Healthy Foods in Season: Cool Season Crops

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arugulaIt’s truly rewarding to walk to the garden and harvest “what’s for dinner?” This evening, it’s arugula, kale and collard greens. They are cool season crops and all belong to the brassicaceae family. Cool season crops grow best when average temperatures are between 55 and 75 degrees. The brassicaceae family (also known as cruciferous or cole crops) is the powerhouse of cool season crops. The nutrient dense plants include arugula, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kohlrabi, mustards, pak-choi, radish and turnips. They characteristically have a sulfurous odor.

Italian Arugula (pronounced: ah-ROO-guh-lah) is one of our favorite brassicas to grow. It’s more commonly known as Rocket and roquette in salad mixes. The green leafy vegetable has a peppery flavor and adds a nutty zip taste to sandwiches, pasta, tomato dishes and sautéed vegetables.

Choosing a leafy green like Arugula has many nutritional benefits in comparison to other greens like iceberg lettuce. Like other cruciferous vegetables, arugula contains a group of anticancer compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds exert antioxidant activity, and are potent stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. Arugula is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.  It’s also a very good source of potassium, iron, zinc, riboflavin, and copper. Like other greens, arugula is rich in many essential vitamins and minerals, as well as important phytochemicals.

We believe food, organically grown and utilizing sustainable farming practices, is good medicine. We encourage you to grow your own nutritious leafy greens or to seek them out and other cool season crops at Certified Farmers’ Markets. There are two year-round certified farmers’ markets available in Placer County. Information on locations and times can be found at: http://foothillfarmersmarket.com/ . In the Sacramento area, find certified farmers ’ markets close to you by visiting http://www.cafarmersmarkets.com/.

Sláinte!

Blog, NutritionMargie McCavitt