A few week’s ago, I did a TV segment on WZZM 13 featuring nutrition tips on continuing the National Nutrition Month theme, “Savor the Flavor,” by growing and trying new vegetables and herbs this spring and summer.
National Nutrition Month focused on trying and experimenting with new foods and flavors; quote, “savor the flavor of eating right.” I want to follow up with National Nutrition Month’s theme by saying, “don’t stop here.” Continue your new food experiences into the spring by planting your own vegetable or herb garden. Planting your own vegetable or herb garden can almost guarantee that you and your family will be trying new foods and increasing the variety of your diet this spring and summer season, which in turn can lead to a healthier diet. So what are some key things to consider when starting your own garden?
The first thing to consider is the location of your garden. If you have the appropriate garden space, the vegetables and herbs will follow. The key components you want to consider when selecting the site of garden is:
- Sunlight: At least 6-10 hours daily.
- Water: Make sure your garden is located close enough to a clean and close water source.
- Good soil: Be sure your gardening area is well drained or perform a soil test to best understand if fertilizers or organic matter are needed.
A word to new gardeners: start small. Be wary of the amount of space and time you have available to you in the upcoming months and then plan accordingly. You can plant your vegetables or herbs in various types of containers depending on the space you have available to you or how much time you are willing to dedicate to your new garden. These types of containers can range from burlap bags to planting pots to raised garden boxes. Quick note: Be sure to line the bottom of your garden bed with garden mesh before adding your soil to avoid any other roots invading your garden.
Start this spring by planting cool season crops that can last through frost and can tolerate colder/milder temperatures, such as:
Vegetables: Lettuce (leaf and bibb), Onions, Carrots, Peas, Radishes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Parsnip, Spinach, Swiss chard, Turnip.
Herbs: For perennials, try chives, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, thyme, or sage. For annuals, try parsley, basil, summer savory, or sweet marjoram. *Quick note: Be sure to grow your perennials and annuals in separate containers for best results!
These different types of herbs and vegetables will not only improve the variety in your diet, but it will also allow the experiment with fun, new recipes, such as:
Roasted Beet Hummus
Prep time: 5 mins, Cook time: 1 hour, Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
* 2 medium sized beets, skin on
* 1 can (14 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 2 tablespoons tahini
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* ½ teaspoon salt
* ¼ teaspoon cumin
Look at that rich pink color! Food is beautiful 🙂
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).
2. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and roast them for 1 to 2 hours (it depends on the size of your beets) or until soft and tender.
3. Once the beets are roasted, remove them from the oven and let them cool.
4. Peel the skin and chop them into chunks.
5. Place the beets, chickpeas and garlic into a food processor and blend for 1 minute.
6. Add tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, 1 teaspoon of water and blend until the hummus becomes smooth and creamy.
7. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt or lemon if needed.
8. Refrigerate or use immediately. Serve with pita bread or your favorite vegetables. I enjoyed mine on toast with avocado slices and an egg on the side. Delicious food is sometimes the simplest of ingredients.