Ranch Dressing Cheeseburger Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Ranch dressing chesse burger
Ranch dressing chesse burger

In our home the ranch dressing cheeseburger is the go-to sandwich when the mood hits for comfort food a la Americana. This recipe is just my humble twist on the old classic hamburger. The beauty of this dish is that the range of condiments and fixings is endless. As always, use organic ingredients whenever possible. Read on.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef. Or, ground bison if you’ve got deep pockets.
  • Buns; I prefer whole wheat.
  • Vegetables of your choice. In the photo above I used red onion, tomato, spinach, and a slathering of avocado on the bun that’s covered up.
  • Condiments of choice. That’s barbecue sauce you see in the photo. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed says it looks like burnt bun. Belay that misconception!
  • Cheese of choice. Mine was Swiss, hers was jalapeno jack.
  • 1 packet of ranch dressing powder. I suppose Hidden Valley is the standard but in my experience, the Kroger brand is the same thing for half the price. Dollars to donuts that it all comes out of the same factory.
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Put the meat in a mixing bowl and crack the eggs into it. The reason for 2 eggs rather than one or none is that the ranch dressing powder will make the patties crumbly when you go to flip them. The eggs prevent that. Besides, who couldn’t use more vitamins and minerals? Just say no to nutrient deficiency.
  2. Open the packed of dressing powder and set aside within reach.
  3. Mix the meat and eggs well with your (washed) hands.
  4. Mix in the powder. Your hands are slippery by now; that’s the reason for pre-opening the packet.
  5. Form the patties. I like to make 1/3 lb. patties rather than 1/4 lb.
  6. Cook the patties in your preferred method, skillet, outdoor or countertop barbecue grill, or otherwise.
  7. Assemble your burgers and enjoy!


That’s all there is to my take on the ranch dressing cheeseburger recipe. I hope you like it. Here are a few more of my creations; I only post those that have been spouse-approved so no worries! Share with your friends.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Shepherd’s Pie Skillet Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Shepherd's pie skillet style
Shepherd’s pie skillet style

The weather is starting to cool off and that means two things — it is time for a flu shot and comfort food is the order of the day. This recipe for shepherd’s pie fills the bill nicely. Easy, frugal meals is just what we need as we spend more time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One good thing about this meal is its flexibility. There are any number of substitutions and additions you can make. So, let’s get started.

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 box Beef Pasta Hamburger Helper (or the flavor of your choice)
  • Hot water/milk called for on Hamburger Helper box
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • Hungry Jack mashed potatoes for 6 servings
  • Water and butter called for on mashed potatoes box for 6 servings
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped parsley (amount to taste)

Preparation Steps

  1. Using a 10-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring often, until brown. Drain the grease. Stir in hot water, milk, sauce mix, uncooked pasta (from the Hamburger Helper box), and thawed vegetables. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently.
  2. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Remove the pan from heat.
  3. Make the mashed potatoes as directed on box for 6 servings. Spoon and gently spread mashed potatoes over pasta mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese. Cover; let stand about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

That’s all there is to the shepherd’s pie skillet recipe. You can substitute a different type of cheese, type of Hamburger Helper, and add additional spices. It’s all good.

More Recipes From My Kitchen



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics; What Does It All Mean?

by Kelly R. Smith

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The health benefits of probiotics
The health benefits of probiotics

This article was updated on 10/26/20.

Everywhere we turn nowadays we hear about probiotics. But what about prebiotics and synbiotics? Actually, they all work hand in hand. Here’s the rundown.

  • Probiotics. WebMD says, “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called ‘good’ or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.” When you lose the “good” bacteria that inhabit your gut, after you take antibiotics for example, probiotics can help replace them. The two main types are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. You can get them through dairy and supplements.
  • Prebiotics. The Mayo Clinic tells us, “Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.” They are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, mostly those that are rich complex carbohydrates, such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbs aren’t digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for the bacteria and other microbes. When your balance is off it can affect your metabolism.
  • Synbiotics. ScienceDirect says, “Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that are believed to have a synergistic effect by inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and enhancing the growth of beneficial organisms.” Evidence suggests that synbiotics influence the microbial ecology in our intestines. This is true in both humans and animals and synbiotics play a role in alleviating various illnesses.

