Achieving Maximum Nutrient Density from Your Garden
“The term nutrient density has several meanings. Most commonly, nutrient density is defined as a ratio of nutrient content (in grams) to the total energy content (in kilocalories or joules). Nutrient-dense food is opposite to energy-dense food (also called “empty calorie” food). According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, nutrient-dense foods are those foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense foods, while products containing added sugars, processed cereals, and alcohol are not.
“Second, nutrient density is defined as a ratio of food energy from carbohydrate, protein or fat to the total food energy. To calculate nutrient density (in percent), divide the food energy (in calories or joules) from one particular nutrient by the total food energy in the given food.
“Third, nutrient density is understood as the ratio of the nutrient composition of a given food to the nutrient requirements of the human body. Therefore, a nutrient-dense food is the food that delivers a complete nutritional package.”
(From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutrient_density)
Growing your own vegetables can double the amount of the nutrition in your food. We know that delicious, healthy food comes from healthy soil, which in turn produces healthy plants. Harvesting your own produce at the peak of ripeness increases their nutrient content.
“One of the advantages a home gardener has over people who purchase produce is that the crop can be picked at the moment of ripeness,” says Pete Ferretti, professor of vegetable crops at Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences. Wholesale producers pick many crops before they are truly ripe, allowing them to ripen gradually during shipping, handling and display, averaging ten days or more. Studies indicate that roughly half of vitamin C, among other vitamins, is destroyed in that length of time. (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf60101a010)
Eating foods with their live enzymes provides soluble and insoluble fibers that improve your digestion by breaking them down for better absorption. Avoiding “the common cold,” for example, can be as simple as juicing your fruits and vegetables. This serves to concentrate the natural vitamins and minerals thereby boosting your immunity. Eating different parts of a plant can provide greater variety in your diet and even inspire you to try out new recipes. This is not only good for your health, but can also increase your enjoyment and satiation, all of which are important if you are looking to regulate your weight and avoid commercial agricultural chemicals.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT . . . AND DRINK!
As you transition from commercially grown to homegrown foods, your taste buds may change as you discover—maybe for the first time—how a tomato should taste, or how a salad explodes with flavor by adding fresh herbs instead of dried. You may find that you prefer more raw foods in your diet to pre-packaged and processed foods. Stir-frying instead of deep frying is a step in the right direction, and steaming over stir-frying is better still. And who doesn’t appreciate the mouth-watering flavor of a crisp, sweet, fresh carrot? Getting to know your food processor, blender and juicer can open your family up to a whole new level of health and wellness as you learn to prepare fresh produce in a minimal amount of time, and with the greatest amount of nutrient density.
Juicing can concentrate the flavors of individual greens, fruits and vegetables into a new taste sensation. For instance, you might hate beets, but beet juice is good for the blood. Carrots contain Vitamin A and are good for improving vision. By combining carrots and beets into juice, you help your blood absorb natural sugars without oils and fats, and also enhance the absorption of Vitamin A. Why spend hard-earned money on store-bought supplements when many of the answers to your health problems may be growing right outside your back door?
With your Texas Ready seed bank, you have numerous options to strengthen your family’s health in a broader, richer, and more flavorful way than ever before. So let’s explore the world of juicing. Use this guide to create enjoyable drinks that will delight, refresh and invigorate. And remember, you can mix, match and remove any ingredients until you find the right combinations that work for you.
Why is asparagus so good for us? It has an abundance of asparagine (an amino acid that helps the body eliminate waste) and is known to be a diuretic. The Mary Washington asparagus included in your seed bank also includes the benefits produced by chlorophyll. (Some other types of asparagus are blanched, light colored varieties which are not as nutritious.) Asparagus is rich in protein but low in carbohydrates and calories. It is full of potassium and folic acid along with Vitamins A, B complex, C and K, and has the ideal ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber, niacin and phosphorus. Of course, it’s very low in sodium. Impressive!
