Healthy Eating from the Garden
From our Community Garden Coordinator Leslie Wade
Superfoods! That buzz word has been flying around us for many years now. These foods seem to be somehow elite compared to all the other produce available to us. What exactly is so super about these foods?
Foods that are dense in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants can become a superfood overnight. Some of these foods are easily accessible, others not so much as they have more exotic origins, but a majority of superfoods are plant-based and foods that you can grow yourself. Creating a diversely planted garden can provide you with nutrient-dense foods all year long. Some of the vegetables we are enjoying from the garden right now are:
Kale: Of course! I think everyone is aware of kale’s superfood status so we continue to grow it, as it is not only extremely good for our bodies but it is also a plant full of deep colors and textures in the fall, winter, and spring garden.
Brussels Sprouts: At Gather & Garden volunteering days, we utilize more of the plant (other than just the sprouts) and harvest the brussel sprout tops (the leaves on the top of the plant). These leaves are sweet and mild in flavor and are tender so they can be used raw or cooked for a short time. From the community gardens, we have been sharing them with organizations like Amor Healing Kitchen and One 80 Place. Brussels sprouts have been shown to have higher glucosinolates than its cousins like broccoli, kale, cabbage, etc… Glucosinolates are used by your body to make isothiocyanates, which activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body (Mercola). Brussels Sprouts also contain high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, potassium, manganese, B vitamins, and choline. These plants are extremely cold hardy so a great addition to the winter garden.
Turnips: This veggie is so exciting and underrated! So many people say “I don’t like turnips” but there are some delicate varieties like Hakurai or Tokinashi that are harvested small lending a sweet flavor and crisp texture to them. These small turnips can be eaten raw, sauteed, roasted and used any way you would a traditional variety like Purple Top. Eat the greens and roots to add a wide array of vitamins and minerals to your plate. Eat your turnips if you want to: increase your metabolism, help fight risk of cancer, improve your immune system and eye health, boost your heart health, improve bone strength, increase blood circulation and even get help with body odor. See what I mean by Superfood!
We are looking forward to the incredible health benefits of eating blackberries and blueberries this summer and growing quinoa which is high in antioxidants, is beneficial to metabolic health, low on glycemic index, a complete protein, high in fiber, gluten-free and contains flavonoids which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressant properties (Healthline).
While it’s important to eat nutrient-rich foods, having a diverse plate and diet is as important as having a diversely planted garden. So, even if your foods aren’t “Super,” if you grew them or they are from a garden, you can bet they have a beneficial contribution to your diet. These are just a few samples of what can be grown in your garden that can end up on your table. Even the act of growing them acts as a stress reliever and provides daily exercise.
Now I’m off to make a roasted brussels sprouts, turnips and quinoa salad with an herb vinaigrette. These recipes found online looked delicious & relatively easy to make: