The Canny Gardener

how to be a smart gardener


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Nourishing Nasturtiums

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Nasturtiums are one of the easiest plants grown from seed at home and at present, in October they are still flowering.  So I decided to use them in a potato salad to make a mouth watering and hormone balancing dish today.

Ingredients:

500gms waxy potatoes such as charlotte or pink fir

6 tsps mayonaise (shop bought is fine!)

3tsps greek style yoghurt

1 tsp Dijon or English mustard

4 Spring onions, chopped

handful of Nasturtium leaves, stems and flowers, including seeds- chopped.

Sand and ground pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes as directed- 15-20 minutes but make sure they still hold the shape.  No need to peel. Make the dressing using the next three ingredients. Once the potatoes are cooled, then add the dressing and lastly, add the chopped Nasturtiums leaves, flowers and seeds.  The seeds are a good and cheap substitute for capers.

Nasturtium leaves have a high concentration of Vitamin C and are also a natural antibiotic. Eating a couple of the peppery leaves at the onset of a cold can stop it dead in its tracks. The gentle antibiotic reaction makes it ideal for treating minor colds and flu, especially at the start of autumn.

Here in the photo I grilled a mackerel and added it to a bed of marinated onions.  Mackerels are rich in beneficial vitamins, minerals and oils.  Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids occur in high quantities in this fish. It contains vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K. Various minerals also occur richly in the fish. These include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and selenium. Trace minerals include zinc and copper. The fish also contains protein and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10. Onions are good for thyroids.


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Throw away delights

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Carrot leaves are often left attached to new season carrots to keep them fresh and taste better.  Thanks to a badly researched article, ‘The Toxic Salad’ in the New York Times published in July 2009, people assumed that carrot leaves are poisonous and ought to be thrown away.  However, people in India have been eating carrot leaves for centuries and being the world’s second largest population, a lot of Indians would have been dead and we have had certainly heard about it.

The reality is that they are very edible and loaded with vitamins and minerals. The New York Times article alluded to the presence of alkaloids in carrot tops that could make them ‘slightly dangerous for consumption’.  But alkaloids are a substance found throughout nearly every green leafy vegetable.  Indians use all types of spinach and leaves for cooking.

Having watched my mother cook carrot leaves, this is my easy recipe for carrot leaf dish. Just remember to use the leaves as soon as you can because they turn yellow and inedible soon.

As you see in the photo, I received 6 carrots in my organic vegetable delivery.  I used all the leaves shown here plus two of the carrots.  The alkaloids give a slightly bitter taste to the leaves (just many other greens) so I used the carrot itself to give the dish sweetness.

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Ingredients: A pinch of each of these- cumin seeds, fenugreek and onion seeds. One level table spoon of turmeric. A pinch of sugar. Salt to taste. Water. A tablespoons of oil for cooking.  I also added some chopped potatoes but you don’t have to.

Wash and chop the leaves. Peel the carrots and cut them into sticks (or any other shape you fancy!).

Heat the oil and add the spices.  When they ‘fatten’, add the leaves, the carrots and potatoes, turmeric, salt and sugar.  Add a little bit of the water and cover.  Do watch and add more water if the dish dries up during cooking otherwise the leaves will stick.  When the carrots and potatoes are done, then the greens are done too.

Eat with rice or wraps.  Healthy food at throwaway price!