the fizzing stops. Wipe away the grease and grime then rinse with clean water.

Organic Cooking Shortcuts and Hacks

Now that you’ve got your glass cookware all picked out, you might be wondering what to cook. Start by making some easy replacements in your everyday cooking. You can:

  • Use quinoa instead of white rice
  • Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream
  • Try out almonds on your salad in place of croutons
  • Swap out your iceberg lettuce in favor of romaine lettuce
  • Use mustard on your sandwich in place of mayo

Eggplant Bacon

Eggplant and beacon

It may not be the same as “regular” bacon, but it’s a worthy substitute. Take an eggplant and make thin slices. Then, brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with coconut sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Organic Recipes for Your Glass Cookware

When you’re ready to test drive some of your new glass cookware, try out these recipes.

Easy lasagna

This easy lasagna recipe is perfect for an oblong pan. The trick is to use a jarred sauce with lots of delicious spices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey½ pound Italian turkey sausage (about 2 ½ links)
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1 can spinach rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 heaping cup cottage cheese
  • 1 box oven ready (no boil) lasagna noodles

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a skillet, saute onions for one to two minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for another two minutes. Remove sausage from casings and add to pan along with the ground turkey and cook for about five to seven minutes (until turkey is cooked through).

Spread about half a cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce into the meat. In a separate bowl, mix the spinach, cottage cheese, egg, parmesan, and one cup of mozzarella.

Place one layer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Layer with one-third of the meat mixture, then top with the cottage cheese mixture. Place another layer of lasagna noodles on top and continue layering. Spread the remaining cheese over the top of the lasagna. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Then uncover and cook for another 15 to 20 or until golden brown.

Overnight french toast casserole

Instead of standing by the frying pan all morning, make this overnight french toast casserole. Simply prep the night before then pop in the oven in the morning for a quick and tasty breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf stale bread
  • 5 whole organic cage-free eggs
  • 2 organic cage-free egg whites
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup 100 percent pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unrefined brown sugar packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup minced pecans (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×13-inch dish with nonstick cooking spray. Tear bread into pieces and place in dish in an even layer. In a large bowl, mix eggs, egg whites, Greek yogurt, milk, and maple syrup. Mix until smooth. Pour egg mixture completely over bread.

In a small bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and pecans. Sprinkle butter mixture on top of the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. If cooking the same day, make sure to refrigerate at least 30 minutes before baking. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and the middle of the dish is set.

Cauliflower gratin

Make eating vegetables fun with purple potatoes and lots of cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound purple potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 3/4 pound head purple cauliflower, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 4 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Thyme sprigs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange potatoes in the bottom of a two-quart baking dish. In a small bowl stir together the cream, one teaspoon of the herbes de Provence, and one teaspoon of the salt. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle potatoes with half a cup of the cheese. Top with cauliflower slices, shallots, and remaining salt. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, stir together the remaining cheese, panko, remaining herbes de Provence, and butter. Uncover cauliflower and sprinkle with the panko mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more or until golden. Remove from oven and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with thyme.

Peach cobbler

Who doesn’t love dessert? This juicy peach cobbler is perfect for a square glass cookware baking dish.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sliced organic peaches, skins removed (about 5 peaches)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 4 Tablespoons grass-fed butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw milk, organic whole milk or fresh coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place sliced peaches in the bottom of an 8×8-inch square pan. Combine butter, eggs, coconut flour, baking powder, honey and a quarter cup of milk. Stir until there are no more lumps and you have the consistency of a pancake batter. If it is too thick, add more milk. Pour over peaches and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

Our Final Thoughts on Glass Cookware

There are a lot of reasons to choose glass cookware over metal or cast iron cookware. And while glass cookware isn’t the right choice every time, it can be a good option for most recipes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with old recipes you’ve never cooked in glass cookware. It may take a few tries to get the temperature right, but with practice, you’ll find the recipes best suited to glass cookware.

