Harris Teeter Moves Into Greenville

Harris Teeter Moves Into GreenvilleWithin the past year, magazines like Vogue, Southern Living and Food Network have declared Greenville, South Carolina a culinary destination.  Creative chefs are flocking to the Appalachian Foothills with innovative offerings besides the stereotypical meat and three vegetable traditions of southern cuisine.

However, I believe there is another aspect to Greenville’s foodie scene which is just now beginning to blossom – the supermarket shopping experience – and Harris Teeter is the latest addition to the growing trend.

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What is the supermarket shopping experience?

I have never been one to enjoy shopping.  I might buy new clothes once a year – if that?  However, I relish the chance to go “grocery shopping.”

Having an I would rather cook from home, perspective – I am excited about the latest Greenville trend of new supermarkets moving into the area.

These “shopping experiences,” allow you to take your time and truly shop. You can buy your groceries, get a meal, buy a drink and enjoy an entire afternoon at the supermarket.

Read about Sprouts recently moving into the Upstate here!

Sprouts Farmers Market Greenville

Besides Sprouts, Greenville has a Whole Foods, Lowes Foods, Fresh Market, Lidl and will be getting a renovated, 71,000 sq. foot, Ingles in Powdersville.

These are incredible options for a foodie who enjoys shopping for food, each with their unique shopping experience.

Harris Teeter in Greenville

When I found out Harris Teeter was coming to the Upstate and a lot of buzz was circulating, I decided to drive to North Carolina and find out what is so special about this North Carolina based chain.

I made a short video, documenting five reasons to like Harris Teeter…watch it here!

Basically, it is a shopping experience.  You could spend most of the day here, but the new Greenville location – takes the adventure to another level.

Upon entering the store, a Starbucks and a Harris Teeter Tavern are available, along with 20 or so dining tables.  Wi-Fi is free and multi-televisions will keep you up to date on current events.

Harris Teeter Tavern and Startbucks at the Greenville location

Keep your Harris Teeter loyalty card handy, as you gain points, even at Starbucks.

A huge floral department makes for a pleasant entrance, along with the aroma of freshly baked bread and other hot food options. Pizza bar Harris Teeter Greenville

A wide variety of baked bread can be purchased, including half loaves, which is great when you are cooking for two.

Pizza by the slice or whole pizzas can be purchased at the Pizza Bar.

Harris Teeter has a “trail mix bar,” where shoppers can create their own mix of dried fruits, nuts and other healthy snacks, which is sold by the pound.

Trail Mix Bar Harris Teeter

Patrons can create their own lunch plate from the “hot bar.”  Options include chicken, fish or some type of protein with various sides; beans, corn, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Hot meal bar Harris Teeter

The hot bar, an Asian bar, sushi, freshly made sandwiches, and salads are convenient for lunch or grabbing a quick dinner on the way home.   Or you buy your meal, sit at the Harris Teeter Tavern and try a glass of wine or craft beer.


Other Harris Teeter Amenities

Harris Teeter Facebook Image


Besides being a full-size grocery store, with a wide variety of national name brand products, Harris Teeter has a full pharmacy, deli, meat and seafood counter.

Wine, beer, and a very large produce section are standard in their stores.

If you just don’t have time to wait in line, download their mobile app, or order online from a desktop.  You can order subs, pizza or deli items and they will be ready in as little as 15 minutes.

Cakes, party platters, and/or fruit baskets can be ready in as little as 24 hours.

Harris Teeter’s VIC Loyalty Card

Of course, just like every other retailer in the nation, Harris Teeter has their own rewards program – the VIC Card (very important customer).

However, as I discovered, being a VIC card holder has a huge advantage…discounts on specific items, not made available in their weekly advertisements and definitely not listed at the store.

When I was issued my VIC card, I went home and registered my card number along with an email address.  The following week I was sent an email telling me about three items, drastically reduced…

Dasani Water – a 24-pack case of 16.9 oz. bottles – for $2.99, instead of the normal $4.99

Smithfield Bacon – 12-16 oz packages $3.99 each, instead of $4.99.

Oreo Cookies – 15.35 oz package – $1.99 each, instead of $2.99.

The only negative – I only had four days to buy these items.  But these were NOT advertised in the store – but I double checked my receipt – and yes, I did receive the discount during checkout.


There are a few things I need to divulge which could be considered a disadvantage for Harris Teeter.

