Firstly, we should note that superfoods don’t necessarily have to be whittled down to something that is elusive, expensive, and exotic. While ancient “grains,” the quinoas and amaranths of the world, are amazing, they aren’t the only superfoods. Neither do they all have to be in powder form as with spirulina and moringa. Nor do they have to be from the sea (kelp) or tropics (cacao.) In reality, they can be from the backyard.
Superfoods, depending on who is unofficially denoting the term, is merely a word we’ve come to use in congruence with something that’s exceptionally nutritious. In that sense, any region will have a cornucopia of superfoods at the buffet. Thus, the trick to a healthy life and diet (at a reasonable price, no less) might be to grow what superfoods can be grown at home.
Not only do the following foods have supreme nutritive value, but also, if grown in the garden, they can be eaten fresh and at the height of their power. That’ll be good for the gardeners who are eating them and, in terms of food miles, much better for the planet.
1. Dark Greens
Greens, though ridiculously commonplace, make it on just about every list of foods that are a good source of something. They are wildly nutritious, and in the temperate climate, they are easy to grow, a prime choice for beginning gardeners. In some form or fashion, there is also a green well-suited for growing any time of year, including the depths of winter. Try kale, chard, arugula, mustard greens, bok choy, collards, spinach, lettuces, beets, and many, many more.
In terms of homegrown food, tomatoes probably rank as the favorite. The reason is because the mass-produced tomatoes we get nowadays actually aren’t the same — they come from either hydroponic grow beds or depleted soils. This makes for a less flavorsome and a less nutritious tomato. Instead, we should grow those delicious heirlooms at home and get bonus vitamins to boot.
Winter squashes and pumpkins make for some wonderfully cozy dishes when we need them the most, and they also store well over winter and deliver the right kind of nutrients to help our bodies survive frostier times. Plus, they come with the bonus of having seeds that warrant another slot in the list of grow-your-own superfoods.
Broccoli is a cold-weather crop, which makes it a nice addition to the garden. Summertime typically delivers a lot of easy-to-reach fresh produce, whereas colder temperatures lessens the availability of stuff. Broccoli, though, can survive the winter and keep on giving incredibly healthful food. It’s possible to harvest a head, leave the plant in place, and come back for more florets later.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very easy to grow, and they are absolutely delicious. They like the heat, but they store well over winter. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and they even supply something for the sweet tooth that is perfectly legit as a health food. Plus, as a bonus, the leaves of the sweet potato plant are also edible and work well subbed in for spinach.
There is a reason “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a commonplace adage — apples are really nutritious. Of course, these grow on trees, so they’ll take a little longer to provide food. But, it’s an investment of time worth making. One apple tree will eventually supply more apples than a typical person will eat in a year, not to mention the fact that, once the tree is up, it’ll be there for much of that person’s life.
Blueberries are perhaps the classic superfood. They’ve been a favorite of nutritionists for years. They are especially good for the brain and supply a wallop of antioxidants. A nice thing about blueberries is that they grow in extremely acidic soil, such as found around forests, where many other crop plants cannot hack it. And, like apple trees, they are a perennial source of food, so they won’t have to be planted again and again. In reality, strawberries and other berries are worthy of being on this list as well.
Figs are often overlooked because we can’t so readily get them fresh. Fresh figs don’t have much of a shelf-life. However, they are delicious and nutritious when dried too. Though they might not be viable for the northern reaches of the US, there are cold-hardy varieties that will survive into USDA Zone 5. Figs aren’t particularly demanding, and they are another perennial source of superfood nutrition.
9. Herbs and Spices
In general, fresh herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants and medicinal compounds that make them honorary superfoods, capable of delivering a lot of benefit without being a huge source of calories. Garlic is the best suited for growing in temperate climates, but ginger and turmeric are possible to grow indoors. There are lots of culinary herbs that work well, like rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, sage, and so on. All of these are great symbiotic plants for the garden as well.
It doesn’t take much knowledge or imagination to recognize that a garden full of these superfoods would go a long way in keeping a person healthy. What’s more is there is such a diversity for the menu — hearty staples like sweet potatoes, squashes, and apples, roughage from the greens, desserts with berries and figs, and flavor from the herbs and spices. That sounds like a super garden in more ways than one.
Lead Image Source: Pixabay