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How to Grow Food Indoors in Winter

How to Grow Food Indoors in Winter

There’s nothing quite like being able to pick fresh vegetables and herbs from your garden to cook with, but that really isn’t much of an option when it’s -10 degrees and snowing outside, is it?

Well, it can be. As long as you have some potting soil, containers, and a spot in your home that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight, you’d be surprised what you can grow indoors over the winter months.

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What You’ll Need To Grow Food Indoors

  • High-quality potting soil
  • Containers (these could be planters and pots, or even empty cans and jars)
  • Vegetable and herb seeds
  • Twine (if growing beans)
  • A sunny spot

If you have a south-facing window, chances are that you’ll get a significant amount of light over the course of the day. The area near that window will also be the warmest spot in your home, so that’s where you’ll want to grow your plants.

What Will Grow?

Lettuce

Incredibly easy to grow, as well as very cold-hardy, you can grow an assortment of lettuces in a simple window box that you place on a sill, or on a table close to a sunny window. Just get yourself a packet of mixed cut-and-grow-again lettuce seeds, fill that planter with soil, and sow the seeds according to the packet’s instructions. You should see sprouts within a week, and within a month, you’ll have lovely lettuce leaves to gnaw on.

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Kale and Cabbage

Like lettuces, brassicas are notoriously easy to grow, and do well all through the winter months. In fact, if you live in a place where the weather doesn’t dip far below freezing, you can likely grow these outside all winter long, provided that you have a cloche or cold frame over them. To grow them inside, follow the same instructions as with the lettuces, only sow the seeds a bit further apart, as these plants need more room to grow than lettuces do.

Arugula

Sharp and spicy, this leafy green is a wonderful treat any time of year, and is as great on sandwiches as it is in soups and salads. Sow it generously in a window box or planter, but don’t water it too much: it’s easy to drown arugula roots. As soon as the leaves are a few inches tall, clip down down near the root; the leaves tend to get bitter when they get larger, and if you just cut them back, they should re-grow.

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Tomatoes and Peppers

You can actually grow these a couple of different ways: in a windowsill planter or in an upside-down pop bottle planter. The latter is my favorite method, as it allows the plant to channel all of its energy into growing fruit, rather than pushing itself upright. Considering that winter sunlight isn’t anywhere near as strong or warm as it is in summertime, this really is the best option.

Beans

Not only are these the easiest things in the world to grow, they can also be quite pretty as house plants. My favorite way to grow beans is to stretch twine over a canvas frame, and secure that to a window. Sure, as the beans grow they’ll obscure a bit of the view, but enough light still gets through to illuminate the indoors, and seeing all of that greenery in the dead of winter is really quite lovely. If you don’t want to go the twine route, you can just stick long bamboo poles into the pot of soil, and lean those against a wall.

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Culinary Herbs

It’s lovely to be able to add fresh herbs to anything you’re cooking, and with the exception of dill (which needs a lot of sun and heat and is very temperamental), you should be able to grow just about any cooking herb you can imagine. Woody herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano do very well in window boxes, as will cilantro, winter savoury, and chives.

Edible Flowers

It’s unlikely that you’d be able to grow nasturtiums or hibiscus during the winter months, but you can absolutely grow lavender, violets, calendula, and (if you’re patient), sunflowers.

Sprouts

Undoubtedly the easiest foods to cultivate indoors, sprouts can be grown on your kitchen counter and be ready to eat within a couple of days. I’d recommend visiting Sprouting.com for resources on how to sprout (including instructional videos) as well as tips on where to get the best seeds and legumes to sprout at home.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2020

The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

1. The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

2. Whole30

The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

During the month you are eliminating:

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  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • legumes
  • grains
  • dairy
  • soy

Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

Finding Out How Food Impacts You

Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

3. The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes & nuts
  • Replacing butter with olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Moderate amounts of red wine

Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

4. The Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

The Big Takeaway:

Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

Reference

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