Gardening for Good Health

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When my husband was deployed last year, we would often talk about what our future home would be like. It would have two stories, lots of hardwood floors, a nice yard for the baby to play as he grew up, and a vegetable garden.

Yes, we dreamt of growing our own vegetables for the first time.

Perhaps it’s the chaos of life during a deployment that drove us to fantasize about the simple pleasures life has to offer or maybe it was the longing for something that brought us back to our figurative roots. Whatever motivated us to build our garden, I’m grateful for that push because it’s brought so many happy memories and healthy meals into our lives.

Once we were reunited, we immediately commenced a PCS move from Germany to Fort Leavenworth, KS. We bought our first home together and started to work on our very own victory garden. I’ll never forget some of the memories we created like watching our toddler water the new sprouts or seeing the proud smile on my husband’s face when we celebrated our first harvest with a delicious arugula salad.

The obvious benefit of tending a garden is getting to eat the delicious fruits of your labor fresh from the vine. I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful everything tasted, better than anything from the supermarket.

Because we had put all of this work and time into our plants, and because they were so incredibly good, we were encouraged to use the vegetables at their prime. That meant eating salad almost every day for lunch instead of a mayonnaise-laden sandwich. It meant enjoying roasted or sautéed squash two or three times a week instead of some carb-heavy side dish at dinner. Snack time meant cucumbers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes as snacks instead of fattier, saltier alternatives. Our veggie intake has doubled and our processed food consumption has dipped into oblivion.

Military moves every year or so means that we will have to get creative when keeping a garden in the future. Even if we wind up in a tiny stairwell apartment one day, I have a feeling there will be a tomato plant on our balcony.

Do you grow your own food? What are your tips for growing a healthy garden in a temporary home?

Leafy Green Salad with Summer Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Time: 10 Minutes | Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups spinach, arugula, mesclun, or other dark leafy lettuce (no iceberg)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large heirloom tomato or ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 6 ounces grilled meat, fish, or tofu (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large salad bowl, whisk mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic together until well combined. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Immediately before serving, drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify the mixture. Add the greens and toss. Serve topped with cherry tomatoes and grilled meat, fish, or tofu (optional).

NutritionJoy Chalmers