As a nutritionist, I am frequently talking about eating with the seasons. This means eating foods at the times nature intended during the year, which generally delivers better nutrient content, enhanced flavours, and greater health benefits.
However, we can sometimes run out of ideas as to what to do with these delicious foods.
Read on for some great suggestions on how best to use my favourite in-season foods right now!
During August and September, the hedgerows are awash with beautiful blackberries, signalling the perfect time for eating this nutrient-dense fruit.
As with all berries, blackberries are loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as energising folate. They also provide a good source of fibre. Furthermore, they are low on the glycaemic index so won’t upset blood sugar balance and are great if you’re trying to lose weight.
As vitamin C is degraded by cooking, fruit is generally at its most nutritious when eaten raw, so why not load some up onto your breakfast muesli or simply enjoy with some natural yoghurt. And if you can ‘pick your own’ blackberries, or scavenge them from the hedgerows, the taste and nutritional benefit is going to be even better!
Another colourful beauty, beetroot scores highly on both taste and nutritional benefits. Beetroot is rich in potassium which helps regulate blood pressure but also contains betacyanin which is great for cleansing the liver and supporting any detox plan. However, as beetroots are quite sweet, many people prefer them pickled but this does reduce their nutrient content somewhat.
Beetroots are also rich in immune-boosting beta-carotene, which becomes more bioavailable when beetroots are cooked. They can therefore be boiled in their skins and then peeled and used in a variety of ways.
The taste and texture of beetroot works especially well with goat’s cheese. Enjoy the last days of summer by making up a delicious and simple goat’s cheese salad, with chopped beetroot and sprinkled with balsamic glaze.
Often, and very unkindly referred to as ‘the ugly one’ due to its knobbly appearance, celeriac redeems itself with its nutritional goodness and likeable flavour. Part of the celery family, celeriac has a better taste profile down to its nutty flavour rather than being overly salty. However, just like celery, celeriac is great for reducing blood pressure and is a good source of vitamin C and fibre.
Celeriac makes a great vegetable side, simply mashed with a little pepper and butter, or mashed with potatoes and garlic. Why not try making it into a soup with apples to create a really balanced and delicious flavour.
Pears are often forgotten and pushed into the shade by their counterparts, apples, although they bare no relation to each other. Just like apples though, pears are also relatively low on the glycaemic index so are great if you’re watching the kilos. Importantly though, they are one of the least allergenic foods so are perfect for including in allergy-free diets or for weaning babies. Plus, they are high in the soluble fibre pectin, so are great for keeping the bowels running smoothly.
As with many fruits, pears work really well with various cheeses, especially the stronger flavoured ones such as gorgonzola. They are delicious poached in red wine (packed with healthy antioxidants) or paired with chocolate as a real treat.
Peaches are loaded with vitamin C, fibre, and potassium. And just like beetroot, peaches are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A as required. Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system and for good vision, especially at night.
Peaches are delicious when eaten simply on their own as a low-calorie snack. And it’s worth remembering that tinned peaches, which are highly popular, lose most of their vitamin C in the canning process and are also much higher in sugar. Fresh is always best!
So, enjoy the seasonal delights that September brings and get creative!
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