easiest vegetables to grow

Genes aside, it is a well known fact that exercise and diet are the keys to a long and healthy life. You may have already settled on your preferred exercise. However, whether it be bouncing around a badminton court, striding out along country lanes, enjoying the banter of Walking Football or rediscovering your youth on the netball court, without a good balanced diet, the benefits could easily be compromised.

The problem is that the healthiest foods do not seem to attract the same discounts in the supermarkets as the pizzas and the pastries. With food prices on the rise, a trend that is likely to continue, the cost of healthy eating can be a challenge. The answer, therefore, is grow your own. No matter how small your garden, there are opportunities to grow your own organic fruit and vegetables, keeping you well stocked in healthy food throughout the year, and at bargain prices.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best vegetables to grow and cook at home.

Best Vegetables to Grow at Home

Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain an outstanding amount of antioxidants, such as vitamin A, C, K, potassium and manganese, as well as fibre. They also help to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Tomatoes are particularly recommended for the prevention of prostate cancer. A regular intake of this fruit may give you healthier skin and hair as well.

Growing Tomatoes

Tomatoes are easy to cultivate all year round. They love sunlight, so the primary thing you need to consider when growing this fruit is the amount of time the plants will be exposed to the sun each day. If you plan to grow them indoors, where the sunlight can hardly reach, you’ll need to think of using some form of artificial lighting for at least 6 to 8 hours per day so that the plants will be able to grow well. You could start by seeding indoors then transplanting the seedlings into the outdoor garden. The soil should be well-drained, and have a pH level between 6 and 7.

You’ll need to implement a regular watering schedule, probably weekly and also fertilize the soil with high phosphorous organic manure. If you follow these basic requirements, your tomatoes should grow up healthily.

You’ll need to place stakes or trellises next to the plants to keep them from lying down and to keep the fruits off the ground. It takes around 60 days after transplanting for the fruits to form. You can harvest them when they are red and ripe. In case any mature fruits fall off the plant before ripening, you can pick them up and store them in a bag with a banana or an apple to help them ripen. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, rather than refrigerated, in order to preserve their flavour.

Cooking Tomatoes

Roasting – cherry tomatoes on the vine for dramatic presentation on your dinner plate. Simply set cherry tomatoes, with vine-attached, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in centre of oven at 400ºF (200ºC) until slightly tender. Serve warm alongside roasted chicken or fish.

Grilling – grill large pieces of naan bread, turning occasionally until grill marks form on both sides. Top with slices of tomatoes, preferably a mix of large yellow, orange, green and red. Drizzle with olive oil and crumble goat cheese over top. Sprinkle with snipped chives, salt and pepper. Slice into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.

Stir frying – Create a succulent vegetarian main course with juicy in-season plum tomatoes. Stir cooked couscous or rice with chopped olives, artichokes, feta cheese and chopped parsley and mint.

Baking – Seed and hollow out plum tomatoes. Stuff couscous mixture into tomatoes. Bake until tomatoes are tender and filling is warm. Drizzle with your favourite balsamic vinaigrette.
Braising – sauté sliced onion and peppers in a large frying pan until softened. Add tomato wedges. Continue cooking until softened. Bring to a gentle simmer. Crack eggs overtop. Cover and cook until eggs are done as you like. Serve over tortilla topped with shredded cheddar or mozzarella.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, copper, vitamin C and dietary fibre, so potatoes help to build healthy cells, lower blood pressure, support cardiovascular protection and improve athletic performance.

Growing Potatoes

You’ll should start with seed potatoes, which are potatoes with small buds on them. When these are exposed to the sunlight, they begin to sprout. While this is happening, prepare your soil. As a rooting plant, potatoes need lots of soil built up around their roots in order to produce a fruitful crop. You should dig 10cm trenches that are 30cms apart in a sunny position. The trenches should be laid with a layer of compost (or grass clippings, which can be collected after mowing with a bagging lawn mower). Well-drained soil with a pH level lower than 5.2 is required.

Using a sharp knife, cut off pieces of the seed potato. Each piece should have a green shoot. Plant the pieces along the trench, leaving the green shoot sticking out of the soil. Water the plants regularly, as consistent moisture is necessary. Once the plants are 15cms tall, build up the soil around the plant, which will help to prevent the potatoes from being directly exposed to the sun. Direct exposure to the sun makes them turn green and taste bitter. If you find any plants affected by pests, you should remove them immediately to prevent the infection from spreading.

