December 2013
The Herb Farm

It’s Still Fall

 So it is … still fall. I think it is time for some experimentation.

I’m getting too old to fool with much of the same old stuff I plant here on the farm. This year, I’ll plant my staples. There will be the usual crop of salad greens (mustards, lettuces, turnips and the like), but, this year, I’m trying stuff I’ve never tried before.

This season, I’m starting a new trend. There will be new, and never tried here, produce folks in my area should eat and enjoy.

At the top of the list is flaxseed or linseed (Linum usitatissimum). Although this plant is grown for textile fiber and is an ingredient in wood finishing products, it is also grown as a dietary supplement. It contains high levels of dietary fiber, micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Research this one for yourselves, folks. It is a staple in almost everything I prepare from baked goods to fruit smoothies.

Chia (Salvia hispanica) is another oily seed consumed for its rich content of omega-3 fatty acids. It aids digestion and helps fight heart disease. Chia is another dietary supplement I regularly add to smoothies, oatmeal, grits, cookies and energy bars.

Pumpkin seeds or pepitas (Cucurbita pepo ssp.) make a great snack food. They contain protein, iron, zinc, phosphorus, copper, potassium and many other micronutrients along with a rich assortment of fatty acids. Vitamins include Bs, C, E and K. They are just plain good for you. I use whole roasted pumpkin seeds in my energy bars and cookies. Milled roasted pumpkin seeds make a tasty ingredient in breads and cakes.

       
Red flaxseed adds a nutty flavor to baked goods. It’s a healthy addition to salads, cereals and smoothies. To get the best nutritional benefits, be sure to mill the seed first.   Chia seeds come in many shades of brown, tan, white and gray.   White chia is the one I buy most often.
       
     
Pumpkin seeds taste great toasted. It’s a healthy snack for kids, too!   Cooked red quinoa adds color to your dinner plate or green salad.    White quinoa is becoming more and more popular since it is now promoted as a “superfood.” Mill the seed to make a flour. When used as a baking ingredient, it can replace many gluten flours that cause medical issues with many folks – like me.

Recipe: I make a puree from cooked sweet potatoes and add the milled pumpkin seeds to the paste, spread it thinly onto parchment paper about the size and thickness of a potato chip. Bake them at 350 degrees until crispy, but not burnt. If they aren’t salty enough for you, add salt at the beginning of the process.

Pomegranate seed (Punica granatum) contains phytochemicals, polyphenols, vitamins and micronutrients. Pop open a pomegranate and enjoy the seed on a green salad.

About 44 percent of the weight of hempseed (Cannabis sp) is edible oils. It contains dietary fiber, omega-6, omega-3, other essential fatty acids and protein. Again, I primarily use hempseed milled and added to energy bars and breakfast cereals. It is great for baking in cakes and cookies, too.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) has to be one of my favorites among the grain-like seeds. Cooked quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, vitamins and minerals. You can even boost its nutritional value by soaking the seed in plain water for three or four hours before cooking it. Use cooked quinoa as a stuffing with fresh carrots. Mix quinoa with your favorite meatloaf meat for a great sandwich meatloaf. (Sandwich meatloaf: Doesn’t fall apart when sliced.)

Yes. I am going to plant all of these in the spring. My yields may not be profitable and I am certain I will still supplement my consumption greatly at the retailers, but at least I will be growing something good to eat.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next year!

Until then, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

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As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.