Superfoods From the Garden: Grow it, Cook it, and Achieve the Best Health Ever – Review and Giveaway

Superfoods From the Garden: Grow it, Cook it, and Achieve the Best Health Ever, by Michael van Straten, published by Cico Books.  Is a book full of great gardening tips and nutritional advice for the foods we need to eat to be in the best health ever.

About the Book

“It is not as difficult as you may think to establish a Superfood garden and to make it as organic as possible.  Once you start to make compost, you become much more aware of the natural cycle of growing, harvesting, and returning the residues to the soil.”

“Good food and good health go hand in hand, and if in the process of cultivating both, you can do your bit toward reducing our carbon footprint and helping to slow down global warming, that’s even better.  Without becoming obsessive, every bottle you recycle, every drop of water you reuse, every mile less you travel in the car are small steps in the right direction.  The biggest step is bringing up your children to have a care for their planet.  By fostering this caring attitude in our young, we are more likely, with the combined efforts of millions, to make that giant leap for mankind that allows us to pass on a greener and pleasanter world from generation to generation.”

You really are what you eat. This book reflects what is good and wholesome.  Making the effort to eat as local as you can, whether from a garden plot or a planter on a balcony really impacts your health and wellness. Fabulous food can be had with generous helpings of vitamins, antioxidants, protection against diseases and essential nutrients right at your doorstep.

My Thoughts

Browsing through this beautifully photographed book makes me think how lucky I am to have this copy to give away which was so generously donated to me from Thomas Allen & Son.  There are so many ideas and informative passages that I feel the need to share.  I am amazed and thrilled with the section about apples for instance.  Did you know apples aid in digestion, maintain blood sugar levels, help to reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast, lung and colon cancer, and as well aids in asthma and arthritis? The pectin and fibre in apples help to eliminate cholesterol and protect the body against environmental pollutants, combines with heavy metals and removes them from the body.  Apples are excellent if you have arthritis, rheumatism, gout or colitis.  The Brat Diet is one that van Stratten touts as being an effective treatment against diarrhea. Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast.  Simply mash the fruit and rice together and eat with whole-wheat toast.  Even grated apple, allowed to oxidize and turn brown before eating is quite effective.  Wow, now we know why it is said that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”!

The book goes on and on with endless information on each vegetable and fruit, how to grow it, cultivate it, harvest and store it.  Then goes on as to how to prepare it, along with the essential nutrient information explained rather thoroughly.  As well I enjoy the little tidbits of information tucked in here and there. Especially the section on how to peel an onion without crying, and in particular number 6, which states “Wear swim goggles!” Peeling onions under water really does work though, and cutting from the top to the root works as well.

Book Highlight

Beets.  We seem to get our fair share of beets, and quickly and swiftly run out of ideas as to how to prepare them.  Most of us shy away from beets, as they take so long to cook, and make our pee red.  Reading this section really helps in knowing why we should not swap out our beets.  They are an energy booster.  Great for athletes because they increase the amount of oxygen that cells in our bodies can absorb, providing added strength and resistance and as well a blood builder which assists to combat anemia and other blood disorders.  They have heart-healthy, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.  The red pigments also cause beeturia, a condition which makes urine red which is harmless and can be surprising and entertaining to see.

Don’t forget to eat the leaves.  Some think that is the most delicious part.


Beets are a strengthening vegetable, and they are among the most important foods of Romany traditional medicine.  A good source of both instant and slow-release energy, this recipe is perfect for anyone recovering from extreme physical exertion or illness.

  • 1 lb. Beets
  • 1 large Onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups Arborio or better still Camaroli rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, heated
  • 1 small handful chives, finely snipped or onion tops
  • 1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Wash the beets, cut off the tops leaving about an inch of stem.  Place them, unpeeled in a saucepan and pour in enough boiling water to half cover them. Simmer, covered until they are tender – about one hour depending on the size of the beet.  Allow to cool, then rub off skin. Drain off liquid.  Under cold running water, gently rub off skin.  Or allow to cool, then rub off skin.