To preserve the sodium and minerals found in asparagus, lightly steam, rather than boil it. Avoid cooking in iron pots as the tannins in asparagus can react with the iron and cause the food to discolor. Some folks have strong smelling urine after eating asparagus. This is because the chemicals in the asparagus are helping to flush out the kidneys.
Recipe: 10 stalks of asparagus, 1 carrot, 2 green apples, ½ lemon with peel
Good for: Acidity (especially in the blood), Arthritis / Rheumatism, Constipation, Cancer, Cataracts, Depression, Diabetes / Hypoglycemia, Heart disease, Kidney stones, PMS symptoms, Pregnancy
This vegetable has a two year life cycle. By two year life cycle, we mean that in order to get future seeds, you need to leave beets in the ground over the winter. Mulch the beds heavily. In the spring of the second year, your beets will send up a flower stalk, from which you’ll be able to harvest seeds once it dries out. Beet leaves are slightly bitter, rich in chlorophyll, and are higher in nutrition than the tubers. During the second year you’ll find that the leaves are sweeter and better tasting. It is best to only lightly harvest leaves from plants you are growing for seed production, as you want the plant to focus on its primary task—creating seeds for your next garden.
Beets with round bottoms are sweeter than flat-bottomed ones. (Your Texas Ready bank includes varieties known for their sweetness.) The flavor is best when fresh. If cooking, remove the skin before simmering over the stove, and remember that overheating destroys essential nutrients. If you have a history of oxalate kidney stones, it’s a good idea to limit your beet consumption.
The entire beet has very powerful blood builders and cleaners. They are loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C and the greens are higher in iron than spinach. Other minerals include calcium, choline, copper, folic acid, iodine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. It is not advisable to exceed one glass of beet juice per week as it is very potent; indeed, dizziness can occur while toxins are being eliminated. Be sure to drink plenty of water during this process as well.
Recipe: 1-2 beets, ½ lemon with peel, 2-3 celery ribs, 1 cucumber
Good for: Acidosis, Anemia, Atherosclerosis, Blood pressure issues, Cancer, Constipation, Dandruff, Detoxification, Gastric ulcer, Gall bladder, Kidney, Gout, Liver / Bile, Varicose veins
Highly valued for its abundant anti-viral, anti-ulcer and anti-cancer properties, this vegetable is packed with nutrients, phytonutrients and strong anti-oxidants. But it is the synergy of disease fighters like quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate and sulforaphane that make broccoli one of the best cancer fighting foods in the garden. Broccoli is especially good against breast, cervical, prostate, colon and lung cancer. Rich in vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, it also contains calcium, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. These phytonutrients and anti-oxidants boost the immune system and stimulate the production of antibodies.
Pick broccoli when it is firm and exhibits a deep green color. If it begins to show yellow flowers in the head, pick it immediately. Place it inside an open plastic bag in the refrigerator and consume it within four days. Eating raw broccoli (or better yet, juicing it) maximizes the nutrition, but it is certainly okay to lightly steam or stir fry.
Recipe: 1-1½ heads of broccoli, 2-3 carrots, 2 green apples, 1 rib of celery, 1” piece of young ginger (optional), ½ lemon with peel
Good for: Bone-building, Birth defect prevention, Cancer, Colon health, Eye health, Immune system, Liver detoxification, Prostate health, Skin repair, Stomach disorders, Tumors
The Cruciferous family, of which cabbage is the most prominent member, is rich in anti-oxidants. Highly touted as a cancer preventative, especially those of the digestive tract, it has high levels of calcium, iodine, iron, potassium, sulfur and phosphorus. As for vitamins, it contains A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K along with folic acid. It is a good detoxifier and stimulates antibodies in the immune system.
Smaller cabbage heads taste better and are easier to digest raw than cooked. Some people have trouble with gas after eating cooked cabbage; solve this problem by adding turmeric to the recipe. The moment cabbage is cut, it begins to lose its nutrient content. Store in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag to avoid loss of vitamin C. Cabbage sprouts contain high levels of nutrients, and are delicious on salads.
