Plant a Small Garden this Spring!

Do you have grand plans to start a garden this season? Gardening is a great way to spend time outside in the warmer months and it can be therapeutic too! If you have a stressful day, coming home and tending to your garden can be a pleasant distraction from the daily hustle and bustle. It is also rewarding to see new growth and fruits of your labor, literally.

Early May is a great time to get started with an herb or vegetable garden! Sometimes early spring months can be a little challenging to get started with planting a garden because the weather is often variable, especially this year… In Virginia this year we had more snow in March and April than in January and February!

Before committing to a gardening project, be sure to monitor the weather forecast closely for cold temperatures and overnight frosts because these cold conditions can negatively affect your seeds and young plants. You can also work on starting your desired plants from seeds or you can purchase starter plants and keep them warm and watered inside until it is consistently warm enough for them to be planted in the ground. I often use milk jugs or small pots to grow seeds or starter plants until they are ready to be planted in the open. You would hate to put in all of the work of growing your small plants for colder temperatures to harm them. Your local farmers market or a local nursery can be a great place to purchase starter plants because often the proprietors can assist with strategies to help you successfully grow your plants this season and reap the rewards!

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Simple Tips for Planting an Herb Garden

Herb gardens are a great place to start if you are new to gardening and want to get your hands dirty. Often herbs are easy to grow and you can contain them to a planter box or pots that fit on a windowsill which can be easy to maintain and harvest. Other benefits of growing an herb garden are having accessibility to fresh herbs over the spring and summer months. This can be cost saving and add delicious flavors to your home cooking. You can also dry these herbs yourself at home and use them all year long. Here are some helpful directions for you to use for this process. I often dry my herbs and store them in airtight mason jars at home.

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Herbs and Anti-Inflammation

Herbs also have anti-inflammatory properties. There are not many diet plans or diet practices that I get behind, but I cannot deny the intriguing and positive research that continues to become available on cooking and eating a more anti-inflammatory way. I work with patients with a multitude of issues including chronic pain and severe arthritis. These conditions are often inflammatory and many of these symptoms can be alleviated by adjusting their eating habits. A simple change like adding herbs and spices to meal preparation versus butter and salt can help to alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort without sacrificing flavor in cooking. A few herbs to consider planting that possess anti-inflammatory properties are: thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano. All of these common herbs are great accompaniments in a variety of healthy dishes and they are not difficult to grow or care for.

Last year, a voluntary basil plant sprung up near a corner of my house where I keep my trash cans. I did not mean for it to be there, but it grew there very happily all summer with me providing it with very much attention. I often purchase small starter plants for herbs like these at my local farmers market and I am always pleased with how well they grow all summer. I choose to grow my herbs in pots for easy attention and harvest.


Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101

Herb Gardening For Beginners 

Foods That Fight Inflammation 

Here are the checks for our new recipe system that we recommend:

  • Posting more recipes that are plant based (check) – the main ingredient in the first recipe is eggs, but we do include the fresh cucumbers to add some freshness, crunch, and plant based benefits! The second recipe is plant based utilizing beans as the protein source instead of meat.
  • We want to be better about utilizing locally-sourced ingredients in our recipes and utilizing farmers markets and Co-ops (check) – I opt to purchase my eggs from my local food co-op or farmers market because I am always pleased with the quality of the eggs! You can also purchase dried beans in bulk from a co-op and fresh vegetables if you cannot get to your farmers market. If you grow an herb garden at home, you can’t get much more local than that!
  • We plan on preparing dishes that serve at least four people (check) – Both of these recipes yield greater than four servings! Perfect for families or a group gathering!

I hope you find the recipes below helpful if you are looking to cook and eat your way toward anti-inflammation.

Cucumber and Basil Egg Salad 

Yield: 6 servings


  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, diced (2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup seeded, diced fresh cucumbers (about 1/2 cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (green part only)
  • 3 tablespoons lightly packed chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (you can use regular, light, vegan, or homemade)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Gently combine the eggs, cucumbers, shallots, green onions, and basil in a medium bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Notes: This recipe takes a bit of prep-work, but the preparation steps are very easy-just combine! This is a great accompaniment to a spring or summer picnic or cookout.

Stewed Cannellini Beans with Chiles and Thyme

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 pound dried cannellini (white kidney) beans, soaked overnight, drained
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, halved through root end
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 dried chiles de árbol or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Bring beans, onion, fennel, carrot, garlic, thyme sprigs, chiles de árbol, 1/3 cup oil, and 8 cups water to a simmer in a large pot over medium.
  2. Reduce heat to bring liquid to a gentle simmer and cook until beans are creamy all the way through, 50–65 minutes.
  3. Season with salt to taste. Serve beans topped with pepper and a drizzle of oil.

Do Ahead:
Beans can be cooked 3 days ahead. Let cool in cooking liquid; cover and chill.

Notes: Beans are a hearty plant based side dish or main entrée. You will not be disappointed using dried beans instead of canned beans in this recipe – there is no comparison!

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