After about 10 weeks of growing, your first potatoes should be ready for harvesting. You can dig them up and pick the mature ones, leaving the smaller tubers to continue to grow. Once the vines begin to fade and wilt, harvest them all. Remember not to wash them under water until you use them. A cool, dark place is best for storage. Don’t store them near apples or bananas, as the ethylene gas from these fruits may cause them to spoil.

Cooking Potatoes

Boiling – decide whether to boil the potatoes whole, quartered or diced. The boiling time will vary according to the cut of the potato: A large whole potato will take up to 40 minutes to boil, quartered (or halved) potatoes will take up to 20 minutes to boil and diced potatoes will take up to 12 minutes to boil.

Steaming – is an alternative to boiling potatoes, but may take longer. Only waxy potatoes should be used for steaming, as they’ll hold their shape best. Potatoes can be steamed peeled or unpeeled

Baking – Potatoes can be baked direct on the oven rack or placed inside a baking dish with a little cooking fat. Baked potatoes can also be wrapped in foil.

Microwaving – Not everyone likes to microwave their vegetables but it is a quick and easy method for preparing potatoes. As well as being fast, its energy efficient and it will preserve the colour of the potatoes nicely. It’s not suitable where you want the potatoes to brown though.

Mashed potatoes – are a staple addition to many meals. it’s not really a cooking method as such but it does complete the methods for preparing potatoes. Mashed potatoes don’t have to be bland––all sorts of delicious ingredients can be added to spice up the standard mashed potato, from spices and herbs to other mashed vegetables.

Stewing – cut potatoes into quarters or halves. Add to the stew or casserole you’re making at least an hour before the end of cooking time. The best cooking temperature is around 180ºC/350ºF.

Roasted – potatoes are a favourite winter food. While they often accompany roast meat, they can also form part of many other meals, including a vegetarian selection of roasted root vegetables.
Fried – can mean chips, fries, wedges, fried slices and more. This is delicious but calorie-laden way to enjoy potatoes on occasion. When people complain that potatoes make them fat, it’s usually because they’re frying them too often!

Carrots

Carrots provide a natural supply of vitamin A. They are especially rich in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant agent, therefore is said to help slow down aging, prevent cancer and promote healthier skin.

Growing Carrots

Spring and autumn are the best times for planting, because full sunlight conditions are ideal for carrot growth. You’ll need to till the soil at least as deep as 30cms, removing any rocks to enable the carrot roots to grow straight down. Once the soil has been prepared, you will be able to start sowing rows of seeds 1.5cms deep and 30cms apart. Carrot germination takes longer than that of other vegetables – usually between 1 and 3 weeks. When the plants are 2.5cms in height, thin them out to 8cms apart, because overcrowded growing will result in crooked roots.

Mulch the soil regularly and keep it moist by watering. To prevent carrots from pest attacks, such as carrot flies, you should cover the planting row with clear plastic sheeting or surround the crop with a barrier about 60cm high. Depending on the type of carrots, it may take from 9 to 11 weeks for them to mature for harvesting. Simply pull up the roots and enjoy the freshly harvested carrots. Remove the tops, rub off the dirt and let them dry, then wrap them up in plastic bags before refrigerating them.

Cooking Carrots

Boiling – is a good method for older carrots. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted for the cooking water if you’d like to impart more flavour to the carrots; this is especially useful if the carrots are not very flavoursome to begin with. New, smaller carrots: Don’t peel or cut. Simply scrub clean with a stiff vegetable brush. Cook whole. Older, larger carrots can be scrubbed clean in cold water, but if the skin is very blemished or the recipe calls for it, they can be peeled and scraped off too. Carrots should not be scraped or peeled if maximum nutritional content is to be retained. Carrots can be sliced, diced or cut into strips for cooking.

Steaming – Fit a steaming basket into a saucepan or use a steamer saucepan or device. For a steaming basket or saucepan, the water should be kept below the base of the steamer and carrots. Bring the water to the boil.

Microwaving – Place 450g of cleaned carrots into a casserole dish or microwave dish. Add 2 tablespoons of water.

Braising – Prepare and cut the carrots: If using whole carrots, peel and remove both ends. Slice the carrots diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick discs, or cut into 2-inch-long batons or carrot sticks. Just remember to use the same cut for all the carrots, and keep them to about the same size so they cook evenly. Baby carrots can be cooked whole. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter is hot, add the carrots to the pan and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots start to soften, about 5 minutes for rounds and carrot sticks, and about 6 to 8 minutes for baby carrots. Add orange juice and sweetener. Stir in the juice and sweetener (white or brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup). Cook until the liquid reduces to a glaze, about 15 minutes, while stirring occasionally to coat all the carrots. Taste, and season carrots with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.