Healthy Cooking: 5 Organic Meal and Snack Hacks

Healthy Organic meal

Dr. Alan Greene is a die-hard organic food lover. He believes that healthy cooking starts with making the right kind of food choices. He’s followed a natural, organic diet for the past three years, but he didn’t start out that way.

It all began when a dairy farmer told him that his livestock got sick less often after he switched to organic practices. Dr. Greene wondered if switching to a one-hundred percent organic diet would improve his health as well. After making the shift, the doc says he has more energy and wakes up earlier. As a pediatrician, he was accustomed to having several illnesses a year because of treating sick children. Nowadays he’s rarely ill.

Organic foods have several health benefits. First, they boost your immune system. They also improve your overall health. In addition, many people think they taste better. And it goes without saying that organic farming is better for the environment. The more you know about organic foods, the more you’ll want to incorporate them into your own healthy cooking practices.

What is Organic Food?

Organic food is food farmed without human-made fertilizers, growth regulators, pesticides, or animal food additives. Moreover, irradiation, the use of genetically modified products and organisms are also prohibited. For food to be labeled organic, it must likewise be free from preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavoring, coloring, and monosodium glutamate. The USDA certifies food as organic in the United States. There are other accrediting organizations as well.

Organic foods have increased in popularity over the last two decades. Data shows that US consumers spent 49.4 billion on organic produce in 2017. And still, the sales trend is increasing.

Research studies point out that organically grown crops have more nutrients and vitamins. Organically grown plants have higher levels of antioxidants and certain micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin C and iron. The level of antioxidants can go up to sixty-nine percent higher in these foods.

Studies have also shown that nitrate levels are thirty percent lower in these crops. It’s good for your health because higher nitrate levels are linked to certain types of cancer and also methemoglobinemia. This is a condition which affects infants’ ability to carry oxygen.

Moreover, organic dairy products and milk contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and slightly increased amounts of vitamin E, iron and some carotenoids. The benefits don’t stop with that; organic foods contain fewer chemicals and lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than regular foods.

So if you’re serious about healthy cooking, then organic foods should be on the menu.

Meal Prep Hacks to Simplify Healthy Cooking

If you work full time, take care of family, and cook then you may not have the luxury of “taking your time” with meal prep. But don’t worry! With a few simple hacks, healthy cooking can be a snap.

Cook your eggs beforehand

Man separate egg yolk in a bowl

Do you like an omelet? You can make 6 to 12 in advance. Simply mix up a dozen eggs, plus whatever other ingredients you like. Then pour the mixture into the cups of a buttered muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can eat these by themselves, or put them in a sandwich. They keep well in the fridge, too.

Buy a food processor

Hamilton Beach Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper for Slicing,...
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  • 10 cup capacity: The generous 10 cup bowl can handle large volumes of foods without having to stop to empty it
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You can use the food processor to making creamy and nutritious hummus, which goes great with celery and carrot sticks. Or whip together grains and dried fruit for no-bake energy bites. If you like, you can also instantly grate veggies to add to your soups, sauces and other dishes.

Turn your fridge into a salad bar

Salads on ice

Stock up on citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and lime to make a quick vinaigrette. Store almonds, cashews and other nuts in Ziplock baggies. Precook whole grains such as quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. Rinse canned beans and store in the fridge as well.

Chop raw vegetables such as broccoli, red bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes. Wash and keep fresh greens and herbs such as romaine, parsley, spinach, and cilantro. Roast beets, sweet potatoes, and other root veggies. As a result, when you want to snack, the right ingredients will be there waiting.

Start using a pressure cooker

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A pressure cooker preserves foods’ nutrients. Pressure cooking also saves energy and time. Your kitchen is cooler because a pressure cooker retains the heat and steam, so it doesn’t heat up your kitchen. You can cook tender, fork-apart meats in minutes. Also, you won’t need any fats oils for frying. You can pressure cook batches of quinoa, farro, rice or other grains. It keeps weekly meal prep time to a minimum.

Buy seasonal produce

Seasonal Produce

Buying seasonal produce reduces the burden on your wallet and allows you to eat healthy all through the year. In-season food tastes better and has higher nutritional value than out-of-season foods. Moreover, it avoids overseas contaminants like heavy metals and chemicals. It’s also more environmentally friendly. How can you tell what’s in season when? Check out this guide from the USDA.

