Veggin’ Out

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. It’s the beginning of the gardening season, when new fresh fruits and veggies are starting to grow. Although I live in an apartment, and don’t have a yard to plant a nice big garden like I grew up with, I have started a potted porch garden.

I have a Roma tomato plant, strawberries, hot peppers, bell peppers and some type of mystery beans that I got from my dad. I’m growing the beans from seeds, and the rest I got as small plants and re-potted them. All have been growing pretty nicely on my little back porch. Especially the hot peppers and just this week the beans have started to sprout.

It’s so amazing to watch things grow! This is the first time I actually have planted seeds on my own, outside of my dad’s garden, and watched them sprout up out of the soil. Every day after work, the first thing I do is go to my back porch to see if my “garden” needs to be watered and see the new life growing there.

I grew up eating all sorts of fruit and vegetables and there aren’t many that I don’t like. My dad had a big garden full of corn, onions, beans, peppers, zucchini, squash and other veggies throughout the years. We also had strawberries and blueberry and raspberry bushes. I was spoiled with produce!

If you have the chance to grow your own fruit and-or veggies, I suggest trying it. It really is fun to watch it grow and even better – when you get to pick that ripe tomato off the vine and eat what you have helped to grow.

One of the most popular desserts my mom has made for our family gatherings is fruit pizza. It already is vegetarian, but also can be made vegan too. My family has come to love this so much, my mom has to make two just so everyone can get a slice.

Fruit pizza

2 tubes of Pillsbury crescent rolls (for the vegans) or 1 package of sugar cookie mix, prepared using package directions

1 8 ounce tub of cream cheese or vegan cream cheese

3 tablespoons apple juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Sliced strawberries, bananas, Mandarin oranges, kiwi, grapes, blueberries (any fruit you like, make it colorful)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the dough and place on a pizza baking pan to form one pizza crust. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool. Or prepare sugar cookie mixes and place onto pizza pans.

Cream together the cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of apple juice, sugar and powdered sugar and spread over the crust.

Arrange the sliced fruit in a layer on top of the cream cheese. I like to arrange the fruit by color in a circle around the crust.

Chill for at least ten minutes before serving.

Another family favorite that my mom brings to picnics and family dinners is vegetable spinach dip. If this doesn’t make it to the family gathering, there are a lot of disappointed faces.

Spinach veggie dip

12 ounces sour cream or vegan sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise or vegenase

1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

3 green onions, chopped (If not vegan, substitute onion, garlic, celery seed for a package of ranch dressing mix)

Mix all ingredients together until well combined and chill for about 15 minutes before serving.

Reppert is the Lifestyle and Education editor at the Sun-Gazette. Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.