I’ve loved getting emails from people saying they’ve started to grow veg during lockdown. Time spent with living plants is good for you and your efforts are rewarded with the amazing taste and superior nutrition of home-grown.
My favourite gardening programme, The Beechgrove Garden, had this handy idea.
When you have nearly finished a head of celery, cut the last few stems, leaving about 3” (10cm). Pop in a glass of water on the windowsill for 2 or 3 weeks until you can see roots growing, then plant in the garden. Here’s what you get!!!
On a smaller scale, herbs have health benefits and add wonderful flavours to your cooking. You can grow them in the garden, in pots outside or even on the windowsill in your kitchen. If you don’t want to start from seed, you can buy herbs in pots at the supermarket, harvest some to freeze then plant out the rest to keep on growing.
Sprouted seeds and beans are salad as fresh as fresh can be and eaten raw they pack a powerful enzyme punch. Grow them on your worktop in sprouting trays – they don’t even need soil. This video shows you how.
Spring is nearly here and doesn’t it lift your spirits to see flowers appear? Some of you will be making preparations to grow this year’s vegetables. It’s wonderful to eat them fresh the same day you picked them when all the vitamins and enzymes are at their maximum. Not everyone has a garden or allotment but something we can all do is sprout seeds and beans on the kitchen worktop.
You’ll need some sprouting trays with slots in (buy from a health food shop or on line), thenchoose what to grow. Mung beans and green lentils are readily available in most supermarkets, very easy to sprout and only take 3 days to grow. Alfalfa seeds are my favourite but few shops stock them so I buy them on line. Then there are radish seeds which have a real flavour kick, chickpeas, broccoli seeds which are high in sulforaphane (being studied for potential cancer protective effects) and lots more.
Mung and Alfalfa
Soak your seeds/beans in a glass of water for 4-8h depending on their size. Rinse and put into your trays in an even layer about one seed/bean thick. Each morning and evening, rinse the sprouts thoroughly under running water, then tip the trays to drain away any excess so that the sprouts are not sitting in water. When they’re ready, harvest them with a fork; they’ll keep in the fridge in a container for a few days. Give your trays a thorough clean with a brush and they’re ready to start growing the next batch. (Step-by-step sprouting video under my superfood series.)
Eat sprouts raw so that you keep the goodness. They’re good on salad or with breakfast or as a snack.
The Eat Well Gang got together in November for a special Jackie’s Gee Up, led by Paul Heslop, juicing enthusiast. Since doing the Eat for a Better Life course, juicing has been a regular activity in the Heslop household and they’ve reaped the benefits in great health. See Paul’s testimonial video here.
You can juice many fruits and vegetables. For health, it’s best to concentrate on veg with just a little fruit to take away the bitter taste. Wheatgrass featured prominently on our night and was combined with vegetables and fruits giving a range of flavours. See Paul in action on the videos page under superfoods.
In the New Year, I’ll be challenging my readers to make green juices. Christmas is coming soon, so if you don’t have a juicer perhaps some kind person might buy one for you as a present.
The long dark nights, wind and rain confirm that we are heading into winter. All around me, people are coming down with coughs and colds. In spite of their generosity in sharing – I don’t want one! Do you?
Did you know that most of your immune system is in your gut? Your susceptibility to disease can be affected by what you eat and drink. So when my husband came down with a cold, I reached for echinacea, wheatgrass and vegetable juices and coconut oil. Then I cooked up some of James Wong’s special chicken soup for colds including garlic, ginger, chillies. Effective and delicious.
To strengthen your immune system, eat more:
Oily fish and eggs for vitamin D. Among its many health benefits, vitamin D primes our T cells. Your skin makes it for you in the summer sunshine but I live far too far north to make much at this time of year so I take it as a seasonal supplement.
Vegetables – they give you lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants plus fibre to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
Coconut oil – has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Live natural yoghurt and fermented vegetables repopulate your good bacteria.
Sugar – it feeds bad bacteria, unbalancing your system.
Processed food – you want your body to fight infection, not use all its energy fighting bad food.
Eat right for your metabolic type (I can test if you don’t know)
Get lots of sleep to make the powerful anti-oxidant melatonin.
Exercise, especially out in the fresh air (but not vigorously once you have a cold).
As you know by now, I’m keen for people to eat the way nature intended – of which more next month. But this time I’m going against that philosophy to tell you about something we were definitely not designed to eat. Why? The nutrient levels in our food have reduced and with the way that we live nowadays, it can be good to treat our bodies to a bit of a boost.
There are several ‘Super-foods’ we can eat to fill the nutritional gap and for me the king of them all is wheatgrass juice. I call it liquid gold (actually it isn’t gold, it’s bright green!) Full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and chlorophyll, each 2oz shot packs a mighty punch. When I drink it regularly, I feel more alive. It’s as if my brightness control has been turned up.
I haven’t come across any juice bars where I live, so how do you get some? I think it’s best fresh so I prefer to grow my own wheatgrass and juice it myself.
If you don’t fancy the faff of the DIY route, there are companies that sell it in different forms. Some supply the juice frozen in little pots, others sell it pressure treated in pouches which don’t need to be kept cold. There are also dried powders and pills but you’re unlikely to get the full enzyme benefit from these.
Is there any downside to this wonder drink? Sadly, it tastes awful! We don’t have the digestive machinery to eat grass so we naturally dislike the taste. Juicing is a cunning way to squeeze out the goodness and leave the cellulose behind in the pulp. I add other vegetables and fruits to the juice to make it more palatable.
If you want to know more, visit the wheatgrass page on this website and watch the video of Paul creating a delicious ‘salad in a glass’.
Top tip: Treat yourself to a super-food boost with wheatgrass juice.