Recipe: ¼-½ head cabbage, 1-2 carrots, 1 green apple, 2-3 ribs celery, 1 cucumber, 1 small handful spinach, ½ lemon with peel
Good for: Anemia / Blood building, Cancer prevention, Constipation, Skin wounds, Weight loss
This is a natural cancer fighter. Very low in calories, along with a high water content (good for hydration), cantaloupe is extremely nutrient-packed. This wonder fruit is concentrated with excellent levels of beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium. As for vitamins, there are high levels of B1, B3, B5 and B6 along with vitamin C. Choose cantaloupes that are heavy and fragrant. Leave a firm cantaloupe at room temperature for a few days until its flesh begins to soften, then place it in the refrigerator. Cut melons should be wrapped and stored in the fridge if not consumed immediately.
Melons are easy to juice. They should be consumed by themselves (a mono-meal) or only with other melons, as they digest very rapidly and cause indigestion when combined with other fruits. Be sure to use the rind and the seeds.
Recipe: 1-2 whole cantaloupes
Good for: Anti-coagulant, Anti-smoking aid, Arteriosclerosis, Blood pressure regulator, Cancer fighter, Cataracts, Cholesterol regulator, Degenerative disease fighter, Heart disease preventer, Immune system, Insomnia, Muscle cramps, Pregnancy, Stress reducer, Water retention
Carrots are the most versatile vegetable in your garden since the juice combines so well with so many others. Carrot juice is very cleansing, and the high sugar content is a great blood sugar regulator (diabetics should limit themselves to half a carrot a day). In addition, carrots provide high quality nutrients including provitamin A, B1, B6, C, D, E and K. They also contain biotin, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus along with a whole slew of trace minerals. You can juice and eat carrot tops which are rich in vitamin K and protein. Along with vitamins, carrots contain many phytonutrients, chemical compounds found in plants that support good health. Most nutrients are concentrated just under the skin of the carrot, so clean rather than peel the skin. Drinking carrot juice daily will do much more for you than store-bought supplements!
Recipe: 3-4 carrots, ½ beet, 2 green apples, 1-2 celery ribs, ½ lemon with peel
Good for: Acidosis, Acne, Anemia, Atherosclerosis, Asthma, Cancer, Cholesterol lowering, Congestion, Constipation, Emphysema, Eyes, Fertility, Inflammations, Immune systems, Nursing mothers, Pregnancy, Skin problems, Thread worms, Ulcers, Water retention
This is a power-packed vegetable that contains at least eight families of anti-cancer compounds. The leaves are high in vitamin A, while the stalks are good sources for B1, B2, B6 and C. Potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and organic sodium (salt) along with lots of essential amino acids complete the list of nutrients that celery brings to the table. Juicing releases nutrients which support the intestinal tract, and folks on a low-sodium diet can greatly benefit from this vegetable. Celery holds up well during cooking and lowers blood pressure. To store in the fridge, place celery in a sealed container or wrap in a plastic bag or a damp cloth. Do not leave it at room temperature for too long as it tends to wilt quickly. If your celery has wilted, sprinkle it with a little water, put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and it will regain its crispness.
Recipe: 4 ribs of celery, 1 cucumber, ½ head romaine lettuce, 1 green apple, ½ lemon with peel, ¼” of peeled ginger root
Good for: Acidity, Cancer prevention, Cholesterol balance, Colon & stomach cancer, Constipation, Temperature normalizer, Diuretic, Electrolyte replacement, Inflammation, Kidney function, Lowers blood pressure, Nervous system (calming agent), Weight loss, Urinary stones
Many people only eat cucumbers that have been pickled, but this process reduces most nutritional benefits. Cucumbers counteract inflammation in joints by removing uric acid and the resulting crystallization. The skin contains a high percentage of vitamin A, so don’t remove the peel. We have all seen pictures of cucumbers being used in beauty regimes. This is because cucumbers contain caffeic acid which reduces water retention when applied topically. About 96% water, cucumbers contain alkaline-forming minerals. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and C (anti-oxidants), folic acid, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, silica, sulfur and to a lesser degree, vitamin B complex, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and choline.