Glazing – for a brown sugar glaze rinse the carrots under cool water, then chop the ends off. Peel the carrots using a vegetable peeler, then cut them into thick slices making the cuts diagonal rather than straight down.
Bring some water to a boil in a skillet.
Fill a deep skillet with 1 inch (2.54 centimetres) of water. Place the skillet on the stove, and bring the water to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.
Add the carrots, then cook for 3 minutes, then drain them and set them aside. Pour the carrots through a strainer, then place the skillet back on the stove. Shake the carrots until they are free of water, then set them aside. They will be slightly underdone, which is fine; you will continue cooking them in the glaze.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in the skillet over medium heat. Put butter and brown sugar into the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium, and wait for the butter to melt, stirring occasionally with a spoon or whisk.
Wait until the glaze starts to bubble, then add the carrots, and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir the carrots often with a rubber spatula. This ensures that they cook evenly, and that they get coated with the glaze.
Once the carrots are tender, they are ready to serve.

Stir frying – cut carrots into matchsticks/batons. Thin slices are important, to ensure quick cooking. Add a little oil to a wok or large frying pan. Add the carrot sticks. Stir fry until they are tender but retain a little bite. Remove from the heat. Toss in shredded fresh mint and serve hot.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, vitamins D and C, and minerals. A regular intake of mushrooms can promote a healthy immune system, decrease the risk of cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. For those who are vegetarians or who are dieting, mushrooms are a good meat replacement, because they contain fairly high amounts of protein.

Growing Mushrooms

If you are intending to grow mushrooms at home, it will need to be indoors, where there’s no direct sunlight, because mushrooms thrive in cool, dark places. Buying a kit that provides you with all the essential material for mushroom growing is a good idea to start with. However, in case you want to do it all on your own, you will have to look for a supplier of mushroom spawn.

You’ll need sawdust, grain, or straw as a growing medium, and plastic bags to contain those materials. There are various types of mushrooms, and each of them may require different growing techniques.

First, you’ll need to pasteurize the sawdust with hot water (70-75 degrees Celsius). Then, let the material cool down, but keep it damp enough when packing it into plastic bags. Make sure you’re clean while carrying out any planting steps, as hygiene is very important. After inoculating the bags of growing material with spawn, close the mouth of the bags with an elastic band, and put them in a cool, dark, well-sterilized room with a temperature ranging between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius. As the spawn begins to colonize the bags, make some holes for the mushrooms to grow out of. Keep them moist by watering with a spray bottle if necessary. You will see the tiny pins develop into mature mushrooms very quickly after 3 to 5 days. Harvest them when the mushroom cap is flat or a bit down-curved. You can expect to have 2 to 3 harvests from each crop.

Cooking Mushrooms

First prepare the mushrooms for cooking. You want mushrooms to be clean and dry when they are cooked. Avoid washing mushrooms. You should never soak them. Mushrooms will absorb water if they are soaked and won’t brown during cooking. This will also diminish their subtle flavour. Wipe each mushroom with a damp cloth or with kitchen paper towel and only do this as need to remove dirt and debris. You can also use a special mushroom brush. Mushrooms have a distinctive flavour of their own that can be brought out with simple additions such as butter or olive oil. Mushrooms contain a lot of water, so they’ll shrink considerably during cooking. Also be aware that they soak up fat readily, so always use quality butter or oil for cooking.

Roasting – brings out their natural sweetness. Coat them in oil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees until well browned.

Frying – bread mushrooms and fry them in hot oil. Make sure you use a high quality oil suitable for frying.

Stir frying – sliced mushrooms with soy sauce and oil for a simple dish.

Grilling – Simply place the mushrooms directly on the grill pan and cook until browned. Experiment with marinades for extra flavour.

Sautéing – in a pan. This is one of the most common methods. Start with plenty of hot oil or butter and sauté until browned.

Spinach

Spinach is a superfood. It is loaded with tons of nutrients in a low-calorie package. Dark, leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair, and bone health. They also provide protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.

The possible health benefits of consuming spinach include improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, and improving bone health, as well as supplying minerals and vitamins that can provide a range of different

Growing Spinach

A fast-growing plant, it’s capable of producing many leaves in a short period of time, and needs little space to grow.