Knowing what we know about prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics it becomes clear that we should maintain our diet with various types of foods in mind, organic whenever possible. This includes milk, cheese, fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha, whole grains, miso, fruits, and vegetables.

Benefits of Probiotics

  • Improves immune function. They assist in the treatment and/or prevention of many common conditions. Some of these include diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
  • Protects against hostile bacteria to prevent infection. Under normal (balanced) conditions, your friendly bacteria in your gut outnumber the unfriendly ones. Probiotics stand duty as gut-beneficial bacteria that create a physical barricade against legions of unfriendly bacteria.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.
  • Counters the negative effects of antibiotics. When you contract a bacterial infection, antibiotics are most often prescribed to as the immediate solution. That’s a Godsend, but unfortunately, nothing good comes free, and antibiotics kill bacteria arbitrarily, decimating both good and bad bacteria in your intestinal tract. By eliminating beneficial bacteria, your body is susceptible to a number digestive issues. Myself, when I go to the grocery store to have an antibiotic prescription filled, I also stock up on yogurt with active cultures.
  • Boosts heart health.
  • Lowers cholesterol. Probiotics contain bacteria that are effective in lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Taylor Francis Online says, “Numerous clinical studies have concluded that BSH-active probiotic bacteria, or products containing them, are efficient in lowering total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.”

Others are reading:

References


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Scrambled Eggs With Miso, Onions, and Spinach Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Scrambled eggs with miso, onions, and spinach
Scrambled eggs with miso, onions, and spinach

This article was updated on 09/10/20.

The miso in these scrambled eggs gives it that very creamy rather than the usual “huge curd” appearance. What is miso? Basically, it’s a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji resulting in an umami-heavy paste.

This recipe serves one; if you are making it for a group, like for a potluck of Labor Day gathering, the ingredients are easy to adjust. This is a recipe that makes it is easy to stay with organic food and that’s what I suggest.

Ingredient List

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons white or red miso paste
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely-sliced spinach
  • 1/4 cup finely-sliced basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Amount of shredded cheese to your taste; I threw in 1/2 cup of Swiss (optional)

Update: Today I made this dish for lunch again. I added in 2 large cloves of garlic, minced, and 1 cup of red cabbage, cut up tiny. It came out great. The only drawback was when I cut up the garlic. She-who-must-be obeyed complained that it was burning her nose. But, but. it’s good for my high blood pressure!

Preparation Steps

  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the miso until well mixed.
  3. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (except the optional cheese; see step 8).
  4. Add the butter to a sauce pan or skillet.
  5. Heat at medium-low heat just until the butter is melted.
  6. Add the egg mixture.
  7. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just almost done.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the cheese.
  9. Continue to stir for a moment until done.
  10. Turn out onto a plate and enjoy!

Health Benefits of Miso

Most of us already know the nutrition benefits of eggs lots of protein, they raise HDL (the good cholesterol), they’re loaded with nutrients, many studies show that they lower the chance of a hemorrhagic stroke, and they offer lutein and zeaxanthin to help to keep you from getting eye diseases like cataracts. But what about miso?

  • Rich in probiotics.
  • Nervous system support.
  • Beneficial for women in early pregnancy (folate).
  • Vitamin K for bone strength.

So you can see that combining scrambled eggs with miso not only makes a great breakfast (breakfast tacos, anyone?) but a quick dinner after a long day. And the dish goes well with additional ingredients that are to your liking.

More Mouth-Watering Recipes

References:



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ivation 6-Tray Food Dehydrator: a Product Review

by Kelly R. Smith

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Ivation 6-tray stainless steel food dehydrator
Ivation 6-tray stainless steel food dehydrator

There are many ways to cook and preserve food. In recent years the increasing number of homesteaders and preppers have made canning and dehydrating popular again. Processing food with a food dehydrator is great for storing food in the home and keeping the nutritional value while reducing weight for campers, hikers, or just going on a road trip with family and friends.

