‘Tis the season for truck loads of pumpkins.
I know most kids tend to think about only carving pumpkins, but don’t forget pumpkins are a vegetable too! They are totally edible! To prove my point we’re making
Once the fries are cut, throw them into a plastic zipper bag or bowl and mix them up with olive oil and salt. Place them onto a cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Once they start turning brown, it’s time to pull the fries out of the oven and let them cool for a couple minutes.
As soon as my daughter took a bite she declared that her “taste buds were doing cartwheels!” I’ll take that food review any day!
We’re also created the traditional pumpkin pies and mashed pumpkin but these fries are our favorite!
Nutritional note: raw pumpkin only has 15 calories per ½ cup and is full of iron, zinc and fiber!
Here is my list of the twelve quick growing veggies that I recommend for an easy and fast harvest.
1. SPINACH: The tasty dark leaves definitely help our muscles build. They are good in salad, sandwiches and even heated up with mushrooms. You can harvest spinach leaves at their baby stage in as little as 30 days. Tear off a leaf and more grow!
2. KALE: Different varieties have different growing periods. Be sure to read the label and find the ones that can be harvested in 30 days. Add kale to a smoothie or salad. One of our favorite variety’s is the Blue Curled Kale!
3. BOK CHOY: We love growing bok choy, although I think it’s because we love chanting it more than growing it. It grows super-fast and is ready to throw into salads or stir fry's in 30 days no problem!
4. Arugula: This leaf lettuce is a bit on the spicier side. It grows to full size in 30 days. Just be sure to cut the outer leaves first. Use a ruler to measure the 2 inch leaves and cut those.
5. Romaine: These leaves are hearty and grow tall fast. At 30 days, pick the leaf and wrap it around your favorite sandwich meat or just wrap it into a horn and play a tune. (Huh? I know it’s silly but it’s fun and a great way to learn more about sound waves! It tickles your lips!)
6. Watercress: This is easy to plant. Just toss seeds onto the soil and watch it sprout. Don’t overwater and don’t cover with soil. It grows as fast as weeds, and kind of looks like them too. Freshly picked, it adds a bit of crunch to your snack.
7. Batavia: There are several varieties so look for the ones with the quick harvest time. This is also a lettuce that likes warmer weather but since we’re in Southern CA we can get away with it because we still have some hot days speckled in.
8. Butter Lettuce: This crisp-head lettuce leaves form a small ball as it grows, although it’s much less compact than iceburg lettuce. Butter lettuce has a texture that simply “melts in your mouth like butter,” said one of my 4th grade students recently.
9. Radish: Always a favorite for any family garden because it sprouts up fast all year long. In the summer it tends to be more peppery in flavor than winter. Try it and keep a log about the taste to compare the two seasons.
10. Green Onions: They look like green pencils standing tall at about 30 days. You can start pulling them out any time. The flavor gets bolder the longer you keep it in the soil.
11. Mustard Greens: I honestly do not like the peppery taste of this foliage and find it quite funny to have the kids taste it. It’s great to have just so kids can start to develop the sense of different tastes. Who knows…maybe your kids will like it mixed in with the sweeter lettuce. It definitely sprouts fast and is fun to watch.
12. Turnips: Did you know you can grow turnips for both the roots and greens? In 30 days the root is not developed but he baby leaves are ready to harvest and eat. They taste a bit like spinach. Just cut the outside leaves and leave the center ones attached to the root. 30 days later you can pick the entire plant!
I am a firm believer that if kids grow it they will eat it.
However, it’s still fun to find “sneaky” ways to disguise vegetables into tasty treats. A healthy dose of carrot cupcakes is always a fun way to use the root vegetables and actually a common cake flavor today. However, topping it with a tomato frosting is a bit shocking and surprisingly yummy!
Try serving the carrot cupcake with tomato frosting as a side dish at dinner and surprise them when you tell them it’s their side of vegetables. Of course, I would also include the raw versions of the vegetables on the plate too and ask them to compare and contrast the flavor profiles between them. But that’s me!!!
A great warm-weather plant to have in the garden is zucchini. For kids the big leaves, thick stems and bright yellow flowers are always interesting. Zucchini is a squash vegetable and like my friends, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. But like the other vining plants, zucchini plants are garden space hogs. They have huge leaves and love to stretch their vines.
If you don’t have a big area to plant zucchini, then try to find a bush type of zucchini. I’ve planted one called Gold Rush and it worked great because it grows into a small bush and still has a lot of yummy zucchini. The skin is actually a gold color rather than green like other zucchini. It’s even small enough that you could grow it in a pot. Cool huh?
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