Before sowing, ensure good growth by digging in up to two bucketfuls per square metre (of well-rotted organic matter such as garden compost, and raking in 150g per square metre of general fertiliser. Sow seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep in rows 30cm apart, or in a large container. Sow seeds of summer cultivars every few weeks from February (under fleece or cloches), or outdoors from mid-March to the end of May. Sow winter cultivars in August and again in September.

Thin seedlings to 7.5cm apart when large enough to handle. A few weeks later harvest every alternative plant for use in the kitchen.

Keep well-watered during dry periods in summer.

Cooking with Spinach

Preparing Spinach. Cut out the thick stems. Use a sharp knife to cut the stems off at the base of each leaf or snap the stems off by hand. You do not need to cut the stem out of the leaf since the part of the stem that extends into the leaf is thin and easy enough to eat.

Fill a clean sink with cool to lukewarm water. Soak the spinach inside the water for several minutes to loosen any specks of dirt or sand. Drain the water, rinse the leaves, and then repeat the soaking and draining process once more.

Place the spinach inside a salad spinner. Turn the spinner, shaking the water from the spinach leaves. Alternatively, you may allow the leaves to drain by letting them sit out in a mesh or plastic strainer for 30 minutes or by patting them dry with clean paper towels.

Boiling – Place the spinach in a medium stockpot. Select a stockpot with a 6-litre capacity or more. The leaves should only reach the mid-point of the pot and should not rise much higher. Cover the leaves with water. Fill the stockpot with enough water to just cover the leaves. Make sure that there is at least 5 to 7.6 centimetres of empty space in between the top of the water and the top rim of the pot to prevent the water from boiling over.

Salt the water to taste. Use around 1 to 2 teaspoons (4.8 to 9.5 grams) of salt. You want just enough salt to draw out the flavour of the spinach, but not so much salt that it dominates over the taste of the spinach.
Boil the spinach in the water on the stove over high heat. Once it begins to steam, start timing it. Boil the spinach for 3 to 5 minutes.
Drain the spinach by pouring the contents of the pot into a large pasta drainer. Shake the drainer to remove any excess water.
Immediately transfer the spinach over to a separate stockpot filled with ice water. Allow it to sit in the ice water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The ice water “shocks” the spinach, preventing it from losing its bright green colour.
Drain the spinach once more. Pour the contents of the second pot into a large pasta drainer and shake out excess water.

Sautéing – Heat 2 tablespoons 30 millilitres of olive oil in a large skillet. The skillet should be about 30 1/2 centimetres in diameter. Select a skillet with deep sides and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Turn the skillet to coat the entire bottom with the oil.

Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic to the pan. Sauté the garlic until it begins to brown. This should only take a minute or less. Do not allow the garlic to cook much longer, since it will burn if allowed to cook alone for too long.

Place the spinach in the skillet. Coat the spinach in the garlic oil. Use tongs or two spatulas to lift and flip the spinach. Turn the spinach several times until you are certain that all the leaves are coated.

Cover the pan. Leave it covered and cook the spinach, without turning, for a full minute.

Remove the lid. Turn the spinach again with your tongs or spatulas to re-coat the leaves with oil.

Cover the skillet once more. Cook it for 1 more minute.

Once the spinach appears wilted, uncover it and remove the skillet from the heat. Drain the pan of any moisture.

Add extra olive oil and salt to the spinach, if desired. Turn the spinach with tongs or spatulas to coat it before serving.

Creaming – Cook the spinach by boiling it for 1 minute. Drain the boiled spinach using a large pasta drainer. Place the leaves on top of clean paper towels and place a separate layer of paper towels over the spinach. Pat the leaves dry until they no longer appear damp.
Set the leaves out onto a cutting board. Coarsely chop the spinach using a sharp, smooth-bladed knife.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a 30 centimetre skillet. Heat the butter over medium to medium-high heat until it melts and coats the bottom of the skillet.

Add 1/4 cup (57 grams) chopped onion and 1 clove of minced garlic to the pan. Cook the onion and the garlic, in butter, for about 5 minutes, allowing the ingredients to release a strong aroma and to caramelize.

Pour 1/2 cup (125 millilitres) heavy whipping cream into the pan. Stir the whipping cream into the onions and garlic.

Add 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 gram) of nutmeg and a dash of salt and pepper to the whipping cream. Stir and cook, uncovered, until the mixture begins to boil and thicken.

Throw the drained, chopped spinach into the boiling cream mixture. Mix it into the cream, allowing the cream mixture to thoroughly coat the leaves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the contents of the skillet to simmer, still uncovered, for an additional 2 minutes. The contents should appear even thicker.