  1. Location – The new Greenville location is in a very congested area of the city.  Getting in and out of the parking lot is very difficult, especially since the lot is only 25% the size of an Ingles or Kroger parking lot.
  2. Crowds – I have visited the new Greenville location twice; once during the grand opening, when you would expect a large crowd, but I did visit once at 9 am on a Tuesday morning and it was still a full parking lot!
  3. Check out registers are too close together – Registers are offset from the end caps causing customer confusion on how to enter the checkout queue line?  While standing at the register, customers are politely asked, “excuse me,” because the next register’s cashier is only 24-inches away?  When I visited the North Carolina location, this was not the case – so I have no idea why the Greenville location was designed this way?

Besides these few minor details, I will be shopping at Harris Teeter in the future, the shopping experience is just too interesting.

Located at: Lewis Plaza Shopping Center 1720 Augusta St. Greenville, SC 28209
Store hours: 6 am to midnight – daily

Have you ever shopped at Harris Teeter?

What is your favorite supermarket? Please leave a comment!

Harris Teeter is a shopping experience





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Food To Help Manage Hypertension

Manage Hypertension with foodI was diagnosed with hypertension when I was 25 years old and suffering from chronic migraines.  Research suggests if your family records reveal a history of hypertension, it can increase your risk by 60%.  Several blood relatives on my mother and father’s side of the family suffered from elevated blood pressure.

Prior to my diagnosis, a variety of doctors, including a neurologist required several CT’s, a daily journal documenting my health, as well as weekly visits to monitor my blood pressure.

Treatment included several attempts to find the appropriate prescription, which resulted in a daily dose of  Ziac, which continues to this day.
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What is hypertension?

Hypertension basically means, while your heart is beating, too much force is being applied to the blood vessels within the heart, causing the heart to work harder to maintain pressure. Because the heart’s vessels are very strong, this can go on for years, undetected; however, the heart could enlarge, hypertrophy, and eventually stop working.

The systolic, or top number in a blood pressure reading, is the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle.

The diastolic, or bottom number is the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle is between beats.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg (periodic symbol for mercury), which is the standard unit of measure for pressure in medicine.

Hypertension Blood Pressure Chart

American Heart Association

Hypertension contributing factors

Nearly 30% of the United States population is hypertensive.

The following can contribute to the severity and prognosis of the disease:

  • Weight
  • Salt intake
  • Elevated cholesterol numbers
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Stress

Two of every three Americans are considered to be overweight or obese.  Being overweight increases the amount of fatty tissue in your body, which increases vascular resistances, resulting in the heart working harder to pump blood throughout the body.

Although salt helps our nerves and muscles to function correctly and is necessary for our bodies, eating too much salt can cause an imbalance which reduces our kidneys’ ability to remove water.  The fluid build up causes the blood vessels to become strained, which elevates blood pressure.

High cholesterol numbers indicate a build-up of artery plaque and calcium resulting in the heart working harder to pump blood through the clogged arteries.

Diabetes is the result of the body’s inability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin, which leads to elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.  High sugar levels in the body decrease the blood vessels’ ability to stretch and increase fluids, both cause the heart to work harder than it should, transporting blood.

When we are stressed, our bodies produce hormones which quicken our heart rate and constrict blood vessels, therefore, elevating our blood pressure.

JoAnn's Food Bites Food Stress

Managing hypertension with food

HBP is known as the “silent killer,” because many do not know they even have it, so monitoring your blood pressure is key, especially if you already endure any of the other contributing factors.

Sur La Table

Unfortunately, my family medical history made me more susceptible to high blood pressure.  Fortunately, I only had to try a few prescription medications, to find the proper one for me.

I take my medicine religiously – at the same time daily.  If I do not, I will notice within a couple of hours.  However, here are my dietary rules to keep my numbers in check:

  1. AVOID EXCESS SALT.  I NEVER use table salt.  When cooking, I only use kosher salt minimally.
  2. CHECK NUTRITION LABEL SODIUM LEVELS. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.  Keep this in mind when you pick up a can of soup, which is notoriously high in sodium.
  3. EAT FOODS HIGH IN POTASSIUM. Sodium and potassium have opposite effects on heart health: High salt intake increases blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, while high potassium intake can help relax blood vessels and excrete the sodium and decrease blood pressure.High Potassium Foods Manage Hypertension
  4. LIMIT SWEETS AND SUGAR FILLED TREATS.  I never had much of a sweet tooth, but I am very conscientious of how often I eat sugar-filled desserts.
  5. DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I rarely drink any soft drinks or sugary sodas.  I try to drink at least 50-60 ounces of water daily.
  6. MONITOR CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION.  I have my one cup of coffee each morning and an occasional latte, but I am very well aware and document my caffeine consumption.
  7. LIMIT ALCOHOL. Although doctors do not know the exact mechanism which causes or sometimes induces high blood pressure, research proves there is a correlation between alcohol and stressed heart function.  I limit my alcohol intake to 2-3 drinks per week.

