Spring generally brings lots of positive energy both for the mind and body. And this Spring is no exception when it looks like we’ll finally have a little more freedom and there’s even more to celebrate!
It’s always best to eat seasonally in order to enjoy the best tastes, textures and nutritional benefits.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite seasonal foods this Spring.
Closely related to the celery family, celeriac delivers many of the same nutritional benefits as celery. Despite its rather unkind nickname ‘the ugly one’, celeriac has a slightly nutty flavour without any excessive salty taste.
Celeriac is high in heart-loving potassium and can help reduce high blood pressure, but also contains plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C. The only downside with this vegetable is that it requires a bit of preparation, with a tough outer skin which needs cutting off. However, it’s well worth the additional effort because celeriac is delicious mashed with butter and garlic or adds a great flavour to soups or stews.
Fished in UK waters and at their best at this time of year, mussels never fail to deliver a wonderful taste experience, especially if paired with garlic, onions, chilli or tomatoes. You can still smell the sea when you eat super-fresh mussels. However, you should never eat mussels that aren’t opened after cooking.
As with oysters, mussels are rich in zinc. This is one of the busiest minerals, being involved in over 200 different enzyme reactions within the body, so it is a very essential nutrient. Additionally, mussels are high in selenium, a key antioxidant mineral and also needed for the immune and cardiovascular systems. You’ll even find small levels of the super-healthy omega-3s in mussels. And they don’t need too much cooking to produce a really delicious and warming dish.
Another slightly strange-shaped vegetable it is totally delicious roasted, plus delivers an array of health benefits. Importantly, Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin which feeds the beneficial gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria play such an important role in our overall health, especially when it comes to immune, digestive, brain and skin health. It’s therefore important to feed the friendly guys within the gut so they proliferate as needed.
Additionally, Jerusalem artichokes are rich in energising iron and immune boosting vitamin C. They can be roasted with the skin on to retain maximum nutrients and are delicious as a side to almost anything!
As with all green foods, spinach is rich in antioxidants which help protect the body from disease. Specifically, it’s packed with carotenoids that support the immune system and crucially, eye health.
Whilst spinach does contain some iron and calcium, these minerals are not necessarily well-absorbed down to its high oxalic acid content. However, eating spinach with foods that are rich in vitamin C, including other vegetables, really aids absorption.
Importantly, spinach contains plenty of other valuable nutrients, including vitamin C and energising folate. It works so well and easily in plenty of dishes including soups, salads, as a side lightly steamed with butter and garlic or with eggs for breakfast.
We often associate them with other winter root vegetables which they are, but parsnips are still in season right now and are certainly one of the tastiest of roots. Indeed, parsnips don’t really like frost, hence their taste is better at this time of year. They are slightly starchy which means they make a great alternative to potatoes. They provide plenty of fibre and also vitamin C, vitamin E and folate which helps produce healthy red blood cells.
As with all root veggies, parsnips are very versatile and can be included in soups, pasta dishes or roasted on their own sprinkled with a little parmesan. They also make a great roast vegetable medley alongside other vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.
So, enjoy some seasonal treats this spring and your body will benefit from the array of nutrients on offer.
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