Eating seasonally means eating foods, especially fruits and vegetables, when in season, just as nature intended. Nature is of course extremely clever, and it knows what the body needs at what times of the year.
It also makes sense to eat seasonally from an economic and environmental perspective too.
So, what’s in season right now?
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite fruits and vegetables to enjoy.
Interestingly, whilst we might think of rhubarb as being a fruit, it’s actually a vegetable! Obviously, that doesn’t change its nutritional offerings which are certainly worth exploring.
As with all fruits and vegetables, rhubarb is packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, also needed for energy production. Vitamin C is also one of our most powerful antioxidants which helps protect the body from free radical damage and in turn, the ageing process.
Rhubarb is a great source of fibre which is essential for keeping the digestive system running smoothly. It’s quite sharp in taste so if it’s going to be used in sweet dishes, it might need a lot of sugar. A rhubarb and apple crumble is great as a treat, but it might be worth thinking of using rhubarb in savoury dishes, perhaps as a tart sauce with duck.
If you’ve not tried rhubarb before then it’s health and taste benefits are well worth exploring.
A member of the cabbage family, kale is often referred to as a superfood for this reason. This super healthy family of foods contain a compound called sulphoraphane, which is very beneficial for liver detoxification. Research also shows sulphoraphane is very protective against some of our nasty degenerative diseases.
Kale can be slightly tough if not treated kindly during cooking! The younger leaves tend to be more tender and then it can be steamed, boiled, or stir fried and used in a myriad of dishes.
Kale makes a great snack as kale chips, grilled in a little olive oil and sea salt, or made into a soup with any vegetable of choice. Additionally, it’s great in a stir fry or cooked on its own with garlic and toasted pine nuts.
Whilst we often think of spinach as being the best source of iron, it’s probably better for its calcium content. Either way, spinach remains a rich source of these key minerals, essential for energy and the bones, and are best absorbed when spinach is cooked.
The good news, therefore, is that spinach is so easy to add to almost anything, as it reduces down massively when cooked. This makes it a great vegetable to add to dishes when you’ve got vegetable ‘avoiders’ in the family! Spinach can even be added to a spaghetti bolognaise and won’t be noticed too much. It’s also great added to soups, stir fries, omelettes or vegetable curries.
Spinach is also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C which work together as antioxidants, as well as folate, essential for energy and healthy DNA. From a cook’s perspective, it’s very versatile too.
Passion fruit doesn’t exactly meet the criteria for being a local fruit but it is in season in the southern hemisphere. Plus, it’s great for the soul to be eating foods that remind us of warmth and sunshine at this time of year. And these summer fruits are also packed with antioxidants which naturally help protect the skin from sun damage, so you’ll be getting all those health benefits too.
Passion fruit is just sweet enough to be eaten on its own, as a delicious snack or dessert treat. However, it can be made into a coulis with other fruits, especially mango (mango chunks are easy from the freezer) or simply pureed and poured over your favourite chocolate cake as a lovely sweet treat!
As we come into April, so we come into English asparagus season. Eating asparagus out of season you may find a lack of taste and often tough texture. So, grab some quick because the season is short!
Asparagus is a nutritional highlight, containing more folate than any other vegetable. Folate is essential for energy production, the nervous system, healthy red blood cell production and DNA repair. Furthermore, asparagus, is packed with glutathione, which is essential for powering our key antioxidant enzyme system.
Even better, asparagus doesn’t need to be complicated in terms of preparation; simply steam and toss in olive oil and salt, roast the same way, or serve as an impressive starter with hollandaise sauce.
Enjoy exploring seasonal fruit and veg this Spring!
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