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    News — gardening

    Eating Seasonally: Spring

    It’s September, which means spring and we can certainly feel the change in climate in sunny Queensland already! After a couple of months of warm, cosy winter stews and soups we’re ready to dive into some of our favourite lighter dishes again.

    Spring means warmer weather, leaves on the trees, flowering plants, and the appearance of fresh, light spring veggies. Spring is all about detoxifying foods that are refreshing and regenerating. They’re light and fresh, like crisp asparagus (a classic spring veggie), beets and green leafy veggies.

    We know that certain fruits and vegetables flourish at certain times of the year, and it’s a good idea to buy seasonal produce however because grocery stores stock just about everything all year round, it’s sometimes easy to forget what’s in season and what’s not. 

    A good tip is to take a walk around your local farmer’s market and see what kinds of produce are available – these will usually be the ones that are in season.

    There are many benefits to eating seasonally.  The food is at its freshest, tastes the best, is best for you, is more sustainable, and is usually cheaper. It also allows us to get back to the roots of local and sustainable eating, by supporting local businesses and our local community as a whole.  

    Seasonal fruits and veggies that have been allowed to fully ripen on the plant and picked at the peak of freshness are better quality and higher in nutrition compared to produce that is picked unripe and then transported to different areas or countries.

    Foods that are harvested in your local area at a certain time are also dealing with the same environmental factors that you are. For example, summer fruits and veggies are often higher in water content (e.g. tomatoes or watermelons), which makes sense given that during summer we are often hot and sweaty and need more hydration from our diet.

    Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene which research has shown to be helpful in protecting our skin against the sun’s rays…so it does make sense why tomatoes thrive in warmer weather. Eating local sustainable produce allows for maximum nutrition that is tailored to your local environment.

    Eating foods that are in season gives you the opportunity to appreciate the foods that are available, and allows for more variety in your diet as seasonal foods are constantly shifting – a wonderful cycle that allows you to experience each food.

    We’ve been cooking dishes that feature lots of Spring seasonal veggies the past few weeks, like our one-pot Greek Chicken with Zucchini and Potatoes, and our Roast Fennel with Chickpea Skordalia, Grilled Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. 

    What veggies are in season this spring? Print out our handy list of spring seasonal veggies and hang it on your fridge!

     

    5 Easy and Versatile Veggies to Grow in Your Own Home Garden

     

    Crisp, sweet carrots, snapping peas out of their shells, pulling firm, dark red beets out of the garden…growing your own veggies is not only fun and relaxing, but it’s also an amazing way to diversify and supercharge your diet with wholesome nutrition, stay active and get some vitamin D. No wonder why gardening is considered a natural stress reliever!

    Although the thought of growing your own veggies can be overwhelming, there are some veggies that are super easy to grow, as well as being productive as crops, versatile to use, healthy to eat and great tasting! Plus, you’re more likely to eat more vegetables if they are easily accessible to you, and it’s really fun to share and cook with healthy food that has been nurtured by your own efforts! 

    Here are 5 top picks for the best veggies to grow at home:

    1. LETTUCE – Lettuce is super easy to grow (and actually quite hard to get rid of!), high in nutrients, low in calories and really hydrating, due to its high water content. Lettuce is one of those foods that you don’t notice in a dish until it’s not there, like in an egg and lettuce sandwich, or shredded lettuce in tacos. Lettuce seems to just make a dish 10 times better.

    2. CARROTS – Carrots have a huge temperature growing range which means they can be grown in many climates all year round. They’re also really productive and can be producing for months after you plant them. Being quite a dense vegetable, even just a few standard size ones or small varieties are enough to feed the whole family for dinner. There’s a reason why people promote carrots for better eye sight – carrots contain the antioxidants lutein and beta carotene which are known for their eye health benefits!

    3. CABBAGE – Cabbages are such a diverse veggie, they can be preserved and pickled to have in salads or sandwiches, made into slaw, or added into stir-fries for a crunchy element. They’re also really good for you. A study conducted in Western Australia with 900 women over the age of 70 found that eating three or more portions of veggies per day (a combination of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts) lowered the participants risk of heart disease and stroke. Mini cabbages are quick to grow from seed and harvest and can go a long way in a delicious preserve such as sauerkraut.

    4. BEETS – A known “superfood”, beets are packed with vitamins and minerals, high in fibre, low in fat and low in calories. They’re also super easy to grow and you can even eat the tops of the beets – the beet leaves, which are just a regular leafy vegetable. This makes them a really versatile and productive option to grow in your home garden.

    5. ONIONS – There have been heaps of scientific studies looking into the health benefits of onions, with findings showing benefits with regulating blood sugar, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut, boosting the immune system and the list goes on! Onions are a pretty hearty crop to grow, with varieties to suit all climates. If you’re short on space, try growing some spring onions, which can grow just about anywhere.

    TOP TIP: No space for a home garden? Regrow the spring onions you buy from the supermarket by placing the white stems in a glass of water. Place the glass near a sunny window and wait for the magic to happen!

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma