Start the Day the Gardener's Way!

smoothieI don't think you have to be poor to have a good vegetable garden, but, from past experience, I do believe it helps! There's nothing quite like trying to cut back on the grocery bill to make you pull on your gumboots, grab the fork and spade, and make everything you do in the garden count. Perhaps that's why, as a lover of food gardens and travel, I always head for countries that are more rural than developed, more cash-strapped than wealthy. In a country where a food garden is the difference between having enough to eat and going hungry, I know I'm bound to find an inexaustable range of cleverly grown fruit and vegetables. In countries such as Albania, where unemployment is high and social security practically non-existant, that's certainly what you find. There, fruit and vegetable gardens, even on the edges of large cities, stretch from the roadside right up to the front doors of homes. Corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines – you name it – are growing in every front (and back) yard. It's the same in Romania where a lawn is unheard of!

Perhaps for the same reason, some of the poorest countries have also developed cuisines that incorporate vegetables, not just in lunch and dinner dishes but also at breakfast. India, with its fragrant potato breakfast curries and vegetable-stuffed chapatti is one of the best examples. Japan (traditional rather than poor) follows suit with its hearty miso vegetable broths. And here in my home in New Zealand, vegetables have always been big on the breakfast menu. Not only does it save dollars by using up home-grown produce rather than commercial cereals and bread, it's also a smart way to incorporate into your diet that extra serving or two of vegetables we're now being encouraged to eat for the sake of our health. If you want to make breakfast a vege meal in your home, you may like to try some of the following:

  • Bubble and squeak (fried mashed spud with vege leftovers)
  • Root vege wedges
  • Home made muesli with grated carrot and chopped nuts
  • Pancakes filled with mashed roots veges, wilted spinach, or stewed rhubarb and ginger
  • Frittata
  • Pizza, laden with diced roast root veges and wilted spinach or silverbeet
  • Juiced vegetable and yoghurt smoothies
  • Hash browns or rosti (fried grated potato pancakes)

And for something you will want to try again and again, here's my all-time favourite breakfast vegetable recipe:

Papatowai Silverbeet Fritters (for two hearty eaters)

Ingredients
6 large leaves of Silverbeet
2 free range eggs
3 table spoons white flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Trim white stalks from beet leaves and reserve for use in soup. Dice beet leaves, and wilt in a steamer or microwave. Cool well, then squeeze out moisture. Beat eggs together with seasoning. Whisk in flour and baking powder. Stir in wilted beet. Grease a non-stick pan with olive oil. Fry spoons of the mixture until golden brown on both sides. Delicious served with home-made chutney or relish.

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