Hypertension is a very serious disease and should be monitored and treated by a physician.  I visit my doctor every six months to verify my Ziac is working as it should.

If left unchecked or undiagnosed, it could result in a heart attack, stroke or death.


Heart Healthy Salmon

Recipe courtesy of Dr. Oz

2 Tablespoons olive oil                                                1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 chopped garlic cloves                                               3 cups diced tomatoes
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable juice                        2 cups frozen lima beans
1 (10 oz) skinless salmon fillet                                  salt & pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill                                         1/2 lemon

In a 10″ non-stick skillet, warm the olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the pepper flakes and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.   Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the vegetable juice and lima beans and simmer, stirring occasionally for 7-8 minutes.  Place the salmon fillets over the veggie mix, apply salt and pepper lightly. Cover the pan and steam on low heat for 5-6 minutes.   Remove pan from heat, stir in the dill and garnish with lemon.

What other health topics would you like for me to find food-related management techniques?





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FDA Extends Trans Fats Compliance

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration required food manufacturers to disclose the amount of Trans Fats in a food product on the Nutrition Facts label, in the hopes of curtailing the use of partially hydrogenated oils, (PHO) in our food supply.

Research and health organizations, such as the American Heart Association have proven trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

CLICK TO READLower bad cholesterol roasted salmonSur La Table

Despite the labeling requirement, by 2015, a substantial number of products still contained PHOs. Therefore, the FDA set June 18, 2018, as the deadline for food manufacturers to eliminate PHO’s completely.

“the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) has made a final determination that there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids (IP-TFA) are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in human food.” (FDA document #80FR34650).  

Trans Fat will never be completely gone from food entirely because they occur naturally (but in very small amounts) in meat and dairy products, and in other edible oils.

The 2015 compliance “grace period” allowed food companies to either reformulate products without PHOs and petition the FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs.

Although many food manufacturers have removed PHO’s and Trans Fats (if a product contains <1 gram of Trans Fats, it can be labeled as “zero” on the food label); many products still include these substances.

The FDA estimates that consumption of trans fats fell by 78 percent from 2003 to 2012, and it contends that the labeling rule and subsequent reformulation of foods were important drivers (New York Times).

However, due to pressure from the GMA  (Grocery Manufacture’s of America), the FDA is allowing more time for products produced prior to June 18, 2018 to comply with the Trans Fats ban.

At the same time, the FDA is denying a food additive petition from the GMA requesting approval for certain limited uses of PHOs.

The agency is extending the compliance date, to June 18, 2019, to stop manufacturing foods with these specific, limited petitioned uses of PHOs, and until Jan. 1, 2021 for these products to work their way through distribution.

Is our food supply safe?

In November 2013, the FDA determined PHOs are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food.

Just recently the World Health Organization introduced an initiative to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats from foods globally.

So why is the FDA giving manufacturers another year, when admittedly, this change could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year???

I know why….

the FDA claims the elimination of PHO’s would cost the industry about $6                                                               billion to put in effect.


partially hydrogenated oils are cheaper than saturated animal fats to                                                                         incorporate into our food.

Saturated fats are still an enormous problem in the American diet, and health experts emphasize the governmental policy action should not give consumers a false sense of security.

If you consume a 2,000 caloric diet, you should be eating less than 2 grams of trans fats per day (about 20 calories).  And remember trans fats occur in some foods naturally!

Eliminate Trans Fats

What can YOU do to avoid ALL trans fats and PHO’s…

One of the healthiest choices you can make is to use natural unsaturated liquid vegetable oils such as olivecanolacorn, or soy oils.

Incorporate fish into your meal plans.  Those highest in reducing bad cholesterol levels are salmon, halibut and Albacore Tuna.