Serve immediately, seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Salad Greens

Salad is a valuable daily addition to your meals, as it is not only tasty, but also a good source of fibre, vitamins and omega acids. This combination will help to protect your heart, lower your diabetes and cancer risk, and strengthen your eyes. Home grown salad greens are very popular, and they are very easy to plant.

Growing Salad Greens

You can either grow salad greens in the garden or in containers. If you plan to grow them indoors, use potting soil, as it is premixed with sufficient nutrients and is not as heavy as garden soil. You can sow the seeds in rows or spread them evenly on the surface. After about 1 week, you may see the first seedlings. It is a good idea to thin them out so that the plants have enough room to develop. Regularly water them, and prevent pests from eating the leaves by using plastic covers. You should be able to harvest some after about 3 weeks when the leaves are a good size.
Overgrown salad leaves may taste bitter, so harvesting them when young is advisable. You can cut the mature outer leaves and leave the rest of the plant to grow more. For a year-round supply of salad, you will need to sow seeds at 1 to 2 week intervals.

p.s. We’ve got a whole blog dedicated to growing your own microgreens at home.

Garlic

Garlic is a major powerhouse for the body is an absurdly easy plant to care for. One growing season produces enough garlic that you’ll have plenty to share with your friends.

Growing Garlic

Choose a sunny spot in the yard with good drainage. Separate the cloves. Choose the biggest cloves for planting, and use the smaller ones for cooking. To plant a row of garlic, dig a shallow trench about 8cms deep. Plant the cloves individually, about 15cms apart, with the pointy tip facing upward. They should be 4cms below the surface. Cover with soil. Water. Within a week, new sprouts will appear. You don’t have to peel the cloves, just leave the wrapper intact and plant the whole clove. Garlic should be planted mid-September to mid-October before the first frost. Garlic should mature through the summer months, with harvests in July.

Cooking with Garlic

When garlic cloves are cooked or baked whole, the flavour mellows into a sweet, almost nutty flavour that hardly resembles any form of pungency. This nutty flavour makes a surprisingly nice addition to desserts, such as brownies or even ice cream.

Cooked, whole, unpierced cloves barely have any aroma at all, while raw garlic is the strongest in flavour.

When sautéing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavour turns intensely bitter, and you’ll have to start over.

Onions

If you’re looking for one of the most powerful foods you can eat on a daily basis, this Super Food is one of them. Eating them regularly can lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation, and growing them is rewarding.

Growing Onions

They are a great plant for tucking into small spare corners.

Onions need a sunny, sheltered site with fertile, well-drained soil. Onions do not thrive on acid soils (below pH 6.5).

Before planting improve the soil with a bucket of garden compost or well-rotted manure for every square metre (yard) and add 35g per sq m (1oz per sq yd) of general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore.

Plant onion sets (immature onions) 5-10cm (2-4in) apart in rows 25-30cm apart from mid-March to mid-April. Gently push the sets into soft, well-worked soil so that the tip is just showing, and firm the soil around them.

Birds can be a problem lifting the new sets, so cover with fleece until the roots are established.

Onions are best suited for growing in the open ground, but you could grow a short row or two in large, deep containers or raised beds. They are not suitable for growbags.

Cooking with Onions

Sweating – is done to accomplish for several purposes. Sweating gently cooks the onion to soften its texture, increase its sweetness and to reduce the sulphur content, which gives it a milder taste. Sweating onions for dishes, such as risottos, rice pilaffs and braised meats is where the flavour begins. The sweat onions give a natural sweetness to dishes. See the instructions below for sweating onions.

Slice or chop onions as directed by the recipe.

Add just enough fat (oil or margarine) to cover the bottom of the pan. If too much fat is used, it will smother the onions. Add prepared onions and cook over low heat. Cover to keep onions moist. Remove cover and stir occasionally. Do not allow onions to brown.
Cook until the onions are translucent and soft but have not started to brown.
Sautéing – onions is done when a firmer textured and sweeter flavoured onion is desired. The sautéed onions are browned, which creates a rich sweet flavour. Sautéed onions are good when added to other sautéed vegetables, soups and pasta dishes.

Slice or chop onions.

Heat the pan over high heat before adding the oil. Add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions but do not cover. Covering them would steam the onions and prevent them from browning properly.