Schedule your prep time

Slice bread and strawberries on top of the chopping board

Allowing time for food prep helps you to stay on track. Additionally, proper planning makes your cooking process more comfortable. So create a plan and write it on your calendar. Tailoring your prep time and scheduling will save you time, money and groceries.

Here are some more pointers to simplify your cooking:

  • Go in for the right size of containers.
  • Follow this rule: two proteins, one starch, and four vegetables.
  • Cook food at the right temperatures
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separately.
  • Try to cook several ingredients on a sheet pan.
  • Use marinades, spices, and sauces to add flavor to your meals.
  • Go in for pre-prepped ingredients.

Organic Food Recipes to Kindle Your Passion for Healthy Cooking

Now that you have prep down, how about some recipes?

Fluffy Spelt pancakes with coconut milk and blueberries

Recipe source: Eva in the kitchen

With a subtle coconut flavor and the sweetness of blueberries, these are the fluffiest and airy pancakes you’ll ever taste. These pancakes use spelt, not wheat, which is an ancient grain with high levels of protein and dietary fiber. It also contains significant levels of iron and folic acid.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • Some butter
  • Icing sugar or organic honey

Method

First, mix the salt, flour, and baking powder in a big bowl. Next, mix the egg and coconut milk in another vessel. Then mix it with flour. Finally, stir in the fresh organic blueberries.

Heat some butter in a non-stick skillet. Using a large tablespoon, make pancakes in the skillet. Cook for a few minutes until the pancakes become firm and turn it over. Wait until it becomes golden brown. Finally, top the pancakes with blueberries and drizzle some honey before serving.

Strawberry coffee cake

Recipe source: Organicitsworthit

The heart-shaped silhouette of the strawberries might give you a clue that it’s good for your heart. These berries are packed with fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Strawberries are fat-free, sodium free, cholesterol free and they are low-calorie food perfect for your healthy cooking practices.

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 sticks of butter
  • Two cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 half tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla and baking powder

Ingredients for topping

  • 3 cups of berries fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup each of cranberries, brown sugar and chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then flour and grease two 10 inch square pans. Then slowly mix all the coffee cake ingredients and pour into the containers. Now combine topping ingredients and layer it over the cake batter and bake for thirty-five minutes. Enjoy.

Buckwheat porridge with peaches

Recipe source: The healthy chef

Buckwheat is a gluten-free and a nutrient-packed seed which has a nutty flavor. Moreover, it has the amino acid tryptophan, which helps to produce serotonin, the feel-good hormone. This ancient grain is rich in magnesium, manganese and phosphorous.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup roasted buckwheat
  • 1 cup any milk of your choice, including dairy, coconut, almond, rice, and soy
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds or chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 grated red apple
  • A handful of large raisins
  • Fruit to serve

Method

First, combine the chia, buckwheat, jumbo raisins, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Allow it to stay overnight in the fridge so the seeds could soften. Later, stir in the grated apple and cook in low heat for five minutes until the porridge becomes thick and creamy. Then add required water to adjust the consistency. Finally, pour it in bowls and serve with the fruit of your choice.

Chilled asparagus soup

Recipe source: Catching seeds

Asparagus, packed with “good for you” minerals and vitamins C, E, A, K, and B6, also features iron, copper, protein, fiber, and calcium. Laurel, the creator of this recipe, writes that she tried a million versions until she got the perfect flavor and texture. This soup is creamy but not dense, and it tastes good.

Ingredients

  • 1 minced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 stalks minced celery
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

For Garnishing

  • Asparagus spears
  • Lemon cream
  • Parsley

Method

First, heat the olive oil. Then add celery and onion and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, bay leaf and asparagus. Then sauté for three minutes. Next, pour in the vegetable stock and slowly bring the soup to a boil. Simmer and cook for five minutes. Cool the soup to room temperature.

