Types of Vegetables for Every Garden

picture of swiss chard growing in the garden

Welcome to the vegetable garden guide, your one stop place for discovering great tips and tricks for growing a healthy vegetable garden.

Experienced gardeners often approach the task with a casualness gained over time. Beginning gardeners also need not worry. A few types of vegetables grow almost effortlessly in every garden. Basically, vegetable preferences and time investments influence most garden decisions. Salad popularity, for example, provides incentives for many back yard gardeners to think back yard salad gardens consisting of lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.

Garden investment time also varies from gardener to gardener. Some consider gardening as an experiential second thought, more akin to a task completed in a less than orderly manner. Other gardeners consider it a day to day, getting up at the crack of dawn activity.

The vegetable garden guide provides growing tips for a variety of vegetables suited for most climates. Press any button to get started, or read further about some basic vegetable nutrition and cooking information.

Vegetable Growing Tips

Vegetable Color and Nutrition

picture of a group of vine tomatoes ripening on the vine

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Did you know that vegetable color often provides great information about its nutritional status? For example, green power rules in the vegetable world. A general nutrition rule of thumb reminds us that greener is better.

Dark green vegetables such as bell peppers, spinach and broccoli offer higher concentrations of vitamins (especially vitamins A and C) and minerals (especially iron and calcium) than the other types of vegetables grouped according to nutrition standards. Green vegetables provide fiber to the diet.

Tomatoes and other deeply colored vegetables rank next in terms of nutrition.

Depending on how the story unfolds, starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn, often get a bad rap, based primarily on their higher carbohydrate content compared to other types of vegetables. In and of themselves, carbohydrates, especially the complex carbohydrates associated with starchy vegetables, are a necessary ingredient for a well balanced diet. While the vitamin and mineral content of starchy vegetables generally ranks below that of their non-starchy counterparts, they do provide some nutrition value.

Finally, celery, zucchini, iceberg lettuce, onions and other popular vegetables often get placed a catchall other category. While they do not contain the vitamin and mineral content of the green and orange vegetables, they are still an important source of nutrition. Because their taste and texture blends well with a variety of other foods, perhaps complimentary vegetables would be a better category name.

Microwaving Vegetables

picture of an artichoke growing in the garden

Since their arrival on the mass market some fifty years ago, microwave ovens have become an ubiquitous part of kitchens and break rooms around the world. They do everything from boiling water for a cup of java to preparing a full course meal for the family on the go.

Does microwaving vegetables harm their nutrient content? Put another way, does our need for speed harm our health? The short answer is yes and no. Consuming fresh vegetables, such as snap beans, straight from the vine, guarantees maximum nutritional benefits. In all other instances, vegetables lose some of their nutritional content.

The trick to preserving a vegetable's nutritional value starts by minimizing nutritional loss from vine to table. For example, freezing or canning vegetables immediately after picking them helps preserve much of their nutritional value.

Because boiling vegetables in water provides the vitamins in vegetables an escape route, steaming vegetables is always preferable to boiling them. Fresh corn on the cob roasted on a summer grill will be more nutritious than the same corn boiled in water.

The logic holds for microwaving vegetables. As long as the vegetables are not placed in a bowl of water prior to being placed in the microwave, microwaving vegetables can be a good way to minimize nutrition loss.

One good rule of thumb for microwaving vegetables starts by placing the vegetables in a bowl and lightly covering them with a dressing such as oil and vinegar or butter (or butter substitute. If using a plastic wrap as a steaming aider, insure that the plastic wrap does not touch the food. A quick three to five minute cooking under microwave power is usually sufficient to produce crist, but tender vegetables.

Five Fabulous Vegetable Recipes

picture of a zucchini ripening on the vine

Today represents the best time to get started on regularly serving vegetables during meal time and snack time. Raw, steamed, baked or fried, vegetables, an integral part of every diet, can be prepared as a side dish or stand-along meal. Click on one of the tabs to read more about any of these five fabulous vegetable recipes.

