Gardening With Your Little Ones

Spring is right around the corner believe it or not and that means that it is time to start planning your vegetable garden.  Growing a vegetable garden is a great family activity.  Not only does it allow for some family bonding time, it teaches your child about where food comes from.  And if your child has been involved in the gardening process they are more likely to eat the vegetables they have grown themselves.

Peak your child’s interest by reading books on gardening together.  Some great fun reads are: How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry and Muncha, Muncha, Muncha  by Candace Fleming.  You can also visit local farmer’s markets, pick-your own vegetable farms and community gardens.  This will allow your child to talk with the growers themselves.  Now let’s get started!

  1. Vegetables love the sun so pick a nice sunny location in your yard.  If you don’t have a yard, don’t despair, a couple of large containers will work just as well.
  2. Prepare your dirt with some good soil amendments/fertilizer that can be found at local nursery or hardware stores.
  3. Pick your veggies.  Depending on where you live you will either want to start your vegetables from seed or plants.  Some good, easy-to-grow, and nutritious choices are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, beans, and if space allows, pumpkins.
  4. If you are feeling adventurous, add some herbs to your garden as well.  Some great summer choices are basil, chives, oregano, thyme and cilantro.
  5. To keep your plants healthy make sure to water regularly and watch out for pesky bugs.  You can purchase organic pest sprays, ladybugs and/or praying mantis to help keep pests at bay.

Since growing vegetables can take some time, have your child keep a journal of the plants growth, either through words or pictures.  This will not only keep your child interested but it will also help you keep track of when your plants should be harvested.  All that is left to do now is to sit back and eat your veggies.  If your child was not eating vegetables before, I guarantee you they will be eating their vegetables now.

Katie Valdes MS RD CSSD

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.



Images sources from flickr Creative Commons: Seeds, Enormous Cucumber, Planting



Free Urban Farming Workshop

If you are hip on growing what you eat then you need to check this out! At the Huntington Library…

April 24  (Tuesday)

7:30 p.m.  Free



Ranch lecture – The Wild Mediterranean Food Garden: Ideas and Practical Methods for Resilient Urban Agriculture

If your vegetable gardening is tied to traditional methods for planting, irrigation, and weed control, an exciting new world of ecosystem gardening awaits your discovery. Ecological landscape designer Darren Butler will discuss how to balance wildness and human management in seasonal food production as he outlines the core ideas for a new and evolving approach to gardening. Free; no reservations required. Friends’ Hall

How to make a Hard Boiled Egg

With Easter just a couple days away we thought that we share this great video about how to Hard Boil an egg. The coloring is up to you!


When I was growing up, Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, were a regular on our dinner table. The way we made Garbanzo curry, Chole, started by soaking raw garbanzo beans in water overnight. In the morning (EARLY in the morning, like 5.30 AM when she woke up), my mom would put them in a pressure cooker. Once the whistle blew (loudly, thus serving as our alarm to get up for school), she cooked it on low heat for 40 minutes, then made the curry before leaving for work. That evening we knew exactly how dinner conversation would go.

All of us: Chole are really tasty!

Dad adds: How long did you cook it for?

Mom: 40 minutes

Dad: You should have cooked it for 45 minutes. It makes the chickpeas softer & thoroughly cooked.

Mom: They are soft & thoroughly cooked.

Dad: 5 more minutes would have been good.

Mom: 40 minutes are good enough.

Dad: 45 minutes.

Mom: 40 minutes.

And so on…

Don’t tell mom, but I am with my dad on this one. Garbanzos from cans are convenient, but are just barely done. I mostly make my own, so they really are very soft & cooked thoroughly. Real simple. Real tasty. Try it.

At night, set your crockpot on low & put in the raw beans with lots of water (if you want exact measurements, I can’t help you). Add salt now rather than after they are cooked. Add some whole spices – bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon – whatever you have on hand. Adding spices takes their taste to a whole new level! Cover & let the crockpot do its magic. The garbanzos are ready by morning. You can fish out the whole spices or leave them in until you are ready to use the garbanzos. If you are serving some to frenemies, leave the peppercorns in.

What do you like to make with garbanzos? Here are a few my favs. Chole, garbanzo curry as described above, sans the 40-45 minute debate. We also add garbanzos to cooked quinoa for a quick salad or lunch. Have little kids? Try these as finger foods (split them in half before giving it to younger ones). There are many recipes for Garbanzo salad –onions, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cilantro, mint, avocadoes, lemon juice, jalapenos – add any or all of these. Even without oil or cheese, it tastes awesome! I’ve also tried my hand at making hummus. Umm, no comments on that.

Give homemade garbanzos a try. You really don’t need the canned kind. Target has a crock pot for $10. Best investment ever (actually 2nd best for me, but we’ll talk about that another time)! And if you need raw garbanzo beans, you are lucky to be in Glendale. Is there a single grocery store here that doesn’t carry them? Happy cooking!

Shalini Singh, CEO of the Singh household, vegetarian, foodie, community volunteer.

Social Widgets powered by