Recipe: 1 cucumber, 2 carrots, 1 red apple, ½ lime, ½ bunch cilantro, 1 large handful of spinach
Good for: Acid reducer, Blood pressure regulator, Temperature normalizer, Connective tissue builder, Diuretic, Inflammation, Hair growth, Kidney stones, Skin conditions, Sunburn
Insomnia, anxiety and other nervous disorders can be helped by the sedative and pain killing properties of fresh lettuce. Different kinds of lettuce provide different nutritional elements. That’s why Texas Ready includes several lettuce varieties in each seed bank.
Iceberg – Green leaves on the outside, whiter leaves on the inside. Juicy, mild taste. High in choline.
Romaine – Long green leaves. Deeper taste. Good source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, C and folic acid.
Butterhead – Loosely arranged long leaves easily separated from the stem. Soft texture and sweeter flavor.
Loose-leaf – Broad, curly delicate leaves with a slightly crisp texture.
The darker the leaves, the higher the nutritional content. The calorie content is very low because the leaves are full of water. Minerals include potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium; vitamins include A, most of the B complex, C, E, K and folic acid. Lettuce’s anti-oxidant strength is good because of beta-carotene. The milky latex found in the stems is slightly bitter; however, after two days of refrigeration, the slight bite found in fresh lettuce will dissipate. It is the latex which contains the active medicinal virtues of lettuce, especially the sedative and pain-killing properties.
The only caution regarding drinking lots of lettuce juice would be for patients undergoing anti-coagulant therapy with vitamin K antagonists (such as Warfarin). The high amount of vitamin K may interfere with this therapy, possibly leading to blood clot formation (thrombosis). To get the most juice, roll up three leaves and feed them into the juicer chute. Roll the cilantro or parsley into the lettuce leaves in order to get the most juice out of them. Lettuce blends well with carrot, tomato, celery, fennel and artichoke.
Recipe: ½ head lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 3 ribs celery, ½ cucumber, ½ bunch cilantro, 2-3 carrots
Good for: Anemia, Anti-cough agent, Anti-oxidant, Bone strengthener, Colon cleanser, Constipation aid, Hydration, Purifier / Toxin eliminator, Sedative
The health benefits of onions are pronounced due to their powerful anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Onions are rich in vitamins A, B and C and are high in folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chromium, iron and dietary fiber. To store, select a well-ventilated area away from bright light to prevent the roots from growing. Do not put them near potatoes, as they will absorb moisture and ethylene gas which will cause them to rot faster. Cut onions should be used within two days to achieve their highest nutritional value.
Ancient medical records as far back as 4,000 BC indicate that the onion was thought of as the cure-all for many illnesses. In World War II the vapors of onion paste were used to reduce pain and encourage healing of soldiers’ wounds. Juice onions in moderation, preferably with other vegetables; as a swig of pure onion juice would no doubt bring on a severe case of halitosis!
Recipe: 2 green onions (or ¼ red, yellow or white), 3-4 carrots, ½ inch ginger root, ½ lemon with peel, 1 large, handful of spinach, ½ bunch parsley.
Good for: Anemia, Anti-coagulant, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Blood pressure regulator, Cholesterol regulator, Heart attack preventer, Constipation, Flatulence, Diabetes, Diuretic, Blood cleansing, Ear disorders, Hair loss, Immune system, Osteoporosis, Respiratory problems, Sexual debility, Urinary tract infections
This highly nutritious culinary herb is often merely an overlooked garnish. However, parsley provides some of nature’s best carotenoids and is an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Rich in vitamins A, B, C and K, it also has lots of folic acid. Iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vanadium and zinc are just some of the minerals you’ll find in parsley. To get full benefits, however, it will take more than just a sprig or two. That’s why juicing is a great way to quickly avail yourself of the super nutrition parsley offers. Parsley juice is very potent—do not drink more than a couple ounces a day, and be sure to mix it with other juices. There is a synergistic benefit to combining parsley with garlic, especially for the immune and digestive systems. Combined, these juices provide a natural antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. (Caution: If you suffer from kidney stones, do not eat parsley.)
