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Kate Przybycien currently is a dietetic intern at Vanderbilt Medical Center, originally from Michigan. She moved to Nashville after completing a bachelor's degree in Nutritional Sciences at Colorado State University in May 2011.

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H ealthy Table*

Be Intentional When Planting Your Home Garden
By Kate Przybycien

Gain Health Benefits by Growing Your Own Nutrition Powerhouse!

F ruits and vegetables have been in the public eye for years because of their nutritional benefits. What is it about these plant-based products that give us positive health outcomes? In addition to the vitamins and minerals they provide, researchers have been making advancements to find more answers. What they are discovering is that plant- based foods are high in phytochemicals; (pronounced "fight-o-chemicals").

*Phytochemicals were unknown until a few years ago, but their discovery is recognized as being as important to that of vitamins...

Phytochemicals were unknown until a few years ago, but their discovery is recognized as being as important to that of vitamins. These non-nutritive, plant- based chemicals give fruits and vegetables their flavor, odor, and color. More than 900+ different phytochemicals have been found in plant foods. For instance, lycopene is found in pink and red fruits and vegetables. A phytochemical group called carotenoids are found in dark orange, yellow, and leafy green fruits, and vegetables.

According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, once we eat fruits and vegetables, they can positively influence the chemical processes in our bodies in helpful ways. Findings from laboratory studies have shown that phytochemicals have the potential to:

  • Stimulate the immune system;
  • Block substances we eat, drink, and breathe from becoming carcinogens
  • Reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely
  • Prevent cell damage and help with cell repair
Powerhouse Garden Health Benefits Growing Season in Tennessee
Source of Vitamins B & K, Biotin, Fiber, Potassium, Thiamin May to June
Source of Vitamins A, B, & C, Fiber, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorous Mid- June to mid- October
Source of Vitamins A, C, E, & K, Fiber, Omega- 3 Fatty Acids, Iron, Zinc May to early June
Source of Vitamins A & C, Fiber, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium, Folate Mid- June to November
Source of Vitamins C & B6, Folic Acid, Potassium, Calcium, Biotin May to mid- November
Source of Vitamins A, B, C, E, & K, Folic Acid, Potassium, Iron, Zinc October to May
Source of Vitamins B & C, Biotin, Fiber, Calcium, Folic Acid, Potassium May to August
Source of Vitamins A, B, C, & E, Fiber June to September

This season, when planting your own nutritional powerhouse garden, remember to choose fruits and vegetables based on color. Favor brightly colored or strongly flavored fruits and vegetables, as these are often the best sources of phytochemicals!

Broccoli with Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts
(Yields four (3/4)-cup servings)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

3 tbsp. pine nuts, or chopped slivered almonds
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion, (about 1 medium-sized onion)
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
4 cups broccoli florets
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toast pine nuts (or almonds) in a medium-sized dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 - to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.

Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, adjusting heat as necessary, until soft and golden brown, 15- 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam broccoli until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the nuts, onion, vinegar, and pepper; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 102
Fat: 7 g;
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Sodium: 166 mg
Fiber: 3 g

To find this recipe online, visit eatingwell.com.

Spinach Berry Salad Recipe
(Yields 4 servings)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4

1/3 cups almonds, slivered
4 cups baby spinach
3/4 cups strawberries, quartered
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
3 tbsp. extra- virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the almonds in a dry skillet or sautee pan. Cook over low heat, shaking the pan the entire time until the almonds start toasting. Almonds are done when you start to smell a nutty scent. Remove almonds from the pan to cool. (Do not cool in the skillet because they will burn from the heat remaining in the pan.)

Wash and dry the spinach.

Prepare the dressing by placing the vinegar, mustard, and honey into a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until all ingredients are incorporated. Place spinach in a large bowl. Add strawberries, almonds, and dressing. Toss to coat. If desired, season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 162.5
Fat: 15.2 g
Carbohydrates: 6.2 g
Sodium: 49 mg
Fiber: 2.2 g

To find this recipe online, visit recipes.sparkpeople.com.