Now blend the avocado, soup and lemon juice in a blender until smooth and creamy. Cool it in the refrigerator for at least one hour before you serve. Finally, garnish with parsley, lemon cream, and asparagus spears.

How do you make the lemon cream? Soak half a cup of cashew nuts for about four hours. Blend it along with quarter cup water, four tablespoons lemon juice and salt. Store it in the fridge.

Mexican quinoa salad

Recipe source: Minimalist Baker

This Mexican quinoa salad is a delicious, healthy and satisfying salad that takes only about thirty minutes of your time. This salad can also be a perfect weekend meal if you want something quick and healthy. It pairs well with tortilla chips, fresh lime juice, and salsa.

Ingredients for the salad

  • 1 cup red or white quinoa
  • 5 to six cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 quarter cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup cooked black beans.
  • 1/2 cup canned or fresh corn.
  • 1/4 cup chopped avocado.
  • 1 medium segmented orange
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Ingredients for the dressing

  • 1 large lime
  • 1/2 cup of ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 tsp any of maple syrup, cane sugar or agave
  • A pinch each of black pepper and sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro

Method

First, thoroughly rinse half a cup of quinoa and bring it to boil in about one cup of water in a saucepan. Then, once the porridge starts to boil, cover with a lid and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Meanwhile, chop the veggies, warm the black beans and split orange. Season them with cumin, salt, chili, and garlic powder.

To prepare the dressing, add all the ingredients to the blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Adjust the seasonings. You can plate the salad and serve along with dressing on the side, or you can toss the salad before serving.

Organic is the way to go

There is a direct correlation between what you put inside your body and the effect it has on your health. That’s why healthy cooking should be a part of everyone’s household meal preparation. Healthy coking means going back to nature and avoiding over-processed foods. Organic foods lay a strong foundation for your healthy cooking practices. Cooking with all natural ingredients helps you to create heart-healthy, easily digestible meals that taste wonderful and makes you feel energetic. This way you can rest assured that you’re feeding your family the purest harvest of mother nature.

Green Growing Tips For How To Start A Community Garden

Imagine a place where people from all backgrounds work together to plant and grow food or flowers. After all the work, they happily share in the harvest, even donating the surplus to benefit others in their community. It’s happening all over the nation, and if you love the idea, you can easily become part of the trend. But first, you need to learn how to start a community garden.

Do you live in an area where fresh fruits and vegetables are in short supply? If so, learning how to start a community garden could change everything.

What Is a Community Garden?

A community garden is a place where people come together to grow food or flowers and then share in the harvest. These gardens can span an entire block or make use of a tiny plot of a forgotten land.

When learning how to start a community garden, you will see that anyone can start one. For instance, some cities or municipalities start community gardens in areas where fresh produce is hard to find. Also, churches, non-profit organizations, schools, or even a group of neighbors can learn how to start a community garden.

You have two choices when learning how to start a community garden. You can create a large garden where everyone shares in the work and harvest, or you can subdivide the garden into individual plots. When subdividing the garden, each member will “own” their plot of land and grow their own produce.

The Benefits of Learning How to Start a Community Garden

Aside from the fact that you will grow your own food and beautiful flowers (or both!), you and the other participants will reap many great benefits from the garden.

Here are a few benefits you’ll get when learning how to start a community garden.

Check them out:

It classes up the joint

Let’s face it:

No one wants to look at an abandoned plot of land for years on end. Yet, that’s what’s happening in neighborhoods all across the nation. But when you learn how to start a community garden, you can transform that ugly plot of land into a lush, green garden that is overflowing with produce and flowers.

In other words, you can make your neighborhood beautiful by turning the unsightly plot into a green haven.

Put food on the table

Many people live in food deserts. These are areas where it’s difficult to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, its residents live largely on fast food and packaged food.

And that’s not good for anyone.

But when you learn how to start a community garden, you will bring fresh produce to the community. And if you start a community garden in an impoverished area, it can supply the much-needed produce to people who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

It gets them off the sofa

Working outside in the fresh air is good for you, and the people who work in community gardens get plenty of exercise and sunshine. There is something about planting, tending to, and then enjoying the fruits of your labor that causes people to unwind and destress.

