Spring has rounded the post-Easter corner, shrinking the distance between our bare toes and the summer earth just a wee bit more. Whether our feet will be dipping into sandy beaches or the tickly blades of backyard grass, make no mistake, socks; we need not see you until September! And hopefully our unfettered toes will meet our thumbs in a bountiful spring garden.
Eating lots of green foods is sure to keep all of your thumbs and toes that perfectly awesome shade of emerald, and growing your own has less of an impact on the earth, and your wallet.
Hopefully you are already growing plenty of leafy green lettuces such as crispy romaine, spicy arugula and that peppery-sweet watercress. They are easy to grow, super tasty and versatile, too. Nothing says spring like fresh and healthy homegrown lettuces. Besides, who wants lettuce that's been sitting on a truck from Mexico for days anyway?
Hardier greens like cabbage and kale are so full of vitamins and minerals, there's really nothing better for you. They make wonderful juices, sautés and salads. And the healthier you are, the easier it is to take care of your garden!
Broccoli, cauliflower or its spiked cousin, the romanescu, is full of phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Steamed or raw, there are an endless number of uses for these tree like cruciferous veggies. The fun shapes are also great for getting kids excited about the benefits of plant foods and gardening, too.
Snap peas and green beans are quintessential backyard garden greens. Nothing is sweeter than eating a ripe bean right off the stalk. So delish! While that's definitely the best way to eat them, you can also stir fry or steam them. I love slow cooking Turkish style green beans with tomatoes, a little lemon juice and lots of olive oil. Serve warm or cold for a tasty and healthy slow food meal.
Zucchini is also one of the best green garden veggies (though actually a fruit). They can grow so big you might need help getting them to the kitchen! But it's worth it when they get nice and ever-so-soft after cooking. Stuff 'em, just like you would a poblano or green bell pepper, or a green tomato (all of which you can grow this season too).
And remember the garnish! Herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, sage, oregano and mint—they're all green, garden friendly and oh-so good for you. They'll even grow inside, which can help to keep your green bounty growing during the winter months when your toes are tucked away in woolen socks. But thankfully your thumbs will still be fast at work keeping things healthy.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Photo: Jill Ettinger