I was motivated to buy the Ivation 6-tray dehydrator pictured above, I won’t lie, because I love beef jerky. Well, to be honest, my daughter is crazy for the jerky from Buc-ee’s. So I called her and asked, “What flavor?” She said, “Teriyaki beef jerky.” So I shopped. There are many out there but led me to choose this one was size, materials, and the fact that it’s commercial-grade. In for a dime, in for a dollar, I always say.

By the way, if you were wondering when looking at the picture above, the dehydrator is set up on one of the work benches in my wood shop. No sense in heating up the kitchen during the Texas summer.

Features of the Ivation Dehydrator

  • Six trays. These trays measure 13” X 12”. Plenty of room for processing an assortment of food.
  • Rear-mounted automatic fan. The fan circulates warm air with 600W of heating power. This ensures that the food is evenly dried from all angles.
  • Easy to clean. The 6 stainless steel trays as well as the drip tray are all removable. Just slide them out and wash as you would anything else in your kitchen.
  • Stainless steel body and trays. All parts are BPA-free, this means they are safe and durable.
  • Digital temperature and timer. The temperature range is 95ºF to 167ºF. You can set the timer to automatically shut off your unit at the time you specify. Set it in 30-minute increments for up to 24 hours.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that this Ivation 6-tray food dehydrator is a commercial-grade appliance, it is very easy to use; the controls are simple, it is easy to clean, and the heavy-duty fan is properly placed to do its job evenly. I recommend it.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Turkey Italian Sausage and Peppers Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Italian sausage and peppers
Italian sausage and peppers

Yes, I am back in the experimental recipe zone again. So comfortable with my culinary thinking hat on; I have an affinity for Frank Zappa’s Muffin Man. This recipe combines good veggies and spices with Italian sausage but with aorta-healthier turkey rather than pork. I don’t need to further push my high blood pressure. This recipe serves 6 and is ready in about an hour.

Ingredient List

  • 3 tpsp. olive oil
  • 1 tpsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 bell peppers, sliced and diced (why not use all the colors)
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • Himalayan or pink salt to taste (it’s chock full of minerals and nutrients, unlike the regular stuff)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 6 Italian sausages sliced thin (hot or sweet, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced up

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine and mix the vinegar, red pepper, oil, and garlic in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in the onion and bell peppers.
  4. Put the mixture into a 9″ X 13″ Pyrex dish.
  5. Distribute the sausage on top.
  6. Bake until the sausage is done, about 45 minutes.
  7. Take it out and distribute the basil on top.
  8. Enjoy.

More Recipes

This turkey Italian sausage and peppers recipe is very filling which is good if you have been working out or are on an intermittent fasting routine. It also keeps well in the refrigerator and even makes a tasty sandwich.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

10 Bad Habits That Result in a Slow Metabolism

by Kelly R. Smith

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Where is your metabolism meter pinned?
Where is your metabolism meter pinned?

It’s no secret that our metabolisms slow down as we age. For most of us that means packing on the pounds. If you want to reverse that course of action, it’s not too late to begin. There’s no need to wait to make a New Years resolution. Just work on this list of bad habits that slow metabolism.

