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Restaurant Calorie Counts Not Reliable

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I don't eat out very often. I eat mostly the same kinds of things day after day with lots of "variations on a theme". Omelettes or oatmeal for breakfast, but many different versions. Salads for lunch with a huge range of different brightly coloured veggies. Fruit for dessert. Home-made soups for supper, one big pot to last the week, changing up the spicing and the whole grain and the veggies and the protein source. Then yogourt and more fruit.

When I do eat out, I sometimes check menus and calorie counts online to preplan my calorie intake.

However, this article (see link) indicates that calorie counts posted for restaurant meals can be wildly off: occasionally overestimated, but more often wildly underestimated . . . And this is especially true for higher end "sit down" restaurants that give the chef more discretion to toss an extra handful of cheese into the salad or the soup. The calorie counts are more accurate for cheaper "fast food restaurants" which offer more prefab foods and tighter portion control.


Do the extra calories matter that much? Yes they do: even 100 extra calories a day adds up to 10 extra pounds a year. And some of the posted counts are as little as a third of the actual calories in the meal presented. Which indicates pretty clearly: you can't really rely upon restaurant calorie counts. Apparently the regulations are much tighter for calorie counts on packaged supermarket foods than for menu counts.

The researcher found she was losing weight when she cooked her meals at home and tracked calories: and not losing weight when she relied upon posted restaurant calorie counts.

My take-away? I'll continue to eat at home (or pack my lunch for work) as much as possible.

It's cheaper. It tastes better. It's healthier. It helps me avoid triggering cravings . . .

But if I do eat out, it's gonna be cheap and cheerful more often. Not a fancier place with a creative chef spritzing extra dressing or generous garnishes around my plate!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 7/20/2011 1:04PM

    I love to go out to eat and... I love making delicious salads and meals at home as well. When I go out to eat... I add calories just knowing the chefs are adding tasteful ingredients to enjoy the food more. I think unless you have a personal chef..it's always wise to add 1000+++ calories!

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KALIGIRL 7/20/2011 12:24PM

    Cheap and cheerful - great descriptor.
We always split dinners any more - too much food...

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NANCY- 7/20/2011 9:16AM

    Eating healthy as at home is the best... eating out should not be a part of our healthy life style. At a higher end restaurant you would be able to make requests and reduce caloric intake. I have replaced pasta with steamed veggies.
It is still all about our choices.

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DDOORN 7/20/2011 9:12AM

    No surprises...! I'm reminded of Michael Pollan's advice re: keeping food simple, real and home-prepared...!


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BLUESKY_321 7/20/2011 6:46AM

    Great reminder!

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SLENDERELLA61 7/19/2011 11:37PM

    Thanks for the article summary. Good information to have. I find tracking very important, but understand that it is all estimates.

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CARRAND 7/19/2011 10:37PM

    I love to eat out, but cooking your own at home is definitely better for you. When I go out to eat, I really try to practice portion control. I think that's the key.

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    I agree that it is *very* important for people to know that the nutrition information for restaurants is often inaccurate.

However, I would rather eat out less often but at higher quality (i.e. actual food) restaurants.
I do my own calorie estimates. Since I almost always eat half (or less) of the restaurant meal, I measure/weigh the leftovers I bring home. If I am not sure what the nutrition info is, I check SparkPeople & CalorieKing and go with the highest calorie estimate.


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ONEKIDSMOM 7/19/2011 8:21PM

    I agree, and rely more on measuring with my eyes. Went out with the kids last Saturday night, eyeballed the plate, divided it in four portions, and had leftovers for three additional meals.

And maintained. Portion size, all important.

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Puffy Eyes: A Remedy from the Other End!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My eyes have been puffy -- big bags underneath them -- for the past week or so.

I'm not sure why: it's hot; there's lots of pollen out there (so maybe allergies) ; work has been pretty stressful and I haven't been sleeping the best . . . . But whatever the cause, I don't much like those baggy puffy eyes!!

So: tried cold compresses. Tried allergy medications, several different types for sinus congestion etc. Tried cucumber slices, cool tea bags (on a "bags for bags" principle, I guess) . . . and nada. Nothing. Still baggy. Baggier, maybe. Baggiest, even!!

