Happy Earth Day! April 22nd was Earth Day, so let’s celebrate our relationship with the Earth! A major way we interact with Earth is through the food we eat. Earth offers us an abundance of delicious foods—namely, grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Earth provides us with an enormous variety of grains to eat: wheat, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, millet, farro, amaranth, wheat berries… There are too many to choose from! Grains can keep us healthy by providing us with lots of fiber and energy. According to MyPlate, one fourth of our plate should be grains at each meal, and we should aim to make half of our grains whole grains. For more information on whole grains, check out this link: https://secondharvestkitchen.org/news/healthy-nudges/lets-talk-about-whole-grains/).
Legumes are a great source of both fiber and lean protein! This means that legumes are super healthy for us; fiber keeps us fuller longer and keeps our digestive system healthy, and lean protein helps us have a diet low in saturated fat. But what is a legume? Legumes are plants whose seeds are contained inside pods. Typically, we just eat the seeds of the legume, but there are some cases in which we can eat the pod as well (think green peas!). Earth provides us with lots of different types of legumes. Beans—such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and white beans—are all legumes. Other types of legumes include peas (e.g. green peas, snap peas, snow peas, split peas) and all varieties of lentils. Some foods that are commonly referred to as nuts, such as cashews, are actually legumes, too. Legumes are delicious and can easily be added to soups or made into dips and spreads for a nutritional boost!
Fruits & Vegetables
And of course we can’t forget about the abundance of fruits and veggies that Earth provides us! Apples, pears, berries, pineapple, oranges, nectarines… Broccoli, sweet potatoes, radishes, squash, bell peppers… there are just too many to name! It’s not only important that we are eating a variety of fruits and veggies but also a variety of colors within these food groups. Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, so if we have a variety of colors of fruits and veggies on our plates, we know that we are getting the many different health benefits they provide. Current dietary guidelines recommend that we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables at each meal.
The Abundance of the Inland Northwest
We are fortunate to live in a region where grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables abound! According to the WSDA, there are over 300 types of crops grown in the state of Washington. Apples are the top crop produced in Washington, and Washington farms are responsible for 70% of the U.S.’s apple production. Other common produce grown in this area includes potatoes, berries, pears, grapes, asparagus, and cherries (WSDA). We also live close to the Palouse—a region that encompasses parts of eastern Washington and northern Idaho that is abundant in grain and legume crops, such as wheat and lentils.
Check out some of the Kitchen’s recipes that use these grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables to make delicious meals and snacks!
Chickpeanut Butter Cookies: https://secondharvestkitchen.org/core/files/secondharvestkitchen/uploads/files/Chickpeanutbutter%20Cookies.pdf
Mixed Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal: https://secondharvestkitchen.org/core/files/secondharvestkitchen/uploads/files/Mixed%20Berry%20Banana%20Baked%20Oatmeal.pdf
Roasted Root Veggies and Tomato Sauce: https://secondharvestkitchen.org/core/files/secondharvestkitchen/uploads/files/Roasted%20Root%20Veggies%20%26%20Tomato%20Sauce.pdf
Zucchini Blueberry Pancakes: https://secondharvestkitchen.org/core/files/secondharvestkitchen/uploads/files/Zucchini%20Blueberry%20Pancakes.pdf