Recipe: ½ bunch parsley wrapped in 2-3 lettuce leaves, ½ lemon with peel, 3 carrots, 1 apple, ½ cucumber
Good for: Anemia, Arthritis, Asthma / Lung infections, Atherosclerosis, Bad breath (halitosis), Bladder infections, Cancer fighter, Free radicals (cancer, causing compounds), Hair growth, Heart health, Immune system, Kidney problems, Vision health, Water retention, Wound healing
Peppers come in a variety of colors. In your Texas Ready Liberty Seed Bank, the California Wonder (bell pepper) is dark green, the Hungarian Hot (actually pretty mild) is yellow, while the Cayenne and Jalapeno range from dark green to red, depending on when you pick them. The stronger the color of the peppers, the higher the concentration of anti-oxidants. Even a small bell pepper can provide three times the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, which is more than you’ll get from some citrus fruits! Bell peppers have high concentrations of vitamins A, C and E, all of which are anti-oxidants that help neutralize free radicals by protecting our bodies against carcinogenic and toxic substances. Additionally, peppers have most of the vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9). Minerals found in high concentrations include potassium, manganese, thiamine, molybdenum, tryptophan, copper, cobalt and zinc.
Alkaloids found in hot peppers greatly increase nutrient absorption, so if you can stand the heat, a little hot pepper in all of your juices is a good thing! Peppers store best in a plastic bag in the fridge and will stay fresh for up to a week.
Recipe: 1-3 celery ribs, 1-2 tomatoes, 1 pepper (with seeds if you like it hotter), 2-3 carrots, 1 lemon with peel
Good for: Anti-aging, Anti-bacterial / Anti-fungal, Atherosclerosis, Blood clot prevention, Blood pressure reduction, Cancer prevention (especially bladder, cervix, pancreas & prostate), Cholesterol reduction, Colic, Diarrhea, Dyspepsia, Excessive flatulence, Eye problems, Gastrointestinal problems, Headaches / Migraines, Immune system, Metabolic enhancer, Nosebleed prevention, Pain relief, Respiratory problems, Sore throats, Stomach ulcers
The radish root is known for its sedative properties. Radishes are rich in vitamins B and C and have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, iron, copper, sulfur and phosphorous.
The green leafy tops are edible and add a peppery taste to salads. Radish greens contain over five times the vitamin C found in the roots as well as a good amount of calcium. For maximum benefits (in terms of both nutrition and taste) eat radishes when they are young and somewhat tender. Do not cook on high heat as the vitamin C will be destroyed. Store in the refrigerator after trimming the tops from the roots and they’ll last for a month.
Recipe: 3-4 radishes, ½ head lettuce, 3 carrots, 1 cucumber, ½ bunch cilantro
Good for: Acne (apply topically), Appetite loss, Digestive disorders, Diuretic / Laxative, Gallbladder, Liver disease, Respiratory disease, Sleeping disorders
Eating your spinach raw is the best way to benefit from this popular vegetable; cooked spinach should be eaten in moderation because it is high in oxalic acid which prevents calcium and iron absorption. This is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables we know of, and its raw juice is an excellent source of chlorophyll. It is also a superb source of vitamins A, B complex, and C, E, K, carotenes, folic acid, manganese, calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and valuable amino acids. This incredible vegetable is chock full of protein, having the same amount, ounce for ounce as you would find in meat.
Because spinach is a cool weather vegetable, many southerners can only grow it successfully in their fall or winter gardens. That is why Texas Ready recently added a heat-loving variety known as Malabar Spinach so that your family can enjoy spinach year-round. (Malabar is not a true spinach, but it tastes very much like it, and is very versatile in the kitchen. It also has much the same nutritional value as true spinach.) You can improve your nutrition by substituting spinach for lettuce, whether in salads or on sandwiches and burgers.
