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5 ways the Gardyn Starter Kit will rock your tastebuds and boost brain function

The nutritional value of what we consume impacts much more than our heart, immune system, and digestive health. In fact, fueling up is just as important to our minds as it is to our bodies.

The Gardyn starter kit comes with our most popular varieties of leafy greens, herbs, and fruits (changing from time to time based on the growing season and customer suggestions). This includes an assortment of Arugula, Basil, Breen, Butterhead, Cardinale, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Mizuna, Jalapeños, Kale, Matilda, Mint, Sweet Peppers, and Thyme.

Dense with nutrients like vitamin E, folic acid, vitamin K1, magnesium, lutein and beta-carotene, vegetable greens and herbs are known to boost mental health.

A recent study in 2015 by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) stated the regular consumption of green leafy vegetables can keep the brain sharp.

“Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older,” says Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., assistant provost for community research at Rush University Medical Center and leader of the FASEB research team. “Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia” (FASEB, 2015).

Being proactive about your health instead of reactive requires action, and weaving fresh produce is a simple way to start. Here are five staples in the Gardyn starter kit that help stabilize mood, reduce inflammation, and introduce you to a variety of leafy greens you can’t find at a typical grocery store.

(Plus, we found some tasty recipe suggestions to try after your first harvest!)

ARUGULA

Fresh arugula leaves. Isolated on white background.

ORIGIN // Also called roquette, salad rocket, garden rocket, or rugula. Native to the Mediterranean, arugula has been cultivated for centuries and is even mentioned in the bible.

QUALITIES // As with most dark leafy greens, arugula is high in a variety of nutrients. High in vitamin C, A, K. High in calcium, potassium and folate. Good source of iron.

USE // Arugula has a nutty flavor, is very versatile and can be used fresh or cooked. It is great as a base in a mixed salad, in sandwiches, as topping on pizzas or omelets. Add it fresh on top of the dish when it is ready to serve.

Harvest to Plate Recipe: Bacon, arugula, and egg wrap from Cooking Light

JALAPEÑOS

ORIGIN // This type of chile peppers originated in Mexico. After explorers met the new world, the crop spread around the world. The Spanish were the first to discover it in the New World, but the Portuguese did the most to bring it along their trade routes worldwide. Within North America, it is expected the fruit traveled with the slave trade, and Indigenous people had only been eating wild varieties in the southern USA prior to this.

QUALITIES // The compound which gives chilies their heat is called capsaicinoids, higher concentrations make the plant more pungent. The heat is ranked on the ‘Scoville scale’ which measures each pepper at Scoville heat units (SHU), bell peppers are rates as 0 SHU while the worlds hottest pepper the ‘Carolina Reaper’ is rated at 2,200,000 SHU. The ‘Jalapeno’ is rated up to 10,000 SHU.

USE // Chiles are used to add heat to any dish. The flesh and seeds can be used. Peppers are often dried and ground into chile pepper. It gives spice to a variety of dishes, including curry.

Harvest to Plate Recipe: Jalapeño Grits from Georgia Pellegrini

MIZUNA a.k.a. GREEN MUSTARD

ORIGIN // With a mild, sweet and earthy flavor, this mizuna green mustard is a relatively unknown, but marvelous green. It has been cultivated in Japan since ancient times, but most likely originated in China.

QUALITIES // Considered by some to be a ‘superfood’ mustard greens are nutrient packed.

  • High in fiber
  • High nutrition to calorie ratio
  • High in phytonutrients
  • Extremely high in vitamin K
  • High in vitamin A and C
  • Good source of manganese, calcium and iron

USE // Mustard greens have a strong flavor and are often mixed with other greens to tone down the flavor when eaten fresh. They can also be steamed or juice. Traditionally mustard greens are cooked with pork. Adding acid, such as lemon, and salt balances the flavor. 

Harvest to Plate Recipe: Pummelo, Fennel & Radish Salad from Kitchn

MATILDA

ORIGIN // The first depictions of lettuce are from Ancient Egypt, who passed it on to the Greeks and then the Romans who brought it to Europe. With sweet and buttery-textured leaves, this lettuce has added an incredible flavor to your plates! 

QUALITIES // Lettuces are particularly high in vitamin A and in Potassium, which supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength.

USE // Matilda lettuce makes perfect cups for cooked ground chicken and shrimp and is great to break up and have in a green salad. Larger leaves from heads can be used in place of bread or tortillas as ‘lettuce wraps.’ 

Harvest to Plate Recipe: Pickled Vegetable Lettuce Cups from BON APPÉTIT

SWEET PEPPERS

ORIGIN // Like their relative, the chili peppers, sweet peppers originated in Mexico with seeds of a wild variety dating back 5,000 BC. Like many other foods native to this region, sweet peppers were carries throughout the world by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers who traveled through this continent.

QUALITIES // Sweet Peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. High doses of antioxidants. Source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, K and B6. Boost the immune system.

USE // Sweet peppers are irreplaceable in certain recipes, like fajitas or stir-frys. They are versatile and easy to work with, too. Can be added to salads to enhance the taste and bring freshness. Add sweet peppers to pasta, curries, or soups to add a zing to your plates.

Harvest to Plate Recipe: Grilled Salmon and Sweet Peppers from Eating Well

You’ll be surprised how fragrant and tasty freshly picked vegetables can be. If you’ve never experienced the taste of freshly picked produce on your plate, you will be amazed at how different it is from store-bought food.

Gardyn members enjoy exchanging tips, posting questions, and sharing photos of their Gardyns in action in our private Facebook group. Take a peek at these “first harvest” pics from new Gardyners:

“Our first harvest tastes and smells as vibrant as it looks! The Gardyn has been a gift of connection, stillness, and nature during this time of Covid quarantining. #blessedwithnature”

“I’m discovering I’m liking the lettuces that I didn’t think I’d like. Maybe not choosing my first 30 ycubes was a good thing!”

– Karen, Gardyn Facebook Group Member
“My first harvest a month in. Love it!!”

How do you grow healthy and live tasty? We want to know!

Join the Gardyn community on Instagram and Facebook.

Resource:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). “Eating green leafy vegetables keeps mental abilities sharp.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150330112227.htm (accessed February 25, 2021).

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