Berries • Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries require little maintenance and produce year after year. And nutritionally, they are hard to beat. They are low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants. Regular berries purchased at the grocery store have high pesticide residues, according to studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group. By growing your own or buying organic you can avoid the problem.
Greens • Chard, kale, collard greens and spinach are high in vitamins such as C, K and A as well as fiber, potassium and calcium. These plants also are a colorful addition to your garden. They are hardy, too, so you can plant them when the temperatures are still rather low. Not sure how to cook these greens? Use kale, chard and spinach in place of lettuce in a salad. You may find it gives you longer-lasting energy.
Celery • Loaded with vitamin C and vitamin K, celery deserves a higher status than relish trays and cocktail garnishes. It has long been used by practitioners in China to treat high blood pressure and inflammation. Use it in smoothies, stir-fries and salads. Commercial celery is the second-most contaminated vegetable behind apples and just ahead of strawberries when tested for pesticides. So once again it's good to grow your own or buy organic.
Oregano • Herbs never get the nutritional credit they deserve. This is particularly true with oregano, which is high in vitamin K, fiber and manganese. And it has antibacterial properties, which is why oil of oregano is a common item on health-food store shelves. It's also easy to grow in a garden or pot.
Sprouts • I'm cheating a bit, because sprouts and microgreens don't necessarily have to go in a garden. Affordable growing kits are available at most health-food stores, which means you can grow them year-round inside. For their little size, these tiny shoots are high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and they make wonderful additions to salads, stir-fries and eggs.
Start growing some on your windowsill now. It will be good practice for planting your garden later this spring.
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. Email her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com.