Season beets with a little salt and dice.  Fry the onion gently in half the butter, until soft, but not coloured.  Add the beets and cook for a few minutes.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are all coated with the butter.  Pour in the wine and boil rapidly for a minute or two to reduce it.  Add the hot stock, a ladle-full at a time, stirring until absorbed.  Continue until all the stock is used and the rice still has some crunch – about 25 minutes.  Stir in the remaining butter, the herbs and the parmesan.  Leave to stand, covered for 2 minutes to enhance the flavors before serving.

Contest Rules

Superfoods From the Garden: Grow it, Cook it, and Achieve the Best Health Ever, by Michael van Straten, published by Cico Books, new in 2011 will be an amazing addition to your recipe shelf and medicine shelf, helping you make the wisest choices for you and your family. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this review, and as well a what superfoods you have in your own garden or patio right now and you are entered in the contest.  Good Luck! And Happy, Healthy, Local Eating!

Lady Locavore

Brain food for College Students

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6 Responses to Superfoods From the Garden: Grow it, Cook it, and Achieve the Best Health Ever – Review and Giveaway

  1. Jo-Anne says:

    This looks like a fantastic book!
    We eat alot of garlic. My kids love the smell of it cooking away before we crakc our eggs in the morning. Anything leafy and green is powerful too. Although we don’t have it growing, we look forward to having some kale in our box to cook into tasty “chips”.
    Not from around here, but coconut oil is super good for you too!


  2. Adam says:

    Jen and I are huge fans of herbs, and consider them to be a superfoods. We grow them as close to the house as possible so that I can run out to pick some while the other ingredients are simmering in the kitchen (all about convenience!). Oregano is one of my favourites, but basil, rosemary and thyme are all used regularly too. Herbs are superhigh in antioxidants, so we try to use them in as many dishes as possible. Sage is a great one for the immune system, and any time we feel that a cold is coming on, we’ll make sage tea, and it really seems to work. Apparently an old Roman remedy that has stood the test of time.


  3. Chris Johnson says:

    This is the first year i’ve grown vegetables in my backyard and it’s been very successful – keeping up with everything is the biggest challenge! Trying to emphasize – like Bobby said above – veggies that are commonly listed on the ‘dirty dozen’, or stuff that I eat regularly.

    Locally grown veggies are allowed to grow into an adult plant – as opposed to store bought which is shipped in from thousands of miles away, so it’s picked early and allowed to age on the truck transporting it. Adult veggies are more nutriotinally dense when grown in rich, organic soil – so pound for pound not only are you missing the pesticides when doing growing/buying local/organic, you’re also getting more nutrients! It’s a win-win!!

    I’ve grown red beets, brocolli, cauliflower, yellow onions, carrots, sugar snap peas, green peas, spinach, potatoes, celery, cayanne peppers, and many herbs (basil – so much basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, and peppermint)!

    I hightly recommend the Square-foot-gardening technique for all those first-timers out there – follow the directions exactly and you’ll be successfully picking you’re own veggies in no time! Super easy and straight forward (


  4. Bobby says:

    I try to read as much as I can on healthy eating and superfoods, and then try to implement what I have learned This book would definitely be a great resource with information on the fruits and vegtables, cooking and gardening all-in-one book! In my flowerbed I am growing strawberries and in my small backyard garden I have carrots, both often found on the “dirty dozen” list of fruits and vegetables most likely to have residue from pesticides. Strawberries are high in antioxidants and fiber, are good for your heart and are natural anti-inflammatory Carrots high in antioxidants, beta carotene, full of vitamins, are good for your eyes and for digestion and are said to lower the risk of stroke.


  5. John says:

    Sounds like a good book. My garlic harvest is pathetically small this year because we moved in February so I couldn’t plant until spring. The cloves are small but packed with intense flavour.


  6. Caterina says:

    Super foods are high in antioxidants and full of important vitamins naturally. Many are proven to reduce the risk of certain diseases like coronary disease. I am growing hot peppers in my own garden as they help lower cholesterol and in combination with the fresh garlic from my CSA box aids in lowering blood pressure. This book would be a welcome addition to our home not only as a cook book but also a gardening manual- let’s hope it can turn my thumbs greener.


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