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Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth and are an essential part of a healthy diet.  Not only do greens provide natural sources of vitamins and minerals, they are high in fiber, contain the perfect amount of protein, and have an alkalizing effect in our bodies thereby limiting the growth of yeast, cancer, viruses, and bacteria.  One of our favorite ways to eat greens is in a green smoothie.  (If drinking a green smoothie isn’t one of your “healthy habits,” join us at our green smoothie class May 15th—click here for more information!)  The good news is that greens are easy to grow in your garden.  Here are some of our favorite greens to put in the garden and why you might want to do the same.

Spinach

Spinach is very easy to grow and regenerates rapidly after being harvested.  The only disadvantage to spinach is it “bolts” (goes to seed) when the weather gets hot, so plant it early to enjoy it all spring.  Replant in the fall for a second harvest.  Spinach has at least 13 anti-cancer compounds and has been linked to prevention of arthritis, asthma, osteoporosis, and heart disease.

Chard

Chard is very easy to grow, has a very mild flavor, regenerates after being cut, and unlike spinach, does not “bolt” in hot weather.  Chard can also be planted early in the spring and will continue to produce into late fall.   Chard has many of the same nutrients as spinach, and its high fiber content is beneficial to those prone to cardiovascular disease.  Chard is very high in vitamin K and beta-carotene.

Beets

Not only are beets easy to grow, but they are a nice choice because you can eat both the leaves and the bulb.  The leaves are very high in iron, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium, and make a wonderful addition to your green smoothie.  The juice of the beet is excellent for cleansing and supporting the kidneys and gallbladder, and the fibrous root is good for normalizing digestion and elimination.  In fact, the betacyanin which gives the root its red color provides powerful protection against colon cancer.

Romaine Lettuce

Summertime is a wonderful time to enjoy fresh salads, and at our house, plenty of romaine lettuce is a staple!  While iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value, romaine is full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and molybdenum and has been identified as a “heart healthy” green.  To be honest, this year is the first year we will be planting romaine in our garden, but we have spoken with others who have had great success growing their own romaine in this area, and we are excited to try it!