  • Do you skip breakfast? Unless you are practicing intermittent fasting, you shouldn’t. When you sleep, your metabolism slows. A hearty breakfast will kick it back into gear.
  • Or, are you eating the wrong things for breakfast? Donuts may be your convenient comfort food, but they aren’t doing you any nutritional favors. What you really need is fiber and protein. I usually go for my homemade bread; it has whole wheat and quinoa for protein and plenty of fiber, what with the steel-cut oats and wheat bran.
  • Are you sitting too much? An excess of butt-time triggers your energy-conservation mode. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic only makes things worse. I work from home but I’m made aware when I’ve been at the keyboard too long by my Garmin 235 watch. It has a move bar that activates after sitting too long. A stroll around the block is enough to make it go away… until the next time. The National Health Service from the UK says, “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat.”
  • Are you doing enough strength training? Resistance-based exercise keeps your heart rate, and thereby your metabolism, higher after you finish. The American Council on Exercise says, “Whether you lift weights, use resistance bands or use your own body weight for resistance, resistance creates microtears in the muscle tissue. As your body repairs these tears, muscle tissue grows and requires more calories to stay alive.” Cardio activities like running do this as well, just not for as long. Ideally, you should do both cardio and weights.
  • Are you eating enough protein? If not, you aren’t going to be able to build or even maintain muscle mass. As noted above, muscle mass is essential in keeping the motor that is your metabolism humming along. If you are a vegan you will need to be more creative to satisfy your protein needs. My oatmeal flax seed bread recipe is a good source as are beans and quinoa.
  • Are you drinking enough water? Most of us don’t. A study by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ.” So drink up.
  • Are you stressed out? If you are then you’re producing the hormone cortisol. The effects? An increased appetite, less desire to exercise, an attraction to comfort foods, and reduced quality of sleep.
  • Are you getting enough dairy products in your diet? Milk, cheese, yogurt, and supplements are critical; research links dietary calcium intake to improved regulation of energy metabolism. The National Institute of Health, citing a Spanish study, concluded that, “Our results show that consuming dairy products is associated with a better metabolic profile in the Spanish population.”
  • Are you sleeping cool? As it turns out, snoozing in a room that’s about a cool 66ºF increases the level of brown fat. This fat is responsible for burning calories to generate heat. So chill out already.
  • Are you eating too much fast food? If you are, you are consuming a lot of high-fat content which takes more time to digest than leaner content. This, in turn, can slow down metabolism and stress compounds the problem.

So there you have it. These 10 bad habits result in a slow metabolism. The good news is that it’s easy to form new habits. So get on with it already.

References



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Zulay Cold Brew Coffee Maker – Product Review

by Kelly R. Smith

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Zulay Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Zulay Cold Brew Coffee Maker

This article was updated on 09/30/20.

If you’re anything like me, you like your coffee. I typically enjoy a brobdingnagian mug or two in the morning in my home office and another in the afternoon. Sure, a lot of people favor Starbucks, and there are 2 very close to me, but that’s not my style. My wife is the same way and we are going through quite a bit of coffee since we are both working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes I prefer my afternoon cuppa from the Zulay cold Brew coffee maker.

I like this slow brewer. I’ve been using it for about 8 months now so I’ve got it down. Joking there; you can’t make a coffee brewing mistake because it’s very easy to use. It only has the 3 components as you can see in the photo above. The carafe, the stainless steel filter, and the lid.

Key Features of the Zulay Cold Coffee Maker

  • BPA-free
  • FDA-cleared
  • Shock-proof glass, brews cold or hot coffee
  • Dual silicone seals
  • Stainless steel filter, the mesh perforations are tiny enough for fine grinds
  • Doesn’t take up too much room in the refrigerator
  • Easy to clean
  • Anti-slip silicone base

Preparing the Cold Brew Coffee

  • This is a fairly simple process. For best results, start with whole coffee beans and grind them right before using. I use Black Rifle Coffee. It’s made in small batches and isn’t roasted until you order it.
  • Stick the filter into the mouth of the carafe. Fill the filter about 3/4 of the way with the grounds. I typically layer mine — coffee, fresh mint leaves from my herb garden, crumbled cinnamon stick, more coffee.
  • Pour filtered water into the filter. I usually go above the top mark on the carafe.
  • Stick on the cap.
  • Put the carafe into your refrigerator and wait at least 12 hours.

There you have it. I highly recommend the Zulay cold brew coffee maker. It is sturdy, has high-quality components and is reasonably priced. If you are curious and want to learn more about coffee and how it has shaped culture and society, check out Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World. Here is my book review.

This site is free of course, but I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to participate in the poll on the right-hand sidebar of this page. Nothing to buy and no data-harvesting; I’m just conducting some research for a follow-up article. Thanks!