All right, then. Dug out some expensive eye cream from my bottom vanity drawer, all dried out now, probably bought it 10 years ago at least . . . and it was not helpful.

Went to the pharmacy and purchased one of those nifty new roller ball tubes which promise miracles, instantly reviving the eyes, an ageless restorative . . . tiny size, pretty big price tag but no discernible results.

And then googled the problem and found a recommendation for Preparation H cream. The classic remedy for shrinking haemorrhoids, on the bottom shelf -- its yellow and blue box design suggests it's probably been there since 1950 if not earlier. No, not the new-fangled gel. And um no, not the suppository either. Apparently only the Canadian cream formula is effective for this eye-depuffing purpose!!

It's manufactured in Mississauga, ON, contains shark liver oil and "yeast as a live cell derivative". The small tube of Preparation H is about four times the size of the fancy roller ball eye magic tube and cost me about a third the price.

The instructions printed on the Prep H box don't seem to be entirely applicable to this cosmetic application (I'll spare you the details of how and when it's meant to be used for haemorrhoids) and the applicator itself is probably superfluous: in any case, I most certainly didn't use it. At either end.

However: Preparation H did the trick!! Bags gone!! Yay!! Not feeling (and looking) approximately 1, 003 years old!!!

I know, I know. Baggy eyes aren't exactly an earth-shattering problem, but I'm relieved not to have to hide behind my sunglasses anymore. And sure, I'll admit that I'm incorrigibly frivolous and superficial: never pretended to be anything else!!

"Relieves pain and itch", Preparation H promises. The pain of wounded vanity, that itchy discomfort of just not looking my best. (All right, that would be 0nly a 60 year-old best. But there is no need to abandon all efforts just yet.)

Of course I wouldn't want the world to know that I've got Preparation H on my face . . . .

So, let's keep it confidential, OK?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BESTSUSIEYET 7/24/2011 11:17PM

    Vaguely remember hearing this solution a while ago ... Haven't tried it. Got any good ideas for dark circles??

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FROSTIERACES 7/20/2011 12:54PM

    Wow...thanks for sharing the secret!! I love simple remedies that don't have a huge price tag!

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FRACTALMYTH 7/18/2011 7:06PM

    LOL... picturing you resting with slices of cucumber and cold tea bags as well :P glad you found what worked!!!

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KALIGIRL 7/18/2011 12:57PM

    emoticon glad it worked!

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NANCY- 7/17/2011 9:52AM

    No Butts about it... if it works... then things are looking up.
The sunglasses woman of mystery look sounded intriguing.

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ONEWAYSTREET 7/17/2011 2:53AM

  So sorry to have to let you know... someone has let the "cat out of the bag"... emoticon emoticon
We now know what you are up to as far as Australia...
Promise not to "spread" (should I use that word?) it any further...
emoticon emoticon

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TBANMAN 7/17/2011 12:52AM

    Just between us girls, promise.


I've heard this before, actually. Nice to know it works if and when I ever need it.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 7/16/2011 8:39PM

    Glad you're back to looking your best! Whatever works!

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CARRAND 7/16/2011 8:12PM

    I think I've heard this tip before. I always wondered if it really worked. Now I know!

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PHEBESS 7/16/2011 7:03PM

    Yup, I've heard that professional models and beauty pageant contestants use the stuff for under eye baggies. I've never tried it, but it's supposed to be great!

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SGREFFMN 7/16/2011 6:46PM

  Not earth shattering, but definitely annoying! Thanks for the tip!

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Respecting Myself in the Morning!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saw this somewhere on Spark and loved it: "I never wake up in the morning wishing I'd eaten more yesterday."

So true.

Didn't overeat yesterday, and I'm not regretting it.

Hate a "food hangover" just as much as an alcohol hangover. Hate getting up still feeling stuffed, without any appetite for breakfast. Want to get up ready to enjoy my omelette: this morning with "back end of a caterpillar" Italian herbs, light feta and mushrooms. And hot hot hot salsa!! And two cups of great coffee, black!! MMMMMMMMM!! Enjoyed every mouthful, sitting down of course, slowly and savouring . . . with nasturtiums and wild sweet peas on the table.

Respecting myself in the morning has taken on a whole new meaning . . .

