Spring is finally with us which always brings a smile to our faces. Coupled with the fact that spring also provides us with some amazingly healthy foods, everything just feels much more positive.
Top of the food list for spring are greens. They are super-healthy and with a little bit of flavour can be delicious too. You won’t need to be ‘forced’ to eat your greens ever again!
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite greens for spring.
Spinach doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, partly because its taste can be slightly bland if not cooked correctly. However, gently wilted in a frying pan, with a little butter and crushed garlic and your plate will come alive!
Spinach is extremely nutritious. And whilst it’s often talked about in the same breath as Popeye, spinach is actually as rich in bone-loving calcium as it is iron. Additionally, spinach is a great source of immune-boosting vitamin A and vitamin C.
A member of the cabbage family, kale is also a great source of two key antioxidants – vitamin C and beta-carotene. And just like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, kale contains indoles which stimulate liver detoxification and can also help protect us from diseases.
Kale can taste a little bitter so ideally needs to be balanced with strong flavours. Simply stir-frying with garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce is all it needs to bring your plate to life!
Another member of the cruciferous vegetable family, watercress is one of the healthiest of all salad vegetables. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants and contains only 22 calories per 100 grams. Interestingly, in traditional medicine, watercress has long been used to treat kidney disorders and liver malfunctions.
The distinctive peppery flavour of watercress makes it a great addition to any salad, especially with stronger flavours such as salmon or ham. For a really easy mid-week meal why not try a creamy pea, watercress and pasta recipe with some mascarpone cheese, tarragon, garlic, and lemon. Delicious!
Purple sprouting broccoli
Whilst it’s a mixture of green and purple, this amazing vegetable is still a spring green! This type of broccoli is higher in nutrients than other varieties of broccoli and is especially good to eat when young and tender. The darker the colour of the florets of purple sprouting broccoli, the richer the amount of immune-boosting vitamin C and beta-carotene. Boiling broccoli, however, almost halves its amount of vitamin C, so lightly steaming or stir-frying is best.
As with all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains indoles which help protect DNA from damage and therefore may offer protection from some of our degenerative diseases.
Purple sprouting broccoli will partner well with almost any recipe but is also great stir-fried with some chilli sauce and sesame oil, for a really quick, simple, and healthy vegetable side dish.
The stars of the show, spring greens are so called because they are the first cabbages of the year. They are different to collard greens, which come later in the year, and are a darker green. Spring greens look more like cos lettuces and don’t have the tough heart of other cabbage varieties.
Spring greens are also less bitter in taste and don’t need much else other than some light steaming and drizzling with melting butter. However, they’re also great in soups and casseroles. And from a nutritional perspective, they certainly don’t disappoint. As with other members of the brassica family, they will support your immune system, build and maintain strong bones, and help protect your body against free radical damage, responsible for the ageing process.
You’ll certainly be springing into the next season with these nutritional greens – pack as many as you can into your diet this season.
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