Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Get Kids to Love Their Veggies

Below is a short excerpt from my "How to Grow Potatoes" booklet, which is available on Amazon. From what I've seen, kids will eat a lot more veggies and fruits (not just potatoes) if you get them involved in growing some of their own organic food. Carrots, tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, blueberries, and fruit are other examples of fresh foods that my kids love to pick and eat from the home garden.

Kids love picking potatoes. Finding those white, gold, purple, and red tubers in the soil is like uncovering buried treasure. If you cannot get your kids to eat their vegetables, try involving them in the garden (even if it’s just one container on your doorstep). When kids see where their food comes from and share in the excitement of harvesting it, everything changes. They become far more likely to eat and enjoy their veggies (okay, not all their veggies, but more than before).

Many vegetables in our garden (cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, and tomatoes) never even make it into the kitchen. Kids eat them on the spot. This does not hold true with spuds, which are cooked before eating, but they’re quite the popular item after that. One of our kids loves potatoes and the other one doesn’t, but both are eager to eat them once reminded that “these are the potatoes you picked.”  It makes a huge difference.

Do not rely on my opinion alone. Read an article entitled, “Children Eat More Fruits and Vegetables If They Are Homegrown”, in Science Daily. The article reported on a study at Saint Louis University. The study provided clear evidence that kids who eat homegrown produce are twice as likely to eat their fruits and veggies every day. This is, most likely, a lifetime benefit.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free E-book This Saturday

Free E-book This Saturday: How to Sprout Raw Food

I recently finished work on my latest e-book, entitled How to Sprout Raw Food: Grow an Indoor Organic Garden with Wheatgrass, Bean Sprouts, Grain Sprouts, Microgreens, and More. This book will be offered as a FREE download this Saturday, August 18. Just click on the link above or check Amazon's Kindle Store. 

In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the section covering sunflower sprouts:

Sunflower (2-3 days for sprouted seeds, 5-6 days for young sprouts, 10-12 days for microgreens)

Sunflower sprouts are some of my favorites. They have a rich, nutty flavor and crisp texture that makes for very tasty eating. They go well on sandwiches or in salads, they can be juiced, or they can be eaten plain. Sunflower seeds and their sprouts are high in protein, minerals, and vitamins A, B group, D, and E.

You can eat these at virtually any stage of growth. Of course, you’ll need to eat them before they become six foot tall sunflower plants in your garden! If you start with hulled sunflower seeds, you can sprout them for a couple of days to get sprouted sunflower seeds with little tails. Beyond this stage, you will need to grow sunflower seeds in a tray filled with soil or growing medium, because they shoot up quickly and they need the nutrition and physical support of soil. Sunflower seeds will not perform well in most sprouting devices.

Tender young sprouts can be harvested in five days or so or you can wait until 10 days of age for full-fledged microgreens. If you’re growing them for vegetative sprouts, you can use seeds in the shell rather than hulled seeds. Just sprinkle them on top of wet soil or growing medium, keep them moist, and they will grow.

The sunflowers people normally grow in home gardens produce black-and-white striped sunflower seeds, the kind they sell as a salted snack at baseball games. Another kind, called black oil sunflower seeds, also produces great sprouts and microgreens. If you have pet birds, you may have seen black oil sunflower seeds before; they’re a little bit smaller than stripeys and jet black in color. I often feed them to my backyard chickens as a treat.

Unfortunately, not all your seeds will sprout. It can be very difficult to find fresh sunflower seed that germinates at anywhere close to 100%. Keep trying different seed suppliers until you find one with seeds that sprout well. Where sunflower seeds are concerned, I have found the cheap bulk bins at my local health food store to have fresher raw, organic sunflower seeds than any of the specialty suppliers of sprouting seed.