As always time flies by and we’re already at the halfway point of the year. However, a big consolation is that June offers a wonderful array of colourful and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
The more we can eat with the seasons, generally the better the nutrient content of the food.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top fruits and vegetables for June.
Courgettes are a type of marrow that are also known as zucchini to the Italians and Americans. As with many fruits and vegetables most of their nutrients are found just under the skin, hence the skin is soft and perfectly edible. However, because their flavour is very ‘light’, courgettes are often cooked in recipes with some stronger flavours. A great option is baking them with garlic, sundried tomatoes, pinenuts and topping with breadcrumbs. Or why not try roasting with other vegetables with rosemary, or in a delicious ratatouille with tomatoes, thyme, garlic and aubergines.
Courgettes are a great source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which helps protect the skin from sun damage and the ageing process. Additionally, they are high in energising folate and beta-carotene which is turned into vitamin A as the body needs, and which protects the immune system.
Strawberries are synonymous with the British summer and locally grown summer strawberries have a much fuller flavour than those imported during the winter months. Whilst strawberries are called ‘fruits’ they are actually from the rose family. However, we would certainly not hold this against them because they’re nutritional jewels when it comes to delivering plenty of vitamin C (one of the highest amounts within the berry family of fruits).
Strawberries are also rich in powerful antioxidants, helping protect us from disease including heart disease and other degenerative conditions.
Strawberries can stand proudly on their own. However, their delicious flavour is enhanced by eating them with a little balsamic vinegar, in a pie, with cream or with other colourful summer berries.
This is another example of how eating British and in season is an entirely different experience to eating imported versions that can be tough and tasteless throughout the year. English asparagus needs to be grabbed quickly because the season is very short. Plus, it quickly deteriorates after picking so it needs to be eaten as freshly as possible.
Asparagus contains more energising folate than any other vegetable and which is a nutrient that’s frequently deficient in the UK population. Additionally, the fibre in asparagus works as a prebiotic, helping feed the beneficial bacteria that naturally resides in the digestive tract and which plays such an important role in our health. It needs no more than lightly steaming and serving with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or perhaps try them wrapped in parma ham.
Whilst we tend to associate aubergine with Mediterranean countries, it is widely grown in the UK. And whilst it used to be advised to salt them before cooking to draw out some of their bitterness, their flavour has changed over the years, so this is no longer necessary.
Whilst aubergines are naturally low in fat, they are often griddled or grilled using oil and they do tend to soak it up like a sponge so use it sparingly! They are delicious cooked in this way, but many may prefer to use them in stews, curries, or ratatouille dishes. Their beautiful purple skin means aubergines are rich in anthocyanins – powerful antioxidants – hence it’s always better to cook them retaining the skin for most nutritional benefits.
With its very distinctive peppery flavour, watercress is one of the healthiest salad vegetables. Indeed, it’s a member of the highly nutritious cruciferous vegetable family, just like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Watercress will therefore also have many of their unique health benefits: it is high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and iron, plus it’s a great liver and kidney cleanser.
Watercress is traditionally used in soups and works really well used in this way with Jersey Royal potatoes (also now in season). However, it’s great to fully enjoy its delicious flavour in salads with bacon, spinach and Parmesan or in carrot-based juices.
So, embrace seasonal eating and enhance your health too this June – enjoy!
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