Starting an indoor vegetable garden, a rewarding endeavor, not only brings nature indoors, but it provides organic foods to add to home-cooked meals, enhancing a healthy lifestyle. Here are ten of the healthiest vegetables for an indoor garden along with suggestions for preparation and the major health benefit each provides.
Arugula, a flavorful vegetable for salads, is easy to grow indoors with a little attention to selecting the right container for proper drainage. This vegetable plant requires daily sunlight or the use of an indoor plant light in its place.
Arugula can be used for salads, sandwiches, soups or added to pasta and other dishes. It can be mixed with other greens as well.
The most notable health benefit of arugula – its cancer protective qualities. Specifically, it includes “indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane” which are shown to have “anticarcinogenic” properties.
2. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers make a smart addition to the indoor garden. A soil mix specifically for sprouting vegetable seeds is the ideal way to get started. To grow bell peppers successfully, from seed to full grown plant, keep the temperature about 70 degrees and the plant in direct sunlight.
Bell Peppers can be grilled, fried, baked, sauteed, steamed, stuffed. These make a great addition to many dishes or they can be served as a side dish with chicken, meat, pasta or vegan meals prepared with tofu.
Bell peppers have a high concentration of vitamin A, which supports the immune system as well as “vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.”
Beets add color to the indoor garden and make a flavorful choice for dinner plates. The entire plant, including the roots, are edible. Beets grow best in cool temperatures and do well with minimal sunlight.
Popular ways to prepare beets – simply steamed with lemon or baked. Candied beets are also an option. Beets can be served as a side dish or added to other dishes such as salads.
Nutritionally, beets are high in minerals and support the health of many body functions including the heart, eyes and brain.
Carrots are another smart choice for an indoor garden. Keeping the soil moist is recommended since they require more water than the other vegetables. Unlike the beet plant that requires minimal sunlight, carrot plants require about 6 hours a day for optimal growth.
Carrots are known for supporting vision. They are high in vitamin A. The “carotene antioxidants” are also known to reduce cancer growth.
5. Green Beans
Green beans are an easy to grow vegetable. Direct sunlight is required for optimal growth. The ideal temperature is about 70 degrees with well drained soil.
Green beans can be prepared in many ways and added to different dishes. Bean salads with lemon and olive oil and steamed green beans are two options for adding this vegetable to meals.
The most notable health benefit from green beans is it’s high content of vitamin A, C and K.
Kale does best with direct sunlight or with an indoor plant light for the majority of the day. This vegetable adds a rich green color to the indoor garden.
For preparation, kale can be added to salads, soups or other dishes. It can be sauteed with olive oil as well. For some, kale’s strong flavor is a bit overwhelming, but it’s one that comes with many health benefits. Like the vegetables listed above, it is packed with vitamin A.
Often referred to as a “superfood“, kale not only includes vitamin A but also vitamins K and B6. Different minerals are also a part of kale’s benefits supporting good health.
Another smart choice for the indoor garden – onions. They require full sunlight and moist soil for the best growing conditions. Interesting fact: this is one vegetable that can even grow in water, without soil.
There are many options for preparing onions – fried, sauteed, stuffed, grilled, boiled or sliced for sandwiches and added to dips.
The health benefits of onions include large amounts of vitamin C. They also contain chromium, which is good for blood sugar levels.
This colorful vegetable makes a perfect addition to the indoor garden, adding color to the array of plants and to the dinner plate.
A popular choice in Italian salads, it can also be added to pastas and other dishes.
The health benefits make this plant a smart choice. According to the Nutrition and You website, “Fresh leaves hold moderate amounts of essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin. These vitamins are essential … required for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.”
Tomatoes make another smart choice for the indoor garden. Opt for the smaller varieties in order to manage the growth of the plant. The larger varieties require support for the vines, which may be challenging with limited indoor space.
Stewed, baked, fried, sauteed, boiled – the options are endless with tomatoes. Add to salads or use for sauces. They can be sliced on sandwiches or prepared as tomato salads for vegan and non-vegan options.
The major health benefit of tomatoes is its amazing antioxidant power. Full of vitamin C, tomatoes also have high amounts of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against sunlight’s damage to the skin and different cancers.
Growing indoor zucchini along with the other selected vegetables, adds a flavorful option to the array of vegetables in this indoor garden.
Zucchini can be sauteed, stuffed, fried, steamed or grilled and can be added to many dishes as well.
Two of the many health benefits of zucchini include its high concentration of magnesium and vitamin C. Vitamin A is another benefit in addition to omega 3 fatty acids.
Starting an indoor garden doesn’t have to be challenging. Even those new to gardening can be successful. Selecting the seeds, containers, premixed soil and location in the home are the first steps to this healthy, rewarding endeavor.