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

10 Signs of Nutrient Deficiency

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Foods that fight nutrient deficiency
Foods that fight nutrient deficiency

Many of us eat fast food or whatever is at hand because of the fast-paced lives we live. You might say to yourself, “I take a multivitamin; I’m good.” That is not always true. Supplements, at least high-quality ones, are not bad in themselves despite what some say. Some manufacturers are indeed mountebanks but not all. Additionally, not getting enough fiber can mean a short-circuiting on nutrient absorption. Living in the Coronavirus lock-down surely doesn’t help. If you have any of these signs of nutrient deficiency, it’s prudent to turn things around. Here are some signs.

Signals From Your Body Regarding Nutrient Uptake

  • You are developing a pale, sallow complexion. The problem may be iron deficiency. This makes for smaller red blood cells. Not only does it mean you produce fewer of them but they are filled with less hemoglobin. Hence, your skin looks less red. The American Society of Hematology says, “Iron is very important in maintaining many body functions, including the production of hemoglobin, the molecule in your blood that carries oxygen. Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy cells, skin, hair, and nails.” The solution? Boost your intake of dark leafy greens, grass-fed beef, lentils, and fortified cereals and breads.
  • You have stubborn acne. In the past this has been blamed on certain foods like chocolate and one of our favorites, commercial or homemade pizza. We now understand it a bit better. The lack of enough omega-3 fatty acids may be the culprit; they have strong anti-inflammatory properties. So if you are lacking, it can present as acne. The solution? Pick up some fish oil capsules and eat more salmon.
  • You Have Brittle Nails. If your fingernails have been breaking easily and often, it might be due to a lack of biotin, also known as vitamin B7, which nourishes your nail’s growth plates. The solution? Supplements are a good way to go. I take what is called on the bottle Super B-Complex, which contains 1,000 mcg which is equal to 3,333% of daily value. This is not an issue because it’s a water-soluble vitamin. Also, eat more eat more eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, fish, organ meats, and vegetables such as cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
  • Your skin is parched and dry. You can blame this one on an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. In this case, they help nourish your skin’s lipid barrier. This is the layer of oils that act as a gatekeeper to keep harmful germs and toxins out and essential moisture in. This deficiency can also manifest in more wrinkles and visible aging due to skin dehydration, ladies.
  • Lips that are sore and cracked. This can be the result of an iron deficiency and/or a riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency. The National Institutes of Health says, “The signs and symptoms of riboflavin deficiency (also known as ariboflavinosis) include skin disorders, hyperemia (excess blood) and edema of the mouth and throat, angular stomatitis (lesions at the corners of the mouth), cheilosis (swollen, cracked lips), hair loss, reproductive problems, sore throat, itchy and red eyes, and degeneration of the liver and nervous system.” Suffice to say I don’t want this one. The solution? Once again, a B-Complex vitamin should do the trick.
  • You have a wound that resists healing. If you are reading this, you know as an individual how long it takes your body to deal with cuts and scrapes. If it seems to be taking too long, you might have an iron deficiency. As a rule, shoot for 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal and 10 to 15 grams of protein with each snack. Mind you, this is harder to do if you are a vegan but it’s not impossible. Peanut butter and other legumes are good. Carnivores are less likely to have this issue. Protein drinks are also readily available. I’m partial to favorites like this beef Stroganoff recipe that I make from time to time.
  • Are you experiencing bleeding gums? Usually this signifies that one is a bit derelict in flossing and brushing. But if this is not you, a vitamin K deficiency might be at the root (so to speak; pardon the pun) of your problem. It has a big role in role in helping blood clot, or coagulate. The solution? Look for vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) mainly in leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is actually bacteria produced your gut. It is also available in fermented foods, cheese, natto, meat, dairy, and eggs, according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • Your hair is thinning. Your hair can be a mirror of what you eat. Protein and vitamin C deficiencies have been known to cause thinning or brittle hair as well as hair that falls out easily. Vitamin C assists you in making collagen, one of the building blocks of healthy hair and healthy hair follicles. Protein supplies amino acids destined for collagen (and other protein) synthesis.
  • Your nails are misshapen or discolored. If your iron levels are low, this can result in whitened or ridged nails. A vitamin B12 deficiency can make your nails turn brownish. A lack of biotin increases your risk of fungal infections that, in turn, can manifest as ridging and discoloration.
  • Premature graying of the hair. Going gray early can be caused by many things — genetics, some say worry, and the jury is still out on getting a fright. But we are concerned here with nutrition. The mineral copper helps you create melanin which is one pigment, among others, that imparts color to your hair. If you have low copper levels, or an underlying medical issue which stops you from metabolizing copper you ingest properly, this can turn your hair gray. Which I must say, I find downright fetching on most women although they likely disagree.

