The green and leafy vegetables have vitamins A and C and within this group the vitamin content varies.
Cauliflower does not contain vitamin A but contains vitamin C and a fair source of other vitamins and minerals. Cauliflowers should be used as fresh as possible, otherwise they lose all their goodness.
The cabbage family
The cabbage family includes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnip tops, kale and the Chinese cabbage family. They all have a great energy value but not as much as bread, therefore their nutritional value is in the vitamins and mineral content.
Kale and turnip tops contain calcium and iron and the value is increased when the vegetables are green, that is to say the outside leaves, which are generally discarded are more nutritious than the heart, which we all like so much.
The cooking of these vegetables goes a long way in preserving the vitamin content. Baking soda should never be used and the leaf vegetables should only be cooked in a minimum of water and they should not be allowed to stand too long before being eaten.
The growing of leaf vegetables is very easy and no garden should be without them. Grow only enough for your needs, even if you only plant out six cabbages per week or fortnight, according to the size of the family. It is better than planting out two or three dozen and letting them go to seed, because they cannot be eaten quickly enough.
The spinach family
The spinach family, such as New Zealand spinach and silver beet, supply both vitamins A and C. They contain small amounts of oxalic acid salts which make their own calcium and iron. Because of these salts, many people think that these vegetables are harmful. This is not so, as the oxalates are not nearly concentrated enough to affect health.
Vegetarians who consume greater amounts of vegetables will have a higher intake of oxalates, which may reduce calcium availability. This may be an increased risk factor for women, who require greater amounts of calcium in the diet. In humans, diets low in calcium and high in oxalates are not recommended but the occasional consumption of high oxalate foods as part of a nutritious diet does not pose any particular problem.
French and runner beans
French and runner beans are not nearly as good as other beans as regards nutritional value. Peas and other beans are much more nutritious than any other vegetable. They do not contain so much vitamin A and C but their vitamin B content and iron are good sources of protein and energy. The vitamin B content is equal in value to wholemeal bread.
The growing of these vegetables is justified and no home gardener should be without them.
Lettuce, celery, radish, spring onions, parsley, cucumber and tomatoes are probably the most important salad vegetables as they are generally eaten raw, and by doing this, the whole of the vitamin content it preserved. Lettuce, celery and cucumber are the poorest suppliers of vitamin C. Tomatoes provide more.
Roots, tubers and pumpkins, potatoes and parsnips contain most starch and have a high energy value. White turnips and Swedes have no more energy value than green vegetables and contain a fair amount of vitamin B, white pumpkins and carrots are good sources of vitamin A.
One good thing about root vegetables is the fact that they retain some vitamin content after long periods of storage. They should never be excluded from the menu.
Marrows, sweet corn and chokos
Other vegetables such as marrows, sweet corn, chokos, egg fruit and mushrooms have less food value than the others mentioned, though, if they are cooked and eaten with butter, the energy value is increased considerably.
Dried vegetables such as dried peas, beans, haricot beans, lima beans, bread beans, split peas and lentils, also many of the lesser known beans, contain small amounts of vitamin A and are good sources of iron, protein and energy.