It’s so much easier to stick to my diet this time of year because the fruit and veggies are in season, inexpensive and all look so good! Obviously, when food looks good, it’s easy to get excited about it and whether it be ethical, environmental, economic or nutritional there are always more reasons to up your vegetable intake.
The food guides vary a little on the exact amount of fruit and vegetables we need daily. The ball park is 5-8 servings, which sounds like a lot but a serving is roughly one medium fruit or half a cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetables. Anyway, I suspect it’s pretty hard to have an excess amount of veg in your diet and there is so much more to the vegetable world than salad. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salad but there is only so much lettuce a person can eat in a week before it gets a little boring and my point is that there is an endless variety and lots to discuss, so I’m starting a new feature here and jumping on the meatless Monday bandwagon.
I’m (rather shamelessly) going to kick things off with more bragging about my little garden. Honestly, if you want to get excited about vegetables, try growing some yourself. I’m not being cheeky when I say that either. It’s a surprisingly consuming hobby with a pretty steep learning curve. Watering will never leave your mind, you’ll find yourself wondering if they’re OK in a storm and when one dies it’s really disappointing.
A few of my herbs have completely given up, others are barely clinging to life and only a few are thriving. My Dill, Cilantro and Tomatoes are doing well and I actually got to use some of my Basil on Friday. That was the first time I’ve ever eaten anything I grew myself, which was pretty exciting, and fresh cut Basil smells AMAZING! I have bought packaged fresh herbs at the grocery store in the past but the difference is still really substantial.
Outside of bragging rights, I chose herbs for the first meatless Monday after doing a bit of reading on the nutritional value of herbs and spices. I knew a lot of them were high in things like iron (parsley) and antioxidants (garlic) but I had no idea how beneficial and vastly underrated so many of the ones we use every day really are.
Common herbs and spices used in everyday cooking, such as black pepper, chili powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, basil, coriander and parsley, contain nutritious vitamins and minerals. Almost all spices and herbs provide calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, in addition to vitamins C, A, E and B as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B-6 and folate.
Five basil leaves provide 3 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin A; 1 tbsp. of crumbled bay leaf provides 4 percent DV for iron and 2 percent DV for vitamin A; 1 tbsp. of saffron provides 3 percent DV for vitamin C and 1 tsp. of oregano leaves provides 2 percent DV for calcium and iron.
This inspired me and I ended up buying some more starter-stuff and another 75 seed pods are currently incubating in my kitchen window. Hopefully they’ll keep me in fresh herbs for the winter. Yum Yum Yum!