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 7/20/2011 12:50PM

    So true...can't imagine a morning like that either. Simply has not occurred a day in my life. Respect for us...Love it.

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OPAL50 7/15/2011 1:10PM

    Good advice...love your blog delivery style! emoticon

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SHANNJ77 7/15/2011 9:42AM

    emoticon And that omelette sounds so yummy!!!!!!!! Need to add feta and mushrooms to the grocery list!! emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 7/15/2011 6:20AM

    Wow. I just love that. Nothing like r-e-s-p-e-c-t, gorgeous.


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BARBIETEC 7/14/2011 5:42PM

    LOVE IT!

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_LINDA 7/14/2011 1:12AM

    Know what you mean over eating and feeling bloated in the morning! So happy I don't have that problem anymore!
I love spicy food!! The hotter the better! Way to rock your food and savor every last bite!!

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JOHAL52 7/13/2011 11:16PM

    I SO agree about the food hangovers! It's one of the first things I think of when I wake up in the morning "did I overeat yesterday?" So glad that the past two days the answer has been "no."

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GOOFYGIRL48 7/13/2011 3:22PM

    My food hangovers are more like 'guilt-overs'! The effects of the indulgence tends to be gone by morning, but my psyche is still disturbed! Thanks for sharing!

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DREMARGRL 7/13/2011 1:56PM

    HAHA.....you are so funny. Sounds like you are having a very good summer! Fabulous .....Keep up the good work and loving life. XO MaryAnn emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KALIGIRL 7/13/2011 12:12PM

    Never experienced a food hangover, but can totally relate to savoring food - still not a habit as I often eat on the run, but love it when I set aside the time...

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PENNYAN45 7/13/2011 9:32AM

    This blog is SO GOOD! It's a great concept to keep right there up front.

Respecting myself in the morning - it's the BEST way to start the day!

Have a great day!


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BRIGHTSPARK7 7/13/2011 1:42AM

    I really enjoy breakfast too. Actually, I enjoy all my meals. :)
We have roses in the kitchen. My hubs pruned back the bushes this weekend and brought an armload into the house.
You sound great!
Usha .

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TBANMAN 7/12/2011 11:08PM

    It's so true. The lesson I learned in my 20's ... ok, in my 30's ;) ... about alcohol I am now learning about food.

Hangovers, regardless of the cause, suck.

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NANCY- 7/12/2011 9:44PM

You are doing awesome!!!!
Keep Sparking!!

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CARRAND 7/12/2011 6:35PM

    Great blog!

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PHEBESS 7/12/2011 12:15PM

    Wonderful quotation - I think I need to make that my new mantra!!!!!!!!!

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DDOORN 7/12/2011 11:17AM

    You had one of my very favorite breakfasts...eggs, cheese of some sort and yes that HOT HOT HOT salsa! Yum! Sometimes I omlet it, sometimes just a quick scrambled, yummy mess! :-)

Great thought about not overeating!


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DONNACFIT 7/12/2011 9:36AM

    Great quote..thanks for sharing!!

Great reminder for maderation!!

Love the flowers too..we have wild sweet peas here too but they are all done, usually the second ones to bloom after the crocuses :)

Keep on sparkin' your breakfast sounds yummy!

Thanks for the face cake ideas for the kids cooking camp I think we'll do some cupcakes like that :) and try cake balls, too.

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SLENDERELLA61 7/12/2011 9:05AM

    Good for you!! Breakfast with respect. I just love it. I hate those food hangovers, too. Just the taste in my mouth lets me know this is not the way I'm suppose to live. Woke up feeling good this morn -- and hungry. I had a fruit plate (6 small serving of fresh fruits) with fat free cottage cheese and hot tea. Just delicious! Healthy living is so good. Thanks for reminding me in a clever way.

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JOHAL52 7/12/2011 8:53AM

    I love that quote and can identify with that--I enjoy waking up and thinking "I had a great day yesterday" emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 7/12/2011 7:54AM

    Yes, indeed! Congrats!

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RIDLEYRIDER 7/12/2011 7:05AM

  You are sooooooooooo right! emoticon emoticon

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Hot Hot Hot: and Not!!! (So Fat)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This summer I'm close to 20 pounds lighter than last summer -- maybe 155- 158 then, pretty steady at 138 now.