Recipe: ½ bunch spinach, 3-4 carrots, 1 small handful parsley, 1 green apple, ½ lemon with peel, ½” ginger root, ½ cucumber
Good for: Acidosis, Anemia, Atherosclerosis, Bleeding gums, Cancer, Digestive disorders, Eye problems, High blood pressure, Inflammation, Osteoporosis, Pregnancy / Lactation
Tomato nutrition is improved when consumed with good fats like olive oil or avocado. Avoid seedless, hybrid tomatoes as their nutrition is not as high as open-pollinated varieties. This incredible fruit (yes, it is a fruit) is an excellent source of vitamins B6, C and K. Beta-carotene, biotin, niacin, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium are found in abundance along with citric and malic acids which contribute to the characteristic “tomato” flavor.
The uses of the tomato are endless. Eat as-is, sliced into salads, pulverized for sauces or dried as a condiment. Avoid aluminum cookware as the acid will interact with the metal, potentially causing aluminum poisoning. Control the ripening process by storing either on the counter or in the refrigerator depending on when you want to eat them.
Because of its concentrated nutrition, those with allergies (especially children) may show a reaction to tomato juice. The juice can also contribute to the growth of kidney stones. The green portions of the plant could be toxic, and over-consumption of green fruit could result in intestinal distress.
Recipe: 3-4 tomatoes, 2-3 ribs celery, 2-3 carrots, ½ head romaine, 1 large handful spinach, ½ bunch cilantro, 1 cucumber, 2-3 radishes
Good for: Anemia, Bone health, Cancer, Dental health, Digestive function, Heart problems, Inflammation, Skin care, Stress & fatigue, Toxins in the system
This is a super-cleaning juice, excellent for flushing out the kidney and bladder as it detoxifies the body of waste materials. When juicing, include the rind as this part of the fruit contains the highest levels of quality minerals and chlorophyll. The water content is about 92%. Watermelons are rich in beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamins B5 and C. There are smaller amounts of B1, B2, B3 and B6. The fruit contains large amounts of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and small amounts of copper, iron and zinc. As in tomatoes, carotenoids cause the red coloration in the flesh. This important anti-oxidant powerfully neutralizes harmful free radicals.
Recipe: 1 watermelon – first scoop out the flesh, remove the black seeds, then slice up the rind and either add it to the pink juice to cut the sweetness, or juice it on its own as a tart beverage
Good for: Asthma, Bladder problems, Cholesterol, Constipation, Detoxification, Electrolyte replacement, Elimination aid, Fluid retention, Heart regulator, Itchiness, Maintaining proper alkalinity, Prostate cancer, Skin blemishes
You’ll notice that in many cases we suggest using the rind when creating your juices. This is true for produce grown in your own garden, but be aware that produce from the grocery store may have been sprayed or treated with chemicals that you might not wish to ingest. If using store-bought vegetables or fruits, soak them for 15 minutes or so in a container of water to which you’ve added a few tablespoons of salt and half a cup of apple cider vinegar. Rinse and dry. This will also prolong the life of the produce.
You’ll also notice that all of the recipes we’ve presented list only fruit and vegetable ingredients. For persons new to juicing, these may taste a little strong and unfamiliar, and they might take a little getting used to. By adding other ingredients like salt, honey, spices or milk, one can dramatically change the taste without compromising the juice’s nutritional value. Experiment and have fun – even better, get the kids involved and see who can come up with the tastiest concoction. You’ll probably need to do something creative to entice them into drinking vegetable juice!
Important Disclaimer: We are not nutritionists, dietitians or medical practitioners. We know seeds and gardening. The information presented in this Texas Ready Report has been assembled from numerous sources which we believe to be reputable. But we make no absolute claim that any given substance will prevent, treat or cure any given ailment. Do your own research and consult with experts in the field before relying on a juicing regimen to address serious health issues. That having been said, we are very comfortable in affirming the fact that juicing is a natural, safe way to boost your nutrition and improve your health.
– The Seed Lady