Give it back

Guess what else is great:

After learning how to start a community garden, you will quickly realize just how important it is to the community. And that’s another huge benefit of starting this type of garden.

You will get to watch neighbors working together who may have never met. Kids who typically spend their day inside watching television or playing video games will spend time soaking up the sunshine and helping grow their next meal.

When you give back to the community, you not only make it a better place, but you get the satisfaction of having done something that’s outside of yourself.

Teach them

Not everyone understands the importance of proper nutrition in a diet. But when you get people involved in a community garden, you can teach them how vital fresh fruits and vegetables are to a healthy diet.

And all those kids who say they hate vegetables? Hand them a tomato fresh off the vine and watch as their perceptions instantly change.

Who Uses Community Gardens?

Anyone can use a community garden. Neighbors who live in a food desert can use them, as can people who live in upscale neighborhoods. Church members can plant a garden together, or a local club can learn how to start a community garden and grow one together.

And, that’s not all:

People from all socio-economics can get together and learn how to start a community garden.

Wow, this sounds like an amazing activity, doesn’t it?

Let’s move on and learn how to start a community garden, shall we?

How to Start a Community Garden

If you love the idea of getting people together and doing something good for the community, starting a community garden is probably right for you. But before you just jump in, let’s talk about a proven plan that helps you do it the right way.

Here is a step-by-step plan that will teach you how to start a community garden.

Connect with your mirror image

Your first step in the process is to find a group of like-minded people who also want to learn how to start a community garden. You can find these people almost anywhere.

For instance, you can place an ad in the local newspaper, post a bulletin at the local grocery store, or start a Facebook or Instagram page about the project. Another option is to walk your neighborhood and talk to the people who live there. If you live in an apartment complex, be sure to talk to all the tenants and even the building supervisor.

Once you’ve spoken to everyone and found people who are interested in learning how to start a community garden, set a meeting date to make it official.

To be successful, you need to gather as many people as you can and talk to them about your idea. And remember, it takes a group of dedicated people to start a garden, so if you don’t find people who are interested in the idea, it might be time to expand the reach to people outside of your neighborhood.

Bring in the planners

Anytime you start a project as big as a community garden, you need to create some concrete plans. If you approach the job willy-nilly, you may not see the success you’d hoped for.

To create these plans, you should form a planning committee that agrees to act in the best interests of the garden and the people who will benefit from it. The members of the committee should be organized and dedicated to the cause. They will plan for events such as the construction of the garden, funding, garden activities, and the formation of a communications plan.

Another great idea is:

Assign each committee member a task based on their area of expertise or talent. For instance, if someone on the committee is a great communicator, put them in charge of communicating the work schedules and other events to the garden members. And if another person is great with money, make them the treasurer for the project.

Group effort or solo?

With the help of your planning committee, it’s time to decide whether you will create a large garden that everyone works and then shares in the harvest or a garden design that encourages individualism.

In a group garden, you will decide as a group what to plant and form work committees, so everyone shares in the group. But when you subdivide the plots, each person will decide what to grow and do all of the work themselves.

There are pros and cons to each type of garden. A group garden is more work because you will have to coordinate every aspect of it and then communicate those plans to everyone involved. You will also have to ensure that everyone does their part and doesn’t take more than their share during harvest time.

On the other hand, when you divide the plot of land into individual garden spaces, your job is to make sure everyone follows the rules and doesn’t do anything that harms another person’s garden. For instance, if someone plants corn or another tall vegetable in their plot, it could block the sun from another person’s garden.

That’s why you have to create a set of rules for your garden.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Pick your plants

When learning how to start a community garden, you will need to think about what to grow in your garden. Most community gardens grow vegetables to help feed those in the community. But a few gardens grow flowers to bring beauty to the neighborhood — and to the tables of those who help grow them.

But if you can’t decide between the two, why not grow both produce and flowers? You could use the interior of the plot to grow your vegetables and fruit and then border the garden with fresh flowers that the community can pick and display in their homes.

