I made it almost whole life without ever tasting a Brussel sprout until a recent trip to meet up with a farmer who grows the little green balls! (He actually grows some of them to be used on Rose Parade floats which is really exciting and something I’ll share with you as the event gets closer.
I am lucky to be the producer of HGTVs coverage…but that’s another blog series!) This is about these gross little green things that have made me gag my entire life. I hated them so much when I was younger that I would choose to lose my dessert for not only a day but a week to avoid eating a single Brussel sprout.
However I was forced to rethink my dislike of them when the farmer handed me one and said take a bite. It was fresh straight from the stalk. Instead of eating them cooked with a bunch of butter or oil, I took a bite of one while I was in the garden and I’m happy to report it was YUMMY! It tasted a bit like cabbage. It was another reminder to live by what I preach to my kids. “Even if you don’t like it now, you might like it later!”
Brussel sprouts are the strangest looking vegetables I’ve ever seen in the garden. They like cool weather and do better in areas where the summers are not long, hot and dry. The stem of the plant grows little tiny cabbage looking heads which is the actual vegetable. This is a really great thing to grow with children because there are so many imaginative worlds and stories that can be inspired by the crazy looking stalks.
The trick to a good tasting Brussel sprout is making sure you pick them at just the right time. If you pick them too late they can taste bitter, which is probably why most people don’t like them. Look for Brussel sprouts that are about one inch in size. That’s almost the same size as a nickel or small paperclip! Be sure to harvest at the base of the stem first and work your way up. Twist off the sprouts by hand!
‘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!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.