Quick & Simple Salmon


  • Ingredients
  • Full Salmon fillet - I cut in half just prior to serving
  • 1/2 stick of butter melted
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Place entire salmon fillet in a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet
  3. Mix melted butter with all other ingredients.
  4. Baste butter mixture all over the salmon fillet.
  5. Bake at 375º for approximately, 15-20 minutes.
  6. Verify fish is at 145º in the thickest part; remove from oven.
  7. Spritz with lemon juice.
  8. Serve with saffron rice and a small salad for a very healthy meal.

Eat lean meat. Skinless chicken and turkey and pork chops, with the fat trimmed off, are examples of lean meat.

Eat more whole foods, fruits and vegetables, rather than processed foods.

Making simple changes now can lead to a long, healthy life!

How Do You Avoid Trans Fats?    Please let me know in the comments below – or share a recipe on my facebook page

JoAnn’s Food Bites.




Posted in Fish & Seafood, Food Bureaucracy, Food For Better Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

7 Dietary Changes to Stimulate Your Brain

Do you ever get that 2 PM lull?  You know what I mean…your energy is drained and you are not sure how you are going to make it through the afternoon?

There is actually a term for it…“afternoon slump.” 

Many people experience a noticeable dip in their alertness, energy level and ability to concentrate in the afternoon.

Dietary Habits to Stimulate Your BrainThere are several reasons this COULD happen.

  • Eating carbohydrates for lunch
  • Sitting for hours
  • You could be dehydrated
  • Your body temperature has dropped because you are digesting a heavy lunch


Avoid the Afternoon Slump

Dietary Changes to Stimulate Your Brain

Always incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise 4 days per week. Make sure you get your heart-rate up!

There are several things you can try to avoid the afternoon slump.

Get out in the sun for 10 minutes.  This can reduce the amount of melatonin your body produces, and boost your vitamin D.

Rub peppermint oil on your hands or get a scented candle. The scent of peppermint is a known to increase energy.

Do isometric exercises to encourage blood flow.  I like to contract my ab muscles by sucking in…holding it…then slowly releasing, consisting of about 10 reps, several times a day.  Think about doing it while driving.

Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Dietary Changes to Stimulate Your Brain

The best way to avoid the afternoon slump is to make nutritious, dietary changes.

These recommendations are good for overall health and well-being – not just to prevent feeling groggy in the afternoon.   If devoutly adapted, you will even lose a few pounds.

7. Add spices to your food.  Cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric are all associated with improved memory and learning, especially in middle-aged women.  These can easily be added to morning eggs or your protein smoothie.

6. Probiotics and fermented foods are good for our guts AND OUR BRAINS!  Fermented foods are natural probiotics, which can help digestion issues, but also reduce stress and anxiety, which would result in improved mental outlook.  Pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.

5. Eat a handful of blueberries every morning.  Several studies have linked them to better memory and delay memory decline.  Doctors believe it is the anthocyanins that help people perform cognitive function tests.  Add blueberries to a smoothie or to whole-wheat pancakes.

Other foods rich in anthocyanins are

Rabbiteye Blueberry bush

Rabbiteye Blueberries can live to be 75 years old. The berries can slow brain aging & improve balance.

  • blackberries.
  • cherries.
  • cranberries.
  • eggplant.
  • grape juice.
  • plums.
  • prunes




4. Eat FISH – especially those loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon.  In one study, those who ate fish at least once a week had a brain function 4 years younger than those who did not eat fish.

best baked salmon | diet changes | stimulate brain

3. Avoid too much sugar.  Overindulgence of sugar causes insulin fluctuation and can lead to diabetes.  Inflammation caused by sugar can cause brain tissue damage.  Avoid adding additional sugar to your diet, get your dose from natural sources like fruits, vegetables and dairy.

2. Avoid saturated fats. One study found women who ate steak, rich in saturated fat, performed the worst on memory tests (study link is here).  Diets high in saturated fat can cause plaque in your blood vessels, which deprives your brain of the oxygen-rich blood it needs for optimal performance.  Doctors believe memory decreases as a result of  high fat and high cholesterol levels, which can be reversed with a healthier diet.

   Saturated fats can be found in butter, red meat and many processed foods.

1. Try the Mediterranean Diet. Inspired by the regional culinary habits of southern Italy, the Mediterranean diet consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.  Foods to avoid are sugar-sweetened beverages, any product with added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.

Not only do we need to take care of our bodies, but also OUR MINDS.