Remember this:

Another consideration is whether you will grow an organic or conventional garden. People will probably have different opinions on this topic so you may have to take a poll if you’re growing a group garden.

If you decide on subdivided plots, be sure to put people growing organically in one area of the garden and those who aren’t in another area. That way the organic produce won’t become tainted with pesticides from neighboring gardeners.

What can we use?

Now that you have an overall idea of what your garden will look like, who will participate, and what you will grow, it’s time to think about gathering all the resources you have to help get the job done.

This is where an organized and committed planning committee comes in handy.

Start by calling a meeting and then asking everyone to brainstorm about what resources they know of that you could use for the garden. For example, someone may have a pile of mulch they no longer need, while others could offer to lend you their garden tools.

And don’t forget about human resources. A member of the committee may know someone in the city who is in charge of community garden grants. That’s a definite resource.

Make a list and document it. These are the items you won’t have to spend money to get your garden started.

Count your money

To create a beautiful and productive garden you picture in your mind, you will need some money. After all, you need to buy seeds, mulch, manure or hummus, tomato cages, fertilizers, pesticides, and many other things to effectively grow the produce and flowers.

To fund your garden, you have a few options, and it all depends on which type of garden plan you will use. To learn how to start a community garden where the plot is subdivided into individual plots, your finances will look a little different.

Take this for example:

Many people who start gardens like this charge growers a nominal fee for each growing season. Someone who purchases one garden plot may pay to use it for the season. Charging these types of fees allow people access to their own land to grow their food, and at the same time, gives you immediate resources to make improvements to the overall plot.

Help a grower out

If your plan is to grow one big garden and have everyone work together, it’s a smart idea to look for sponsors to help pay the expenses. For instance, you could go to the local gardening club and ask them to sponsor your garden. In exchange for calling them a sponsor, they would provide some much-needed cash, tools, seeds, or other items you may need.

You can also approach local businesses, and offer them the opportunity to hang a sign on the garden fence that advertises their business in exchange for their sponsorship.

Look to the government

Some cities offer funding for people who want to learn how to start a community garden. These grants offer cash payouts to help people buy the things they need to get their garden going. The federal Community Development Block Program gives money to local states and cities, and they offer grants to people starting community gardens.

Talk to your local municipality to determine whether or not they participate in this federal funding program. Even if they don’t, they may have local community garden grants you can apply for.

Calling all donors

Another way to raise money for your community garden is to hold a fundraising event. When you can get people excited about your project and the good it will do, many will want to help. And the best way they can do that is to donate money or goods to your project.

Get inventive when it comes to fundraising. Don’t just tell people about your project, but make it fun for them to donate to it. For example, one person sold square inches of their community garden. Hundreds of people lined up to buy a square inch, and the person raised enough money to launch the garden.

And here’s the truth:

The reason this fundraising event was so successful is that it was fun, got people involved, and made donors feel like they were part of the building process.

You can also use group fundraising sites to raise funds for your garden. The possibilities are endless. Just imagine what it would take to get the attention of donors and do it!

How to Pick the Spot for Your Community Garden

Now that you’ve planned your garden and raised the funds, it’s time to select a spot for your garden. People plant community gardens just about everywhere. Some people ask the city for permission to use abandoned city lots, while others plant gardens alongside roadways or behind shopping malls.

The key is to get permission to plant your garden before doing it. Some cities even allow people to grow community gardens in parks and schools.

And you can ask private landowners to use their land for a garden, too. For example, someone may own a few acres of land but only use a portion of it. They may be open to allowing you to plant a community garden on the unused portion of that land.

Wherever you decide to plant your garden, you need to think about a few things.

The first is liability insurance. If a member of the gardening team gets injured while tending to the garden, the landowner could be held responsible. That’s why many people will only allow you to use their land if you agree to get liability insurance.

Also, you need to look for a plot of land that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day in order to grow vegetables. And you will need a water source to water your garden. Working out how to pay the water bill should also be on your list of things to do.