As they begin to brown, stir frequently to produce evenly browned onions.
Cook until tender and evenly browned. Serve as a side dish or add to other dishes.
Caramelizing – Cut 1 1/2 pounds of onions in half lengthwise and peel.
Cut onion halves crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Separate the layers of each slice into individual pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of butter (or margarine) in a 10-inch non-stick fry pan over high heat.
When oil and butter are heated and foaming stops, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of light brown sugar. Quickly stir to mix.
Add the onions and carefully stir to coat them as thoroughly as possible.
Cook over high heat for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions will begin to soften and release some of their juices.
Reduce heat down to medium. Continue to cook, stirring often.
Cook until onions are soft, have a glossy look, and are a deep, rich brown color. This may take 40 to 50 minutes. Do not rush this process or the results will not produce onions with the varying layers of color and rich flavour.
When onions are done, remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of water. Add pepper to taste.
Caramelized onions can be eaten as a side dish on their own or added as a topping to meats, such as steak or chops. They can also be added to sandwiches, soups, stews and other dishes to provide a special flavour.
Fried – Peel 1 large onion, cut in half from stem to root, and then cut crosswise into very thin slices.
Heat 1/4 cup of butter or margarine in a 10″ frying pan over medium heat.
Place small batches of the thinly sliced onions in the pan and fry until crispy and golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Stir constantly.
Remove with tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
Continue to fry in batches until all the onions are fried.
Baked – place whole onions in a baking dish. Leave onions in their skin but remove any dry papery outer layer.
Place onions uncovered in a preheated 425º F oven.
Bake onions until tender, 40-50 minutes. Check doneness by poking with a toothpick.
Boiled – Trim ends of onions and peel.
To help onions stay intact and hold their shape better, cut an X into the stem end of the onion.
Fill a saucepan with enough water to just cover the onions and bring to a boil.
Place the onions in the boiling water and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Do not boil rapidly.
Cooking time may range from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on whether the onions are small pearl or boiling onions or if they are larger onions, such as a Spanish onion.
Grilled – Peel two medium size whole onions. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices and separate into rings.
Make two trays from aluminium foil. Use double layers of foil and turn up at least 1 inch on all sides. Seal the turned up sides in each corner by folding corners and squeezing together tightly. Place half of the sliced onion rings in each tray so they are evenly distributed.
Add approximately 1 tablespoon of margarine to each tray. Cut each tablespoon of margarine into quarters to distribute evenly throughout the tray of onion rings.
Place the foil trays containing the slices over direct medium heat. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
After the first 10 minutes, turn the slices using a tongs. Be careful when turning that the foil does not get punctured. This would allow the margarine to run out of the foil trays. Do not use a fork for turning because there would be more of a chance of puncturing the foil.
Continue to turn the onion slices about every 5 minutes.
When slices are nicely browned, remove the foil trays from the grill and serve the onion slices immediately while still warm.

Chilli

Chilli in the diet can benefit weight loss efforts by kick-starting the body’s metabolism and suppressing appetite. Chilli is a rich source of vitamin C which is an immune booster. It is a rich source of vitamin A which is a great vitamin for skin health. Chilli is a good source of iron and potassium.

Growing Chilli

You can easily grow a small chilli plant in a pot or if you want some variety add a few different ones to your garden. You just need rich soil that you add plenty of compost to, just keep your plant in a slightly sunny position.

Cooking with Chilli

To prepare fresh chillies, slit them lengthwise, remove the seeds and membranes with the tip of the knife and cut off the stem. Rinse them under cold running water and then prepare according to the recipe. It’s very important to avoid contact with the eyes or any sensitive skin during or after preparing chillies – and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after.
Chillies can be added to any dish as per the above method.

Ginger

Ginger is a spice that can be added to almost any dish. In traditional medicine, it is used as a natural remedy for a wide variety of conditions. One of the most well-known health benefits is that it helps to ease nausea, which is great if you are pregnant and have morning sickness. Ginger stimulates digestion, relieves nausea, reduces inflammation and has anti-bacterial properties

Growing Ginger

Ginger is simpler to grow than you think. You just need the ginger root, good quality soil and away you go. It can even be grown in a pot.

Cooking with Ginger

There are many recipes where you can add ginger to your dish. Ginger and lemon tea are great for colds and sore throats. You can add a teaspoon of honey for added soothing benefits.

Final Thoughts

There are, of course, many additional foods that can be grown in your own garden including super foods like blue berries and additional vegetables like turnips and swedes. Not only can these foods provide you with an excellent source of nutrients, but can also provide pleasure in the growing and cooking of them. So get digging!

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