At 158, I was a lot lighter than my 230 max.

But even 20 pounds less feels better in hot weather:

1. My clothes are looser -- especially the waistbands. No more sweat marks around the waist.

2. My thighs don't chafe together. No more heat rash.

3. I just don't feel the heat as much: so I'm experiencing less temptation to "cool down" with an ice cream cone, or a frozen treat or an iced cappuccino . . .or even what we Canajuns call a "pop" (American soda).

4. I feel better at the beach in my bathing suit. In fact, I really need to buy a suit in a smaller size. I'll be watching for a good sale!!

5. I've got more energy on the golf course, especially towards the end of the game.

Well, there are five reasons I'm happy to be thinner this summer --- but there are lots more!!

And they all add up to motivation. Motivation to stay at this weight. Middle number 3.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHANNJ77 7/15/2011 9:40AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WANDERINGGIRL 7/15/2011 8:30AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
Thighs that don't rub and buying a smaller bathing suit?! I am quite envious, it has been years since I wore a bathing suit or went swimming. Keep on doing what your doing and you will be where you want to be in no time!

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BJUBILANT 7/15/2011 7:38AM

    Thighs that don't rub? I thought that was just a far off fantasy! Thanks for letting me know it IS possible. emoticon (I have no idea what this image represents but it struck me as cute.)

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RONOSOF 7/15/2011 6:57AM

    I couldn't agree more:)

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ERIN4771 7/15/2011 6:43AM

    love reason #3!! so true!! congrats on your success so far, can't wait to see that middle number become a 3 for you!! and i know it will happen!!! emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 7/15/2011 6:22AM

    You are amazing. Brilliant reasons for sure...



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_LINDA 7/14/2011 1:09AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Isn't that just the greatest?? So glad you are feeling better and no doubt looking fabulous!!
I am lucky/unlucky in a way. I have no ice cream place near to me or even a confectionery to get those slurpees I used to love or other confections! Fate? Luck? No temptations = no slip ups!
Keep on enjoying and loving your new body for a fantastic summer!

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REDSHOES2011 7/13/2011 8:51AM


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NEWKAREN43 7/13/2011 8:47AM

    Good morning! I agree that a tankini is a good option of a 2 piece with coverage...and I've seen them sold as individual pieces so you can have the style of bottom you want with the style of top that you want and I think that's cool! Can't do THAT with a one piece! Have a great day! Blessings, Karen

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TOOKES519 7/13/2011 8:26AM

    Good for you!! Not until you mentioned it did I thnik that all of the above applied to me also. Except the 138 pounds, lol. Thanks for putting things in perspective for me, and you.



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NEWKAREN43 7/12/2011 10:26PM

    Let me add...I hope to never, ever buy another swimsuit that's bigger than the size I'm wearing this year. I actually had a thought of a two piece but that was fleeting...at best. No need to scare the children! Blessings! Karen

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CARRAND 7/11/2011 9:43PM


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PHEBESS 7/11/2011 7:26PM


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PENNYAN45 7/11/2011 7:03PM

    What a great blog! Twenty pounds make a very BIG difference -- and just in time for summer! Congratulations.

I think you ought to go out and buy that new swim suit right away!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SPEEDYDOG 7/11/2011 11:26AM

    Thanks for the great blog. Very motivating! Next time I reach for a pop I will recall your #3. (Here in the Western US we also call soft drinks "pop" or "soda pop")

Thanks, Bruce

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DDOORN 7/11/2011 10:09AM

    Kudos to YOU!

I LOVE being able to enjoy the heat instead of DREAD it!


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NANCY- 7/11/2011 8:05AM

Great list and great middle number.
You are rocking this summer!!!!

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IMAGINE_IT 7/11/2011 6:12AM

    Ellen those are definitely great reasons to stay or be slim! And for me to 'just not feel this horrible Heat here in Texas will be one of my main reasons to lose weight. 20 pounds lighter then last year??? Awesome!! :)

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TBANMAN 7/10/2011 9:32PM

    It's always fun to come up with new reasons to stay slim - and motivated. Good job!