Click to read: Over 300 residents of Acciaroli, Italy are over 100 years old and do not suffer from Alzheimer’s



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Sprouts Brings Fresh Food to Greenville

Sprouts Farmers Market GreenvilleFinally visited my first Sprouts Farmers Market last week at their Greenville Grand Opening and it did not disappoint!  Kalia with Sprouts gave me and four other enthusiastic bloggers the grand tour.


Why Shop at Sprouts Farmers Market?

During our tour, Kalia explained how Sprouts targets the “transitional shopper.”

I am a transitional shopper – moving from traditional processed foods to more raw, healthy real food.

For foodies like me who hunger for a shopping experience, Sprouts delivers with fresh produce (many organic choices), meat and seafood, bulk grains, vitamins and supplements, a deli with freshly prepared entrees and sides, dairy, bakery, natural body care items and more.

Perusing the hundreds of products available at Sprouts could work up an appetite.  Good thing they have a wide selection of prepared foods, which shoppers can grab and go; such as a sushi bar, a juice bar, freshly made sandwiches and a salad bar with all the trimmings – all made fresh, in-house.

Sprouts Farmers Market Greenville South Carolina

History of Sprouts

Organic Vegetables at Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts employees can assist you in every department. They will even cut an exotic fruit, so you can try it before you buy it.

Initially, a family owned produce stand in southern California, Sprouts has grown to almost 300 locations but still focuses on value, farm-fresh produce and health-conscious products.

The store’s signature Sprouts Brand products are designed to offer high-quality items at a lower cost, according to the company.

When the first “Sprouts Farmers Market” was opened in Arizona, their motto of Healthy Living For Less was created and still holds true today.

Holding suppliers to high standards, Sprouts buys locally grown products produced in South Carolina or within 500 miles; verifies compliance with industry standards, and educates consumers through transparent labeling.

Simpsonville Sprouts

Launching the grand opening, local registered dietitian and nutritionist Wendie Schneider of PantryDr.com, gave a quick recipe demonstration, including her Mediterranean Grain Bowl, which was delicious. But I was more impressed with the Raspberry Lime Kombucha Mocktail.

Never trying Kombucha before, I was pleasantly surprised with how refreshing it was.

PantryDr. Wendie Schneider gives a cooking demo. Photo by Nicky Vanvalkenburgh

PantryDr.com Raspberry Lime Kombucha Mocktail


  • 1 bottle Sprouts Kombucha
  • 1 fresh lime juiced
  • 1 Tbsp mint
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • Lime slices for garnish
  • ice cubes


  1. Fill 2 serving glasses with ice. Pour Kombucha and lime juice into the glasses. Stir to combine.
  2. Make a small cut through each lime slice and place on the rim of each glass. Place a fresh sprig of mint and 2-3 raspberries in each. Serve and enjoy!

With tall ceilings and spacious aisles, the market is airy and bright.  Ceiling skylights make you feel like you are outside like a traditional roadside produce stand.

Spices at Sprouts Farmers Market Greenville

Customers can portion out any of the wide selection of spices Sprouts offers. Paying for only what you need.

Cut vegetables Sprouts Farmers Market

Many vegetables are already cut at Sprouts.




Although Sprouts does not have a loyalty card program, they do have an app.  Just download to your phone and receive mobile coupons, recipes, and promo codes.

One of the best features of the app is the ability to create your own shopping list.   
(Read the instructional video here)

Veggie Noodles at Sprouts

Trends in the food industry have created a new strategy to market vegetables – the Veggie Noodle.


Buying in bulk is often less expensive and eliminates waste. Sprouts offer almost every type of grain in bulk.

Sprouts’ Philanthropic Deeds

The Sprouts Food Rescue program donates unsold and edible groceries, including fresh produce, from its stores and distribution centers to food banks in all of its markets. In 2017, these efforts totaled about 23 million pounds of product donated in 2017, according to the company.

The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation assist local non-profits which reflect the company’s brand purpose of inspiring healthy living for all.

Final Thoughts

Sprouts Farmers Market is a great food shopping alternative for Greenville.

Their business model, store layout, and marketing strategy cater to the trending health conscience shopper.


  • Product is clearly marked. 
  • Vegetables are beautifully displayed.
  • Prices are very reasonable compared to other local supermarkets.

Sprouts can help you eliminate the temptation to buy “junk food” and move towards a more healthy diet – just make sure to eat those Sprouts chocolate chip cookies in moderation.

