While our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have relied on hunting and foraging to satisfy their needs, we couch-sitting contemporaries can have groceries delivered to the curb. This may be a significant innovation in terms of convenience, but the loss of physical activity in modern life has cost us dearly in more ways than one. Maintaining a small garden is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. Besides, any gardener will tell you that for taste, nutritional quality and value, there’s no substitute for growing your own food. Here are five Paleo Diet® essentials to easily grow at home:
Rich in folate, manganese, and dietary fiber, these vibrant tubers are packed with energy and rich in flavor. Eaten raw, beets add unique color and texture to salads. Roasted, they are sweet and earthy. Beet greens are delicious and packed with antioxidants. Beets grow well in cooler weather but can be planted in early spring, late summer, and early autumn for multiple harvests each year.
These crunchy summer staples are so easy to grow they practically grow themselves. Cooling and fresh, this veggie scores lower on the glycemic index than almost any other. You can enjoy them in a salad, smoothie, or eat them sliced and dipped in your favorite Paleo dip as a snack. Plant the seeds at the end of spring near a trellis, fence, or other structure for optimal production.
This superstar of the nutrient-dense veggies is simple to grow and a half-dozen plants will provide you with more dark, leafy goodness than you can imagine. You can get more than your daily recommended amounts of vitamins A, C and K from one cup of chopped kale. Kale is one of the most versatile greens: great raw in salads and smoothies or sauteed, steamed, or cooked on its own or as a side dish. For best results, you’ll want to sow seeds in the final months of summer or plant starts in the garden in early autumn. Once your kale is well-established in the garden, simply trim off the older, outer leaves as you need them for a continuous harvest.
There are few greater pleasures than fresh, homegrown peppers, especially if you find grocery store varieties a bit repetitive. When you grow your own peppers, you can experiment with varieties from all over the globe to see which suit your fancy. Loaded with vitamin C, peppers are a perfect Paleo food: They can be eaten raw, grilled, stuffed and more. Starting from a seed can be a little tricky as peppers need warm weather to germinate. You may have better luck starting seeds in pots in a sunny window in the spring and transferring the plants into the garden once the risk of frost has passed.
There’s a reason your mom made you eat your broccoli. It’s loaded with folic acid, potassium, fiber, and Vitamin C. While President George H.W. Bush hated it, this green is a staple for anyone looking to include a lot of vegetables in their diet. This superfood can be served cooked, raw or in a crudités with a dip. Broccoli also thrives best in cool weather with lots of sun and moist soil. Plant it in late summer to reap the best harvest.
These are just a few of the Paleo essentials you can easily grow at home. Even if you don’t have a spot for a garden in your yard, you may want to consider seeking out a community garden plot near you. Walking or cycling to your garden brings you even closer to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Whichever path you find toward growing your own Paleo fare, you’ll thank yourself for it every step of the way.