Dig baby dig

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and prepare your land for a garden. In order to reap the best harvest, you should plan your garden so that it grows beautifully and gracefully together.

Start by getting together your planning committee and coming up with a design for the garden. You should do this whether you plan a group garden or individual plots.

After you’ve created the plan, organize all of the volunteers, and begin tilling the ground. You should use a soil tester to determine whether or not you need to add amendments to it. Also, if you plan to use raised beds, now is the time to build them.

And if your garden plot doesn’t already have a fence surrounding it, it might be a good idea to build one.

Make a Rulebook

You want everyone to get along, and the best way to ensure that happens is by creating a set of rules that everyone follows. When there is a disagreement between gardeners, it’s easy to point to the rules to quickly settle the dispute.

Here are some of the types of rules you can create for your community garden:

  • Let each gardener know they are responsible for their individual plots
  • Follow the schedule for tools and water usage
  • Lock gate when finished gardening
  • Supervise children at all times
  • All gardeners must execute a release of claims before beginning work in the garden
  • Make other arrangements if gardener can’t come once a week or privileges will be revoked
  • Establish rules about pesticides
  • Create a lottery system to assign individual plots to keep things fair
  • If you charge plot fees, make them due before the planting season begins
  • Individual gardeners may only harvest produce from their own lots
  • Group gardeners will divide up the produce according to a system you design
  • At the end of the season, all gardeners are responsible for cleaning up the land and making it ready for next season

How to Divide the Produce

If you decide to start a community garden with individual plots, it’s easy to divide the produce because people will take home what they grow.

But what if the garden is communal?

You have a few options when it comes to dividing the spoils in a group garden. For example, you can assign each gardener a percentage based on the number of hours they worked. Or, you could assign a percentage based on the number of people in their family.

Help the community with the extra produce

If you’re lucky enough to have excess produce, don’t throw it away or convince gardeners to take home more than they can eat. Instead, talk to your local food bank, churches, or other organization that helps feed the hungry. These types of charities always welcome extra food so they can pass it along to those in need.

What to Plant

What you plant in your community garden will depend on where you live. That’s because every area is able to grow different fruits and vegetables, and the weather and climate have everything to do with it.

For example, you can grow a lot of produce almost year round in the south, but when winter arrives in the north, people cover up their gardens and wait for spring.

Talk to gardeners in your area to determine which types of crops are easiest to grow. In the meantime, here are some commonly grown crops for community gardens.

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Swiss chard

Community Garden Maintenance

To make the most of your garden, you will need to ensure that you perform maintenance to keep it producing all those wonderful fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a list of some simple maintenance duties that will keep your garden growing.

  • Someone needs to water the garden routinely
  • If not pulled, weeds can quickly overtake the garden
  • Paths need to stay mulched and free of objects that could cause people to trip and fall
  • Tools should be cared for and replaced when broken
  • If grass surrounds the garden, it needs to be mowed and trimmed

How to Divide up the Work

When operating a group or communal garden, you will need to organize the volunteers in a way that allows everyone the opportunity to participate. You should make the rules known from the beginning: Those who don’t work don’t get to share in the harvest. After all, shouldn’t the people who worked hard to grow the food get to enjoy it?

The members of the planning committee can help with this task. Look for a member who is organized and likes dealing with people. Then ask them to create a work schedule and then communicate with the volunteers to determine the best work hours for each one.

Here’s an idea:

Create a schedule and post it online and at the garden site. Remember to include language about what happens when a volunteer doesn’t show up or stops working in the rulebook.

Community gardens work because it’s a group effort. When everyone does their part, it creates a sense of community and goodwill. But if someone begins to take advantage of the others, it can quickly dampen everyone’s spirits.

How to Start a Community Garden: All That’s Left Is to Start!

Are you glad you learned how to start a community garden? These gardens are popping up all over the nation and giving people hope and a sense of accomplishment and community. Are you the right person to start a community garden?

Maybe you’ve already learned how to start a community garden but haven’t taken the first step yet. Tell us what’s holding you back in the comments below. Who knows? Maybe another reader has just the motivation you need!