Sprouts Farmers Market
2200 Woodruff Rd.
Simpsonville, SC 29681
Open 7 days a week – 7 AM – 10 PM

Fellow Greenville Foodie Bloggers

Fellow foodie bloggers. From left to right – me; Audrey @theaudreyreel – Mariah @mariahhoughton – Mikayla founder of popgabble.com – and Angie @southernmodernmom

Do you shop at Sprouts Farmers Market?  




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Let’s Get This Garden Started!

JoAnn's Food Bites Vegetable GardeningGrowing up in suburban Georgia, with parents whose childhood immediately followed the Great Depression, there was always a vegetable garden.

Whether it was at my maternal grandparents, who mainly planted a few vegetables and all types of beans – to – my paternal grandparents, who grew everything under the sun – to my parents’ corn and bean garden…I worked in a garden from my grammar school years until I was old enough to drive – and I drove AWAY from gardening!

Far, far away…I swore off gardening FOREVER!


I was sick of it!   Okra pricking my fingers; shelling butter beans until my thumbs were blistered; stringing green beans so much, that I still do not like them; shucking corn, covering myself in silk; and then the canning process made my grandmother’s kitchen so hot, I thought I would pass out!

Funny how time changes everything!

Since college, I have lived in various apartments. When I finally got married, our property was not very conducive for attempting a garden. We had a few plants but nothing to write home about.

But NOW….we are in our dream home with plenty of room.  And of course, being older, I am much more health conscious, which means I care where our food comes from…so, WE HAVE A GARDEN!

Tiller for JoAnn's Food Bites Vegetable Garden

Rear tine tillers have wheels that are driven by the engine, which means that the tines work independently of the wheels. These are useful for tilling new or extremely tough ground.

Besides eating delicious fresh vegetables and herbs having your own garden provides great exercise.  The sense of pride and satisfaction after your first harvest is unmeasurable.

So, I knew I was going to have a lot of hard work ahead of me.  Our soil is not as bad as Georgia red clay, but it still contains mainly clay, with a sandy loom mixed in.  Soil amendment was going to be a necessity.

My husband used his rear tine tiller to cultivate the soil.  I used the tiller for about half the garden and was wore out.  I let him finish.  He added about a dozen bags of organic soil conditioner, which is ground wood and bark.

Once the soil amendment was tilled in; the plot was raked and leveled.  Next, we constructed our planting rows.

Tip: Do NOT walk on the soil you just tilled. It will compact the soil and defeat the entire purpose of tilling the garden.  

I have never actually planted an entire garden before.  During childhood, my presence was requested during harvest.  My husband, on the other hand, grew up helping his father plant their garden, so he knew exactly what needed to be done.

For your first row, you will use a hard rake or a hoe and pull dirt towards you, forming a mound.  You only need to go 5 to 8-inches deep.  Continue to move across your plot, to form a row.

Now, mark where the second walk path will go.  I wanted wider pathways, so I marked my next row 4 feet from the valley I just created.

Use a measuring tape to find 48″ from the dirt you just moved. Hammer landscaping spikes,  at the edge of the garden at the 48″ mark.  Extend string between the two landscaping spikes, one on each side of your garden.  Now, you have a line across the garden, to which you know the next walk path will form.

***REMEMBER: do not walk on your fluffy, freshly tilled soil!

Stand facing the row you just formed, with the bed of the garden in front of you. Using your hoe or rake, pull dirt from near your string marker, towards you. The dirt will be piled on top of the mound you already formed.  Again, only go to a depth of 5 to 8-inches.  This should form a mounded row of dirt approximately 12-inches tall.

Next, move your string marker down another 48″ or whatever width you desire.

Stand in the valley you just moved dirt from and reaching towards your string marker, pull 5 to 8-inches worth of dirt halfway towards you.  This mound will be your next plant row.

Make a smooth, flat surface on each mound by using the back of your rake and lightly moving across each mound of dirt.  The flat surface should be approximately 8 to 10-inches across.

Vegetable gardening JoAnn's Food Bites

Repeat until you have formed all the rows you want for your garden.

Garden rows and pathways JoAnn's Food Bites vegetable gardenGarden rows JoAnn's Food Bites Vegetable Garden

Planting the Vegetables in the Garden

Plants love fluffy soil – hence why we did NOT walk on our tilled soil and formed mounds to plant.

Our first two rows are green onions sets.

Next is a row of leek seeds. With the corner of a hoe, form a 1″ trough across the row.  Drop a single seed in the trough, approximately 3″ apart.  Use your hand to cover the seed with dirt.

