Garden2Table – GARDEN2TABLE March 2022
By: Cassandra D’Antonio (SEMG 2012)
EAT YOUR WATER, WINTER SALADS & MORE
EAT YOUR WATER. How many of you have recently purchased a head of iceberg lettuce? My husband did a few weeks ago when I asked him to pick up a package of spring mixed greens, claiming the store had been emptied of all spring mix, so he thought iceberg was the next best thing. I can’t remember the last time I bought iceberg lettuce, knowing for years that darker is better where lettuces are concerned—highly nutritious, low in calories, high in vitamins A and K, folate, and manganese, in addition to providing fiber to assist in the natural detoxification process.
Staring at this ball of iceberg lettuce reminded me of my childhood, when my mother served us salad with every meal—chunks of iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber, and a wedge or two of not always ripe tomato, along with our choice of Italian or Thousand Island dressing. Ugh!
But when I made myself a sandwich using iceberg lettuce, I found that it was surprisingly one of the best sandwiches I had made in a long time. Between two slices of whole grain, seeded bread, I coupled thinly sliced turkey and cheddar cheese with a generous chunk of iceberg lettuce and found heaven. The cold crunch of the lettuce was an absolute delight. It also reminded me of some of the more satisfying salads I have made using colorless chopped cucumber, radishes, and celery left over from a crudité dish. Which made me wonder why the crispest, most water-laden, and sometimes neutral tasing produce are often the most satisfying and refreshing, and whether they have a place in a healthy diet plan.
I found my answer when I Googled “most water-laden vegetables,” and the answer is a definite yes. Because the human body is 55–60% water, it needs a fresh daily supply for proper digestion, to keep organs functioning, joints lubricated, and otherwise stay healthy. Water is essential to your survival by:
- Regulating your body temperature
- Moistening your eyes, nose, and mouth tissues
- Protecting your organs and tissues
- Bringing nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- Lubricating joints
- Flushing out waste products
- Dissolving minerals and other nutrients for your body to use.
But you don’t have to drink all the water you need; you can just eat some of it. Fruits and vegetables all contain water, and many are mostly water. Below are a dozen fruits and veggies that are at least 90% water, according to Healthline, Medical News Today, and the University of California’s Berkeley Wellness. That means a cup of any of them contains nearly a cup of water. All of them are healthful, delivering fiber and different vital nutrients. (Follow the links for recipes plus selection and storage tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)
Bell peppers: High in vitamin C, plus some potassium, iron, and calcium.
Cabbage: High in vitamin C, good source of calcium, plus some iron.
Cantaloupe: High in vitamins A and C, good source of folate, plus some calcium and iron.
Cauliflower: High in vitamin C, good source of folate, plus some calcium and iron.
Cucumbers: Good source of vitamin C, plus some vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Celery: Good source of vitamins A and C, plus some calcium, iron, and vitamin K.
Iceberg Lettuce: Modest amount of vitamins A and C, plus some calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamin K (leaf lettuce is also a good source of folate).
Spinach: High in iron, folate, and vitamins A and C, good source of magnesium, plus some calcium, iron potassium, and vitamin K.
Strawberries: High in folate and vitamin C and antioxidants, plus some potassium, iron, and manganese.
Tomatoes: High in vitamins A and C, good source of potassium, plus some iron, folate, vitamin K, and the antioxidant lycopene.
Watermelon: High in vitamins A and C and antioxidants, plus some potassium, zinc, copper, and B vitamins.
Zucchini: High in vitamin C, plus some calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins A and K.
Worth noting: Broccoli, carrots, grapefruit, kale, oranges, and peaches aren’t on the list above, but are all above 80% water and good choices, too.
GUIDES TO PLANTING & HARVESTING LETTUCES. Most greens and salad crops, such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, collards, and kale, are cool season crops that should be sown early before temperatures are too warm. This cool-season vegetable germinates best at 65–70°F. Therefore, if you plant them outside too early in the spring they will die. And if you plant them too late, your lettuce won’t produce a harvest before the first frost arrives in the fall. Here are two excellent guides to planting lettuce in New Mexico:
WINTER SALADS. Though spring is fast approaching, it’s not too late to indulge in a variety of winter salads, which are heavier than a summer salad because they typically include grains, legumes, cruciferous and root veggies, winter squashes, hardy greens, and seasonal citrus fruits. To make this task easier, below are links to dozens of delicious, satisfying winter salad ideas.
Greens Aren’t Just for Summer: 19 Delicious Winter Salad Ideas | Food & Wine (foodandwine.com)
25 Winter Salad Ideas – Best Recipes for Winter Salads (delish.com)
37 Best Winter Salad Recipes We Can’t Stop Making | Bon Appétit (bonappetit.com)
26 Best Winter Salad Recipes – Insanely Good (insanelygoodrecipes.com)
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH CREAMY HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE is our featured recipe for March. I selected it because who can resist roasted cauliflower and chickpeas tossed in smoky chipotle and paprika, served alongside avocado and topped with a creamy mustard vinaigrette?