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SLENDERELLA61 7/10/2011 8:50PM

    Great blog! Wonderful accomplishment. Love the list. I definitely feel better in the heat now, too. Good observation. Keep up the great work and the great blogs!

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NEWKAREN43 7/10/2011 8:25PM

    I love this list, I was just thinking this morning that I was chafing on my legs because my work out pants were falling down, not even covering me! I just tried on swimsuits (my own little store, I have so many sizes, and I never get rid of them because they are SO expensive)...last year on vacation, the humiliation of wearing a "swim dress" instead of a suit was the last straw. This year, I get to wear not one, but two gorgeous suits that actually look good on me, make me look 'normal' and that I'm comfortable in...wow! What a difference 30 pounds makes! I am cheering for you and me! It sounds like you are where you want to be, I still have a lot more to lose but I'm well on my way! Blessings! Karen

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DONNACFIT 7/10/2011 8:15PM

    Great blog!!! Love your list of 5 things

Keep on Sparkin' emoticon

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Bright orange, bright yellow. Peach streaked with pink, pale yellow. Dark red, bright red, light red. Frilly, floppy, fabulous. Peppery flowery fresh fragrance.

Tumbling out of my verandah window boxes and planters, tucked into the front of my flower beds beneath the verandah.

I've loved nasturtiums since I was a little girl planting fat beige seeds at my grandfather's house and rewarded with tiny seedlings within days. And have grown them every summer since I've had my own gardens.

Those round spoked leaves taste delicious in a salad or sandwich too!

Nasturtiums are one sight, scent, and taste of summer for me.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 7/20/2011 12:57PM

    I have them too every year but this year....what is wrong with me?!....I've always loved their colors! Doubting any flower stores are carrying them here yet...but I'm going to check! Need pictures of yours Ellen!

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_LINDA 7/14/2011 1:05AM

    FANTASTIC description!! I love them too, and we have an incredibly healthy crop growing in Mom's garden. I picked a beautiful bouquet of them for our supper table and to also show they are good to eat, but my niece looked at me like a grew an extra horn and wouldn't try them LOL! My sister did though, and likes the possibilities of garnishing salads with them! Unfortunately, the storms we have been getting have wreaked havoc on the garden. I have been hoping to get some good photos, but right now they are shredded and tired looking.
Enjoy your summer bounty!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 7/10/2011 2:52PM

    Nasturtiums are such vigorous flowers. I have loved them since I grew them as a girl, too. Haven't planted any in ages. I had no idea you could eat the leaves! Learned something from you! Thank you! And enjoy your golf!
Usha xo

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DBCLARINET 7/10/2011 12:19PM

    Beautiful flowers! I love the yellow and orange -- and in a salad, that would make me want to eat salads all the time!

Tried soft tofu with berries today, blended in my Magic Bullet. It was surprisingly a lot like eating... berry flavored yogurt! It definitely still tastes like tofu, but I like tofu anyway, so no issues there. Thanks for the suggestion, I think this one can stick around for a while!

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PHEBESS 7/9/2011 8:56PM

    I love the concept of edible flowers - just such an amazing thing to do!

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CARRAND 7/9/2011 8:17PM

    Those are lovely flowers. I've seen them and loved them, but didn't know what they were. I'm glad to hear they're easy to plant and grow.

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NANCY- 7/9/2011 5:28PM

    I love how the flowers brighten the salad and I didn't plant any this year... Boo Hoo!!!
So easy to grow too. This reminds me to plan for my garden next year.

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VENISEW1 7/9/2011 12:05PM

    Interesting, not sure if I've ever had them before.

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I've only eaten the buds before, and had no idea the leaves were yummy!

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DONNACFIT 7/9/2011 9:43AM

    Hi I love your blogs on flowers...I, too, love flowers...especially wild flowers and with all the rain we have an abundance of wildflowers. When I quad the cattle I always look for and enjoy the flowers and different grasses. Now we have blue wild flax, pink wild roses, white wild strawberries, and lots of yellow flowers of different types!! When I had the granddaughters last year for swim lessons we did a book of pressed wildflowers and grasses and labeled them..hubby does all these classes on identifying grasses, etc :)

Now when I see the flowers, I think of you :) and how different the flowers are here from there....

Take care and nibble some flowers for me emoticon

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