Those of us that are avid gardeners know that summer days mean fresh vegetables, sunshine and plenty to do at harvest-time. Many of us begin dreaming of our gardens as early as January. While it is cold and blustery outside, we spend time in front of a crackling fire flipping through gardening magazines envisioning our little seedlings raising their heads to the gleaming sun. We can hardly wait to get our hands in the soil and start planting.
As summer nears, we purchase our seeds, and plants, record our plans on paper, and rotate crops to protect against disease. Tilling and preparing the soil is work but we endure it for the promise of the new life it will soon bring. Planting is the easy part! The hard work is in the planning, preparing the soil and harvesting.
We happily water, feed, nurture and care for our little plants. As summer wears on, we simmer in the sun, sweating away the hours, counting down the days when we get to eat our first ripe tomato. And when it is finally time to harvest, we drop everything in order to get the green beans snapped, and tomatoes ready for the pressure canner.
Ahh...the first taste of summer corn, and fresh green salad or stuffed green peppers makes all of the hard work worthwhile! And there is nothing like your first Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich! The freshness, wholesomeness and nutrition mean we are feeding our families well, and this is satisfying, right?
Are we really maximizing our nutrients from what we harvest? What if we could plan for more nutrition by planting foods of the highest nutrient content? What if we spent those hours in front of the winter fire researching which vegetables give us the most nutrients...the most bang for our buck?
Well, you can! I have been planning my garden and growing the best plants for the highest nutrient content for years. It is really not that hard to do, and it can enhance your health by leaps and bounds. You and your family just might learn to enjoy different fruits and vegetables in the process!
What are these healthiest vegetables, you ask? There are hundreds of different fruits and vegetables that can be planted and harvested each summer in the garden. All have vital nutrients that feed our body, but some are stars in the garden! I will touch on the Top 10 Healthiest Vegetables (and fruits) in this article, and cover each in more detail at a later date. I will also discuss some of our old-time favorite vegetables we love in the garden and their health benefits!
Even though most of you probably have your gardens planted already, it is never too late to think about what you can still plant this summer and fall as you harvest and gain space. As I pull out old garden plants, I am always able to tuck in a young spinach or broccoli plant, to keep the vegetables coming all season. Of course, you will need to check the days to harvest and time it with your first frost, but most plants can be planted the first of August for a fall harvest.
According to my research, as well as my own gardening and nutrition experience, the following 10 vegetables give us the most nutrition for our money and time! They are well worth the effort and should be considered when planning your garden.
Top 10 Healthiest Foods to Grow This Summer!
1. Amaranth – good for eyesight and bones
2. Broccoli – high in antioxidants that fight cancer
3. Soybeans – protein and phytoestrogens
4. Collards/Kale – high in calcium, bone health
5. Cowpeas/Black-eyed Peas – protein, iron and folate
6. Parsley – contains almost all vitamins and minerals needed by the body
7. Dandelion Greens – calcium and Vitamin A
9. Watermelon – Vitamin C, potassium, iron
10. Garlic/Onions/Turmeric – anti-inflammatory, fights colds/viruses, blood pressure
So, do you have to garden to get the benefits of these super nutritious vegetables? Gardening has many benefits, from fresh, local, pesticide free produce to spending outside getting Vitamin D. But, you can purchase these vegetables from your grocery store, or better yet, at your local farmers' market, and still receive many of the health benefits.
I will be writing a series over the next few weeks, in which I give more details about some of the above vegetables, as well as some of the more popular, standard garden vegetables. Delicious and nutritious recipes using these vegetables can be found on my website So, stay tuned!
From the book, Gardening for Maximum Nutrition, by Jerry Minnich
From Alyssa Jung from the book Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal
Healthiest Vegetables, Dr. Mercola
As an FDN-P, she helps men and women age gracefully and beautifully by getting to the root cause of belly fat, energy loss, hormone and mineral imbalance. She strongly believes that mineral imbalance is the root cause of most chronic symptoms and disease today. Using functional lab testing, food and lifestyle changes, one can overcome most diseases naturally without medication. And she teaches others how to grow their own food to help balance minerals in one's daily food and lifestyle.