Also in the garden are eggplant, various bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, zucchini, crooked neck squash, cucumbers and watermelon.

Watermelon mounds JoAnn's Food Bites Vegetable Garden

Immediate Care for Vegetable Garden

Because it was a very hot day, we watered the garden immediately.  Typically, first thing in the morning is the ideal time to water.

Thrive tomato food vegetable gardenFor the eggplant and tomatoes, I mixed up some Thrive, according to package directions and used a watering can, to avoid getting water on the plant leaves and preventing our fluffy dirt from washing away.

All other vegetables were given a half dose of Miracle Grow plant fertilizer mixed in 1/2 gallon of water, per plant, except for the onion sets and leek seeds.  Those rows received one gallon dispersed over the entire row.

I will keep you in the loop on how the garden is going and will share some great recipes using our bounty of fresh vegetables.

If I can do this….you can too!

Do you have a summer vegetable garden?  Let me know in the comments!

Related posts:  Braised Halibut with Leeks

Growing Your Own Tomatoes versus Store Bought

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Reducing Cancer Risks with Food

It is National Fruit and Vegetables Month and new cancer research just released, affirms a long-held theory that what foods we eat directly influences our health.

Cancer Research | Foods Lower Cancer Risks

Click the image to go to the summary report

Since you may not want to read the 12,000-page report, nor the 100-page summary compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research; here it is in a nutshell…






Eat your vegetables
Don’t gain excess weight
Avoid excess alcohol & processed meats
Be active

The Continuous Update Project is the world’s largest source of scientific research on cancer preventative and survivorship through diet, nutrition, and physical activity.

CUP has compiled global research and released its 3rd expert report.  The 2nd report was released in 2007.

The report suggests strong evidence exists that WHOLE GRAINS DECREASE the risk of colorectal cancer.

What are the WHOLE GRAIN foods we should be eating to reduce our risk of cancer?

Whole Grains reduce cancer risk | eating healthy foodsMost grains we consume are refined grains. During refining, grains are broken into pieces which removes the bran and germ – the most beneficial parts of the grain.

Refinement removes most of the fiber, vitamin B and some protein which occur naturally in grains.

To be considered, WHOLE GRAIN,  the kernel of the grain has been cracked, crushed or flaked, but has retained the same proportion of bran and germ, found in the original grain, before processing.

CUP’s report suggests foods containing DIETARY FIBER DECREASE the risk of colorectal cancer.

Foods high in dietary Fiber to lower risk of cancer

Whole Wheat Pasta
Bran Flakes
Bran Muffins
Oatmeal, instant or cooked
Popcorn – Air-Popped, not microwavable bags
Brown Rice
Rye Bread
Whole Wheat Bread

Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruit can protect against several types of aerodigestive cancers

Yeap, your parents always told you to eat your vegetables…and this proves them right.

Research evidence, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, suggest consumption of NON-STARCHY vegetables decreases the risk of cancer in the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, lung and breast.

Regular consumption of fruit can decrease lung cancer; consumption of citrus fruit can reduce stomach cancer, and significant consumption of both non-starchy vegetables and fruit can decrease the risk of bladder cancer.

Shockingly – the research suggests low citrus intake – as low as 45 grams per day, can INCREASE the likelihood of stomach cancer!

“The evidence suggesting that low consumption of fruit increases the risk of stomach cancer (increase risk was apparent at intakes below about 45 grams per day when compared with an intake of about 100 grams per day) and colorectal cancer (increased risk was apparent at intakes of 100 grams or less per day when compared with an intake of 200 grams per day or more).” (page 12 of Continuous Update Project).”

Foods considered to be Non-Starchy

Green Beans
Bean Sprouts

Considerations for Lowering Cancer Risks

Increase your daily intake of Vitamin C by eating citrus – or taking a dietary supplement – because the research demonstrating how you can lower your risk of colon cancer.

Even for tobacco users, which were included in the research, showed a reduced risk of lunch cancer with a higher consumption of Vitamin C.

Increase your intake of beta-carotene, as it can decrease your chances of getting lung cancer, even if you are a smoker.

High in Beta-Carotene

Sweet Potatoes
Winter Squash

Set a goal for yourself during National Fruits and Vegetable Month to eat more of these nutritious foods to improve chances for better long-term health.

Watch our YouTube video on how to cook a

Used Tad McBride’s Samurai Sauce in the stir-fry


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