Entice the picky eaters in your family with these 11 great garden goodies. With unique textures, shapes, and tastes, they make healthy eating fun for kids. Take a tour with Kids Trail Mascot Fungi and see what’s in the garden.
Great Garden Goodies
Lydia’s Fields at Wheatlands in Purcellville has not only summer “classics” like cucumbers and eggplants. The farm also offers unique vegetables, fruits and herbs. Carrying on a 200 year old farming tradition, Lydia’s Fields grows an assortment of heirloom tomatoes as well as hybrid varieties.
Color, shape, texture, and taste all influence how we feel about food. The same is true for children. Lydia’s Black Krim heirloom tomato is quite dark in appearance while the hybrid Beorange variety gets its name from its color. Australian Oxhearts are shaped like, you guessed it, hearts. Share with your children the story of how these tomatoes immigrated to America. And if your kids (or you) have a sweet tooth, try Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes. These golden-yellow jewels are soft and tangy. It’s like eating tomato flavored candy!
Unique Summer Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs
Can’t get your kids to eat broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower? Then try the kohlrabi currently at Lydia’s Fields. Also called a German turnip, Faith Durand of The Kitchn says kohlrabi looks like an “alien spaceship”. Enjoy it raw as a slaw, puree it in soup, and make kohlrabi fritters. Or keep it simple and just roast it. Eggplant and kohlrabi are a tasty combination. And steamed kohlrabi works well with stir fry vegetables.
Another way to get more greens into your family’s diet is chard. While it might look like a beet, it’s the leaves you’re after. In fact, you can’t eat the root. But the leaves are tender and taste similar to spinach. And you can also eat the stems by sauteing or steaming them.
Fennel is a multi-purpose perennial herb related to the carrot family. Originally from the Mediterranean, the bulb can be sauteed, roasted or grilled. Firm and crunchy, it tastes a little like licorice. The stalk can take the place of celery in soups and stews or used as a “bed” for roasted chicken. Even those feathery fronds are edible. Try them as a garnish or chop them up in lieu of dill or parsley.
More Great Garden Goodies
Herbs are a great way to add new flavor to summer classics like eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini. While most home cooks like to use dill, oregano, and sweet basil, families who have a focus on wellness are also discovering Tulsi basil. Native to Southeast Asia, this herb is also known as “holy basil” and considered a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit. Get the kids in the kitchen and make some Tulsi Tea with this recipe provided by Lydia’s Fields.
Ingredients: 1 cup water; 1-2 tablespoons dried tulsi (or a handful of fresh tulsi leaves and flowers)
Directions: Bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the tulsi in a heat-safe container. Allow the tea to steep, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Strain tulsi from tea and enjoy daily.
Garlic for Flavor and Good Health
Another great herb known for medicinal properties is garlic. Young chefs can help in the kitchen with this recipe for roasted garlic from The Kitchen.
Ingredients: 1 or more heads of garlic; olive oil. Equipment: knife; aluminum foil
Directions: Heat the oven to 400°F: Set a rack in the middle position. Peel (most of) the paper off the garlic: Use your fingers to peel away all the loose, papery, outer layers around the head of garlic. Leave the head itself intact with all the cloves connected.
Trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head of garlic to expose the tops of the garlic cloves. Drizzle 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the exposed surface of the garlic, letting the oil sink down into the cloves. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, begin checking the garlic. It’s done when a center clove is completely soft when pierced with a paring knife. Even once soft, you can continue roasting until deeply golden for a more caramelized flavor. Check every 10 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size of your garlic, the variety, and its age.
Let the garlic cool slightly, and then serve. Press on the bottom of a clove to push it out of its paper. Roasted garlic can also be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.
Enjoy roasted garlic as a spread on bread or crackers and mash it into salad dressing, hummus, and baba ganoush. Or use roasted in place of raw garlic in soups, casseroles, and sauces.
Finish with Figs
In addition to all these great garden goodies, Lydia’s Fields also has figs. The ficus trees reside at the farm’s “House of Figs”. They have a sweet taste, a soft and chewy texture, and slightly crunchy, edible seeds. Since they are so delicate and perishable, store figs in a single layer on a plate or shallow bowl in the refrigerator or a very cool place and eat within a few days.
And Coming Soon …
Lydia’s Fields is not the only farm in the Blue Ridge with unique produce. In just a couple of weeks, pawpaws will be available at Mackintosh Fruit Farm in Berryville. Pawpaws taste a lot like bananas combined with mango, pineapple, melon, or berries. Add them to cakes and puddings. Or make ice cream and smoothies. Follow the farm on Facebook for picking updates.
Picky eaters are more inclined to enjoy a meal when they have a say in what goes on the table. And by taking your children to a local farm, community store or farmers market, they’ll learn about locally sourced food and the importance of healthy eating. You can find these stops on the VA Kids Trail as well as Taste of Blue Ridge. Plan a visit and pick up some great garden goodies!