Quick Recipes and Easy

Grow Your Own Food; Find Health and Fitness in the Garden!

This week there has been much excitement in our household; we picked our own vegetables and ate them for the first time; ok so it was only a bunch of salad leaves, but they whipped the pants off salad in a bag from the shops. What’s more, I only started to grow things a few weeks ago, but have still eaten salad from the garden three nights running. I started by clearing a messy flowerbed, and bought some runner bean plants and a couple of tomato plants from a local gardening shop. I though that this would satisfy my botanical cravings, but then my mum gave me some seeds, and baby lettuce plants, and suddenly it was looking a small more like a real veggie patch.

Before I knew it, I had run out of space, so I used some ancient wooden fruit crates from the green grocers, lined them with a compost sack, and filled them with earth; now they are housing my herbs, pepper plants and some Borlotti Beans. The small kitchen garden has taken on a life of its own and went out of the flowerbeds and into every container that I can find. There are runner beans, peas, black turtle beans, borlotti beans, red peppers, chili peppers, basil, parsley, chard, lettuce, spicy mizuna and other hot leaves, 2 varieties of rocket, parsley, tomatoes, small Alpine strawberries for the children, and courgette plants in huge pots.

I have really been enjoying my time in the garden; I burnt a excellent few calories turning over the flower beds, and digging out some stubborn ancient roots, have spent some gorgeous hours in the sunshine, and watering my small plants in the evening is less of a chore, and more a time for relaxation and contemplation. The children have been very excited about the vegetables, and spend pleased moments watering or collecting snails in a bucket (to be relocated). There has been fantastic anticipation waiting for the tiny strawberries to ripen, and searching under the leaves to find them.

If you have any space at all, you can rediscover your link with real food by growing something. There is still time to throw some lettuce and rocket seeds into a pot, or pick up some young plants to grow-on. You can place runner beans in a pot, supported by a wig-wam of canes, or grow some chili peppers on a kitchen window. If you have a spare pot, buy some salad leaf mix, the young plants grow quickly and you will be picking your own summer salad within the month. I cannot recommend the experience highly enough; growing your own food is fantastic exercise, the process is educational for children, and the end results give satisfaction and superior nourishment. There is a different time scale in the garden; nothing happens immediately, and you are forced to slow down and relax the pace of life, something we could all benefit from; the complete opposite of quick food.

The crowning glory has been collecting things to wash and place straight onto the plate, so here was my dinner last night to give you some inspiration:

Roasted Vegetable Bruchetta with garden salad:

Roughly cut some onions (red and white) and some sweet pointed red peppers, and roast for about 30-40 minutes in a small olive oil, salt, pepper and any herbs (I like thyme).

Toast some bread (I used home made white) and when it has cooled, rub with a peeled garlic clove (I use the whole thing, but I really like garlic) and drizzle some olive oil over the top.

Pile the roasted vegetables onto the garlicy toast, and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

Serve with lots of leafy salad and rocket from the garden, and some sliced tomatoes; a perfect summer dinner.

Vikki Scovell BA(hons) PG DIP is a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. She is a qualified Nutrition Adviser and runs successful Community Exercise classes. Vikki is a consultant in Healthy Eating and Exercise initiatives to schools in the independent sector and publishes School and General Healthy Living newsletters. Vikki lives in Bristol in the U.K. with her partner Jeremy and two young children.

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