The bottom line here is that each sign of nutrient deficiency is linked to primary vitamins and minerals, but in reality, they’re all a “soup” in which all have a role. The best course of action is a well-rounded diet accompanied by high-quality nutritional supplements. As a caveat, if you can’t clear something up in short order, consult with your primary care physician.

References:



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Indoor Gardening: Basic Hydroponic Tools and Equipment

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Indoor hydroponic gardening
Indoor hydroponic gardening

It is no secret that commercial growers have been using hydroponic tools and equipment for indoor gardening for years. Like other businesses, these farmers need to generate revenue and provide a product to customers year-round. What if you want to become more self-sufficient during the COVID-19 lock-down? What about the average person that wants to do it on a smaller scale? The good news is that you can. Let’s look at what you need to get started.

Light for Photosynthesis

Dictionary.com defines photosynthesis thus, “the complex process by which carbon dioxide, water, and certain inorganic salts are converted into carbohydrates by green plants, algae, and certain bacteria, using energy from the sun and chlorophyll.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah; what you really need to know is that your plants need light to grow. Of course, sunlight is optimal; it provides the full spectrum of visible and non-visible light. It’s offered to us for free and is the best way to provide light for hydroponics. Many vegetable plants and herbs like mint and basil do best on at least six hours of direct light each day. Southern-facing windows and greenhouses have the potential to provide this amount of sunlight.

But what if that’s not in the cards? You’ll be best investing in grow lights. Look for ones from 4,000 to 6,000 kelvin to insure that they deliver both cool (blue) and warm (red) light.

Substitute Substrate for Soil

This is where the hydro part comes in. The water and nutrients circulate through the substrate which is a material such as pea gravel, sand, coconut fiber, peat moss, expanded clay pellets, etc.

Water

Clean water is critical. The water of choice is treated by reverse osmosis (RO). This purification process results in water that is 98% to 99% pure and your plants will thank you for it. You will also have to keep an eye on the water pH (a measure of alkalinity or acidity. For example, if you are growing tomatoes, they prefer a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 on a scale where 7.0 is considered neutral. Mint plants prefer 6.5 to 7.5. Growing beets? Shoot for 6.0 to 6.8. Knowing these numbers is important as you consider companion plants for your garden.

As far as fertilizer goes, you’ll want to buy a hydroponic premix because it will contain all the nutrients needed. I suppose you could cobble together your own but the expense/work ratio doesn’t make sense to me. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to add foliar feeding every couple of weeks.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

As you might suspect, there is a range of systems to choose from.

  • Water culture. Uses a non-submersible air pump, air hose, floating platform, rope wicks, and grow tray.
  • Nutrient film. Uses non-submersible air pump, air hose, submersible pump, air stone, overflow tube, and grow tray.
  • Wick system. Uses non-submersible pump, air stone, air hose, rope wicks, and grow tray.
  • Ebb and flow. Submersible air pump, air hose, timer, overflow tube, and grow tray.
  • Aeroponic. Subersible pump, mist nozzles, air hose, and short-cycle timer.
  • Drip system. Non-submersible air pump, submersible pump, air hose, timer, drip lines, overflow tube, drip manifold, grow tray.

There are your basic hydroponic tools and equipment for indoor gardening. Whether you approach it as a hobby, as a serious farmer who is going off the grid, there are numerous benefits. The produce will be fresh, as organic as you make it, and available year-round.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.