Couscous and Zucchini

Looking for some variety? Couscous provides a great substitute for you basic rice or potato meal.

Ingredients:

  • Couscous
  • Chopped zucchini
  • Your favorite ingredients

Directions:

The basic idea underlying this recipe is to bring some creativity to the dinner table.

Couscous, a traditional Middle-east grain, normally is steamed and served alone, or with a variety of ingredients.

Add some chopped zucchini and grapes for a sweet and sour taste.

Nuts are also fun topping for all who do not have nut allergies.

Tabouleh

Tabouleh, a Middle-eastern twist on the cold vegetarian salad, makes for an easy summer meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of bulgur wheat (No. 3 size)
  • 1 Cups of boiling water
  • 1 1/2 Cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 Cup fresh cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • dash of fresh parsley, chopped
  • dash of minced onions
  • 1 Tsp fresh chopped mint
  • pinch of cumin (optional)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preparation:

  1. Follow the directions on the wheat package and mix until there's a doughy texture.
  2. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onions, mint and cumin (optional) to the mix.
  3. Prepare the dressing, (salt and lemon juice in a separate bowl and add to the salad when ready to serve).
  4. For reasons of food safety, be sure to refrigerate the dish until ready to serve.

Seasonal Spinach Salad

Raw spinach, a good source of Vitamin A, with a touch of fiber and iron thrown in for good measure, more often than not, get processed into a spinach salad. Not known for dietary homogeneity, spinach enthusiasts continue to experiment with a core set of four ingredients, dairy, nuts, fruits and dressings, in their search for the outstanding spinach salad.

Eggs and cheese, always in season, provide protein options for the salad, improving its nutritional value. Adding a couple of slices of hard boiled eggs on top of some raw spinach and topping it with a favorite dressing provides a light protein and vitamin packed meal.

Nuts, another protein compliment for a spinach salad also provide additional fiber. Sprinkle some of chopped nuts on the fresh spinach leaves for a variation of the protein and vitamin meal.

Individuals who enjoy a sweet/sour approach to spinach salad need look no further than fruits as the perfect food compliment. Red strawberries on crisp green spinach makes for a very appealing color combination. Adding sliced pairs makes for less contrast in color and more contrast in texture.

Dressing the salad decisions also diverge, with some recipes suggesting fruit based or other light sweet dressing. Other recipes suggest using a heavier, cheese based dressing.

Italian Vegetable Bake

Preparing for a big family occasion? Why not bake some Italian vegetables to compliment any pasta dish.

  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lb fresh green beans, sliced
  • 1/2 lb fresh okra, cut into 1/2-inch pieces or
  • 3/4 C 1/2 10-oz pkg frozen okra
  • 3/4 C finely chopped green pepper
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1-1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Drain and coarsely chop tomatoes. Save liquid. Mix together tomatoes and reserved liquid, onion, green beans, okra, green pepper, lemon juice, and herbs. Cover and bake at 325o F for 15 minutes.

Mix in zucchini and eggplant and continue baking, covered, 60-70 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese just before serving. Yield: 18 servings --Serving Size: 1/2 cup

French White Bean Soup

For a consistent soup blend and color try to use only white color ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 2 chopped leeks (only the white parts
  • minced garlic to taste
  • one pound of white beans
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of evaoprated skim milk
  • 2 peeled and chopped potatoes
  • recommended herbs: pinch of thyme, parsley, white pepper and squirt of lemon juice

Directions:

  1. saute the onions, leeks and garlic
  2. Add the beans and potatoes, then add one-half of the vegetable broth and simmer for twenty minutes
  3. Puree the ingredients until there's a smooth texture
  4. Return the mixture to the original frying pan, add remaining broth and evaporated milk and warm
  5. Add the spices to taste

Serve Hot with some French Bread and enjoy.

© 2003-2016 Patricia A. Michaels




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